Boys, fathers and grandfathers of all ages – Come enjoy a great night camping out under the big Texas sky.
We haven’t spoken a lot about it yet but now that the weather is so nice it’s time to dine. You farmers are blessed to live in a beautiful place surrounded by seasonal and delicious foods. We are now offering dinner at the farm. Book an intimate meal for you and your spouse , a groups of friends or even for your work place function. Meals can be arranged at any budget and always include access to the whole farm. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangement.
A family member of Renee’s (the lovely and talented lady of the farm) brought this video to our attention. It unfolds gracefully with pastoral imagery on a well manicured dorper sheep farm. This video takes place in a lambing pasture as the fencing is very tight and the ewes are “heavy breed” meaning about to deliver lambs very soon. The whole video felt very familiar up till the 4 minute mark when the farmer says something I found profound and worth talking about. He reports that he is often asked if the dogs are happy. The reply is instead of happiness being the goal he observed the dogs caring for something outside themselves gave them purpose and in their purpose they were content. Soak that in for a minute and don’t let it rush by, it took me a while to catch it too.
This is not the first time I have been told not to seek happy as a goal. My disillusionment with happiness is that I never seem to arrive at happy for very long. My life is chocked full of things that bring me joy (which is not the same as happiness) and that real joy only has come from living a life full of purpose and being intentional about living out that purpose. One of my biggest mistakes I have made as a father and husband was to facilitate my children’s and wife’s happiness and not nurture their purpose. What a waste. While reading this you are probably nodding your head thinking of all the sacrifices and hard work you have put in to making others happy, possibly remembering just how fleeting that happiness was. (insert almost every Christmas gift here) Joy only comes from knowing your purpose and those who wish to facilitate joy are experts at helping others to see and unlock their own purpose. Our farm has always been a happy place and we strive all the time to make it a joyous one with intentional living and relationships.
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.