A lot of people in my life watch ABC TV’s show “The Bachelorette.” Ironically, a lot of people in my life will never have a bachelorette life like Desiree. You see, “The Bachelorette, Farmer Style” would be a whole lot different than this “reality” show. A few years ago another station had the “Farmer Wants a Wife” show. How many men do you hear say, “I married in to farming?” At least in my work, I usually hear it from women. So let’s explore what a man would experience if he were to marry in to my life if I still lived and worked on the farm.
I have no room in my closet for fancy ballgowns and heels. In fact, my closet is sectioned: the workwear side has every suit (jackets, pants, skirts, dresses), button up shirt, polo and sweater I can wear to my office job; barn and play clothes are on the other side, which includes everything I can fit into (or attempt to fit into) from high school and college days or that can be worn and get grimy. Shoes aren’t sectioned but you better believe that all my shoes have had manure and/or mud on them at one point or another. Yep – even those heels that stay at work have visited the farm. Grossed out? We haven’t yet stepped outside the closet. Hang on to your britches.
I work at my city office about nine hours a day. Two hours a day are spent commuting. Every waking minute is spent thinking about the farm and family I left behind for a great career opportunity. I lead a double life, and thus have a dual-purpose closet. If I worked on the farm still, I would be working even more hours of the day. My grandmothers don’t much care to hear about my job – they just want to know if I’ve found a farm boy yet in my travels.
And what if I did? Would he respect me enough to work alongside me or would he expect dinner on the table at 7, 12 and 5? You wouldn’t think I would have to consider these questions but you’d be surprised how often issues like this arise for women involved in agriculture. I digress. This is “The Bachelorette, Farmer Style,” after all and I have 10 or 25 men chomping at the bit because I’m an amazing soulmate who feels a connection with all of them, right? And I have a TV station footing the bill for 12 weeks.
Dates would differ a great deal. I’m an intense person with journalism training so direct questions are my specialty. That’s the least of their worries. Beyond the “grilling,” I’d expect less drinking and more hard work caring for animals, fixing equipment, checking the weather and crops and completing manual labor. Quality time “together” is a more likely date. “Dates” in our own tractors across the field from one another or in the bed of a pickup truck (think 1 tons, my friends) with dirt under your fingernails and falling asleep during the first frame of a movie are my reality. Thinking you’re down for something a little more steamy? We’ll put bales in a haymow or shear sheep. On special occasions we may get to the county fair, conduct a community fundraiser, clean up a highway or teach lessons about agriculture in the local classrooms.
My grandmas are also big sticklers for who sleeps in which rooms. And your farmhouse room may have spiders, a bat and/or mice. The “overnights” of the show in “The Bachelorette, Farmer Style” would likely be spent in our separate tractors or trucks harvesting or hauling crops before a rain shower. You’ve heard the country songs – we have guns on our farm – but what you should be more aware of are those castration bands. This is real life.
Beyond the words amazing, soulmate, chemistry, connection and wow, a farmer-to-be would need to know the following:
- The difference between animal welfare and animal rights. It’s important to me that my animals are cared for humanely but not “humanly.” On our farm, animals have a good life as long as they live – and I mean that wholeheartedly. Our animals are blessed to have a mixture of pasture and barn living to balance the elements of a northern climate. I had a similar living style as a child – playing outside in the summertime and staying indoors as often as possible or wearing big coats outdoors in the winter.
- Forage and rations are all part of my animals’ nutrition. Think of forage as a big space of salad and that’s what my sheep see in a pasture. Our young or pregnant sheep sometimes require a special diet (ration) to assist in proper development.
- Combines, tractors, balers, wagons, trailers, post-drivers and other equipment are part of our everyday vocabulary. Adjust your idea of a “grabber” and a “rub” because on the farm a grabber is an efficient way of picking up hay bales and a rub refers to your meaty dinner.
For now, my muscles appreciate having a desk job. But through the hard work and constant vigilance, there are so many rewards to rural living. What I’ve given up to have my city job include welcoming new life to the farm; using the blessings of earth, sunshine and rainwater to cycle new crops for healthy animals; more stars than a person can count; neighbors who you trust enough to not lock houses and vehicles; windows-down car singing at high speeds and feeling deep American pride at seeing bald eagles, turtles, deer, elk, coyotes and bears all living among our livestock and crops.