By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
It only took one day.
The wedding is May 23.
When Brian “Slim” Strand returned home to Imperial following college to farm with his parents, Agnes and Wayne, he was unattached.
He gave himself until age 27 to find the love of his life, or he was leaving.
Well, time had a way of slipping away, so Strand didn’t consider an online dating service until August 2013, when he was 28.
He had three friends in town who were using online dating services, and “the guys made me do it.”
They suggested Farmers Only.com “because the girls are looking for a guy who farms. They want to locate to somewhere family friendly.”
“It was kind of embarrassing that I would do it, but you’re not going to meet a lot of people around here,” he explained of his decision to go online.
Strand’s six-month contract was about to expire the end of 2013, and he was “just about ready to give up.” He’d read some profiles, but “none of them really interested me at all.”
During Christmas 2013, Sarah Chaffin was home in Milford, Iowa, opening presents with her family.
Ten-year old nephew Jackson was watching a Farmers Only.com commercial on television and said, “Aunt Sarah, that’s what you need.”
“I’d wanted to get back to a small town,” Sarah recalled. At that time she was working in Indianapolis for PiccFusion as a controller.
On New Year’s Eve she filled out her profile because a friend urged her to give online dating a try.
She entered the search criteria, such as age range, where an applicant was located, education and habits, and signed up.
At the same time she viewed Strand’s profile, which alerted him to her “visit.”
On New Year’s Day “I viewed hers and thought she was cute,” he said.
He contacted her and their relationship “took off from there.”
On Jan. 13, 2014 the two met at Denver International Airport, as the result of a Colts-Chiefs football game bet.
The attraction deepened, and Sarah moved to Imperial.
They became engaged on Nov. 23, the weekend of the Nebraska-Minnesota football game.
By the way, Strand played football in high school and college at Washburn in Topeka, Kan. Could you tell?
He had planned the marriage proposal carefully. Borrowing a football field painter from Chase County Schools Secondary Principal Mike Sorensen, Strand painted “marry me” in red paint on the Imperial Airport field.
The plan was for the couple to fly to the Nebraska-Minnesota game, so that Sarah would see “marry me” as they took off.
However, the weather was rotten, and they had to drive. Scratch that plan.
Upon returning home, the couple went to retrieve their Jack Russell terrier, Brute, from his parents’ house. Brute had stepped in some of the red paint and still had it on his paws.
Slim tied three rings onto Brute’s collar, then called attention to his feet.
Sarah was examining Brute for injuries, thinking the red paint was blood. Slim kept fiddling with his collar.
There were the rings.
“I was trying to think of an extravagant way of doing it,” or popping the question, he laughed.
They will be married May 23 in Okiboji, Iowa, in a gazebo in the East Lake. The reception will be held on the West Lake.
Back to online dating. Sarah checked Strand out before committing to that first visit. Her brother knew Matt Hanna of Imperial.
“Matt gave me a stellar recommendation,” Strand laughed.
In addition, former Imperial resident Jay Bubak had recruited Chaffin’s nephew to play football at South Dakota State University.
Chaffin was attracted to Strand in part because of the pictures he posted. “He’s not your typical guy. It looks like you know to have fun,” she laughed.
In a Halloween picture Slim was dressed as Hulk Hogan, and in another he had a mullet and was wearing a Donkey Kong t-shirt.
“He’s like a real guy, not pretending to be someone else,” Chaffin observed.
As for Strand, his first impression was that Chaffin was cute.
“In getting to talk to her, I found out she was from a farm community in Iowa, she was rather intelligent, rather cool and liked my sense of humor.”
Sarah’s mother, JoAnn Chaffin, still lives in Milford, where her late father, Joe, farmed with his brother and father.
The couple advises others wanting to date online to “be yourself.”
“I think a lot of people try to hide things or put super good pictures on” the service, Chaffin noted.
Strand added, “Eventually you meet them and you find out pretty quick” if the profile fits the person.
Chaffin, who graduated from Iowa State University and is a Certified Public Accountant, continues to work for PiccFusion and also teaches yoga at Synergy in Imperial.
Strand farmed with his family for six years before recently joining the Titan Machinery service department. He is a 2003 Chase County Schools graduate.
Tuesday, the two were off to have their engagement picture taken.
One day, and a lifetime of results.