Ellen Mohler, Mulberry Lane Farm, supplements their small farm income with homemade baking and greenhouse plant sales, along with farm fresh eggs from their 100 chickens.
There is a reason why Ellen Mohler bakes dozens of sweet-smelling cinnamon rolls every week, gathers eggs and feeds chickens every day and works countless hours in her greenhouse at Mulberry Lane Farm near Sawyer. It's because she has hope that someday making a living on a the farm won't be so hard and she will look back knowing her efforts helped keep their small farm in the family.
"We farm just a little less than 1,000 acres," she said. "These days that's just not enough to support a family."
Ellen and Dennis Mohler, and two of their three children, live on a farm that has been in Ellen's family for four generations. Dennis, does most of the farming (crops and cattle) when he is not at his other full-time job, driving truck. Both are glad when he can get home for night. Both are not afraid of a little hard work, but both look forward to the day when the days won't be so full.
Ellen Mohler has worked a variety of off-the-farm jobs herself, including as a clerk at Skagg's, baker at Daylight Donuts, and restaurant positions, but four years ago she made a choice to stay home and find a way to make money utilizing her talents there. She started the Mulberry Lane Greenhouse, Garden Center and Farm Market and sells plants, shrubs, eggs, jelly, honey, noodles, home-baked goods and many other items associated with home-grown, hand-made or off-the-farm.
"I like being here in case someone needs me," she said. "I'd like to say I love it because I make my own schedule, but the schedule kind of makes me."
Mohler's success in selling produce from her 1-acre garden, hoop houses, 1-acre patch of sweet corn and 100 chickens depends on her customers.
"I can sell 40 dozens eggs a week," she said. "But I've found customers want convenience. They won't always come out to the farm, so I deliver."
Mohler is also a familiar face at local Farmer's Market venues like the Pratt Indoor Farmer's Market that will take place one more time at the Municipal Building on April 14. After that, booth sales will likely move outdoors to the Merchant Park location.
Though Mohler's gardening and eggs have brought in steady income for the family, it's her baking that has really taken off and demands more and more time.
"I bake every week for N'Cahoots and deliver there on Friday's," she said. "I take special orders and bake for personal customers on Mondays, delivering on Tuesday mornings."
Some favorite homemade items emerging from each week include cinnamon rolls, bread bowls and blueberry pancake bread.
"I can't make enough of the blueberry pancake bread," she said. "The customers just love that. It goes very quick."
Mohler uses her own eggs in her cooking as well as any garden produce that might work in that way. She buys all other items as local as possible.
"I do buy a lot of blueberries," she said. "I just have to get those at the grocery store."
One special item that doesn't require a trip to the grocery store is sour dough bread that Mohler makes from starter she got 28 years ago when back home in Virginia, where her husband is from and she has distant relatives.
"I use an original recipe for that," she said.
Not all things are traditional at Mulberry Lane Farm however. In the greenhouse, Mohler loves to trial new varieties of plants, searching to find those best suited to production in western Kansas.
"This year I have 60 different type of tomatoes," she said. "Every year I take some off the list that don't work out and try something new."
In addition to the traditional Jet Star, BeefSteak and hybrid varieties of tomato plants started she has those that will bear yellow, purple fruit, and even a Pink Berkly Tie Dye variety that will have stripes.
"It's a lot of work," she said. "But I guess we are just die-hard farmers. We have no plans to give up."
Mulberry Lane Farm is located at 90315 SE. 30th Ave. just a short drive south of Pratt on highway 281 to Sawyer. Order for baked goods, farm-fresh eggs, baked goods and plants can be placed on their Facebook page, Mulberry Lane Greenhouse, Garden Center & Farm Market. Open hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.