The Barry Farm

Pasture Raised Red Wattle Hogs, Grassfed Dorper Lambs, Pasture Raised Chicken, Citrus and Blackberries


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Spring Lamb Dinner / Prohibition and The Barry Farm Collaborate.

Just wanted to show yall some pictures for those that couldn’t be there with us.  Renee and I had the privileged to dine with Chef Ben, Matt and Daniel Chance ( who flew in from Atlanta) last night as they prepared Barry Farm lamb.  Our mission has always been feeding families, but it is always nice to see what happens when our hard work and their hard work combine.   The results are always incredible.  I really like the experience of these kinds of events.  This can’t be replicated, won’t be available next week and is a momentary thing.  This approach is how they show great process and product respect by elevating it to experience and temporary.  It is the opposite of mass produced and similar.  Hopefully you can join us for the next one.

 

          

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A Barry Farm lamb dinner at Prohibition Supper Club

Our mission has always been to provide the highest quality meat with transparency and integrity right to your family’s dinner table.   But once in a while it is great to remind ourselves that our pastured lamb could be on any restaurants table and proudly be the star of the show.  Well Tuesday evening is our chance to celebrate spring lamb and to say thank you to Chef Ben and Matt for continually supporting farmers and their families.  It has become very popular lately to say that a restaurant’s cuisine is “farm to table” or “locally sourced”, but the reality is that this kind of thing is rarely authentic.   The chef’s around the Houston area that genuinely deal with local products do so for product excellence and not just a marketing angle.  The Spring Lamb dinner at Prohibition is about outstanding culinary work done by some amazing chefs and genuinely sourcing exceptional product from a Houston farm.   Thank you for your support of this event, your farmers and those that support the Barry Farm on a regular basis.  See you on Tuesday.

For tickets and reservations contact the Restaurant.

Prohibition Supperclub & Bar
1008 Prairie Street | Houston, TX 77002
Tel/Direct: +1 281 940 4636
Email: prohibition@silenttheatregroup.com


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A farm with a mother 

 
Every business has a dreamer.  Required to venture out into a new space and carry a level of risk in the hope of something big, is a vivid dream.   Or at least this is what every dreamer thinks about themselves. 

On our farm Renee is not the dreamer.   She has an even bigger heart than to settle for the dreamer.  For our small farm and business Renee is the operator of trust.   It is far more courageous to push all in trusting the dreamer than to create your own dream.  A secret about dreamers if you don’t already know , is that if our dreams fail we will just have another and another and another just as important as the one before.  But to trust the dreamer enough to do the daily back breaking work of making dreams reality is what faith looks like. This is the lesson the farm mother at the Barry farm is sharing with her world.  That trust is worth the risk and faith is a practiced art honed with time and effort.  


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Raising boys….the easy way. From a farmers perspective.

        

This week has been a terrific week for my son Seamus (8 years old) and I.  Renee and Layla were out of town for 5 days this week in Oklahoma attending the Mid American Dorper Sheep Show and sale.  They both took a 2 1/2 day breeders course and got some quality time with dear friends.  Just as an aside,yes this was a big sacrifice in time and effort for our family but we don’t do hobby sheep or hobby farm.  We have a dedication to excellence to our product and our breeds and we always do it together as a family.   Now back to what we were talking about.   While the girls were away I kept the farm limping along in the rain and mud but had the privilege of joining Seamus during his routine.  To say that I have learned so much about my son this week is an understatement.  I purposely didn’t return texts quickly that weren’t emergencies, didn’t post on social media, let some tasks wait that I normally wouldn’t have just to give more time to Seamy this week.  We hit the batting cage after school and I learned that he is very coach able and he learned that his dad know things that he didn’t even know that I knew.   We took in our first baseball game together this week.  This is his first year in Little League and his is doing great at it, but he has never actually seen a base ball game played.  I can’t believe I let that slip in my busy schedule. When I was about his age my dad would from time to time take us to the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium to see the Indians play.  They were so bad in the mid 80’s that the tickets were general admission and my brother and I would change seats about 20 times each game.  I loved summer time and baseball as a kid seemed inseparable to the rhythm of kiddom and summer freedom to this mid western boy.  As we sat at the Skeeters game he picked out the perfect seats to sit in next time we come as he very much wanted to get a foul ball.  I told him how much I couldn’t wait to come back to the ball park again with him and his response floored me.   He said ‘ thanks dad but i doubt we will come back very soon’.  I said puzzled what do you mean buddy I’m having fun and can’t wait to do this again.  he replied “yeah but people never do what they say they will do”.    I didn’t say anything, just hugged him with my arm mostly because I didn’t want to cry at the game.  Everyone knows there is no crying in baseball.  Only 8 and he know the reality of failed promises and intentions not fulfilled.

