A friend and trusted advisor came by the farm this last week as we were picking citrus. As we toured the farm and talked about my plans and the steps needed to make that happen he said to me "well there is no doubt you are ambitious". His comment gave me pause and I've been thinking about that for a few days now mostly because I sure never viewed myself that way.
I had prepared to write a post about the last year's work that the family had pulled off so I reviewed my iPhoto "last 12 months" folder. I was even more shocked to see just how ambitious we really are when it was documented in photographs. Our family still wouldn't call it ambition and would more likely describe it as a humble assault on our mission. What I think I mean is I'm not comfortable with implication that ambition has to have a relentless focus on a difficult goal. While I do have goals certainly my goal has always been very fluid as a farmer and husband. That's why we create excellent products and have so much diversity here. I've never been comfortable with being defined as a Hog farmer, or just shepherd, or egg man. I simply want to be known as Geoff and be remembered well for the time our paths crossed. Call me determined but not ambitious. Call me thankful but not blessed. Call me humble but not hesitant.
This is almost exactly a year apart. Feels like a week to me. The picture on the left was when we were in New Territory/Sugarland area and on the right lambing in the back barn in Needville.
This year our sheep volume has more than tripled. We have grown our flock an made some great friends along the way. Sheep people really are great people. The kids here in this picture are discussing "which ewes we should buy" at an auction/sale barn in Duncan Oklahoma. Thankfully for us sale barn season comes for a few very hot months in the summer. The family spent many hours hauling the stock trailer all over this great state this year. We call it "solving the worlds problems" and "barry farm executive meetings" as we drive and talk for hours the 4 of us in the truck. To me it's priceless.
As our community began to embrace what we had been preaching the demand for Red Wattle pork soared . We worked as hard as nails to keep up with the demand, but still fell short despite a 75% increase this last year in pork production. This year we have already committed to more than we have ever raised. Thank you for supporting these beautiful and intelligent animals. Pastured Pork can be a lot of work at times but we are thoroughly committed to making a stand for them. Outside all the time acting like pigs were created to act. They deserve this kind of life and you deserve this kind of pork, thanks for allowing us to be the farm family that serves it to you.
A hidden treasure we discovered more deeply this year was our ability to work together and to love the joy of labor. A balance is always struck when it comes to working with kids, and the balance is "how much do you put them in dangerous situations". Letting a 9/10 year old drive the truck in the pasture while Renee and I pitch hay for our 8 year old to stack could potentially be a disaster. But to us it also has potential to be a big big deal for our kids. The hear from us "you can do it" and "I trust you" and "i'm right here with you" and "I got ya" These are all God things and I repeat to them just what he tell me, but with different intent. We worked a lot this year together as the farm got much bigger in both scope and scale. All of us are better for it.
When we purchased the Needville version of the barry farm we also purchased a large citrus orchard. The last of the citrus was picked this week and the juicing is under way to preserve it the rest of the year. Farmers, farmers market patrons, restaurants, co - op's and diners all enjoyed the fruits of this orchard.
As a hi light, we took home 3rd place in the Gulf Coast Citrus Show for Kumquat. We we weren't terribly surprised as we eat a handful when passing by the trees and enjoy them greatly.
This year we also threw our hat into the ring on on farm experiences. Hosting many many tours since moving to Nedville, whole hog butchery classes, farm dinners, brunches and special events. They are a stretch for us as we are opening ourselves up to lots of things. This is our home, our work, our play almost our entire world, and we let 'strangers' here all the time. I love ever bit of it, but it is typically much more enjoyable to me retrospectively. Thank you for all the generous and gracious attenders of this last years events.
To round out this year we have completed our custom label as we expand our meat chicken footprint and will begin to increase our pastured chicken production late winter early spring. And if that wasn't enough we installed and are working on an acre of kiowa blackberries, figs and 2 varieties of peaches. Sorry no pictures of those things yet.
Thank you really from the bottom of our hearts. We take enormous pride in the kind of agrarians we are and believe we are developing a world class product line. However our hope has always been to be the kind of people that you are proud to know and call friends. Our ambition is to act with mercy, seek righteousness, live a life with a clean heart, learn to be peacemakers, be meek with others hearts, and to love the poverty to which we are called. Join with us in this ambition: the ambition of the barry farm farmer.