It’s your down-to-earth farm wives, Ellyn and Jessica. We are so glad you’re here and can’t wait to connect with you. Want to read a little more about who we are, where we come from, and what led us to develop Rural Soul? Keep reading below!
I’m Ellyn. A midwestern farm wife embracing everything rural from South Central Minnesota. My husband’s name is Jacob and we have been married for a little over a year. No kiddos yet, but we have a loving Red Heeler pup named Hawk. I call myself a Minnesota homebody and a practical cook. Food is my love language, as it is one way I care for my loved ones. Jacob would say I’m always thinking about what to make next, and he’s not lying. I love to try out new recipes when it comes to cooking and baking, but I have my old, trusty ones I can always rely on. Be rest assured that food and recipes will make a demanding appearance here!
I grew up on a row crop farm near Trimont, Minnesota and have been actively involved in agriculture my entire life. Whether it was 4-H, FFA, or working on the family farm, ag is deep in my roots. During my time in college at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!) when asked “What do you want to do with your degree after you graduate?” I honestly didn’t really have a straightforward answer to that question, but one thing is for certain, I knew I wanted to respond with, “I want to be a farm wife.” I never actually admitted that to people that weren’t in my close circle, because how in the world would I make a living as a farm wife? So, when I met Jacob through “mutual friends” (more to come on that story), I was head over boots. 😉 He welcomed me onto his farm where we have grown and evolved together over the last five years. We recognize that the roles of the “farmer” and “farm wife” are equally important when it comes to our operation, and I certainly embrace farm wife as my title, because after all, he made that dream of mine come true!
I graduated with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Marketing, but I now work in finance as a Farm Loan Officer for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Writing and editing have always been incredible passions of mine, but I used to always joke, “I’m a communications major for a reason – I don’t like math!” Well, here I am now, lending money to farmers. I think there is some kind of irony in that. But, I do make a living as an ag lender and I know Jacob appreciates the good health insurance as a self-employed farmer. 😉
Some of my most favorite things in life include good coffee, wine, music, podcasts, and candles. During the spring and summer, I tend to always over-purchase flowers. Gardening is a stress reliever for me and in recent years, I think I could have built a greenhouse of my own just with the amount of plants I had around our house, backyard, and perennial garden. I love going on walks with my trusty canine companion, Hawk boy, but also love those days when I’m curled up at home with him, a blanket, and a good book. However, you can bet I will never turn down an opportunity for mimosas and brunch or wine and charcuterie with family and friends. My favorite tv shows are Friends and Yellowstone (where are my Rip fans at?!) – I just will simply never tire of either. I love good, genuine conversation and time with those I love the most. I am so excited that this dream of Rural Soul has come to life and I cannot wait for you to follow along with us on this journey.
Hi friends new and old!
You can call me Jess. I am a Minnesota mom, wife, and elementary teacher thrilled to share this rural Midwestern life of mine. My husband’s name is Ben and we will be married eight years in May. We’ve been together for 14 years, which, when you think about it, is almost half our lifetime. Woah, right?! We’re high school sweethearts trying to instill a love and appreciation of country living within our children, the same that we shared very early on when we first met.
Even though the summers in Minnesota can be hot and humid and the winters can be frigid and below zero, I STILL try to get outside as much as possible. I often hear my grandpa Howard’s voice in the back of my head saying, “If you’re bored, go outside. If you’re tired, go outside!” So, that’s often what I do. It alway seems to help whatever is ailing. 🙂 In the summer I enjoy gardening (which is a newer hobby of mine), going for long walks (typically pushing my extra long stroller, ha!), and playing with my kids and our dog until the sun goes down and the yard light comes on. In the wintertime when we’re mostly cooped up, I like to do fun crafts with the kids, complete a puzzle or two, bake something from the latest Pioneer Woman episode my daughter and I have recently watched, or bundle up to go sledding. We have our share of loungey days, too, but we mostly keep busy!
