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Women Farmers on the Rise

More women choosing to work the land and raise livestock

Poulsen says she's a bit nervous these days about the impact of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and won't know for months if the devastation from the nuclear plant will hurt her hay business.

"Our star is tied to Japan, so when they have a major economic problem like they are having right now, we're a little concerned," she says.

Despite the economic uncertainties, Poulsen says there are many upsides to her work life. She likes being her own boss and having the freedom to make business decisions. Poulsen runs the farm with one full-time employee and part-time help in the summer.

"I like wearing many hats. In one day, I can be a purchasing agent, marketer, heavy equipment operator, personnel manager, laborer, bookkeeper and mechanic," she says.

Poulsen is one of very few women in her community of 15,000 who farm, but that is not an issue as far as she is concerned.

"I'll farm until I get sick of it," she says. "When I turn 65, I don't plan on retiring."

Judi Hasson is a writer in McLean, Va.

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