May 21, 2024

Role of farm wives focus of children’s book

ASHTON, Ill. — Andrea LeFevre wants the world to know that farm women are more than a footnote.

“Maybe it’s not visible to the world that we do all these things, but it’s what makes the day go by, all these little routine things. Whatever needs to be done, we do it. That’s just farm women. We get it done,” she said.

LeFevre wrote her first children’s book, “A Day on the Farm with Mama: Harvest Edition,” that was published in the fall of 2022.

Her inspiration for the book was another book, a children’s book that was a favorite of her sons, Bryar, 3, and Boone, 1.

“My oldest son picks this one book over and over again and it goes like ‘farm dad takes farm kids out to feed the cows, slop the pigs and collect the eggs. Then they go to school. They come home from school and they ride horses and their ATV.’ On the very last page of the book, it goes something like ‘and thanks, Mom, for frying us chicken for supper,” she said.

LeFevre said each time she read the book, she found herself thinking of all of the tasks that make up her own day, as a farm wife and stay-at-home mom.

“Each time I read it, it was like a dagger straight to the heart. As someone who grew up on a farm and now being a farm wife, I was like — we do so much more,” she said.

LeFevre graduated from Amboy High School in 2010 and attended beauty school in Champaign, then opened her own salon in her hometown of Sublette.

LeFevre said she did not have publishing ambitions, but the lack of recognition of farm women like herself, plus being in contact with other farm wives and farm women on social media, inspired her.

“I follow other farm women and farm wives on social media and I kept saying these posts, what is holding you back from doing the thing you want to do, that you should do, that you are being called to do? It really resonated with me and I thought absolutely nothing is holding me back,” she said.

While her sons napped, she searched online for information on writing a children’s book and publishing. She also made notes for the book, based on her own experiences and those of the farm wives and farm women she knows.

“I do everything a stay-at-home mom would do. I make sure the house is kept up, do the dishes, the laundry, pay the bills, take care of the kids,” she said.

“I really try to instill an interest in farming in my boys, as well. I will load them up and take them to the farm for tractor rides.

“If there’s a breakdown and they need me to go, I run for parts. I bring lunch out to the field if needed and all kinds of little things here and there.”

LeFevre and husband, Andrew, married in 2018. They farm their own land and they also farm with Andrew’s parents, Mark and Stacy LeFevre. They raise corn, soybeans and seed corn.

The Sublette farm that she grew up on was sold after the death of her grandfather, Elroy Lauer. Her father, Tom, now lives near Andrea and helps out on the LeFevre farm and also with Andrea’s sister and her husband, who also farm in the area.

Andrea helped her dad and grandpa out on the farm, cleaning out tractors and doing different jobs around the farm.

She also was inspired by her mom, Kim, whom she recalls pitching in wherever and whenever she was needed on the farm.

“My mom drove a tractor during harvest. She hauled ammonia tanks and hauled water. She took seed out to the planter. My mother-in-law is the same way. Whatever needed to be done, they did it,” LeFevre said.

The book was illustrated by a former coworker, Heidi Holloway.

“Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked at Woodhaven Association near Sublette. I would walk by Heidi’s desk and see her drawing all these pictures, so I asked her if she would illustrate the book and she said yes,” LeFevre said.

She said she was eagerly awaiting the first copies of her published books on the day the box arrived from the publisher.

“I opened the box, all of the excitement and tension building and I saw the title, ‘The Hungry AF Vegan.’ It was a vegan cookbook. They had shipped me somebody else’s books. I thought, you have got to be kidding me — you mixed up a book about a farm with a vegan cookbook?” she said.

LeFevre was able to get in touch with the author of the cookbook on Instagram and get the shipping fiasco corrected.

“When I finally got my books, it was like a weight lifted off of me. It was just a beautiful moment, little old me, look what I’ve done, look what I created,” she said.

She kept the book a secret from friends and family until the book was published. But she did not have to worry if they would support her.

At a recent reading of the book at Pankhurst Memorial Library in Amboy, Andrew’s grandmother came out to support her.

“She came to the reading and she was so proud of me. Her exact words were, ‘I can’t believe none of us have done this before,’” LeFevre said.

She has a planting edition of the book, that talks about all the planting season-related tasks that farm women perform on the farm and in the home, planned for this spring.

She said she hopes to inspire others and to remind everyone, from children to adults, of the vital role that farm wives and farm women play in the family and on the farm.

“We are largely unseen and unheard and with all of the things that we do, I hope it resonates with people. It is hard work,” she said.

“We are the glue that holds the family together. We sacrifice so much and I want people to see that we are awesome.

“We get stuff done and we can do anything we put our minds, too. We can do some really cool stuff.”

The book is available through LeFevre’s website, www.farmwifeatheart.com.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor