Woman carries on 30-year tradition
Agriculture has been traditionally a male-dominated occupation with few women actively taking the reins of farming operations unless the husband left, either on purpose or due to death. In the last few decades, a change has been occurring as there are more female farmers and ranchers showing up on the agricultural landscape.
One of those proud women is a young lady named Kyle Brisendine who has recently completed her Masters Degree of Agriculture in Integrated Resources and returned to the family farm to serve as the farm manager. But there is a lot more to this female farmer and her journey to this newest accomplishment.
“It (interest in farming) has always been there,” Brisendine said. “My family has been farming for 30 years.”
She was born into this lifestyle and so as she grew up, she participated in the activities.
Brisendine has always been comfortable on the family farm with distinct ideas about what she is interested in. She found that the practices of involving animals, plants, and natural resources more to her liking than the larger corporate farming. While she knew she wanted to go to college, the question of where needed to be answered.
“I checked out the large universities and realized that they offered specific programs for students,” Brisendine said. “I was looking for a broader curriculum relating to agriculture.”
She found that the Royal Agricultural University in Cirenchester was the one for her.
This school in the United Kingdom had a program that spanned three years and covered more general topics concerning agriculture.
While the larger university students tend toward a more exclusive study, Brisendine learned a lot about several topics including various crop vegetables, diversified production, and on site farm stands.
The first year of study was the traditional classes and ran from October through May.
The next year required the students to choose an area of intense study with an internship to complete the term. The final year provides the young people with an opportunity to share what they have learned in the form of a dissertation. Brisendine graduated in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science Honors in Agriculture with an emphasis on Livestock.
Since she has been home, the farm’s focus continues to be on grass-fed livestock. Brisendine believes the combination of grass and mother’s milk to be unique for the animals and provides a higher quality product.
Brisendine works to promote the ideas she was taught and implement them at Willow Farm LLC as the farm manager.
The farm shop, which was opened in 2017, offers several refrigerated units full of grass fed beef and lamb along with fresh eggs and fiber at various levels of preparation from raw wool ‘in the grease’ to hand knit sweaters.
They also offer a lending library with a small selection of ag-related books for the public to borrow, swap, or trade.
Willow Farm has two open houses for the public to attend with one in the spring for shearing time and another in the fall for harvest.
Brisendine and her parents are working to offer specialized workshops throughout the year such as a fencing presentation.
As the farm evolves, it will always be based on those natural techniques Brisendine learned. And she’s just the woman to make them happen.