I first was introduced to Elderslie in the summer of 2019 when I was working at a peach and apple orchard, Meadowlark Farm. I was a lead farm hand in charge of maintenance of the orchard and our small goat herd, and Elderslie came by one day to buy peaches to use in their farm to fork courses. I had already heard some about Elderslie from friends who gushed about their blackberries, and the following year, the summer of 2020, I reached out to George to find out more about the farm and where I could be a fit! I’m a biology graduate from Wichita State University with a focus on ecology and the environment, so the core values of Elderslie and their mission of sustainability and land stewardship are dear to my heart and topics I’ve studied for years. It was the first time I felt my studies and passion truly mixing with my career.
My work day starts with brief meetings and planning of the week and our goals for it. Elderslie is full of so many amazing moving parts and we’re able to tackle major herd and blackberry projects in an organized manner at the start of every week that I’m grateful for. If the weather cooperates, we walk the goats to pasture and they love learning to walk together to their favorite place, where they sunbathe and forage all day. After they’re taken out, we start on our projects for the week. This ranges from goat health management, pasture and fence maintenance, management of our dry non-milking herd, turning compost and cleaning manure to be turned into compost, and blackberry field management.
As the herd and blackberry manager, I split my week between the two and always look forward to my time in the blackberry field looking out over the landscape. I do various upkeep in the blackberries during the winter, such as laying down hay cover, tying canes to the trellis, and pruning. I end my days in the milking parlor with our milking herd, who are such a blast to be around and observe. They’re ornery, very individualistic, curious, and loving. They greet me the same way every day and we walk and talk together on the way to the parlor, where they get milked, eat sweet snacks, get face scratches and then head back into the barn for the night. These days, I’m lucky enough to end my milking shift with a visit to the goat kids, who are already getting so big and full of energy. They self-feed now, so we make sure they’re warm and dry and their bellies are filled with milk. They’re a hoot and they love jumping on me, getting hugs and lying on my lap.
I’ve met fantastic people in the short time I’ve worked at Elderslie and I’ve had the opportunity to have great conversations with them about the future of farming, what it means to be a land steward on native prairies in Kansas, how the farm can continue to grow in the direction of sustainability and holistic agriculture, and our passions for the ground we walk on. I feel blessed to be able to be immersed in something I’ve dreamt about since I was a child. I grew up in downtown Wichita and never thought I’d be a part of Kansas agriculture, but I always knew I’d be a part of caring for the land.