Tahlequah native Kelsey Gibson of LYH Farmstead came to her first day of the Tahlequah Farmers' Market - opening day this season - with an assortment of handmade crafts and a small menagerie.
While her adorable baby pigs and goats didn't make a repeat appearance due to proximity of fresh produce and the possibility of E. coli, her crochet items, handmade soaps, shampoo, beeswax wraps, and seeded paper have.
"I've seen the city really grow through my life and I'm excited to see what is to come," said Gibson, who has been homesteading for three years.
A small garden and 10 chickens quickly progressed to ducks, and then came the goats.
"And basically turning every bit of extra space into room for growing vegetables or raising animals," Gibson said. "I've always wanted tons of animals and a huge garden, but never had the room where I lived as a kid to have more than the basic dogs and cats."
Now she does.
"I have a soft heart for rescue animals. I have had numerous rescue and foster dogs come through my house to find new homes," said Gibson.
Three of her four dogs are rescues, one she got from the Cherokee County Humane Society more than a decade ago. More recent acquisitions are two rescue horses from kill lots in western Oklahoma.
When Gibson bought a house in 2015, planning and growing a little farmstead began in earnest.
This year, she is growing heirloom tomatoes, a variety of different colored habanero peppers, burgundy okra, herbs and edible flowers. She said she has high hopes for the peach tree in the front yard, which is loaded with peaches this year.
"Every year, we plant tons of seeds and weed out the weak plants as we go along. Most of the time what we grow depends on what sprouts out and flourishes the best. This year, the tomatoes, peppers, okra, and peaches just grew like crazy," she said.
Gibson learned to crochet from a great-grandmother, but she learned pretty much everything else by reading and watching YouTube videos.
"I've always liked to make things with my hands and having multiple crafts keeps me busy. I also like the sustainability aspect of it," Gibson said.
Making her own soaps and shampoo has made the entrepreneur much more knowledgeable about the products people on their bodies and the impact they have on the environment.
"By making my own I can control those things and try to make them as sustainable as possible. That's the reason I started making paper; I couldn't find a wrapping for my soaps that I liked, so I made my own," she said.
Along with discovering a place where her crafts are welcomed, Gibson is finding her place at the bi-weekly market.
"I love the community aspect of it. The organizers of the market are some of the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They are bringing a major service to Tahlequah and surrounding areas with the Farmers' Market," she said.
A goal for Gibson is to buy a home with more land and barns for her animals in the next three to five years. At the moment, she is just taking things one step at a time.
"I will be doing craft fairs around Tahlequah and the Farmers' Market on Saturdays into October, and then I'm actually thinking about taking a break until the nursery work starts next spring to build up stock and regroup for the next market season," she said.