Rain, Tricks, and Eggs: Life at Smart Growth Farms

Rain, Tricks, and Eggs: Life at Smart Growth Farms

It’s been a scorching summer here at Smart Growth Farms, but God has smiled upon us with a change in weather. Bringing some much-needed rain and cooler temperatures, grass is beginning to grow again. As the rain pours down, the dry lot where our sheep have been confined turns into a muddy playground, and they will be ecstatic to get on some fresh grass. Oddly enough, they detest hay.

But let’s talk about the real mischief-makers on the farm – the pigs. These sneaky little turds have been up to no good, playing tricks on our poor dogs. We suspect they’ve been scaling the barn roof, taunting the dogs from above. That’s the only logical explanation for why our loyal canines hate them and bark incessantly at night. It’s a never-ending battle of wits between the pigs and the dogs, and we can’t help but guess what happens during the night.

Now, let’s move on to the feathered residents of Smart Growth Farms – the chickens. These clucky ladies have been holding out on us all summer, not laying a single egg. We’ve been feeding and caring for them; all we got in return was an empty nesting box. But finally, the tides have turned, and the eggs are starting to roll in.

Oh, the joy of collecting fresh eggs from our very own chickens! No more relying on others or paying the grocery store for eggs from who knows what feed and care. The satisfaction of cracking open a warm, freshly laid egg for breakfast is unparalleled. It’s a small victory but one that brings us immense delight.

From Farm to Family: Far From Finished.

From Farm to Family.

The days go on, rapidly passing in this endless life loop. With full-time careers, kids overly scheduled for activities, rigorous Farmer’s Market tempo, and an endless to-do list, we found ourselves burning out as we operated at warp speed from the latter year’s holiday without reprieve. Where had the time gone? What had been accomplished? And, what did it mean if, in the end, there was no joy?

Summer times here, a time for laughter, adventure, and long nights in the backyard, spending quality time. Josh and I have realized we can’t have it all right now. For us, family is the focus. We only have a finite time to spend time and make memories. So, we have just decided to slow down. Take some of the livestock we raise out of cycle, scale back on Farmer’s Market attendance, and pursue more joy. 

Joy in Short.

In pursuit of joy, we find ourselves doing more projects at home together, building imperfect creations that spark joy. Whether it be a brooder, a tallow recipe, or a gardening hack, we’ve re-found pleasure in creation. The girls are really into creative writing, and it has been a treat as they develop various archetypes, often narrating their latest iteration with great artistic license and often using their baby brother as a stage prop, lol. On a more intentional note, we spend more time in the Word and fellowship with our family in Christ, joy words cannot define. The slowdown has created this microcosm of joy that has transformed us in unexpected yet better ways.

With that, we continue to care for rabbits, chickens, ducks, sheep, pigs, and the occasional cow; however, this is less about creating products and more about feeding our family and community enough supply to meet customers’ demands as needed. So, this is not “so long,” as we will continue to attend a few markets and are hopeful for other products we are testing at Smart Growth Farms. We are only reframing how we do business to maximize family time beyond the grind.

Psalm 16:11. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

 

And Just Like That, It’s January: We’re Juggling!

The Beginning of The End of The Year.

I cannot recall December. We often went 100 MPH during a time that should have been slow and deliberate. Yet, with visits, gifts, and events, we just picked up with January and pressed. In November, I received a notification from my job that I would have to leave for 35 days to attend training in Alabama. It could not have been more poorly timed. January and February are big celebratory months for us, kids’ birthdays and my and Josh’s anniversary. This year, we planned to visit Disney World for Emerson’s 1st birthday; upon notification of my training, I was notably vexed as days prior, we’d secured a hotel for our Florida trip.

