'I married a farmer. Here are 6 lessons I’ve learnt from the "Farmer Wants a Wife" life.'

Sixteen years ago, I met my farmer. I was a city girl working at the institution that is ‘The Woolshed’ in Adelaide, also known as “the country pub in the city”. It was pretty close to a real life Farmer Wants a Wife story.

In our first month of dating, he came to Adelaide every weekend, confidently telling me that "the best part of working for yourself is taking time off when you want to". It’s safe to say that the first month is probably the most time he has taken off work in our life together.

We had our share of romantic dates on the farm, working in the shearing shed together crutching sheep. My job was picking the dags out of the wool - which is literally pulling the sh*tty bits out - so I think that was my first test of whether or not I would cut it.

Stephanie on her wedding day. Image: Supplied.


It wasn’t exactly the fairytale paddock bathtub dates you see on Farmer Wants a Wife, but somehow my farmer and life on the land managed to sweep me off my feet.

There have been lessons along the way, and every time I watch the show I want to pick up the phone to the contestants and give them a pep talk. Or, more likely, a reality check.

So, if you’re considering dating a farmer, or are already in a relationship with one, here are my honest lessons from 16 years of living the Farmer Wants a Wife life.

1. Hold it lightly.

At shearing time, my job (as well as preparing three meals a day for the team) is wool classing - which means skirting the fleeces and pulling the pieces (the not so good bits of wool) off from the main fleece. 

Often we have a lot of prickles in our wool, due to the country that we farm in. There is nothing that we can do about the prickles, avoiding the job isn’t an option.

Dealing with the uncomfortable and painful thoughts and feelings that come up can be a bit like skirting the fleece. You can’t avoid it, but you also don’t have to go into it and grab the fleece hard and hold on to it with all your might.


When you skirt through the fleece and practice holding it lightly, you can sort through and choose what you want to keep (the good fleece wool) and what you want to put aside.

We can treat our thoughts in the same way. We can’t stop the prickles or the stain from being there, but we can choose to hold them lightly, to pull them out and put them aside if they are not serving us. 

Choosing which thoughts to hold on to - the ones that help us and serve us.

Choosing which thoughts to put aside - the ones that stop us from moving towards what matters. 

2. Fill your own silo.

After many years of helping shift machinery around at harvest time, I finally got the chance to spend a day driving the header myself. This meant I was able to fill my field bin of grain. And it gave me a different perspective on self-care. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be soft and fluffy, candles and long walks on the beach. Self-care is about filling your own silo.

Image: Supplied.


Each year at harvest we fill the field bins with grain in the paddock. The priority is to set aside seed grain for the following year. If we don’t set aside seed grain, then we are left with nothing to sow in the year ahead. 

It’s true what they say, ‘you can’t sow what you don’t reap’. This reminder has given me permission that it’s not only OK, but in fact it’s necessary to fill my bin so that I can keep on filling everyone else’s bin.

This doesn’t necessarily mean overly complicated or time-consuming daily routines (with three young boys and an unpredictable farm, holding on to things rigidly sets me up for failure). 


However, it does mean finding the smallest things I can do each day to fill my bin. Whether it’s making sure I move my body, drinking enough water, journalling or recording small moments of gratitude at the end of the day.

I’ve also realised that there are times when I can’t fill my bin on my own. During the drought, due to circumstances completely out of our control (it just didn’t rain), we weren’t able to reap enough to fill our seed grain for the following year. This meant that we had to call on help and buy our seed from someone else.

Again, we are no different. Sometimes due to circumstances out of your control, you might not be able to fill your bin yourself. 

In these times it’s necessary to call on help from others - your informal supports, family and friends. Or, linking in with professional help - your GP, psychologist, counsellor - are all ways of getting others to help you fill your bin.

3. Put yourself in their boots.

Growing a farm, a business, and a family all at the same time can be hard - on ourselves and our relationships. 

As much as we know that our relationship needs to be our priority, even above the kids and the farm, so often it is the thing that is hit the hardest, especially as the stress rises.

One of the biggest things we can do to strengthen our relationship is to remember to take the time to step back from our own experience and put ourselves in each other's shoes.


Sometimes this is done literally - whenever I spend a full day out working on the farm, whether it’s working in the shearing shed, doing lamb marking, or even in the tractor or header, I’m reminded of the sheer physical exhaustion that my husband experiences daily.

On the flip side, when I leave home for a few days for work, my husband experiences the mental and emotional exhaustion that comes from juggling work, farm, and three young boys. As much as we love them to bits, doing it on your own is exhausting.

While practically stepping into your partner’s shoes may not always be an option, mindfully taking the time each day (or even once a week), to step out of your own experience and into theirs can be a powerful way of strengthening your relationship.

4. The seasons do pass and change.

There are not many more professions that are as seasonal as farming. As our farm has gotten bigger, each season often feels like it blends into the next. 

We are busy sowing the crop through April to June, then we breathe a sigh of relief for a couple of days before we are in full swing into shearing through July to August.

We enjoy a couple of months of “quiet time” in September or October, which also involves spraying crops, lamb shearing, and all the other jobs. Before harvest kicks off through November to January. 

As each season arrives, part of me remembers “oh, this is what it’s like again”, then throughout the stressful seasons I get to the stage where I forget that these times will end again.


In the busy, stressful times, the farm can feel suffocating and exhausting. It can be hard to remember what life is like outside the stressful times. However, we can remember that these times do pass.

5. Breathe and enjoy the view.

We live in one of the most breathtaking parts of the world (even if I am a little biased). But there have been many times in my life where I have felt like although I live in a painting, I haven’t been able to enjoy it or appreciate it.

Image: Supplied.


Sometimes it does take a real choice and effort to remember to feel your feet on the ground, take a few breaths to get present and connect with what is happening right now in the present. 

When we step away from the stories our mind likes to tell us - about what’s happened in the past, or what might happen or go wrong in the future - and instead, connect and get present in this moment right now, often the view can be pretty awesome.

And even if it isn’t always a breathtaking view, but the view of a messy house or sitting on the floor with your kids playing lego - when we get present and get out of our heads, we can be in the present for what it is - and that can be magical in itself.

6. If all else fails - get outside and add water.

We are incredibly lucky on the farm to be surrounded by acres and acres of open sky and nature. Still, there are times when I spend the day inside and forget just how wonderful it is to be outside.

So, a little reminder for all of us - if all else fails, get outside. And as humans, we are not so different from crops or livestock. When you are feeling stuck, or the kids are driving you wild - just add water. 

Stop and have a drink, or take the kids outside and turn the sprinklers on, or even take a few moments to have a shower.

Image: Supplied.


Getting away to the beach or the river is a remedy and fix for many stresses that build up over stressful times.

Stephanie Schmidt is a farmer, psychologist, and the founder of ACT for Ag. Act for Ag is all about building the wellbeing and mental health of rural Australia, one step at a time.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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