 

So he says to me “can we go to brazos bend and ride bikes slowly and look at stuff?”  It was Saturday evening and I’d normally not be so quick to say lets go, but I really wanted to hang out with him doing what he wanted to do.  The boy is seriously into nature, being outside, everything camo, sharp things and BB guns and now apparently 7 mile bike rides.  Only darkness got us off the bikes at the end of the day.  Each turn that same smile you see in those pictures would glance back over his shoulder seeking my approval and saying quietly “we’re having fun aren’t we dad?”  Since the pickup was in Oklahoma we crammed the bikes into the car and rode home with the windows down and pepsi in a glass bottle in his hand.  It was like a scene from a movie with perfectly lit evening light and him waving his hand out the window of the moving car.   We didn’t say a word the whole way home.  Just satisfied silence and content boys.

The remainder of the week was probably the most significant but not as full of events.   The rest of the week was STAAR testing for him and I did the daily stuff that his mom normally does.  Up early making breakfast, packing lunches, pick up and drop off at school, farm chores together, cleaning the house for a weekend farm event, painting the office you know mostly routine things.  Seamus has never been the kid that shows his affection easily.  He, like most 8 year old boys, also is not very big in the gratitude department and just goes along knowing that everything will be taken care of for him because he is loved.  This week I learned what gives him stress and also what rejuvenates him.   Together we worked through what makes him feel restricted and what makes him open to being coached.   His independence is not crush able and he learns best through self discovery and experimentation.   He is not afraid to be alone and rarely feels by himself even when he is.  He is compassionate to baby birds and has a knack for finding nests, because in his words ” I listen for them”.   He is however very self aware and cares deeply that those around him approve of him.  Some day his natural born leadership tendencies and heart of compassion will meet in the middle of an excellent man.   In the mean time it appears the only thing for me to do is love him with open arms, keep him as safe as I can, pray with him and for him, and quit confining his spirit.  He turns 9 next week.


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Up to speed with The Barry Farm. ( I’m writing this in a rainstorm)

                  

 

 

          

As we continue the weather pattern that has become the norm around here, I has provided me a forced break.   I have neglected keeping those that only interact with the farm via this blog so let me catch you up with what has happened this month around The Barry Farm and the near term happenings.

 

Let’s start from the beginning shall we.  The first of April was a lamb butcher class followed by a 6 course dinner served al fresco right here at the farm.  Every time we do an event like this it feels more rewarding all the time.  So many times I hear farm to table this, or local that, or “real” farm to table used and every time I hear it, it feels like sand in my britches.  Call this experience at the farm whatever you like but make no mistake this is the real deal.  For this dinner all the protein was sourced from our farm.  In addition to the proteins herbs, vegetables and spices too.  All this prepared at a chef led dinner and butcher class.   Our goal is not to have a category for this kind of meeting, but simply to blow the doors off of the other categories and make them seem like a simplified version of what we do at the farm.  The target is world class products with world class experience and service.

 

The very next day was Easter Sunday.  The readers and followers of this blog will remember that we had big plans for easter sunday.   Your farmers have been attempting to have a regular and meaningful interaction on the kids at Parks Youth Ranch.  The youth ranch happens to be Ft. Bend County’s only shelter for homeless teenagers and it also happens to be about 3 miles from our home and farm.  Renee and I have been seriously convicted that we need to use the potential of the farm to give the kids some sense of family events even while their lives are upside down.  I remember very fondly what my Easter sunday meals we like.  Surrounded by the hope of spring, chocolate bunnies, my mothers over the top meals and dress up clothes were the norm.  Easter was one of the culinary hi lights to my child hood and even though it wasn’t a fancy meal it was very satisfying.  I can’t imagine letting this pass as an opportunity to share this feeling knowing that just around the corner from our house were 20 kids whose future was never more up in the air.  And on a personal note, I can’t imagine telling people that I am a christian man celebrating Easter and not doing what Jesus would do to those less fortunate than me.  This is where faith should meet action right.  If the Easter story is the most important narrative in my life what a shame to keep it quiet.  I want to know love and hope and to the best of my ability I intend to reflect that to those that may be forgotten in my community.

Easter is not just about the Smith family sharing these emotions, but the regular supporters and members of the barry farm community came out en masse to help pull off this event for the kids.  We put a watch for each kid inside a “golden egg” for their easter egg hunt and each watch was sponsored by a member of our community.   Chef Chris and Boudreaux’s Cajun Kitchen provided the meal, while others made the pies and homemade ice cream, all of which were a hit.   The kids were served on real plates with real silverware (which doesn’t happen at the shelter) on a table set glamorously by dedicated volunteers.  They egg hunted, ate a hearty meal, toured the farm and heard from more than one new friend “we love you and are thinking of you”  To say Easter was a big deal would be an understatement.

