The question we are often asked usually starts out with . . . “You’re doing our dream, and, so, how did you start doing what you’re doing?”
The longer, detailed version of how two boomers rented three acres of barren, weedy land and turn it into a suburban oasis of beautiful gardens with fruit trees, flowers and food that feed farm members and start a small (fast growing) company hand crafting farmstead goat milk caramels that won an award in the second year of business will be in the book we intend to write.
But until then, this adventure began with a dream, an idea of gathering, talks over coffee, the personal connectedness that we experienced growing a bit of own food (prior to moving to the Cactus Road house) resonated as part of the journey forward, the decision to take a risk with an opportunity that crossed our paths, courage to move outside our comfort zone and simply put - choosing to jump in with one heart and four feet (his and mine).
It was exactly 6 years ago - Thanksgiving season - when we (Michael and I, our daughter, son in law and three -at that time-grand kids) moved into the Cactus Road house and took up the task of making the house a home and the barren land a place of beauty.
The first outside project was to begin building raised beds, plant gardens and build our hen house. 70 fruit and nut trees were planted in January 2010.
The summer of 2010 was the game changer - we bought our first two dairy goats. I've always had a love of goats that started back in 1985, while living in north Texas and of all the breeds I had, it was those floppy eared Nubians that stayed in my heart.
Lavender and Cinnamon were first and then Miss Storm came the next month. Miss Storm has remained as a beautiful part of our herd and today she is our retired Queen.
The story is common with those who get their first goats. You breed them for milk. You have babies. You have a hard time selling those babies cause they’re adorable. You keep those babies and those babies grow up and . . .
That’s what happened to us. We realized pretty quickly that running a hobby farm would sink us fast. I don't think most people realize just how much it does cost to keep a few goats. We quickly developed a business mentality and decided that everything that was part of the farm had to be productive and life giving. Keeping goats required that they'd pay for themselves as well as pay our bills. Perhaps that is one reason why I am so protective of our girls. I rarely allow any outside person to be in their yards or pens. Just like our girls need us to care for them - we need them to in a sense care for us.
So, my assignment was to figure out what to do with the extra milk that we didn't drink. I’d done a bit of experimenting with fudge but what kept coming to my mind was the caramel experience I’d had in France a few summers prior to moving into the Cactus Rd. house. Those caramels weren’t ‘just caramels’ - - - they were an addicting, salty, soft and creamy experience - so much so that I drove to Henriets in St. Jean de Luz almost every other day to stock up. All I knew is that I wanted to create that same experience with the creamy, rich milk of our girls.
After research and trial and error- -- I finally did it - I created my version of the French salty, soft and creamy caramel.
In the beginning, I’d pass out samples of our hand rolled caramel pieces to those that came to the market at our farm. Those samples put smiles on faces and of course, in short time, because of requests to order, those samples turned into the creative process of starting a business - a farmstead caramel business.
Our friend, Carissa, worked on designing our label using Ahni - as our Goat Cover Girl. Why? Because the first breeding season at our farm - we had 9 boys and 1 girl. That girl Ahni was more than special and today, her daughter Gigi (owned by Gretchen) lives at our farm.
After 9 months of hand crafting our small batches we decided to enter our Sea Salt Bourbon caramel into the Good Food Awards. It was surreal to get a phone call from San Fransisco that we won as finalists.
That finalist award (and the story why I was so happy we were finalists and not the ultimate winner will be in our book) created a platform to set us in a new direction - expanding our caramel company operation with a broader customer base of both wholesale and retail lovers of The Simple Farm’s Caramels.
Today, in this Thanksgiving Season, Michael and have much to be thankful for. We are thankful that we get to do "this" and in the "this"we have met some of the most amazing people ever. Ever.
Do we have more dreams? Sure - we are dreamers and dreamers dream, of course. Dreams of property we own - for me - dreams of streams - a gray barn with an orange door and somehow our grandchildren/kids around . . . dreams of continuing to expand our caramel business but also dreams of gathering - somehow - seeing The Simple Farm North or East or ? unfold . . . where it would take on a completely different vision and purpose- like a place that's a respite for the weary soul with gathering tables and creating and lingering and food and listening and cooking together and beauty and of course goats.
I don't believe that dreams are just dreams - I believe they are those heavenly touches in the soul waiting to be realized. But can only be realized when the dreamer is willing to grab the heavenly hand and leap - and explore - and risk - and be vulnerable to become who they were really meant to be - to live a life full of purpose - but most of all loving others and being full of thanks.
Thank you for your love and support of us.
We'd love you to follow along with us at The Simple Farm here.