Friday, August 26, 2005

Website caters to those who find tractors sexy

Life can be lonely down on the farm. Just ask Pieter DeHond, who farms 200 acres in Canandaigua, N.Y.

DeHond, 41, a divorced father of two teenage sons, was featured recently in a story that moved on the Associated Press wire about his unusual method of finding a date. DeHond planted corn in a pasture to spell out a message. His message said “S.W.F Got-2 (heart) Farm’n” and then features a 1,000-foot-long arrow pointing to his house.

“I wouldn’t place a personal ad in the paper. To me it seems desperate,” he said. “This is more of a fun thing. I put this out in a field where nobody could see it unless you flew over it.”

Maybe someone should have told DeHond about a new website designed to help farmers, and farm lovers, meet.

The Internet has become a virtual one-stop shop for all sorts of things. Need a new tractor? You can shop everything from newspaper classified ads to implement dealerships online. How about a new cell phone? You can not only order one online, you can pay your monthly bill for it via computer as well.

All of that immediacy can seem a bit out of step with the rural agrarian life, where we are more likely to mark time by the season than the millisecond. But now even finding a date for the boots-and-buckles set has gone high tech.

Yes, if you are looking for that special someone to take with you to the next outing of the redneck yacht club, you may be able to find that country boy, or girl, of your dreams on a website. The site, called, sports the slogan “City folks just don’t get it.”

The site was the brainchild, and has become the passion of, Jerry Miller of Beachwood, Ohio, who runs an advertising agency.

But helping farmers and lovers of country living find someone to share their chosen lifestyle with has become Miller’s calling.

“It’s become my passion,” Miller said in a phone interview this week. “I really enjoy working on it. Instead of going home and watching TV, I’d rather do this.”

Miller, who does public relations for the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, said he got his inspiration from a female farmer that was having trouble finding the love of her life while working the farm. He said the woman turned to other online dating service for help but found that the people she was meeting didn’t know anything about or appreciate the farming way of life.

Miller tried to help the farmer find a service that would suit her, but when he couldn’t find a site that catered to farmers he built one.

“Even though the farming community is shrinking, there are still of lot of (people with) roots” on a farm or in the rural lifestyle, Miller said. “I want to build an entire community that understands each other.”

Miller launched his site in May, but growth was slow. Miller said it took more than two months to get more than 100 people to post biographies on the site.

He said before he started the site people told him there weren’t enough farmers with online access to make the site viable, but that is changing.

“It’s amazing who’s online now,” he said.

And his site is growing.

“Now in the last month I’ve had 300 people,” he said, including 50 in just the last weekend. “Just in the last week, things have really taken off.”

As of early this week, 450 people have posted biographies. It was also picked as the “Niche Dating Site of the Week” by this week.

So far, the women looking for a farmboy or a cowboy outnumber the men looking for cowgirls and farmgirls 3-to-2.

“The women e-mail me saying they need more men” to register on the site, which Miller said differs from most online dating sites where he said his research has shown men dominate the site.

People joining FarmersOnly are from all over the country – all over farm country. The people who have registered for the site cover a wide age range, from 19 to people in their 60s,

Some of those who have posted information on the site include women from the exotic locales of Porterville, Calif., Lacey, Wash., Twin Falls, Idaho, and Klamath Falls, Ore. And the men come from the metropolises of Nampa, Idaho, Richland, Wash., Hermiston, Ore. and Madera, Calif.

And for some reason, there are a lot of posts from Vermont, particularly Rutland, Vt. Rutland must be a very lonely place. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that a story on the site appeared in the Rutland (Vt.) Herald on Aug. 20.

Miller is offering a 45-day free trial to anyone registering with his site. And paid membership after the trial, which allows members to communicate directly with one another, will cost $9.99 per month, $19.99 for three months or $59.99 for one year.

But is the site making Miller any money now?

“Oh, no, are you kidding me?” Miller said.

Miller said people aren’t just finding dates on the site, they are finding friends based on their mutual agricultural interests and activities.

Do you think an agriculture journalist with a taste for country music and rodeos could apply?

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