Naturally, Josh and I were fuming about this disruption. We thrive as a unit; I am unsure if there is more to say. We work well together; the girls are fantastic ranch hands and sisters to each other and their baby brother. So, the idea of not taking them on this trip was quite disheartening. But, as is the life of a dual-military family, the trip was delayed, and I was off to Alabama on 4 January…yay. As I write from training, I cannot quite explain how it feels as a first-time mom to be away from your child; I feel like I cannot breathe; God knows, I am not sleeping (hello insomnia).

As we navigate my absence, Emerson has only slept separately from me for two nights with my mom in our home. Plus, he moved daycare rooms, so I am filled with many fears. The girls [unfortunately] returned to public school (a convo for another day). It feels very unsettling not to have been there to walk them to their classes and meet their teachers. On top of that, my husband has military duty, the kids and their activities, the farm, and other community responsibilities. I feared that he would burn out, but he is holding strong. My hero.

Josh has unmatched discipline. I pity the fool who thinks they work harder than him. There is no pity party; he gets it done. He has the farm running like a well-oiled machine. I watched him build cross-fencing in December, pounding holes and wiring for hours. He has been at farmer’s markets most weekends and delivering meat to local customers (thank you to our supporters). The silver lining through this experience has been the support of our local friends watching Emerson and the girls, dropping them off to and from practices; we are largely successful because of our family by choice, our friends. I was relieved that Josh was running the housefront well. However, it did not stop me from jumping on the first plane back to Texas to spend time with my family and give him a much-needed break.

My Visit Home, Texas!

Of course, getting home was no small feat. My flight was delayed two hours, causing me to miss my connection. I got to San Antonio after midnight versus 8 p.m., woof. Josh was sick when I arrived. So, I was happy to be home to give him space to rest. That did not happen; he had a farmer’s market on Saturday, the girl’s basketball season started, and we celebrated our newest 9-year-old’s birthday. I woke up on Saturday, and he was gone. So, it was the kids and me. We went for Booba Tea, donated, and watched some early basketball games. Between waking up and getting to the basketball game, I got really sick. I could not hear or breathe, and I quickly went hoarse. Help! Despite this, I carried on.

The Return to Alabama.

I was sick the entire trip, my head fully congested with aching ears as each plane ride gained elevation. I don’t think I have had a worse head cold. I returned to my hot military lodging that only possessed a cold water option in the shower. I was so sick I did not care. I took a very cold shower and slept in a warm room with a box fan. I woke up on Tuesday and was returned to my room immediately, where I was asked to get a COVID test (boo!). Needless to say, I was in denial as I had not had COVID thus far. BAM! COVID +, how fun. Since the test results, I have been stuck in this musty hotel room. So, I am writing.

Joy in the Juggle.

You know, the Ritchey family is a resilient bunch. We put our heads down and work. We don’t require much to thrive, and we try to do the best we can with what we are handed, but dang. This new year’s start has come for our jugular. We could easily say, “why me/us,” but what do we gain from that? We consider every shift thus far a test of our obedience and discipline; we adapt. There is beauty in the mess and redemption in our challenges. I guess that is the upside of recognizing that it is a new year, same Jesus. We continue to accept His will and do the work required to sustain ourselves even amid disruption. We will keep our heads up and stay prayed up, knowing this is all temporary. So, I share this story to encourage you to find joy in the juggling of life; things don’t always work our way, or with the ease, we sometimes come to expect, but with obedience and discipline, any challenge can be endured and championed, stay encouraged!

The Farm is Coming Along

We had a lot of internal debate this year as we dealt with blue hairs in the neighborhood upset that farm animals were allowed on our 12 acres, learning the hard way that we didn’t have enough land or the proper infrastructure for cattle, heavy predation on our ducks and chicks, and the list goes on.  We debated heavily over whether or not to sell our property and move further into the county or stay put.  Well, we decided to stay put.  We started this venture partly because I couldn’t find any organic chicken near me.  My wife couldn’t find any grass-fed beef near San Antonio, and feeding our kids quality meat is critical.  By moving out into the county, folks around us wouldn’t have the educational opportunity and we wouldn’t be able to add as much value to the community.  We’re also focused on showing people that you can be better than a certified Organic Farm in San Antonio.  South Texas is a harsh climate, but you don’t have to spray or pour on all the chemicals for good production, that’s how you get the concrete-like dirt we have on some of our pastures.  This isn’t to say we will never move, we will need more land at some point, but for now, we’re staying on our original farm.

