A Visit to The Maker’s Meadow
A Visit to The Maker’s Meadow
By Jana Gruber, Customer and New Marketing Coordinator at The Maker's Meadow
I placed my first order with The Maker's Meadow during COVID lockdown this spring, taking full advantage of the convenience of their awesome home delivery service. You can imagine my surprise when I opened my door and John Filbrun is standing there. I enthusiastically and somewhat embarrassingly blurt, “You’re the owner I see in the videos!” He humbly nods his head and smiles, obviously unaware of his newfound celebrity status.
We talk for a moment and I share how I appreciate what he and his company represents. I also mention that I have worked in marketing and sales in the past and should he ever need some help down the road, I'd be happy to help.
Fast forward to a few months later. John and I begin talking about the possibility of collaborating on marketing. He suggests that I first visit the farm and take a tour. I am so grateful for his recommendation. I can honestly say my farm tour was life changing! Yes, I have always been excited about healthy, grassfed meats... but now, I am extremely enthusiastic and see the tremendous potential to share this gem of a farm with others!
Today I'd like to share with you my farm tour experience. It's my sincere hope that you may get the chance to take a tour yourself! I hope you walk away with the same appreciation.
Have you had the chance to tour The Maker's Meadow? If so, share below what you loved about it! If you're coming for a tour, let us know what you're most looking forward to seeing!
When you step out unto a pasture full of cows and sheep, there are certain things you expect to see: animals grazing, cow patties, bugs, and perhaps a few pretty wildflowers in the field. But a cow who is friends with sheep? I couldn't tell if he thinks he IS a sheep or if he just likes diverse friends! I immediately begin thinking how this “unorthodox cow” metaphorically represents those of us who choose the nontraditional, pasture-fed, ethically raised, GMO-free meats. We (yes, you and me) are definitely in a field of our own but thankfully that field is growing and more are beginning to understand the benefits of healthy, locally sourced meat.
I’ve been interested in the grassfed movement for over five years now, upon learning about my own autoimmune diseases (Celiac and Hashimoto’s) and discovering the value of a healing, nutrient-dense diet. I (try to) follow the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP) diet. AIP recommends not only consuming natural, grassfed meats, highly nutritious organ meats, and rich bone broth made from pasture-fed animals, but also encourages you to visit the farms and meet the farmers who raise and care for the animals.
On a mission to tour The Maker’s Meadow, I drive 20 miles west of Dayton, just outside of Brookville on a hot summer's day to pure farm country. With only one GPS error and a u-turn, I drive into the gravel driveway of the quaint West Alexandria family farm and find six cars parked next to their two-story, white farmhouse. I am looking for The Maker's Meadow sign (not there yet) to make sure I am visiting the right farm, but instead see a sign that says "Filbrun Enterprises Metal Roofing and Siding Sales" and assume this must be the same Filbrun. It is.
My visit to this sublime, bucolic farm is like witnessing the melding of two worlds - the life of yesteryear blends with the modern conveniences complete with vehicles, smartphones, electricity. Under the brilliant azure sky, white, fluffy clouds meet the deep green, tree-lined horizon. It is a picture perfect day.
Numerous farm cats dash by as I step out of my car. John walks out of the rustic farmhouse and comes to greet me and introduces me to his family.
I meet three of John’s four sisters: Mary, Beth and Rhoda. Anna (the farm's photographer and videographer) along with John's Mom, Dad, and brother's David, Bernard and Jay are not home. The sisters' family resemblance to John is strong - friendly, approachable and quick to smile. Mary leaves to fulfill her shipping duties. Beth stays back in the kitchen. Rhoda, “caretaker” of the farm animals, joins us for the tour. I quickly assess as we head out to the field that social distancing comes easily when walking on acres of farmland.
Rhoda wears her long hair pulled back with a loose-weave organdy head covering, contrasted by a trendy horse themed t-shirt she dons over her modest, collared, blue-as-the sky, short-sleeve, full-length dress with a tapered waistline. She wears a dress all day, even when working with the animals. Like her brother, Rhoda puts on full-length black rubber boots to wear into the field.
Rhoda’s love for animals is evident. She scoops up Persia, her extremely affectionate, black and white cat and admits this sweet cat is her favorite. She tells a remarkable tale of just returning from a night of camping with friends and her cat. Persia never strayed and slept with her in a hammock the entire night! (I am wondering if I just stepped into Narnia!)
