Tips and Tricks for Surviving Harvest while Dating a Farmer

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A guest blog post by Kristeena Patsche

I know I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. Dating a farmer is something you really have to adjust to. It is not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and your date night or dinner conversations revolve a little too much around the latest and greatest equipment (that he wants but can’t afford) or what went wrong (or right) that day.

But then there’s harvest season . . . 

This brings us to a whole new level.

Being 26, many couples my age are spending their fall weekends either at apple orchards, haunted hayrides, fall festivals or zombie pub crawls, drinking pumpkin spice lattes or some sort of craft pumpkin beer.

Not us. I’ll be honest – we’re lucky if we get around to buying a pumpkin from the local grocery store, and even luckier if it gets carved together.

Dating a farmer is one thing, but dating a farmer during harvest is another. Here’s a few tips and tricks to surviving harvest while dating a farmer.

Making plans.

First and foremost, DON’T DO IT. Whether it’s a wedding, double date, or even a simple appointment, do not assume they’ll be available. Unless it’s raining or they’re broken down, they aren’t leaving the farm. And let’s be honest, if this were the case, they’re probably not pleasant to be around, anyways.

Know the fields and field names BEFORE harvest.

There is nothing worse than saying, “I don’t know where that is,” or asking for directions to a field while they are multi-tasking in the tractor or combine. Plus, the directions usually include landmarks you’ve probably never heard of.

You know – take a left by that one farm site with the old red barn, you’ll then see a John Deere 4840 in the field (because we can all read that from the road or know what it looks like with a single glance), take another left, you’ll see a small red flag in the road ditch and it’s just beyond that on the right side of the road.

Just learn the different fields and field names before October rolls around. It’ll save you some stress.

Corn Harvest

Corn Harvest view from the Combine

Don’t comment on the lack of hygiene.

I’ll just say it. Putting on clean jeans every day, combing their hair daily or making sure they are clean shaven goes out the window during harvest. And it’s better if you just don’t comment on it. I grew up with my dad always telling me, “I won’t shave ‘til all the corn is in the bin.” Just accept they aren’t winning any beauty contests out there.

Stay clear of comparing progress to the neighbors.

Stay clear of comments like, “I saw so-and-so started picking corn today.” Or, “I saw so-and-so finished another field.” Don’t do it. Save yourself. Don’t cause any unneeded stress. You’ll thank me later.

Add meteorologist to your resume.

When rain is in the forecast, it’s a race against the clock. They’ll need to know where the rain is and when it’ll be here. Be prepared to know, but don’t ask how it’s coming. I can probably answer this for you – not fast enough. 

Don’t ask when they’re coming home.

Harvest can feel like a never-ending cycle, day in and day out, working more than what they are sleeping. There are always things that can be done, even if they aren’t in the field. Don’t ask when they’ll be done for the day, because they probably don’t know. Or if they do, plan on an hour later than scheduled.

Make good food, not fancy, sloppy food.

During harvest, staying fed is critical. No one wants a hungry farmer who has just worked an entire day on four hours of sleep. If you’re making meals for the field, stick with foods that are easy to eat where half of it won’t end up on their lap. If they’re up against the clock, they might not have the time to stop and eat, so plan for food they can eat while driving.

harvest lunch

Harvest lunches in the field

If they don’t tell you how the crop is looking, don’t ask.

If they aren’t telling you the yields or how the crop is looking, there’s probably a reason for that. My advice–don’t ask until they tell you.

You’re not their priority . . . right now.

They have waited all summer to see how their hard work has paid off. Unfortunately, this time of year comes at a price. Be patient and flexible. I’d also recommend holding off on any sarcastic comments about being “neglected” until the middle of November.

If you feel single, remember it’s not forever.

There will be days or even weeks where you feel alone or wish you were able to do the typical “fall” activities. This is the one I find the most difficult, as I love everything about fall. I wish we were able to have fun dates together during fall, but my advice is this – make a point to plan something fun for after harvest. Just try and plan it before harvest, because you won’t get much of a response in the middle of October.

Be supportive.

This is a crazy busy time of the year. Emotions are high and time is limited when you’re up against weather. They need your support, whether it’s visiting them in the field or making a quick “on the go” meal. Lend a hand when you can and let them know you’re proud of the work they do (while secretly counting down the days until it’s over).

Hopefully, these survival tips will help keep you (and your significant other) sane and together for another year. Good luck! 

Want to read more?

10 Things About Harvest Most Non-Ag People Don’t Know

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30 Comments on Tips and Tricks for Surviving Harvest while Dating a Farmer

  1. avatar
    September 18, 2017

    I have been married to a farmer for 20 years and all of this is still true. However, the up side is during winter you have them home all the time besides taking care of livestock. It is a trade off. We get about 6 hours every Sunday to do the Fall Family activities that we really want to do and that is about it but that is not always possible. Find friends that you can do those Fall activities with or your kids.

    • avatar
      September 18, 2017

      Great suggestions. Thank you for your comments!

    • avatar
      Tammy Buchholz says:
      September 19, 2017

      I’ve been together with my farmer (just cash crops no livestock) for 25 yrs yesterday and married for 20. I can completely relate! Lol This yrs season is soon upon us. Have a safe and Happy Harvest! 2K17 #mowinthatcob #lovinthecountrylife

  2. avatar
    Frances says:
    September 18, 2017

    I would love a list of tractor friendly foods. By Thanksgiving my husband is totally over sandwiches and chips!

