a blog about meat that turned into a walk down memory lane

we have a ton of meat in this house! ok, not a ton but over 500 pounds…

i’m starting to get excited about it! you see…we don’t eat much meat around here. if we don’t know where the meat came from (and ‘from the grocery store’ doesn’t count!)…or as geoffrey describes it…if i can’t drive to the farm and see how and where the animal raised and talk to the farmer, then we don’t buy it! we have bought small amounts of local grass fed beef over the past year and i mean a small amounts! it’s expensive and you can’t just pick it up at the grocery store when you are there. so, we’ve been flexitarians the past few years…only eating meat on occasion.

now, i have over 100 pounds of beef in the freezer, like 400-500 pounds of rose veal, and 120ish pounds of heritage breed gourment pork! oh, and a turkey and one last lonely whole chicken! i have shepherd’s pie in the works right now for supper…its been years since i made it and i’m looking forward to it. i had pulled out two package of the ground rose veal and that’s what i am using. rose veal is from a calf who was still nursing on it mother but also ate from grass/hay. not your traditional milk veal from a little baby calf who didn’t see the light of day and was kept in a little pen. this rose veal is from bigger calves, months old who still were spoiled by having access to their momma’s milk while enjoying grass/hay in the pasture they roamed! now, that’s the life.

we, the barry farm, purchased two cow/calf pairs from a friend who just couldn’t afford to raise them anymore. we sent them off to the butcher and the beef went to 8 different families and the veal is sitting in our freezer waiting to be bought. if you are local and you want some contact me!

our four red wattle pigs we raised since the spring, went to the butcher shortly after the beef. they were split up between 10 families! geoffrey and i are so honored to raise animals that can feed so many. All the meat was ready for pick up at the same time too! Yikes! But, after delivering ALL the meat on monday we are happy to know that we can coordinate delivering about 2,000 lbs of meat across the greater houston area and have it all arrive still frozen! What a day it was… Still tired.

this is how it was growing up….the freezer was always full of meat! when it got low we had a family meeting about which cow looked the best and should be sent to the butcher! ultimately, my dad had the say. it had to be a cow that wasn’t producing to her full potential. we had a dairy farm so, she had to be plump and beefy but not cranking out the milk like she used to selling the milk is what paid the bills!

i remember raising pork and chickens at times but we always had beef in the cellar freezer! it feels like home…freezers full of good quality meat ready to make into delicious meals for my family. our kids are going to wonder what is up! like geoffrey and i, they haven’t eat much meat in the past few years. we all eat the same. we do go out for burgers occasionally but its at burger guys, a place that gets their beef from farm in west texas i believe. and not just any beef…gourmet beef! its delicious!

as i was preparing the shepherd’s pie today my mind was flooded with memories of growing up. when i was telling geoffrey last night i was going to make shepherd’s pie with the ground rose veal i pulled from the freezer he started describing how he remembered shepherd’s pie. but, he doesn’t remember my mom’s way. i made it just like my mom today! doesn’t it feel good to say that? pretty sure my grandmother (mama) made it the same way. how often do we say things like that? probably not as often as we should. i want to teach layla how to make shepherd’s pie like my grandmother and mom and also tell her how grammy (geoffrey’s mom) makes it. it may be different and i might prefer one way over another and have my own opinions about the healthiest way to prepare it but i don’t want to forget how mom, mama and grammy each made it!

so, today meat has gotten me feeling rather nostalgic! (listen to me…) i lead such a crazy life these days but an amazing one. a life changing one. i would have never thought in a million years that this is what my life would have looked like! my days are full of suburban living, urban farming, stay-at-home-momming… i knew i wanted to be stay-at-home-mom and i am very grateful to be able to living that dream and to be married to amazing man who helps make that possible. i did not know, however, that i would want to “farm” again…(my mom is laughing…)

when my crazy husband kept talking about wanting to farm…in houston…i mostly listened. He kept asking me all kind of questions seeing i was the one who actually had farming experience. There is one thing i’ve learned being with geoffrey for 8 years… He won’t give up on a dream. He’ll find a way. He’ll take risks. Learn from whatever mistakes might happen. He’s not afraid of failing so, this farming thing i knew was going to happen and there was no stopping him!

Now, that we have been on this farming journey for a year its amazing to look back and take account of all we have done! All the real food we provided. We are doing it folks! We are providing real, good, healthy food for our family and many others. This is what my parents, grandparents & great grandparents and great great grandparents did. Life has taken me (and my family) on its own journey but today i feel like i’m back to the way life was growing up! Back to my roots but with our own little twist. I thought i wanted to break away from that…i thought finding geoffrey & moving here to houston 5 years ago would be the break away that i wanted but…boy was i wrong. that break is so over.

