Meet our family! We recently made the front cover of Orchard Living Magazine that makes it to the mailboxes of every family living in the Piney Orchard community. I have posted the article on our website for everyone to read. We thought it captured our years together quite nicely and a short recap of what has kept us busy in this crazy train called life. Super grateful for this opportunity!
All Photos taken by NinaK Photography
May 2023 Edition of Orchard Living
By Alycia Edwards - Best Version Media
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sharlee Fleshman found herself "frozen in time and disconnected." She worked in marketing at the time for a country music artist; obviously, everything came to a screeching halt. She reflects, "Thankfully, my husband, daughter, and son stayed healthy, but I lost income and business as a graphic designer as everything was shut down. So, I refocused on my kids...and we made the best of it."
Sharlee, her husband Mike, daughter Devyn (now 13), and son Reece (now 11), spent their days doing nature projects such as raising tadpoles and monarch butterflies, gardening, entomology, and hiking. Sharlee remembers, "We spent a lot of time with our animals- dogs, cats, rabbits, horse, mini pony, mini donkey, pigs, goats, and chickens. I truly believe they were our saving grace. Financially, we struggled to keep up with so many mouths to feed and with me not really bringing any income in."
The Fleshmans received many requests during this time from family and friends to visit the farm since it was one of the only activities everyone could do safely. From there, the idea came about to start a business offering tours of the farm. Sharlee says, "I guess in an odd way, the pandemic slowed us down, made us regroup, refocus, and opened other doorways."
Sharlee is no stranger to entrepreneurship. After many years as a veterinary technician, she opened Tenderpaws Doggie Daycare in 2005. In 2010, she founded Sharlee Fleshman Design, focusing on graphic design, which she still keeps active now. She added Jaynie's Love in 2015, which creates custom, sand-carved glassware. As if that was not enough, Sharlee became certified as a Pure Barre fitness instructor in 2021, and recently became certified as Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher. Finally, in August 2022, she officially turned their Anne Arundel County mini farm into a business, Dragonfly Acres Farm (dragonflyacresfarm.com), where they provide interactive/educational tours on their private property. Sharlee smiles, "Everyone can come interact with our donkey, pony, horse, pigs, goats, and chickens. We are currently manifesting for a cow!"
The Fleshmans live in Forks of the Patuxent; their development is over 100 years old. "We live on five acres in Mike's grandmother’s 1929 farm house. This house is extremely special to our family, as Mike has lived there since 1997 when his grandmother passed away. They were very close, and we can truly still feel her good energy in the home. Though we did renovations, we still kept its farmette charm. We are surrounded by 26 acres of family-owned land; Mike's parents live next door, and his aunt next to them. Our roots run deep!"
Mike and Sharlee met through a coworker 24 years ago. They went to a 1970's themed work party for their first date and have been together ever since. They welcomed Devyn about a decade later. Devyn is an avid equestrian who has been riding since she was six years old. She has a beloved horse named Dekota who she shows, along with other horses, in the spring, summer and fall. Additionally, Devyn plays the flute for the Arundel Middle School band; perhaps her musical inclination comes from her father Mike, who used to sing in a band!
Nineteen months after welcoming Devyn, Reece completed the Fleshman family. Reece's chosen sport is Taekwondo, which he started at age seven. He has achieved his red belt and is working toward his black belt. Reece is a proud member of Voung's Martial Arts Competitive Team and competes in many tournaments throughout the year. He also has a passion for planes, military aircrafts, and photography.
The Fleshman family motto: Stay humble, be kind. Their sweet family horse has a recent injury which has put him out of work; the Fleshmans need to fund him living with them for his one year rehabilitation. This means more housing, fencing, food and care, as he usually boards at the barn. Help them out by visiting their farm and sharing their growing business with the community. More information is available at dragonflyacresfarm.com.