I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, but after being in a relationship with a farm boy for over four years there are some things I’ve learned that may be worth passing on. It takes a special kind of person to deal with a farmer’s schedule sometimes, and it takes some patience and understanding to keep the relationship thriving.
If you ever hit a rough patch, know that you’re not alone. All relationships take work, but dating a farmer can have special challenges. Here are a few of those challenges and how to overcome them, with a few tips of advice:
1. Leave him (or her!) alone! If you haven’t always grown up on a farm, it may be an adjustment to get used to the fact that your farmer has never had corporate coworkers or bosses. While you may be talkative or used to a corporate work environment where the boss is always barking orders, that’s not how it works with a farmer. They’re used to working alone or with just a couple of people who are usually relatives. The job needs to get done in a timely fashion. Leave them be and let them get it done.
2. Never take anything that is said personally when sorting livestock! This is an important one — a given when handling livestock. Unfortunately, when sorting 1,400-pound animals, you can’t just call them by name like a dog. (But wouldn’t that be great?) No. 111 can stay in the pen and No. 143 needs to go on the trailer? It isn’t easy; curse words will be yelled. The Lord’s name may be used in vain. It can be frustrating, dirty … takes a lot of patience. Do not take it personally.
3. Clean up. So you’ve had a few long days. Maybe you’ve been sorting cattle or planting. You may be tired or dusty. We get it. Regardless, please shower! It takes five minutes. Your significant other will be more apt to snuggle up with you if you don’t smell like a pig — literally. And don’t forget to shave! Relationships are about give and take. If your face starts looking like chewbacca and the farmHer hasn’t shaved her legs and is starting to look as fuzzy as the cows, that just isn’t fair to the other person now, is it? Don’t let the intimacy fade — it’s so important to keep that special spark, which leads me to my next point …
4. Don’t forget date nights! Yes, your kids are bugging you. Yes, there is a ton of work to be done, but in the words of Luke Bryan, “Rain is a good thing!” Take advantage of a rainy day to hire a sitter and go to a movie. Give yourself a reason to get dressed up, put on your favorite fragrance, hold hands. Kiss. Intimacy is a very important part of a relationship and losing this can leave you feeling empty or distant. Don’t let it slip away and always, always date your partner, particularly during the slow season on the farm.
5. She may not be your No. 1 priority, but should still be treated as such. Any good significant other in a relationship with a farmer will understand that the farm always comes first. “Ya gotta make hay when the sun shines!” It takes a level of understanding of both parties to have patience during the busy times but also, find out how you can help! I’ve seen many a smile if you can bring your farmer a good meal while they’re busy in the combine. Some of the most special moments and memories can be made in the tractor! But farmers, while you’re busy working, remember that it may be just as important to help your partner with something around the house. Those special little things you can do to help her when she needs you go a long way. No one wants to feel like a nag! With farming, you get out of it what you put into it. The healthiest of soils lead to the best yields. The happiest livestock lead to the highest-quality product. A relationship is no different. Treat your spouse better than you’d treat your most valuable farm asset, and watch your love prosper, and “grow.” Family and growing love is the most important yield of all.
6. Be patient. Be kind, remember to laugh. Remember why you fell in love with your farmer in the first place. Maybe it’s that charm of being rough around the edges that is so captivating. You will have hard times: when the markets go down, when you lose your favorite cow, when equipment fails. You can be their rock, their sunshine, and laughter — ready with a good meal and cold beer. When the going gets tough, knowing they can always lean on you for support is the absolute best feeling. Ask any farmer why they do what they do, and they’ll tell you it’s because they love it. They love working the land with their children in the house that they grew up with their parents and grandparents. It’s a special legacy that lives on with your help, the farmer’s special and loving other half.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.
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