Farmers finding love on niche online dating site

For country folks, dating has its own particular issues. In small communities, everyone already seems to know one another, and finding someone from outside your town can mean searching long and wide.

But, as Michelle Miller reported, there's one dating site that aims to help you find a date quickly, so you won't have to wait until the cows come home.

When Morgan Welper was searching for her soul mate, she knew exactly what she wanted. Welper recalled, "I was looking for a dairy farmer. ... I like cows. I had grown up on a farm myself and I wanted that lifestyle for myself and for my kids."

And she discovered she wasn't finding that guy in the usual places.

Welper said, "I could have gone out to the bars, and I did. I had horrible experiences."

So Welper went online to a dating website called FarmersOnly.com. Her profile picture -- a photo of herself with a cow -- left no doubt about whom she was hoping to meet. The photo caught the eye of Nate Kliebenstein.

Kliebenstein, asked if it's hard for a dairy farmer to meet a girl, said, "Yeah, you don't exactly get out very much."

The two began to see each other. Welper would travel nearly three hours on weekends to meet Kliebenstein at his farm in tiny Darlington, Wisconsin.

Their dates were not exactly typical, instead of a bar or restaurant, they'd meet in the milking parlor.

Welper said, "We'd always have the radio playing on in here so if a slow, sappy song would come on, we would like, slow dance with each other."

FarmersOnly.com was launched in 2005, after Ohio-based marketer Jerry Miller noticed a problem among some of his rural clients. Miller said, "If you walk out your front door in New York City, there's 10,000 people within a half-a-mile. When you walk out your front door out in the country, there might be one person within 10 miles."

Once ridiculed as the last resort for losers, online dating has exploded. Since the sites launched, the two biggest dating sites -- Match.com and eHarmony -- boast a combined 151 million users. And newer, niche sites are allowing people to weed through those numbers to find exactly what they're seeking.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, said, "Psychologists really know that we tend to gravitate to people who are from the same socioeconomic background, same level of intelligence, same level of good looks, same religious and social values and somebody with the lifestyle that you're used to."

Kliebenstein said, "When you're marrying someone that farms, you're marrying their career, not just the person."

After dating for two years, Kleibenstein and Welper got engaged, and then married. Last fall, they had a daughter -- Evelyn.

Miller added that FarmersOnly.com now has one million users -- more than the founders ever imagined possible.

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