VANDALIA, Mo. — For Kylie Epperson, telling the story of her family farming operation is part of the job.
Farm life can be a mix of setbacks and successes, and earlier this year she and her family had a milestone moment to share. After a fire burned down one of their hog buildings, they built a new one. She remembers the day the first hogs made it through the new building.
“It was really nice to get pigs in, and then in January we got pigs out the door,” Epperson says. “Needless to say that was really, really special.”
Epperson and her husband, Jordan, have a diversified farm in Ralls County in northeast Missouri, growing corn and soybeans in addition to their hog operation. The couple has two young children, Rhett and Reese.
Whether it’s photos of the kids, simple farm moments, or longer posts explaining agriculture and answering questions for consumers, Epperson shares her farm story on social media. She has an Instagram account (thegratefulfarmwife), a farm Facebook page (Epperson Family Farms) and a blog (thegrateful farmwife.com).
During the pandemic, with concerns about the food supply chain, Epperson says people have been looking for information about what they buy.
“People were wanting to know more about where their food comes from,” she says.
A lot of people are interested in buying local, and Epperson says she is a “grocery store farmer,” meaning people will buy her farm’s products in regular grocery stores. She says this gives her the opportunity to let people know there is still a farm family associated with the product, even if it is not sold directly to the local consumer.
“We process in those bigger packing plants that were affected by COVID,” she says. “We’re still taking excellent care of our animals.”
Epperson says the impacts on crop and livestock prices during the virus have been tough, and producers have had concerns about whether they will be able to market their livestock.
“We have been one of the very, very fortunate producers so far,” she says. “We have had very minimal cuts to our load so far. In the same breath, we have friends who have not been able to get their load in.”
The Epperson hog operation includes both pigs that are antibiotic-free, and pigs that are given antibiotics if needed. Antibiotic use and animal welfare are often key topics for Epperson when talking about her industry.
She also shares about being with family on the farm, something she enjoys most.
“My very favorite thing is definitely having the flexibility to spend time with the kids and help out on the farm,” she says.
Epperson also likes to see the work and time put in pay off, when crops are ready for harvest, or the process of rebuilding after the fire.
“It went by so slow and so fast in hindsight,” she says.
She remembers weighing options after the fire, deciding whether to rebuild, and if so, how to do it best. For Epperson and her family, it was a special moment to be able to continue that aspect of their operation.
“We’re really proud to have another chance to go at it,” she says. “It’s a really humbling experience to have another chance. We have a really good team.”