Daniel Seitz was at home on his family’s farm in southeastern Saskatchewan, watching a TV agriculture report, when an ad popped up on the screen and tugged at his lonely heart.
An online dating site called FarmersOnly promised to steer him clear of city slicker singles and hook him up with potential partners looking for a man just like him, one comfortable in cowboy boots and living life on the land.
Two years later, the 27-year-old electrician and cattle farmer is newly married to a horse-riding farm girl who won him over with her smile, with a four-year-old step-daughter and a new baby on the way.
It’s an online love story that FarmersOnly founder, Jerry Miller, is hoping to see more of in Canada.
“There’s two different types of people,” Miller says from his office in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
“There’s people in the major cities in the corporate rat race. And then there’s people who are just more down to earth and easy going and like to be outdoors more. It’s just a different lifestyle.”
Miller was doing agricultural marketing when he came up with the idea for the dating site in 2005. A divorced, female friend was having trouble meeting men while working long hours on her farm, and found suitors on other dating websites didn’t have a clue about what her life was like.
Miller started promoting his new business with flyers at feed stores. At one point, he had to redesign the site when he realized most farmers had dial-up modems.
The little dating site that grew now has about 1.5 million members. With more high-speed Internet available now in rural areas, Miller says many farmers look for love on the site with their cellphones while riding on their tractors.
It’s one of many niche dating sites that have popped up in North America in recent years. There are those for different religions and diets, widows and single parents, nudists and smokers, fans of Star Trek and vampires. Even big dating sites, such as Cupid.com and Plenty of Fish, have added speciality categories for people looking for that special someone with a common interest they don’t want to live without, including a love of farming.
FarmersOnly counts 10 per cent of its members as Canadian, and boasts about 300 successful matches. In an effort to make more love and money north of the border, Miller says an advertising blitz is underway.
Some of the company’s corny and comedic ads have become popular on YouTube and created online spoofs. In one commercial, a lonely woman walks through a field as a talking horse discusses her dating dilemma. Another is a twist on the American Gothic painting, with an older couple on a farm holding a heart-shaped balloon tied to their pitchfork, and the slogan: “City folk just don’t get it.”
Chelsea Henderson, 29, had lived in every Western Canadian province and had enough of city boys before she headed home to her family’s ranch near Pierson, Man.
After being an Internet dater for years, she tried FarmersOnly and even travelled to Kansas and Indiana to meet a few possible mates. Then she sent a message to Seitz and, after he was finished with haying season, he got back to her. He lived a three-hour drive away in Montmarte, Sask.
On their first date, they met in the middle in the town of Estevan, had supper at a local restaurant, then drove around and talked for hours in his pickup truck.
They were engaged five months later. He moved his cattle down to her horse ranch and became “Dad” to her little girl. They married last September, the weekend after her family’s annual horse sale. They cleaned the muck out of the riding arena and got hitched there in their cowboy boots.
“Daniel is just the most sincere, genuine man any woman could ever hope to find,” says Henderson, who has since taken the last name Seitz.
“And there’s lots more out there like him.”