I get lots of questions about the origin of the farm name, “Willow Lea Stock Farm”.  Some people have even asked if my name is “Willow”, or  “Lea”.  Funny, since I am SO not willow-y.  The true story is that years ago, when I was starting to sell our beef at the retail level, I needed to come up with a name for the new business venture.  Our farm didn’t really have “a name”, no big signs out in the front yard and no names painted on our equipment, the farm just operated as a sole proprietorship under my husband’s name.  I started my search knowing that I wanted something that sounded pleasant and if possible, to tie in some of the history of the area, since both sides of my husband’s family have  been here for generations, one side since the 1840’s.

The first person that I went to for ideas was my mother-in-law, who is very knowledgeable about local history and has even written two books on our village and the surrounding area.  I asked her about any names that were used in the past for the farms that we currently operate and found out that the beautiful farm that my in-laws now live on, located on a road named for my mother-in-law’s family and where the majority of our cattle pasture is located, was once called “Spring Hill Farm”.  Pleasant sounding and historical, yes, but unfortunately there happens to be a large shopping mall by the same name not too far away.  Shopping mall…not exactly the image I was going for.

However, our home farm, where my husband and I now live, about a mile away from my in-laws, was once called “Willow Street Stock Farm”.  Better, but wouldn’t be logical since Willow Street no longer exists.  When the power company came through in the 1930’s many of the area roads were renamed for local residents and this road now bears the name of my husband’s father’s family.  So, we changed the word “Street” to the rhyming “Lea” (pronounced “Lee”), which is an old-fashioned word for pasture or meadow.  Seems like the only people who are familiar with this word are crossword puzzle geeks, um, I mean enthusiasts, like myself.  The word ties in nicely since there is a huge willow tree prominent in the pasture at our other farm.  So, in the end we were able to find a name with historical reference and one that is descriptive and pleasant.  At least I hope so, we’re stuck with it now!