Monday, October 8, 2012

Just a Little Kindness

I had made a promise to myself that blogging would become a regular occurrence in order to share my experiences and motivate others. Life sometimes gets in the way as kidding season became crazy and cheese makes during the week became overwhelming. We make a living but by no means are rich. We are lucky when we take three steps forward financially we only take two back. This is a blessing that more of us should celebrate instead of worrying about that new cool gadget we can’t afford or our friend that shows it off gloating but can’t afford it either. Where am I going with this you ask? Think about the 20 dollar bill, something common in many people’s wallets. Today 20 dollars can buy a trip to the movies (just the movie), maybe a 1/3 tank of gas in my truck, the most awesome tacos from the taco stand down the road or a bag of feed and bale of hay for my goats. The other day, as I do at least once a week, I headed to the bank to make a deposit of the checks received from the various restaurants as well as money earned at the weekend farmers market. As I was making the deposit, the screen asked if I wanted any cash. I suddenly felt the need to get a little, not something I commonly do. Continuing with my afternoon, I needed to make a stop at the local store for some needed household supplies. After parking and as I walked from my truck a young man and lady approached me in their car. This is something not uncommon in the in parking lots in this particular neighborhood, but something struck me strange about this couple. He rolled his window down and spoke saying, “I am sure this won’t do any good but my wife and I are short $5 for a hotel, we have tried to sleep in the back of our car and it is just too hot and we are on our way to Austin as I am looking for a job”. This was definitely a plausible story given the state of today’s economy but my parents and life experience definitely instilled a level of distrust in me for such situations. I began to quiz him on his plight and he continued to explain about his lack of gasoline and bad tire. I walked around the car to verify his story and found it true. As I peered into his eyes it struck me that this man was begging not out of need for the next bottle or fast food burger but out of actual need. All he wanted to do was get to Austin and find a job. He said he spent an hour at another location only to receive a dollar. He was definitely discouraged. For the first time in years I felt I must give. I reached in my pocket and handed him a 10 dollar bill. He was shocked; he said “I only asked for $5.” I told him he needed it. He began to shed a tear and I noticed his wife was tearing up as well. I then reached in my pocket and handed him a 20 dollar bill. This man, who laid aside all pride and lowered himself to the lowest of levels of humanity in order to beg for the basic of needs, continued to tear up with a look of shock. He quickly introduced himself and began thanking me vigorously. I handed him my business card identifying myself. He said” all I want is a job that is all I want.” I wished him luck as he continued to thank me and told him if he came back through to stop off I might have work for him in the future. He swore he would pay me back one day which I responded to him “don’t’ worry about it just move yourself forward.” As I walked in the store I regretted not giving him more or giving him a job. As farmers we complain about the weather, or government regulations or bad sales or something, yet we forget to look at the blessings all around us. Making fabulous cheese, seeing the look of satisfaction on the chefs faces, receiving compliments from customers at the farmers market or getting that unsolicited email from a purchaser raving about our cheese cannot be discounted, but there is nothing like the feeling of giving to someone in need. We may not have much but that man had nothing. I don’t know why and don’t need to know, I just know they were in need and I had the ability to give. Maybe we should focus more on the blessings we do have not what we don’t. We spend so much time envying what other have and wanting more, we forget what is important in our lives. Maybe if we prioritize our lives for what is actually important that might just motivate more of us to share our blessings with others. Imagine the impact we would see in our country if more of us adopted this practice.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Goodbye To An Era

