How a California Girl Ended up in North Dakota..

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be living in North Dakota and married to a farmer, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am and I still cannot believe it. Many of you watched the whole thing unfold via social media, but for those of you who are new, I figured I’d chronicle my life in the last two years. How my whole world changed and how I ended up going from the daughter of a butcher in California to married to a born and raised North Dakota farmer.

Two years ago today, I made a decision that, without a doubt, changed my life. Breaking someone’s heart and walking away from years invested together was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But as I reflect on the blessings making that decision brought my life, I am blown away.

I joined Twitter and the social media scene in August of 2011. A friend of mine convinced me to start tweeting and writing about my parent’s butcher shop. So I did. And I was welcomed into all sorts of circles via social media. Farmers, ranchers, meat people, I found a whole new network through the internet. I loved where it was taking me, but my personal life was suffering. I was unhappy in my long term relationship and finally on October 31, 2011 I ended my six year relationship. I vowed to my friends I wasn’t going to date anyone for a year. I swore off relationships. I was going to live for me.

Early December of 2011, I exchanged phone numbers with a guy I met via Twitter. I knew him as @sunflowerfarmer. He was funny and instantly he became one of those people on my feed that I regularly watched and tweeted. From what I could tell, he had a great sense of humor and his photo showed him with a big smile. I could always count on him to be that positive influence in my Twitter feed.

I don’t really recall our first interactions with each other via text. All I remember is that soon texts weren’t enough. I remember having that first conversation over the phone. Lying on my bed, hearing his voice for the very first time,   I couldn’t help but smile. I remember telling him that he has an accent. In fact, he doesn’t know this, but I was barely able to understand him. We had a really nice conversation where he made me laugh and smile an awful lot, it ended in him telling me that he liked my laugh. Now I know for him, this moment will be forever engraved upon him. It marked the turning point where I went from acquaintance to someone he had to seriously meet in real life.

I was not even close to that mindset. My past relationship was still haunting me; I wasn’t in the state of mind to be looking for a love interest. But I definitely knew this is someone that I could consider a friend. He was interesting, he made me laugh, and I definitely wanted to know more about him. Little did we both know what life had in store for us. 

We decided to take it even further and had begun to Skype fairly regularly. One night, while on Skype, he brought up the idea of coming to visit California. He wanted me to take some time off work so he could come out. At first, I will admit, I was a little taken back by this. Thinking to myself, Jenny, what are you doing!? You don’t even know this man!? What if he is some creeper!? But the more I thought about it, I thought, why not!? There was something in his eyes, that although I couldn’t see them in real life, I knew that deep down, he was a good person. I’ve always said that eyes are the gateway to the soul. And I felt like I could see his soul, and I liked what I saw. 

January of 2012, he visited California for the first time. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was beyond nervous to meet this born and raised North Dakotan coming to California… to meet me!

Putting on my mascara that evening, I couldn’t stop shaking. I went to the airport to pick him up and I am surprised nobody was staring at me. It felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. The plane landed and people flooded through the door off the flight. I tried to look as calm and natural as possible. And there he was. Our eyes met instantly and whether I realized it or not, my nerves disappeared.


Our first ever meeting.

That entire weekend I felt like I was spending time with someone I had known my whole life. Nothing was awkward, nothing was weird. It all just came natural. Of course, I didn’t think much about it at the time as I wasn’t even thinking about a relationship. But there is no denying that my (now) husband went away from the whole experience knowing this was something deeper. All I knew is that there was something intoxicating about him. His smile, his positive demeanor, or just him. I had to see him again.

We met briefly in February of 2012, we were both traveling to opposite ends of the country and just so happened to re-schedule our flights so we could meet in Sacramento. It was one day and one night we spent together. We visited another social media friend of ours who grows almonds in central CA and spent the evening in downtown Sacramento before we both flew out early the next morning.


Second trip out to California

Shortly after that was the turning point in our relationship. I will never forget the night that Sunflowerfarmer told me he loved me. It just came out like it was natural. Of course, I had almost let it slip before and so I said it back. We hung up and instantly he called me back to make sure he didn’t spook me. It was that moment, I just knew. I couldn’t control it any longer. No matter how much I stuck to my guns that I didn’t want a relationship, I couldn’t deny it… I loved this farmer from North Dakota.

March of 2012 rolled around and we had made plans for me to visit North Dakota. Sunflowerfarmer was terrified that I would hate it. He was in love with me and yet I had never visited North Dakota. From the minute I stepped off the plane, I loved it. There is something about the people here that is captivating. Although we live 90 miles from any big box store, I left a piece of my heart in this small town North Dakota. I guess it was the good Lord at work. But I went away from my time spent in North Dakota giving serious thought to moving. I wrote a post about my experiences in North Dakota which then landed me on the front page of our local paper. When I eventually moved to town, people knew me as “that girl on the front page of the paper”.


