13 months later

Marissa     Farm Happenings, General         3    

Well folks, it’s been a long time since I’ve been active on the blog. For those of you who may just be tuning in for the first time, let me introduce myself a bit. I’m Marissa, the daughter of Scott and Stephanie who own Sand Holler Farm. While I live in Austin (with my husband and two girls, 1 and 3), I spend a lot of my free time on the farm, doing farm business from home, or cooking with farm food. So I started this blog to keep our customers informed about the fun happenings around the farm. While we no longer have our CSA running, I do hope there are still folks interested in the place. So I hope to get back into things and have some regular posts!

So what has happened in the last year since I posted? Last year we bought the land next door. The original owner of our land actually had both pieces and he subdivided. The new owner next door had never improved the land, just pastured his horses there. So we purchased it and have been fixing it up. The front few acres are grass but the rest is woods, with one big “tank” (that’s Texas talk for a pond). It’s not in great shape, but we have been digging it out when it goes dry.

Another fun part about owning that land is that the horses stayed! They aren’t our horses. So we get to give them treats and pet them but don’t have to worry about any of their care or maintenance. It’s a great deal if you ask me. Doc and Red have grown quite accustomed to us and always come over to see if we’ve brought them anything.

Last fall I finally experimented with making jelly from the hibiscus plants. I have a whole post ready and waiting for that one, so I’ll just tease you with a picture of the final product. Delicious!

For Thanksgiving, we had a huge supper at the farm. I believe we had 30 people. I made a pledge to use ALL local products and we managed to stick to that. All the veggies and meat came either from our farm or nearby places. It was a wonderful feeling and a scrumptious meal. The “cranberry” relish was actually hibiscus. Perfect substitute!

Unfortunately, not all went smoothly over the last year. A bobcat moved into the area. Or rather, he had probably been there for a while – I’ve read they can have a HUGE range – and only discovered our ‘easy pickings’ when wild food became scarce. We had a mobile chicken coop that moved around the front pastures. The number of chickens kept dwindling but we couldn’t figure out what was going on because it was happening during the day and very few predators come out then. But Jeremy watched as a bobcat waltzed across the field and snatched a chicken, racing back to the woods once Jeremy started yelling and chasing. We spent a lot of time trying to prevent more attacks – cutting the grass and bushes back so the bobcat couldn’t hide, moving the mobile chickens into the permanent chicken coop which is farther from the “bobcat forest” as we began to call that side of the farm. But the chickens continued to frequent the compost piles which were practically under the trees. We lost our dear rooster Percy one afternoon and finally had enough.

The front pasture is entirely fenced from the woods and most of the fence line is away from the trees. The bobcat could easily scale the fence, it’s just that there is no cover in the pasture. But by the compost pile, there are trees on the pasture side of the fence. So we had to erect more fences to keep the chickens from going back there. Don’t worry, they now have their own small compost pile of food scraps in the coop! I think we lost nearly a dozen chickens before the bobcat was deterred enough to find easier hunting grounds.

We transitioned to another onsite farm couple. We have live-in managers that take care of the place and usually do the business side of things so they can earn an income. We have a new wonderful couple at the farm – Kevin and Leslie. They are quickly learning the ropes and the garden is producing some yummy vegetables.

I’ll be around to post more on things that happened earlier this year as well as what we are currently doing. It’s good to be back! And just so you don’t think I’ve been taking the last year off just because I wasn’t blogging, here’s the typical scene in my house these days. Sigh.


  • Mel said:

    Jul 23, 2013 3:25 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful update…Love Sandholler Farms. We also are dealing with a chicken eatin bobcat here in western Caldwell County. We moved our dogs to a fenced in area around our chickens and hopefully they will deter the cat enough to have it move on… I think it had been about a week now since we lost a chick. The bobcats must eat well around here, venison, chicken, rabbit, squirrel, etc. We live just far enough out of town to have lots of wildlife but not many hunters. Love the picture of your beautifully creative little ones. Enjoy them the time goes fast.

    • Marissa replied:

      Jul 23, 2013 4:15 pm

      Although my parents are not dog people, we were on the verge of getting one to help deter the bobcat. I took my dog out a few times and she marked all over the area that the bobcat was patrolling. I do think it helped but a constant dog will hopefully be a lot better. We had a lot of discussions about shooting the bobcat. In the end, it was a moot point as he was so sneaky – never had the chance. Good luck!

  • Wayne said:

    Jul 24, 2013 8:39 pm

    Love having you writing again Marrisa. I missed the blog and your great pics. I know how busy your life has been, so no explanations needed! The ‘art project’ looks familiar.

    Love and miss you all