How long have you been practicing the traditional art of growing “historically significant” apples? We…
Featured Farm Craft: Small Farm Family
Welcome to our little corner of the country! We are Western Washington homesteaders and sisters, Aleah and Maggie. We grew in the foothills of the Cascade mountains on a 5-acre farm that has been in our family for almost a century.
It is autumn as we sit down to write this. The maples are starting to turn vibrant colors and it’s time to pick pumpkins from our garden. You can feel a change in the air as a new season settles into our little piece of heaven on earth. The changing seasons remind us of the things that change and the things that remain constant.
Growing up on our beautiful small family farm instilled a passion for agriculture in our hearts that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. Spending every summer of our childhood showing Jersey cattle at local and state fairs helped that passion flourish as we first tasted the joy of sharing with others about the blessings of a lifestyle lived close to the land.
Today, we are more passionate than ever about sharing the compelling story of American agriculture. We recently started sharing pieces of our homesteading life on our instagram page @smallfarmfamily, but our farming roots run deep.
Our great-great grandparents, Theis and Marguerite, came to Washington state from Germany in the mid-1800s and started a dairy farm on the outskirts of what would soon become a logging and dairying town in the fertile Skykomish river valley.
Not long after they began their new life in America, Theis was tragically killed in a wagon accident on the bridge crossing the Skykomish river, leaving his young wife – pregnant with our great grandma at the time – to run the farm on her own.
Flash forward over a hundred years. When we were five and eight years old respectively, our family left our neighborhood home to live on our grandparents five-acre farm – the same land where our mom grew up. Those five acres are situated just across the road from the dairy where over a century earlier Theis and Marguerite had built their farm.
The barn they milked their cows in still stands to this day. We’ve walked through that old barn. The stanchions still stand, ropes hang on the walls, and tools lay on the floor. That barn once housed the cows our great-great grandmother milked by hand twice a day to sustain her family of young children. She eventually remarried her longtime friend, Peter, and together they ran the farm.
Four generations later, we hope our great-great grandmother would be proud that her great- great granddaughters learned the value of hard work from spending their childhood milking cows twice a day by hand on a little farm just across the road.
We are proud to carry our ancestor’s legacy of living off the land. While our great-great grandparents farmed out of necessity to provide for their family, our farming lifestyle is a choice, but it is one we would choose over and over again in a heartbeat.
There is something special about living close to the land and being in tune with the seasons, the land and the creatures of the earth and air. This way of life is in our blood and the legacy of hard work and resilience that was passed on through our family, we hope to one day teach our own families.
From chickens to cattle and gardening and cooking, we fell in love with the simple country lifestyle. Even though our lives have taken us down many different roads, our souls will forever be at home on our farms.
I’m Aleah, the oldest of us two sisters. For as long as I can remember my world has revolved around cows. As a two-year-old, I begged my dad to play “dairy farmer” with me in the backyard.
When my mom enrolled me in dairy 4-H, it was the best thing she could have done for me, and the rest is history.
For over two years, I worked as the communications and community relations specialist for the Washington State Dairy Commission until recently transitioning to writing as a freelancer for the national agriculture publication @agdailymedia.
In September 2019, I moved to the next small town over to marry the love of my life and begin building our own dream homestead together. We are preparing our 20 acres for cows while caring for our dog, many feathered friends and our garden and orchard.
I treasure days spent working the land with the ones I love and falling asleep with fresh air blowing in the open window and some dirt under my fingernails.
I’m Maggie, the younger half of the sister duo. Most days I can be found taking care of the critters that live with me and my parents on same five acres where I grew up. I love Jesus, summer rainstorms, my great grandmother’s roses and baking homemade pies for the people I love.
Growing up I wanted to be exactly like my big sister which included loving everything related to animals and agriculture. When she joined dairy 4-H, I was soon to follow and found my own passion for this special way of life.
From the time I was 23 months old, I could be found packing around my favorite chicken like a rag doll or digging in the dirt in our garden. Two decades later, not a whole lot has changed. Although I now work full time as a remote content journalist for a global cyber security company, some of my best days are still spent elbow deep in rich, plowed soil with my feathered and four legged friends for company.
Whether I’m digging my hands into the sun warmed earth or milking cows at dawn and dusk, being close to the land and animals always makes my spirit soar.
Farming allows us to connect with the land that sustains us. I’ve seen newborn calves, kittens and chicks take their first wobbly steps and I’ve watched those same sweet old creatures breathe their last breath of a life well loved. I will never cease to find the miraculous in the cycle of life on the farm.
Together as sisters and storytellers, we have found so much joy in sharing this homesteading lifestyle with others through social media.
We have learned so many lessons here on our farm that we believe are worth sharing. We didn’t grow up on much land, but oh the stories this land could tell. Stories of two little girls spending lazy summers in the cow pasture playing with calves and watching the clouds roll by.
Stories of new life and loss. Stories of challenges and growing pains and growing up.
This land we grew up on grounded our hearts in gratefulness. Gratefulness for a way of life that not everyone gets to experience.
We are passionate about sharing the stories not only of our own lives on the land, but the stories of others who love the land.
Farmers are a different kind of people. They look at life in ways that we could all benefit from. When you depend on the land for your livelihood, you understand how much is out of your control. From storms that ravage crops without warning to life and death that happens out of your grasp, farming teaches you to live in the moment and not take life for granted.
On a farm you find yourself always moving, learning and growing. There is a constant cycle of new beginnings and endings of lifetimes and seasons. There is never a moment of life wasted on a farm. Our lifestyle is unique to some and familiar to others. It’s nothing extraordinary, but we believe that there is so much beauty in the ordinary lives of those who live close to and love the land.
Whether you live down a two-lane dirt road or in a city 20 stories high, you are connected to agriculture. We are passionate about showing you how. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to bridge the gap between the hard-working farmers who feed our nation and the consumers who live off the products they create.
We believe that every farm story and every farmer in this great nation of ours matters. Our mission for @smallfarmfamily is simple: we want to lift up the stories of the hardworking farmers who feed this nation and share a glimpse into our daily small farm adventures along the way.
We’d love to have you as our virtual neighbor. Head on over to @smallfarmfamily on Instagram and say hey!