Hauling grain on my first visit to North Dakota

By the end of March, I had decided to move to North Dakota. Sunflowerfarmer had made ANOTHER trip out to California and it was that very day after I dropped him off at the airport sobbing about our goodbye. I was love sick by every definition, so much so, my co-worker told me to go home because (for lack of a better term) I looked like hell. I went home, laid down, cried some more, and  decided to take the leap… I was going to move to North Dakota. I will never forget driving in the car that night to pick my parents up from the airport. I was talking on the phone with Sunflowerfarmer and it came out. I told him I was going to move. I then spent a week trying to work up the courage to break it to my parents. And then when I finally did, they both said “okay, we kind of knew this was going to happen”. Everyone else knew I was falling in love besides me. I guess it just took me admitting it to myself. 😉 

I spent nearly a month in North Dakota in April preparing to move and moving things out ahead of time. I wanted to be darn sure that I could make it in this small rural town. I came back in early May of 2012 to help my parents at their butcher shop through the busy season.

the day I became a North Dakotan

the day I became a North Dakotan

The end of July 2012 marked my lasted days in California. The last chapters of my life in California and the very beginnings of an epic love story just beginning to unfold. I moved my entire life to North Dakota, left everything I had ever known in life… all for love. It was terrifying but exciting all at the same time. Anyone that knew me, knew this was totally out of my character. I am cautious, I am safe. I don’t just make rash decisions.

I struggled for a long time after moving feelings of loneliness. But time heals all wounds, and after nearly just over a year of living here, I have slowly but surely gained confidence and defined my place here in Ashley, North Dakota.


Photo from our engagement session

In November of 2012, while visiting California for Thanksgiving, my farmer proposed. I had just run a 5k for a local food bank. Outside of the park, with all the gorgeous colors of fall, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I, of course, was taken by complete surprise and without any hesitation said yes. Being the wonderful man he is, he had planned an engagement party for us that weekend (with the help of my parents) and booked us an engagement photography session with my friend, mentor, and favorite photographer.

At the beginning of 2013, as I looked back on the year we just experienced, I still couldn’t believe it. I deemed it the Year of Love.. And indeed it was. To this very day, I still marvel at how this all happened.

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Our wedding in Bigfork, Montana

In September of this year (2013), we promised each other forever and became husband and wife. Our meeting, our courting, our engagement feels like such a whirlwind. But never for a moment did I doubt the fact that God brought us together. We really are living proof of a modern day love story… And I thank God every single day for that. 

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes life puts things in your life you are not expecting. Sometimes you may be the last person to know you are in love with that person who was brought into your life. If there is anything I’ve learned from all of this, is never know what to expect. We can’t ever plan our lives out because guess what, God is two steps ahead of us. He knows what is best and there is no denying that He knew sunflowerfarmer was exactly what I needed in my life. 

How did you and your spouse meet? I love hearing meeting stories!!! 


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32 responses to “How a California Girl Ended up in North Dakota..

  1. I love your story! How awesome that he had an engagement party planned! I totally get the risk even though my move wasn’t nearly as far as yours!
    I met my husband while I was dating his friend. His friend and I broke it off. But I kept running into my farmer, we always clicked and it was different with him. I could be my silly self and was always comfortable with him. By June 2006 we were dating – long distance dating. He lived 140 miles from my door. One of us drove every weekend and a lot of times he would make a trip down on Wednesdays. I went to Sturgis with a group of friends and my farmer surprised me by showing up in his corvette. We drove around the black hills with the top down. It was fabulous & now a great memory! It was time for him to get back to work and harvest was imminent. I decided to cut my vacation short and headed back with him. Little did I know the next week of my vacation I would spend driving a combine! By December 2006 he had proposed and February 25, 2007 we were married in South Padre Island, TX. I quit my job I loved as an Office Manager for a construction company packed up and moved to Hannah, ND population 12. I love my farmer and the lifestyle. I’m so thankful God had this plan for us! He adopted my daughter and we now have 2 boys.

