How long have you been practicing the traditional skill of keeping chickens? I raised chickens…
What is the name of your Farm, Ranch, or Homestead?
Acorn Pottery and Farm
Where are you located?
The beautiful and much overlooked Spotsylvania, VA
How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher or homesteader begin for you?
This is always tricky, because what makes you a farmer, rancher or homesteader…having the desire, having the animals and all the plants…loving your life and centering it at home? I’ll have to say our health and food was the biggest key factor in making us famers and homesteaders. We have always been homebodies, and Johns work as a potter has always allowed him to work at home. After rounds of sickness with our kids one winter and being convinced there had to be another answer than yet another antibiotic, I started digging…literally and figuratively. I was looking for all of the alternative ways to health, and diet turned up everywhere. We knew about Polyface and lived close enough to go often, so we went and sold pottery at a few craft shows they hosted. We met tons of like minded people, looking for health through food and a richer life for their families and neighbors. This really was our tipping point. We knew we wanted to change our diet, so we began with all of the basics and made it from scratch…the sauerkraut, the sourdough bread, the kombucha and kefir, grinding our wheat…and like we all know, it’s the snow ball affect…we bought chickens for the eggs, then sheep because they are cute, and some pigs because who doesn’t love bacon and then we needed meat birds too, oh and all the veggies, bushes and trees! It sounds dreamy, and it really is our dream, but it doesn’t come without tears and sweat. John is the backbone of our family and potter. A few years ago we were able to buy a small piece of land and turn an old pole barn into his 1000sq. ft. studio. He makes pottery full time right beside our home. There isn’t a day that his throwing isn’t interrupted by pigs needing food or kids needed help with work or an animal that got loose. We love being able to steward our family, our animals and the land we have and we love the life it gives our family.
What do you grow and/or raise?
We grow greens all winter and anything we can grow all spring and summer! Tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans are our staples but there is no lack of all the other delicious summer veggies! We have a small orchard of peach, apple and fig trees and a dozen berry bushes. We work to use our animal manure as fertilizer for our plants and we do a no till method to keep the soil as nutrient rich as possible. We raise Rambouillet sheep, red waddle pigs, ducks, laying hens, broilers and turkeys…and one sweet calf. Our animals are pastured and rotationally moved for their health and the health of the land. We sell our extra eggs, meat and veggies to locals when we have it.
What is your farm craft? Tell us about the materials used, processes and reasons for creating what you do.
Our bread and butter is the pottery. John is our maker and together we work the business, Acorn Pottery. We typically use clay and glaze materials sources out of North Carolina and Virginia. To begin a vessel, the clay is weighed for that specific piece, and thrown on the wheel, once the desired shape is attained we may remove excess clay to give the right aesthetic. Now it will dry to leather hard, while drying, we pull handles to attach before the first, bisque firing. After the first firing, the piece is dipped or sprayed with glaze and then kiln fired again to achieve the color and durability! We have been able to throw with some of the clay on our property, turning it into planters. Relationally, we love connecting with our pottery customers. People love to have a favorite mug, bowl, dish, and we love to make it for them! It makes sharing those special drinks, and meals with loved ones a little more rich. Being a small business ourselves, we love being able to help other businesses brand themselves in a way that shows their care for their customer and the community by sourcing high quality products, and that is exactly what our logo’d hand thrown mugs do. Because it is so important to us where our food is from and how it was cared for, it carries over into all of the other areas in life too. We like to say we are in the business of bridging the gap between where you food is from and what you are eating it on.
What is one of your favorite farm-infused recipes you wish to share?
Our almost daily breakfast: our eggs, our pork sausage, on our sourdough bread with our kraut to top it off, delish!
What is at least one farm tradition you uphold?
Pig riding! Haha, see the picture attached. No, really, making food from scratch with the food we are producing is probably the best. It is so satisfying when everything on your plate was in your yard. We can anything we have enough of to can, usually pickles, tomatoes and beans.
What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?
The change that we have seen in our health is a huge one…we are thankful that sick visits to the doctor have been nearly eliminated. We love the quality time that it creates and allows. There are few things that build the work ethic like early morning feed chores, the tender heart over the loss of an animal, the gratefulness over food you have cared for and processed to eat, and the laughter over stories from the day shared around the dinner table.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom to you hope to impart on the future generation of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders?
It is worth it, there is a rich life waiting when you flip the dark soil over for the first time, watch the newest lamb stumble to its feet, and taste the sweetest fig you have ever had, and know you grew it. The work is worth it. Build the relationships, know your customers…know their families, know the people who bring you hay, and package your seeds, and who buy your eggs each summer. The community will encourage you, and you are their link to a richer life too.
Where can people find you/your products online?