As long as I’ve been a writer, the fact that editors don’t get bylines––that is, they don’t get their names attached to the articles they work on as the writers do––has always kind of perplexed me. I write an article as best I can, but then what the editor does to that work is something that, not in a thousand years of trying, I feel could I do on my own. Editors add. They refine. They remove. They adjust the flow. They ask questions I never considered. They clean it up and prepare it for publication. And without them I am pretty sure almost nothing I write would be worth reading. Perhaps nothing anyone writes. Yet it is my name that goes on the article, while the editor remains in relative obscurity.
And in some ways I feel this role of the editor is analogous to the role of women on farms throughout history. Men get the bylines. Men are often called “farmers”, while the women are simply called “wives”. As Audra Mulkern points out in her forthcoming documentary Women’s Work: The Untold Story of America’s Female Farmers, men are the ones whose pictures are taken, while the women can be seen harvesting in the fields behind them, or can’t be seen at all, despite their importance to the farm.
I think about this with Hannah. It is an unending inspiration the amount of work she puts in to refine and shape our farm. She is out there digging, broadforking, planting, harvesting, cleaning, packing, marketing, all of it. Hannah is as critical to our operation as an editor is to an article, but the analogy ends there because she is not my editor, she is the other farmer. And without her, there is no Rough Draft Farmstead.
The story of our food is one written by us both––equally––doing our jobs, using our different skill sets to accomplish something profound together: food, farming, life, and family. On our farm, Hannah deserves a byline with everything we do. There is no such thing as “women’s work” here. There is just a whole lot of farming, and two of us to try and get it all done.