At Nature Supply Co., supporting our local farmers is something that is near and dear to our hearts. From cultivating a more sustainable future, to meeting the faces behind the food that nourish our families, we hope to foster a community of connection and gratitude for the modern family farm. It is our hope that with this series, we can be an encouragement to their businesses and show our thanks for all that they give to their communities.
This week, we are honored to introduce you to Hannah "Suzie" Nicole of Muddy Oak Hen House! Check out her interview below!
Hi Suzie! Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a little bit about Muddy Oak Hen House?
Hello. I'm Hannah. Better known as Suzie. A nickname given by my husband as I am the homemaker of our family. Suzie homemaker. With God's strength and Hubby's man power, I manage most of the baby and food raising on our small 1st generation personal farm, here in Ohio.
We'd love to know how you got started and your farming background!
While my husband grew up in a farm community and doing 4H, I grew up in a completely different environment. The desert of California. For me, my love of gardening didn't start until my early 20s on the balcony of my first apartment where I worked in marketing. I've had many jobs leading up to my husband and mines decision for me to be a full-time stay at home mother and homemaker. Not so oddly enough, the last paycheck job I had was in a garden center for a local hardware store. We farm for personal use.
Tell us why you have such a love for farming!
We grow/raise much of our own food for many reasons. Starting with the quality and taste of homegrown. I am able to offer so much more variety and at a much more affordable price. As a family of 6 on a single income, you learn quickly to waste little and stretch a penny further. In addition to the variety I can offer our family, the taste is much better. I know where it started and every process from the planting to the harvest and beyond. Which brings me to the second reason we grow and raise our own: canning and putting by. I have been a canner for roughly 12 years now. Growing my own opens a whole new window of how much and what I can put by for winter months for our family. Third, I feel by gardening, I'm taking part in giving back to nature in a healthy manner. From feeding the soil over fall and winter months to tending the garden and surrounding areas in spring and summer. It's a sense of connection with not only our property, but with nature and our food.
What are some challenges you face as farmers?
This question could not have come in better time. Challenges and hardships are always a part of farming. It leads to personal growth, the growth of your farm and the increased quality of your harvest. For us, our challenge came in two manners this season. Our flock of hens hit first with an illness that they will forever be carriers for. Egg production went down and they got ill. Multiple times. After months of struggle, we determined it was cruel to continue to keep them unhealthy. So we culled the flock and will begin process to better the hen house and run for a future flock planned for summer 2019. Also, in our garden, 93 beautiful tomato plants seem to be onto a great start this season only to find countless bumps in the road over the last month. From blossom end rot and horn worms, to its sudden end-of-season signs. We grow from these challenges, but in the heat of them, they really do make for a frustrating season of farming.
What are the rewards you sow?
Nothing beats the rewards of two life experiences in my opinion: 1. Holding your newborn after labor and 2. Harvesting and putting by your hard work. The feeling and sense of worth that comes from cracked dirty hands after months of prep, planting, weeding, and harvesting hard work can't be put into words easily. To work in the heat of late summer weeks, over the stove, cutting and cooking and pouring that harvest into mason jar after mason jar...it sometimes seems it never ends. Then frost hits and you look at all your tucked away mason jars full of summer's harvest - it's one of the best feelings. One money can't buy.
Tell us about what your future goals are!
Someday, I truly hope to be able to not only grow our family's food but to be able to successfully run a road-side stand where I may sell our overage produce, farm fresh pork, fresh eggs along with freshly gathered bouquets.
What advice can you share for those just starting out?
My best advice will always be to start slow. It is so easy to get in over your head out of excitement. When you start slow, you allow time to fully learn and enjoy the process of farming/gardening.
What are your favorite resources?
My granny. She is my number one go to for all things old living; from gardening to cooking up southern meals. But, since you can't also use my granny as a resource, I would suggest Instagram! There is a community of like-minded farmers and growers out there that believe in sharing this experience. You learn so much through others.
Any extra information to share?You can follow my family's adventures in farming and small-town living @muddyoakhenhouse on Instagram where you will see more than just the growing food and putting by side of our lifestyle. You'll see sewing projects, little's helping, baking, cooking, fresh flowers, countryside photos and many more little things that make up our lifestyle and daily moments.