While he and his wife Nicki profess to being retired, the couple stays busy. They produce and host a successful TV show for KET, “Tim Farmer’s Country Kitchen” at a cabin on their land and own Tim Farmer’s Catering. Occasionally, Tim does speaking engagements.
“We just like being together,” Nicki comments. Their life revolves around their family and the outdoors. They have a comfortable home, a pool to float in, land to roam and lots of animals — some to eat and some to pet, including Maybelle the cow.
Early in life, Tim knew what he wanted; to be a Marine and then a Kentucky State Trooper. But a motorcycle accident at the age of 20 changed the course of his life. In 1984, Tim traveled home to Grayson County from his Marine base in Tennessee for a visit with his parents. Riding his motorcycle on the way back, he hit some gravel on an interstate ramp, slid under a guardrail and down a hillside.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’m not going to be hurt because I’m only going about 30 mph,’” Tim said.
He soon realized while lying on that embankment that things were not good.
“I was losing blood fast and couldn’t move my arm or fingers,” he explained.
Tim somehow crawled back to the ramp for help. His recovery was long and hard, and he lost the use of his right arm from mid-bicep down to his fingers.
Not one to dwell on his disability, Tim says with a shrug, “when the pain starts, I just get busy.” He explained, “After realizing that I was not going to be able to use my arm, I was just ready to get on with my life and find ways to adapt. I feel like I’ve done that pretty well.”
A new direction
Tim’s plans for a military career came to an abrupt end after the accident and he began searching for a job for, in his own words, “a one-armed man.” A fisheries technician position came open at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Tim applied.
“I tried to play down the arm thing but they said this was a physical job and weren’t sure I could handle it,” he remembers. “I told them ‘just give me a try and see if it works out.’”
It was just the break Tim needed, and he moved his family to Frankfort, working for Fish and Wildlife as a technician for six years.
“I had learned how to shoot a bow and arrow using a leather strap in my teeth and had even won some competitions. I decided to send a demo tape to The Outdoor Channel, which was just getting started,” Tim explained. “They got back to me quickly and were very interested but it wasn’t the right time to uproot my family and move. So, I didn’t follow up.”
But soon after, the Fish and Wildlife show “Kentucky Afield” was in need of a new host, and Tim was just the man for the job.
In “Tribute to Tim Farmer” produced by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Norm Minch describes Tim this way: “He just had this tremendous enthusiasm — to him it was a way of life. People identified with Tim because he had a genuine interest and passion for everything outdoors.”
Tim says he never planned on being on television but life just pointed him in that direction.
“When people look at me on TV, I don’t want them to see anyone but a guy who loves to hunt and fish and hopefully does it well,” he said.
During his 20 years as host, Tim gravitated to human interest stories — “salt of the earth” kind of people.
“Growing up I always wanted to talk to the old guys and learn their ways,” he says.
Besides featuring hunting and fishing in Kentucky on his show, one of the greatest additional benefits was helping others with disabilities. “Helping people with whatever disability they were dealing with — to me, that’s the absolute best thing that came out of this show,” Farmer said.
Through the years, Tim hosted “Kentucky Afield” episodes where he worked with children or outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities, showing them how he uses his special adaptations to hunt and fish. He shared how to cast a fly fishing line and use your mouth to draw the line back. He also shared how to rest a rifle on your shoulder to shoot targets or game. Farmer’s goal, he explained, is to show others that with a little creativity, a lot of determination and practice, people can still enjoy an active lifestyle. With his perseverance and “can-do” attitude, Farmer has been a role model and mentor for many.
The accident changed Tim’s life in many ways, but for the most part, he’s figured out how to do just about everything he loves. He prefers to think of his arm as an “aggravation” rather than a disability. It isn’t always easy to live with, dealing with pain most every day, especially during cold weather. But Farmer has been a role model and an inspiration to so many others who deal with similar issues.
On his final “Kentucky Afield” show in 2015, he signed off with his usual “I’ll see you in the woods or on the water.” These days, that’s where you can find him most of the time, doing what he loves in the outdoors.