Faming Women in their Own Words: Maxine Robertson

Maxine Robertson

About 23 years ago I met my husband – who farms about 247ha of arable land in Norfolk with his brother – on a blind date. They grow sugar beet and barley and also do contracting for local farmers. And 18 years ago, following the birth of our daughter, I gave up a lucrative career as a lawyer to become a stay-at-home mum. As our daughter grew up, I obtained a degree in education and took up various part-time posts in the education sector. Currently, I work part time for a charity and also approve foster carers for Norfolk County Council. I love animals, gardening and books.

Describe a typical day

Every day is so very different. However, every day starts at about 6am when I take our dogs out and feed our cats, ducks and hens. A typical day ends at 10pm when I put them all to bed.

What has been your biggest achievement?

Remaining married to the same man for 22 years. Seriously, my biggest achievement was gaining my degree while trying to juggle motherhood, working and running a home.

If you had one piece of advice for a rural woman, what would it be?

Try to develop interests outside the home, as rural life can be isolating. Seek out like-minded people and spend lots of time with them.

If you could change one thing to make life better for rural families, what would it be?

Bring more leisure and educational opportunities to rural areas.

What personality traits/skills do women in the countryside most need?

Definitely a sense of humour, but apart from that, flexibility and versatility.

How do you think the life of a young woman on a farm has changed compared with 50 years ago?

Years ago women were probably less likely to take on work away from the farm. However, I’m not sure there is a stereotypical farmer’s wife these days.

Is the countryside a sexist place?

When it suits the men. They complain that you live in jeans and never wear a skirt, yet they are happy enough for you to put on your overalls and help with heavy lifting.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I hope my husband continues to enjoy farming and that we will all enjoy good health. My own ambitions are to own either a donkey, an alpaca or a Herdwick sheep and also, perhaps, to pursue a masters degree.

If you hadn’t chosen the course in life you have, what would you have done?

When I married my husband, a male friend told me he couldn’t see me as a farmer’s wife, presumably because I had no experience of farming, worked in an office and was a “girly girl”. I wonder what he would say now if he could see me shovelling muck out of the duck house! I don’t regret a thing, even though farmers can be demanding and the farming way of life can be unpredictable. I love our life and consider myself very lucky to live in the countryside.

If you’re a farming woman and would like to see yourself in this slot, email fwfarmlife@rbi.co.uk

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