Of Monarchs And Ag Matriarchs

I couldn’t care less about the British Royal Family. Most Agweek readers don’t, either, I’m fairly sure.

But I admire Queen Elizabeth, who celebrates her 92nd birthday on April 21. Her quiet dignity and devotion to duty are remarkable. She’s a trouper, a fading-into-obscurity word that means a reliable and uncomplaining person.

When I think of Queen Elizabeth, I also think of the Upper Midwest’s ag matriarchs. ‘Matriarch’ has multiple definitions, but I’m respectfully using this one: an older woman who is powerful within her family or organization. (I asked three people, whose judgement I trust, whether the term has become politically incorrect and whether I’ll get criticism for using it They assure me it’s not and I won’t.)

Our ag matriarchs don’t have crowns or scepters, titles or castles. But they’re devoted to strengthening their farms, families and communities. They’re troopers,too: reliable and though they may complain privately at times, they don’t do it publicly.

They’re mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They’re aunts, great-aunts and great-great-aunts. They’re wives, sisters and cousins. They’re friends and neighbors. We all know at least one, and we know they make this world a little better.

Mathea Knutson, my great-grandmother who homesteaded on the North Dakota prairie, was one of them. She died long before I was born, but I’ve heard stories about her energy and capacity for hard work. She was a trouper and ag matriarch who made the world better for her immediate family — and for me and the rest of her descendants.

So spare a kind thought today for Queen Elizabeth. And pass along a compliment to the ag matriarchs you know.