Bulldog came home with us from the hill country yesterday. He was loaded up with a heavy heart by our dear friend Travis from S Bar T Livestock. They have a special bond with him and have been all over the country showing him with great success. Out of the kindness of their heart they have allowed us to take their beloved bulldog to the green pastures of the Barry farm. He is the biggest addition to our breeding program and will make Houston’s best lamb even better.
At the beginning of this month the New York Times ran an Op-Ed entitled “Don’t let your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers“. Written by Bren Smith, a farmer from New Haven, CT, the op ed piece is pessimistic in tone and explicitly lays out some of the obstacles to making a living in agriculture. Smith discusses the negatives including economic disadvantages, the governmental bias toward large farms, market forces against the farmer, and even the young food movement. This is not a new narrative is it? Many books, country music songs, bumper stickers, presidential speeches and T shirts are designed to remind the non agrarian just how grateful they should be for the hard working farmer and his struggle. The early and long hours, the low pay and the physical risks of operating the actual farm are very real but what farmer doesn’t know the job description before he signs up for this lifestyle.
To rebut this article a second article came out quickly afterward in The Huffington Post entitled “Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers” written by Jenna Woginrich. This article was quick to take the opposite view and point out the other dominant farming narrative adopted by the eating public. This narrative is hi lighted in super bowl ads, by Farm Aid, and Chipotle which romanticizes farming to an extreme that is often not a reality on the farm. The romantic farm and farmer story line is the kind typically used to sell you things and is almost always used in a slant to say how healthy a lifestyle we farmers lead and facilitate. Animals are pictured at their best and seen as loving toward their farmer, and plants are always pristine and wholesome. She writes about her relationship with nature and contrast her experience against “corporations” while suggesting that they are somehow at the root of all that is evil in our culture.
On the heels of these two articles almost every Houston area small farmer joined in on the debate to clarify the errors in these articles and suggest why one was better that the other. The articles were very successful in encouraging debate and dialogue which in the end is always a terrific thing. As for this farmer I held off my opinion until I could wrap my head around the commentary. In my gut was this little tension almost instantly to both articles after reading them saying “I don’t agree with that” and “that’s not the whole story” neither of them describe my feelings to what farming and agriculture has come to be in my own family. Instead I thought that the truth has to lay somewhere between romanticism and woe, especially if the world has a shred of normal left in it. Who can live their lives at the edges of these realities and be a functional citizen….Noone, so why are we using them as the argument to prove our points of view. Here is the reality as this farmer sees it; you are not incorrect to see farmers as hardworking and sacrifical because we very much live our lives that way. You would also be correct to assume that we view ourselves as guardians of the natural world and in partnership with nature. The twist is we are these people simultaneously opperating as both corporate and unique, natural and man made, strong and compassionate, independent and communal all at the same time. Farming does not have the market cornered on risky business ventures that require physical labor and long hours. However we do have a unique and admirable quality that we are comfortable in both of these areas. Most of us farmers don’t really care what profession our children choose because we are not bound at the extremes the way these article would suggest. If my children end up analytical and running a business based in finance it would not be foreign to our experience in farming. On the other hand if my children choose to be an artist and teaching the world to see each other and nature through a different lens it would be equally as important and valued by us as parents.
So to insist farming is not worth doing because it doesn’t make money or to rebut that thinking with the american gothic – life is beautiful- barefoot chasing butterflies farmer are both wrong. Believe that farmers are needed, unique and very talented and quite possible the most even keeled person you’ve never meet. Then ask us what we think we should “let” our children be when they grow up. Our answer will be simply this; because of this farm my children have learned to wear the hat of the CEO and carry the pen of the writer therefore they will be successful in what ever they choose. Their perspective is sharp, their process honed and their hearts wide open. My children are already farmers.
Well after much deliberation Renee and I have decided that it may be time to participate in the farmers markets. The farm is always open and we absolutely love to have families, friends and customers come to the farm to tour and purchase our products so please come visit us in Needville. When you come bring your family and your cameras as it is an interesting place for sure. But in every farms journey there is a need for a regular retail outlet and the next step in our growth is to visit our Ft. Bend County Markets and this week we will be in Fulshear at the Forever Fulshear Farmers market . Wish us luck. It is a big commitment for the family to give up Saturdays for all of us to be off the farm, but meeting your neighbors and engaging our community of eaters in in our Holisti-goal so here we go.
Here is a link to connect with their facebook page for times, location and more details. https://www.facebook.com/foreverfulshear
Stop by and see your farmers !
We do get lots of questions about our cured products like bacon and ham. The barry farm farmers have run the gambit with bacon particularly with nitrate/nitrite to no nitrates added to regular pink salt cured. Below is an except from an article on a blog called Carb Wars entitled Rethinking Bacon and the best way to cook it. I’m pretty sure they did a better job than I could with explaining the debate. Currently now when customers ask my opinion i say that I think there are 2 reasonable options. 1. country bacon (which is just sliced belly) or 2. Regular cured bacon. To dabble in the in between doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but can be done, but be prepared to be marketed too in that middle. Where you have fears companies are poised to make dollars.
“The basis for our fear of cured meats rests on some misconceptions about the nature of nitrites/nitrates. Did you know that one serving of arugula, two servings of butterhead lettuce, or four servings of celery contain the same amount of nitrites as 468 servings of bacon? Or that the saliva in your mouth contains more than any of them?
Our own saliva provides 80 percent of our total exposure to nitrites and vegetables are our main source of nitrites from foods. This is not surprising considering that nitrites occur naturally in plants as a result of the nitrogen cycle where nitrogen is fixed by bacteria. The soil and everything that grows in it is full of nitrogen and the air we breath is 78% nitrogen.