Scaling on this little farm has been incredibly challenging without water.  While we get super cheap water from the city, a 3/4″ water line at the street just isn’t enough pressure to get the animals water on the far side of our property and not enough to run sprinklers to get the grass growing again after we rotate animals through the pasture.  In a mega-drought year like this one, water only becomes more necessary.  All that to say, we’re about to take on some serious debt to increase our sustainability and decrease our reliance on outside grain for our pigs.  We had a permaculture designer (Nick Ferguson) come in this summer and anticipate his design before Christmas.  Nick with HomeGrownLIberty.com may have made the entire trip worthwhile with his recommendation of White Mulberry trees.  There is some data to show that pigs can eat up to 92% of their diet from White Mulberry leaves.  That is significant as a pig easily consumes 800-900 lbs of grain on pasture.  To grow these trees in the hot desert-like environment of south Texas, we need water and a bunch of organic matter.

This is where the loan comes in.  We’re preparing to spend $25K on a well and another $12K on irrigation. I encourage folks to think about that next time they ask why it costs so much.  Each pig is about $1K in feed as it stands, not including processing, transport, market fees, the baby pig from the farrowing farmer, and all the government fees on top of it.  It’s no wonder we only have big factory farms at this juncture, taking care of animals AND the land is hard and expensive.  Who can afford it?

A lot of folks ask, “If you’re doing all that to improve the land, why not get the Organic label?”. Unfortunately, the Organic label doesn’t mean anything anymore.  The government gets in there, adds in a bunch of genius lobbyist ideas and now we have a watered-down version of commercial farming with a spiffy new label.  Beyond the destruction of the meaning behind Organic, you’re looking at a stack of paperwork taller than your average adult, well over a decade of work, and even more money.  We are confident our product is better than organic.  The feed we give our animals is better than organic, namely because all the organic feed you get in Texas has soy to meet the protein requirements.

  • Peanuts and other legumes are extremely sensitive to herbicides resulting in far less spraying. This ensures a lot fewer chemicals in the feed and therefore your meat.

Our feed is a peanut and milo-based grain. We partner with Smith Pastures to drive to Waco once each month for a big feed run.  It’s expensive in fuel and takes an entire day, but Steve & Sandy are dedicated to supporting the local community, and for that, we’re forever grateful.  With any luck, our future White Mulberry fodder will reduce the need for feed by at least 25%.

In our drive to scale this year, we now have 12 pigs on pasture, those guys can EAT.  We’re going through ~150lbs each day and anticipate nearly $12K in feed cost before they go to the processor and bring in another hefty bill before market.  Thank god for our day jobs because this scaling thing sure ain’t easy.  We love farming and encourage others to start, but do so with your eyes wide open.  Farming isn’t super profitable, it’s unreasonably expensive, and a quality product takes a whole lot of explaining for the average consumer to understand.  Farming can be a whole lot cheaper, but when you’re striving to be better than Organic, especially in San Antonio. you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you.

