How I Accidentally Fell in Love with a Farmer

Ours was not love at first sight.

Dairy Man was a friend of my college housemate. The first time I remember him was when he came to my door looking for her.

“Is Amanda here?”
“No, sorry.”
“Ok. Hey, would you like to get coffee sometime?”
“Um. What was your name again?”

DM wants me to point out that I’m oversimplifying this exchange, but that was the gist. He wasn’t on my radar until that moment, even though his friends had been pushing him the direction of Amanda’s single (and ravishing) housemate for a while.

I was startled but I said yes.

So we went out for coffee. Hands cupped around warm mugs, we talked comfortably for a couple of hours. I came home and told a friend, “It was fun. He’s really nice. But there weren’t any sparks.”


Fast forward six months.

DM had become one of my best friends. We studied together, spent hours engaged in witty repartee on AIM (#90schild), and resisted the less-than-subtle attempts of our friends to get us together.

Well, at least I did.

I let that poor boy chase me for the better part of a year, but I just wasn’t ready. I was selfish. I couldn’t get over the farmer thing. We were constantly embroiled in typical 20-something college drama deserving of a reality show. Will she? Won’t she? It was exhausting and nobody got a rose.


Then I got accepted to a semester program in Chicago. DM’s frustration with my coquettish ways had reached a boiling point. We had a huge fight before I left and decided not to talk for a while.


Chicago was an incredible experience. I shared a studio apartment with a bed in the wall and a kitchen in the closet. I tried Indian food. I interned at the Museum of Contemporary Art by day and spent my nights going to plays, ballets, museums, and modern dance performances in empty swimming pools (just as weird as it sounds). I loved everything about the city.

But something still tugged on my heart.

Every morning as I walked the 15 blocks to my office, I talked to my sister on the phone. Many months later Mandy told me that I mentioned Dairy Man in almost every single call. I said that I missed him. That I wondered what he was doing. That it was killing me not to talk to him.

I had escaped Michigan for the big city, but I hadn’t escaped him.


He was the first person I called when I moved back and we started dating a couple of days later. It was instantly comfortable, perfectly right, as if this is what was supposed to happen all along.

We were so happy. Crazy about each other. But we weren’t out of the woods yet.

I still didn’t love the farmer thing, but DM talked about moving away after college, working for the commodities exchange in Chicago, trying something new. I clung to this hope.


The sun felt unbearably hot on my head as I sat in silence, trying to digest what he had just told me.

“Jess, I’m going to stay here and work on the dairy.”

My heart sank into my shoes. I suddenly wanted to leap from the bed of his red truck and run until my lungs burned. But I was frozen.

We had talked about this. After we graduated from college, DM went home to work on the farm and save some money. I knew there was a possibility of his staying on the dairy, but he seemed so sure he wanted to get out of West Michigan and experience something new. That was my expectation, my deepest yearning.

Now it was August. I still hadn’t found a job in Chicago and DM was planning to stay here.

I felt silly for hoping. I felt silly for thinking that I could coerce him into my world of sushi and skyscrapers.

I should have known his heart was too deeply rooted in farming.

This was my first true introduction to an undeniable truth: farming is not a job, it’s a life. It was in DM’s blood. It pulsed through his body like oxygen. He couldn’t fathom leaving the work that made him feel most alive. I couldn’t fault him that. But that didn’t make my choice any easier. At a very young stage in our relationship, I had to decide: Chicago or him?

Because I knew in my heart that long distance wouldn’t work. Once my feet left Michigan soil, I wouldn’t be back for a while.

I wanted an adventurous life. But this boy was offering a farm.

“I just don’t know if I can do this.”


Happy tears burned my eyes as I rounded the corner, arms locked with my dad, white dress swishing.

And then I saw him. My love, my life, smiling and waiting at the front of the church.

Violin strains of “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve swelled around me in the most visceral way imaginable. I could barely breathe.

I kept walking, unable to take my eyes off the man in front of me.

We had come so far. We had crossed so many valleys together. I was young and terrified, but I did not doubt my choice.

For whatever reason in God’s design, I was going to marry a dairy farmer.



And now we’re here. 900 words, nine years (five and a half married), two barns, one baby, and hundreds of cows later.

Becoming a farm wife has become surprisingly normal, but I don’t ever want to forget that it wasn’t easy to get here. I had to overcome a lot of fear, stubbornness, and unreasonable expectations before admitting that, EGADS, I was in love with a dairyman.

I’m so glad he stuck with me.

Because love isn’t always obvious or simple. It isn’t something you just fall into. It’s a choice you make every day.

As I look ahead to Valentine’s Day this weekend—that ubiquitous holiday of candy hearts and overpriced red roses—I am grateful for our kind of love. This love is hard-fought. This love is not perfect nor without cow manure tracked into the house, but it’s real. We make each other better through our differences.

Our love story reminds me that I chose this life. I chose him. I wasn’t looking for what DM offered, but God knew it was exactly what I needed.