To see if people could be getting too many nitrites from vegetables, the Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain of the EFSA (European Safety Authority) compiled the results from 20 its member states and Norway on the nitrite levels in produce. The report was published in the June 5, 2008, EFSA Journal. Here are some of the average levels they found: arugula, 4,677 ppm (parts per million); butter head lettuce, 2,026 ppm; beets, 1,279 ppm; celery, 1,103 ppm; hot dogs or processed meat, 10 ppm. (1)
So why the bad rap for bacon? Back in the ’50s, some babies were sickened by formula made with contaminated well water. The effect was blamed on the high concentration of nitrites in the wells and the EPA set its Maximum Contaminant Level for nitrate in water at 44 mg/L based on the findings. The nitrate in the offending wells came from fecal contamination. It is now thought that the problem was not caused by nitrates but by the fecal bacteria that infected the infants. (2)
In the 1970s, a small study of rats done at MIT started the nitrites-cause-cancer scare. The National Academy of Sciences reviewed the scientific data in 1981 and found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers. Since then, more than 50 studies have investigated a possible link and found no association. Even more surprising, scientific evidence is building that nitrates are actually good for us. They are produced in our bodies in greater amounts than we eat in food and nitrate is important for maintaining healthy immune and cardiovascular systems. It is being studied as a treatment for high blood pressure, heart attacks, sickle cell disease, and circulatory problems. Some researchers argue that the strength of the evidence linking the consumption of nitrates/nitrites to health benefits supports the consideration of these compounds as nutrients. (3)
“The public perception is that nitrite/nitrate are carcinogens, but they are not. …If nitrite and nitrate were harmful to us, then we would not be advised to eat green leafy vegetables or swallow our own saliva….”~~Dr. Nathan Bryan, Ph.D., the University of Texas, Houston, whose research has unveiled many beneficial effects of nitrite
“It is undisputed that nitrate ingestion widens arteries. Bacteria in the mouth and gut reduce nitrate to nitrite, which is then converted by nitric oxide synthase into the endothelium-derived relaxing factor nitric oxide. That is why sublingual nitrate can resolve an episode of angina pectoris. There is also some evidence that nitrate reduces blood pressure.” (4)
So what about those expensive nitrite-free, uncured hot dogs, bacon, and hams being sold as healthful alternatives? They use natural sources like celery, beets, and sea salt for the same chemical and some of them have more of it than conventionally cured meats. A chemical is still the same chemical no matter where it comes from”
Watching the waves.
I really do wish the farm was near a pristine crystal clear mountain lake, but alas not a stitch of water to be found on the farm. Those aren’t the waves I’d like to reference here . The waves that have been on my mind for some time now have been the Matthew 14 waves. My favorite song of late to both play and listen too has been by Hillsong United entitled Oceans (where feet may fail). It is hard for me to not get all wrapped up in it while playing it at the drum kit with Renee and even worse on my car radio.
Matthew 14 ( The Message )
Walking on the Water
22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.
27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”
31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”
32-33 The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”
The Barry Farm is a manifestation of the waves for my family. This farm has not been a dream of mine that my family has been dragged into. We are united and on the same page with a desire to do this as a family. What exactly do we do? It looks like we are raising humane meat using rotational grazing and an honest approach when you first see and engage our family at the farm. We are thrilled that families get to enjoy a bit of a renaissance back to clean and responsible transparent family agriculture because that is important. But how your farmers view their interaction with the farm is much different. Every day we, together as a family, get a chance to be led onto the water and learn to expand our ability to trust that we will be provided for and be used for good things. As a dad and husband every day I get to wonder deeper onto the waves and practice building faith. Renee and I are grateful for the conversations and lessons the farm lets us practice with our children because many of these times just like peter I sink and have to be bailed out. The point is not a holy perfection of wave walking, it is the repeated vehicle to practice walking with trust and faith. Our kids have seen us fail and get back up and they have seen it over and over and over. They have seen us grow closer and closer as we have greater faith that we are loved no matter what. Renee and I have been able to both teach and demonstrate keeping our sight fixed not on the waves, because they are always going to be there, but on the on a higher goal that never fails us. We farm because we are called to it for many purposes but a little insight to how it affects us I thought was in order. It is refining us to love bigger, trust wider and to learn faith that we are always loved.
The bank of freezers at the Barry farm are all stocked up with 300 pounds still in the way. Time for family dinners before school starts, grilling with the neighbors or romantic backyard meal with your girl. We’ll be glad to help your meal memorable with Houston’s best pork.
Email us to order.
Honey is now available at the farm
We know it has been a long time coming, so thank you for your patience.. There is not much fan fare that the daily workings of honey production so sorry for the lack of regular updates, but hooray here it is!
Honey can be picked up at the farm in Needville, Tx or orders over 50.00 can be delivered on within a 50 mile radius of the farm (77461 zip code)
The price is 11.00 per pint and 21.00 per Quart Jar.
Never heated nor pasteurized and of course Fully Raw
We have partnered with Sean and his family who own and operate http://www.mindfulhoney.com. He has relocated bees to our citrus orchard that have been rescued from homes, structures and properties all over the greater Houston area. The Barry Farm farmers have been incredibly grateful for this partnership as our garden, fig trees, Pears, Satsuma, Kumquat, Lemon and Grapefruits have surely benefited from all the pollination assistance.
If you have questions or would like to place an order email us at email@example.com