EMILIE: Welcome to Plow and Pencil the art of American agriculture where like, we recognize that farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil under 1000 miles from the cornfield. The plow and pencil podcast will paint a picture of American agriculture. Today, we will tell the stories of the producers, the products, the policies, and the platforms that provide feed and fuel to our nation and our world. Join the movement of farmers, ranchers, and agriculture advocates plowing new ground and pencil lessons to your weekly podcast schedule. This podcast is brought to you by HitchPin.com. The tool 1000s of farmers and ranchers are using to buy, sell, hire, and work in agriculture.
EMILIE: Hello HitchPin community. Welcome back to Plow and Pencil, the art of American agriculture. I’m your host Emilie Fink and this episode is one that will not only enlighten but leave you laughing and is there really a better combination. My guest today is Katherine Harrison, who quite possibly has the best title of all time. She calls herself Cheif Minion the goats for Harrison farm, a small livestock farm in the metropolitan area of Central Ohio focused on celebrations, animals, and teaching. Her mission is simple, connecting people with animals and with farming. Katherine is a goatherd, a butcher, and a wedding planner. Her farm primarily raises sheep, goats, and chickens and hosts numerous agritourism events including Goat Yoga, which we’ll dive into here in a bit, on-farm dinners, private events, and educational tours. We’ll dive into her passion for teaching and sharing her farm with her community, and especially how she’s empowering beginning farmers, which has led to launching a nonprofit focused on farming, inclusion, and teaching called the fearless female farmer. And a super fun fact about Katherine. She’s actually the 13th generation per family to farm in America, hence, Harrison Farm 13. Which by the way, is how you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. As always, we’ll include links in our show notes, so be sure to check them out for more information. Welcome to Plow and Pencil, Katherine.
KATHERINE: Thank you, Emily, and thank you for such a generous introduction. I appreciate it.
EMILIE: Well, we are just thrilled to have you here. And as I warned you about I like to start all of these podcasts with a little bit of ag trivia. So I’m going to ask you a question. And then before we sign off, you can tell us what you think the answer is outstanding. Okay, globally, more people eat and drink meat and milk from which animal than any other?
KATHERINE: I suspect it may be my favorite.
EMILIE: Yes, well, as our listeners now know our founder, Trevor, he’s an aviation fanatic. So to use a phrase that he appreciates, let’s start at the 30,000-foot level, who is Harrison farm?
KATHERINE: Harrison farm, thinking about its contribution to the ag community, is a small livestock farm in Central Ohio that has naturally raised proteins, both meat, and eggs. For young individuals and beginning farmers who want to learn about agriculture. It is a place where they can directly gain hands-on animal handling skills and mentorship as they pursue their journey in agriculture. For my community, it is a place where they can come directly interact with animals and learn more about farming. For my family, it’s been the place that we farmed for the last century in our journey of farming here in America. And for me personally, it is my dream. It is my effort to build a place where people feel welcomed, where animals and humans are respected and valued, and where I can help others by using this land that is so dear to me to serve my community.
EMILIE: This is this awesome. And I need to ask you to just dive in a little bit more into that 13th generation fun fact about your family.
KATHERINE: Thank you. I am actually incredibly proud that my family has carved out a legacy and agriculture for that long. My family came to Virginia in 1631. And it was a very different landscape at that juncture in history. I am incredibly proud that through the centuries my family’s history has woven into the history of America and feel very fortunate that at this juncture, I am able to do things in my farming career that my ancestors never could have imagined would be possible, much less for a single female to be able to do it on my own running a business.
EMILIE: Yeah, that is awesome. Okay, tell us a little bit more now about who is Katherine Harrison? Tell us about you.