The last couple of big updates before Thanksgiving, we tried Pick Your Own Turkey, probably not going to do that again.  The little house is almost done and freezer space is expensive and hard to come by. Turkeys are wonderful and quite fun to have around the farm, unfortunately, they eat a TON, nobody wants a giant 45 lb turkey, and we have yet to find a bag big enough to package a turkey over 20lbs.  Also, we learned the hard way, it is crucial to restrain the heck out of them at processing, or all that flapping as you catch them results in bruising which looks green.  I don’t expect a customer to be happy with a green spot on a turkey at $7/lb, so we ended up with a lot more turkey than we anticipated.  We love the quality meat, but it sure is hard on the profit margins.  For a first-time run, we should break even, which is a whole lot better than a loss.  Suffice it to say, we don’t plan on doing Turkeys next year, we’ll let that to Smith Pastures.  In a mad dash to find enough freezer space for our 4 Berkshires heading off to Freezer Camp around Thanksgiving, we ran across Lisa’s Appliances in Lytle, TX.  We are over the moon with their amazing customer service, selection, and prices.  I have been quite clear with Alan that I don’t think they charge enough on repairs, but they won’t hear anything of it. They helped us out with 2 single-door stand-up freezers and a jumbo double-door freezer.  The little processing house I have been remodeling for the past 6 months is near completion, just waiting on electricity and it’s packed with freezers. We have bets on the monthly electric cost, hopefully, we’re overestimating that. Either way, it will feel amazing to finally complete that and maybe get a weekend back to just sit and not have something that needs to be done.  Fat chance we take advantage of that and don’t work, but it sure would be nice to not have to work if we don’t want to.

Alright, you farmy people, it’s about time to sleep harder and faster so I can work on the feed/fence trailer and get a shed moved in the morning.  As always, if you’re in the San Antonio area, looking for farm fresh meat and better than organic, local meat, we are your go-to.  We’re happy to deliver, we just ask that if you’re outside the Devine area you make it worth the gas money, it’s not cheap these days.  Local food is crucial as HEB runs out and shortages become real, find a farmer near you and build that relationship so you’re not hungry when shelves go empty.

Hustle and Home.

Into The Thick of it…

Universal Studios, CA

With full-time careers and a house full of kids, the rigamarole of farming and running our business as a side hustle can leave Josh and me running on fumes. Last weekend, Josh went all in on finishing our second house on the property that will double as our business space and Josh’s brewing hobbies. Meanwhile, I felt like I was going in circles, cleaning up after the house pets and kids with hopes of organizing. As I feverishly cleaned baby bottles while thinking about all the prep work we needed for our next market event, the realization hit me like a bull bucking an unwanted passenger that sometimes you have to let the little things go. Keeping a house hygienic is a priority. However, keeping our home clean as if it is not lived in is absurd. We have so many things going on simultaneously that we cannot worry about shoes being stored in the wrong place or hair brushes on the kitchen island. We are no longer concerned with unfolded laundry sitting on the couch for a few days…or longer (haha).

What Really Matters.

In our family, we prioritize family. We work hard and enjoy the fruits of our labor together. Whether it be a family movie, game night, or smores over the fire pit, we enjoy time well spent together. The markets are busy, and we are in the throws of volleyball, soccer, and girl scout season. Josh and I are somehow juggling all of these things, which is not always pretty and is often exhausting. But, at the end of each night, after the kids have wound down with a family t.v. show and headed off to bed, Josh and I get to reflect over the day, laughing at what most would not understand by proxy of us sharing the same professional career (we spend almost all of our time in nearness, and I love it). The day’s reflection makes us grateful to one another and for our life because there is an invaluable richness to experiencing life and love with someone you can depend on through the good, bad, and downright ugly.

Let it go, Let it go…

So, let the dishes pile up and let the dog double as the vacuum cleaner; I am sure the dog loves the floor treats. And, if you are local, enjoy the pleasant, relaxed sunny day at your local farmers market. You can meet us this Saturday at Decock Farm in Castroville, TX (30 min outside of San Antonio) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Say hello, and check out our pasture-raised, non-soy, non-GMO meats.

And don’t forget that you can never go wrong when eating smart with Smart Growth Farm!

Arizona State University’s Biodome II, AZ

Fun on the Farm & Financial Foundations!

Laughter, the Antidote to FarmWork

Farming is hard work, no doubt. You start early and have long days. It, at times, can feel like a heavy lift. And, at other times, a breeze. Regardless of which side of the slippery scale we are on, we always find a way to bring laughter into the mix. Whether that be the sheep stampeding in the opposite direction of their new paddock or me falling into the temporary fencing after we burn many calories coercing the sheep into their paddock with alfalfa pellets, and I find my way out of the fencing, we can get through the day together with laughter.

