Thursday, February 21, 2008

Farmers Find Love

The Pennsylvania hills has hard working simple farm folk living there but ever since a 2005 law was passed forbidding the marrying of close relatives the hard working people have become lonely and less likely to find themselves a mate.

Sonya Rinker ,24, and Tom Henisee lived 57 miles apart when they both signed up for an online matchmaking service for $30 for three months that buys a profile and a photo posted to an online site.

Sonya Rinker was looking for a guy who was kind, respectful, well endowed and loved John Deere tractors.

Tom was shy and owned two vintage Deere tractors. He had been looking for a girl who looked like Carrie Underwood who'd milk the cows at 3 a.m. and work a six-day week.

Sonya said: "I was set on getting a farmer or someone who had the same interests as me and I couldn't find any around here."

Tom had been searching for someone on the matchmaking service for eight months without any luck and was ready to call it quits.

When they saw each other's profiles online, the desperate couple began e-mailing.

For seven months, they exchanged e-mails, first names only. Then they traded phone numbers and talked for 13 straight days and then they decided it was time to meet.

Jerry Miller, an Ohio publicist who started up the dating service said: "Sometimes the farmers will be a little direct. A lot of the matchmaking sites will say something about romance and smoochy talk. But some guys will say 'You have to be able to milk a cow and bale hay.' I've talked to a few and said, 'You know this isn't a help wanted.' "

In more than two years, Mr. Miller says the online matchmaker has attracted everyone from a young Iowa man who bemoaned the lack of marriage prospects he knew of only 10 single people younger than 25 in a 10-mile radius to a 90-plus woman who said she wanted a "real man like Old Knudsen ."

So far, more than 40 couples have married, Mr. Miller says. They have been young, middle-age and elderly. First-timers, divorcees and widows.

The "successes" have no pattern. Sometimes, two people just click. This is how it happens.

On Sonya and Tom's first date Sonya's grandfather was a chaperone, he sat quietly in the back of her Jeep polishing his shotgun until they reached the Bonanza steakhouse, after a few drinks the retired farmer chatted to Tom about tractors and artificially inseminating heifers.

"He just took to Tom right away," Sonya remembers. "They just hit it off. He thought Tom was a good kid."

Sonya's first impression: "He was he was too short and not much ass to grab hold of ."

Tom's thought: "She was a big girl. Are you sure you want to date her?" but by then he was too afraid of her to back down. In the pictures she had sent him she looked a lot like Carrie Underwood.

But they had much in common: close families, love of land, animals and Kung Fu movies.

Though Sonya works in an insurance office, she has 11 goats, chickens and is a heifer. She also helps Tom with milking chores on the weekend.

"I know he isn't afraid to get down dirty and nasty ," she says. "I'm not a prissy little girl, I'm all woman with needs and desires."

"I was just overwhelmed by how easy it was to talk with her," he says. "I have problems talking with people as the ghost of my death twin brother keeps interrupting me and throwing me off. For some reason, it really clicked with her. It's like it was meant to be, also I couldn't get anyone else."

Sonya's grandfather died last summer. Soon after, when the couple stopped in to check on his place, Tom had a surprise: He told her it was time to bring some new happy memories to the house, then presented Sonya with a ring, got down on one knee and proposed.

She said yes.

Story correction:

It was reported in this story that Sonya Rinker was a heifer. Ms Rinker owns a heifer.