 

Now as to the farm work:   Our ambitious plans never seem to end.  We are continuing work on the blackberry orchard as the rain allows.   80 yards of mulch is being put around the blackberries 6″ deep then the trellis will be installed.   The sheep have been battling hard this winter and spring as standing water, continuous rains and now warm day are a recipe for ruminant trouble and grass based farmers.   True the grass is growing well this spring, but it has been a battle to get them out on it through the mud.   I keep saying that this pattern has to end soon, and I’m sure it will but since thanksgiving basically we have had steady rain and have yet to not have standing water at the farm this year.

The pigs mind a lot less.  Tomorrow the next 1000 lbs of barry farm pork returns from Lad’s Smokehouse and will be available for purchase at the farm or at Forever Fulshear Farmers Market on Saturday mornings along with pastured chicken and lamb.    We are days away from beginning to fill our share orders that have been hampered by the rains, with more pigs taking that short ride to meet the butcher.

So what’s next?   Well Renee and Layla are off to Duncan Oklahoma for the mid american dorper show and sale.  They will be attending a 2 1/2 day breeders course taught by breeders from Australia and the rest of the US.  The weekend they return we have a butcher class and dinner for 6 people led by Chef Chris.  Then in May we have a lamb dinner with at a local Houston  restaurant (stay tuned for more details)


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Pork over knives at West U fitness.

Pork over Knives was delicious and fun.  Just wanted to say a big thank for coming out to join us and listen to this farmer’s thoughts.  Renee and I sincerely hope that a connection was made to a family, chef and place as to where food comes from. We strongly believe that people will make better choices when given the option to do so.  Part of that is making the option both known and accessible. Pork over Knives put all the ingredients together:   the best pork in Houston, a chef that knows his way around a farm and real ingredients, interaction with the farmers to talk about why process matters and enthusiastic facilitators that are working to create an environment of lasting change.   Here’s a few pictures of the event.

 

 

            


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A farmers biggest asset is failure

 

Plenty of it to go around:

We have had a hell of a winter even though we live in the sunny mid gulf coast.  The cold has come and lingered and the drought that has persisted over the last few years has received it’s karmic shift.   As soon as the standing water thinks of receding we have another large rainfall event that ensures my rubber boots become the staple of my wardrobe.  But as much as it is disheartening for the farm family our empathy for our animals is enough to make us do whatever it take to care for them.  They have had a relentless slog through muck for months now still doing their best to maintain condition and be productive.  Despite the odds being against us each day we do our best to be gracious, thankful and optimistic that this too will pass.   For sure I am not the first farmer to lament the weather.

If anything though I try to see the lessons in life that are revealed through the daily routine.  Not so much the anvil falling from the sky stuff that makes a man change his course, but more so the repetitious mundane appearing things.  After all I believe that this is where the battle for the heart is won and lost.   What I have come to conclude this winter is something that the Smith family has been all along I just never gave it much of a name or credence so far.  It is something that can be both learned and modeled and it turns out that it has an official academic name: Grit.    This is apparently an objective quality and if you don’t believe me take the test from the University of Pennsylvania here and get a 1 to 5 score of grittiness.  I’ve had the privileged of being raised in a family that has know it’s share of obstacles and as it turns out the key to grittiness is seeing goals as a marathon and not a sprint and accepting that failure is essential to the process.    Instead of the tendency to grade our day as pass/ fail I was lucky enough to have an environment where growth and effort were more important than short sighted “successes”.    Ask a kindergartner what they want to be when they grow up and you will get every answer under the sun.  They aren’t aware of limits yet and see everything as possible.    Mary Cay Ricci author of “mindsets in the classroom ” concluded that the change in fixed vs growth mindsets in kindergartners vs 3 graders is a 60% decrease in growth minded children, meaning the third grader is not likely to aspire to be a princess anymore and is learning that some goals “can’t ” be reached and fixes on lower goals.   In 3rd grade we have already institutionalized the reduction of ‘grit’ as a tenancy for our children.  Before I read that I was under the assumption that a child’s world naturally got bigger through this time of exploration, but to my chagrin what kids actually seem to be learning is how to grow up and be realistic.

 

Here is my point and why I mention it.  The lessons our kids see in us as a family farm are slowly taught and hard won.  They are learning something more valuable than being educated and what they learn will last them a lifetime.  They learn grit: they see daddy going out in the rain when it’s cold and mommy up late preparing them and our home for the next day.  They’ve seen me use tools to craft things for the farm and home and helped as Renee bakes homemade bread and cans our produce for later use.   They say thank you to me for ‘working so hard’ for them and help mommy pull weeds in the garden.  They are seeing and learning how to have Grit…..just like I did.     Now if you are a person that has Grit, please don’t hide it our world is suffering from this lack of diligence.  If you are not a gritty person and want to be,  find one and for God’s sake don’t talk to him about it but rather lend him a hand with what he is working on.   And when you feel like quitting and he keeps working then ask him “why he does this”.

 

 

 

 

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