The course of true love never did run smooth, according to William Shakespeare. He was certainly right as far as farming relationships are concerned.
But fear not, the Farmers Weekly team are here to share their dos and don’ts of dating a farmer.
- Arrange the date outside of the July-to-September period to steer clear of harvest. October and November are best to avoid because of drilling. Spring’s not ideal because of spraying. You’ll obviously want to avoid lambing season, too. And calving time. In fact, there may be a window of about three days in any given year which is good for a date.
- When planning the date, be patient if you are waiting for a text. Texting is far from compatible with tractor driving, stock husbandry, milking and fencing. That’s even assuming you/they can get a signal.
- Sound impressed when they tell you how many acres they farm. To be on the safe side, the suggested response is: “Wow!” (A gasp also never goes amiss.)
- Even if you don’t know your Fords from your Fendts and your Herefords from your Holsteins, look interested when they show you a photo of their most recent purchase, be it an animal or machine.
- Bone-up on acronyms. BPS is not a political party, RPA is not a nasty disease and AHDB is not a behavioural disorder.
- Eat heartily. Picking at your food is what pen-pushers do. Obviously choose a meat-based dish from the menu. The courgette, tofu, artichoke and broad bean pancake with a nut topping may well not impress.
- Do think carefully who you date. Agriculture is a small world. If the date doesn’t go well, falling out with the son or daughter or a neighbouring farmer could result in a family feud that will last four generations.
- If you think something could develop into a relationship, ask yourself if you can really commit to not getting much sleep (for all the wrong reasons), being totally ignored whenever a weather forecast comes on the TV and taking “holidays” that involve farm visits.
And the don’ts:
- Don’t expect them to be on time. Who knows what’s happening – there could be a breakdown or a birth.
- Don’t judge them by their hands. They will undoubtedly be hard-skinned, grubby and stained beyond the point of no return, but it’s a sign of hard graft.
- Don’t feel overly suspicious if they receive a lot of texts. In the unlikely event of a summertime date, it’s probably news that the grain dryer’s on the blink, or a warning that the telehandler is being nicked.
- Don’t be alarmed if your farmer date looks tired. It’s not boredom, it’s exhaustion – working 16 hours straight can have that effect.
- Don’t under any circumstances order the New Zealand lamb from the menu. Or the Spanish strawberries. Or the Kenyan runner beans. Basically: Buy British!
- Don’t be alarmed if you see weaponry. Empty shotgun cartridge cases and penknives are not evidence of violent behaviour, it merely means they have a pigeon problem and use big bales, respectively.
- Don’t say: “I got stuck behind a tractor on the way here, they’re so bloody annoying, aren’t they? I don’t think they should be allowed on the road.”
- Absolutely do not wear white if you’re hoping for a lift home. It’s highly likely there will be more mud in the car than there is on the farm.
If you reckon you’d like to meet a farmer, then the online dating and social networking community Muddy Matches might be able to help.