My name is Emma Gray and I am in an abusive relationship.
It all started at a very young age, in fact I can barely remember when it began, but I fell deeply in love with my abuser and it has been like that my whole life. I doubt I’ll ever be able to break the cycle, to be honest I don’t even try, I know this is my lot in life and it makes me happy, I always hope my abuser will change, get better, be kinder to me but I fear I’m trapped in a relentless cycle of hurt and upset.
Who is this nemesis of mine?
You may think this a bit of an overreaction to make such a comparison, so I did a bit of research, here’s the nine signs of being in an abusive relationship:
1. Feelings of helplessness and desperation
Any farmer can relate to the powerless feeling of sleet, snow and driving rain lashing down on day ten of the lambing, when all of those lambs you have carefully cared for start dropping like flies and perishing before your eyes. Or as you watch the hay you have diligently turned in the summer sun, get a soaking from an unforecasted storm on bailing day. The frustration and helplessness is enough to make you scream or cry.
2. Lavishing love and kindness on the abuser with no reward or thanks
When that Leicester you nursed through the winter stuffing him full of feed, keeping him inside with copious amounts of straw and best quality silage, makes it through to the summer, he’s out the woods you cry, to find the ungrateful bastard lying dead the next day.
3. A bad and unpredictable nature
Your cash flow says that this year things will be all right because lambs will be worth £75, SURPRISE!! Lambs are worth £55, but all your costs are the same, ‘HA.HA.HA’ says farming where does that leave your cash flow now?!
4. Stop you from going out and seeing friends and family
‘Sorry I can’t come out tonight, I know it’s been planned for ages, but the cow that was due last week, thought that Saturday night was the best time to calve’
5. Limit your access to money/steal and take money from you
Ordinary Person – ‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’
Typical Farmer – ‘Farm till it’s all gone’
Farms love to gobble money and farmers love to pour money down its throat, improve the stock, improve the machinery, bigger tractor, bigger bull, and if you are the conservative type, you can be damn sure something major and expensive will break just to make sure you remain impoverished
6. Injure you on a regular basis
I don’t know about other people, but working with scotch blackies has meant I haven’t been able to don a skirt since I was 12; my legs are like a dot the dot with bruises on a permanent basis. As for hands, don’t get me started, they are cut, scared, blistered, not to mention the time when I had that dose of orf and looked like I had leprosy for half a year! And of course lets not forget the minor 'rolling the bike and breaking my back incident' all in the name of farming.
7. Make sure you never wear nice things or look good
Just checking on that cow on the way to a posh wedding is never a good idea, and yet a part of you is always insistent, it’s not till you get there you notice the dirty mark on one leg. It is nigh on impossible to leave the farm without some sort of mark, it’s like a brand, you are a farmer you cannot go out clean!
8. Isolate you
I was trapped at Fallowlees for a full week in the snows of 2 years ago, isolated doesn’t cover it. No phone, no internet, no vehicle, no nothing. I watched every DVD I could (including steam engines of the world) also drew a face on a football and called it Wilson.......
These might be thinly veiled threats, but you know they are there, the knowledge that if you don’t go round the sheep that day, the farm will punish you with three ewes on their backs. Farms like retribution.
For all of that, I know I will always be in this relationship, because it’s not all bad...
Farming isn't an entirely cruel master, and occasionally throws us little perks and surprises along the way, a set of twin heifer calves, a good lambing, a hot summer, a field of lambs thriving on good grass or a good harvest. It’s a way of life not for everyone, but for those it fits, it’s an addiction.
(and above all we are eternal optimists :)