Wife Swapping

On Oct 3, 2006, at 5:24 PM, Meghan McGinley wrote:

Hi Walter,

My name is Meghan McGinley and I am a Casting Producer for the ABC Television show, Wife Swap. In case you are not familiar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is simple: for two weeks, two wives from two different families exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it’s like to live a different woman’s life. The show airs on ABC on Monday nights at 8pm – family hour! It offers a positive experience for people not only to teach, but to learn about different family values.

I am contacting you because I am interested in casting a home schooling family on the show that feels strongly about the importance of family time. We have explored this avenue on the show in the past, and I have found that the families who home school their children tend to raise them in a very loving environment where family is a priority. I believe that those values are not as common as they should be, and that a close-knit home schooling family with strong morals and values would have a lot to teach another family if they appeared on the show.

I came across your website, and I was wondering if you might be interested in applying for the show. I think it is wonderful that you are able to spend time with your children both through home schooling and working on the farm! I was also curious as to if you know of any other home schooling families who might be a good fit for the show. Families who participate in the show receive $20,000, and if you refer a family that appears on the show, you will receive a $1,000 finder’s fee.

To get more information, obtain an application or refer a family, you can reach me at (212) 404 1473 or Meghan.McGinley@rdfusa.com.

Meghan McGinley| Casting Producer | ABC Television – Wife Swap
RDF USA | 440 9th Avenue | 11th Floor | New York | NY 10001
tel. + 1 212 404 1473| fax. + 1 212 404 1456
Meghan.McGinley@rdfusa.com | www.rdfusa.com

Dear Mrs. McGinley,

Mighty kind of you to think of us. I have given your offer careful consideration however, there are some problems:

  1. I don’t watch TV so I’m not quite sure what “Wife Swap” is.
  2. We don’t have a TV – haven’t for 30 years. Kinda the same problem as the first one there but it also means I can’t readily find out what the show is.
  3. I have serious doubts that a fine lady from a city family would survive being dropped into our life, physically or emotionally. Life on the farm is good but it is also hard work chain-sawing, wood splitting, cement toting, rock wall building, doing construction, tending livestock, fencing, cooking from scratch, putting up the harvest and a whole lot more that will break nails if you have ’em. Pardon the stereotype.
  4. I fear we’re a mite too busy with life to wife swap. We get up early, work late and still some how there just aren’t enough hours in the day. You probably have the same problem in the city – those to-do lists are never ending.
  5. Right now we’re new building a house by ourselves – we have to get done a certain amount before snow flies and the ground turns like iron. We’re building with granite and cement which is heavy stuff and requires a certain amount of skill to work with as well as muscle to tote and that takes time to build up. See #3.
  6. We have to get the harvest in. Once in it needs to be canned, dried, blanched and stored away. I’ll soon be slaughtering our winter meat and my wife helps with that. We need to make about 250 quarts of soup which we’ll pressure can. We produce most of our own food. If we miss that time frame or make errors we have lost the year or worse. It takes years to learn to do these things so I would need a bit more than two weeks to break in a new wife.
  7. We have to take care of our livestock daily. I can’t risk an innocent woman from the city dropping in and making an simple mistake through no fault of her own inexperience that could kill or injure animals, or get her hurt. No offense intended, but you need to know which end of a pig might bite, to keep your feet from getting stepped on by an 800 lb boar and what they need every day. Speaking of biting, we have six large guardian livestock dogs. If you’ve seen my Sugar Mountain Farm blog then you may have read about them like at post. They’re friendly with family but don’t have much exposure to strangers. They would have a hard time with a new wife never mind a film crew. To do their jobs the dogs must be free roaming so I can’t tie them up while you’re here.
  8. Imagine Ms. Drysdale going to live in TN with the Clampetts at their original homestead. I realize that may be what you’re after… Our part of Vermont is kind of like the Blue Ridge mountains – it looks a lot like the old pictures of the Appalachians. Beautiful country but a long ways from the amenities that city folk are used to having around. We just did our fall shopping – five grocery carts of store bought staples we can’t produce here. That means we may not be going in town for weeks to even a couple of months. I’ve heard city friends say that would drive them plum crazy.
  9. $20,000 is a right lot of money, close to as much as I earn in a year, more than I make some years, but two weeks out of our life is lost forever. See above.
  10. And most importantly of all, I love my wife too much to swap her, even on a temporary basis. (My wife just hollered out in the background that “Hey, Walter, if I can earn $20,000 in two weeks…!”)

