By Suzanne Snow
For me, every time. Why is that? Firstly, they’re capable, resourceful people. Not only in carrying out their day jobs but able to turn their hands to many other things. From skills in mechanics for keeping vital machinery moving to simple veterinary care, farmers have to be problem solvers who can think quickly and adapt. Why not see the romance in someone who understands the land, can build a dry-stone wall, enter a cake in the local show and knows a hundred and one uses for baler twine?
Farmers are mindful of the past and conscious of the future. Many farms are passed down through the generations and those who have gone before still have something to offer. Every ancient barn standing in a meadow known by name or precious flock books kept by shepherds tell their tales. Farmers hold this history and ready it for the ones who will come after them, and I can’t help but see the romance in that.
Don’t say it too loudly but farmers can be sensitive too. They are people who care deeply for their surroundings as well as the animals they look after. Maybe their sensitivity is well disguised beneath a brusque exterior and few words but look further and you’ll often find it. From children’s author Beatrix Potter with her beloved Herdwick sheep to the farmers tweeting images of the landscape they love, there is romance to be found in the scenery they are thankful to call home. Just don’t tell them they’re sensitive.
Farmers are active and strong people, striding across the moors as the Yorkshire Shepherdess does or honing muscles shearing hundreds of sheep. How many of them, do you think, find time for gym membership – or even need it? They know how to dress for the weather (perhaps adding a coat if it’s bad) and they know how to appreciate the best of it when they’re working long hours in the worst of it. Farming is a way of life and staying fit is part of the job description. When the weather is right, they quite literally need to make hay and this essential task doesn’t end with the daylight.
Much of our environment is within their stewardship and a lot has changed in recent years. From the vast swathes of arable crops on the Lincolnshire Wolds to the shepherd grazing sheep on a woodland burial site to better manage the soil, farmers are playing their part in all our futures. We desperately need our wildlife and their habitats, and farmers are doing much to reverse the decline.
So yes, I do think they make great romantic heroes and heroines and the countryside is always my go-to place when I’m looking for characters. Instagram is where you’ll find many farmers now, posting images of their daily lives and I can always find romance in the stories being told today and saved for tomorrow.