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Acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland takes us deep inside the passionate, yet troubled marriage of Juanita and Darrel Buschkoetter, a young farm couple in rural Nebraska facing the loss of everything they hold dear. Part 1 of "The Farmer's Wife" recounts the moving story of Juanita and Darrel's romantic love affair and begins the journey to the core of their emotional struggles, which have pushed their marriage to the brink. Darrel and Juanita tell their own story, in their own words, without the intrusion of a narrator. It unfolds before our eyes, as it is happening.


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"The Farmer's Wife" is a co-production of David Sutherland Productions, Inc. and FRONTLINE in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided by public television viewers. Additional funding for "The Farmer's Wife" was provided by:
The Island Fund at The New York Community Trust
Woods Charitable Fund, Inc.
Polaroid Foundation

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The Farmer's Wife

Filmmaker David Sutherland takes us deep inside the passionate, yet troubled, marriage of Juanita and Darrel Buschkoetter, a young farm couple in rural Nebraska facing the loss of everything they hold dear. Part 1 of "The Farmer's Wife" recounts the moving story of Juanita and Darrel's romantic love affair and their emotional struggles, which have pushed their marriage to the brink. Darrel and Juanita tell their own story, in their own words, without the intrusion of a narrator.

In Part 2 of "The Farmer's Wife," the camera focuses on the rhythms of everyday life on the Buschkoetters' farm. We follow Juanita, Darrel, and their three girls through days reminiscent of a forgotten, simpler time in America. In September, an early frost destroys thirty percent of their crop. Darrel must go to work at a nearby farm for seven dollars an hour and does his own farming at night. Juanita cleans houses while trying to get a college degree so Darrel can stay home and farm, but Darrel worries that if she goes off the farm she'll find something she likes better. By Christmas, they are broke and unsure of their future.

In the concluding episode, Darrel finally harvests the bumper crop he had dreamt about his whole life. But Darrel has to go to work for another farmer to make enough money to feed his family, and the stress and exhaustion cause him to explode. In December, Juanita takes the girls and leaves for a week--it has a deep and profound effect on Darrel. Two months later, the marriage that had seemed almost doomed is miraculously transformed. Through counseling, Darrel learns to deal with his anger and undergoes extraordinary personal growth. Now he is the at-home parent, farming and caring for his three daughters. Juanita, who has earned a college degree, works at a respected crop insurance company in town, helping other farmers. The film ends with hope--through faith and hard work, the Buschkoetters save their farm and rediscover the love that binds them.

published sept. 1998

updated june 2003


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