Farmer Markets and Girl Scouts: Our Girls Mean Business

As young entrepreneurs with a young family, we try our best to ensure our kids (10, 8, and 7 months) understand our business practice from beginning to end. They work the farm to include processing. They wake up before sunrise on market days to help set up. And they are the salesmen and cashiers, processing bitcoin, credit cards, and cash. To keep their motivation up, they receive a percentage of the earnings for each transaction they make at the market.

They are also Girls Scouts and take it very seriously. With fall product season upon us, the girls were on double duty last week at the market. They were making transactions for the market and promoting their chocolates and nuts. Their efforts paid off as they made their percentage for the day with the market, but they each surpassed their sales goal for Girl Scouts, each garnering the title “Top Troop Sellers”; there are only two people in the troop that can hold this title. This is a huge win for them as they worked beyond their fears and made those sales. Between the markets and Girl Scouts, the girls are making us proud as community servant leaders and future entrepreneurs (fingers crossed)!

This weekend we will be at another market. Although the girls have reached the required goal to attain all patches, they are excited to push themselves as salesmen and plan to work our booth while also eagerly boosting their Girl Scout product sales in their highly coveted vests!

So, if you are local, you can meet us at Decock Farm in Castroville, TX (30 min outside of San Antonio) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Say hello, check out our pasture-raised, non-soy, non-GMO meats, and see our girls in their prime.

You can never go wrong when eating smart with Smart Growth Farm!

The Ritchey Family

Sweet Surrender to Seasonal Shifts in September!

The dog days of summer are ending, and we are feeling more relaxed afternoons (~91-95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the great state of Texas! With cool days and crisp leaves on the horizon, hearty meals become a staple in our home. Stews and roasts with fresh veggies from our local farmers market are something our family savors. We are fortunate enough to enjoy pasture-raised, soy-free, non-GMO livestock from our farm to our family table; it is truly a blessing. There is something so special about enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. Caring for our animals as they relish in the grass-fed life is something in which we take pride. Given the state of the world, America, and experiencing what it means to live in a border town (our county is within 100 miles of the Mexico border), the world’s perils often fall away when working on our farm.

“Mud baths are the perfect temp these days.”


As we move into fall, the farmer’s markets are far more enjoyable in south Texas (30 miles from San Antonio, to be exact). We are ramping up to support several events and markets to share our meats and meat knowledge with the local communities we serve. At Smart Growth Farm, we believe that access to locally grown and properly cultivated food is something all Americans should have access to. Knowing where to find or receive locally sourced food should not be challenging in a bustling city or a rural town. And, as veterans who have traveled near and far in defense of this great country of America, we know how challenging it can be to attain nutritional food. So, Smart Growth Farm will always provide opportunities to share clean, nutritional food locally or across the U.S. So, check out our products and eat smart with Smart Growth Farms!

Be well,

The Ritchey Family


August 2022

As usual, we’re running at full speed, nearing completion on the farm office, kitchen, and brewing room.  That has been a very long process as we had to do most of the work on our own due to most contractors simply not showing up and the one who did was such a poor craftsman that we had to undo and redo a great deal of his work. We are pleased. We are pleased to announce that the farm building will be complete by Christmas, enabling us to expand freezer space to ensure we stop running out of meat as often.  We can also begin working out Kombucha recipes.  While we can’t sell that without a commercial kitchen, our friends at Smith Pastures are installing one this year, so we anticipate having Kombucha blends by early 2023. That will also clear a ton of poultry supplies out of the house as we currently do cuts in our kitchen, which makes sense, but does not allow much space for living. Having a totally separate kitchen for brewing and food prep will ensure we don’t lose our minds. I would say something about cleanliness and food standards, but we keep our place super clean, so I don’t see any improvement there.