We kick off the tour by approaching a rustling, triticale field (a cross of rye and wheat) leisurely waving amidst the slight summer breeze. Immediately "America the Beautiful" comes to mind, "O Beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain..." John snaps off a spike and nibbles on the kernels, unintentionally emphasizing the fact that his field is indeed organic. The irony is not lost on this Celiac standing next to rows of grain my body cannot digest. How I long to follow John’s suit and taste pure, unadulterated grain picked fresh from the field. But I refrain. At least the chickens get to enjoy this grain mixed into their diverse, organic feed. The cows and sheep eat a 100% pasture-fed, grain-free diet, so like me, no grain for them!
Next we walk up to three pens chocked full of plump clucking chickens ready for market the next day. Rhoda slowly moves their pen forward (it's built with front wheels) pushing onto fresh, new grass. In a frenzy, the chickens rush to eagerly peck at fresh new bugs. She walks around the pen to find one escapee wandering outside the pen and scoops up the chicken, much in the same way she scooped up her cat, and gingerly places it safely back inside.
We then carefully step over the “live” wire fencing and onto the pasture. The cattle and sheep don't mind the fact we're standing in their territory. They seem very relaxed. A few cows stop grazing to nonchalantly look up and steal a glance over at us with mild curiosity. Lambs to the left, however, unencumbered by our presence, playfully and unabashedly practice their future role as rutting males. I learn that “lambs” are not the cute, little baby sheep I had long imagined, rather, they resemble “adult size” sheep when they are harvested.
I marvel at the calmness I feel standing in the field amongst these herds. No charging cows, bulls or sheep. Young calves and lambs nestle by their mother’s side, freely suckling. A few cows lay on the grass to cool down. It is dry and hot.
John tugs on the only cow with a harness and walks their milking cow Clover over to greet us. She is a beauty - dark chestnut face with strikingly long eyelashes.
I breathe in the fresh air and am stunned that I am not overcome by any manure smell. In spite of the expected “cow patties” I spot in the field, this farm surprisingly does not smell like any other farm I’ve visited. It’s so green and clean!
Rhoda then illustrates how she moves the herd every day. First, she vigilantly reels in an electric wire fence, much like a retractable garden hose, and then unrolls the wire to cordon off a new area of the field. (She and John admit that occasionally they experience a few jolts when working with electrical fencing).
I find the concept of rotational grazing refreshing. Rhoda corrals the herds towards a new part of the pasture every day, ensuring the animals eat from a fresh patch of grass daily - also known as rotational grazing.
John says rotational grazing plays three main pivotal roles in restoring grasslands and promoting biological diversity, also known as regenerative farming.
In one day's time in the designated area of pasture:
-The animals eat 1/3 of the nutrient-dense grass and weeds which inevitably contributes to nutrient-rich, healthy meat.
-The animals “trample down” 1/3 of the grass. This trampled grass creates a protective shade so the heat of the sun beating down on the ground does not destroy the microbiology of the soil nor the living microorganisms that help to feed the grass.
-The remaining 1/3 of the grass is left standing intact, collecting carbon from the air while absorbing sunlight and energy to feed the plants. Grass essentially feeds grass and grows more grass so that it does not have to use up all of its energy to “come back” from the roots alone.
We walk back to my car and say goodbye. I drive away in awe, contemplating how regenerative farming rebuilds the soil's organic matter and creates such rich, nutrient-dense soil diversity for the environment, for the animals, and ultimately, for us. This natural way of farming is exactly how God designed it to be.
What strikes me most about The Maker’s Meadow’s charming farm is its authenticity. It's not super big. Doesn't come with a lot of fancy machinery. But they walk the walk. They care. They are dedicated. What you see in the email blogs is real and it’s good. They go to great lengths to care for the animals.
I invite you to visit the Filbrun Family and their animals. When you tour the farm, take time to breathe in the pristine air, be still, and absorb the farm’s quiet sense of peace. Click here to purchase Tickets for the 2020 Fall Farm Tour Day!
Just like the cow that likes to stand on the fringe with sheep friends, I am proud to stand alongside you, choosing healthier meats for my family.
-Jana Gruber, Customer and New Marketing Coordinator at The Maker's Meadow
Jana is happy to join the marketing team at The Maker's Meadow alongside Lead Marketing Integrator Darlene McKinney and Visionary / Co-Founder John Filbrun. She and her husband Mark are the proud parents of TWO freshmen, a daughter in college and son in high school. Jana is so thankful the Lord lead her to The Maker's Meadow. In her spare time, she volunteers as a board member for the Family Violence Prevention Center in Greene County, enjoys date nites with her husband, dance exercise, reading, cooking around all of her food allergies, gardening, and encouraging and praying for her friends. Jana and her family love tasting new recipes from around the world, supporting local restaurants and stocking their freezer with bundles of meat from The Maker's Meadow!