Winter in Texas is just as unpredictable as every other season here. So far, 2018 has provided many weather related challenges including an incredibly hot, dry summer, followed by - dare I say - too much rain this fall. It has been a doozy of a year and one filled with an incredible amount of loss here on our farm.
Winter either comes as a welcomed gift to a farmer who is craving the chance to just sit down for a bit and relax, or it ushers in high anxiety levels because it is a lean time of year with virtually no revenue stream available. Pair that with a really rough beginning of the year and winter is a season of dread for some farmers. Just being real. And honest. I am friends with many farmers and food producers who have chosen a life and career in agriculture. This year has been rough. We are all completely dependent upon the weather. But really, that means you are too.
Market pricing is reflected on your receipt. And, the weather plays a major role in that market pricing. The next time you see a price that is a bit higher than you are used to paying for your favorite vegetable, please know that oftentimes the farmer that grew that food likely worked 16 hours a day and might not have even been able to keep any of the harvest for his or her own family because every penny from sales was needed to keep the lights on. Again, just being real. And, it hits close to home.
This summer, our chickens laid eggs like no one’s business. We were thrilled and decided to take the plunge and commit to attending the weekly Dripping Springs Farmers Market on Wednesdays. People loved our eggs and came back week after week for more. We had eggs while other farmers nearby had flocks taking breaks due to the heat of the summer. We were so grateful for the revenue stream. Then, out of nowhere, it started to rain, and rain, and rain and it only recently has taken a bit of a break. However, the minute the rains started a couple of months ago, our chickens decided to stop laying. We have had two months of no income from egg sales. Our farm depends in part on those sales. Our chickens are starting to lay again, and we hope to be back at the market soon. The minute more of them start earning their keep, we will be back.
From the get go, we knew we didn’t want to ever be completely dependent upon one income stream here. We knew diversity was key. And, since our farm focuses half our time and energy on production and the other half on education, with events for the community sprinkled in, we just learn to pivot and get creative around here.
This winter, to be completely honest, is a lean one. We really took a hit with the lack of egg sales, and the cancellation of a large number of events due to rain outs. When we post on social media about how grateful we are for people who buy tickets to attend events, or take part in workshops, farm school, and summer camps here, we mean it with all of our hearts. It actually brings beautiful tears to our eyes because you are the reason the farm continues to move on from season to season and reach more and more of our community. THANK YOU! Every post like, share, and comment keeps social media active for others to see our page. Every registration for an event helps us feed our livestock so they can feed you. We have so much in store for you as we grow!
We had big plans to put in place this year, and instead, as referenced in a previous blog post, we have spent this year repairing nearly everything huge here that has broken, including our septic system, our well pump, our farm truck, major plumbing repairs, appliance repairs, and our A/C - heater in our home just this week. Add to that 6 deaths among family and friends and two friends receiving a cancer diagnosis this year, and we are really looking forward to the newness and fresh start that 2019 has just got to have in store.
Farming requires resiliency to a level that is nearly impossible to describe without living it. And, since not everyone is called to be a farmer, supporting one is the next best thing. As we enter the quiet of the winter season, know that our responses may be a bit slower, and you may see fewer posts on social media. We’re still here, just taking time to enjoy the quiet, reflect on how we can continue to support local farmers around us, and offer more opportunities for our community to get involved on our farm. Feel free to reach out and stay connected. We would love that! And, get ready, because 2019 is already shaping up to be incredibly amazing as we already have the entire year planned and can’t wait to post the calendar and offerings soon.
In the meantime, please support your local farmers even during the winter months, in any way you can. We have a special offering for you that will be announced this week, so stay tuned and check your email. (Hint: it is something fun for the whole family during the holiday season!)
And, in case you would like to be inspired, here is ONE of my stacks of books I will be reading this winter. I keep learning, so I can keep teaching you and your children. I’ve committed the rest of my living days to this calling on my life. Join me. It’s a wild, unpredictable ride, but worth every bruise and tear. See you in 2019!