The Barry Farm

Pastured Heritage Breed Hogs, Grassfed Lamb, Pastured Chicken, Raw Honey, Citrus and Blackberries


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Pre announcement for Easter: We have big big plans and need help.

We are 6 weeks out until Easter weekend and we are working on a big big plan.  My Easters as a kid and teenager were ‘normal’ enough.  Church in the morning, Easter egg hunt, a basket or hidden chocolate bunny and then a feast.  My mother was used to cooking for a large group and worked hard at it as far back as I can remember.  She would cook for the family, our foster brothers and sisters and often enough for others that wen’t to church with us.  The meal was always the hi light of the day for me filled with comfort foods, family around the table and pie for dessert.  Maybe it was ushering in spring, the religious symbolism or just a full belly but Easter has a way of filling me with hope and optimism for what lay ahead of us.

 

This brings me to my big big plan for Easter.   If you have been following along to our journey you may already know that we have been working with the incredible young men and women of Parks Youth Ranch.  Fort Bend county’s only shelter for teens that do not have a home to call their own.  For one reason or another these young men and women do not have a safe place that they call home so they live at Parks youth ranch 24/7 where they are safe, fed, warm and certainly loved.  Renee and I have invited them to come have Sunday supper at the farm and strongly desire to create a memory of love and optimism by recreating what we remember and loved about this time of year.  We are going to eat out on the lawn, have a meal with all the fixin’s and want throw and easter egg hunt for them.

 

This is where I need your help.  The Easter Egg hunt will be more than just candy as I want to have a “golden egg” for each kid with a larger prize in it.  After talking with the Staff and friends of the ranch we think this gift is appropriate.

So we have 16 kids to buy watches for in the next 6 weeks and of course I can’t wait until the last minute so this is what I’m asking for.  Please consider sponsoring the cost of a golden egg and our Easter meal.  Renee and I would love to be able to front the entire cost but we just don’t have that ability so we are taking a leap of confidence in our community to make this happen.  All the funds raised will go to the watches, their meal and making an Easter memory for kids that need now more than ever to know the love that a community can provide and hope that Easter can bring.

 

If you believe that these kids deserve our best and want to help sponsor this event, email us at  thebarryfarm@yahoo.com and we can have a conversation about where we go from there.  Thank you and you will hear a lot more about this from me for the next few week.

 


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A win for all at Cochon 555 in Houston

 

 

 

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  I promise this is the last you will hear from us about Cochon 555 until June when Mark Decker takes another Barry Farm Red Wattle Hog to Aspen, CO.  In June he competes at the Grand Cochon against the other winners across the country from 9 other cities.  A big congratulations from Renee and I goes out to Mark and the entire Treadsack team that is comprised of some pretty talented men and women.   It was very easy to get swept up in the excitement of being the underdog that pulled off a surprise win but it is difficult to call hard work, talent and effort underdog qualities.

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Absolutely the best part about Cochon 555 from our perspective was not pigs or food it was hands down people.  We have been working with the Treadsack crew a bunch lately between the Kipper Club Misery Loves Company dinner and in preparation for Cochon.  It has been a pleasure to work with this crew for many reasons but above all they are so thorough and respectful to not only us farmers but to products we strive to provide.   It may seem like a hard lined approach but we insist that potential chef’s and restaurants that think they may want to work with our farm come visit the farm and go for a walk with us.  It can be difficult for chefs to break away from their busy kitchens and honestly most feel this is a high requirement and therefore don’t come out, but we have always felt it was the only way to know your ingredient, your farmers and match expectations.  These chefs were the first to insist, before I even told them our requirement, to visit the farm and see our process.   Before Cochon 555 Mark Decker, Renee and I sat by the fire in our living room discussing all things food and farm.  He is hands down the most farm knowledgeable chef I had ever met.  In his spare time he has read the likes of Greg Judy and Ian Mitchell Innes and is well versed in the conversation of rotational grazing and animal performance issues.  In my book you can always trust a chef that knows to bring his own boots!  They definitely pass the farmer seal of approval.  Benjy, whose official title is Director of Restaurant Operations, did a terrific job of taking the barry farm brand and promoting it through their work.  Behind their station were glossy hi resolution pictures of our pigs and farm, he was kind and sensitive enough to ask if it was alright to use Seamus and Layla’s names on the menu, and was always one step ahead of the process in facilitating all the moving parts.   He did a much better job of promoting the link between farm/farmer and chef than the organizers did and certainly put more visible effort showing diners the farms role in the event.  Thank you so much Benjy.  One example of just how much the recognized the farm process and reflected it in their offering at Cochon was Leslie Ross’s beverage pairing.  The short of it was a Barley soda (we feed our pigs mostly barley), valencia oranges from the farm which she dehydrated and rehydrated, and whiskey that was infused with the jowl from the hog all dubbed the Red Wattle Ricky.   It not only takes talent to put that together but also hard work and a willingness to learn our farm and our process.  And that was just one example as the list for these guys go on and on.

