Over in Elkton sit three chicken houses flanked by little shade structures on a plot of land that can only be described as the classic eastern Rockingham view -- wide open skies, blue-green mountains in the distance, tall trees anchored to the earth by history itself. It’s the Phillip Coblenz farm, established a mere 8 years ago. But Phil’s experience with farming started way earlier than that. His family moved to Brazil when he was 7 as part of a group of farming missionaries. He and his brothers grew 300 acres of corn and soybeans. When he was 23, he moved back to Ohio, his home state, got married, and started working in construction, building gas stations. But the old adage “once a farmer, always a farmer” frequently tugged at him, and when Phil and Jeanie decided to move to the Valley with their church, they bought a farm in Elkton. Today the entire family -- Phil, Jeanie, and their 3 kids -- pitches in when it’s time to get ready for new chicks. Jay and Jeanie help Phil with most of the chicken house walk-throughs, while Phil adjusts the drinkers and makes sure the thermostat is working to keep the chickens comfortable, deals with equipment maintenance and the like. Phil switched to SVO not long ago because he felt he had no voice growing for the bigger company, and he didn’t appreciate forced upgrades that were neither necessary nor helpful in growing a better bird. Another farmer told Phil about SVO, and he made the leap. When not farming, the family loves to go to the park and play disc golf together. They also love to go down to the river for some fishing, walk in the woods, and spend time with their pets.

Lynda Bostrom