I do hope that you are able to find families to do your show. Homeschooling and rural farm life are wonderful things that the American people need to reconnect with. I wish our country could find its agrarian roots. To help you out I have BCCed this to some people who might be able to help you. Should one of them do your show, please consider it a referral as I sure could use the money.


Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Orange, Vermont
Pastured Pigs & Sheep

PS. Your email scored a 5.0 on the spam scale so I’m not sure if this is real or not. If it is real, I would love to hear that you got this…

Well everyone! I got a response back from Ms. McGinley right quick and she says…

On Oct 3, 2006, at 9:10 PM, Meghan McGinley wrote:

Hi Walter,

Thanks so much for your email – I can assure, you, I’m a real person!

I completely understand your reasons for not wanting to participate in the
show, and I can see how it would be difficult for another woman to come in
and fill your wife’s shoes for a week (the show actually tapes over 7 days,
but from what you’ve told me, that would probably be too long for her to be
away anyways!)

Regardless, thank you very much for sending this information along. Please
make sure to tell your contacts that if they do get in touch with me, they
should be sure to mention your name so that you will be eligible for that
finder’s fee if they get cast on the show.

Best wishes,

So… Be sure to mention my name! :)

56°F/30°F 4″ Rain, Clouds & Sun

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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49 Responses to Wife Swapping

  1. Faith says:


    I do routinely have “Wife Swap” on my TV while sitting at my computer on Monday night.Your family is exactly what they would be looking for. And the woman who would replace your wife would be one who shops 8 hours a day, orders food from a fast food restaurant, has regular spa treatments, including manicures and pedicures and, probably, has a nanny to care for the children. NOT the kind of woman who would adapt well to the Vermont life you and your family live. And your wife would go crazy living the life I outlined above, I am sure. As for you, the application does say that applicants must submit to “PSYCHOLOGICAL SCREENING” and having read most of your posts on NONAIS, and reading the humor in this current post, I’m not sure you would pass that test. (Joke- LOL-HEHEHE) Faith

  2. Oops ~ there went her pinky toe….

    Still laughing,

  3. Pat S. says:

    That’s the best entertainment to come along in quite a while! The whole scenario brings up ‘mind pictures’ of all sorts of potential ‘incidents’. They didn’t happen to mention insurance coverage and protection from lawsuit should a city mom actually try a week at a farm like yours — or even mine — particularly this time of year. Painful to even contemplate!

  4. Julie says:

    I’ll be chuckling all week on that one!

  5. jessie says:

    This is great! Actually, some of the reasons you listed are EXACTLY why they’d like to take a poor, unsuspecting city girl and drop her into your life. Ratings and reality shows are all about setting up really predictable situations with terrible and humiliating results. That’s what people like to watch! Seeing a woman wear Gucci shoes out to feed the hogs, getting all weirded out by having to touch an animal, crying from exhaustion at the end of the day, that’s what people want to see.

    And don’t forget, they would take your wife and put her in a totally foreign environment as well, making her get manicures and walk around in high heels, and praying that she would cry, too. Fun stuff.

    I do have a TV, I hardly have the time or inclination to watch it, and I have never seen, nor would I like to see Wife Swap or any other reality show. But they lost a real ratings-grabber when you turned them down. :-)

  6. pablo says:

    I’ve never watched this show (too busy reading blogs) but from what I hear, it is a very manipulative program that uses clips and such to slant viewers perceptions of which family is “good” and which is “bad.” (An atheist family, for example, was found to be “bad.”) Just say no!

