four kids in a tractor bucket on the ground

Everyone has a story…Here’s Our Farm Story

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every matter under heaven”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

So a question that comes up from time to time whenever I meet people when I talk about farming is, why do you farm? I thought I would share with you our farm story and why we love this life so much.

Is it something you were raised to do, something that your family has done? How did you get into that?

The short answer to that is yes, it is something that my family has been involved in for many years.

The History of Our Farm

My great great great grandparents moved to Missouri in the late 1800s and settled in the area here where I live. We have been here ever since. Farming has been the life of my great great grandparents, great grandparents, my grandparents and my dad.

In fact the land that we currently live on, Plane View Farm, was originally purchased by my great grandfather in the 1940’s shortly after the great depression, during WW2. If I remember my family history correctly, my great grandparents’ house burned to the ground shortly thereafter so they decided to move to Washington State. My grandfather was one of 13 children and he decided to stay home on the farm, so he purchased it from his dad. Most of his siblings either moved to Washington or other parts of the country over the next few years.

There ended up being a second house built on the property, I’m pretty sure out of used material. My grandparents ended up living there for 15-20 years before they built the house that I currently live in, in 1963. My dad was about 13 years old at that time.

By the time 1970 had rolled around my grandfather had built the farm to around 240-300 acres. I’m not exactly sure how large it had gotten and then he sold everything but the 20 acres that I now own to a development organization for the building of an industrial park and an airport. The airport takes up a large portion of what was my grandfather’s farm and that’s why we call it Plane View Farm. Of course that airport wasn’t actually constructed until about 1988. From the time he sold it until the time he passed away in 1994 he leased the property back and continued to run cattle on it along with my dad.

A plane on the runway with pigs in a field in the foreground

My dad passed away in 2003 at the age of 53, suddenly from a heart attack. My grandmother passed away the following year.

My older brother continued to cut hay off of the 20 acres that was there for the next few years. After that, everything went dormant right up until I bought the property in 2019.

Man setting on a deck petting a dog

House Renovation and Farming

In 2019 that I began the process of completely remodeling the house. It had rotted down and deteriorated to the point that the house was going to have to be torn down or completely renovated. I chose to renovate it because it was my grandparents house, it was where my dad lived as a teenager, and I had spent a lot of time there as a child. So over the next two years or so I spent every bit of my spare time working on that house trying to get it built back to something I could move my wife and four small children into.

Once we moved into the house in 2021 I became the fourth generation to live on the family farm and my kids became the fifth generation to live on the family farm. Different people feel differently about those kinds of things, but to me it’s pretty special. Something else I think is pretty cool is one of my grandfather’s youngest siblings, my great aunt who is 90 and has a Facebook account, commented on a photo that I’d posted of the driveway leading up to the house, about years she remembers running up that driveway as a little girl. That’s pretty special, to know that our place means so much to so many people in our family and that it’s mine. It’s a place that my kids are going to get to grow up and have similar memories.

Not My First Rodeo

This 20 acres is not my first foray into farming, I grew up on a farm, my dad had place of his own. He had a 90 acres farm not very far from where I live now and my brother owns most of that today.

When I was a kid I was driving trucks and tractors and that kind of stuff before I could do a many other things. Being 12 or 13 years old and driving a tractor or a pickup hauling hay was just something that I did. I honestly can’t remember when I first started driving equipment.

The family farm wasn’t my only exposure. When my wife and I got married in 2005 we bought a house that was in need of some repair, not as bad as the family farmhouse that we fixed up and live in now, but it was a house that needed some updating and it was setting on 25 acres. We bought that and, like we did with this house, we devoted as much time as we could fixing it up. Then, once we got settled in we started buying livestock and we began to build up a direct to consumer farming enterprise.

The biggest part of that was chickens and pigs. I also had cattle. Cattle is what I have known my entire life but I really liked pigs and I’ve always liked pigs. We started building that business and actually the chicken (poultry) side of things was really taking off. We had a few spots where we would meet people to deliver chickens we had butchered on our farm and we sold them by the pound. We operated under an exception that allowed us to butcher on farm and to sell those birds.

We were starting to build a pretty good little business. I had actually quit my regular job to focus on building the farm business. I was doing a little work on the side to help pay the bills, but my attention was firmly on building our farm.

