Monday, May 20, 2024

Keeping a dream alive

Staff Writer | February 22, 2024 1:08 AM

ATHOL — A long-standing family business is being rejuvenated.

To preserve her family history, Samantha Elliott and husband Kyler have started working to save their farm.

Initially a dairy farm, Al and Daryl Kyle took care of their land and animals, but eventually expanded the farm’s services so they could incorporate a women’s shelter.

The Cedar Mountain Farm Bed and Breakfast was added in 2001 and is still going strong today.

Daryl Kyle, Samantha's mom, always wanted to help others and her family always helped with that. When she passed last August, it led to concern over what might happen to the 440 acres of farmland.

Al, 80, considered selling it because he didn’t have the resources to handle the upkeep by himself, but his daughter was there to help.

“After my mom died, everything got turned upside down for a little bit,” said Samantha. “My dad even considered selling the farm because he lost some of his motivation and wasn’t sure what to do.

“But I was not going to let that happen so I moved back to help take care of things,” she added.

Samantha, 35, is the youngest daughter of Al and Daryl Kyle, who lived on the homestead since 1974. She said she is doing what she can to honor her parents' wishes and created the Sage Creek Barnyard to boost the farm’s revival.

The family plans to add a market or storefront, barnyard and continue hosting public events.

Samantha and Kyler are also caring for the animals and doing the farm’s maintenance. It has helped them overcome some of their own struggles and refocus their energy into the farm.

Kyler, 27, has lived in the area about a year, and found a calling in caring for the animals.

Al said there is a therapeutic aspect to people interacting with animals.

“I think the best part of it overall is that we will be helping people find opportunity,” Kyler said. “Opportunities for people that may not get to experience farm life any other way.

“It will be really rewarding to see the people enjoying the animals and learning about farm life,” he added.

To expand, they need money to pay for a new barn and lodge facility, so Al is considering selling a couple plots of land in order to make that happen.

“And from there we can start putting plans together for a new lodge or community center," he said.

He said the overall goal is to create an atmosphere in which the family can operate a demonstration farm, which is used to research or demonstrate agricultural techniques, with economic gains being an added bonus.

Al said he is in discussions with regional education facilities. 

“One of the things I am most proud of is how we maintained the land and forests over the last 50 years,” he said. “We didn’t give in to any big developers because we didn’t want a bunch of apartments or condos going up right here.”

“We wanted to make sure our family memories could be preserved and long-lasting dreams could still be built here,” he added.

    Starlit the mini horse shows appreciation as Samantha Elliott gives her a couple of morning treats on Feb. 21.
    Kyler Elliott puts feed down for some hungry goats on Feb. 21.
    Daisy and Kaw Liga are always horsing around on the farm according to Samantha and Kyler Elliott.

    This is a view of the barnyard circa 1950s.

    Daryl Hatch (Samantha's mother), Holly Hatch and Laurie Hatch stand on a wagon in one of the fields on their land.