When we say this is a “family farm,” it's hard to really get across the depth of what that term means to us. For the last 24 years, this farm has been at the very foundation of our lives, characters, and family. It has shaped every aspect of who we are, and for our children, it is the only life they have ever known (Kirsten and Jonathan may have a few stray memories of life before the farm, but not many!).
Although our family is in that stage of life where there are lots of big changes taking place, and although our children are pursuing various occupations based on their individual interests, temperaments, and calling, make no mistake that this farm has made a permanent impression on who they are, what they think, and where they are headed. We will be forever grateful for that, because we believe (and we may be a little biased), that farm life builds strong men and women. Pam and I take no personal credit for this, but are so thankful to God for His guiding and directing us to this life.
Here is a current (March 2018) update on what our family is doing right now (starting from youngest to oldest):
Caleb is 15 and that's hard to believe! It is especially hard to see your last-born child growing up — knowing there's no more to come. But, the alternatives would be harder, so we are grateful for his growth. We are so thankful for the young man he is becoming! His passions still center on his woodshop — where he continues to make all kinds of handcrafted products. Just recently he has been creating cupboard drawers and doors to make Pam's life easier. School is still a burden, but he's beginning to catch on to the fact that the quicker he gets it done, the sooner he can get on with "real life"! Although he would choose to spend all his time with wood, he is very willing to help on the farm, and is a huge blessing to Pam and I as we are seeking deeper order and efficiency in the home and on the farm.
Zack (20), is working long hours for his brother at Farmer's Friend, LLC, but then is coming home and working hard in his new small engine shop. Mighty Power Small Engine Repair is the name of his business, and he is hoping to build it up into something that can support a family. It's a blessing for the farm to have his mechanical abilities close by, and he is also the one we go to when we have computer or device questions. Zack has a mind built for problem-solving and details, and he is always happy to help us "non-techies" with our questions. He is gifted on the piano, and seems to improve without practice (how does that work?).
Joshua (22) is really just about two things these days: Kelli Knecht and farming (in that order)! Kelli, (who is Nick's sister), is anxiously awaiting becoming a farmer's wife on June 10! We are very grateful for Joshua's good choice in women, and are thankful that Kelli will be permanently joining the farm team. When they are not working on the farm, Joshua and Kelli are either working on wedding plans or on their new home (a fifth wheel trailer they have made into a very cute country cottage). Joshua has been running the fall/winter CSA for three years now, and also helps us a lot with the spring/summer CSA. He's not all about work though; He loves snowboarding, mountain biking, and anything with adrenaline.
Jonathan (24), is having a hard time keeping his head above the orders coming into Farmer's Friend, LLC. His business is booming — which is really exciting because it's all about tools and supplies for small farmers. The future is looking very bright in the small farm world! But now, Jonathan has an even brighter future: Abigail Eagan! We have known Abby's family for over 20 years, but Jonathan and Abby grew up like brother and sister — with no interest whatsoever in each other. Finally, they came to the realization that they were very well-suited for each other, and are planning to tie-the-knot on August 19. We couldn't be happier! Abby lives in CA, so they are racking up the frequent flyer miles!
Kirsten and Nick (Knecht) will soon be celebrating 3 years of marriage! They must be having fun, because the time is flying! We are very grateful to have them still close by; They live in a cute, tiny house just up the valley from the barn. Nick is employed full-time with Adventist World Radio (AWR), and has been assigned with the task of traveling the world, filming and editing short videos of lives changed through the ministry of AWR. Kirsten is his assistant scriptwriter and photographer. When she's not globetrotting with her husband, she loves being barefoot in her cut flower garden. They are ready to "graduate" from their tiny house, but the Lord hasn't opened any doors yet.
Pam remains the proverbial farmer's wife, who manages and accomplishes more than anyone can ask or imagine. In addition to being full-time wife and mother, she is farm bookkeeper and secretary, homeschool teacher, head of the programming committee for the Adventist Agricultural Association (AdAgrA), chief cook, and a few other titles that slip my mind at the moment. It's been over 30 years now since she committed to be with me for better or for worse — having no idea what she was getting into, but praise God, she has kept her vows! She manages it all with such grace that it is an inspiration to all who know her.
I (John) am enjoying a break from the day-to-day routine of farm life (if you haven't read it elsewhere, Pam and I are taking a Sabbatical from the farm this year), but am finding the days too short to fit in all the things I want to be doing. Here is a partial list of things to accomplish during our Sabbatical:
- Bless Joshua and Jonathan in their remaining time at home -- (For starters, I'm helping Jonathan by working 10 hours a week for Farmer's Friend, LLC, and Joshua by mentoring him on the farm).
- "Lean" the home and farm by eliminating waste and streamlining systems to bring greater efficiency and productivity.
- Prepare a "How-To" manual for boarding academies to help them integrate agriculture into their programs.
- Make sure all farm infrastructure is repaired and maintained.
- Fulfill my role as a board member of AdAgrA and as Editor of the "ROOTS" magazine.
- Spend extra quality time with God, Pam and the family.
- Increase my knowledge of farming through reading and coursework. Does anyone ever have two year Sabbaticals?
Well, as you can see, our lives are full! But, our hearts are also full of love and thanksgiving to God for His bountiful blessings. We are so thankful for our family and our farm! The farm wouldn't be here without the hard work of the family, and the family wouldn't be here without the hard work of the farm.