MARQUETTE — A farm speckled with sandstone, a native rock in Kansas, seemingly declared its own name for one Marquette couple.
Greg and Mindy Nicholson moved to the property in 2008, where stepping on little bits of sandstone contributed to the lifestyle they live today.
"The old farm house sat on sandstone foundation and I dug it all up and saved it all," Greg Nicholson said.
"We were always hitting it (sandstone) with our mowers out in the big pasture, and when our friends and family would come out they would be like, 'Hey, we're coming out to sandstone acres.' And so it stuck," Mindy Nicholson said.
Today, Sandstone Acres is part home, part chicken farm, but the whole property is used to bring communities together through rural living.
Greg Nicholson was raised in the suburbs of Chicago for a small portion of his childhood and later moved to Salina, where he first experienced farm living.
After helping with a few projects at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Marquette, he found a love for raising birds and chickens.
"I gained some insight from Mr. Reese at the ranch and I did a little work for him building some roosting racks for his chickens," Greg Nicholson said.
Using his knowledge from the ranch, Greg Nicholson started his own flock of heritage chickens along with other breeds.
"We chose the non-aggressive breeds because some people have had negative experiences with chickens attacking them. But our chickens and roosters will come eat right out of your hand, and we wanted these so that they won't charge at our grandchildren or other children who come," Mindy Nicholson said.
The couple purchases these chickens from hatcheries out of state and raises around 175 chickens, which in turn, produce five to six dozen eggs a day.
Raising their own chickens comes with many perks, like having farm-fresh eggs every day and quick access to hormone and antibiotic free chickens to eat, which they butcher themselves.
Farm-fresh eggs from Sandstone Acres have grown in such popularity that Greg Nicholson delivers eggs every Friday to locations in Salina, McPherson, Lindsborg and Marquette.
Aside from raising quality chickens, the Nicholsons host retreats and events, as well as just sharing the serenity of the country.
"A lot of that was prompted by our own family and a lot of our friends. Its more about the experience, and coming from the youngest of five, I know how to feed a crowd and prepare for a crowd. We want people to enjoy it and relax, especially with how everything is so fast-paced today," Mindy Nicholson said.
The couple is working toward a common goal of showing their customers the ways of the farm and how their food is grown.
"We both like that teaching aspect to pass some of that on because some of it gets lost in translation," Greg Nicholson said.
At the farm, the couple also offers a variety of classes on topics that have community interest.
"I've had painting classes, I've taught them how to make egg noodles, I've had a wine tasting class and I brought my adolescent group up here and I taught them an etiquette class and they absolutely loved it," Mindy Nicholson said.
The couple are big advocates for raising their own food and are no strangers to bountiful harvests.
"Last year we didn't even grow a garden because we had a freezer full of stuff still," Mindy Nicholson laughed.
As a marriage and family therapist at Sandstone Bridge Center, LLC in Salina, Mindy Nicholson often brings her office to the farm.
"I've always loved horses and I've started utilizing them for my program as part of my private practice for equine therapy, and in doing that, we've had interest from churches other things," Mindy Nicholson said.
The homestead thrives with helping hands all around the area.
“The people within the community have been so supportive, like Piper’s Fine Foods in Marquette — they give us produce to feed our chickens. We’ve also received old pumpkins to feed the chickens too,” Mindy Nicholson said.
Even when the couple is out of town, the community steps in.
“They will come out and shut up the chickens for us. We wouldn’t be able to have what we have if it wasn’t for a lot of people contributing, that’s huge, that says a lot about this community in general,” Mindy Nicholson said.
For more information about Sandstone Acres, call 620-755-9105 or visit their website at http://ssacresfarm.com of visit their Facebook page.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.