Located three minutes from Lees Market, Weatherlow Farms sits on a rolling 200 acres of land. Really, if you go to the very end of his property towards Main Road, the land is only a stone throw away from Lees. We pulled into the parking lot in the afternoon, seashells crunching under our tires. A classic Westport driveway. It was hot, but there was a magic about the land that allowed a nice breeze to roll through that was non-existent at the store we had just come from.
An older gentleman was leaning against the back of a truck, tools in hand and a wooden sign lying in the bed. He smiled when we got out of the car, “my son should be right on over!”. He poked fun at our business casual clothing attire (probably not the best choice for walking around farmland), and asked how our summer was going. He was quiet and easy to talk to while we waited for Ryan, mostly talking about our new Plymouth location and how that was working out.
The first thing we noticed was the brand new farm stand that had just opened the week before. Ryan’s father gestured to the store, “go on in if you’d like to check it out”. And so we did.
It was really cool to see how far farm stands have come, as most have their own mini store front with hours that customers can come by. The world of local livestock and produce is changing, and it’s nice to see people wanting to feel more connected to the place they buy their products from. It’s the same reason people love coming to our stores, to see familiar faces and workers who know the local area and families in the town. It’s an experience you just can’t get at a chain store.
Ryan breezed in, all bright blue eyes and smiles. He shook our hands and showed us his new pride and joy, the farm store. Our Dairy Manager, Ryan, peered into a cooler at the Bone Broth and asked if we could bring them into our stores. It was met with an “of course”, and an “I’ll bring some by soon”. Easy, simple, and open. That’s the beauty of knowing the people you buy products from.
Ryan (the Weatherlow one) brought us off to the side. His knee was injured from working the fields that morning, “don’t mind my limping, just don’t walk too fast on me!”. But he was moving fast anyway. I wondered how quickly he moved around uninjured. He seemed like the kind of person who enjoyed staying busy, and was happy to do so.
The flowers were growing all around us, and inside the greenhouses in all shapes and colors. I had never seen such unique looking flowers before. Ryan leaned against the doorway, “the demand for local flowers is really big right now.” He talked to us a bit about why local was important, and how his Flower Manager, Phoebe, was a great help and truly talented at what she does.
Next stop, the barn. His orange crocs led the way as he animatedly talked about the project with Ryan.
While inside, he couldn’t help but smile ear to ear as he talked about how the barn was built, old style with “no nails in the entire structure”. No nails?! My brain had a hard time wrapping around that one, but it was really beautiful to look at.
Although the space has held a few small events and dinners, he goes over the practical part of the barn as well, “this is where we store the hay for the winter, it usually fills up about half the barn”. They dry herbs in the loft, and arrange flowers/store in the downstairs. This is truly the mecca of the entire operation.
He led us downstairs, the smell of wood drifting away as we descended down. The barn was sitting on a hill, so downstairs was really just an open garage area, a massive one at that. He showed us the commercial kitchen, and then we got to meet his Flower Manager, Phoebe. She was a stock image photo of a florist brought to life; a small, adorable, smiling human with a passion for flowers.
They showed us the coolers where they stored their products, and their meat freezer was impressively stocked to the brim with all kinds of local, pasture-raised and grass-finished meats.
Now into the UTV we go, hauling fast out of the barn area and into the grazing fields of the angus cattle. They sat huddled together to stay cool, quietly swishing their tails and only slightly glancing up to check us humans out before going back to grass munching. Ryan explained to us the concept of animal management and land management, which requires moving the cattle from field to field in order to preserve the natural ecosystem of the farm. It was fascinating to learn about, as well as seeing agricultural practices taken so seriously on the Westport land.
We zipped on over to the real star of the show for us, Weatherlow Farms’ eggs. As we pulled up to the electric fencing, Teddy the big fluffy dog, came out from under the mobile coop. Tail wagging, he came right up to the fence towards the UTV to check us out.
Ryan got a kick out of our oohing and ahhing over the dog, “Teddy sleeps out here with the chickens. He loves living with them the most. We cycled him through a few different animal types but he likes hanging with chickens best”. And he sure did. Teddy yawned, bored with us already and scooted, butt in the air, until he was back in the shade under the coop, “he pretty much sleeps all day and is up all night to watch over the hens” Ryan said, “we haven’t had a single predator kill since Teddy started living with them”.
You can tell Teddy protects the chickens just by emitting his natural dog odor into the air, and prefers to be in their company.
When asked how Teddy feels about being inside during the cold winter months, Ryan laughed, “oh, he hates it. He’s restless and dying to go back outside and take care of the animals”. He clearly doesn’t like being bored in the house. Working dogs enjoy their work too much, who needs a vacation?!
The coop was right next to the hay fields, where the grass was green and luscious in the summer sun. The hens had a place to roam, and were moved to feed on different areas throughout their life. We sell their eggs in the store, and can taste the difference for yourself!
Above is the typical view from the UTV as we sped around the property and acres of land. The land was thriving, and Ryan mentioned that these fields will create the hay used to feed the cattle, well into the winter.
Below is a photo I took earlier from inside the barn, where Ryan was discussing how this building was the second highest point in Westport as our Dairy Manager looked outward, mesmerized by the view. It’s truly a spectacular piece of land.
As always, we are giving you a sort of journalistic view of the local farms we sell products from in our stores. We go into these farms so you can see the operation for yourself, and learn more about the places you might have passed by on your daily commutes without a second thought, or passed by on our shelves with the tag “local” without knowing the story behind it.
Ryan of Weatherlow Farms is certainly proud of the operation he has created so far; it’s still new, and he has so many exciting ideas to put into fruition over time.
He was extremely thankful as he shook our hands when we were leaving, saying, “you know, you guys were the first commercial business that took our products onto your shelves, and I can’t thank you enough.” And really, that’s what it’s all about.
Until next time, at your favorite local farm,
Kelsey of Lees and Clements’ Market