Hometown: Mountain Grove, Mo.
In Town: Paula works at Country Mart in Mountain Grove, Mo. She worked her way up from cashier to a job with regular business hours.
“I am the office manager at Country Mart,” she said. “ I like it. It’s never a dull moment, taking care of the customers.”
Back in Iowa, Paula had a different career.
“I taught elementary education for 15 years.
“I wanted to go south because I was done with the snow in the winters, but I didn’t want to get so far away that I couldn’t get back there. It’s about six hours away.”
She has a son, two brothers and her mother back in Iowa.
In the Country: Paula moved to Missouri from Iowa in 2016 with her daughter, Kristina Van Aken. Together, they raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and other animals on their property, Blue Roof Farm. They started out with horses, which they later sold to begin their business in goats and chickens.
“The chickens we started with in the very beginning. When we bought the property, it came with eight guineas. The people that sold it to us said, ‘You have to take the guineas too,’” she said. “They were free range, so I decided to get into chickens because I wanted eggs.”
They make quiche with the eggs from their chickens and ice cream from the goat milk.
They started raising their own chickens, but found out about the market for chicks, especially with the guineas.
“We take them to auction here at Wright County Livestock Auction,” she said. They sell goats at auction as well. As listed on their Facebook page, Blue Roof Farm, Kristina sells guinea fowl, chickens and goats directly from the farm too.
“Because these are free-range chickens, they eat really good. They eat what’s good for them. They’ll go after anything. I like my country eggs,” Paula said. The eggs they sell are brown, green or blue.
“You only want to keep what your land can handle,” Paula said of the variety of animals on their little farm.
They have ducks and donkeys too. Mother and daughter have transformed the property, adding buildings, pens and features for their animals.
“The duck’s pen is built in the garden so if we want to turn them loose, they eat bugs. All the stuff that’s built out here I made. I did the goat barn.”
They try to find a good balance with taking care of the animals by buying hay to get them through the winter and creating safe spaces for them, yet still make a profit. Paula credited her daughter’s researching skills for how to farm. She said that Kristina looks it up, reads and returns saying, “‘OK, Mom. We have to do this.’ “
The farming duo work hard, but enjoy the whole process.
“It’s lots of fun,” Paula said.