Swiping on dating apps is a breeze if you live in a town or city. But, when you’re a young farmer living in a rural community, it’s a whole other story. One where dates get cancelled when animals go into labour, and where some people show up to their dates brandishing shotguns.
For farmers, online dating is an experience. And not always a good one.
31-year-old Mark Jervis — an arable farmer in Warwickshire, UK — entered the world of online dating four years ago in an effort to broaden his horizons after a big breakup and a series of “unsuccessful” flings with women in the area. But, finding a likeminded person in the local area who he didn’t already know proved challenging.
“Another date was with a taxidermist who answered the door brandishing a shotgun.”
He tried out a dating site called MuddyMatches.co.uk which — as the name suggests — is for country-dwelling singles looking for love. His first Muddy Matches date was “a disaster”. He was exhausted after a long week and had managed to get some metal in his eye that day, so he was weeping and yawning throughout the date. “It turned out I’d bought a tractor from her father the year before as he was the local sales rep for a machinery dealer,” says Mark. He felt obliged to be nice, so he stuck it out for two and a half hours. “I haven’t spoken to her or her father since.”
The fun and games didn’t end there though. “Another date was with a taxidermist who answered the door brandishing a shotgun. She’d been trying to shoot a crow in the garden, to stuff,” Mark says. His foray into the realm of Tinder introduced him to a woman who was terrified of cattle, and another woman he didn’t want to risk upsetting because her boss was one of his biggest customers.
Mark ended up meeting his current girlfriend at a wedding when she interrupted him trying to tackle a cold and very tough beef sandwich. “I tell everyone we met online though so they don’t think we’re weird.”
Farmers are unique in the respect that it’s more difficult to move location because of the nature of their work and they can’t really travel in search of a partner. Mark says famers’ lifestyles are also a major obstacle when it comes to arranging dates. Even the weather can put a last minute damper on social plans.
“I’ve had to cancel a date about an hour before once ’cause I needed to vet to come out to calve a cow.”
He’s not the only one who’s experienced challenges when it comes to finding love and farming. 22-year-old Eli Hey — a 6th generation beef farmer from West Yorkshire, UK — finds Tinder dates really difficult because farming isn’t “a 9-5 job”. He says it’s especially trying in the summer when there’s silage and hay to be made.
“I’ve had to cancel a date about an hour before once ’cause I needed a vet to come out to calve a cow. She didn’t believe me and thought it was a ridiculous excuse,” says Eli. The main problem, he says, is that many people have a preconceived idea that all farmers are “old and bald” so they don’t believe that he’s a beef farmer at his age.
First-generation farmer Nicole Caldwell moved from New York City to “the middle of nowhere” when she inherited her uncle’s property in upstate New York. She says moving from NYC to a place where families have been established for more than 100 years made for an unusual dating experience, often one that left her feeling like she was occupying a space between two worlds — “too city for the country, too country for the city”.
She tried out FarmersOnly.com — a dating site for famers — but found no one that seemed like an appropriate fit for her. “To find someone on Tinder who you don’t already know up here, you have to change your match settings to a 50-mile radius, at least,” says Nicole. Most of her Tinder matches happened when she made her way back into the city to work or see friends. She’s now living with her current boyfriend, who she met in a bar and “bewitched” into moving to her area.
It seems if you’re a farmer looking for a Tinder date, you’ll need to be willing to go the distance …literally. For 26-year-old Hannah Blackmer — a farmer in central Vermont — distance has been a major problem in her Tinder game. “Dating as a farmer is tough. I live in a very rural area which makes it pretty difficult to meet people, let alone young or single or suitable,” she says.
“If I do find someone to go on a date with, they most definitely do not live in town; usually that means driving 30+ minutes to grab a drink and that’s the halfway point for both of us,” she continues. Hannah also finds her schedule to be an obstacle as she works around 65 or 70 hours a week, so even if the first few dates go well, it ends up being a “catch me if you can” situation. But, she remains hopeful that she’ll meet a “dashing and single human who lives relatively nearby”.
The good old fashioned organic route to finding love is still proving most successful for those in the farming community. But online dating shouldn’t be territory reserved exclusively for the benefit of city dwellers. For now, there are a variety of different factors that make the realm of online dating particularly challenging for farmers. If you find yourself matching with a farmer, spare a thought for the inflexible nature of their job — it might not be that they’re not into you.