Green Hay Barn’s Farm Family Has Historic Roots
It’s a generational thing – a family whose personal history is dominated by a farm and a Maple Valley community that chooses the same farm since the 1940’s to accommodate their animal care and feeding. Although not officially its name, the farm food locale on Lake Francis Road was commonly referred to back in the old days as The Green Hay Barn.
Ken and Faye Greenleaf seemed to have chosen the barn’s color as a memory trick to coordinate with their family name. The size of the original farm is unknown by the current owners, one of whom is a Greenleaf grandchild, Joleen. The original property is divided now among family members and others but a green barn still proudly sits on a 2½ acre piece of property. It is where Joleen’s mom and dad, Irv and Sandy Sheriff, also operated the business. Aunt Peggy has 2½ acres there, while Cousin Sara and Joleen’s brother, Willy, each have five.
Joleen is a grandchild, part of the third generation who appreciates everything The Green Hay Barn has had to offer including country lifestyle and “my ability to provide for family plus spend time with the kids.” She has operated the business for 12 years, since acquisition in 2005. Her husband Ian, who works for the police academy in Burien does not have a farm background. He is, however, a family gardener. It’s a talent accommodating the barn’s sale next month of “flower and veggie starts for a very reasonable price.”
The Greenleaf family youngsters have attended Tahoma School District through three generations that include Sandy Greenleaf Sheriff; Sandy’s children, Willy and Joleen Sheriff who is a 2003 THS graduate; and now in the fourth Maple Valley Greenleaf generation there are Joleen’s children in the district. Six-year old Cutter is enrolled at Shadow Lake Elementary School. He is hopefully aware of great farm family stories for “Show-and-Tell.” Maggy, age 14, and 12-year old Browdy attend Tahoma Junior High School, “just up the road” from their farm and Lake Francis Ballpark.
“Way back when” in Grandpa and Grandma Greenleaf’s time, it was an era before horses were homed in backyards, when dogs and cats were kept outdoors, and when birds attended to their own survival tactics. Today’s Green Hay Barn is the past. The store is now called Iron Horse Hay and Feed where “Pets are always welcome on leashes.” Delivery of loads of grain and hay bales are still on the agenda, but additional features include attending to both large and very small pets like the Chihuahua, and owners who no longer rely on family meal leftovers as their pet food. Customers prefer to purchase healthier diets like the store’s grain free dog food. Iron Horse supplies horse and cow feed, bedding, poultry, dog and cat food, stove pellets, starter chicks and garden plants. “It’s where the locals go,” says Joleen.
Like a picky finicky kid, even backyard birds are ‘pecky’. Local birds seem impressed with such niceties as the Iron Horse suet named P’nuttier and even Wild Cherry that has a humanly edible smell. A current customer and bird favorite is Woodpecker suet. Attracting the larger-sized birds, Woodpecker is a snack not easily found in more traditional pet food aisles. Joleen calls her suet, “Probably the cheapest entertainment around.” Posted in the store is a sign, “Suet – 99 cents.” This month the store has been consumed with the prolific peeping of baby chicks, box loads of which Browdy helped his mother retrieve from the post office. Browdy also works to load and unload hay bales, bedding and grain deliveries and he greets and directs customers. “My kids have to work for everything,” according to mom. “This place allows me to teach a good work ethic.” All her children have actually grown up within the store. As a baby, Browdy took his naps in a dog bed in front of the fireplace. “He’s pretty knowledgeable,” mom said.
So how likely is it that a fourth generation would continue the Greenleaf family Green Hay Barn? Joleen admits, “I don’t push it.” Ask Browdy what he wants to be when he grows up. His answer is quick and emphatic, “the NFL.”