By Susan Lahey
Rural singles find commonality at an online farming dating service.
She was a 65 year old living in rural Ohio. She’d been lonely for a decade, she’d gone to church and prayed for a husband, and suddenly she saw an article about www.FarmersOnly.com, the dating site for farmers. She called website owner Jerry Miller at home: “I don’t know anything about computers but I have to get on this site,” she told him.
He talked her through registering. The next night she called him again: “How do I get a picture on here?” Again, he coached her, finally offering to get it on the site for her if she mailed him the photo. A couple of nights later the phone rang again: “How do I send emails?”
It was about three weeks later that he heard from her again. Expecting to talk her through a technical problem, he was shocked to hear, “Thanks, I got married.”
Her new spouse was 76, a rancher from South Dakota, and they’d just decided, “Why wait?”
FarmersOnly.com is the brainchild of Miller, a partner in the advertising firm of Brown & Miller in the Cleveland, Ohio, area whose clients include the Alpaca Owners and Producers Association. In visiting with clients, he got to talking to one woman who had recently divorced and was complaining about the difficulty of meeting someone. He suggested meeting people at church. She already knew everyone at church. And she didn’t have time to socialize. He proposed an Internet dating service, even helped her write her profile, but a month later she told him: “These city guys don’t have a clue, they can’t relate to my lifestyle at all.”
Surely, Miller thought, there was a dating website for farmers. But while some websites advertised farmers among their clientele, they were lumped together with lawyers and computer programmers and physical trainers.
So he started interviewing farmers all over the country in hopes to start an online farming dating service.
“Everybody was in the same boat,” he says. “They live out in the middle of nowhere, they already know everybody around them, and they don’t have time to socialize.”
He launched FarmersOnly.com in May 2005 and for the first six months activity was really slow. The bad news was the site was limited to folks like an 18-year-old from Texas and a 60-year-old from Minnesota. The good news was, now at least all those farmers had people to talk to. Many of them became friends through the site.
Then, in November, Newsweek ran a story about the site. Suddenly, it took off. People were joining like crazy and many of them were calling Miller at all hours asking questions about how to get their profiles posted. Currently, the site has 30,000 members and has launched about 15 marriages.
For farmers, the site has distinct advantages. While on many sites people have to wade through all kinds of criteria to find matches, most of the people on FarmersOnly.com can count on some commonalities. All of them prefer rural living to city dwelling. Most are animal lovers. All tout hard-working, down-to-earth, honest and independent as characteristics that describe them and the person they’re looking for. A great majority identify themselves as Christian. A lot prefer American or Mexican food and barbecue and listen to country or rock music. And another great majority will have no trouble finding someone on the site with whom to enjoy hiking, camping, four-wheeling, dancing, NASCAR and muddin’. Most don’t mind getting dirty.
Some women promise to be the Biblical wife from Proverbs 31; others are like a pilot and motorcycle rider from Maryland who writes she is “a difficult mare to tame . . . I don’t want to pick up where your mom left off.” The men generally promise to be good-hearted and honest. A lot are divorced, but there are a fair number of youngsters in the 20-year-old-range looking to get hitched right off.
Many clients get their intro titles from country songs: “Good hearted woman”; “Save a horse, ride a cowboy.” A lot are “Looking for My Cowboy” or “Looking for a Country Girl.” One woman just said: “I want a new boyfriend.” One rosy-cheeked fellow calls himself “Farm raised and born to snuggle.”
Some are from traditional farms, some from organic farms. And then there are the ones who aren’t from farms at all. That’s interesting, Miller says, because farmers tell him they’re the low rung on the totem pole in social functions. But on FarmersOnly.com, non-farmers are courting their favor.
“I’m not a farmer but my parents had a farm in Michigan . . . .”
“I’m not a farmer but I like the country lifestyle . . . .”
Finally, a place where a farmer can get a little respect.