The last bike in our stable sold. People that know me from the past know me as a bike racer and ultimate bike geek. I spent years riding, training, racing and working on bikes. Women used to tell me that the bike was more important than them. Sometimes they were right. Thankfully I was over much of that when I met Karen. Needless to say it was my passion, one I threw my entire being into and even defined myself by. I will post this photo on facebook and I know I will get comments from many who knew the "bike guy" Eric. Many would say things like "you will regret it" or "you work so much no wonder you sold them" or even "you must be getting old". When I don't argue with the old comment maybe it is more clearly stated that I moved on or progressed. Enter farming into my life. To quote a friend of mine, though I will probably botch the quote, a question he asked was are you purposeful about pursuing your passion or are you passionate about your purpose? In the past I would have said the first part applied to me. I was a true believer in always follow your heart and chase your passion. Even though I spent years doing that it seemed as if there was never enough. For me, farming seem to change that. Remember we are approaching this from a positive viewpoint. Yes I gave up a longtime passion of mine to build a farm and become a cheesemaker, but it means so much more to me. I feel this is my purpose and in order to fullfill one's purpose to it fullest you must give all the passion you have. For those of you who are considering a farming business for profit, you need to answer one simple question. Is farming your purpose or your passion? If it is the first, which I hope it is, it is a pursuit you will never regret.  If it is a passion you may find it becomes work, not a life.  There is an old saying that goes "if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life". I can truly say I have not worked in 2 years though many would look at our schedule and beg to differ. Find your purpose chase it with passion and much of what you held important and necessary in your life seems to loose its appeal. So, for those that wish to be a farmer or engage in some sort of agrarian type lifestyle, go for it. If you do it for the right reasons success and blessings will come your way. I know.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Enter the "Positive Farmers"

Welcome to an introduction to our new series of blogs from “The Positive Farmers.” Every day I read stories of how young farmers are struggling to survive, or how roadblocks such as access to land, knowledge and funding squelch their dream of becoming a profitable farmer. Our media would have you believe that small-scale farming is a thing of the past and nobody could possibly succeed in our current economic situation in this country. A mindset has been prevalent over the last few decades that in order to be a successful farmer one must “get big or get out.” Other reports claim that the main culprit of many food scares in this country is the inability of the small producer to create safe food. The media as well as many farmers in this country seem to believe that it is impossible for someone to get started in farming and make a living at it. It is not just the media but more a pervasive mindset in this country that believes the only avenue to success is a college degree and anyone who would choose to work with animals or dig in the dirt is a second class citizen not worthy of respect or notoriety. This mindset is quite puzzling since the most important commodity for survival is food, yet we denigrate the individual who produces it. It is time to, instead of focusing on the “why we can’t”, focus on the “WHY WE CAN”.
Enter “The Positive Farmers”. The focus will be on how a small-scale family farm is a viable means for a fulltime income not just a secondary income. Believe or not six figure incomes are not necessary for a high quality lifestyle nor are the latest and greatest gadgets or trips to the coffee shop for a latte. There are many examples of successful small scale and micro farms that started with nothing or very little. You find us in your restaurants and stores. We would not be there without some level of success. The small scale and micro farmer are not only that quirky family at the local farmers market but the future of a food supply in this country that has relied on foreign countries and large corporations. If you are looking for the freshest and highest quality you are looking for these seemingly rare and obscure farms that are finding a life and a level of success against odds of the current economy and naysayers of the media.  I intend to introduce you to some of these farmers and share their stories with hopes that you will feel inspired for a life change and confidence that if farming is your choice it is possible and profitable. I also plan to share suggestions as well as basic information that can enable you to pursue such success in an agrarian lifestyle.  Successful authors claim that you right best about what you know. With that being said our first story will be ours. Stay tuned to hear how we got our start, how our success is growing and where we are growing even though we started with almost nothing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