  7. karl says:

    interesting fodder but i find it difficult to believe that any family that met their criteria would exchange their values for $20,000. although, it is kind of entertaining running a few hypothetical scenarios of that nature applied to my own little homestead.

  8. I think it’s humorous they contacted you Walter – however it just goes to show how low morals can drop in the TV world – you have very young children!!!! Do they think their welfare for even 7 days should be compromised for ANY amount of cash???


  9. Kristianna says:

    Walter ~ Before I began to read your reply I knew you would not do this to your lovely wife, Holly. Still, I was relieved after reading your letter. $20,000. is tempting, but as the last post above me said – it’s not worth trading your values for.

    Who would want to trade 2 weeks of their lives that you can never get back, anyway?

    The nice homestead/homeschool mama in Montgomery, VT (Nancy Cedarquist) was treated *extremely* unfairly during her ordeal with “Wife Swap”. They take a hundred hours of video and reduce it to 40 minutes and it is amazing how they can manipulate the way the show’s outcome appears.

    Best wishes on building your new home and getting your harvest in.


  10. Andrew says:


    We don’t watch TV, but thinking of some city gal out at your site makes me inwardly chuckle.

    By the way, have any experience with fisher cats or foxes? Three of our domestic cats have disappeared this week (after five years of relative safety) and I am thinking about attempting to trap whatever is after them.

    Any wisdom is appreciated.

  11. Don Schrider says:

    One last twist is applied to that $20,000 – each wife gets to decide how the money is spent by the other family. So while you might get $20,000, the “city wife” could decide that you need cable TV or new furniture. No real way of knowing if any or all of the money would be applied in a way that you would actually see as a benefit.

  12. Cyndi says:

    Actually, a homesteading family (the Clover’s of TX) took them up on their offer and the show is to air either 10/16 or 10/30.

    You can get more information about their swap here:

  13. Steve A says:

    Don’t blame you Walter, although $20,000.00 would have gotten a new tractor.

  14. Andrew, fishercats, coyotes or foxes could well be your problem. Bear too. All would eat cats. I have found bear scat and coyote scat with cat bones, teeth and claws in it.

    If you go the trapping route, please do not trap and release as that just moves the problem to someone else’s backyard as well as spreading disease. Using steel jaw traps has the problem of killing and maiming unintended victims like your cats or dogs, etc. This leaves trapping with a live trap box and then if you got the right thing, kill it.

    Our solution is guardian livestock dogs. Saturn may have killed a fisher last month. We had been losing a few chickens in the evening. Then Saturn came back all bloody one day. It wasn’t his blood though. He had caught a predator and shredded it. Normally the predators avoid our fields and pastures because of the dogs. The presence and marking alone is enough to keep the predators at bay most of the time.

    Good luck with your predator.



  15. Andrew says:


    Thank you so much for your advice. It is truly appreciated.

  16. Pyewacket says:

    That’s just hilarious – I wonder how many people say no. I’m glad you did, though I can take pleasure just in imagining the possible scenarios. Imagination is great that way – no one actually gets hurt.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hey Walter,
    Good luck on your new home! Your lifestyle sounds qite refresing. Perhaps some of us should come and stay with you for a while and learn how to do things the old fashioned way. Anyway the pig comment…..what a visual!!!!(lol)