KATHERINE: You shared in the opening my three great passions, celebrations, animals, and teaching. Since my youth, I have loved animals. For me as an only child growing up on this farm animals were my people. So those were my early playmates and I’ve always had a heart for animals. So being able to work this land that has been in my family for so long and raise animals about who I am passionate about is truly the fulfillment of a dream. For me, teaching is something that is dear to my heart as well. When I started my career after university, I taught for a few years at our local high school and absolutely loved it. Now that my classroom is my farm, and the curriculum is really the circle of life, I find even more fulfillment. So many young people want to learn about farming. But if you are outside of the traditional farm community, you do not necessarily know where to turn for actual opportunities to gain hands-on knowledge in an environment where you are welcomed and appreciated, no matter what your learning level is when you start. And so I am grateful that I’ve been able to use my farm to welcome young people as they want to truly learn and gain knowledge about agriculture. In addition, through my journey, as I was building my livestock operation and looking for opportunities to earn income as well, to support it, I kind of fell into the world of event planning and discern that my skill set actually fit that very well. It’s a running joke that goat herding and wedding planning really call on the same abilities because essentially, whether you’re working with unruly goats or a wedding party, there are certain management skills you need. And you also have to be able to smile and remain calm, no matter what the tragedy or chaos might be at the moment.
EMILIE: Oh, that is awesome. So tell us how many events have you hosted at your farm.
KATHERINE: So we stay very busy during our events season of April through October. Our events space reflecting back on your aviation reference was actually my grandfather’s airplane hangar, he had a little Uranga chief airplane that he loved dearly, one seat and no radio communication. And he built this structure as his airplane hangar. After both of my grandparents had passed, I bought the farm when it was auctioned off in the fall of 2016. So even though I grew up here in my childhood, it’s also kind of a start-up because I’ve only been the owner for a few years. When I purchased it, that airplane hangar was in disrepair. But for me, there was so much emotion knowing that my grandfather had built that with his own hands and knowing his great passion for flying, that he then handed down to my mother. She actually soloed the plane on her 16th birthday and had her pilot’s license before she got her driver’s license. So I grew up with those two very influential individuals. And although it was just a building, for me, it represented so much more and it became a real passion project of mine to restore that. So our little event space is the hangar and since it was designed for an airplane to be able to exit, you can open up the side and the front doors to allow it to be primarily open air. Hence it fits very well that our events season is mainly during the warm weather months. We host a lot of goat yoga classes. We have a monthly on-farm dinner, we host private events, everything from bridal showers to baby showers to small weddings, we host a lot of campers, individuals who want to have an overnight experience with the goats. Some people are local, and they just want a weekend away to experience a farm. Others are passing through and looking for a place they can stop for the night. I do find that we have a lot of ladies who camp with us primarily because they see that the farm is owned by a woman and so they kind of had that built-in safety net that they are going to a location where they know that they are going to be the safe visitors with a female owner of the farm. I also think that female ownership extends to our educational programming. If you are a young woman who is passionate about farming and you are looking for a mentor who will welcome you and share not only farming skills but life skills. When they identify that I am a potential female mentor that becomes very attractive. So in the warm weather, the farm is busy every single day. In the wintertime we slow down a bit, I will admit that I am not a cold-weather person. And so in the winter, I am focused on the animals and that is where I put all my energy and resources so that we can look forward to a successful spring, summer and fall.
EMILIE: Okay, so I’ve got to dive deeper into two things that you said about those events. And the first one is your monthly on-farm dinners.
KATHERINE: Yeah, so I had the very unique situation that I bought a farm right before we had a crash in the farm economy. We had a trade war and we had a pandemic. It has not been an easy journey putting all of my financial resources into purchasing this land before those truly catastrophic economic impacts has been a real difficult struggle as I’ve balanced keeping the farm going through those challenges. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, we launched our on-farm dinner series, and I was humbled by the amount of support that we received. At the end of 2019, at our last dinner, I happily announced to the crowd that we were going to plan even more for the upcoming year in 2020. And we already had a lot of new ideas. And then 2020 happened. Last year in 2021, we did a little bit of a bridge where we partnered with a local catering company that has done a lot of our dinners as it is. And they provided takeout options at the farm where you could either come and pick up your meal and then head home and enjoy it. Also, the guests were able to choose some menu options that use products from the farm. Or you could stay on the farm and dine when you got your takeout meal. So that was a nice bridge to get us back to where we are this year. We’re looking forward to hosting a dinner each month from May through October. These dinners highlight our farm products. I truly believe that when animals are raised in a certain way, it is reflected in the quality of the product. And I am grateful that a lot of people in our community have supported the opportunity to be more engaged with the farm, whether it’s joining our CSA, coming to the on farm dinners visiting our farmstand to buy eggs, sausage rolls, it’s amazing to feel that support from the community. When I look at humans, we are evolved to be omnivores. But we want to make sure that we are consuming those products in a way that meets our values. So the customers with whom I usually connect are individuals that really care about the quality of life. For the animals, they want to make sure that they are showing respect in life, and at the end of their journey. And so I try to be very transparent about what I do as a farmer and how those management techniques that are based on my values influence the products which I create.
