Tara Ward chats to Farmer Harry, one of the Australian bachelors looking for love on reality series The Farmer Wants a Wife.
All Farmer Harry wants is a woman as reliable as his John Deere tractor, and Farmer Wants a Wife might be the answer to his farmy prayers. A chaotic mix of The Bachelor and Country Calendar, FWAW is the Australian reality series that matches lonely men of the land with single women looking for love. It’s the show where city and country collide, where hopes are high and hearts are open, and where the dry season is the perfect time to find “a bloody girl”.
We’re two episodes deep into the current season of FWAW, and already Farmer Harry is arguably the most memorable of the five bachelors. He’s a man of few words, an uncomplicated bloke who seems more comfortable in a paddock of sheep than a field of single women. His dogs are named Doug and Shirley, he cooks a mean lamb roast and, best of all, he keeps his motorbike in his living room. It’s hard to know what to make of the bike situation. We never saw that on McLeod’s Daughters.
“It’s me pride and joy, so it should be treated like that,” Farmer Harry says of his beloved bike, one of the first things he shows wannabe wife Madison when she arrives on the farm. It’s the love triangle we never expected, but I’m here for it, even if there is a valid explanation. “Out here we get lots of red dust, and it gets into everything. The best place to put the bike is in the living room,” Harry tells me.
It makes more sense than volunteering to go on a reality show you’ve never seen before, but that’s how Farmer Harry rolls. Despite not having watched a single episode of FWAW, Harry agreed to go on the show after his “best mate’s missus” signed him up. “She got me at a weak moment on a Sunday arvo, I think I was a bit hungover at the time,” he says. “I thought I wouldn’t have a chance, so I said, why not. You’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone every now and then.”
We’ve all made questionable decisions thanks to a pounding headache and a tongue that feels like carpet, but few of them involved inviting a bunch of lovesick strangers back to your farm to stay. The show wasted no time throwing Harry into their silo of single soulmates. “We submitted my application on the Sunday, had a phone call on the Monday, and a film crew here to do a bloody pilot on the Wednesday,” he says.
FWAW doesn’t muck around, and only a few hours after meeting eight eligible women in episode one, Harry had to invite four of them back to his farm near Goolgowi (population 400). Over the coming weeks, Harry will send three women home, leaving him with one lucky lady to farm with forever. It’s like the time on McLeod’s Daughters when Claire had to choose which sheep to send to the stock sales, but with real people and real emotions. That episode was tense, but this is next level.
McLeod’s Daughters taught us a lot about Australian farming, mostly that a good farmer knows a) to hide their stolen gems in the cellar and b) how to not drive off a cliff. Harry, however, reckons positivity is the most important quality in a farmer’s wife. “You go out and slug it along all day, you come home wrecked, you don’t want the negativity around,” he says. “It’s not always rosy out here. We have droughts and fires and all the bad things that come with farming, and you need someone that’s on your side.”
Positivity also comes in handy when you’re a farmer suffering a romance drought one minute, then sharing your home with four women the next. Harry discovered that dating lots of people at once wasn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, especially for someone not used to expressing his emotions. “I’ve never been so exhausted,” he says. “I’ve worked some pretty hard days on the farm, but talking to people, women especially, about your feelings all the time – it definitely takes it out of you.”
Next week we’ll see how full-on FWAW can be, when the five farmers and their potential brides meet up for a dinner party. No spoilers, but Harry’s about to get drenched in a downpour of feelings again. “You can expect a fair bit of drama here and there on my farm,” Harry says of what lies ahead. “A lot of things didn’t go to plan, lots of things came out that probably weren’t the best thing. It was all the experience, in one.”
FWAW is all about the happy ending, but we’ll need to wait and see if Harry finds a partner who will love his dining room motorbike as much as he does. In the meantime, what do Harry’s mates down the pub reckon about his fast burn around the reality TV racetrack? “You know, they’ve probably got a lifetime of shit to hang on me, but they’re pretty proud,” he says. “I’ve definitely got no regrets. It was a lot of fun.”
Farmer Wants a Wife screens on TVNZ 2 on Mondays at 8.45pm and on TVNZ OnDemand.
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