  2. I met my boyfriend online. Yes, we’re a statistic. He was not states away from me, only 35 minutes south, but in a way it was a whole new world. I’m from rural Illinois, but he’s from even rural-er Illinois. Ha. He’s a farmer of corn and beans…Which actually drew me to your blog. A wife to my farmer is what I hope to be some day! – I wanted to share our story because of how you said that when your sunflowerfarmer first came to California it didn’t feel awkward and it felt like you knew him your whole life. That’s exactly how I felt when I met my man. The reason I was drawn to his online profile was because the captions he put with his pictures made me laugh. I “winked” at him and he emailed me that night. I was at night class at the time and couldn’t wait to get out of there so I could read the message thoroughly and write him back. We exchanged a few messages then phone numbers. We did text for a few days and then he asked me out on a date. I of course accepted. I went on dates with a few people online and have my “online dating rules”, one being to meet the person out. Don’t have them come to your house, because these days…ya never know. But, something about him told me that he wouldn’t stalk or kill me. haha. I know it sounds funny, but I seriously just felt “it”. Whatever “it” was. – He picked me up and we went to a restaurant/bar about 5 minutes from my house. To this day I still get butterflies in my stomach when I go to that restaurant and think about our first date. We had a few drinks and ordered an appetizer, which neither of us ate because we were so nervous. When he got to my house he walked me to my door. I thought that was so sweet. We hugged, which was fine because, we LITERALLY just met. He text me when he got home. Telling me how long it took him to get to his house and that he had a great time. And that’s when I knew I didn’t want to let him go. – We’ve been dating for 9 months now and they’ve been wonderful. We both have had serious relationships before and even have lived with someone, so we both know what we want…and more importantly, don’t want. I think we’re a great “match” and we tell each other all the time how we’re looking forward to the road ahead. It’s crazy how quickly your life can change. That when you were going through challenging times and you never thought you’d get through them, you some day realize that you did and you finally figure out the answers to why it all had to happen. – There is a quote that I love; “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.” – There’s some truth right there! 🙂

    • How funny! He was literally so close to you all along! I am so thankful for modern day technologies bringing my husband and I together! What a wonderful story!! Thank you so much for commenting and sharing! It seriously makes me so giddy to hear so many online love romances blossom into something because really, that’s how we met too! 😉

  3. I love your story too!! Sounds just like in the movies, where “their eyes met, and they just knew … this was the one they wanted, forever …” The magic of the internet is what makes relationships such as yours possible, bring people from different parts of the country together. I agree that obviously God did want you two together, and you had to let go of your old life for the new one … for better or worse. Your story also illustrates how you can find love, and sometimes do, when you’re not looking for it. Good luck, Jenny, in your married life to a Midwest farmer. I’ve been there done that, and sometimes I regret having given it up to be a “career girl.” Happy days. 🙂

  4. Seriously, I just want to get out of this chair and clap.

    Best love story in a nut shell ever! Loved every word of it! I saw that you posted this, so I prepared with a cup of hot tea and a comfy seat thinking it was going to be as long as Pioneer Woman’s Black Heels to Tractor Wheels…. but then I realized after it ended… this is only the beginning. 🙂

    • HAHA! Kelly, I have TOTALLY thought about slowly releasing the in depth, nitty gritty details of how we met. I have a word document I have written up the long story of it all. I think I have written about up to the point where I decided to move. I should revisit it. Everyone always tells me that our story will be a book and/or movie one day so I guess I figured what the heck? Better to start writing while it was fresh!

  5. My story isn’t nearly as romantic, but it is definitely a love story. I was only 14 when we met and was obviously not prepared for a long-term relationship. My dad had invited the repairman over to help him on my grandma’s lawn mower (because my dad was a cheapskate and didn’t want to pay the dealership where Brian worked). While it was no relationship right off the bat, we were instant friends – enough so that I felt comfortable immediately telling him to put the stupid cigarette out because it was disgusting. He was in a long-term relationship and I was head over heels for some other guy (well as much as you can be when you’re 14). He continued coming to visit our farm to help my dad out and we continued to blossom as a couple. He even gave up smoking. A few months later (right after my birthday), he broke it off with his girlfriend and asked me out. I said yes and here we are 15 years later.

  6. Twitter guilty myself!! I had met my sweet guy in person and his sister lives only a block from me in Montana. He however, is 550 miles away and I am preparing myself for the move from Montana to Nebraska the 1st part of 2014. Terrified, nervous, excited, and so very ready to be with the amazing guy that makes my heart smile 24/7. I am sure I will be leaning on you amazing women of Housewives of Rural America to get me through finding myself as a Nebraskan, and the adjustment of not having my family an hour away. Thanks for all your heart felt posts Jenny.


    • YAY!! Gosh, I love finding people who walk a similar walk of life as mine!! I have so much faith you can do it!! I moved 1,500 miles away from anything and everything I knew simply because I knew that this guy was the one for me. Love makes us do crazy things but we are strong women with beautiful gifts (I love your blog!) and we will find our place in our new communities and homes!! I’ve been through the knowing nobody phase, heck I still struggle with it, I’ve been through some lonely nights so I know what it feels like! Feel free to contact me ANYTIME! Friend my personal page on Facebook, email, tweet, whatever!

      I wish you the BEST of luck on your new journey!! Enjoy it!

