I have mentioned a few times before that my husband and I have been working for a local, all around good and natural miniature cattle farm called Happy Mountain Farm for the last 2 years.
How we came to be part of this family was nothing less than fate. Curtis and I had been engaged for about 6 months and we were very busy planning all the details of our wedding. One night we decided to watch a movie called "Food Inc." I highly recommend it to those of you who haven't had the chance to see it. Food Inc. is a documentary literally exposing the mass meat industry for all its corrupt ways. Literally friends, with tiny hidden cameras, you can see exactly how companies you see every day at the grocery store really treat their animals. It was horrifying! After watching this movie, Curt and I decided it was important to find a local farm to purchase our meat from. Just a week later was the yearly grand opening of the Puyallup farmers market, and we figured this would be the place to find some good resources.
Good resource indeed, because we wound up meeting the Gradwohl family, who would not only become our employers, but also our extended family. Both Curt and I recognised Michelle Gradwohl from our own local farmers market in Des Moines, she had been selling meat there for years. After telling her that we recognized her from Des Moines, she then told us that Happy Mountain wouldn't be able to be at the Des Moines farmers market that year due to not having anyone to work it. Curt and I wished her luck and went on our way. As were walking through the market, I had to slap Curtis on the arm. "Hey, we should work the Des Moines market for them! We could use some extra money for our wedding and were passionate about supporting local farms." Curtis completely agreed with me, so we marched our happy butts right back over there and said. "We would like to work for you and help you keep the Des Moines Market!" Just our luck, the owner of the farm Richard was there and he hired us on the spot!
After working for a summer selling beef at our local farmers market, we had fallen in love with our farm and the farmers market community. Richard and his family quickly adopted us as part of their family and we enjoyed every moment we spent working for the farm. This year, we not only returned to the Des Moines Farmers Market but we also picked up 4 other local farmers markets. Being on the farm has become an every day event, whether its been to pick up product, drop off product or to just swing by and say hi to our extended family and all the animals.
Richard has taught us so much about the farming industry and we've really found this tender part in our hearts for him. Honestly, hes one of the farming industries best kept secrets. He's been creating his own breeds of cattle for over 30 years. Out of the 26 different breeds of miniature cattle in the world he has developed 18 of those breeds on our farm. Not only do we use some of the cattle to produce healthy meat for our local community, we also sell these mini cows as pets! Each one of our cows has a name and is treated just about as good as it gets. In return, we can offer some of the most healthy and delicious meat for the mind, body and spirit!
Today, we lost this incredible man who has developed this amazing farm and who has touched all our hearts. After five days at the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical, Richard Gradwohl passed away peacefully with his son by side, due to a massive stroke and brain hemorrhage he had early Sunday morning.
His family has been so strong in facing this horrible situation, but honestly I just can't help but feel so broken hearted. Richard was someone, I looked forward to see on a daily basis. He was a significant part of mine and Curtis' life, and it hurts to have to let go of this relationship that we have come to love and depend on. The hardest thing about loosing someone you love is the absence of those little routines and quirks that just make life worth while and special. I am always going to miss Richards little round belly, and the way it jiggled when he laughed. I will miss his iconic greeting of "Heeeelllooooo" when ever he would see us and his "Keep Smilin" whenever we would leave.
I will miss sitting out front of the farm store with him, sipping soda and telling stories (breaks he would call them). Ill miss his face when he would laugh really hard. Ill miss him shuffling around the farm. Ill miss him talking sweetly to the cows. Ill miss him calling me "Georgia" just to wrile me up. Ill miss his constant support and help. Most of all, I'm just really going to miss him.
So farewell to my employer.... teacher.... and friend.
I feel so fortunate to have been part of your life and legacy, and I'm so happy that I was able to spend some of your last normal hours with you Saturday night and to have given you a big hug before you left. You were very much a big part of my heart and I am really going to miss you.
I hope we meet again one day.
To read more about Richard and some of the amazing things hes done, visit;
If you would like to learn more about Happy Mountain Farm, visit;