Meet Your Merchant: Family of animal lovers run The Hay Barn
April 1, 2013
For a family that grew up in the agriculture business, surrounded by livestock, the ownership of a feed and supply store seemed like a natural fit.
Such is the case for the D'Andrades, who own and operate a Penn Valley ranch with horses, livestock and cattle, as well as The Hay Barn near Lake of the Pines in South County.
"We felt that being in the livestock industry, this would be a good business to pursue and grow with the agriculture industry in Nevada County," said Jennifer D'Andrade, who has served as a 4-H leader and Future Farmers of America member.
"My family has been involved with training and raising horses," she said. "It's been a lifelong thing being involved with animals."
The store offers hay products, organic and regular chicken feeds, cattle seeds, dog and cat food, baby chicks and pet supplies, supplied by Nutrena, Purina and Bar Ale.
The family purchased the location in June 2011 after they spotted an ad on Craigslist. The store was ready to close down, Alan D'Andrade said, and they were able to breathe new life into it. "I was excited and I thought that fits in with the realm of our lifestyle," Alan D'Andrade said. "It's actually grown quite a bit. It's part of the family now."
The passion for animals that Jennifer D'Andrade has is what makes the operations of the store so fulfilling, she said.
"I just love that with agriculture, what you put into it, you get back out of it and there's always a reward," Jennifer D'Andrade said.
Kassidy D'Andrade, 17, helps operate the store, and also shares the same passion for animals and connecting with the community as her mother.
"There's a lot of people who care about their animals and that's why we want to help people help animals," said Kassidy D'Andrade, who added that growing up on a ranch made her who she is today.
"It's made me responsible and was definitely a huge thing for me," she said. "It's a huge part of this county and making Grass Valley what it is."
Kassidy D'Andrade said she plans to follow other agricultural pursuits in the future.
"I possibly want to be a vet, or get into agribusiness," she said. "Ag is a huge thing. People don't understand — agriculture runs the world, and that's definitely why I chose that path."
Even Alan D'Andrade, originally from Los Angeles, has grown passionate about agriculture and said he fell in love with the environment after he met Jennifer in 1985.
"When I moved up here, all I knew about livestock was what I saw on TV… then I met her and thought, "Wow, this is a whole new deal' and I'm glad for it, and I wouldn't change it."
"We turned him into a country boy," Jennifer D'Andrade said.
Alan said the move to Nevada County in eighth grade was a culture shock, and in his 30 years of residence, he has seen Nevada County expand.
"I moved up here in 1979 and it was a whole different town then," Alan D'Andrade said. "You would completely think you moved out of California. It was kind of like Little House on the Prairie back then."
The change in location was for the best, he said, and so was the change to adopt the store.
"Everybody that comes in becomes like family to us and we're getting to know the community better," he said.
The experience of hard work and responsibility proved essential to raising well-rounded children, Alan D'Andrade said.
"When you live in the suburbs, the biggest chore is to take out the trash, do the dishes … on the ranch they're busy all the time, and enjoy and reap the rewards of the animals," he said. "Had they not had it, they'd still be good kids, but it teaches them good family values."
Alan said the most challenging part of the store had been exposure, but persistence pays off.
"We'll just keep doing what we're doing," Alan D'Andrade said. "As long as we're enjoying it and happy to meet new people, the challenge doesn't seem so big."
The original owners left town three days after the store was purchased, Alan D'Andrade said, with a scant supply that has since grown.
"When we bought it, it had 10 bales of hay, 50 bags of grain; now we got probably 1,000 bales of hay, acquired another warehouse, and a lot of inventory," Alan D'Andrade said. "It needed somebody to care about it and we care about it."
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.