  3. avatar
    Dorothy Man says:
    September 19, 2017

    social picnics are a hard sell on our farm…half the people are already tired of sandwiches and chips by April 15!

  4. avatar
    Jill A Hill says:
    September 19, 2017

    Being married to a farmer for 30 years…and now my sons are dating, I found humor and truth…truth..truth in your words! One thing I would have added to your advice, was to always be up for a ride along..ignoring the bumps and dust! or to help them move fields with equipment! a “yes, I can help” wins their hearts.

  5. avatar
    Aime says:
    September 19, 2017

    Married to my farmer for 27 years and these are great suggestions. While dating I picked up tacos on my way to the field from work. I never did that again! Ride in the tractors, semis, trucks and combine.

  6. avatar
    L.Johnson says:
    September 19, 2017

    All totally true…Been married to one for 35 years…and was a farmer’s daughter too…glad I’m not the only one with these farmer relationship issues. 😉

    • avatar
      September 19, 2017

      Yep. My daughter wrote this. I have been married for nearly 40 years and I can relate also!

  7. avatar
    Liz Turney says:
    September 19, 2017

    4 years in, and I still don’t have the field names down, but I’m getting there! I’m still in grad school, so harvest time falls right in the midst of my semester. Our “quality time” consists of him driving the silage truck and me trying my hardest to read/do homework in the passenger seat. It’s tough, and there was definitely a time (before we ever started dating) that I never would’ve imagined myself here, but, now, I wouldn’t trade my farmer for the world. Sometimes, there’s no better conversation than that riding together conversation.

  8. avatar
    Wood says:
    September 19, 2017

    Not a farmer but worse I work for the local COOP I’m happy just to see my toddler or my wife once a week during harvest which starts when the first farmer starts and ends when the last farmer finishes. Leftovers Leftovers Leftovers!

  9. avatar
    Mary Holmes says:
    September 20, 2017

    There’s no monthly check in a farmer’s life, unless it’s dairy. Harvest is the payday for a year’s planning, investment, and hard work. Farmers and ranchers only get paid when the crops or livestock are sold, so your livelihood is resting on this season. May God bless you with good weather, good crops, no accidents, strong commitment, and good prices!

  10. avatar
    Carolyn says:
    September 20, 2017

    I was a farmer’s daughter, married a farmer 43years ago. He has since retired but boys are doing farming. His son his farm ground, my son farms my side of family farm ground. I make sure I’m available most of the time to transfer people and machinery to next field. Yes very important to learn names of farms and where they are located. A snack and a drink in the middle of the afternoon is a nice break for them. Stay close for them, they need you for support and to just be there. Safe harvest everyone!

  11. avatar
    Dani says:
    September 20, 2017

    I make ahead and freeze some of our harvest meals since I am right there with him in the field. I make up bierocks, pizza pockets, BBQ beef pockets, and ham and cheese pockets – it’s a nice break from hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches, but can still be easily eaten on the go. My daughter just puts them in the microwave and brings them to the field. I bring fresh veggies in the combine with me to munch on – when it is hot outside I don’t like to eat a lot.

  12. avatar
    Lora says:
    September 24, 2017

    This was s fun read, but know, You will never be number 1 in his life. Married 30 years, been there.

  13. avatar
    ribyn says:
    September 25, 2017

    I married a Sugar Cane Farmer 21 years ago, had a girl and a boy, both are now in the Cane industry. The kids boyfriend and girlfriend are now also in the industry and loving it. And me, well, I work at Dentist in town, but I do help out – doing the paperwork and the jobs that no one is around to do, Wouldn’t have it any other way (some days that is) But this list is well said and I can relate to most of it. One thing I realised early, Birthdays (Mine) are no fun during crushing, SO my kids were April babies, We just learn to work around the crushing. BUT the most important thing is GOTTA LOVE YOUR FARMER.

    • avatar
      September 25, 2017

      Two of my kids were born in October. Poor timing to say the least!

  14. avatar
    Chris says:
    October 7, 2017

    I’m not a farmer however really respect the hard work that makes it all worth it in the end. Great post

  15. avatar
    Jeff Roberts says:
    December 14, 2017

    I had to run interference for my nephew with his girlfriend a few years back… She was still in high school and complaining that she felt “neglected”… I explained to her that she had to realize, if she was gonna be with a farmer, that she should just expect to be a “harvest widow”, because harvest time is an EXTREMELY busy time of the year, even busier than planting, though she should expect a certain amount of being a “planting widow” as well, and of course since my BIL and his boys are all avid hunters, she can figure on being a “deer season widow” as well.

    Just goes with the territory…

    Later! OL J R 🙂

  16. avatar
    Shawna says:
    April 24, 2018

    Thank you so much. I just started dating a man that helps farmers during this time of year and it was hard for me to go from seeing him everyday to not seeing him at all. We don’t live together and we each have kids that have bonded very strongly. It’s nice to be able to read an article like this and get some in-site and advise. Thank you so much.

  17. avatar
    Sandy says:
    May 6, 2018

    I’ve been dating a farmer for 5 months, so I’ve been looking for all the tips & tricks for my first planting and harvest seasons. He just got started this week unfortunately.

    • avatar
      May 7, 2018

      Yes, we just started in the field yesterday. Today is our first planting day. It’s been a crazy year.

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