Rural Missouri - June 2018 - 20
The Queen of
Moon Dance Farm
Nothing gets farmer Jane Parres down
by Heather Berry | email@example.com
Jane Parres owns Moon Dance Farm
in Owensville, home to "happy allnatural grass-fed Angus cows and
chatty, friendly egg-layin' hens."
ane Parres recalls the day in 2009 as if it was yesterday. She
had been living on the family farm in Owensville to help her
mother, who was dying.
"She hadn't spoken for days," Jane says. "As I held her in my
arms, she opened her eyes and whispered, 'Jane, promise me you'll take
care of the farm', and then she took her last breath."
While farming had been part of her family DNA since the Revolutionary War, Jane admits she was pretty much a city gal and extremely
unsuited for life on the farm.
Undaunted, Jane was intent on living up to the promise she'd
made her mother.
For nearly a decade, Moon Dance Farm has gained recognition among buyers in search of a local source for all-natural, grass-fed Angus beef and fresh
eggs from chickens who get the run of the farm.
The hormone-free beef is mainly sold in large quantities to restaurants such as
Public House Brewing Company in St. James and Sub Zero Vodka Bar in St. Louis.
"According to Chef Gabe at Public House, the top three sellers on the menu are
burgers made with our beef," Jane says proudly. "Happy cows just taste better."
"I had tried to get Mom to move to my home in St. Louis, but she absolutely
would not leave the farm," says Jane, who also had health issues during the
time of her mother's illness. An accident 17 years prior left Jane in a wheelchair
with doctors giving her no hope of walking again. Despite the prognosis, the
4-foot, 7-inch tall woman kept searching until she found a doctor who believed
otherwise. After ﬁve leg surgeries and years of physical therapy, Jane was walking again with the aid of a cane.
"So here I was, no real knowledge about farming and barely walking, trying to
help my dying mother," recalls the Crawford Electric Cooperative member. "We've
had farmers in every generation of our family, but it wasn't my life's dream. If
you'd have asked me right then, I would have told you I thought cows would bite
you. That's how much I knew about farm living."
To honor her mother's last request, Jane closed her successful St. Louis nanny
business and moved to the farm. "I'd inherited 126 acres, 17 cows and an old farmhouse, and I thought 'Now what do I do?' "
Friends and neighboring cattle farmers, Roger and Carleen Hinson, had helped
Jane's mother over the years with the farm and Jane was grateful Roger was there
once again, helping her learn the ropes.
"When Jane needed a break, I'd go over on the Gator and get her to ride around the
farm with me while I checked cattle just to get Jane's mind off things," Roger recalls.
Jane laughs. "He'd point out things like a newborn calf or eagle ﬂying overhead
and all I heard was 'wah wah wah.' One day I started paying attention to the beauty he
pointed out. Soon I realized he'd also been getting me up and moving more each day so I
would get stronger, too. It was a sneaky plan - but it worked."
Roger says Jane was soon driving the big tractor across ﬁelds and working the cows,
and he only helped when some heavy lifting was needed. With Roger's mentoring, Jane grew
her mom's little herd to around 150 head of cattle. She established a paddock grazing system
where the cattle could easily be moved from one area to another without becoming stressed.
"I thought my city friends would hate coming out here, but they love it," Jane says. The name,
Moon Dance Farm, came about after a party she hosted. "The moon was shining big and bright and
somebody dancing outside said, 'Ahh, this is like moon dance farm,' and the name just stuck."
A major illness last spring nearly had Jane selling it all, lock, stock and barrel. "What I thought
was food poisoning turned into a surgery with complications," says the tough 67 year old. Her heart
failed while on the operating table. "I came home from the hospital after 22 days and told Roger I
wasn't sure I could keep the farm."
Not about to let his neighbor give up that easily, Roger said, "Why don't we become partners?"
The plan he laid before Jane made sense. These days, Roger stops by Jane's house nearly every
day to chat about what's going on around the farm. He talks about fences he's ﬁxing and gates
that need hung. Jane discusses her next beef delivery and getting the invoicing done.
"Thankfully Moon Dance Farm is a success, and if it grows through another generation, how
wonderful," says Jane. Her friends call Jane the "Queen of Moon Dance Farm." Jane simply calls
herself a "farm-HER."
"A farm is a lot of work on any level," she adds. "But if I can go to bed at night and know I made
progress because things are better than they were when I started today, then I'm good."
You may email Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow Moon Dance Farm on Facebook.
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2018