It has been a full year since beginning this venture. The house is nearing completion, the farm is coming along, fencing has been installed, then needed to be repaired, and now needs more repairs, but that’s just how it goes when you don’t have enough time. Even better, we were able to maintain our day jobs and my wife is about to complete her Ph.D.! We couldn’t be more excited for the future, but boy was it ever a tough journey and we’re still on it. I read a quote today that really sums this up well, “Every path has a few mud puddles”. Down here in South Texas, there aren’t many mud puddles, but this path sure has had a few and it is steep.
My piece of advice for all those folks wanting to start a farm, buy a piece of junk house with land (period). If we hadn’t got this house that took 2 full months to make livable, then spent the following 18 months (we’re still finishing up a few things) to make nice, we would have never been able to afford a farm. The barn is in shambles, the rats are everywhere, but we have a farm and after a lot of work, a clean, livable home. My wife was still in Hawaii for the first 10 months, focusing on her career, working way too long of days while also working through her dissertation and literally all of the reading for this Ph.D. She got promoted, I am eager to stay right where I am. While she was becoming Sugar Mama, I was single Dad’n it up. That experience, while a lot of suck, brought the kids and me closer and taught them quite a few valuable skills. They learned just how important a part of the team they were on those late nights when we needed dinner and I just couldn’t cook it. At 6 & 9, they worked together with the skills I taught them to make chicken, fry frozen veggies, get in the shower, and get us all to bed for school and work in the morning.
If anyone ever said farming was easy, they’re a freakn liar! If you are new and think it’s this beautiful, magical thing, you’re kind of right, but only if you’re seriously into long, difficult days and are ok going to bed and work the next day know the fence isn’t working and just praying nothing gets in to eat the animals and they don’t get out to eat a truck bumper. Pasture-raised meat may be the best quality, but it is considerably more work than a feedlot or barnyard. The pasture moves are a ton of work, but it enables us to stay drug and wormer free. Pastured chicken in San Antonio is a great impact on the land, adding plenty of fertilizer, but the lack of available rain makes everything harder. The pastured pork is especially fun, we love their personalities and so long as we keep them on the clay and off the sand, they are wonderful on the land. The pastured lamb is a breeze, they are easy on the fence and easy on the land, they just need moved and a mineral feeder, which we get from Free Choice Enterprise. The mineral feeder and mineral is quite expensive, but it enables us to have top-notch lamb and healthy stock.
San Antonio is hot and dry, with surprisingly chilly “winters”. While this winter barely constitutes a spring up north, it is enough to freeze water from time to time and require a real shelter for the animals. At the end of each hard day, we sit down to a dinner of the absolute best meat money can buy, with the knowledge that we helped create it. That is a feeling you can’t replicate.