EMILIE: That is brilliant. And you’re inviting people to come and really see that firsthand. It’s the best idea I love it.
KATHERINE: I love sharing the farm with people and it may be part of my nature is very much the only child the single person so I have a lot of time where I am solo here on the farm. I’m an introvert by nature. So I do need that time to decompress and think but I also love sharing the farm. So it is a great blessing for me to be able to welcome people here and share why I am so passionate about farming. And why this farm is my heart.
EMILIE: Okay, goat yoga. Yes. Tell me and tell our listeners Why is it such a rage right now?
KATHERINE: Goat yoga is a life-changing experience. I like to say, for me, it has been this tremendous blessing. So at my farm, it came about very organically. The year that I bought the farm, I was trying to find new ways to keep the farm going. Because when you make that kind of a financial investment, you have to be able to generate income. From my event planning career, I had the good fortune of doing day-of coordination for an amazing human being named Dana who was one of my favorite brides ever. After she and her husband got married, we stayed in touch. Dana was in yoga teacher training at the time, so they come out to the farm met the goats who loved Dana. And as she was struggling to find a teaching job because studios want to hire someone with experience. But how do you get experience unless the studio will hire you? I threw out the idea of doing some on-farm yoga classes. And God bless her she was very up for the opportunity. Our first year we had just a few classes, mainly people who knew us and wanted to come out and have a good time, play with the goats, and support us because the reality of Harrison Farm is the goats are constantly getting out and running around the yard anyway. So we were just in an amazing position that that winter was when the concept of goat yoga really broke on social media. We already had a business model. We already had pictures of baby garden goats laying on the yoga mat being snuggled by our friends who were visiting for yoga. We had a little bit of a track record. And so we were very fortunate just to be in the right position to be able to capitalize on what Dana and I naturally could offer and truly grow on our friendship and our business partnership. We work very well together because we are so different. But we value the same things. We have a passion for animals, we have a passion for building community. She has been a phenomenal business partner. The goats adore her she puts up with all of my shenanigans as well. So 2022 will be our seventh season which is hard to believe. We do primarily classes on the farm. So we are trying to offer a very holistic yoga experience. When attendees arrive, they are outdoors in the sunshine. They see the big red barn behind them, the roosters crowing, the ducks usually waddle through and judge everyone at some point during yoga. And then as the yoga class begins, I let out the goats who are yoga goats, we do not let every goat come to yoga, it has to be a goat that is comfortable around humans, because I want to make sure that the goats are able to exhibit their natural behavior, we do not try to do any special tricks like having goats jump on your bag or anything of that nature.
EMILIE: I was wondering.
KATHERINE: Yeah, there are many people in goat yoga who do utilize smaller goats and encourage them through positive reinforcement to do a lot of those little tricks like standing on people’s bags and jumping. And I absolutely support, every farmer should be able to approach things in diverse ways to ensure that they are offering an experience that highlights their own farm for Dana. And for me, we want to make sure it’s much more of a natural experience where people are just seeing the goat’s behavior. So sometimes the goats come out, and all they think about would be the sweet feed that we put out as their treat. Other times they come out and there are moments where there are epic goat battles, and so the goats will be head butting, and there are moments where I’m just being a bouncer trying to move goats so that they are not getting in the way of the yogis. It can be hard to relax and reflect when you just see goats, fighting over apparently some grief that they had from the night before that they want to air during yoga class. Other times the goats come out and they are incredibly snuggling, they will find a yogi they like head to their mat, and just lay down with them. So that is all to share with you that every yoga class at the farm is different. And I say that we never have the same class because different goats come out at different times of day, different energy from the attendees, but always an amazing adventure.
