Looking for More than a Roll in the Hay | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 02.10.2003
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Looking for More than a Roll in the Hay

German farmer, 32. Well-built, good-looking, outdoors type seeks hard-working woman with marriage in mind. Must like early mornings, long days in the country, inclement weather and the smell of animal waste products.


Forget roses. Nothing says 'I love you' like a bunch of carrots.

For those who live the life, it is an honorable one, providing sustenance and nutrition for the nation and for those beyond the country’s borders. But the life of the farmer is far from an easy one. The hard work, the many hours dedicated to the land, the endless concern over crops and herds and the economic situation that barely makes it financially worthwhile at times all add up to making the farmer’s existence one few outside the community would choose. But German farmers are facing up to a more personal problem -- finding a partner and hanging onto her.

Considering all the factors above, it may be understandable why life as the spouse of a farmer who wakes before the sun rises and drops into bed way after it sets -- and expects you to do the same -- does not appeal to many of those out there looking for a relationship. A man (or woman) who puts the welfare of his pigs before candlelight meals and scatters hay and mud on the marital bed instead of rose petals may not be everyone’s vision of the perfect partner.

Landwirtschaft Viehwirtschaft in Frankreich Milchkühe Milchproduktion EU-Quoten

Alone but never truly alone.

Unfortunately, it is these kinds of entrenched stereotypes that are contributing to the lack of interest many farmers across Germany are experiencing. Despite technological advances in farming and a drift to more management style farm operations, farmers are still seen as unkempt, mono-syllabic workaholics who always smell of manure, even though many now spend as much time behind a desk as they do in the yard or fields.

400,000 German farmers without partners

As if to compound the image that is dogging his fellow farmers, Florian Reichelt wades through pungent slurry in an outfit that does nothing to promote his attributes as ideal husband material as he laments the lack of love in his life. At 32, Reichelt should be considered a catch by anyone’s standards, a possible posterboy for the farming fraternity. A large, muscular man with handsome features and good manners, Reichelt explained his dilemma, and that of the 400,000 other German farmers who remain unattached, to Deutsche Welle.

“When girls or women hear you’re a farmer, they wrinkle their noses thinking they can smell the cow shed,” he sighed. “Others say ‘no farmers, no rolling in the dirt, no getting up early in the morning’.”

No Costa del Sol come summer

Ein Traktor fährt bei Weimar auf einem Feld, Strohballen

Fields as far as the eye can see.

Reichelt’s longest relationship lasted seven years, but the pressure of his work and the time he dedicated to it caused divisions. The problems began when, at the height of the harvest, his girlfriend wanted to take three weeks vacation. Farmers’ partners must face the facts, he said. Summer may mean a holiday for the rest of the world but for it’s a farmer's busiest time.

Eventually, something had to give. “My girlfriend said ‘it’s me or your job’ and then I said, ‘yeah, then it’s my job’.”

Although maintaining relationships is a problem for farmers due to the workload and worries surrounding the running of the farm, an even bigger problem is finding a partner in the first place. Many start their careers through inheritance, taking over the family business once their parents enter retirement or in the event of bereavement.

The burden of the young

Viehauktion in Deutschland

It's you and me, babe.

Often they are handed the huge responsibility at a young age. While their peers are out at nightclubs, flirting and hooking up, young farmers are striking up meaningful relationships with their prize bulls or wrapping their arms around bails of wheat rather than a pretty girl.

The farming community does try and help itself by organizing dances and events, but, as Reichelt complained, few ideal partners can be found at such social gatherings. In an attempt to find true love, Reichelt is contemplating joining a specialist dating service for lonely farmers.

Dating online to the rescue

Luckily, help is at hand thanks to www.landflirt.de, a farming computer dating agency whose existence goes some way to underline the seriousness of the problem facing the loveless land workers.

The idea of a specialized service that offers the hope of love and marriage for German farmers is far from new. German settlers who came to the United States in the 1800s had their own publication and a network of ‘bride searchers’ scouring the promised land for the daughters of pioneers who were looking for a man with land and food to go on the table.

Nowadays, the needs of the lonely farmer are slightly more complex. But that hasn’t stopped the Landflirt site from attracting a steady number of classifieds. At any one time, there are over 500 male farmers looking for partners on the site and over 200 females. Reichelt’s dream woman may be one of them: “She can have her own job and career but she must be right behind the farm,” he said. “And she must have an interest and confidence in the future of farming.”

He added that a woman looking to have a family life with children could do worse than get hitched to a farmer. “We’re normally at home in the middle of the day, and in the mornings, it offers good conditions for raising a family.”

Economy does little to help

Protest auf Deutschem Bauertag

Demonstrations have given farmers a bad press.

However, the negatives unfortunately continue to outweigh the positives. Thanks to adverse media coverage of the current financial situation of German farmers, who have been protesting against the conditions that forced 17,000 farms to close last year, the current perception of them is one of a bunch of whining, unattractive men.

Sadly, it seems the odds are stacked against those German farmers who are unlucky in love.

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