The Tilden family continues to grow their Wright County, Mo., farming operation
When Isaac and Aundria Tilden and family outgrew their 10-acre hobby farm a few years ago, they were blessed to find their current 135 acres outside of Grovespring, Mo., in rural Wright County now known as Tilden Farm.
“I grew up at Niangua,” Isaac explained. “My dad, Walter Tilden, had 80 acres and worked constantly. I knew I wanted a bigger farm one day but when I heard that someone like me could get help through the Farm Service Agency, I could hardly believe it. Still, I filled out the paperwork in June and by August, we were closing on this place. For something with the government to work that fast, I just knew God’s hand had to be in it. We have been blessed with this place.”
Isaac and Aundria have been very busy ever since.
“It’s been harder than I thought,” Isaac admitted with a shy smile. “But it’s been worth it.”
Since moving onto what had been essentially an abandoned property just over a year and a half ago, Isaac has cleared a great deal of brush and put up countless feet of new fencing.
The Tildens were able to get financial assistance from FSA not only for the acreage but also to buy more cattle. They currently have approximately 40 head of black Angus-cross commercial cattle; 40 sheep and goats, including Spanish cross goats; and Dorper-cross sheep, both raised for meat; and miniature pigs and standard-sized pigs, which they have for pasture-raised pork. They also have chickens, turkeys, geese, peacocks and ducks, all of which they sell and swap at a local swap meet.
Three large Great Pyrenees dogs also call the Tilden farm, home and earn their keep by watching over all the different types of animals.
While animals have grass to graze, the Tildens do offer a feed ration.
“We supplement feed all of our stock, cows, chickens, pigs, all except goats with pulverized corn mixed with soy bean meal. We also get lespedeza pellets for the goats and they love them. If you could square bale that stuff, the goats would love it,” Isaac said.
The multi-species operation includes five paddocks for rotational grazing, which Isaac said has helped reduce parasite issues, and improved the farm overall.
“When I took over this place, we had pull-you-off-the-tractor briars. Last year, I didn’t even have to brush hog. That’s amazing to me,” he said.
Isaac delivers propane for MFA and Aundria works for Cox South Pharmacy in Springfield, Mo. They have a blended family that includes six kids who also love and enjoy the farm.
“After putting in so much work this last year plus, I got a really good offer for the place from one of my Amish neighbors,” Isaac said. “I have to say I seriously considered it but it was the kids who said, ‘Don’t sell the farm. Don’t give up now.’ It’s a lot of work but when their friends come to visit, and we do a bonfire and they sleep in a tent, they never want to leave.”
They have one small hoop house (greenhouse) and Aundria is very interested in getting a high tunnel where she could grow plants and flowers all year round.
Dreams are something both Aundria and Isaac are seriously working on.
“It’s been on my heart for a long time, watching these kids, to do some sort of dude ranch experience for kids and even for adults. So many people have no idea where their food comes from, even here in the Ozarks. I’ve mentioned this idea to a few people at work and at church about doing something like this for kids, building a bunkhouse or cabin where kids could stay for a week or a weekend, help on the farm and learn about farm life. Adults have said to me, hey, I’d like to come do that, too.
“Our kids are learning a lot here, too. I gave one of my sons some quail eggs and he has been so excited about that, looking after them in the incubator, watching them hatch, selling the chicks. We have an incubator that holds 360 eggs so that is something the kids are really into. Jaden also bought a rabbit and then turned around and sold it for more than he bought it for. He’s young but already into the whole thing of making money with the eggs and hatching them.”
The family has a busy lifestyle, but the long days are worth it to them.
“We have a lot going on here. A lot of growing with kids and critters but I’d really like to find more ways to share it with other kids because they really seem to love it, too,” Isaac said.