Farm Frolics & Flote Festival ’22

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!

 

 

 

March 2022 Pork Operation

Pigs are an awesome addition to a farm, they’re just like dogs, but socially acceptable to eat, and presumably more delicious.  I need to make an assumption on one of those.  We started our pig journey in Fall 2021 with two Kune Kune pigs, but due to the loss of one, we ended up getting 2 more Yorkshire pigs after show season ended.  We are ready to expand!

Since South Texas Livestock Auctions stopped allowing Swine, local producers have been severely hobbled.  This among other issues has motivated me to build LocalFirst.Live, similar to a Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist just for farmers and consumers to interact, but some lack of time and funding has set that back a bit.  Anyway, I hope to connect more farmers and grow this operation enough to employ a couple of family-run, pig farrowing operations.  Both are specialties and have their own challenges, I want to pay someone else for being good at making bacon seeds.

 

After building systems and some makeshift infrastructure, we are happy with the quality of life for the pigs on-farm and the processes developed to care for them.  We don’t graze them on the “sugar sand” or beach sand as I call it, at the back of our farm because they cause damage to the ecosystem, but they do wonderful on the clay-sand-loam on the front of our property.  There are a few areas that were overgrazed in decades past, so we concentrate feeding, housing, and water in those areas to maximize disturbance and regenerate the land back to growth, away from desert. We also deliver plenty of nutrients to those damaged areas with the extra pig fertilizer from their feed and rear ends, in addition to water spillage. Wallows are welcomed as the ground is like concrete when dry and needs some texture to hold water when it does rain.

The pigs are genuinely a joy to work with.  While their curiosity can be a little terrifying at times, especially when they want to eat your shoe, they are like giant, hungry dogs.  They run to you for snacks and head scratches, they respect the fence and live their best pig lives until the one bad day, when they go to freezer camp.  We certainly don’t enjoy sending these piglets to freezer camp, but we certainly feel better knowing that our meat had a quality life and wasn’t abused like the atrocities noted in the factory food system.  There is also the Soy concern, which I can absolutely attest to the problems of, as the father of 2 girls.

 

For all you folks concerned about us having enough pork for you this season, get on over to pre-order a pig ahead of time.  You won’t find them cheaper and at this quality level.  Prices will go up considerably once they make it to the freezer.  Either way, we will have the stock for a short period of time this year and will have even more next year.

 

Contact us to get on our list for updates and to know when we get more stock.

Our First Year

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.