 

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IMG_5448With so many people that we have connections to in one room it was nice to put faces to names and have deeper conversations than just social media can facilitate.  Connecting to other farmers that share our passion for family farms certainly can make us feel more ‘normal’ than the average population can.  Spending a little time with chefs that always are working when we happen to be with them to talk about things other than food and restaurants is always a win for us both.  The men and women of D&T, Hunky Dory, Foreign Correspondents, Down House and the Kipper Club are long on both talent and generosity.  It was a pleasure to work with them and we look forward to furthering a long lasting relationship.

 

 

The mission of Cochon 555 is to hi light heritage breed hogs, farms and the restaurants that use them.  In our area we have a rapidly growing restaurant scene and very few number of farms that serve them.  All together making us a young food scene.  There were things that we thought could have been better, more transparent and emphasized differently but it is a natural outcome of a process in the beginning of it’s journey.  Renee and I are please to be part of the process that will make Houston a great city when it comes to food and quality ingredients and preparation.


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Cochon 555 in #HTX : kind of a big deal for Houston and it’s farmers

http://cochon555.com/2015-tour/houston/

It’s possible that despite all my communication that you have not heard that your farmers (Renee and I ) are participating in Cochon 555 here in Houston.   It is not only a big thing for us to be invited to this but it is a big deal for Houston.  What is Cochon you ask? Here it is straight from the organizers.

“Cochon 555, the country’s most talked about culinary competition returns to celebrate family farms, heritage breed pigs and today’s emerging chef community. Attendees of this one-of-a-kind culinary competition embark on a journey to the new hyper-local culinary landscape, one whole pig at a time. The tour is aligned with the modern-day good food movement — notable chefs, barrier-breaking women, artist-like butchers, spirited bartenders, top winemakers, brewers, distillers and brazen pastry talent working together to prepare an epic feast celebrating responsible family farming. Going on its seventh year, Cochon 555 is regarded as the nation’s most flavorful culinary event, from entry to exit, each bite is specially designed to win over the public.”

 

Houston’s culinary scene is rapidly evolving and always in a state change.  Being such a melting pot of people has been such a blessing for all the beautiful flavors represented here in Houston and I’m sure the food coming out of the various camps will be terrific. We think it is a big deal because it hi lights specifically the quality that is available in Houston, crafted by small farmers, that often gets overlooked.   Even our note worthy restaurants will serve less than superior product and reflect our increasingly busy lifestyle with speed being king over food.   This event will be a show case of just what is possible in the quality arena when Houston Small Farmers and talented culinary teams get together.  Sure it is a competition but the real winner in the people of the City of Houston.  Would you join us on Sunday afternoon?  Come out support your farmers and show the city that you care about the success of the few small livestock farmers we have here in the Houston area.

Oh and by the way.  It is only natural that we are providing a true Texas Hog.  Out of all the heritage breed hogs (and all the hogs at the competition will be heritage hogs) only one breed comes from Texas.  That’s right the Red Wattle.   Most of the other hogs will be representatives of other parts of the country or even worse……England.  Can you imagine a yankee or European hog winning in Texas?   Not possible right?  My thoughts exactly.


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Superbowl with the kids from Parks Youth Ranch.

You just never know what your farmers are up too.  Truth is most of the time despite our best laid plans and dreams we have no idea where we are going to end up when we open our mouths.  Sometimes we fail miserably with this approach and fall flat on our faces.  Other times we think it is the best way to hit a home run!   Renee and I live very much on faith, which is not to say we aren’t prudent planners, decision makers or researchers.  Quite the contrary, we calculate to the best of our ability but at the end of the day facts don’t create actions.  In our goal statement for the farm we have always included the desire to be a positive force in our community.  Being the new kids in a small town it can be difficult to fit in and despite our desire to belong to a community and be helpful, areas of involvement weren’t jumping right into our laps.  Then along came a relationship with Parks Youth Ranch.  As the crow fly’s they are only a few miles from our home and farm and on a whim I decided to make contact with them to see how we could be of assistance.  The response was simple “spend time with some kids”.  On average the kids at the ranch live there for 3 months and it is a ever revolving door because the need is just that great for the services the Ranch provides.   At the ranch their physical needs are met, they are safe , and they have adults around them that give a positive role model but the staff can only do so much.    Renee and I really wanted to get them out for a day at the farm, breathing the free needville air, being in a wide open space, connecting with both nature and those charged with its care.  We invited the staff and kids on Superbowl Sunday to come play football, base ball, throw a Frisbee and play basketball by the barn.  Of course we fed them and introduced them to the residence of the farm.   The kids held chickens, petted baby lambs and saw pigs out in the field.  The Barry Farm farmers didn’t do this by ourselves.  We had a terrific response for friends and fans of the farm to come to our aid.  Some cooked hot dogs, others made brownie Sundaes, some played ball with us and most importantly they got to spend some quality time with adults that had no agenda other than to make them feel at home for an afternoon.  We got very  lucky on Sunday, a predicted 70% chance of rain never materialized and it was sunny skies and good times.   I’d love to challenge you personally in this regard.  There are no required or special qualifications to hanging out with teenagers.  A listening ear, a willing set of hands and an open mind are really all it takes.  Each of these kids has a story that would make a tough guy cry and nobody deserves the lot they were dealt.  I for one could not imagine being 13 and homeless in Houston and what is harder for me to imagine is knowing these kids are in my back yard and deciding not to care about them.  Take some time and go meet some kids at parks youth ranch, our community will be stronger for it and I will guarantee their stories will make our petty problems seem really small .


