Farm operation provides home schooling too

On the Farm: The Kyle children are involved in various aspects of Country Road Concepts, an on-farm business

TYVAN, Sask. — It all started with the making of a quilt from old jeans.

Upon the sale of that quilt, and a few more craft items, Country Road Concepts was born. Codee Kyle started her on-farm business in 2012 as a way to keep up with her love of crafting while raising her first child. She had earned her education degree from Brandon University and considered teaching full time, but instead chose to be at home with her son.

“Having a baby at home gave me an opportunity to dabble in things when he was napping,” said Kyle.

“All of the things that are part of Country Road are an extension of what I love to do for myself and my family.”

She and her husband, Ray, had moved to the small community of Tyvan, Sask., in 2010 when Ray secured a job as a ranch hand. They rented a nearby house and farmyard from Ray’s employers, allowing them to buy their own cattle and horses, and then add an array of small animals to the mix.

Eggs are a big part of Country Road Concepts with the Kyle children being the main caretakers of the chickens. | Christalee Froese photo

By 2016, the Kyles had three children and the list of products being sold through Country Road Concepts had grown. A coop full of chickens meant eggs were on the product list, and a cold-frame and garden allowed Codee to add plants and pickled items to her sale menu. She also began making extra batches of family favourites like bread, buns and water kafir grains to sell.

She marketed through craft fairs and farmers markets, but the home-school teacher quickly realized that the stress of setting up for an event with children in tow was not always worth the effort. She turned to her online Facebook page as the preferred sales tool. This method allowed her to receive orders and then make regular drop-offs to the nearest city of Weyburn.

“Our first customers were members from our faith congregation in Weyburn,” said Codee, adding that word of mouth has now led to a wider group of customers who often connect with her through friends, or on Facebook.

A year ago, the Kyles began selling beef packages as well, which quickly took off as customers found it comforting to know how and where their meat had been raised. The availability of products such as sausage, hamburger patties and select cuts was also a selling feature.

Tanner Kyle helps take care of the family’s many small animals from goats to chickens and calves. | Christalee Froese photo

Serena Ring of Weyburn has regularly bought from Country Road Concepts, preferring eggs from the farm, as well as beef products. Codee’s Facebook posts often feature the farm’s animals, showing things like the children picking eggs, watering animals and hatching chicks and turkeys.

“We love to buy locally produced food and I can see from Codee’s (Facebook) page that the animals are well cared for, and that they (the Kyles) enjoy what they do for a living,” said Ring, adding that having a relationship with the people that produce her family’s food adds significant value.

“It offers a better-quality product because they are directly invested in the quality of what they sell.”

The Kyles have had some bigger orders during the COVID-19 outbreak as isolated shoppers have appreciated the delivery service that brings items like bread-and-butter pickled eggs, chipotle sausage, tomato plants and homemade buns right to their doorstep.

The advantage of having a home-based business for Codee is all about family.

“When people buy from us, they know the whole family has put our time, our sweat — and sometimes even our blood — into what we’re selling,” said Codee.

“It comes from our farm but it comes from our hearts too.”

The farm-based business also ties directly into school time as Codee home schools all three children: Tanner, 9, Kipton, 7, and Macy, 5. Almost every task associated with Country Road Concepts has turned into a learning opportunity as the Kyle kids all do chores, help in the garden and assist in money management.

Codee Kyle likes to make icecream from goat’s milk, as well as a variety of other products for her family. Regulations do not allow her to sell goat milk off the farm, but she hopes it may be part of Country Road Concepts in the future. | Christalee Froese photo

“For Tanner right now what he does with the egg selling is an extension of school,” said Codee, explaining that part of Tanner’s math lesson is to sort through the egg money, which she asks customers to provide in coins.

“It provides an opportunity to explain to people how my kids are involved too and a lot of people really like that because it gives that extra connection.”

Right now Country Road Concepts generates pocket change for the Kyles and some extra spending money for the children. But Codee is hopeful that in the future, the business can become a bigger part of their income.

“We would love it to grow. We’re not sure if it will be our only income at some point, but we want it to grow.”

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