 

In other news, the Red Rangers and Cornish Cross chicks from Hoover Hatchery are doing spectacular.  The Turkeys went out to pasture a week after the chicks arrived and are doing stellar.  We had some serious losses on the Cornish chicks the first 72 hours, losing 10 or 30, but they are doing wonderful since that point. We really can’t say enough good things about Hoover’s hatchery, but we will have to try another hatchery due to the heavy losses from transport, 3 days in the mail is just too long. They were kind enough to refund us for all the birds we lost in the first 48 hours, which is more than any other hatchery will do, but that shipping stress is simply too much.  We’re now looking at a New Mexico-based Hatchery and will try another local hatchery a second time to identify if the feed or the chickens were the problems.  With that note on feed, we have just started sourcing our feed from a church-based co-op near Waco, TX.  They are amazing!  The feed is some of the best I’ve seen, both for the pigs and the chickens.  Our health problems have completely vanished, and animals are growing much better.  The downside to our new feed provider is the 4-hour drive and doubled cost.  That also means a higher cost for customers, unfortunately, but with the feedback, we’re getting from our meat, we don’t expect that to be a huge problem.

The last update for this month is the lamb.  We sent 5 off to Freezer Camp, but have 4 more ready to go.  We would really like to find a Halal butcher in San Antonio, TX. We found Alamo Heights Market, but they can only do as small as quarters for our lamb and not individual packaged pieces under State or USDA regulation. If you know anyone, please reach out as we would really like to serve the Islamic Community with a high-quality, grass-fed lamb for Arbaʽeen, Eid-e-Shuja’, or Mawlid an-Nabī this year.  We chose to breed our herd in order to provide the lamb for these holidays specifically, but lack connections with the community, and our friends in other places don’t know anyone locally.

 

That’s all for this month folks, have a good one and be sure to check out what we’ve got in stock over at the store.

July 2022

We are officially in full swing of summer, though most wouldn’t know any different as we have been in the 100+ degree days since April, with not a hint of significant rainfall.  This makes sense being that the dry line seems to have moved closer to Dallas-Fort Worth, I still don’t have to like it though.  Drought is an ever-present worry for farmers, yet very few take sensible steps to address the problem, namely less water intensive practices or simply moving somewhere water falls from the sky.  We are actively working on the former as we don’t have a well to irrigate if we wanted to.  The downside is that we can’t feed just grass this year, that’s a huge bummer.  Not only does grain cost significantly more than grass and require more labor, but we also can’t regenerate burnt-out soils, sand in our case, without rain to grow something after we rotate the sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys over it.  Don’t fret over grain, we are sourcing ours from Coyote Creek, an Organic producer near Austin and the sheep still have a primary diet of hay and what grass does grow.

All that being said, we are doing significantly better than the folks farther West pulling water from Lake Meade.  That lake is nearly dry and their underground lake doesn’t have many years remaining.  We are lucky enough to have several aquifers that do recharge from time to time, though I am unsure how that will look in another 20 years, after we get all the West Coasters here, sucking up all the water for lawns, only time will tell.

 

Enough about problems, the farm is still doing great!  We have listed our 12 acres for sale as we hope to expand to more land in the county, outside city limits.  That will take some time to sell this property, then move everything, move the animals to a temporary farm, which we are beyond thankful for, then move to our new land once we find it and build perimeter fencing.  Driving the 15 min to the temp farm will be a huge challenge and stress as it’s never an easy sleep when you can’t check on the animals, that allows us two 20-acre parcels to graze on.  That saves us a significant amount of money and we are beyond grateful to the friends for allowing us to use their property.  While it sure would be nice to have a written lease, never look a gift horse in the mouth.   While we’re in flex, we are cutting our sheep herd down quite a bit.  This year’s lack of rain had decimated the sheep market, any of the sheep I don’t absolutely LOVE to deal with are headed to freezer camp.  The biggest reason beyond prices being so low is the simple fact that mutton burgers and sausage sell for $12-15/lb and lamb goes for 15-25/lb.  Even on a small lamb, that is far more than the competitive rate for even registered St Croix right now.  The price drop this year has me seriously thinking about leaving the registered community and breeding in some black-headed Dorper.  We’ll see how Joey B’s economy takes the farmer’s markets.

