Well, it's been a couple of crazy weeks here at Foxwood Farm. First of all, thank you for the outpouring of support and well-wishes. Knowing people far and wide are behind this transition helps a great deal when the days get long and the details get overwhelming.
In the days since we first talked about our amazing opportunity at St. Brigid's Meadows, we did not yet know what would become of the home farm. There were several ideas on the table between my parents and us. One option that we both hit upon seemed too good to be true. But then again, this month has been full of "too good to be true" moments.
There is a family in the Omro area that has been very supportive of their local farmer. They are the kind of family that every direct-market farmer longs to have in his list of customers. Starting nearly two years ago, we became acquainted with this family through a local homeschooling group. They came to buy pumpkins and gourds from us (our first crop!) before we had anything else to sell (not even eggs). The mother talked about her awareness of locally-produced, whole foods and expressed interest in our products if we ever sold eggs or milk.
Over the winter, we got to know them better at our local church. When we began milking Charlotte last May, this family came to our farm for a tour with their homeschooling group. About 10 families showed up that day and several became regular customers of ours. During that visit, the two oldest kids showed an interest in helping us with our gardens, and our two little ones. We arranged with the parents to have Bret and Cortnie come out nearly every weekday to help me plant, weed, water and harvest in the family garden. In exchange for the summer of help, they got half the money from what we sold in the store, half of the produce for the family to preserve and a solid foundation in gardening, chicken mainenance, and child care. At the end of the season, we were able to feed both our family and theirs for the entire winter.
This past winter, we all determined that the whole family could become involved in the farm, all ten of them. We planned an even larger garden, with the mother fully in charge of maintaining it. They filled in from time to time as our relief milkers. They took care of our chickens and chicks when we had to be away from home. They supported us financially throughout the months when we needed a little extra boost, all in exchange for wholesome food.
Every farmer should want a dedicated family like that building them up and supporting their endeavors. We couldn't have been more blessed by them.
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And then, we were.
We are pleased to announce that as of September 1st, 2010, Gale and Rita Gehrking and family will be taking over the farm responsibilities here at Foxwood Farm. They grew up working on dairy farms in Minnesota, intimately know our operations here and are entirely devoted to a quality farm product.
Not only that, my parents had thought of them as the perfect family to take over here, completely independently of us. They have seen the work that the Gehrking family has put in month after month here on the farm, with the only compensation being food from the farm. There is a level of trust on both our parts that can only be earned from seeing people in action.
Gale and Rita had a big decision on their plate, just as suddenly as we did. We could not tary. We had to know if they would take on this endeavor or we had to move on to plan B. Fortunately for everyone, God had his hand in this transition as well. All the people most closely involved felt strongly that this was the right move for Foxwood Farm.
A few key points:
- The name will not change. Foxwood Farm is still the farm here. It will just be defined by a new family. The email address, website and blog will not change. Rita is taking over administrative duties and is eagerly looking forward to taking up the reigns on this very blog! Foxwood Farm will continue, with a whole new perspective.
- I will continue blogging about The Sells on the St. Brigid's Meadow's blog. Our family story will continue over on the western part of the state and if you come with us, you can learn about all the wonderful things happening with a whole different farm.
- There will be no lapse in product offerings. The Gehrkings are taking over all aspects of the business: free-range eggs, grassfed beef, dairying and gardens. In the future, they hope to expand to pastured poultry and a subscription-style garden.
- The entire month of August, Andy and I will be training Gale, Rita, Bret and Cortnie on all our chores. By the end of the month, they will be fully transitioned into the daily routine; so much so, that we won't actually be doing the chores anymore. (This works out well for us as we will be in the midst of moving!)
We have full confidence in the Gehrkings to put 100% into this farm. It's not just a job to them; it's a way of life they have longed to have for years. We can't wait for them to get started!
Rebekah Sell lives on a small plot of land with her husband, Andy, on which they are hoping to build a sustainable homestead. With a small business and four kids, life is always interesting as Becky and Andy live fully the idea that the journey is the reward. Find her on Google+.