I am blessed with two incredible kiddos, Savannah (5) and Bryce (2). They are farm kids through and through. Just take a peek into my living room and you will see a perfectly aligned combine, tractor and grain cart, semis parked next to grain bins ready to be filled by an auger, and cows in the barn waiting to be fed. These kids know their stuff! I once made the mistake of calling the boom on an excavator an arm or digger (thinking I would simplify it for my youngest, Bryce) when he quickly corrected me that it was, in fact, a boom. Boys… Savannah has definitely stepped into the role of an animal caretaker. Her heart is so full of love and compassion for her furry pets. This past summer you could find her carefully and confidently preparing bottles, checking feed, and filling water pails for her two calves, Peppa and George. Speaking of animals, on our farmstead we also have a small flock of chickens, some sweet kitties, and the most loyal pal that’s always by our side, Bella, an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix. Would I also like some goats, sheep, horses, and pigs? Of course! Is my family (ahem, Ben) ready for all of that? Probably not… but if you follow along, I have high hopes that we’ll get there. 🙂 I can’t wait to share more about my two little sidekicks and the adventures that we encounter daily living in the country.
Most of my favorite childhood memories happened on the farm. I grew up on a dairy farm just between Hamburg and Green Isle, Minnesota with my three younger siblings and my mom and dad. We had a herd of Jersey cows – which are the best breed in my opinion! But, I’m not here to get into any arguments, so I digress… From early on, we were taught to understand the importance of agriculture through countless experiences on the farm and years of involvement in 4-H and FFA. After high school graduation, each of my sisters and I proudly advocated for the dairy industry through the Princess Kay of the Milky Way Program and now my grandpa has three 90-pound butterheads in his freezer to show for it. If you’ve never heard of this, it is a real thing at the Minnesota State Fair. I’m not pulling your leg, look it up! 🙂
Today my career as an elementary educator isn’t directly connected to agriculture. I do my best to share fun anecdotes with my students, but I’m challenging myself to find other ways to show my appreciation and love for farming to others. My role currently as a “farm mom/wife” is unique and equally as important as my husband’s title, “farmer” and I am here to show you that through Rural Soul.
Background of Our Farm
In 2020, along with our husbands, Jacob and Ben, we formed HyTest Ag LLC – our farming business. We are sixth generation farmers raising corn, soybeans, and Angus cattle in-between Green Isle and Hamburg, Minnesota. When the transition of the farm occurred from the previous generation to us, we wanted something that we could make our own. We also wanted a clear and recognizable brand that would represent our vision and goals moving forward. So, HyTest Ag was born. It represents everything we have been through to get where we are today, but also the legacy building yet to come.
A main focus on our farm is conservation, so we use cover cropping and no-till practices in order to help preserve the land. We sell seed corn for Wyffels Hybrids and help manage two hog barn sites that consist of 4,000 pigs for another farm couple (Jay and Rochelle Eichner) who we also crop-share with.
Jacob and Ben are the farmers, brains, and physical workhorses behind HyTest, but rest assured us women contribute with creativity, different ideas (sometimes a woman’s perspective is beneficial 😉 ha!), and moral support. We also physically and mentally contribute whenever we can. After all, we embrace this way of life and are so blessed to be raising the next generation on the land we love.
So, how did Rural Soul come to be, you ask?
As our farming business has grown and developed, we have struggled to figure out exactly what our roles are. While we wholeheartedly support our husbands, we wanted “something” that was ours that embraced the lives we each are living. Before we knew it, one day we were chatting about our roles with the farm, how we could get more involved, and how (hopefully someday) we could both have more time to be with our families, help on the farm, and just maybe run a business of our own.
We asked ourselves, how do we get this “something” off the ground? We both looked at each other with an “ah-ha!” moment and said, “A blog.” This blog would be the way we could start sharing the stories that embody our lives and hearts as rural women. Thus, Rural Soul came to life.
Having to give credit where credit is due, Jacob is actually the one that came up with our tagline, “Rooted in ag, led by faith.” As soon as he said it, we said, “YES! That’s it!” The “rooted in ag” portion explains where we both come from and the values we have built our lives on. “Led by faith” is a nod to this calling God has placed on both of our hearts. Because with Him, anything is possible.
Our goal for this blog is to share our real life farm story, connect with both those that live similar and different lives to ours, and advocate for agriculture. Along the way, we’ll share a diverse and tremendous range of topics – tales of farm animals (both big and small), food and recipes, gardening stories and tips, everything to do with “home”, farm life at HyTest Ag, kiddo activities, and a look into our individual styles. And, you can bet more topics will come to mind as we start diving in!
Thank you for being here. Seriously. We are so grateful for each and every one of you. We can’t wait to get to work and start sharing with you!
Rooted in ag and led by faith,
Ellyn & Jess