One farm family is all-hands on growing the business during the unfamiliar, uneasy time of stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
Brent and Jenny Skelonc, owners of Six S Dairy in Sand Lake, raise and sell grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork and chicken and free-range eggs. Grass-fed raw milk is their focus.
Jenny said her children — 17-year-old Madison, who finished junior year at Cedar Springs High School; 15-year-old twins Caleb and Connor, ninth graders; and 14-year-old Isabelle, in sixth grade — are a big help on the farm during the quarantine.
“The kids’ basic daily chores haven’t changed, but with them being home and having more time after their schoolwork is complete, they’ve been a huge help to us in getting some larger farm projects completed.”
Brent has been off from work at CG Automation and Fixture, which meant many usual spring projects were ticked off the to-do list sooner than planned.
Caleb and Connor have daily chores that include taking care of cows, chickens and pigs, and Madison and Connor also each milk cows several times per week.
Added Jenny: “Madison has decided to raise a garden this year, so that’ll be a fun project.”
Growing Customer Base
Jenny said both their sales and their customer base have increased.
“More and more people are looking to find locally raised eggs, meat and milk, both for the health benefits and the food security aspects. Our day to day hasn’t changed much … all the same daily chores need to be done regardless of what’s going on in the world.
“In general, life has been less chaotic and rushed as we’re not trying to get all the farm work done in addition to running the kids to and from several school events every week.”
Jenny said after Isabelle was born with a rare genetic syndrome, she and Brent decided to begin farming in 2008.
“We believe that happy, well cared-for animals raised on pasture, fresh air and sunshine create the healthiest food.”
Missing Social Connections
Caleb said while the quarantine created more time to help on the farm, he missed playing euchre with teachers and friends during lunch and doing activities with the FFA.
Connor, an officer in the FFA chapter, echoed his brother. He said the quarantine has changed things on the farm.
“We have had to learn to work together and adapt to all being home at one time all day.” On the plus side: “We have also been able to spend more time together as a family.”
Isabelle said she enjoyed distance learning and spending a lot of time with her family, but missed her best friend, Adyson Merritt, teacher Brianne Floyd and program assistant Sara Hendricks.
Besides missing their grandparents very much, Madison said the quarantine hasn’t changed much except that, “I have to be more mindful when interacting with customers … and I have been relying heavily on technology to stay in touch with the people previously in my life nearly every day.
The high school history teacher hopeful also emphasized that she misses the social aspect of school.
“School buzzes with life and it’s always interesting,” said Madison, who plays clarinet in the band and enjoys drawing and FFA. “Now that I’m not there, I find myself missing the crowded halls, the conversations with my friends and the stories that teachers always end up telling in class.”