RIP Deer Edward

What is that behind the cactus?  Is that an Alpine goat amongst the Nubians?  No, that is Edward the deer.  Edward was born about two years ago in our front pasture and abandoned by his mother.  He raised himself there safely away from predators with good access to the goat water trough and tasty left over alfalfa hay we use to herd our girls out to pasture.  We saw him fairly regularly and thought he was a girl for the longest time.  We used to call him Ethel, until this year when he became very bold and unafraid of us. We discovered Ethel was really Edward when he got close enough that we saw his dangly bits.  He would join the herd whenever they were out and would help himself to our front yard when the gate was open.  Notice in the picture that our guardian dogs didn't even pay attention to him anymore.  Now the bad news is that Edward thought he was a goat and could not understand why he wasn't allowed to be with the girls. He jumped into their pen twice and had to be chased out each time (not an easy task, and worthy of America's funniest videos).  In a panic, he knocked over our herd queen Love Bug, and in the process cut her udder with his hoof.  The second time around he knocked down our herd dog who was assisting me up until then in the chase.  To make things worse, when the girls began cycling and were ready to be bred, he decided he is in love with them.  We decided Edward had to leave, he crossed the line.  A few phone calls were made trying to decide what to do.  Well, it seems our neighbor took care of things and he reported yesterday that our deer Edward has left for greener pastures.  RIP my confused dear Edward, sorry it had to end this way.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is it HOT or what?

What is that sizzling sound? Oh, it's M in her wading pool.  Sixty days and counting of temperatures 100 degrees or higher with a whopping 110 degrees yesterday and today.  Ouch!  Luckily Nubian goats have those big floppy ears (think great heat disbursement).  Our goats are doing just fine and are still making lots of great milk.  Amazing. We love our girls!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anniversary Came and Went

Our business anniversary came and went this year.  Who had time to celebrate what with kids being born every few weeks, millions of projects to complete on the farm, and business steadily increasing? We want to thank everyone who has supported us through this endeavor.  It has been an adventure filled tough and glorious year.  It is all of you who make what we do worth the effort.  As a tribute to my wonderful husband Eric I want to post a poem of sorts about being goat farmers.  This resonates in my heart and describes many aspects of our life on the farm.  This is for you honey.  Happy Belated Anniversary!  I hope all of you reading enjoy it too.  P.S. Thanks Steven for the great picture taken at the Scardello Cheese tour.

I’m Only a Goat Farmer
(Author unknown)
I’m only a goat farmer.
I know the sun, the soil, the wind, the rain, and the cold.
I am the man who works with them, who loves them, and sometimes fears them.

I’m only a goat farmer.
I am the sower of seeds, the tender of stock, and the reaper of the harvest. 
I am sweat, tears, and pride.

I’m only a goat farmer.
I am the man who feeds the young, and the old, the weak, and the strong.  I am the black earth of spring, the green pastures of summer, the harvest gold of autumn, and the cold white stillness of winter.

I’m only a goat farmer.
I am warm memories of the past, the steely reality of the present, and a hopeful dream of the future.  I am an optimist, a thinker, a watcher, and a doer.

I’m only a goat farmer.
I live in a complex world made of simple things, and they are my source of joy, hope, and comfort.
I have walked in the early morning fog.   I have paused for the summer song of the meadowlark, and enjoyed the beauty of the wildflowers.
I have savored the warm summer breeze off freshly cut hay.
I have paused, remembering, by the pond I knew as a boy. 
I have felt the power of a thousand thunderstorms and rejoiced in the fresh world left in their wake.

I’m only a goat farmer.
I am an accountant, a chemist, and a doctor.
I am a midwife, and a mechanic.  I am seller, a trader, and buyer.  I am husband, helper, and partner to my wife.
I am father, comforter, and teacher to my kids.

I’m only a goat farmer.
Not a man of riches, but a man of great wealth.  I have learned to treasure life and all things living.
To respect their maker, and my own.
I am humbled by earth’s bounty and awed by endless rebirth at kidding time.
I am fascinated by the marvelous minutiae of my world and enriched by their beauty.

I’m only a goat farmer.
If a man can be truly free, then I truly am.
The day, the week, the month, they have been entrusted to me.  They are mine to spend.  They are mine to invest.  They are mine to use wisely.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Run with the angels my precious boy

It is with intense sadness and grief that I must report that Ace (pictured at front) lost his life yesterday morning to unknown circumstances.  We awoke to find him barely alive and despite attempts at life saving measures it was just too late.  We will always remember you.  May you forever run with the angels in heaven my precious boy.