As told by Jessica Robinson
My parents started their maple syrup business with a tiny shack we renovated into a sugarhouse. It served its purpose well for many years, but eventually, we outgrew the space and built a much larger building. The old sugarhouse lay dormant on our property for years, until my dad and I decided to try our hand at raising chickens. We repurposed the building into a chicken coop for our new fledgling flock of laying hens. As a little girl, I vividly remember baby chicks arriving in the mail each spring in a brown cardboard box. Their sweet little chirps brought tremendous excitement to my brother and me.
One of my daily chores was to walk out to our humble chicken coop and collect freshly laid eggs in my tattered red Gingham apron. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a small commercial kitchen in my parent’s sugarhouse. In that kitchen, we used our own fresh eggs to create batch after batch of homemade goodness. On a weekly basis, my mom would use the eggs from our chickens to build her small baking business. Bringing homemade deliciousness to local neighbors brought us both enormous joy. Moist jelly roll cakes dusted in powdered sugar were some of my mother’s best confections. Some of my fondest memories are the sweet heavenly smells that filled that small kitchen.
My hardworking mother and grandmothers passed down their handwritten heirloom recipes, homesteading skills, and tremendous knowledge to me. And it was the influence of these very talented women that helped mold and shape me into what I am today: a motivated, strong woman, creating recipes to inspire other home cooks. Fresh from the farm was a lifestyle my parents instilled in me. Today, my husband and I continue to pass down these same values and traditions to our young boys on our homestead in North Carolina. And if we’re lucky, they’ll pass them down to the generations to come.
Cookbook author and blogger Jessica Robinson lives on a farm with her family near Graham, North Carolina. Her latest book, A Farmgirl’s Table, is available at bookstores now. Visit her blog afarmgirlskitchen.com for more stories and recipes.