  18. Rachael says:

    Wow, Walter! Reading your response, I see why she wanted you for the show! I’ve seen a few episodes of “Wife Swap” though I don’t bother anymore… Only one that I recall in any detail. The “city wife” was a strict vegetarian, PETA *fanatic*, who liked to meditate every morning at the crack of dawn for an hour. She didn’t have a job, she didn’t do housework and she didn’t cook… Basically, as far as how they portrayed her, she did whatever she pleased any minute of the day while her husband had a full-time office job and did *all* the house work too. She lived in the desert in a pretty big house with an in-ground pool. They dropped that poor princess into a family who lived in what looked like a double-wide trailer in very rural Tennessee (I think it was), ate meat daily (gasp!) and what was worse, by the city-lady’s pov, they hunted for the meat they got, and the young sons of about 10 or 12 or so helped with the hunting. That woman nearly had a heart attack when she found all this out and her new family wanted her to cook a dinner that included meat. She did so, grudgingly, and you could tell from the kids’ reactions, it wasn’t very good. The next day, she insisted that they would like vegetarian food if only they would try it. Yeah… totally didn’t work. About 48 hours in, that woman looked like she’d snap and go crazy any second, broke down crying and begging to not have to cook meat again. She showed the two young boys a PETA anti-hunting propaganda video, showing bloody animals being butchered for food, as if they hadn’t seen an animal being butchered for food before… their reaction was basically, “And so?” Funny thing was that the “country wife” did much better. She cooked meat because she thought it was kinda ridiculous not to, and she did all the silly things they asked her to do, like handing out PETA flyers and meditating for an hour at sunrise. For the most part, it was like a week long vacation for her. She did have issues with the new teenage daughter though (the girl was a vegetarian like her mom) because the daughter didn’t want to eat the food she cooked and she cried (“Wife Swap” seems to love it when they cry!). But the husband from that family got a backbone and decided he didn’t really like being a vegetarian after all, and that sometimes, he’d cook himself some meat for dinner, since he did all the cooking anyway. That was really the only lasting difference that came out of the experience, as far as the viewers at home got to see. It was craziness!

    • Servius says:

      I know this post is 6 years old, but I remember that episode.

      I loved the comment from the kid in TN, as only a kid could put it with proper eye roll and sarcasm. “My new mom eats the sun!”

  19. Patti says:

    From what i can tell this “offer” has been flying around homestead/homeschool blogs. Just a bunch of Duck wash if ya ask me. Also the country/christian wife doesnt’ always in up in the day spa. Sometimes she ends up real close to the pit of hell.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Walter, I’d love to see the operations of your farm, even if played as a fish-out-of-water episode of that show. And $20k buys one mean tractor.

  21. Attila says:

    If you don’t watch TV, you have plenty of time for other things like reading, talking to your family, go out with your friends etc. which (in my opinion)are much more useful than watching what other people are willing to do for a little money or for being “famous”.
    I think all city-dwellers would need a little “country training” so they could see that there is real life too, not only their virtual, denaturated one. I know many of them who has problems, because they are simply bored. I would give them a hoe, send them to the fields to work all day, and I bet, their problem would disappear by the end of the day :)

  22. jojo says:

    Good Choice Walter… That show is nothign but trouble. Its all about the ratings. And well they edit to their advantage. I have seen a few too many episodes where the wives always cry. It puts your lifestyle in the spotlight, and the OTHER side gets to dish out the negativity about it. Some how miraculously changing their views on how they raise children, live their lives, keep their house, and so on… Fun to watch. But not for any one i would know…

  23. Norma says:

    Walter & Family,

    My husband and I watched Wife Swap one time just out of curiosity. We were disgusted. The reality shows of today should all be taken off the air as they are insults to anyone’s intelligence. Home and family come first and I would not trade either for any length of time. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and was only exposed to indoor plumbing at the age of 12. We had “plain people” for neighbors and a telephone with a “party line” that was installed when I was about 10 years old. We had a black and white TV with an antenna. I went to a two room school house that had school teachers with oxford shoes and buns in their hair at the nape of their necks. They taught me so much. We had outside bathrooms at the school (which by the way is still standing, but is now a private home). I remember some of my childhood as if it were yesterday. My Dad would go out hunting and bring home the kill and my mother would clean it and we ate it. There were no refusals or remarks about the meal. It was food and you ate it and were grateful that you had food. If some of today’s children would have the gift of what I had, they would be so different. We were never overweight, we worked off the calories we took in. I am almost 60 now and would not trade my memories for anything. The amount of $20,000 is a pittance to pay for two weeks of someone’s life. My thoughts are with you and yours…

  24. J&B says:


    Humorous as always and right on target. Cheers to you for not knowing what the show is about (I can’t say I do either) and for sticking up for your values and protecting your wife and family from the inevitable stress of a “Wife Swap.” As alway – thanks for sharing a bit of your life with the rest of us!