EMILIE: It’s incredible. I’m picturing it now. And I wish I was good at yoga. I’m not, but I love goats. But Yoga is not something I would do, I would show up for the goats. And I’d be judged by the ducks.
KATHERINE: That is the best part of what we do, though, because some people come for the yoga and some people come for the goats. And it’s very much an atmosphere where you can almost choose your experience. I came to yoga late in life, I had never done yoga until I met Dana. And one of the things that I love about it is that you can be terrible, but love it. It is not something where you have to be perfect or have to attain a certain thing. It is your own experience. And so goat yoga has been just a phenomenal part of my world. And I’ve gotten to meet so many remarkable people because of it.
EMILIE: I love it and owning your own experience really transitions well into my next question for you. You shared with me that you’ve mentored over 50 high school students, college and young adults through your farm internship program. And some of them have even gone on to build their own agricultural endeavors through using Harrison Farm as an incubator. Tell our listeners, some of your favorite stories that have come out of that. And just really, I mean, obviously, your love for teaching has inspired this but helping somebody kind of come to their own business model and own their own. And tell us about that.
KATHERINE: The two greatest joys of my life are snuggling baby lambs and goats and getting to work with young people. I am constantly inspired by young people on their journey and seeing as they gain new skills and they investigate life and discern where they want their world to be as they grow and develop. Teaching is something that was dear to my heart. I love being in the classroom, being able to now utilize that skill set and pedagogy but in an agricultural setting is incredibly fulfilling to me. I have been incredibly blessed that I’ve gotten to work with so many remarkable young people. This came about very naturally, local FFA students asked if they could complete their SAE project by working on my farm and so that opened doors to welcome more FFA students. Usually any given year I speak at Ohio State as a guest lecturer a couple of times. After one of those lectures, a young lady came up to me and asked if we ever had internships. I told her we had not yet done so. But I was quite open to the idea. That was how we launched into our college level internships. And through there as we began doing that, more and more, I started to have people reach out to me from the community and express that they were just an individual who wanted to learn about farming and would I be open to taking them on as an intern, even though they were not a student? They just wanted to learn it has been a phenomenal journey. And when I think about that number of more than 50 young people, it is hard for me to believe that that number of amazing remarkable giving young souls have actually been a part of this farm. But they are such a rich part of the tapestry of my life and each one of them is incredibly dear to me. So thank you for letting me share that because it is truly such an outstanding joy for me to be able to work with them. Some of my favorite stories, Aubrey the alpaca farmer is a very dear part of my heart. So Aubrey came into my world when she was an FFA student, and she began doing her supervised agricultural experience SAE through my farm. She quickly went from a student to a young lady who was kind of a combination of younger sister, daughter to one of my best friends. Through her journey. She actually was my roommate at the farm for a little while as she was it transitioning through the college years and figuring out her next steps in life. And then she got married to a wonderful young man named Aaron, who had a family member that raised alpacas. After they got married. They had the opportunity to purchase some of those alpacas when Aaron’s uncle began transitioning out of the business. At that point, they needed a place to keep the alpacas. And so Aubrey and Aaron asked if it might be possible for the first five alpacas to come live here at Harrison Farm, we made it happen. They have now grown to almost 30 alpacas and so about 18 months ago, we convinced her husband as they were kind of pushing that 15 number that it was time to put up a barn at their place. From there they have successfully moved all their alpacas to the barn at their farm. They are now both very engaged with 4-H mentoring young people. With an alpaca-focused 4-H project, it brings me this profound level of happiness when I see what Aubrey has accomplished in her journey. From the time I knew her as a 17-year-old who was just embarking on life to seeing her now as she mentors young people, such a heartwarming experience for me. Another one of my favorite stories is Marissa the duck farmer. So Marissa was an animal science major at Ohio State. I had the pleasure of giving a guest lecture to the animal welfare and behavior club on animal welfare considerations with slaughter. She asked the best question after that presentation and I was very impressed with how she was discerning the information that I shared and then asking analytical questions based on it. She reached out, asked about an internship, interned with me that summer did just an awesome job. From there. She then graduated from Ohio State and did a policy fellowship with the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Farm Bureau is very engaged in providing opportunities for leadership development for young people. And so Marissa was able to capitalize on that by doing this policy fellowship. Since it was part time she also worked part-time at my farm to be able to get more hours in. I love being able to use my farm to help young people as they’re identifying what potential agricultural endeavors could be. And so much as Aubrey had this interest in alpacas, Marissa kind of jumped into an opportunity to start raising some ducks she started with meat ducks, identified that meat ducks were not her thing, then began raising layers had a lot of adventures along the way. Marissa has since then not only built up her duck flock but also is working for Ohio State University Extension in a role where she helps introduce young people outside of the traditional farm community to possible careers in agriculture. And I am so proud of her because she grew up in Philadelphia, she came to Ohio State thinking she wanted to be a vet but had no on farm experience. She took advantage of all these opportunities that were along the way for her, grew her own knowledge base. And now she is able to be such an amazing ambassador for agriculture. Because she did not grow up in farming. She had to seek out all these opportunities for herself. And she was truly capitalized on it to be a leader in sharing the amazing opportunities in farming with young people who might not initially consider it.