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Super Bowl Sunday Plans? Join us at the Farm

Our family has been uniquely blessed with such an opportunity.   The place we live in is easily adapted to hosting groups of people and especially people who like to be outside.

We are also fortunate to have made connection with some of the leadership and volunteers at Parks Youth Ranch.  The ranch is a stones throw from The Barry Farm and out of the blue one day I sent them an email asking if we could be involved or helpful at all to their mission.  Parks Youth Ranch exists to provide a safe, supportive and structured environment to at risk and homeless youth in Fort Bend County and happens to be the one and only such facility for kids finding themselves in this situation in one of the fastest growing counties in America.  Over the past few months we nurtured relationships, hosted new friends to the farm and worked on planning events to get the kids out to the farm on a regular basis.

In my quiet times I am most often convicted about the things in my life that are really petty that I care about way too much.  Football can be one of those things for me.  I am a balls to bones Steelers fan and proudly fly that black and gold, but man can I get caught up in all the analysis, coverage and time spent watching football.  Well this Superbowl sunday we have decided to put out backs where our hearts are.  We are throwing a superbowl party for the kids at parks youth ranch at the barry farm.   Food, Flag Football, Farms and Friends.   If you are looking to be part of something bigger than deflate gate, judging commercials and wardrobe malfunctions we would welcome your involvement.
Come play flag football in our pasture run the grill for me or put some coke’s on ice from 12-3pm Sunday February 1st at the Farm.   Email me at thebarryfarm@yahoo for more details or info

  http://www.parksyouthranch.org


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That’ll do sir.

IMG_5121IMG_5120   Most agrarians are cut from the same cloth.  They’d rather work than chat.  Rarely hear them complain because there is little they can’t fix.  Most are generous in spirit and in action.  They prefer to be outside and know the value to their body, the farm and their families of doing manual labor.  We know our strongest muscles are are heart and backs.  We work on little sleep, even smaller margins, and  chase enormous dreams. Our idea of a good time always involves our family.

However, i’ve just about had it!  This seemingly endless pattern we are in of 40 degrees, 90 percent humidity and and inch of rain every 5 days has taken its toll on all of us.  We have no high ground left, no pastures to rotate to that aren’t filled with a layer of mud, and our entrance way tells a tale of soaked carhart bibs and rubber boots.  The rain is no longer helpful as we are and have been at super saturation and can only hope for run off.  In the areas that aren’t mud covered standing water remains.  Just the thought of slipping my boots on in the cold to go do chores gets me down in the face.  Mostly because my rotating 4 pair of boots are still wet when I slip them on.  I mean who want to put on wet cold boots.  The pigs don’t care about my feelings and when I step over the fence to feed them they willingly and readily put their faces/mouths and other pig bits on my hands/clothes etc.  And with their kisses comes a crap load of “mud”.

And yet….I love this farm.  I love this family that I am honored to labor with.  I love this woman that I am forever partnered with.  I’m grateful for  a warm fireplace when I come in from chores and a 20 year old easy chair sitting right beside it.  I’m thrilled that my kids still tolerate spaghetti westerns on DVD and will snuggle up in the chair with me while I doze off a little.  I’m really happy that my darling wife has perfected her hot toddy recipe.  I’m happy that we have a shower in our back entrance that is closest to the hot water heater.  I’m crazy about the knitted socks I got for Christmas last year.