Today tell your family, your kids or a good friend about something you remember about your ancestors. The gramma that crocheted you a blanket…the loved ones that moved their family to america for a better life…the grandfather who worked fields with horses or mules…the garden you remember your mother growing as a kid…your family that all lived within 15 minutes of each other…sunday dinners around the table…sleepovers with grandparents, or cousins or favorite aunts…the 14th generation dairy farmer your dad was (speaking of my father). Thats what i’m going to tell my kids as we eat the shepherd’s pie that is now out of the oven!

UPDATE – kids LOVED the shepherd’s pie although they wonder why its not shaped like a pie but called one. seamus made the comment that shepherd’s probably ate it! (luv him!!)

so, i was explaining what 14 generations means…i explained to the kids like this – papa was a dairy farmer, and my grandfather (papa’s dad) was a diary farmer and 12 more grandpas were dairy farmers before that! layla says to me…”so that makes us 15th generation farmers, right?” luv.her. 🙂

 

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new farmer’s workshop

yesterday geoffrey and drove to austin for a new farmer’s workshop put on by the texas organic farmer and gardener association (TOFGA). it was held a boggy creek farm which sits on about 5 acres of land inside austin city limits. we had  such a great time and it was great experience! great speakers and resources. larry and carol ann, the owners of boggy creek farm were very helpful and friendly and we both enjoyed talking to them! they have on site market days twice a week where about anywhere from 90-200+ attend one of those days.

the panel of speakers spoke on soil, selling produce to local restaurants, selling produce to whole foods markets in the austin/houston areas, CSAs, holistic crop management and a few other topics.

i meant to count but i think there were about 20-30 people. some people seemed to be couples while some were individuals. some of us were farming now, some where wanting to but looking for guidance, help, resources. of course geoffrey’s wheels were just a turning all day regarding our continued journey with the barry farm! it was a great day to share him!

we sat under the big shady trees on the farm’s front lawn. by the afternoon it was 98 degrees but it wasn’t too bad sitting in the shade. when i was talking with larry and telling him a bit of our story i told him i was born and raised in vermont. he said, ‘VERmont?! why would you ever leave there?’ of course i laughed and proceeded to tell him how i was so thrilled to be moving the city and would never in a million think my husband would want to farm in houston, texas!! we agreed that milking anything was out of the question and agreed to let me call him if geoffrey started talking about milking anything! 🙂

here are a few pictures i snapped with my trusty iphone seeing i didn’t have our camera.

 

 

larry talking with the group before the workshop started.

carol ann giving a tour of some of the farm.

one panel of speakers.

larry spraying down the trees behind us in the afternoon..it really did provide a bit of relief. such a smart old man!

 

what a day its gonna be!

oh boy…

such a glorious day! pretty sure its one for the books…and its not even noon yet!

this morning i’ve been running errands gathering plants and supplies for spring planting. home depot for some leaf/lawn bags and pair of good gloves for me. and a trip to buchanan’s for tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants. i also picked up some parsley, oregano and mint transplants. a quick stop at georgia’s for a local fresh chicken, some tea and some super seaweed.

geoffrey is off getting a generator from a friend then heading to the land to hopefully build chicken coops for the barry farms chickens we want to pick up next week! 🙂 this is been a long time coming and the fact that we are actually going to be farming is pretty cool! i never in a million years thought we would move to HOUSTON TEXAS and FARM! do you know how many times i have said or typed this word (farm) in the past few weeks? i am so proud of geoffrey and his fighting for this dream. often times dreams don’t come easy. they take work, effort, time, resources, research…its been a long road but a great one! looking forward to see all that becomes of the barry farm!

tonight we are going to the rodeo! we scored some sweet seats…well, at least i am pretty sure row A seats 8-9 are pertty sweet! we shall soon find out. we are going to with geoff’s dad and a good friend. our good friend rolly who just said goodbye to his parents and sister as they head back to philippines. geoffrey and i love the rodeo and its been a few years since we’ve gone. you will NEVER guess who we are going to see…never…

when you score good seats you score good seats not only for the concert that follows but also for the rodeo itself. boy i hope we are near the bull chutes! no matter, thanks LJS!!

so…its janet jackson! yup, a janet jackson concert follows the rodeo. should be interesting! we are going with good company and it’ll be something else we can add to the list of things we did in houston. went to the houston livestock show and rodeo and saw janet jackson! 🙂

enough about that…the best part of the day is we got our tax refund and i just put a check in the mail to payoff our car loan! hallelujah! we are so happy to be done it. so happy! we had the car for less maybe 15 months. love writing big fat checks and sending them to put toward auto loans! now that means the $205 car payment we used to make gets added onto the truck payment…so exciting! can’t wait for the day we pay that off! thank you dave ramsey and mark pickle at storehouse financial solutions.

now, i must get some things done around…its been pretty busy and i’m behind.

