I’ve been a Bachelor fan for a while, and my interest only increased as Chris Soules, an Iowa farmer became the star of the show. In Monday’s episode, Chris decided to propose to Whitney, who is becoming one of Iowa’s newest farm fiancés!
In some ways, I imagine the transition Whitney faces is similar to the changes I faced when moving to the farm (it is certainly noted that she is dealing with many more changes, i.e. the American media). So in no particular order, here are 5 thoughts on transitioning to the Iowa farm life I would share with Whitney if we were sitting down and having coffee.
- Keep Your Interests and Your Friends – Moving to the farm means inserting yourself into someone else’s world, and it’s a strange one if you don’t have an agriculture background. When I moved here, I felt a bit like an intruder. It is easy to get lost in my farmer’s world, so I try to keep in touch with my friends and the interests I had before we were a couple. The Bachelor happened too be one of those interests, so each week I make time with girlfriends to watch, talk, and drink wine. There are also lots of phone calls, emails, and text messages to my long distance friends. I love that technology has made it easier to maintain relationships with those that don’t live “in the middle of nowhere” with me.
- Learn as Much as You Can About Agriculture (Especially Your Operation) – Farming is a profession and lifestyle wrapped into one. The more you understand about agriculture and the operation, the more you are going to be invested in it (and the better you will understand your farmer’s mood swings!) If you’re like me, you’re going to start with “Farming 101” . . . what is an acre, and why do you call that a heifer, isn’t that just a cow? Soon you will be an expert of your operation. Don’t be afraid to ask any question, in fact your farmer will probably beam with pride teaching you what he does on the farm.
- Get Involved in Your Community – People are going to know you. Even without a reality television show, it seems like everyone in my community knows me as Farmer J’s wife, but I am struggling to remember their names. Slowly, but surely I am starting to get to know them too. Getting involved in the community and forming relationships with locals will be important to feeling at home. I can guarantee you they will be welcoming, so all you need to do is put in a little effort to begin the relationships. I will admit, with my life as commuter has hampered this, but even small things like participating in church bell choir or joining the local “Under 40” group have made me feel a part of this place.
- Get Away – Yes Iowa is small, and rural . . . but you aren’t captive here 365 days a year. We have roads and airports, so take advantage. A perk about marrying a farmer is that they work for themselves . . . so anytime they aren’t in the field is game for a vacation. Since we’ve been married, we’ve visited Alaska, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, and most recently Greece, so I would like to think we’re proof that your remote living situation shouldn’t hamper your ability to explore the world!
- You’re Not Alone – There will come a day when your farmer is working late in the field during harvest and you will wonder why you signed up to eat alone at nights. The good news is that you’re not actually alone. There is a whole network of farm ladies here to support you. First, connect with your mother-in-law. She has experience in the farm wife department and can understand what you’re going through. I also enjoy reading blogs from other Iowa farm gals including Cristen at Food and Swine, Katie from On the Banks of Squaw Creek, and Val at Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids. They (among the many other lady agriculture bloggers I follow) have helped me feel like I am one of many in a larger farming community. In addition to the virtual community, there are great programs for young farmers in Iowa. We are active in the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Program which has connected us with many great friends across the state (I think I speak for everyone when I say we’d love to have you and Chris be part of the program!)
I sincerely hope that Whitney and Chris have lifelong happiness on the farm. It will be a tough transition, likely only made worse by constant attention from well meaning strangers and the ruthless celebrity media. However, Whitney is one off the few girls on the show that my friends and I all agreed we could see living in rural Iowa. . . so I have hope! I have also loved seeing our state and agriculture being shown to a new audience beyond the boarders of the two rivers!
Wishing all the best to Iowa’s most famous farm couple!