Cyber-courting: Farm girls are looking online for their knights in sheet metal armor
It takes a special breed of woman to appreciate country courting. The city girl may expect dinner and a movie on a first date, while the farm girl enjoys a spaghetti feed and street dance at the local firehouse. The city girl may enjoy a moonlit ...
It takes a special breed of woman to appreciate country courting. The city girl may expect dinner and a movie on a first date, while the farm girl enjoys a spaghetti feed and street dance at the local firehouse. The city girl may enjoy a moonlit walk on the beach while the farm girl understands that a moonlit walk probably will involve several wayward cows and a busted gate latch.
There are tens of thousands of these extraordinary women out there, but farmers and ranchers, spread far and wide on their remote farmsteads, have few opportunities to meet them. To them, all of the interesting gals in town already are married, and driving all the way into the city rarely uncovers anyone other than urban cowgirls who have no clue of what real farm living is all about.
Meet someone who understands. Jerry Miller has helped thousands of farm men and women find each other during the past four years and more than 150 of them have married. In all, he is helping more than 100,000 country folk, young and old, rich and poor, connect on the Internet. The site aptly is named www.FarmersOnly.com , and it is intended for those who understand farm life.
"You don't have to be a farmer, but you do have to respect farmers and respect the lifestyle," Miller says.
He started the Web site in spring 2005 after a female farm friend had told him how frustrated she had become with one of the major online dating sites, finding no men who knew anything about the life. He built Farmers-Only.com as a remedy to that.
"This is not something where people from the city are going to think they're going to move out to the country and sit around drinking iced tea all day," he says. "A lot of our women put in there that they're not afraid to get their hands dirty."
Not long after Miller got started, he had a bit more than 1,000 members listing their likes and dislikes and posting a photo of themselves for others to see.
"It always picks up from harvest season until it's time to start plowing again," he says. "Every time someone gets married or finds somebody to fall in love with, they tell all their friends. It's been spreading like wildfire."
Last year, the site had 2.2 million visitors.
Miller and his staff check every member profile and picture to keep the site "clean" and understand that a lot of rural members are connected on slower phone modems, so the whole site is built with pages that are easy to load. He has seven support people assisting users who may not know how to navigate the site or upload photos.
"Most of our members don't sit on a computer all day, so their Internet usage is not like people who are working in the city on laptops all day," he says.
His members search all over the country, he says, undaunted by distance.
"A lot of our marriages have been like Canada and somewhere in the Midwest, South Carolina-Wisconsin, Michigan-Georgia, Kansas-Nebraska," he says.
One of his favorite stories is about Margaret and Al.
"Margaret is 65 years old and lived in Ohio," he says. "She called and said she didn't know much about computers but just had to get on the Web site because she had to find a date," he says.
So he helped her sign up and enter her profile.
"The next night she calls me and says, 'How do you send an e-mail?' So I explained that to her, and then she called me on a third night, and said, 'How do you get a picture on a computer?'"
Miller had her send him the photo in the mail, and he scanned it and put it on the Web site for her.
"About three weeks later, she calls me, and I'm thinking she's got a technical problem," he says. "She says, 'Hey, Jerry, I just wanted to thank you. I just got married.'"
She had married a cattle rancher named Al from South Dakota. They'd met through FarmersOnly.com. He had gone to Ohio to pick up a truck, so they got together while he was there.
Miller recall: "They just fell in love immediately, and they said, 'What are we doing? What are we waiting for? Let's get married.'"
They did, and she rode back with him in his truck to South Dakota.
"I thought that was amazing," he says.