EMILIE: That’s so incredible. I love how both of those are full circle and you know they are no doubt being inspired by watching you and how much you give back to these young people and invest in them and are wanting to do that for the next generation which is really really awesome and I need to share that FFA is really important to our organization at HitchPin as well and as is 4-H and we talked a lot about SAE projects. And so for anyone who’s listening to this podcast that’s involved in FFA and considering SAE projects, please know that HitchPin would love to be able to offer you a way to buy and sell, especially sell when you think about being an entrepreneur and going into agriculture. Figuring out how to market your products is being innovative and distinctive. yourself. So certainly, check out HitchPin if you’re a member of the FFA program and make sure that you use the FFA coupon code, and that will help waive your platform fees on HitchPin. So we love those, both of those organizations, a lot.
KATHERINE: For sure, and they were a big part of my journey. And I am profoundly grateful and humbled for the opportunities which I had as a young person, hence why it is so fulfilling to me to be able to direct other young people to recognizing those opportunities because opportunities are all around us, we just have to be smart enough to find them.
EMILIE: Isn’t it so incredible to watch young people who perhaps don’t have the experience of growing up on a farm? See what it is that sometimes we in agriculture take for granted, right like these are, these are incredible ways to live and to have to be like to so connected to the ground and the food that we’re eating, and to be able to see young people who have an interest, and what a great opportunity, you’re giving so many of them to come and get their hands dirty, right and just really understand what it’s like day to day. And I just want to applaud you for investing that into future generations.
KATHERINE: Thank you. It is truly a blessing to me. I always wanted to have children. And that was not something that happened on my journey. Hence, I know that I really pour my maternal heart into those young people, and they give me just a tremendous amount of joy.
EMILIE: It’s wonderful to see such a strong, powerful woman like yourself, who is having this incredible career and really, acting outside of what I would say traditional agriculture sometimes is right, you know, you’re helping non traditional people come and be a part of this. And you’re really helping to elevate females in agriculture, which is just incredibly inspiring to me as someone who is proud to be a woman in agriculture. So tell our listeners about your launching of the Fearless Female Farmer.
