07 Apr Featured Farmer: Kaleah Riordan
Kaleah Riordan is not new to farming. Her father was a farmer, as was her grandfather, great-grandfather, “and on and on. My family’s farming past goes way back.” Of her childhood she says, “I grew up taking care of our laying hens, milk goats, and horses and helping dad with the beef cows. I loved knowing that I was helping our family and that many of our animals were healthy and thriving because of me.”
When she went to college, Kaleah chose a different path. She became a nurse, then fell in love with and married an engineer. “I thought John would never want to a farm. But boy was I wrong.” While they were living in town, the Riordans were introduced to the philosophies and techniques of Joel Salatin—a farmer and author who has written extensively about sustainable livestock practices. They were so moved by his ideas that they decided to by a small plot of land and try them for out for themselves. Kaleah, who “longed to be back in the country,” was thrilled.
“We wanted to live somewhere where our growing family could work together and learn to raise healthy food while naturally restoring the land.” And so, Restoration Farm was established. Kaleah and her family now raise broilers, laying hens, and a small heard of cattle, all on pasture in Rudy, Arkansas. This season, they are also tending one of Grass Roots’s first flocks of a slow-growing chicken, the Red Ranger.
Of her work Kaleah says, “My favorite part of farming is being outside doing chores with my family. I love watching my children experiencing the wonders of life and the responsibility that comes with taking care of that life.”
“In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve already seen the land improve because of the farming methods we’ve been using, rotating the chickens and the cattle.” Kaleah—who is expecting her fourth child in June—is thrilled that “life is multiplying around here.”