Turning Tragedies into Triumphs
Let’s first backtrack a little and give you a foundation of our story. Just like many other stories it has ups and downs and a few loopy loops. The dream of owning a home was a huge part of their story however it was a long road of many ‘No’s” and hurdles to overcome, first off like many Americans who were caught up in the United States Foreclosure crisis of 2010, Tonia had lost her previous home from her first marriage to a deed in lieu foreclosure. It took a long time to rebuild her credit and living off a cash-based system that did not impress the banks. Let’s just say that getting preapproval for a mortgage was nil to none for what seemed like an eternity. The other hurdle was AJ, who became suddenly and violently ill with a strange neurological condition in June of 2016. This condition baffled our nearest level 4 trauma hospital Albany Medical Center and it took approximately 1 month and 4 hospital admissions before they figured out his diagnosis. Autoimmune Encephalitis, have you heard of it? If not write it down and search it up, you will have a deeper appreciation of what I say next. It was by far the scariest thing I have ever seen and experienced in all of my life that includes over 20 years as a clinician in the medical field. He at the age of 35 was symptomatic of a stroke along with losing his ability to speak for periods of time, he had excruciating head pain, he had mental changes, sleep changes, appetite changes & hallucinations of people and things .. it was BIZARRE! This rare disease was because literally, his immune system was attacking his own brain tissue, causing all the bizarre symptoms! He had a very long road to recovery through rehabilitation, Immunoglobin therapy both as inpatient and in-home infusions where he would be hooked up to an IV for hours and healthy antibodies would be pumped into his body to replace his own immune system. Slowly and surely over a year he was able to regain his abilities, return to work and become healthy enough to resume a sense of normalcy. Life was still so uncertain; we didn’t know if we could ever afford a home of our own but we knew we already had overcome so much and we had the dream still alive in us. We just wanted a place for our family to always come home to. Tonia and AJ purchased their first home together in June of 2019, an early 1900’s farmhouse on the edge of the quaint and historic Salem Village. The small acreage property included a large barn.
MW Farmstead founded in 2020 Pandemic
Then along comes 2020 with a pandemic! Coronavirus resulted in many changes to our lifestyle. AJ being in the food and beverage industry as a chef at a local establishment experienced income loss with hours varying, take out the only menu, then reopening happened but still operating under what the restaurant would normally do for business all affect income. Tonia an NYS employee for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities was able to participate in a Pilot Telecommunicating work plan and thankfully able to still work from home and have the same income. But now they were forced to slow down, be at home more on their dream home and property. Hmm? This got Tonia to thinking more & more of what could they do with that old gorgeous barn? She approached her husband and asked, “what do you say we start to renovate the lower part of the barn (old milking parlor with wooden staunches) and create a farmstead, get some goats and make products to sell?” AJ said “What? You want to be a goat farmer?” Tonia had lost her mind but he went along with her idea anyways and MW Farmstead was founded in the middle of a pandemic!
Paying it Forward
Our farmstead’s mission simply begins with our family learning and enjoying the many blessings of living on a farm property, and then we grew to want to share those blessings with others. We do our very best to always apply the “Gratitude & Giving” motto to all things we do! We do this because we know the gratitude of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of giving, remember those up and downs, loopy loops well we got through them with God’s grace in the form of others helping us along the way! Our farmstead’s business model is distinguished from others, MW Farmstead products will be of all-natural ingredients and ethically sourced, no chemical fragrances or dyes and additives, and we aim for earth-conscious packaging. We put a great deal of thought into everything we do; we want to stay consistent with our farmstead’s mission and business model. Our products are handmade by our own family, small batches with artisan techniques. Our goat milk soaps are by far the most popular product but not far behind is our goat milk bath bombs or bath soaks all priced very reasonably. MW Farmstead raises clean tested ADGA Nigerian Dwarf goats and the herd is always growing with acquiring goats from other reputable breeders to the occasional “help is needed/rescue situation” to the upcoming kidding season being highly anticipated to add a few more! Our other delight is raising Mini Rex rabbits, if you ever held a Mini Rex you will understand why they are our favorite breed of rabbits. Their fur is the softest you will ever feel and their temperament is perfect to be a family pet. MW Farmstead will offer breeding services for both ADGA Nigerian Dwarf goats and Mini Rex rabbits at reasonable fees
All farmsteads are far from picture perfect and not without unexpected struggles. Probably the most unexpected struggle was we never thought something could be taken away, a little too naïve and living on cloud nine of new homeownership. In the very beginning of building our herd of goats, we experienced a sadness like no other. We had two 10-week-old baby boy goats presumably taken from our farm one night in October and never to be found. We exhausted every measure we could think of with social media, doing foot searches, dog tracking searches, overhead drone searches, and still no signs of them turned up! It still haunts us, what did we do wrong? Where are they? Our herd is an extended part of our family, if you could have seen how our youngest at age 5 was yearning for fun and socialization in a pandemic that stripped all socialization away from him bonded with the only friends he saw, those goats and bunnies! Most nights we have to force him inside as he would beg “I am sleeping in the barn tonight.” The devastation of this loss was far more than what we can put into words but we forged on and did not give up on the farmstead. Blessings can come from our heart’s burdens, we decided to turn the tragedy into triumph!
With a forever grateful heart, MW Farmstead has continued to grow by offering more products and livestock services, our herd has grown but most importantly our hearts have grown! We truly hope you will follow us along our farmstead journey.