The Tougher-Than-the-Rest story began in the mid-70s when my dad wanted to own a horse.  With a leap of faith, he moved my mother and two sisters to a three-acre farm in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. Two more kids and 40 years later, our farm has expanded from three-acres to over 100 acres, and from a single horse to over 100 animals. We now care for peacocks, boer goats, chickens, pigs, a horse and, of course, an ever-growing herd of Texas Longhorns.

Speaking of expansion, our family has greatly expanded since the 70s as well. Our family has grown from “the original four” who took that leap of faith, to a set of grandparents, three sisters, a brother, three spouses and nine children. We all play a part in running and caring for the farm, whether it be the lead feeders (me and my dad) or the lead “chick caregiver” (my three-year old nephew, Jacob), one way or another, we all keep the farm running and operating smoothly. We are truly a family-run operation.

Along with our duties on the farm, day-to-day you will find our family in various roles throughout our small-town community. You will find us in the local schools, as fifth, sixth and twelfth grade teachers and as a guidance counselor. You will find us running our town’s local hardware store and operating the town’s bistro on the corner. We run the PTO, Little League, and town council. We advocate for local farmers through our town’s zoning board. We share victories and defeats, successes and shortcomings. We support one another through every twist and turn that life so habitually presents. Regardless of the week’s undertakings, though, every Sunday night we meet back on my parent’s farm, the one they started 40 years ago with a single horse, for a family-style dinner. So each Sunday night when all 16 of us sit down to share our meal, that small, three-acre farm is what continues to bring us together all these years later.

Clearly, there are many experiences that shape our families and our lives. But the truth is, if someone were to ask us what experiences have shaped our work ethics, personalities and lives the most, we would say, without hesitation, growing up on a farm. I have truly loved every minute of my life on our farm, and after getting married in July 2012, I am lucky enough to have a wife who allows me to continue to chase my crazy dreams, or as she says “my idea of the day.” We thank God every day for the blessings he has bestowed upon us, and ask for his guidance and support in continuing to expand our farm. To the next 40 years, 100 acres and 100 animals…

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