Children and household chores. These two words aren’t often combined, unless you’re 15-year-old Eli Steyne and you have a dream.
He gets up in the morning with unbridled exuberance, quickly girding his cap and hitting it on his curly head. She is outside the door with her dog, Bo not far behind.
“Drive the birds,” he calls, as a considerable flock of hungry and chattering chicks rush by. And he turned, imitating mixed sounds, And poured his drink on the fodder for a long time. Then, moving the cattle to pasture is getting a little dirty. All this before returning to home training sessions.
Chris and Keely Steyne, and their four children, Eli, Levi, Naomi and Makai, call Waymaker Farm in Carthage their home.
In 2020, the Raleigh family was living in a pandemic. “It was hard,” admits Keely, the family’s mom. “A place where we wanted to be outside and started thinking outside the box. We thought Moore County would be perfect since Chris was commuting there for work.”
They decided to find a healthier family environment. Eli’s “passion for rural living on the farm,” says Keely. That prompted the family to make a change. “We jumped in with our feet and all the energy of our family to get ready to run the farm,” he said.
They began to look for a suitable land property, but in the heat of the pandemic market, the inventory of properties was discarded. However, they stayed and realized that the demands of farming would be difficult without practice.
Starting his new career meant taking online classes, studying, and doing extensive research on livestock breeds, their care, feeding, structure, and housing requirements.
Eli was most interested in the matter.
They started to feel good about their plan and help the farmers network to understand life on the farm.
“You really don’t know what you don’t know until you do it for the first time,” Eli says with a unique maturity.
When they finally saw the village, it had been deserted for many years. To complete the barn. There were no fences, and the invasion of the fennel dog was claimed. In addition, it was not working well.
“It was three,” Keely said, shaking her head.
But their faith prevailed. “God literally made it when there wasn’t one,” he said, explaining the farm’s name.
In a flurry of activity, they cleared the fields, repaired the well, and ran the water lines to the cattle fields. “My husband spent 12 hours cow-hogging pastures the day before we moved,” recalls Keely.
“We have to build our chicken tenders with layers of eggs and chicken meat,” said Eli. “We were there for three days” before we moved, when 100 chickens would arrive in the mail. Getting ready was a priority for them.”
“Oh wait!” he nervously mentions how they didn’t even have complicated moving boxes when they bought new animals. For the Passover they needed raw sheep, goats and pigs. “It was great that the first time the animals went around us together.”
And he still had an area to prepare for the garden of the estate.
Now the family settled down to the daily routine of domestic training and agricultural chores. It is a full, rich, demanding, and boring life. But Keely says it teaches children about responsibility, time management, practical skills, and many other valuable skills.
Waymaker Farm uses rotary grazing, a system in which a large pasture is divided into smaller paddocks, allowing cattle to be easily moved from one paddock to another. This system gives the forage the rest of the time that the regrowth of the forage begins and improves the yield and persistence of the crop. In addition, the field of land that is “animal dung” receives, which increases the soil. For this reason, farm animals benefit from a healthier natural diet.
In addition to the Muscovy ducks that call the farm, a stable pond, three types of heritage pigs feed the farm. Berk hogs and Gloucester Old Spotted hogs were brought from England and were sold for meat, suitable for clearing forests. The third type of pig is the Kunekune, an Australian breed with smaller canines. They are fed like sheep and do not perish when fed. It was sold as marble meat.
Blackbell sheep, hair sheep better suited than wool sheep in this climate, feed and breed the grass and pastures of the country and come for meat.
Last winter, they introduced the Katahdin lamb to their farm. “It’s so big,” Eli exclaims. “If you call her by her name Noel, she runs to you.” The birth of the famous Yates-Thagard at the time of his birth, when he made his debut, is well known.
The farm raises two types of meat chickens as well as chickens. “Our Freedom Rangers have better flavor and texture than Cornish Jumbo Cross,” explains Eli. In addition, egg layers — Novogen White, Novogen Brown, Easter Eggers, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Reds are also being promoted for egg sales.
Heli’s younger brother, Levi, also handles chores and raises bees for honey sales. They hope to have their first small crop of strawberries this spring from Eli’s plants donated by Carthage’s Old Farm, where Eli helps out during the berry season. Eli’s also a regular at the NC Cooperative Extension Service’s new farmer meetups and local Life Trail meetings.
Always forward thinking and clever in creating various income streams to make his farm prosperous. They sell their produce on Sunday farmers at the James Creek Cider House and occasionally at the Pop-Up-in-the-Pine mini market. In addition, he advises and monitors farm business and hopes to add a restaurant sale to his buyer list and, perhaps soon, a farm store and food truck.
He keeps rolling ideas to dream of one day having a 50-to-100-acre farm and raising 100 sheep and 30 head of cattle. But its essential connection is between work, food and money which is correct. Without one, you can’t really have the other.
So whatever season the Steyne family is in, whether it’s working on a school term or finding a way to deal with a bad animal, whatever it is, Eli knows that work is just a part of life. He keeps his orders straight. “God comes first, then family, then our farm,” he says proudly. wThen he pulls off his hat with a smile and tells me he really enjoys driving the tractor too.
Waymaker Farm hopes to have baby lambs, chicks, a Jersey calf, and strawberries on the Sandhills Farm Tour.
Claudia Watson is a frequent contributor to The Pilot.