Even if you haven't read any of my past blog posts (I forgive you), you MUST continue reading this one. Heather Cox is taking over the blog today and has completely blown me away with her passion and storytelling.
Take it away, Heather...
If someone were to ask me about my farm I would hope they had a comfy chair and plenty of free time, because, honestly, that conversation could go on for days. When you love something as much as I love my family’s farm, you want to talk about it and you enjoy talking about it. I promise I won’t keep you here that long though.
I thank God every day that he chose me to be a farmer
I guess you could say that farming was bred into me. It’s all I’ve ever known. But there were times when I was younger that I questioned whether or not I was meant to go into the family business. So, with my parent’s encouragement and support, I left the farm for college. I enjoyed my time away, but I also found myself creating any excuse I could to go home. Four years and one interior design degree later that’s exactly what I did, and I thank God every day that he chose me to be a farmer. I’m also incredibly grateful that He has blessed me by allowing me to farm with my parents, my sister, my husband, and now my son. This life I live would be meaningless without my faith, my family, and my farm.
Our family farm was created almost 30 years ago when my parents purchased their first dairy cows and found our home in Rose Bud, Arkansas (yes, it’s a great coincidence!). When they began, our state boasted almost 900 dairy farms and today, sadly, there are less than 75. It’s not an easy job by any measure. Growing up I watched how hard my parents worked, and I saw the struggles they faced with little reward in return. Despite that, they were also the happiest people I knew. Not only did they love their job (most of the time), but more importantly they loved that we did it as a family. As we witnessed dairy farms start to dissolve around us, we knew we needed something more to keep us going. That’s when we established Honeysuckle Lane Cheese, the first certified raw milk cheese plant in Arkansas. We are proud that we can offer a farm fresh, all natural product to our customers, but the fact that it saved our family farm is the greatest outcome.
I love getting to speak with customers face to face about our farm. It’s essential that, as farmers, we accurately educate others in the truth about agriculture
Throughout the year, we travel to markets and events to sell our raw milk cheeses. These have become truly enjoyable for me, because I love getting to speak with customers face to face about our farm. It’s essential that, as farmers, we accurately educate others in the truth about agriculture, especially now with the things that get passed around on the internet about how awful farming is. Sure there are some people that shouldn’t be permitted to own a pet mouse, let alone cattle, but that’s not always the case. That’s why it is our responsibility to make certain that our consumers know all about our farm and how we choose to farm. Our cows are not just animals eating grass in our fields; they are a part of our family. We rely on them just as much as they rely on us (if not more!). God blessed us with our farm and every animal on it. We cannot expect them to provide for us if we don’t provide for and take care of them.
Last year our farm welcomed another big change when we created Honeysuckle Cattle Company. Now, in addition to our sweet Jersey cows, our farm is home to a commercial beef herd. Our herd consists of various breeds including Longhorns, Braunvieh, Angus, Hereford and many other beautiful cows. Besides offering grazing pastures for all of our cattle, we utilize our farm to harvest enough hay to feed our animals throughout the winter season. Each day is unlike the next. There is always milking, making or packaging cheese, feeding and checking cows to be done, but the rest of our days are filled with anything that needs our attention the most at the moment. Whether it is mending fences, bush-hogging, working cattle, cutting, raking, baling or hauling hay, we are never bored. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is much more enjoyable when you are blessed to work alongside family.
Our family’s farm is much more than a commercial business; with it we are able to provide quality products for our personal consumption. We raise enough quality beef, pork and chicken to feed three generations throughout the year. We also greatly enjoy our own farm fresh milk, cheese, eggs and vegetables. I love the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where my food came from and exactly how it was produced. With food products that we do not yield here on the farm, we try to support other local farmers. It is crucial that we all work together to continue promoting the importance of agriculture. And as women in agriculture, it’s even more vital that we make ourselves known and heard. This business has been dominated by men since the beginning. However, from my own personal experience, men may be the backbone of farming, but women are the heart.
My family’s farming history began several generations before me, and I pray that, God willing, it will continue for many more after me. And as a woman, I’m proud to be a small part of agriculture and plan to do all that I’m able to do to continue to endorse and educate people about our livelihood. So please do me a favor and ask me about my farm.