The Wayward Barnyard

by Val Mohney

Tammy’s farm is called “The Wayward Barnyard” because her daughter is a huge Supernatural/Wayward Sisters fan. When they added goats to the farm they started naming them after characters from those shows. Goats can be pretty wayward characters themselves so it fit. 

Tammy Merrill, owner, The Wayward Barnyard

Tammy loves the days when she sees projects around the farm move toward completion. Some days the list of things to do has more items checked off than others but as long as there is forward momentum it’s a good day. She appreciates the reward that comes with having a venue to introduce, engage & educate people about farming. As consumers she believes we have choices for most everyday products and that big box stores are not our only options. Farming locally opens up a lot of options and choice for people. 

Being a farming woman sometimes presents it’s own challenges. There are, of course, ignorant moments. “You must be the farmers wife.” – “No. I’m the farmer.” Tammy doesn’t think any harm is intended and likes to think it’s just old habits and old notions. Her husband works 60+ hour weeks off the farm at a job he loves and the farm is not his baby, it’s hers. Those “ignorant” moments are fewer and farther between now as the recognition of women in agriculture becomes more common. Women have always been a major part of ag operations and the old notion of “honey, where’s your husband” is thankfully almost dead. She is encouraged by the many up and coming, established and successful FarmHers in this area. 

While Tammy has found that being a mother who also farms can be very challenging, she also believes it’s the ideal situation for the mother that wants to stay at home and raise her family. As a farming mother, you are the nurturer, the provider, the educator, the manager. It’s the perfect environment to teach good stewardship & the value of hard work. Farming engages the family as it necessitates teamwork. Some times it is difficult to get the team to work, as it certainly is in non-farm households, but when your children are recognized off the farm for their good work ethic that in itself is very rewarding. When they move out and have an easier time than others because they aren’t shy about digging in and getting their hands dirty, so to speak, you know they will be successful in life.

Farmers come with either several generations of experience to back them up, or they are brand new to the farming experience. Being a first generation farmer comes with it’s own set of obstacles. You don’t know what you don’t know. At first, Tammy was all over the proverbial map trying out different things to make things work for the farm, her family and her life. Getting connected to experienced networks that will show you what you don’t know, without prejudice, or respond with direct help makes a big difference.  Had she to do it over again, she would have gotten connected with more experienced farmers sooner. 

Tammy’s learned that no matter how much you think you are prepared the farm will always show you that you still have much to learn. She’s also learned to trust her instincts. Taking into account all the ups and downs, the trials and joys, Tammy wouldn’t trade her agricultural experiences for the world. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with others and is making plans to turn her farm into an eco-tourism, hands-on, learning experience for children and families.

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