A most humble and deep gratitude to 7 Stands Farm owners, Jamie and Sarah Miles for allowing Farmer Rhodes Granddaughter to write their story. It has been a privilege and a blessing--I hope each of you who have read their story will be encouraged, inspired, and moved to support them as they continue to grow their small farm business.
In story four of the four part series, The Story of 7 Stands Farm, Giving “Nevers” a Second Chance, owners Jamie and Sarah Miles discuss the different aspects of farming they like best, favorite seasons on the farm, why the name 7 Stands, plans for the future, and the legacy they hope to leave behind.
Spring, summer, winter, and fall–farm life doesn’t stop in any season–there is always something to do. But the Miles agree–springtime is their favorite time at 7 Stands Farm.
“Spring is the best, I think,” Sarah says. “I like those new babies and the mamas. The pigs are okay. They are the workforce as far as the money, but I love the goats. The goats are just special.”
Jamie also enjoys the new babies. “I like the new babies coming. I like the bees (and) I like pulling honey. I don’t like slinging it out, but I like it once it is done.”
7 Stands Farm was originally 7 Stands Bee Farm when their farm consisted of only seven bee hives. And it was Jamie and Sarah’s son Luke, who named the farm.
“We were trying to figure out a name for the bee farm, originally,” explains Jamie. “Me and Dad, we decided we were going to raise bees. And I had seven hives of bees at the house we lived in then. And Luke was young, in elementary school, (and he said), just call it 7 Stands, Dad. You have seven anyhow. So it originally started out as 7 Stands Bee Farm and when we got into the goats and pigs and turkeys and chickens we dropped the bee and named it 7 Stands Farm.”
With any kind of farming whether it is on a small-scale or large scale–there are always different jobs that have to be completed to make the farm successful. And most farmers will tell you, they each have tasks in which they favor more than others.
“Mine is the animals,” Jamie explains. “I really like raising my own animals on the farm. Having my own from farrow to finish and knowing how they were raised and how they were born. I think my medical background understanding the human body and how all that works has helped me to be a better livestock farmer too.
“I don’t mean to sound weird, but I like the breeding aspect too and trying to figure out like with the goats’ genetics and even colors sometimes (and) which genetic line that will make a big buck or big doe that will sell for a show goat–pigs and which two crosses will give you the best growth rate, the best quality of meat, which bloodline, which heritage breed you can use. I enjoy that aspect of it and then seeing them born and then watching them grow, either their success or failure–did it work out like I had it planned. I really like that aspect of farming.”
Sarah agrees she enjoys the genetics and breeding facet, but favors more toward the education and marketing side of farming. “I like that as well, but I also like the education and marketing–the business end of it. Two weeks ago we went to our first market in Ashe (County) and we had chevron, goat meat for the first time. And Jamie said, we aren’t going to sell any of that. And I said, yes we will. And so I looked for women who were like-minded, looking for a good deal and something to cook. And they would see the sign that said ‘Pasture-Raised Goat.’ You could see them looking at it and I ask, do you want to see it? Do you want to see what it looks like? And I would let them look at it and explain how to cook it and they would buy it. So I sold eight packs of chevon that day. And he (Jamie) was like I can’t believe you sold that. It helps us, the more people eat goat meat, the more we can produce.”
Jamie notes, “It’s really neat too, I mean I know I guess you would call it a passion to have people come back as returned customers (and) you really almost had to convince them to buy a pack of pork chops. Or bratwurst or something. And then they would come back and they were like, oh my gosh this is the best pork I have ever had in my life!”
“And then they would need seven packs of bratwurst,” Sarah says with a laugh.
“Yeah, we have a guy who buys six or seven packs at a time,” Jamie says. “And he’ll be there (at our table at the market) getting ready to buy and if somebody walks up to the table and you are trying to speak or talk to the customer or whoever and he’ll say, ‘Man, I’m telling you, you need to buy it. It’s the best pork you will ever eat in your life. I’m telling you these guys are great.”
And Sarah agrees as Jamie adds, “That’s a proud moment. Your customers are your best advertisers to somebody new.”
Jamie and Sarah also concur that the peace and tranquilities–sounds and smells are some of the best and favorite moments of farm life.
“Jamie has mentioned it before, if you have had a bad day at school or bad day at work, just go into the pasture and just listen to the goats eat grass. As crazy as it sounds, it’s one of your favorite things to do,” Sarah says as she looks toward Jamie. “He’ll say I’m going to feed and he’ll come back two or three hours later and he’s been sitting in the pasture watching and listening to the goats eat.”
The Miles’ persistence, patience, and hard work, along with knowing the importance of research has helped them to build a strong foundation for 7 Stands Farm. And they will continue with spending many hours researching, have a strong network with like-minded farmers, make improvements as needed to their infrastructure while raising Myotonic and Savanna breeds of goats, Berkshire and Berkshire-Duroc crosses for their pastured pigs, Varroa Sensitive Hygienic Bees, and using Non-GMO feed for their livestock.
When asked if there were any plans to add different animals to the farm both Sarah and Jamie answered with a laugh.
“Sarah says absolutely not,” Jamie jokes as he glances at Sarah and she laughs and says, “And I think at one point I may have thrown a curse word in there.”
“Not no, but heck no. Right?,” Jamie smiles and says. “I mean I would like to do cows someday but that’s a lot of infrastructure that is a step above what we have. With goats it is a small infrastructure and they are real easy to move. Cattle to me would be a huge step because we are not really set up for cattle at all. I really like goats, but I really like the pigs. I think that is where we will stay–pigs and goats.”
Jamie explains further, “I think the goats will become more productive. The goats are kinda like cattle, I think. You have to have the numbers. You can’t really make a lot of money off 30 babies. You need 100 mamas and 200 babies to make the money. Building into that has been a slow process. Because you either grow into it by breeding your own or you fork out a bunch of money and buy 100 head and we are just not going to do that.”
Sarah adds, “That’s part of our vision for the farm. We also own my grandparents farm. We bought the farmhouse and the acreage that went with it. And we have that pasture land fenced in and so we only have a couple of things to do and we can expand the goats to that part of the farm. The infrastructure is there and now that we have the babies coming in. These babies are Myotonic and Savanna mix so they are going to grow faster and bigger and be perfect for meat processing.”
The Miles' hope for the legacy of 7 Stands Farm will be more than a financial one–it will be one of pride and passion.
“I hope that we can build a farm that we can leave behind to my children and grandchildren,” says Jamie. “I hope that the legacy that we might leave behind is not just a financial one, but more of pride and passion. I hope that our children, grandchildren, and generations to come can be proud of what we have started and that they can look and see the differences we made in the way farming is done and the way food is produced. I also hope that if farming is not what they want to do, that our dreaming and hard work and faith on the farm can teach them they can do anything they want to as long as they put in the hard work. We want our legacy to be one of no fear, go for it, just do it no matter what anyone says, give it a try.”
To keep up to date with the happenings at 7 Stands Farm, follow along on their social media pages and YouTube Channel. Links are below along with information about their website. You can also visit with the Miles each Saturday morning at the Ashe County Farmers' Market.
Photos courtesy of the Miles' family
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