A unique wealth.

I so love our farm dinners. There is a unique interpersonal intersection that can transcend the authenticity of the food and really change your expectations if you allow it too.  Sure, it can require a step of vulnerability to allow this change to happen but, I am here to attest that I am a better farmer, husband and daddy because of it.   Taking the risk of allowing people to see the 'walls down' version of ourselves is the only way to learn new things about how others truly see us.  In the end, my goal at the farm has always been for people to know us farmers for far more than our products.  We want average people to see average farmers just as we are,  quite possibly for the first time. I can make a pork chop and a metal barn sound really lofty can't I?   More than once I have received the feedback that those goals are simply too much to ask of people.  On purpose we have resisted the model of cheap and convenient.  We have competitors (if you can call them that) that buy cheaply raised animals from all over the state, bring them to Houston, and sell them as locally raised.  This is the only way to get you a cheap never ending supply of favorite cuts conveniently packaged for your home.  If that's the best local farming in Houston can offer, you can count the Smith Family out.  I'm not interested one bit in cheap and convenient products because I am not interested in cheap and convenient relationships.  To be truly seen as a family and a farm it takes risk to stand for a set of values that are non negotiable and can be unpopular.  However, in that process we may just discover that local farms have very little to do with products and have everything to do with people caring about each other.  We love you and Houston way too much to have a relationship built on anything less than loving excellence.   

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When the tour had ended at the last farm dinner I had a quick conversation with one of our guests.  It was obvious to her after meeting our family, and then seeing the amount of labor and love it takes to pull this off, that we were stretched pretty thin.  We talked of the challenges of this kind of farm and the opportunities that it provided for our kids.  Then something she said cut right through my thinking.  She said "Geoffrey, you have a unique kind of wealth here that none of us could ever attain".   To hear the words wealth and me in the same sentence, felt dirty for some "deep seated protestant preacher's son" kinda reason.  We struggle to make ends meet and I work two full time jobs, how in the world could I be wealthy no matter the measurement?   Hold that thought....

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As I drove into work today I got a call on my cell phone.  I commute almost an hour to work so I often have a minute to return or take calls that need catching up on.  A long time friend called to tell me that I was on his heart this weekend and wanted to remind me that my family is unique.  He said to me that it's possible that he has lovingly spoiled his children and that he was proud of the way we have raised our kids.  He recalled his own up bringing that sometimes had left him wanting for the basics as a child.  A place to stay and a full belly weren't always guaranteed.  Because of his love for his kids he works a lot to provide for not only all their needs but their wants as well.  Jokingly he said "my kids biggest dilemma in life is weather to play x box or the PlayStation."    My friend concluded our conversation by thanking me for being an example to him and his family by the way we live our life.  Hold that thought too....

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Being referred to as having wealth seems to fly in the face of what feels to us as continued struggle.  The Barry Farm gobbles up every nickle we make and we cannot simply afford lots of the luxuries that most homes have.  Seamus would love an Xbox or a PlayStation, but he has neither.  We don't eat out much, I haven't bought a new pair of jeans in 4-5 years and still wear thing that were bought in Vermont 13 years ago.  When Layla want's something that is not a necessity she works around the farm and I pay her 10.00/hr.   Pocket money for the fair, new boots, or the third repair to her trombone all come from her labor.  Layla knows just how hard it is to get a dollar and is usually very thrifty because of it.  Let me be really honest and plain about my point here.  The struggle isn't a journey.  It has no preordained conclusion, but rather the struggle is what we were called as your friends to do.  Our struggle has made a tight knit family that loves each other and enjoys simple things, but would still give the shirt off my back to someone that needs it.  The farm struggles FOR YOU, so that our relationship and your relationship with it will be inconvenient but, as real as anything in this world can be.  Act like a farmer and stop avoiding the struggle.  Your family will prove how strong they are and their character shine if you begin to work in the daily friction like we do.  Avoid the cheap crap that fills our bellies and our lives and instead embrace the saying on my wife's home decor and let it be well with your soul.