After getting out of the Navy, Joe Isbell managed the Richmond City Farm until its closing in 1950. In 1951 Joe and Kathleen Isbell purchased the 175 acres the farm sits on today. All that was on the property was an old 2 story wood house that they could see daylight in between the boards, and an old corn crib. Joe still prides himself on designing the new farm house we still use today that he constructed back in 1956.
Most of the land was covered in woods, so pasture and crop land was limited. Joe and Keen constructed hen houses for laying hens, eventually having a production of over 100,000 dozen eggs a year. (Eddie spent many long hours sleeping as a child in a milk crate while Joe and Keen washed eggs). Joe had an egg route in Richmond that he ran 3 times a week, in addition to providing eggs to Virginia Dairy.
In the 1970s Keenbell Farm began to furrow pigs, and had a feeder pig operation of 500 head, though all while maintaining a beef cattle operation. When the hog market fell under in the 1980s we focused on the cattle operation, hay, and other crops. Such as corn, wheat, barley, and soybeans.
Although the farm has undergone many changes throughout the years, which has enabled the farm to continue to be around today. Many farms were not so successful and fell under in the 1980s. Joe was able to retire in 1998, even though he has yet to quit working.
Over the years, we have continued a small hay operation off a few acres, while the rest of the land was leased to a fellow farmer. In 2005, we started renovations on the farm to resurrect the farm from mother earth whom has taken its toll on her over the years. Slowly we converted back land that had been leased out to a conventional grain farmer, and put it back into pasture for our natural meat operation and started growing specialty non-gmo grains in particular food grade heritage varieties. Now we personally farm 350 acres, with that acreage split between our livestock and specialty grains. Our standards are in line with certified natural/organic, and work to be on the cutting edge of conservation practices for which we have won several awards. If it were not for the help and support from our family and friends all of this would not have been possible. Thanks most of all to Joe, and Kathleen whose blessing allowed us to begin this journey.
Lots more history and relics can be found in our Farm Store.