 

eggs, eggs and more eggs

so, the compost bucket was full and i asked seamus to take it out this morning. he whined a bit about it and geoffrey said he would help him. the next thing i know geoffrey asked me to come join them. in the corner of the yard near the compost bin was a big pile of eggs!!

go ahead…take a guess how many eggs are in there.

are you guessing?

geoffrey thought there was dozen.

nope.

there was more!

there were 19 eggs in that nice little pile!

19.

do you know what we could have done with those 19 eggs?? sigh…

when we were having that cold snap…that freezing cold snap, we weren’t getting many eggs. we thought it had to do with the weather. but, we also rearranged the coop and nesting box. they say if you fool around with the nesting box it’ll mess with the chickens and their egg production. it sure did. they just found another place to lay. because of the freezing cold temperatures we had the water lines wrapped good and they laid this pile right behind there! nice and hidden.

geoffrey and i cooked up the 19 eggs and fed it to them. they sure weren’t going to waste and i wasn’t eating them. who knows how long they have been there. we’ve had quite the temperature change in the past few weeks so i wasn’t about to eat eggs that were froze, then warmed up, then froze…its been in the mid 70’s the past few days. i didn’t even bother to test them in a bowl of water. (if they float they are bad.)

still on the subject of eggs…we are starting a farm! those of you who know us know we’ve been working on this and it’s officially gonna happen! we are starting houston’s first egg CSA – the barry farm. it wouldn’t be possible without those that have signed up for weekly eggs delivery. their support is making it happen. if you’d like to know all about it check out our blog here! you can follow us on Facebook and twitter if you’d like. you’ll see the link on the blog to follow . we are excited…i think…ha!

geoffrey is going to work on sprucing up the land tomorrow and will have pictures to post on the barry farm blog. we are looking forward to raising hens and delivering their eggs weekly to our CSA members!

more about the farm

while playing ‘angry birds’ (a free game i downloaded on my iphone) i was getting frustrated not getting past the level i was working on. i decided that i could be doing something more productive so i thought i’d blog while i had the chance. geoffrey and his best buddy, chet, who is visiting, are watching a some buck show. i’m not so interested in it.

so..’the barry farm’. we needed a name for our little egg farm and geoffrey thought on it. this is really his baby and his dream so i felt he should pick. he is usually better about those kinds of things. his jewish doctor friend who he talked about chickens and eggs with for hours got him hooked up with his rabbi. they are both called barry! without the two of them and their passion to help us get this egg farm in production, well…who knows how long it might have taken to actually make it happen. the rabbi hooked geoffrey up with a woman at the jewish community center in houston who heads up the organization of a CSA (community supported agriculture) that delivers fresh, local produce 40 weeks out of the year. back about 2 years ago we belonged to a CSA. the same CSA that provides the produce for the jewish community center. see? even in houston it’s a small world!

for those of you who don’t know what a CSA is check out this link for an explanation.

so, back awhile ago geoffrey and the rabbi went to speak with the lady at the jewish community center about us providing eggs for her CSA customers. she was very excited! many of her customer ask for protein. kosher jews had a hard time finding protein. the only requirement for eggs to be kosher is that a rooster not be present. no problem there – we can handle that.

well, finally, today is the day that both the rabbi and jennifer (the lady at the jewish community center) sent out emails to their contacts asking who wants to sign up and receive eggs on a weekly basis. they will pay an upfront fee which will be used for us to purchase the chickens (which should be ready to lay eggs in a month or so), build shelters, feeders, waters, food…etc. its a great way where the customer and the farmer help each other get the farm going. the customer’s fee pays for their chickens and all that they need to keep them alive and producing the eggs we all want. we raise the chickens for them and deliver the eggs every week.

in order for this to happen we need to get a commitment of 40 shares (the minimum). 80 shares will be our max. 1 share gets 2 dozen eggs delivered each week. when they pick up their produce, they pick up their eggs!

sooooo…we’ll see how many people sign up!

oh, and we have a ‘meet the farmer’ scheduled at the land on 12/24. yes, on christmas eve.  geoffrey’s sister is getting married next week (on tues) and between that and geoffrey’s work schedule, it is the best day seeing he is off.

i’ll keep you posted as things continue to develop!

land update

well, it looks like we might have ourselves some land!

geoffrey has been in contact with people who own land that’s been in their family for years. they have about 5 acres with two sections of it being wooded. geoffrey found the land while searching craigslist for land to lease. they said they would spilt it up so we took a drive yesterday to look at it and meet them.

it takes about 25-30 mins to get there. we want to hopefully lease about 1/2 – 1 acre. it has a small group of trees (some pecan) that provide shade and a open area. a perfect spot to raise some chickens and maybe a hog to two. so, we’ll see.

stay tuned…