The Barry Farm

Pastured Heritage Breed Hogs, Grassfed Lamb, Raw Honey and Citrus.

A step in the right direction to your chicken problem.

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Even though there has been lots of exposure about this issue there are changes coming to our corner of the world.  I’ve wanted to talk about this subject for some time now but honestly this subject always draws the negativism out this farmer and I end up not in a good place.   Are you as tired of people who are willing to point out all the flaws, problems and injustices in any system but do very little to be part of the solution?  Yeah me too.  Education has a big role to play and I appreciate people who are trying to point others to a viable alternative, but for crying out loud quit your barking about this issue and get to work.

Factory farming has been an easy target on the small farmers hit list.  It is the most stark contrast to our style for animal husbandry, community concern, quality of product and values.  We think now we are able and willing to add our voice to this conversation because we will be offering in the next few weeks pasture raised chicken for sale from the farm.  The label has been approved by the state of Texas and is currently being printed as we speak.  This only came about because of some very hard work by farmers that have gone before us and a responsive abattoir.  To both of them the greater Houston area should be very grateful even though they may never get credit for making the alternative to factory raised poultry economically viable.  I’m sure other small farmers will choose to raise poultry now that Houston has the infrastructure for poultry now available commercially.  Our family personally has opted out of poultry for a very long time as we had drawn the conclusion it was the responsible thing to do.  For the last few years we had been raising chickens for our family only and keeping them in the freezer but were not able to share them with anyone.  Well all that is changing now mister!

 

What I’ve not talked about that you may not want to know

The chicken industry has been both a leader and a follower when it has come to giving the masses what they want.

They do pour lots of cash into research and development to industrialize this process.  The very essence of efficiency is described in terms of feed conversion, weight gain, texture and carcass yields.  Even though the average person didn’t write a letter to a poultry processor saying “dear sir, I would like chicken raised faster with larger amounts of breast meat and available to me in individual cuts” our buying habits very much communicated that reality.  And as all good businesses do they responded to the demand.  image[1] In the 50’s and 60’s the message was clear to the woman of the home that her time was valuable and better off spent doing more productive things than domestic duties.  Convenience began the mantra and has persisted throughout our culture ever since.  Enter boneless skinless chicken breast and chicken for all three meals of the day.  It would be an easy step to agree that the chicken was the obvious loser in this new found love for the most consumed meat in America but while the compromises made on their behalf we too suffered the same fate.    Our health and body shape has followed the same graphic as the chickens.  With obesity now being described as an “epidemic” and for the first time in recorded history children projected to not out live their parents due to a root cause of obesity related diseases.  Seems like not only was the chicken manipulated but we may have been too.   Not blindly eating the factory chicken not only rejects the in humane process that they go through but may also take a stand for the in humane process we are putting ourselves through eating ourselves to death.

 

An article appeared in the NYT yesterday.   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/nicholas-kristof-abusing-chickens-we-eat.html?_r=0

Abusing Chickens we eat by Nicholas Kristof was not an entirely new thought, but was granted access to something very few people get to see.  The article hi lights a poultry farmer featured in a video by Compassion in World farming.  This farm was under contract with Perdue to raise 700,000 chickens a year to their specification.  Perdue sends to the farm the chicks, the feed, and then picks them up to be processed when they are grown.  The farmer provides the labor, chicken house and land to pull off this arrangement.  Take a look at the video and notice the fear based marketing on both sides.  All of them are hoping to appeal to an emotional response that they hope you have to encourage you to purchase or not purchase things.

What I’ve not talked about that you just may want to know

You may want to hear the other side of the story.  The Barry Farm wants to do it’s part to make healthy, honest chicken to feed healthy honest people.   We have begun to raise chickens out on pasture the way (in our opinion) they were supposed to.  They travel 5 miles to the processor to limit their stress and we take every effort to give them a life of appreciation and respect.  We are only going to sell chickens whole.  No boneless skinless chickens here.   We sincerely hope you will take the faith step to re learn or discover the pleasure and value a whole chicken is.  For our family of 4 one chicken is never less than 3 meals.   Don’t be intimidated we’d be glad to walk you through cooking whole or taking it apart, and I promise you will thank us for having your own flavorful and nutritious chicken stock on hand when ever you need it.  We all get to vote with our wallets and now there will be a little more option for voting against a bad system.    The Barry Farm and Lad’s Smokehouse are working hard to give your family a better option.  Better for chickens, better for people and better for farms.

 

 


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Thanksgiving turkey

IMG_4709.JPGRenee and I knew that when we shared these events that there would be mixed opinions.   We talk about these things as a family before we share them on social media as it very much opens our families choices up for scrutiny.  The Barry Farm is moving away from the standard grab bag of marketing terms that farms are encouraged to use as we have found some of those terms to be counter productive.  In fact we what we have found to be most effective is to speak less and and act more, letting our actions be a better reflection than our explanation of those actions.  Thus our tag line of ” The Barry Farm….acting naturally” .

