ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with farmers Morgan and Darrell Metcalf of Burley Stick Farm, which will be part of ASAP’s Farm Tour, Sept. 18–19. They’re pictured with their children on the farm.
Tell me a little about this history of the farm.
Burley Stick Farm has been farmed by the Metcalf family since 1918. Although it’s traditionally been a burley tobacco farm, it’s always been home to a number of beef cattle, which is the primary focus today. Old functional buildings such as the spring house, casing house, and “old shop” still have the old equipment in them such as the mule equipment and stone forge for metal working. The fifth generation of Metcalfs are currently learning both the pragmatic farming practices that we’ve embraced over the years as well as any new applications that will allow them to continue to be good stewards of the land.
What are you doing on the farm presently?
Burley Stick Farm raises pastured angus beef for direct customer purchase on the farm. In addition to the stocker calves that are raised and sold for beef annually, we maintain a constant cow/calf operation throughout the year. We also raise soy-free, non-GMO pork and chicken. In truth, with as much time as we spend on pasture management and in the hay fields, I think we’re just grass farmers most of the time!
What are you most excited about sharing with visitors during the Farm Tour?
We’re excited to show visitors how we manage our beef cattle herd. This includes the details of our grazing operation, feeding, watering, and general care. We enjoy discussing how our farm has been retained by our family through the years and talking about how our children are currently engaged in and working on the farm daily.
You’re raising the fifth generation of farmers at Burley Stick now. What are some experiences they have on the farm?
Our children are all highly involved in our daily farm tasks. We have four children, 13, 10, 8, and 3. The older three each have responsibilities and things that they also take pride in handling. For example, our 10-year-old son feeds and waters the laying chickens (about 25) daily. He’s also responsible for checking eggs daily. Our 13-year-old daughter has a strong interest in our artificial breeding program for the cattle. She now selects her own sires for her stock that are being AIed. On days when beef arrives back from processing for customer pick up, every family member is expected to pitch in. Our children are all homeschooled, but we think it’s more like “farm-schooled.”
Passes for ASAP’s Farm Tour, Sept. 18–19, are on sale now. Advance passes are $35 and good for all passengers in a single vehicle to visit any farms on both days.