 

Sure it may all not be going my way lately.  Sure it seems that the man upstairs is going through some kind of blue period.  Sure the farmers and the animals are struggling to get through this but we will fight for you.  If this was just about me I’d be packed up and on a ski lift in utah by now but it isn’t about me.  It’s about us and for that I’ll slide my feet into cold wet boots for another go round. IMG_5119


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We’re not ambitious we are determined: A Year at TBF

A friend and trusted advisor came by the farm this last week as we were picking citrus.  As we toured the farm and talked about my plans and the steps needed to make that happen he said to me “well there is no doubt you are ambitious”.      His comment gave me pause and I’ve been thinking about that for a few days now mostly because I sure never viewed myself that way.

I had prepared to write a post about the last year’s work that the family had pulled off so I reviewed my iPhoto “last 12 months” folder.  I was even more shocked to see just how ambitious we really are when it was documented in photographs.  Our family still wouldn’t call it ambition and would more likely describe it as a humble assault on our mission.  What I think I mean is I’m not comfortable with  implication that ambition has to have a relentless focus on a difficult goal.   While I do have goals certainly my goal has always been very fluid as a farmer and husband.  That’s why we create excellent products and have so much diversity here.  I’ve never been comfortable with being defined as a Hog farmer, or just shepherd, or egg man.   I simply want to be known as Geoff and be remembered well for the time our paths crossed.  Call me determined but not ambitious.  Call me thankful but not blessed.  Call me humble but not hesitant.

IMG_2133IMG_5001   This is almost exactly a year apart.  Feels like a week to me.  The picture on the left was when we were in New Territory/Sugarland area and on the right lambing in the back barn in Needville.

 

 

IMG_5762This year our sheep volume has more than tripled.  We have grown our flock an made some great friends along the way.  Sheep people really are great people.  The kids here in this picture are discussing “which ewes we should buy” at an auction/sale barn in Duncan Oklahoma.  Thankfully for us sale barn season comes for a few very hot months in the summer.  The family spent many hours hauling the stock trailer all over this great state this year.  We call it “solving the worlds problems” and “barry farm executive meetings” as we drive and talk for hours the 4 of us in the truck.  To me it’s priceless.

 

As our commIMG_2959unity began to embrace what we had been preaching the demand for Red Wattle pork soared .   We worked as hard as nails to keep up with the demand, but still fell short despite a 75% increase this last year in pork production.  This year we have already committed to more than we have ever raised.  Thank you for supporting these beautiful and intelligent animals.  Pastured Pork can be a lot of work at times but we are thoroughly committed to making a stand for them.  Outside all the time acting like pigs were created to act.  They deserve this kind of life and you deserve this kind of pork, thanks for allowing us to be the farm family that serves it to you.

IMG_2567IMG_3507 A hidden treasure we discovered more deeply this year was our ability to work together and to love the joy of labor.   A balance is always struck when it comes to working with kids, and the balance is “how much do you put them in dangerous situations”.  Letting aIMG_3506 9/10 year old drive the truck in the pasture while Renee and I pitch hay for our 8 year old to stack could potentially be a disaster.  But to us it also has potential to be a big big deal for our kids.  The hear from us “you can do it” and “I trust you” and “i’m right here with you” and “I got ya”    These are all God things and I repeat to them just what he tell me, but with different intent.  We worked a lot this year together as the farm got much bigger in both scope and scale.  All of us are better for it.

 

 

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   When we purchased the Needville version of the barry farm we also purchased a large citrus orchard.  The last of the citrus was picked this week and the juicing is under way to preserve it the rest of the year.  Farmers, farmers market patrons, restaurants, co – op’s and diners all enjoyed the fruits of this orchard.

As a hi light, we took home 3rd place in the Gulf Coast Citrus Show for Kumquat.   We we weren’t terribly surprised as we eat a handful when passing by the trees and enjoy them greatly.

 

 

IMG_3121IMG_3125This year we also threw our hat into the ring on on farm experiences.  Hosting many many tours since moving to Nedville, whole hog butchery classes, farm dinners, brunches and special events.  They are a stretch for us as we are opening ourselves up to lots of things.  This is our home, our work, our play almost our entire world, and we let ‘strangers’ here all the time.  I love ever bit of it, but it is typically much more enjoyable to me retrospectively.   Thank you for all the generous and gracious attenders of this last years events.

 

IMG_2590To round out this year we have completed our custom label as we expand our meat chicken footprint and will begin to increase our pastured chicken production late winter early spring.  And if that wasn’t enough we installed and are working on an acre of kiowa blackberries, figs and 2 varieties of peaches.  Sorry no pictures of those things yet.
IMG_4062Thank you really from the bottom of our hearts.  We take enormous pride in the kind of agrarians we are and believe we are developing a world class product line.  However our hope has always been to be the kind of people that you are proud to know and call friends.  Our ambition is to act with mercy, seek righteousness, live a life with a clean heart, learn to be peacemakers, be meek with others hearts, and to love the poverty to which we are called.   Join with us in this ambition: the ambition of the barry farm farmer

 

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