KATHERINE: A few years ago, Columbus Magazine did an incredibly generous profile on me, which they titled Central Ohio’s Fearless Female Farmer. At the time, I had just purchased my family’s farm at auction, I had been growing my herd of goats over the last several years that I kept here on what would have been my grandparents farm. But at that moment in time when the article was published, as complimentary as it felt and as humbling as it was, I was not sure that I necessarily was worthy of that title, Fearless Female Farmer. Over the last five and a half years since that article was published, life has handed me a lot of challenges. I thought life had already done so. But it definitely doubled down after I purchased the farm. It has required a level of resilience that I could not even have dreamed of at the time that that article came out and I purchased the farm. But I’m still here. Some days, the greatest pride I can take is the fact that I am still here. But that is always an accomplishment, even on the days that that might be my only accomplishment. I love this farm so dearly. Having to hustle and scrap through a pandemic has been very challenging. When you start to build an agritourism operation and you throw all of your financial resources into it, then a stay at home order happens which says people cannot go places. It certainly was a devastating financial moment that I could not have envisioned. But two years later, I am still here and we are rebuilding. Last fall, I was in a fairly devastating car accident. I am incredibly fortunate to be here. It was an uninsured driver who ran a stop sign and ended up not only hitting my vehicle but then through the force of his acceleration sent my vehicle into a telephone pole and crumpled the front end of it. That stopped my world as a single individual running a farm and being in a car accident where I had to recover. It really forced me to think about a lot of things including what I wanted to do with my farm. And so having come this far through the pandemic, having a situation that truly stopped my world and forced me to think I had to reflect on what my abilities were and how I could use them to assist others through that transition of healing my mind in my body and really digging back into my love of the farm. I began to recognize how important it is to me to ensure that beginning farmers have opportunities and so through that, I really reclaimed that title of Fearless Female Farmer after everything that I have survived in the last few years. And knowing that I am still here, I want to make sure that I am lifting up others so that they can do the same whatever their dream might be in farming, I truly applaud the businesses and organizations who are lifting up inclusion and diversity within agriculture. What I am looking at is creating a nexus between farming inclusion and teaching where I can really help individuals, I want to ensure that I am sharing the lessons that I’ve learned from my journey, and empowering others so that they can capitalize on it, find opportunities for hands-on learning, but also recognize that if Katherine Harrison can do this, then they can definitely do it. So we are launching our social media channels, you can find us on Instagram and Facebook. Currently, I am working on putting together this nonprofit that focuses on farming, inclusion, and teaching so that we have more opportunities to keep doing something that I already love greatly, which is teaching and sharing the farm. I believe we need more platforms to exhibit inclusion within agriculture. And we need more thought leaders on inclusion and diversity, different experiences, different farms, different production methods can only make agriculture stronger, the more diversity we have, the better farming will be in this great country. Through that we need more people that find great joy in farming, because farming is not just a job that you take on like any other job, it is a calling it is a lifestyle. And so if someone is willing to investigate that and wants to jump into farming, I want to ensure that I am doing what I can to provide resources to encourage them and give them opportunities along the way. So as we build the nonprofit, and then look into launching our own podcast, to lift up stories of beginning farmers, I want to ensure that I’m using that as a tool. So that beginning farmers, whether they are inside of the traditional farm community or outside of the traditional farm community, are able to find resources and reflections that empower them.
EMILIE: Thank you, thank you for sharing all of that. I was in a terrible car accident. And it was 11 years ago today. And it is by no accident, I am convinced that you just shared that story today. And I want to thank you. And I want to applaud you for allowing it to change you in the best way. And allow you to see life in a way that is focused on how you can use it for good.
KATHERINE: I am sure that you share that experience of that moment where it may only be 10 seconds, but it seems like it was a whole hour as you realize what is happening, and what could happen and you’re trying to navigate. How do I handle this excruciating moment of chaos, just to survive? And then when it happens, I truly believe that life breaks all of us in some way. And then we can make the choice do we put in the work and become a better version of ourselves? Or do we just blindly go on doing what we were already doing? And I am grateful that you shared your experience with me because I am so convinced that when we have those moments that life looks like it’s going to break us. And we have the opportunity to make the decisions to become a better version. It can define our life in amazing ways that we never even imagined from the pain.
EMILIE: Yes, I just read an incredible message someone shared with me that, you know, those breaks, that’s how the light gets in, and sometimes how the light gets back out. And, boy, Katherine, you’re such a shining light. And this is it’s incredible what you’re doing to give others a platform and give others a confidence that there’s people rooting for them, no matter what path they want to take.
KATHERINE: Well, stars in the sky are just a reflection of light. And I truly believe that I am just reflecting the light of the amazing people around me because my journey has been so blessed.
EMILIE: So we have people who are listening to Plow and Pencil today who perhaps are wanting to return to their agrarian roots. You know, they may be generations removed, or perhaps their family is active in farming and they’re not sure if it’s a path that they want to continue to walk down. So what advice would you give to someone who currently is not actively farming but has that desire deep in their belly? What would you say to them today?
