Our Story

 

DSC_1503.JPGKNOW YOUR FARMER. LOVE YOUR FOOD.

So, here’s your farmer – Dan, the guy who says when he is on his tractor or out with the cows feels like the luckiest guy in the world. He loves to farm!

As soon as he gets home from his day job, he switches gears (and clothes) to his after-work farming job and works until it is too dark to see. “I’m losing daylight!” is his favorite thing to say. Plowing, planting, fixing, plumbing, building, electric, bailing, tettering, and raking. You name it, he does it.

When we first got married, I was looking forward to life in the suburbs, because, you know, I married a software engineer, right? But early in our marriage, I found glimpses of a husband who was a budding farmer. He’d grow tomatoes and peppers outside on our apartment belcony in Madison. Our first house found him outside with hammer or shovel always in hand digging or hammering something, and always a huge garden, much too big for just the two of us. It was clear. He was restless. When we found ourselves having to move after baby #1 was born, the idyllic little house in the country we were going to buy fell through at the last minute. Suddenly, we were desperately searching for another home to buy while living with my in-laws with me nine months pregnant with baby #2. That little house in the country just wasn’t meant to be. My father-in-law spotted this “fixer upper” farm two miles outside of Waterloo. He told us to buy it. He said he always dreamed of living on a farm and he would help us fix it up, and hey, my father-in-law was motivated – I was about to have baby #2 while living at his house!

Well, the original barn next to the silo was a falling down wreck and the farmhouse was in such bad shape that the owner said he’d just “throw it in” along with 150 acres of land, and land was cheap back then – 190 acres for $120,000 back in 1989. Yep, that’s what it was.

Dan was thrilled, of course, but me? Not so much. I’m sure my face was a picture as we walked into that house for the very first time. The kitchen was painted a beautiful shade of lime green with a red ceiling and a florescent light hanging down from a wire, and that was it! No cupboards, no appliances, nothing. The walls were crumbling and the plumbing, electric, and windows needed upgrading big time. The house hadn’t been lived in for over six years. It was 100 years old and it needed, well, let’s just say it needed a lot of “special attention.” However, Dan wasn’t bothered by this little detail. He said “I’ll have it all fixed up in five years!” Well, that was 26 years ago. Ahem.

Farming is Dan’s passion and his mind wouldn’t be changed. We were basically looking at starting a farm from scratch. At first, we were okay with having a farmer rent our land while Dan puttered around outside, but about seven years ago after seeing the movie “Food, Inc.” (every eater must see this movie), we decided that we could either sit back and complain about what is going on with our food supply, or we could do something about it, so four years ago we (very politely) asked the factory farmer who was renting our land and spraying it with chemicals to leave. It was time to farm it ourselves and do our part to provide good, safe food for people. We decided if we were going to do this right, we had to do it the old-fashioned way, so Dan started going to farm auctions and he bought old farm machinery that nobody wants anymore – things like cultivators, hammermills, corn shellers and seed cleaners that you need for things like open-pollinated corn.  You see, you have to clean the seeds before you can put them in the planter or it gets all clogged up with dirt.  Of course, like most things, we found this out the hard way! Farmer Dan also grows all of our non-gmo oats, wheat, barley, and buckwheat and then grinds it all up and mixes it up to feed our chickens. This is pretty much unheard of in the farm world, but we want to know exactly what our chickens are eating and think our customers would appreciate knowing too.

A few summers back, he and our son, Joel, built a barn out back and a whole lot of fences!  Next, the animals came – the beaks and the beef. He is very proud of his farm and he loves all of his animals from the bottom of his farmer heart. 🙂  Are we done rebuilding this old farm? No. Will we ever be? For now – we are just plowing along doing the best we can one year at a time.

In honor of our new website, Dan wrote a song for me (first time in 30 years – there’s always a first!) His lyrics can be sung to the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. Here goes:

Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Dan,
a poor engineer with a hankerin’ for some land
and then one day whilst living with his folks,
out came the cry from the one who never jokes,
“ Here … Buy this farm,” dad said,
“Now, get out of my house!”

Well, his wife looked around and all she did was stare
she finally turned around, said “This is quite a scare,”
“You can’t be serious,” was her final plea,
then he loaded up on debt, and he prayed for jubilee.
Five years… fix ‘er up… it’ll look like new!

And, well, me – never one to be outdone, came up with my own song, except my song is sung to Billy Joel’s tune, “Piano Man.”

It’s 9:00 on a Saturday, I opened my eyes in the sun,
The old man sitting next to me, is gone getting planting work done.

He said “Hon, can you bring me some breakfast now?
I need to go tedder some hay,
The electric fence broke and the cows are all out,
They’re wandering all over the place.”

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la…..

Plow me a field, you’re a farmer, Dan,
Plow me a field tonight,
Well, you’re home early from work again,
So you don’t lose any daylight.

And yeah, that’s pretty much us – in a nutshell – in two little songs!

We hope you will come along for a country ride with us – this life on the farm. It’s truly the best life there is – well, most of the time – when the cows stay INSIDE their fences!

Farmer Dan and Kris
xoxo