  25. Nori says:

    Please inform Ms. McGinley anyway doesn’t have an s. It’s already plural.

    (the show actually tapes over 7 days, but from what you’ve told me, that would probably be too long for her to be away anyways!)

  26. Hi Walter,

    Reading your response to the Wife Swap show was entertaining and time well spent. I gained a deeper appreciation of the life you and my cousin Holly have built for yourselves and your children.

    Brought to mind 2 things I thought I’d share. In about 1980 I worked for a couple of years with a fellow who grew up on a farm. I had considered myself a responsible and resourceful person but this guy opened my eyes to a new and far deeper level of using what is at hand to get the job done as well as to not wasting anything. I’ve been reading Will and Ben’s blogs for a while and I see those same qualities shining through in them.

    Second thing is that I remembered how when I was in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade we didn’t have a TV at home. The thing broke and Dad just never replaced it. The reputation I got (which stayed with me through High School graduation)as “the smart kid who aways had the answers” in school was probably just due to having a far better focus on my homework.

    I have seen the Wife Swap show once and my impression is that at a deep level it is very shallow.

    Best wishes and regards to all,


  27. Tana says:

    Wife swap did an episode here in Santa Cruz, California, on a New Agey family—the kind who don’t wear shoes in the house, and maybe who didn’t even have furniture. They edited deliberately to emphasize the family’s flakiness, instead of noting the high level of harmony and creativity.

    Thank goodness you didn’t sell out and participate in the kind of bullshit and deliberate emotional manipulation that characterizes that kind of trashy, meaningless television. There is nothing educational about it. Good for you.

    (And great post. Especially about not wanting some city gal to injure your animals.)

  28. Anonymous says:

    Great I love your responses ! LOL .

  29. Anonymous says:

    Better to read the novel SWAP by Sam Moffie. It’s more fun then a TV show that is fixxed.

  30. What an absolute HOOT! Thanks for the grins!

  31. TeaLady says:

    Just read your post (I know I'm a few years late)and your response was so well said. Others have probably already confirmed your suspicions about the show. I have seen the show a couple times but don't like to watch it. The thought that keeps coming to mind is that they have made cock fighting and dog fighting illegal and inhumane so they have now pitted women and families against each other all for the sake of entertainment. I'm so glad, for your family, that you had the good sense to keep them from that. You would be portrayed horribly.

    When reading the original letter…I kept imagining what the letter to the "other" wife sounded like. I'm sure that she needed a good "civilized woman to go educate those poor backwoods children and save them from a life of slavery and ignorance and poverty."

    I grew up a city girl but have always been a country girl at heart. I'm currently raising my first flock of chickens (10), and absolutely love them. (Although I am not allowed to raise chickens in our city with out living on a large farm. shhh…don't tell.) I only have hens and no rooster. So far my neighbors haven't "squawked" on me. (Maybe they are hoping for some eggs for their silence…when they start laying. Your site has been a tremendous help for me just starting out. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom with us. I'm building my first chicken sun room for the "girls" this winter.

    By the way…I'm one of those crazy Home Educators too.

  32. Patricia says:

    That was hilarious, how you say it would take longer than 2 weeks to “break in” a new wife. That sounds just like something my husband would say! Or my Dad, who said of his new wife “Well, we were at the dump, and I liked her and she was easy to get along with and didn’t gripe much, so I figured if a woman would go to the dump with me and was easy to get along with, I figured I’d keep her”, and he proposed- at the dump. They laugh about it all the time. LOL Reading some of the other posts about kids and how clueless they are, take heart. I have one of those clueless 14 year olds. She wants name brand clothes, but mostly so the other kids won’t beat her up or pick on her at school. Kids are so idiotic and brainwashed, I swear! But at the same time when we butchered two roosters for the first time, my husband… had to go in the house to upchuck while I finished the actual killing part. Note to self: Meat cleavers don’t work well. The second one went much more humanely. Poor little guy… He wouldn’t come out for a while. It was my clueless, smartmouth, spoiled teenage daughter that came out and helped me pluck those two chickens in the dark. Then hubby came later. Kiddo gripes and groans, but she also helped me build fence, milked the goat, helped me doctor the goat (there was blood. It was not fun), and knows how to pretty much deliver any mammalian baby now. So, there is hope.

