I sliced the last remaining pieces of the fresh baked loaf that Reuben gave the kids for their lunch, noticing the perfect crust and the delicate, chewiness of this Honey Wheat Sourdough Bread. The perfect loaf of bread again graced our table. But it didn’t happen without struggle and sacrifice.

As Reuben forced himself out of bed at 1:30 am to restock the brick oven with wood, I wondered if he was meditating on suffering at that moment or if the ideas came to him later.

Suffering causes ripple affects in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Follow me down this path for a moment.

Our wood isn’t burning well because it is wet.
The wood is wet because it rained and snowed and rained this week.
And because we didn’t cover it.
We didn’t cover it because we weren’t home last weekend.
And because or farm help, including 3 of our young adult children, are away for a few weeks.
We weren’t home last weekend because we drove to Indiana to be with family for an unexpected funeral.

As painful as a death in the family can be, even a loaf of bread can teach us that good comes from suffering.


“You know, the best bread is made with love, attention and sacrifice.” Reuben said to me as we ate lunch together. “You don’t get perfect, nutrient dense bread without those ingredients.”

Of the thousands of loaves of bread that come out of our brick oven – some aren’t as good as Reuben would like. Often it’s because “the baker” hasn’t paid enough attention to the conditions that affect the bread.

The art of sourdough bread making tests your skills every time as the temperature of the bakery, the brick oven, the wood and so many factors combine to make the nuances of baking interesting and the experience fulfilling as you pull out perfect loaves from the oven. Every bake is different.

Baking amazing bread can’t be just a job or a task. If it is, there won’t be enough love for the bread, the bread eaters, the process or the quality of ingredients to consistently bake perfect bread.

The willingness to sacrifice sleep and the comfort of a warm bed to pursue the perfect loaf of brick oven sourdough bread is quite a characteristic.

But that slice of bread is so worth it.

Something good comes from suffering and sacrifice.

It may be small, like a slice of fresh baked bread.

Or it may be something more significant.

The goodness that comes may be hidden from our eyes for a time.

But goodness, truth and beauty always result. Every time. Watch for it.


Moving Forward Toward A Sustainable Farm Bakery

Reuben and I talk often about the sufferings and sacrifices in our farming and family life. As we get older, our goal is to work smarter and ask for the right kind of help to assist us in growing our business for the next generation.

We’ve trained two daughters, a son in law and several friends how to make our organic, farm made, brick oven sourdough bread. Each time the investment to teach them and see them grow in their skills is worth it. Now they teach others sourdough baking  and other skills for the sustainable home.

Our Next Farm Baker Will Shape the Future

To take our farm bakery to the next level we are looking for someone with experience in sourdough baking, a solid grasp of business, familiarity with the challenges of retail food, and the drive to contribute by bringing in their own ideas for growth and expansion.

We see this as a year-round, long-term position that aligns with our farm’s values, fostering sustainable growth and offering abundant opportunities for the motivated baker joining our team.

How to Apply to Join the Willow Haven Farm Bakery

  1. Read the job description here .
  2. If you are intrigued, you’ll read more to learn about our farm and our values.
  3. Then, email your inquiry and resume to farmer@willowhavenfarmpa.com

Willow Haven Farm Baker Job Description

As Always…

We support your desire to have a good, healthy way of life and food on your table that supports that goal.


We’ll keep farming for you!
Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

Perfect Loaf, Imperfect Sacrifice: Sourdough Wisdom for A Sustainable Life 2