November 27, 2017
Melissa Eshelmen is a strong farmher with a big heart. She grew up helping out on the farm at an early age, working with her grandma who she credits with her love of livestock. Her grandma is the one who showed Melissa how to care for animals. While back then, Melissa’s dad was the full-time farmer, today, Melissa is the resident FarmHer. The two young adults, a brother and sister team, work side-by-side to run the expansive and diversified farming operation on their own. Their father was injured in a farming accident a number of years ago that left him paralyzed. When he couldn’t do the physical labor on the farm any longer, Jed and Melissa stepped up.
On my trip to Eshelman Farms, I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa, Jed and their grandmother. From the minute I pulled in and met Melissa, I could see the sparkle in her eye, spring in her step and through that, her love for what she does. We started the day by heading down to check on the goat mamas and their kids, and to visit one particularly friendly bottle calf. After making sure everyone was doing well and had enough feed, we took a trip past the few pigs that Melissa keeps and then up to her herd of beef cattle. There she made short work of feeding and checking the cattle. Next stop was in the machine shed to help her brother Jed back some of the machinery out of the barn. It was clear to see that Melissa and Jed, while young, are good at what they do. They respect each other, each has their place on the farm well together day in and day out. Once the planter was pulled out, the siblings checked it over, as planting was set to start at any point in the upcoming days.
From there, our last stop was to check on the chickens that Melissa keeps. There she explained to us that she annually butchers and processes all of the decent sized flock on her own, before selling them locally.
As we wrapped up the day, Melissa talked with excitement about plans for the future of the farm, including a new on-farm market she was working on building for the upcoming summer. A spot where customers can connect with the farm and she can sell some of the fruits of her labor. She talked warmly of her father, clearly thankful for the years she had with him, and for the wisdom and lessons he passed down to the siblings. While Melissa’s FarmHer story isn’t one she could have written just a few years ago, it looks to me like she is right where she is supposed to be. Carrying on her family farming legacy and doing what she loves, surrounded by her family.
December 07, 2017
November 27, 2017
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