Farmers should be extra selective with their hearts, jokes Free State farmer Nick Serfontein about Valentine’s Day.
He says, “You don’t want to deal with a lot of stress (in a relationship), or you will go crazy, have a breakdown, or maybe become an alcoholic.”
The Sernick Group chairperson are among the farmers who spoke to Food For Mzansi about the annual celebration of love.
Farmers can teach us all a thing or two about love. After all, on farm there is a strong willingness to work together – a basic ingredient of any successful relationship.
It’s kind of a funny story…
If you don’t believe in love at first sight, the story of how an Eastern Cape livestock farmer, Dr Pieter Prinsloo, met his wife, Marietha, will prove you wrong.
The Queenstown-based owners of veld-raised beef producer Langside Meats met during a blind date in their twenties.
They married six months later.
“We met each other and we just knew,” says Marietha. “It was love at first sight and I can promise you after 34 years, he is still the love of my love, and I am his.”
Down in Cape Town, Eugene and Alan Simons may have been married for 26 years, but they took a little longer to find one another.
Or, maybe, Cupid got lost following the GPS navigation. Who knows?
Asked whether she thought she would end up with Alan, the founder of Algina’s Wholesale Nursery quickly responds, giggling.
“No, I was a tomboy! I wasn’t thinking about boys,” says Simons. “As one of the boys, I was in the group.”
Don’t ignore the DM’s
Yes, private messages on social media can be invasive, but sometimes that stranger could turn out to be your special somebody with whom you can celebrate Valentine’s Day. Just ask the award-winning Gauteng cattle farmer Lerato Senakhomo, who met Siphiwe Dlamini through Facebook Messenger.
Today, the two have been together for two years. “I asked for her number on Facebook and we met formally in 2019,” says Dlamini.
When he found out that she was a passionate farmer, he fell head over heels in love.
“I can see she is passionate about what she does. I even go to the farm with her, and she teaches me about livestock farming and about what she does,” says Dlamini.
To navigate busy, conflicting schedules, Senakhomo, who is also the owner of the Senakhomo Nguni Stud, says, “Communication is the most important key.”
When you have a keen partner who respects you as a person and your passions, keep them, she says. “The love he now has for agriculture made our relationship more fun.”
Time heals all wounds
Meanwhile Serfontein and his wife, Vida, have known each other forever, but only married when they both lost their spouses in tragic accidents.
Twenty-three years later, theirs is a union built on a shared interest that helped them heal in their grief.
“She is a running enthusiast. We started running together. She has done a few Comrades marathons and so have I. I’m grateful to have a supportive wife like her,” the Edenville-based farmer says.
To make any relationship work, you need equal parts respect, time, and love.
An occasional vacation never hurts too – and not just on Valentine’s Day. “2020 was a stressful time. My wife and I are extremely fortunate to take breaks to Ballito (north from Durban) from time to time,” says Serfontein.
As a farmer, it is crucial to have a partner that is on the same wavelength as you are, advises Serfontein.
“In a situation like mine, you need a helluva lot of support. I am extremely fortunate to have a wife that supports me. She understands when I am under pressure. She understands when I am die moer in (peeved).”
Working in the same sector added an element of destiny to the Simons’ union, says Eugene. “God put Alan and I together because he knows what I go through and I know what he goes through, and that is how we can uplift one another.”
Lessons about love
Love is patient, warns Simons.
“Vegetables and plants do not stop growing on a Friday and start growing on a Monday again. Being a farmer is a 24/7 job. You must have someone with you who understands that; who understands all the troubles you must go through?” says Simons.
The Prinsloo’s have been business partners since the day they were married, says Marietha.
“We are friends first. We phone each other three to four times a day, and since WhatsApp we message each other ten times a day.”
She adds, “Always be on the lookout for each other. We help each other a lot. Our marriage is not, ‘I am the wife I must do the cooking, the washing and cleaning.’ He helps. We are fortunate to have a relationship where we are equals.”
And the secret to maintaining the spark to turn every day into Valentine’s Day?
“Dress nice,” says Marietha. “Look good. Put on some makeup or red lipstick. Cook him a meal now and then. He should also look good for you and smell nice.”