There was something very fragile about this woman, and powerful at the same time. It was one of those small family farms, and the farmer and his wife were probably the last generation to be running it. She was very nervous about the inspection, embarrassed with the disorder in the papers. Yet, she tried to stay alert and cooperative. Her eyes were brimming with tears, every time the inspector pointed out some lacks and leaks but she spoke in her own defense if needed.
Her husband sat further away from the table, mostly silent, making odd comments sometimes. His sense of humour was slightly coarse and sexist so I do not think it made much sense in translation to the official from Brussels. I felt the irritation towards this man that he was letting his wife handle everything on her own and pretended not to notice when she went to other room to get herself together.
They were a middle aged couple, and probably had their way of working things out and dividing tasks. But I felt some strange satisfaction when leading inspector ( a young woman) invited the man firmly to come closer, to listen to the results of the report at the table.
I exchanged a few words with the wife at the end. She praised my language skills and I expressed my admiration at the efforts farming must take. She gladly talked about her family and the farm. I could see a woman who is busy and tired, makes ends meet but will be probably never well off, who is proud of her land and family, but regrets the children won't follow in her footsteps.
Was she a typical woman-farmer? It would be arrogant of me to be making generalizations about her, after an hour of being on the farm, but one thing I could say was that she seemed to be the kind of person who makes an effort to do her best what ever the circumstances are.