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Randy is the operator and visionary for the farm. He loves the outdoors and the fact that it is his office.
Tracy is co-owner. She is our office manager and organizer which is not a small task.
We have five sons, two Daughter-in-laws, and a granddaughter. We homeschooled all the boys and currently have the youngest finishing up high school. Our family is close knit and we do everything together. We have always relied on each other, not to say we don't have our bumps in that road. We have a good time in the fields planting and picking. Sometimes the kids have a little too much fun.
Elijah is our oldest. He loves the outdoors and everything that it involves.
Katelynn is our daughter-in-law. She is married to Elijah and is our bread maker for markets and deliveries.
Rayden is our youngest. He loves to be playing outside and making things with his hands.
Our Story is one of big dreams, hard-work & determination, plus a large amount of God's divine intervention.
I(Tracy) grew up in the country. My parents owned a small farm that they cash rented a large portion of ground to a local farmer. My Mom and Dad always had a large garden, beef cattle and a milk cow. Growing up, I didn't appreciate all that my parents were teaching me, but as an adult, I am so thankful for the upbringing I was blessed to have. As a kid, I swore I would never farm, never garden and I promised to live in a big city. I remember many summer days sitting in a row of green beans griping and complaining at the unfairness of my life instead of weeding the beans. It is funny how life turns out. My life is exactly the opposite of my childhood dreams, but I couldn't imagine loving my country, farm life any more than I already do.
Randy has a different story, He was raised in the town of Angola. He was a city kid, with a heart of the country. He loved spending time in the summer on his Grandparents farm. He loved learning from his Grandpa and having adventures in the fields, woods and creek. Randy has always had an entrepreneurial spirit about him, as soon as he was old enough, he started a lawn mowing business. Unfortunately he wasn't yet old enough to drive. Thankfully, he has a very understanding Mom who would drive him and his lawnmower all over Angola. That job turned into a summer job helping a local produce farmer. This job just deepened Randy's love of farming. During Randy's freshman year of college, his Grandfather passed away unexpectedly. Randy decided the only thing for him to do was drop out of college to help his Grandma on the farm. Over the next year, he had quite the learning curve. He learned about raising cattle, pigs, chickens, planting and harvesting corn and soy beans, fixing fences and a fair amount of chasing cattle that busted through fencing.
After about a year of helping his Grandma full -time, he decided he needed to earn some extra spending money. He got a job at a local garden center. God spoke to Randy and said he was to meet his future wife at this job. The next day, Randy was working and turned down an aisle and saw the cashier, who just happened to be me. We became best friends and were married 3 years later. Randy did wait until he proposed to tell me God had already told him we would marry.
After a few years of marriage and 2 beautiful sons later, we were able to buy an 80 acre farm. We were starting from scratch. Our new farm had a well. chicken coop and lots of possibilities, but not much else. Randy was determined to make a beautiful life for our family on this little piece of Heaven. We lived in a tiny mobile home, while Randy set to building our dream house. We knew that God was going to expand our family through adoption and fostering, so Randy built our house big enough to fill it with kids. After 3 long years of working tirelessly, helping his Grandma on her farm, working a factory job and building our house, we finally moved in.
Our story is about an immense amount of hard work and a lot of divine intervention from God. Through friendships and networking, we met an amazing family in Tennessee. They own a sweet cherry and peach orchard.
We traveled to see them one weekend and Randy was enthralled with the idea of a u-pick. Conventional farming was getting too expensive for us to continue. The up-keep on the equipment alone was breaking our budget every year. The u-pick option, just might be a way for us to make a living farming.
2006 was a big year for us, We began planting the first of 6 acres of cherry trees and we also began fostering 3 amazing, rambunctious little boys. What a year! Going from a family of 4 to 7 overnight, on top of that beginning a brand new farming venture. It was an exciting, scary time.
During all of this Randy had an amazing opportunity with his job to take a buy out and try farming full-time. He had worked his factory job for over 15 years, it was definitely taking a toll on his body. This unexpected opportunity was an answer to prayer.
We jumped in full force, like always and didn't look back. We planted the remaining cherry trees and started a 3 acre u-pick strawberry patch, plus an acre of blueberries. Over the next few years we tried to build our business, fight with mother nature, deal with a pretty significant drought, and try to find time to have a little bit of family time with the kids. For many years that family time was Randy coaching the boys in soccer, sometimes he was coaching 3 teams at once to include all of the boys. Those were some busy, crazy years. We made mistakes, learned from them and tried to follow our dreams. Through those crazy years one of the best things happened, November 24, 2011 we were able to adopt our three little R's. Their adoption day was one of our best days and we are forever grateful for being given the privilege of calling these boys our own.
Through all of the craziness of farming and trying to parent wild and crazy boys, Randy & I had a very defining moment that would forever change our approach to growing our food.
We were in the cherry orchard spraying, cherry trees are very fickle and are susceptible to many different diseases and predators( one reason we haven't ever had a great crop) The particular spray we had to apply was very toxic, we had to wear protective clothing and face masks. After the application, no animal or human entry into the orchard for 1 week!! Not to mention the extreme expense of the spray. After we cleaned up from spraying, Randy looked at me and said " what are we doing? This is crazy, Imagine what this stuff is doing to our bodies, not to mention the food we will eventually eat from those trees!"
And that one conversation completely changed our view on farming, how we care for our land, our animals, what we feed our kids. It absolutely turned our world upside down, in a great way.
God brought amazing mentors into our lives, we met the owner of Organi-Gro and have formed a friendship/business relationship with the founder. We have taken a really hard look at how we steward the land we have been given. It's not an easy road, farming in a non-conventional way, but we have found the benefits far outweigh the hardships. Our story in some ways is just beginning; as our kids grow and venture off to follow their dreams, Randy & I are figuring out new ways to farm, new ways to give back to our community, new ways to live this very ordinary, yet in ways extremely extraordinary life we have been blessed to live.
Tracy has a blog to talk about some of the happenings of the farm. It isn't all peaches and cream.