Farmer feature: cylon rolling acres
Interview with Leslie Svacina, Owner and Farmer of Cylon Rolling Acres, Deer Park, WI
[Editor’s note: Leslie Svacina stewards Cylon Rolling Acres farm outside of Deer Park, Wisconsin. Farm Table seasonally purchases goat meat from Cylon Rolling Acres and carry their goat sticks in the Grab + Go case in the restaurant’s “little local market.” What follows are Leslie’s reflections on their farm and farming these days.]
What drew you to farming?
I grew up in a rural community in NE Wisconsin and was involved in FFA and agricultural education in high school. That spurred my interest. After college, I worked in agricultural communications, and continue to do so today, as a farmer.
I’ve always loved learning about agriculture — from plants to animals — and being outside. My parents are small business owners, so it was natural for me to mesh these experiences together to become a farmer. I wanted to be able to run my own business and feed my community.
How do you describe your farm? What you grow or raise or market, and what practices do you use?
I raise grass-fed meat goats using rotational grazing practices. Our herd is a mix of Boer, Kiko, and Boer-Kiko–cross goats. We also recently started a small flock of Texel sheep for meat.
How many people work on your farm?
One: I manage and run the farm full time. My husband Scott has an off-farm job but helps with the farm on evenings and weekends. Our two young children also help as well.
What are you thinking about these days?
Preparing for the transition to winter for our farm. It comes in stages, with closing down our seasonal waterline in the pasture and getting the barn ready. Then we keep grazing until we run out of usable pasture, or it snows.
What would you like eaters to know?
Don’t be intimidated to try goat! It’s a popular protein used in many dishes in a wide range of cultures: Indian, Caribbean, Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African. It really is a versatile meat that can take on very different flavors and experiences.
When you think about your farm and the broader world of agriculture, are there policies you’d like to see enacted that would support the kind of farming you do?
Yes, programs to help new or younger farmers get started, and policies to help transition farms to new generations (family or not). Farming is a very asset-driven business, it usually includes equipment and land. It’s hard to break into it without having multiple generations involved in farming.
What makes you sad, or disappoints you, as you think about your life as a farmer?
At times nature will take its course that we have little control over, whether that’s a drought or sick livestock. We do our best to navigate what life gives us as we manage our pastures, hay crop, and livestock. It’s not always easy.
What makes you happy as you think about your life as a farmer?
I love the simplicity of creating – of seeing our hay crop, goats, and sheep grow throughout the season. I also love knowing our kids get to be a part of this work, and that we are helping to feed our community.
How could readers support your work and farm?
Enjoy our goat meat! We sell our goat meat through our website, www.cylonrollingacres.com, for both pick up at the farm and shipping. It is often a seasonal item on Farm Table’s menu and in the restaurant’s grab–and–go retail area.
Do you have any great recipes you’d like to share?
Anything else you’d like to say?
I really value the community Farm Table has helped create by bringing area farmers together, as well as celebrating local food and flavors.