KATHERINE: When you have a dream, every instinct tells you that you need to follow it. Throw yourself all in and that dream may well break you but keep going because of the sacrifices you make for your dream. In the end, you do not even think about the pain when you see the possibilities. Any dream is going to take time, but life takes time. Start now, even if you start small start, find people who believe in you put in the work, what I do is so unique. There are a lot of parts of my farm that no one else replicates, whether it’s the goat yoga experience or the fact that I’m very engaged in selling ethically sourced skulls and hides. So I participate in what’s called the Oddities and Curiosities Show in a couple of different locations. I truly believe in the circle of life. And so part of the respect that I show the animal is that after it has ended its journey, there composted, and then I harvest the bones and skulls. They’re sunbleached, and I work with a lot of artists who utilize bone as a medium. So I lift that up just to illustrate that I am a very unique soul, there are not a lot of people like me, and as a child, that was hard for me to get my head around. In midlife, I am so fortunate to have found the people who believe in my dreams and be able to connect with individuals who care about the values that inform my farming. So I lift that up to encourage people never to stop working, it’s going to be harder than you can even imagine right now. But if you find the people who believe in your dreams, and you’re willing to put in the work, you can do it.
EMILIE: What is something that you wish everyone knew about farming?
KATHERINE: I love farming so much. It is my heart and soul it is what I do. Farming is not Instagram pictures the way you see. And I admit I do exactly that, I post adorable pictures on our Instagram of baby goats because I love adorable pictures of baby goats. But then I also tried to provide the transparency about what is behind every picture. As an example given this morning, I posted a picture of Buckeye, the goat, and her beautiful daughter Roxie and then share the story that actually Buckeye had had triplets but Roxie was the only one who pulled through. They were born on a very bitterly cold night. And the harsh reality of livestock farming is that winter is incredibly difficult. And it is hard sometimes for a baby to get going at those cold temperatures, even with a great mother. So that is merely to reflect that all too often, the public has a perception of farming as the adorable baby goat picture. But we also have to be transparent that there is a lot of chaos and a lot of struggle that goes into all of those moments. So I am hopeful that I can use my farm to be able to share the transparency of those realities. But by the same token, I wish the public had a little more recognition that farming is a lifestyle. It is a calling. This is 24/7 I am not taking luxurious vacations multiple times a year. I joke about I hope that by the age of 80, I’ll be able to slow down to about 50 hours a week and just work part time. But I do it because I love it. As I navigate welcoming people to my farm. It’s also that fine line between wanting to make sure that people know I love having visitors at the appointed hours. But the farm is not a 24-hour amusement zone. So if there was anything that I could share with people it is to make sure they understand that farmers care so much about what they do. They’re completely vested. This is their lifestyle. And they want to share it with other people because they’re passionate about it. But the public needs to recognize that those lifestyle realities can be draining and farming should be respected for the nuances that it does offer. Both brutal and beautiful.
EMILIE: Wow, I think your rooster was the metaphorical mic drop in her conversation today. I hope our listeners were able to hear it in the background. This has just been incredible. And I’ve loved visiting with you today. And I’ve as promised, I want to circle back to our little bit of ag trivia, and see if you can answer what globally more people eat and drink meat and milk from which animal?
KATHERINE: I believe the correct answer is the goat.
EMILIE: The goat. You know, my family has raised cattle and hogs and so goats, I’m familiar with but not as intimately as you are for sure. And so I was trying to find a really fun fact about goats to ask today. There are so many fun facts about goats.
KATHERINE: Absolutely amazing animals and I love working with them. My favorite goat fact is that President Abraham Lincoln had a pet goat. And when his family left Springfield, Illinois, and went to the White House, they actually had their neighbors take care of their family dog, but they took the family goat with them to the White House.
EMILIE: I love it. I love it. That is a great fun fact about goats. And I was also amazed to read that they were one of the first domesticated animals. And I just thought, you know, I guess my brain had never thought of that before. And so it’s really incredible to see what a companion they have been to people for centuries.
KATHERINE: And many people do not know that cashmere comes from goats. They truly are multi-purpose animals.
EMILIE: Awesome. And now you know that you can do yoga with them as well. Well, Katherine, I hope that my travels bring me to Ohio and I can stop by and visit Harrison Farm. But in the meantime, thank you so much for opening your farm to your community and opening your heart to our listeners of Plow and Pencil today.
KATHERINE: Thank you, Emilie. This has been just a remarkable experience and I’m very grateful.