We were given a turkey for thanksgiving by a great friend and partner of The Barry farm, but it came live and in all his beautiful strutting tom glory.  Yesterday evening the whole family took part in the process of killing, plucking, scalding, and gutting the turkey that will be our thanksgiving meal.  We did this with respect for the whole situation and I very much took on a teachers heart with the kids as I instructed them on the process and what to expect.  The past few thanksgivings have had turkeys on the table that were raised and processed by ourselves here on the farm.  What is not evident to the casual observer but that our family sees is that this time of year we get a truck load of emails that ask us to sell them turkeys that were raised on pasture.   On the flip side we do get the response from time to time of “I just don’t know how you could eat a turkey that you killed yourself”.   The smith family has lived in the tension between those sentiments since we began to farm some 4 years ago.  Never would we intentionally want to offend people who object to consuming animal protein and we don’t make choices haphazardly and understand that this can be a sensitive subject to some.   A phase was coined to bridge the gap in this conversation that goes something like this ” you shouldn’t eat it unless you are willing to kill it”.    Implying that we should not be eating meat unless we are capable of thinking through the entire cost of an animals last moments.   In my most humble opinion these are my thoughts on the subject:   First when it comes to emotional decisions we should be the instigator of grace.  Let people have the opinions they want to have.  They come from places formed from their own experience, reading, research, marketing and goals.   Secondly.  I have adopted the previous position from an acknowledgement of an underlying principal that applies to my family.  We have learned that all living things have value and to order some as important and some not is a dangerous game.  Our process of learning to work very closely with nature and our farm has taught us not to separate things into individual silos of thought or action.  My generation and culture is very good at this and are very quick to try to reduce things to the least common denominator.   The farmer that thinks we can separate people from pastures, grasses from ruminants, soil from insects, and farm from community is a very naive farmer indeed.   And in that context I address the eating of animals.   We kill and eat animals in this family because we also nurture the soil that builds the grass and forage they eat.  We manage the grazing of those grasses and monitor the farms health and balance daily.  The Smith family is comfortable known that we are all sacrificing together on this farm.  The plants that are eaten by the animals and us sometimes die.  The soil will change in response to this action too.  And sometimes animals die so that we may also be nourished.  The mantra of “you should’t eat it if you won’t kill it” is a baby step to appreciating animals relationship to ours because one can still recognize the intricate balance and observe the relationship all living things have to each other without having to “kill” something to prove it.  This farmer for one believes you can be conscientious without desiring to cut a turkeys throat.  That you can be empathetic but let others do it for you.  That ending life only acknowledges a portion of the process, and ignores the big picture.  The big picture is that life that was taken has reciprocal effects on people, farms and communities and that the effects should be taken more seriously than the action itself.  We would all be wise to see our choices when it comes to food and family to see a bigger picture that recognize our interdependence and to nurture those relationships.


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Welcome the new nine to the Barry farm

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Even after a rough morning on the farm. I still managed to take a solo road trip to Shiner,Tx for the newest piglets to come to the farm. We have a great friend and partner of the farm in mike Ohlhausen of OhL farms in Shiner. He is our breeder of red wattles and does an excellent job of it. These nine will yield approximately 2000 lbs of pork for Houston area families. Farms have always been a staple of economic stimulus for the immediate surroundings. I buy fuel in Needville, feed in Needville, sell clean wholesome food in ft bend county and support other farms and farmers in the process. Your support of the Barry farm actually is broader reaching than just the smith family. It props up a community and a way of life that is worth preserving.


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How eating brunch changes things

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Yesterday afternoon a beautiful collision happened at the farm. When these events come together it transcends more than just good food. Which itself feels badly to even flirt with diminishing the food because it was truly wonderful. The food is the initial reason we gather but it never ends up the reason why we linger and chat.
The power of these events happen at an intersection and that intersection is where responsible businesses see their presence in their community as invaluable and the community agrees and responds in kind.

The food:
What you can’t see from a diners perspective is just what the process did for us The Farm as we planned and executed the meal. What was served was a combination of a years worth of work in raising animals, birthing lambs, caring for pigs and managing gardens and citrus. Then given over to chef Chris to interpret what we have labored for into stunning dishes that create a journey. I could see, knowing him so well, him on a plate. His culture, his likes, his stretching, his experiments, his respect for the farm and us farmers. The food is a perfect intersection.
The farmers:
For weeks before today we double our efforts into making the farm as user friendly and easy to navigate as possible. Extra mulch in the flower beds, straightening up the barn, mowing walkways through the pasture , trimming hedges the list goes on and on. It’s a labor of love really. As I work harder on the farm the bulk of the administration falls to renee. She is the architect of these events that responds to your emails goes to SPECS and stops at Arnes on delivery day. All this leads to a very insecure place. This farm is not just our place of employment or a place for entertainment, it is our home. We are inviting people into a very intimate place and exposing ourselves our methods and dreams for inspection.

You:
And now the collision. All the labor, the insecurity, the animal husbandry and party cup shopping doesn’t matter one bit unless people care. Not just care but care enough to engage. And not just engage but to begin to see what’s beyond the plate. We know that it is easier to see beyond the plate when the farm is all around you and the chef is next to you. That’s when the lightbulb comes on. And for me it’s this. We can’t do this alone. If any piece is missing and we retreat to our own island it all goes to crap. Real food becomes a hobby farm. Real food gives way for Sunday afternoon convenience while watching football. Real food leaves a chefs craft and art without an audience. This doesn’t work with you. Come
Judge for yourself. We’ve dedicated our farm and ourselves to being transparent even when it uncomfortable and we are validated when you find it beautiful and worth while.


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It’s citrus time!

The cool weather has really aided in ripening of the citrus especially the satsumas.
Come on down to the farm and load up on a delicious sweet treat that the whole family will love. Never sprayed with chemicals. Email us at thebarryfarm@yahoo.com for more details or to arrange for a time to come to the farm.
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