  7. So cute! I love reading your blog and stories. I met my farmer via eharmony in February, we live about 4 hours apart it has been an interesting journey learning all about farming this past year. I guess you would consider me a bit of a city girl. We clicked instantly and I just cannot imagine life without him now. I have enjoyed getting to learn about his world and what it means to be a farmer. It has been interesting learning that visits are based on weather. I have never checked my weather app more in my life. HaHa! You just cannot beat a sweet farmer. Keep up the great blogs! Really enjoy them!

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  9. I am a city gal from Baltimore, Maryland engaged to a small town farmer of Upstate New York (near the boarder of Canada)….met my fiancé in a back field over a sick cow we were loading into a trailer when I was with a friend I had met through my cousins. Crazy where life takes you!

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  13. So I just found your blog through Crystal Cattle, and I LOVE IT!! Congrats on your wedding! What a love story!! I too am married to a farmer here in Iowa, though I grew up on a farm so I do not have near the romantic love story as you! I look forward to reading more on here and your future posts!! Your wedding background in Montana was GORGEOUS by the way!!! Take care!!

  14. This is so nuts! I came here via Crystal Cattle and clicked on the pics of sunflowers which brought me to your story. I have almost the EXACT same story except my husband moved out HERE (to California!!) for me from western/upstate New York. I went through the same thing – sobbing at the airport and everything! I feel like we could so be friends in real life – I, too, say all the time time that I am a ‘country girl’ at heart! So crazy!! I could write so much more, but it’s 3 am here and I just finished editing photos so I’m shutting off the computer. I’ll make sure to visit here now and again or maybe I’ll find you on Instagram (I’m under kymberli_q). I believe that al_winmill followed me and he is a friend of your husband? I know he mentions a sunflower farmer in his feed sometimes – it is a SMALL world…especially on the internet!! 🙂

    • Oh my gosh!! I LOVE social media!! And it’s for this very reason! It makes the world such a small place!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment!! How exciting that we share similar paths in life! 🙂 If only my social media friends lived closer! I agree, we could have a pretty awesome friendship in real life. Your site is gorgeous, your photos rock! You are my kind of gal! Feel free to find me on Facebook! and yes, here if you’d like to as well!

      And yes, Al Winmill is a friend of my mine and my husband’s.. He lives about 2 1/2 hours away from us in North Dakota. My husband is @sunflowerfarmer on Twitter and Instagram. 😉 We’ve actually had supper with his dad, family, and him! They are GREAT people, I adore AL!! Ahh, it IS a small world!! How neat!!!!

  15. What a beautiful story! Twitter is an incredible place to meet people unexpectedly. I can relate to your story very easily as I have a similar story myself.

    Two years ago I started to write for a fairly well known blog. It is common for writers to receive friend requests on Facebook or to gain followers on Twitter of people that enjoy reading their articles. One day I received both from the same guy. A man that was a little older than me and from Florida, quite a hike from the little North Dakota town I’m from. I accepted his friend request and we became fast friends, just like you and your husband did.

    We never intended to me more than just friends, but we really connected. In May he flew from Florida to visit me for my birthday. It was our first time meeting in real life and we immediately hit it off as if we had known each other for a lifetime.

    I’m not really sure where this journey is going to take us, but I’m finding every day we grow a little closer to each other. While we do not have current plans to get married or engaged, I’m hoping or sensing that may be coming in the near future. I’m not much of a fan of Florida (though I have visited him there as I felt it was only fair). My boyfriend has been looking into Watford City, ND real estate options. Being in a long distance relationship is very hard and we want to be closer together. We’re thinking that moving in together might be a good start and real estate is pretty reasonable in ND and he loves it here.

    What were your biggest challenges or fears with moving to ND? My boyfriend says he’s fine with it all, but I know it’s a lot different than Florida. I want him to be comfortable and for this pending move to go as easily as possible for him.

    • AAAHHHH!! Gosh, how exciting!!! It makes my heart light up when I hear stories similar to ours!!! And in North Dakota, even better!! Although I was terrified about moving and living in a new area as I lived in the same place I was raised and grown up, I never doubted for a minute that North Dakota was where I was meant to be. But it was TOUGH. Gosh, it was tough. I worried about finding a job and working, I worried about making friends in a small town that is MOSTLY made up of elderly people, I worried about people accepting me in the community, I worried about the winter and making it through. I guess it was all meant to be because having my (now) husband made my first year here easy. I ended up working for him at his business, I came to learn that people here are so nice and have never felt so welcome into a community, and I survived the winter, surprisingly. I am a firm believer now that if something is meant to be, it will all work out. My husband worried the first time I came to visit that I’d hate it, but I ended up loving it. It has been a challenge going from a place where I can drive and literally pick up anything and everything from a store to a small town where I have to plan or are limited in selection. But I’ve made do and I love our small town.

      I wish you both ALL the best in your future together! And feel free to contact me ANYTIME! My email is, I always love to meet fellow women here in North Dakota!

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