The Troyer Family: Farming and Living with Organic Convictions
In the green pastureland of Michigan, there’s an 80-acre farm where old traditions have created new innovations. While the Troyer family has the horses, beef cattle and chickens you’d expect, the placid herd of camels might surprise you. But the healthy demand for camel milk allows the farm to make the payments and keep family farm working.
Marlin and Savannah Troyer “met cute” in a bakery, where she worked with his sister. Once he saw the shy, smiling brown-eyed girl, he had his sister ask Savannah if she was interested in a courtship leading to marriage, a tradition in their Amish culture. Nine months later, they were wed. Children followed quickly, because once they had their first, they decided to “just have them all together,” he recalls. The Troyers are the proud parents of four boys. Their two young sons, Ray and Tristan, are home-schooled and help on the farm, and they dearly remember the two sons who preceded them to heaven in 2013.
Marlin was born in La Grange, Indiana, like his parents, who have Swiss-German roots. When he was three, the family first moved to Montana where they learned the trade of Log Homes which they brought to MI in 1987, so Marlin grew up with his 10 siblings as hard workers who loved animals. Now one of Marlin’s brothers, and Savannah’s sister and her husband help on the farm, making it an idyllic family farm setting.
Marlin loved interaction with animals his whole life. He began working with horses at 12, then training them at 14. After becoming a licensed contractor and developing his own supply business for log cabins and selling rustic log furniture, he was ready to devote more time to animals. He bought three camels from a friend which introduced him to camels, Marlin soon ended up becoming the second person to milk camels for US commercial use as (Camel Milk Association). “My start was based off my love for animals and the lifestyle they give you. I know the wisdom of niche markets and knew that’s where I would work in my whole life. I’ve drunk all kinds of raw animal milks, like many Amish people. It made sense to me that if you’re going to have and train them, you’d milk them too.”
In addition to drinking camel and goat, cow milks, his own family eats a health-enhanced version of the typical American diet. “Steak, potatoes, homemade baked goods, foods from the garden. We freeze and can our own fruits, meats, vegetables, all of it. Do our own chickens, meat and eggs, and we have a herd of beef cows and Highlander cattle.” Marlin bought a white-faced buffalo to cross with his beef cattle and breed ‘beefalo’. The busy family also makes it own applesauce, grape juice and cider. “We don’t buy out of the store like most people do. We get paper products, cleaners, non-food items, but also pasta and things we don’t make. Our goal is to eat real food and stay away from aspartame and processed foods with coloring and all the junk in it, high fructose corn syrup and things.”
While Marlin ran his furniture/log home supply store, he met his first child with autism. “The kid was bouncing off my brand-new furniture, but I could see something was wrong. He made strange noises, darted around the store and refused to make eye contact with anybody. Whenever the dad tried to do something, the kid would calm down for a minute but go right back to it. Dad was embarrassed but I could see how hard he was trying. I never got onto the son for his behavior--I just let dad do his thing. The dad became a repeat customer. Over time I saw the boy improve, but he was still mostly very autistic.”
After the Troyers left the Amish for the Mennonite church in 2011, technology became more accessible to Marlin. “When I got the internet, and got into camel milk, I got a crash course on autism,” he says. “It is a gut-brain connection and linked to the digestive tract. I tell people it’s a neurological problem that they cannot focus and develop naturally. They get into mental reverse and lose skills.”
Camel milking has become Marlins mission. “I always wanted to do something with animals, but also had medical interests. Right now I’m in the local fire department, and planning to be an EMT. I wanted to be like a doctor or something, and the camel milk is ending up fulfilling both those desires.”
He enjoys making a difference in his customers’ lives. “When a mom calls up crying for joy because her baby said I love you, mom, for the first time in two years, what are you going to do? I mean, you’re going to cry, too. They never knew the kid could even sing a song, and then he sings three in one day. It’s all about the cause for me now.”
You can find them on their web site at www.camelmilkforsale.com.
Gods Blessings to each of you!
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