  33. airbrushguy says:

    I once asked my Dad ” Why do you keep that old Bull around? It doesn’t give milk, or have calves. All it does is eat and chases my pony around.” He replied, ” He has his purpose.” TeaLady, I don’t want to get you busted, but I think you might need a rooster around, if you want any eggs. Walter ,I’m sure your little slice of heaven would be be a hoot on a show like wife swap. Even most modern country girls couldn’t make the cut.
    $20,000 for 7 days? I could pick them out a slow week for cash, but the other wife gets to say how the money is spent. She might pick you out a Kubota backhoe, or solar panels, but most likely it will be stuff you have already decided you don’t need, or want (TV) that she doesn’t see how you can live without. I guess you cold have a yard sale. hahaha.

  34. airbrushguy says:

    Sorry, you “could” have a yard sale.

  35. JJM says:

    I truly admire your website and would like to thank you sincerely for giving so much insight on the reality of homesteading and farming. The family and I intend to live that life sue to our desire to be self sufficient. It seems like the city life never appreciates our built-in abilities.

    I have to quickly mention that I believe you did the right thing by not doing that TV show. Such a tool makes people lazy and confused. We don’t own one either. Our kids changed for the better when we threw that thing out. Just the title of “Wife Swap” suggests immoral sex, even if the show isn’t about it. But whoever came up with the title obviously doesn’t have many morals. I would have suggested they take that $20K and distribute it to any families who would be willing to toss out their TV sets!

  36. William says:

    NO you do not need a rooster to get eggs. You only need a rooster to get fertilized eggs.

  37. Marie says:

    Hillarious! Good for you!

  38. Terri says:

    You should have left her to a link to the blog where you commented about accidentally killing your wife once. If that story has been told on here I haven’t found it yet… you handled it superbly even if you did play up the Jeb Clampet just a bit. LOL

  39. Amber3 says:

    You are wonderful! I have just spent the better part of the evening browsing through your blog and I’ve learnt so much. Haha, it’s brilliant to read such an informative blog written by someone with tack, humour, and the knowledge/experience to back it up! Never stop being you! I think you’re going to be one of my regular blogs I check up on.

  40. Farmerbob1 says:


    I am amazed at the depth and breadth of your blog. I’m first generation off the farm from both sides of the family, so most of my farm knowledge is from stories or anecdotal, but have a little direct exposure to it as a farmhand when I was a kid. I also did a bit of landscaping, mechanical maintenance, and have a large chunk of a mechanical engineering degree.

    And then, I read this and discover that you gave up TV only a few years before me. I have never owned a television that was used as a television (I have a digital TV I use as a monitor which has never had any video input other than from my computer) since becoming an adult. I stopped watching TV in 1989.

    I wish I lived near you folks. I’d probably volunteer to come up and do unskilled manual labor just to get a chance to chat with you, perhaps even being allowed to bang a nail or two every now and then after I show you I won’t kill myself.

    I’ve been poking you quite a lot with posts all over this fascinating blog, and I hope it’s not been too bothersome. When my own personal finances are looking better, you will be seeing some breakfast bacon and sausage orders from me.

  41. Andi says:

    Walter has a personal computer but no Tv for 30 years?

    • Correct. Longer than that actually. There simply isn’t much on TV that I want and I long ago figured out that TV is a big time sucker. There are too many other things I want to be doing with my time. We have DVDs, AmazonPrime and such for movies.

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