Cathy R. Payne is a Member of the LHG of Athens-Clarke County, GA Chapter, and sole proprietor of Broad River Pastures, LLC. Here is her story:
In 2008, my husband Jon and I were living in the suburbs of Atlanta. A few years earlier we started buying beef shares from a farmer who delivered to the area, and raw milk imported by an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania who delivered. We got even more serious about buying directly from farmers, and buying more local. We joined a CSA, went to farmers’ markets, and began a podcast to inspire other suburbanites to do the same. We gardened on a very small scale, raised earthworms for composting and mealworms to feed the bluebirds. Our only animals were dogs and the backyard songbirds. In 2009, we attended a farm dinner in rural Georgia and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live like this?” What happened next is a blur, but 11 weeks later we owned 11 acres of land with a 60-year-old house in Elberton, Georgia. By the time I retired from elementary education and move to Elberton in May 2010 ...
Neither of us had ever owned as much as a chicken. My husband started a locksmith business, and I set about building a working farm. Our focus was on education, heritage breeds, and nutrient-dense food production. We made quite a bit of progress on these goals! Over the last 8 years we had a trial run with a dairy goat; raised heritage breed chickens and Khaki Campbell ducks for eggs; bred Gulf Coast Native sheep for breeding stock, fiber and meat; raised American Blue and Silver Fox rabbits for breeding stock, fur and meat; and raised American Guinea hogs for breeding stock and meat. It was quite a ride! I developed a reputation for quality breeding stock, integrity, and customer service that did not end at the sale. So many women and men mentored me over the years, and I passed on what I had learned to my buyers and interns. I developed a passion for the heritage breeds because of the need for conservation and the distinctive traits they had packaged in their genes. The breeds I chose were smaller, easier to manage, more docile, attractive to look at, and offered exceptional fiber and meat. Genetics held a fascination for me.
When I added Guinea Hogs to my mix in 2013, I was disappointed at how little information I could find about them. So I set about to interview “old timers” and pick their brains. One thing led to another until I was the world’s expert historian on the breed, the person The Livestock Conservancy leaned on when a reporter called, and in the middle of a huge breeding project with the hogs to conserve some very rare bloodlines. By 2016, this had ramped up heavily. I had expanded my perennial and market gardens, too. I let the rabbits and sheep go to spend more time with hogs and gardens. I was set to double both of these endeavors in 2018. But in 2015 my granddaughter Charlotte was born, and two years later her brother Sammy arrived on the scene. I got a bit over extended with the farm and book research for a series of Guinea Hog books. I realized in early January that I needed to slow down and enjoy the grand babies before they reached school age or I might have a nervous break-down.
We’ve found a lovely home in east Athens with a fantastic backyard garden. It is all woods and perennials with no grass. I’m looking forward to remodeling the house, spending more time with family, having a roomy and organized kitchen, mentoring others, and writing my book series. I will continue buying my eggs, meat and vegetables from local farmers. I will miss the meals I prepared with 1-5 ingredients I grew myself. I hope to attend LHG Gatherings and meet more of you face-to-face. I remain at my core a lifelong learner and a lifelong educator.
As far as my business goes, it is quickly winding down. Our amazing farm is for sale, with eight years’ of improvements, and all of our supplies, tools and equipment are available, along with household items including furniture. I am also selling fresh herbs, herb rubs, sweet potatoes, and pork. Additionally, I have perennial plants including yarrow, horseradish, chocolate mint, sunchokes, and lemon balm. I still have turmeric roots, as well. Feel free to pick my brain or schedule a visit to buy some stuff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your story! The Livestock Conservancy also featured Cathy in their recent newsletter.
So, what’s your HERstory? Are you interested in heritage breeds? What’s in store for your future? We love hearing from you!
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