In recent years there has been an increase in reality television shows. Currently ‘Married at First Sight” is the ratings winner. One of the first shows I remember was ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife’. This city girl had been with her farmer (grazier) for about 10 years when the first show aired. I must admit I found it rather amusing. I remember the cliched romantic images associated with life on the land. Who could forget the shearing shed lit up with hundreds of candles for one dinner date?
At a presentation recently I said I should write about what really happens when a Farmer finds a wife.
So here is the condensed version…
About 20 years ago after travelling the world and kicking off my career in Brisbane, I quickly discovered that working my way up the corporate ladder was not for me.
I was offered a job in Central Queensland and thought it would be a great way to see more of Australia.
I worked in Roma and had moved to a house 12km from town. I must admit gasping at the wonderful sight of my first kangaroo on the lawn and telling my city friends about the new neighbours – a mob of cattle in the paddock next door.
Being keen to see the area, I asked for recommendations of places to visit. It was suggested I go to a lookout with an amazing view of the Arcadia Valley – an hour and a half drive from Roma.
A new workmate, Bec, said she had a friend who lived there and offered to take me and another girl out for the day to see the area and meet some locals.
Worried about the female invasion Bec’s friend Kenton, who we were going to visit, rang around for support.
By the time we arrived at his place, there were four blokes and two pig dogs waiting to greet us.
Time is money in the bush
The guys were saving to buy a speed boat to go water skiing, so when it was suggested we go for a drive to the lake, one of them decided he would bring his pigging dogs in case there was anything to catch.
The first impressions just got more interesting.
It was a bit of a drive to the lake from Kenton’s place and a toilet stop was needed on the way. Lucky we weren’t busting to go. Picture the biggest boulder you can about half a kilometre up a hill.
Only a guy would think this made sense.
For safety, we were given a stick to fend off snakes. Then they sat back and watched us march up the hill.
Fortunately, there were no pigs at the lake so the dogs had the day off and we enjoyed the picnic without any drama.
On the way back to Kenton’s for dinner I discovered another fact about young blokes on the land.
They may tell you they live by themselves but really they have not cut the cord.
Their parents, well their mums in particular, still take good care of them.
Magic washing baskets that turn dirty clothes into clean ones and food prepared with love, ready for collection, seem to just happen.
Importantly, the essentials were covered. Rum and steak for dinner.
We called into Kenton’s parents’ place for some coke to go with the rum and also to get some salad ingredients that would go with steak.
Another asset of the place – the magic cold room with the never-ending supply of food and drink.
Our friend Jo was waiting in front of a tractor and one of the blokes was directing a dog to “go and say hello to Tracy”.
How cute, I thought.
Since Jo was the only one in front of the tractor I thought isn’t that interesting they must name their machinery.
I was wrong – machinery is not named.
The tractor was not called Tracy. Someone just got Jo’s name wrong.
Sometimes guys just don’t pay attention to the details.
I dated one of these guys for three years before we got married, and learnt many new truths about farmers and rural life along the way.
- If a guy has a clean room and well ironed clothes then they still live with (or very close to) their mother
- Social phone calls can’t be made until after business hours, which is after 8.30 at night
- Most men on the land are allergic to paperwork, meetings and anything that involves working inside
- Horse rides are not romantic, you will end up with a sore backside if you don’t know how to ride properly
- There is no work/life balance, but rather a work/life integration
- Romantic gestures do not include candlelight dinners or bunches of flowers but rather practical acts of kindness like checking your tyre pressure
- Being called a ‘Princess’ is not an affectionate term
- Light coloured furniture should only be found in photo shoots
- Every trip to town should be a tax deduction because there is always a longer list of supplies needed for the business than anything else
- When you live amongst nature you have to adjust your expectations of what a clean, dirt and pest-free house looks like (because it doesn’t exist)
- When you get told ‘I only need your help for a minute’ – pack your lunch
- You don’t just enter into a marriage with a farmer; you marry into a family business
- You have to truly love your partner because there will be times you won’t like them or what they expect you to do
- Neighbours are more than just friends, they are your support network who understand and ‘get’ what life is like for you
- Inside the tough resilent exteriors are people with the biggest hearts
- Generousity is what keeps the bush alive, in times of trouble you know others will have your back
- Community is alive and thriving in rural Australia
- Technology is helping people connect because although isolated, no-one should feel alone
- The importance of humour can never be understated, laughter really is the best medicine
- The colour of green grass that grows after the rain warms your soul
- There are times you will have to attend functions without your husband, simply because things go wrong and there is no emergency response unit to call
- Farming is not just a lifestyle; it is also a business with many external influences impacting on how it operates within regulatory frameworks and consumer expectations
- The iconic image of a farmer is not the reality. We are well-educated, environmentally aware producers who use the latest technology and equipment to remain viable players in a keenly competitive international market.
- There is no ‘Jack of all trades’- her name is Jill.
I have so much admiration for those people who have dedicated their life to producing food and fibre for the rest of the population.
In recent times well resourced activists have targeted my rural community and as someone who knows how much care and dedication goes into looking after livestock the stories are heartbreaking.
Providing transparency and explanations for why we do what we do is not hard. It is easy to tell the truth. The challenge is learning how to market and share this information with our city friends in ways that people who are anti-farmers can’t twist and distort.
But I have every faith we will rise to the challenge.
In reaching out to acknowledge the concerns of the wider community we will reconnect through shared values and explaining how we ensure animal welfare and environmental stewardship is a high priority.
Not because it is profitable, but because it is the right thing to do.
So what really happens when the Farmer finds a wife?
The adventures begin.