“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love this quote. It says so much about life. Speaking from my humble experience, it is much, MUCH harder to make your own trail than it is to follow a path that has already been forged. I followed a path for many years before I took a turn and got off. I may have even jumped off the cliff. I can tell you, I have never since missed the path I was on. Though the one I am forging now is not as clear and a lot less tame, it is all mine. I get to raise my family and follow my dreams. Sure, that means I work at all hours of the day and night, but it is all worth it to me. It is easier to do what we have been doing; go where the others are going. As I relate this to all of the FarmHers I have met (and the hundreds of thousands I haven’t) I can’t help but think they live this every day. On a farm or a ranch you have to go your own way, do your own thing every day. You have to do what is best for you, your family, your land, your livestock and your own well-being.
This brings me to my introduction of a new FarmHer™ gallery featuring Janna Feldman of Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy. I met Janna through another FarmHer™, Danelle Myer of One Farm. After I photographed Danelle while she harvested, I followed her to the market and watched as she sold her produce. There, at the market, I met Janna who has a herd of goats (the Doe’s) and sheep (the Diva’s) which she cares for, milks and makes cheeses and soaps. At the time I met her, Janna had recently been in a partnership with another local dairy but they had parted ways. Janna was left with a herd of animals to feed, care for and milk twice daily on her own in temporary facilities. Janna and her family, who live on a farm just outside of Honey Creek, Iowa, set about obtaining the funds and starting the process of building their own licensed dairy. When I met Janna last fall she was making soaps for sale and offering cheeses as samples at the market to keep building her new business and grow her customer base. I followed her to their farm after the market closed and photographed as she milked her herd. As I got there the sun was just going down and it was glorious out. The bright orange of the early fall sun almost looked like a fire burning through the trees as it set. Janna milked her girls in the temporary milking barn one-by-one as I watched and listened to her, enjoying her animated conversation. Fast forward six months and the new milking and cheese making facility at Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy is nearly complete. Soon the people of Western Iowa will be able to enjoy more than samples of the Janna’s carefully crafted cheeses. I am so excited for Janna and her family, for the new trail they are forging for themselves, and can’t wait to see where it takes them. Take a minute and check out her website, and “like” the dairy on Facebook to follow along with their progress.
I would also like to invite you to take a look at Doe's and Diva's cheese, featured on the cover of the Spring 2014 issue of Edible Iowa River Valley, along with a full article and some FarmHer™ images.
If you haven’t yet, please take a minute to sign up for my mailing list so you can receive updates about FarmHer™, notices of new blog posts and FarmHer™ galleries and other newsworthy items! In the coming months I have many more FarmHers to photograph including a cattle ranch, sheep ranch, hogs, row crop field work, tree cutting, heirloom seed planting and more as I travel a little further outside of Iowa! I will be showing all of this work on my website of course, but also in the Wallace Building in Des Moines Iowa, home of the Iowa Department of Agriculture. You will also be able to see the images in person at two gallery shows locally in Des Moines, Iowa, and at a FarmHer™ dinner I am working on with a local chef!
Click here to help me forge the trail forward for FarmHer™! Take this brief survey to give me your feedback on the project thus far, and to help me figure out where it should go in the future! Everyone who submits a survey and includes their name and email address will be entered into a drawing on April 5, 2014 for a FarmHer™ shirt! You will also be given a code for savings in the FarmHer™ online store upon completion of the survey.