9 Ways To Identify A Farmer

Brian was crossing the road to the local shop the other day and a man stopped him and said ‘You look like a farmer’ Now, there were plenty of signs for his hugely intelligent statement – the fact Brian had climbed down from a tractor, the fact he probably had muck on his unironed clothes, the fact he was wearing wellies but sometimes the signs are a little bit more subtle. If you’re thinking a farmer would be a good catch and you’re out in town where they aren’t wearing their farming clothes, here’s 10 ways to identify a farmer.

By the way, the man wanted to give Brian a sample of his Himalayean salt. He had huge bags of rocks of salt in the back of his pick up truck. Apparently it is very good for calves, organic, full of minerals from thousands of years of being created. There were a few crystals of himalayean salt on the Lily O’Brien chocolates I was eating the other day, I’m sure they were good for me too!

1. His Wave

Farmers have a type of wave that is unique to their breed. Usually driving along in a tractor at a relatively slow speed plus the fact they are positioned higher than cars, they have plenty of time to see an acquaintance approaching. While most people might lift two fingers off the steering wheel in order to wave, the farmer has ample time to lift his hand and make it into a fist in the middle of the windscreen. The habit continues into the driving of the car too as the whole hand leaves the steering wheel. It’s not exactly a royal wave either.

2. His Hands

As a result of all the manual labour, particularly for livestock farmers, his hands will be larger and rougher than most other farmers. I can remember my dad softening a green ointment by the fire (called SnowFire – really hard to get it now) and rubbing it into the cracks of his hands during the calving time.

3. His Walk

Farmers are accustomed to striding across the yard or through the fields in their wellies, unhampered by any obstacles. Put them into a busy shopping street and if there is space, they will take their long farmerly strides. However, if it is busy, he will soon have a pained expression on his face as he tries to get used to taking small steps and big steps, big steps and little steps. I have been known to develop this walk too!

The farming walk

The farming walk

4. His Clothing

While some farmers can be fashionable, they are the ones that usually have a helping hand such as a fashion conscious sister or wife. I think part of it arises from the fact that he wears old clothes when farming so his ‘good’ clothes can last a long time. The downside of this is that he often thinks you spend a ridiculous amount of money on each year’s fashions!

5. Muscles in Unusual Places

Because of the repetitive nature of some farming jobs, muscles can develop to a larger size than normal in some areas of the body. For example, when my husband is putting the milking clusters on the cows, there’s a muscle on the uppermost side of his lower right arm that pops up – it’s totally non existent on my arms as I rarely milk!

6. That Tousled Look

Farming has its busy times of the year. I’m not suggesting farmers don’t have time to shower but sometimes they run tight on time to get to the barber or to shave or get their beard trimmed. Hence, a farmer may look that bit more tousled than his non farming peers if you spot him out and about. If he’s in the countryside, his best friend (his dog) is unlikely to be far from his side.

One farmer and his dog

One farmer and his dog

7. His Language

I don’t mean that he can suddenly start spouting in French or German or even as Gaeilge but rather than his choice of language can be rather colourful at times. Accustomed usually to only having the dog or the cows to hear him or indeed, they are often the subject of his ire, his sentences can be peppered with swear words without him even realising. My mum always commented on how an old workman never swore in front of women or children, something that was quite unusual as many did.

8. Hairless Legs

Um, I don’t mean that he got his legs waxed but you might notice that frequent wearers of wellies tend to have much less hair on their legs underneath the wellies, the frequent wearing just wears away at the hair follicles. Above the wellie line though, it can be a very different story!

Irish farmers 1970

Irish farmers 1970

9. Hats

The tweed caps of old tend to be gone but during the winter months, most farmers will wear a warm woollen hat. This means that if he is out ‘good wear’ he feels he is bound to catch his death of cold without a hat. Therefore, he will have a variety of hats and caps for his different social opportunities – at home farming, going to a discussion group farming, going to the mart, and going to town.

These refer to male farmers – it would be a braver farmer than me to suggest that female farmers aren’t fashionable although I have been known to notice myself doing the farm walk down a shopping street on occasion!

What makes you guess that a man is a farmer if you spot him in a town location? I’d love to hear. Am I accurate or barking up the wrong tree??

7 thoughts on “9 Ways To Identify A Farmer

  • Tara

    This is brilliant, Lorna. I’m going to spend my whole bank holiday weekend counting farmers now 😉

    I don’t know if this goes for the east of the country, but when I grew up in Clare, you could tell a farmer by his wink. The mere rapid closing of one eye was never enough. A true farmer would have to move his whole head in the opposite direction to the eye which was winking, i.e. a left-eye wink involved a swerve to the right, etc. An dyed-in-the-wool farmer would make it a swoop rather than a swerve, with the head dipping as it went. Very precise stuff.

    I remember thinking it was very difficult. It took me months to practice as a child, but then again, I wasn’t a farmer, so I suppose you could say I was lacking a control group in that experiment.

    • Lorna

      Oh, Tara, how did I miss that one. I’m obviously living amongst farmers too long so totally missed it, just too accustomed to it. Totally agree, yes, the farmer wink is like no other and in my days of going to discos, it was the hugely obvious signal that he was a farmer as you’d get that collosal swerve (or swoop) of the head as he said hello. I wonder do they still do it in the 2014 nightclubs or if they manage to control that head movement.

        • Lorna

          Yes, I remember that well too! At one of my first ever discos, a guy asked me ‘what does your father do?’ I was too stunned to make up something shocking so I replied ‘um, he’s a farmer’ to which I received a satisfied nod and a ‘same as ourselves’!!

          • Tara Sparling

            You made a lucky escape there, Lorna… with an exchange like that, you could have ended up engaged by the 2nd slowset 🙂

            You reminded me though of the joy of growing up in a farming community. In my first week at secondary school our French teacher went around the class asking everyone what their fathers did so that she could translate it into French for us. One guy brought the exercise to a halt (not to mention the house down) when he replied “He’s an Artificial Inseminator”. Took him another minute to clarify it was for cattle.

          • Lorna

            Ha! I can imagine. As teenagers, we decided once that we’d try to shock some guys by pretending we were learning how to be artificial inseminators! Can’t remember if we ever did though, I don’t think any of us had the courage in the end.
            Interesting isn’t it though, she didn’t ask what their mothers did, or maybe she did later?

          • Tara Sparling

            She may have. Sad to say I probably didn’t register it because the way things were then, everyone in the class just repeated the same old sentence “my mother is a housewife”. I’m sure it’s changed since, but let’s not get into what age I am!!


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