It was then that our whole world got turned upside down.

My first child was born in 2012, my oldest daughter, and in July 1st 2015 she was diagnosed with Leukemia. So the first four weeks of July 2015 my wife and I were at the hospital in St. Louis, St. louis Children’s Hospital, while she was beginning her treatment for Leukemia. It was also during that time, on July 14, 2015, that my son was born, right in the middle of all of that chaos.

Meanwhile Back Home

So in the meantime there was still a farm back home, there were still animals that needed to be cared for. I had a pen on pasture (a Salatin style pen) that was full of butcher chickens that needed to be cared for. I had turkeys in the pasture, I had cattle, I had pigs.

My daughter, who was only three at the time, had really started to take an interest in farming, she was my egg collector. At only three years old she helped me plant the largest garden I had ever planted in my life. We were completely blindsided by her diagnosis.

little girl with chickens

Anyway, whenever we got back home from St. Louis Children’s Hospital at the end of July, the garden was grown up. Most of my meat birds were dead, I didn’t have any turkeys left, my cattle had pink eye. The pigs hadn’t gained weight the way that they should.

I’m not complaining about the help that I had, I did have family members that tried as much as they could to help me on the farm to keep things going but they didn’t live there. It was something they were doing to try to help me stay afloat.

Life After A Cancer Diagnosis

When we got home, everything was in chaos. We muddled along for a little while after that but my daughter was looking at about 2 years of treatment for her specific type of treatment for Leukemia. We didn’t know how things were going to end up, we didn’t know how things were going to go, so we ended up selling all the animals.

Then we made the decision to sell the farm and the hope was we would eventually be able to buy the place where we are now. We did something I thought I would never do, we lived inside the city limits of the nearby town where I had grown up for a couple years. I didn’t think I would ever do anything like that in my life, be somebody who lived in side the city limits.

Now I don’t have anything against those folks, I just expected that I would always live in the country on a farm and that wasn’t the case anymore. I found myself living in town and really that time was spent healing more than anything else. I did have access to a few acres of land where I could run a handful of goats so that’s what we did, we played with goats for a little while.

a field of goats

We would go feed the goats and we raised goat kids so my children still got to experience some of those things that I wanted them to experience about growing up on a farm.

a boy holding a goat kid

Building Back the Farm Life We Love

Our daughter is doing very well. She is and has continued to stay in remission. She is 10 years old now and has a normal life doing what kids her age do. We are so very thankful for healthy kids and the life that we have with them here on our farm.

Here we are, back on a farm again. Now that the house is pretty much the way we want it we are trying to build that farm enterprise, trying to recapture that dream that we had a few years ago. We’re trying to get reestablished in that direct to consumer type farm operation that we’ve wanted for so long. We’ve bought pigs, we’ve got a hand full of egg layers again. We’re nowhere near what we had before, but we’re just getting started. We haven’t raised any meat birds yet but that may be coming down the road. We even have a couple of miniature donkeys and goats are on the list to add to the farm as well.

I’ve gotten into Lowline Angus cattle. I’ve got a video about Lowlines and why I chose those. I just added a new pig that will hopefully be a breeding boar for a long time for us here on the farm. You can watch that video here.

We are also working on improving the pasture that we have here. I’ve recently replaced the old fence with all new high tensile electric fencing system. You can read about how I did that here.

A Sense of Community

I’ll share this with you as well, I don’t just farm because I was raised on a farm and because its something I feel obligated to do or anything like that. I farm because I want to contribute to my community in a local sense and I don’t think there is any greater, more local way to contribute to your community than by growing good wholesome food that is locally and ethically raised. That’s what we are trying to establish. Trying to do the best we can to help build something in our community, not just take advantage of it by exploiting resources and those kinds of things. We are trying to build a farm that is regenerative that is putting more back into the land than we are taking from it.

I would encourage anyone who wants to help support their local community to find a local farmer to help them feed their family. There is no better way to support your local community and help it grow for the better than there is by finding a farmer who can help you feed your family.

Andrew Bryan
Andrew Bryan

Andrew is a 7th generation Missouri farmer and the 4th generation to live on and farm the property that is Plane View Farm. After being left vacant for about 15 years, Andrew purchased the property from family and set about the task of renovating the house originally built by his grandparents and restoring the pastures to their former glory.