“If it is right, it happens—the main thing is not to hurry.
Nothing good gets away.” —John Steinbeck

20 thoughts on “How I Accidentally Fell in Love with a Farmer

  1. This is a beautiful piece. I read every one. When you wrote the piece comparing the silage pack to the size of a whale you could hear the ripples of laughter from women throughout the office that day. This piece is touching and sweet and honest. Keep them coming. The funny ones, the sweet ones, the ones about the joys and struggles of raising Anders. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with all of us. Best wishes for many Happy Valentine’s Days for your family in the future. PS: My mom swore she’d never marry a farmer. I’m lucky she didn’t stick with that rule.

    1. Thanks for the continued support, Heather. Posting has been sporadic in these parts since A came along, but it’s still such a cathartic outlet. And where else can I legitimately post my artistic renderings of whales and silage piles? 😉

  2. Love this story! I have fallen in love with a farmer. It is a second chance at love for both of us. My family can’t believe that I, the princess, is in love with a farmer and willing to uproot myself from my tiny city to a farm in the middle of nowhere. But I am. Because even though his life is nearly foreign to me, I love him.

  3. This really spoke to me. As I feel all the time that I have to choose the farm life/guy or my dreams. I can’t imagine leaving him but I hate the thought of letting my own dreams fly away with the wind. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Life can surprise you sometimes, Sierra. In a way I thought I was letting my dreams down in favor of his, but I somehow found my dream job right here in our small town. Is it Chicago? No. But I think that dreams can evolve and adapt and even be fulfilled in ways we can’t imagine. So love your farmer AND hang on to those dreams.

  4. I love this Jess. 🙂 It’s really beautiful. Also really similar to Steve and I (though for different reasons, and our version was more condensed.

    We started hanging out in September. We were in a class together but a friend of mine thought we’d be good together. I didn’t think I was ready for a relationship again and he was so unlike anyone I’d dated. I didn’t think he was what I wanted in the long run. We became friends and hung out a lot, but when things turned romantic I pushed him away. Almost cruelly. That was in late November or early December. All Christmas break I kept talking to my friend about him, thinking about him. Missing him. She told me, “Duh, it’s because you really like him. Give him a chance.” When we got back to school in January we started dating, but couldn’t decide if we wanted to be exclusive – if we wanted to deal with the summer distance. Finally the day we got back to school from spring break in March it became inevitable, and 12 years later here we are.

    Sorry for the brick of text. I just thought it was so cool that I could relate to some of the points in your story. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. Thank you for being so honest about life as a farmers wife!!
    Your story is almost identical to ours. Only we were in middle school when we first met and fell in love before we knew what it meant. He moved away, high school happened and then he finally moved back home with his parents to be closer to me (at least that’s what I like to think lol) and work on a farm. 1 week later we were dating, then his father started his own farm 3 hrs away. I moved down there to be with him because he wanted to support his father (I told myself). I was miserable and lonely since he was always working (farm life) and I left my friends and family behind. Very quickly I moved back home, got a job, went to school and he followed me. 3 weeks later we had that exact conversation – he was going back to the farm and he was staying. I had the same gut wrenching feelings you described. The next year consisted of me moving {again}, a wedding and a baby. I wanted him and this was him.
    A year or so later his dad suddenly closed the farm. There weren’t other jobs there, it’s a small town of family run farms. We went back to our hometown. Closer to my family and he had a 9-5, holidays off kind of job. He actually enjoyed that job I know because he shed a couple tears when they suddenly shut their doors after 5 years. He quickly had job offers and he chose his new 9-5 job and things were looking up. I think I was somewhere between ironing his clothes and packing his lunch the night before his first day when he said – they want to know what it would take for me to come back to the farm- Once again I froze as my heart landed in my stomach. The 1st farm of our lives wanted him back. I could tell by his voice he wanted it too. So there I was, once again a farmers wife.
    You are absolutely right that it’s in their blood. And it is a choice we made to be their wives. I am thankful everyday that my husband stuck it out with me!
    I appreciate your honesty!! We modern farm wives have an unspoken bond and understanding. We need to create a support group lol. A place where we can be honest and lift each other up.

  6. I love reading your blog. I grew up in the city, then went off to college in a small rural farming town. Before I left, and even the first couple years I was very much a city girl and couldn’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere. 4 years of that small farming town changed me, and I have been back in the city for several years, and I have never known happiness, contentment and a sense of home here like I had in the short time I had there.

  7. I grew up on a farm, hated everything about it!!! Swore over and over again I would never ever marry a farmer of any kind!!! Instead I married a guy allergic to hay! I too have been married 10 years 1 dog, 1 cat 2 kids and happy but want to live in the country!!! It’s true; you can’t up root some things!! But as I reflect back all my “good old friend” are the blue collar, dirt moving, greesey hand gold hearted country living, good real people!!!

  8. Thanks, this made me smile so I shared it with my wife. She’s a MI girl who stayed with me in OH.

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