The mother and daughter team of Kelly Ruehle and Danielle Raad have created “Fanciful Farming”, a small boutique farm off Barnes Road in Eaton Rapids. Here is where they home miniature horses that they have rescued, and are raising goats, peacocks, bees, monarch butterflies, chickens, and more.
A “boutique farm” refers to a small farm that specializes in certain crops or animals.
The farm crew extends further when all four generations of the family pitch in for their Friday farm stand. Ruehle’s parents, Phyllis and Charles Williams, and Fairah and Giselle, Raad’s daughters, all lend a hand to the project.
According to Raad, the late “Doc” Hastay, who owned the land before them, told them that his wish was for the land to stay pure and that he wanted to see it become a little farm.
“I think he would have been pleased with where we’ve taken it so far.”
The farm started, she explained, organically, and evolved from having a few show horses to taking in animals in need and utilizing the land. Building a small barn three years ago was the start of the farm. This is their first year having the farm stand.
“I always wanted a farm and I especially always wanted to grow up on one. So now my girls get that chance,” Raad said.
“I wanted them to grow up with more authentic childhood memories,” Raad added. “Learning to care about other living things and learning what a difference we can make for an animal or for people is important.”
On Friday afternoons the farm stand opens. The products sold include things like cookies, salsas, all-natural creams, salves and beauty products, “rainbow” eggs, handcrafts, and more.
“The Covid-19 situation hasn’t slowed us down,” Kelly Ruehle said. The stand is outdoors and is often self-serve so there is little concern with social distancing. With many repeat customers, they often pre-order and just pick up their packaged order.
“But it’s not just the shopping,” she explained, “It becomes a kind of social event, a place to go where they can safely see people outside.”
Sales at the farm stand have been wonderful, Ruehle said, and have helped purchase hay for the animals for the year and have helped significantly with the veterinary bills. Special needs animals, like their miniature horses, often require extensive dental and farrier work which gets expensive.
Ruehle has recently released a book, “Saving Olivia,” which tells about the rescue of one of their miniature horses. They take their horses and chickens to schools and nursing homes to share with others.
The farm has been featured nationally on USA Today, in Backyard Poultry magazine, and in Bella Grace magazine.
“Kelly is a terrific gal, everything she has at the stand comes from her garden,” said Bev McKessy, a regular customer at the farm stand. “It’s always fun on Friday to see what she has on her menu of new things to try.”
“Every week is a new experience of items made with love. The molasses cookies (a family recipe) are a favorite, the face cream, salves, elderberry syrup are all great,” said Carol Williams, another regular visitor to the stand.
You can contact Fanciful Farming through Facebook or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.