Pastured PIGS, PIGS, PIGS

The pigs are doing incredible and are such a joy to have on the farm.  They have been transitioned out of their training pen and are now happily living inside a large pasture, galloping about and playing with one another, as pigs do.  We just got out meat back from Dziuk’s in Castroville and we couldn’t be happier.  We got nice, 1.5″ thick cuts so you can have a REAL pork chop and really taste the difference.  This pork is nothing like you’ve ever had unless you frequently eat some of those rare breeds of pork. The pigs’ ability to have fun and live in an open environment really improves the meat quality more than words can explain.

 

Pasture Raised Turkey

We get our first batch of Turkeys in mid-July, and we are stoked, though Turkeys are notoriously difficult to raise due to heavy losses as babies.  Once you get them to pasture, they are practically bulletproof, which is great because hawks are not playing around during the dry periods.  We will let everyone know once we get them processed shortly before Thanksgiving.

 

If you want to learn more or just chat about the farm, starting a farm, or anything in between, catch us at DeCock Farm in Castroville for their 3rd Saturday market.  Starting in August we will be at the Devine Farmer’s Market as well.  You can find us by the logo as well as all the Bitcoin signs as we STRONGLY encourage business to be conducted in Bitcoin, over lIghtening to maximize privacy, speed, and reduce fees for everyone, also we love freedom.

Farm Frolics & Flote Festival ’22

Howdy, y’all!

Spring has sprung, but May showers [in south Texas] do not exist. Yet, the trees are sprouting leaves and there are flowers fighting to flourish, adding pops of color of varying hues of blues, purples, pinks, and such across the vast brown; what a beautiful time of the year. Josh’s efforts in the garden while I finished up my dissertation were not in vain. We are figuring out water, but are seeing the fruits of his labor. We shall enjoy the goodness of the garden soon enough!

Other than the garden, we have grown our farm since the last update, adding 60 chicks and two calves. They are loving the land. The cows escaped their area once and we found them hanging out under the trees on the property, enjoying the grass amongst the sheep. Our chicks have grown significantly and they are thankful for the heat protection we erected to protect them from the Texas sun. Speaking of escape artists, this month has been full of surprises with each of our animals escaping from their paddock at least once this month. Early morning, I was outside enjoying a cup of joe when I saw Ms. Pig perusing the land with the LGDs; she is easy to persuade back in with food, but who knows how long she’d been meandering around the farm. But, our sheep, specifically one ram and one ewe, love to roam the grounds separate yet close to the herd. We gather it is because they do not love the hay bales we provided for them. So, this week, we bought a bale of pea and peanut hay and they have remained in their paddock; seemingly, they are pleased, lol.

Last weekend, we left the farm for a short road trip to Gause, TX. We checked out the Flote Festival! What a good time it was. We attended a few speaking events, the kids were covered in paint, trying their hands at making tye-dye t-shirts, and we introduced our products to the festival attendees. The girls got a picture with Jeremy “Spike” Cohen an American libertarian political activist, entrepreneur, and podcaster. He was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice president of the United States in the 2020 election, serving as Jo Jorgensen’s running mate. How awesome is that?! On top of that, we kinda fangirled over Jack Spirko best known today as the host of The Survival Podcast. The show has been running since 2008 and now has over 3,000 episodes available on all aspects of self-sufficiency, self-reliance, independence, and personal liberty. What an awesome weekend!

This week, we are gearing up for a week-long road trip, visiting AZ, CA (don’t judge us), NV, maybe NM, and back home to the great state of Texas. Stay tuned for updates on this trip and other goodness happening around Smart Growth Farms!