An Interview with Full-Time Mom, Part-Time Farmhand Carrie Wingfield
I can't remember the year I met today's bitch, but I remember where I met her - my house. Carrie came to one of our early house parties. (Remember house parties? Remember your youth?) Shortly thereafter, she and John went to SXSW and John told me I would love her and we should be friends. So we became friends. Ta-da!
I'm fascinated with Carrie because she spends her time doing things I spend my time AVOIDING, e.g. reproducing, working outside, getting dirty. Like many adult female friendships, ours has evolved from Carrie getting me into silent auctions with free wine to introducing me to artisanal soap and suburban, in-ground pools. My favorite thing about Carrie is how sincerely she worked, "the tug is the drug" into this Q&A. Meet my creek-fishing, goat-farming friend, Carrie Wingfield!
What is your job title and where do you work?
First and foremost, my job title is Mama and I work for a butterball named Millie. My “real” job is with Little Seed Farm, where I handle our markets and events, as well as some good ole hard work on the 84 acre goat farm in Lebanon, TN.
When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I spent almost a decade working in nonprofits, most recently at First Steps in Nashville, where I was the Development and Marketing Director for a wonderful organization that provides services to children with special needs in Middle TN. When I got pregnant, I reevaluated what I wanted to “do” - I originally planned on having the baby and going back to work. But I found that I’d grown tired and unmotivated to continue a desk job, not because it wasn’t a worthy cause, but because begging people for time and money can be mentally exhausting and extremely stressful and I was ready for a change.
In early spring of 2014, I had called Little Seed Farm out of the blue after discovering their soaps at Old Made Good. I wanted to learn about what they did after reading their story. They were in the early days with just James and Eileen, the loveliest couple of farmers ever, and baby George. On my first time out, James showed me to the baby goats, handed me some bottles, and told me to feed them. UM…. YES PLEASE! I continued to volunteer with them, helping James do things like rotate the goat pastures and nail up cedar planks in the now much bigger and expanded soap shack.
When I really decided to soul search, I thought about what I really wanted. What was my happy place? It was the farm. Hearing the roosters, the guinea hens, the dogs, the goats… it was where I felt calm, even when I was sweaty and itchy and exhausted. It was gratifying. It was exercise. It was OUTSIDE. So I took a chance, and I worked many a sweaty farmers market and many a crowded Porter Flea, among others, and this past fall and winter have been working on the farm doing a little bit of everything. It’s the best job I’ve ever had! Doesn’t hurt that the products are amazing and smell like heaven.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
I use this piece of advice for almost every aspect of life, including business:
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?
It wasn’t until I bought my first home by myself that I truly became one of those “organized” people who obsessed over finding the most efficient, orderly way to live and work. It has vastly improved my productivity, both at home and at work. It soothes me to be in a calm, clean place, where everything has it’s place so you’re never wasting time searching. It may annoy my husband… but I think at the end of the day he always knows where his things are!
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
SLEEP. SLEEP. And MORE SLEEP. (Toddler + insomnia + daycare germs = Carrie never sleeps.)
What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?
I’m proud of myself for following my passion. I had to stop kicking myself for it taking so long, stop wishing I’d studied it or found it sooner. But I was meant to work on a farm. I was meant to work with my hands, to work up a sweat, to be moving and active, to make friends with and tend to animals, and to help make the work day more efficient for a team. I’m proud of myself for leaving a comfy, steady, every two weeks paycheck after a decade of supporting myself, and venturing into the unknown of part-time work and full-time motherhood. (And proud of my husband for supporting this dream of mine too.)
How do you decompress at the end of the work day?
Wine. All the wine. And cheese. When I was reluctantly avoiding admitting I had postpartum depression and anxiety, I took up weaving as a way to calm my mind, and have been hooked ever since. I weave everything from necklaces to mug rugs to large wall hangings, and am currently working on woven plant hangers. I like to Netflix and weave.
What’s a fear that keeps you up at night?
That I’m not doing “it” right. Whatever it is - motherhood, part-time work, being a good friend, being a good wife. The pressure can really get overwhelming sometimes.
What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?
That I am Eileen, the farm owner. (Pretty much the BEST compliment you could ever give me.) But I get mistaken for her at least once per event. She makes balancing farm life and motherhood look easy with her grace and charm. But we definitely share war stories. It’s not always picturesque on a farm like Instagram shows! It can get… interesting.
What does self care look like in your life?
Today it was stopping at Parnassus Books, getting a new novel and a little light feminist literature, finally getting my hair cut and a splash of color, and playing in the backyard with my husband, daughter, dog and cat. Real talk: It’s usually binging my favorite Netflix or HBO shows cuddled up with a Bota Box. I also love to fish! My favorite saying is “The tug is the drug.”
What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?
My motto is tattooed in French right under my boob, actually. “One day at a time.” It has helped me through more tough times than I can count. It is quite honestly all we can really do. Take each day as it comes.
Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?
Too many to mention! Women are incredible, and I’ve been lucky to know more than a few who have inspired me to no end. Even just trying to pick them out to answer this question is overwhelming - there are so many women from history, from the public eye, from my past and from my present. I love and admire all of them. I wouldn’t be who I am without my fellow ladies. One in particular would be my friend Georgie. We met in the 8th grade and I have forever admired her absurdly intelligent, effortlessly graceful and articulate nature. She is one of the strongest, most patient women I’ve ever known. I will be lucky to end up even a tenth of the caliber of person she is.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
That’s like Sophie’s Choice. No way I can pick one favorite. I’m gonna have to pick a few: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Transparent, Louie (or anything with Louis C.K.), Californication (RIP), Parenthood (met Joel Graham/Braverman at Target West Nashville when I was SUUUUPER pregnant and as you can imagine… fell even more in love because the man said he was “eating hot chicken and drinking beer and felt like wandering around Target.”), and last but not least, Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson is the greatest.
My favorite snack is cheese dip. No contest.
All photos courtesy of Carrie Wingfield