Some things don't change. A famous old song about World War I vets returning from Europe asked, "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" And now, beginning Monday night at 8 with a three-hour season premiere, Season 19 of ABC's "The Bachelor" asks much the same question as Chris Soules seeks a wife to settle down with him on the family farm in Arlington, Iowa -- population 429.
"There's not a lot to do," says Soules, 33, a fan-favorite finalist on "The Bachelorette" Season 10, starring Andi Dorfman. "You don't have great restaurants within a five- to 10-minute drive. There are small movie theaters within 15 miles, where they'll have one screen and one movie. So you're limited in some of those luxuries." Instead, he says, "You learn to enjoy being outdoors. ... The Mississippi River is only 30 miles away, and I own a boat."
He owns considerably more than that, since "family farm" doesn't mean what most city slickers think it does. Soules is essentially an agribusiness executive, with "Bachelor" host Chris Harrison having described him as a "fourth-generation land baron ... a millionaire."
"People think we're either hillbillies or big corporate farming," Iowa State University grad Soules says of himself and his brethren. "The majority of farms are still family-run, but technology is more efficient than before], so my dad and I and a couple of employees farm 5,000, 6,000 acres, give or take -- not on one chunk of ground, but throughout a 30-mile radius."
Nor does he live with his folks on his family farm. "My house is on one of the properties that we own. My parents' house is on another." While most of his job is in an office -- "making decisions regarding financial things and managing technology" -- he says that come springtime when we're planting or when we're harvesting, I'm all in, I'm on the tractor. Most of my life I've been picking up rocks and shoveling hog manure by hand. It has evolved to where I'm doing less physical labor certain times of the year, but it's still probably 30 percent of what I do."
On tonight's show, Soules will meet this year's crop of 30 bachelorettes, who include Kimberly Sherbach, 28, of Wantagh, who teaches yoga at Little Yoga House there. She is also an actress whose resume lists a small part in the 2011 dark comedy "Maggie Marvel" (though she does not appear in the film's IMDb credits) and in the late-2000s short "Hello Out There," made by Port Washington high-schooler Tim O'Hanlon.
Sherbach, a graduate of Kellenberg Memorial High in Uniondale, earned a business management degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, studied voice at The Catholic University of America and spent a semester abroad studying acting at the Fordham University-affiliated London Dramatic Academy, according to her resume. She has appeared onstage at The Gateway in Bellport and the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.
And whether she or someone else wins his hand, Soules says he is "happy and excited" about the woman who receives the final rose. He's probably relieved since dating options, he tells us, "are pretty limited in my immediate area. You have to be willing to commute to be on a date."
How far? "You'd have to search within 500 miles."