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History

Our family is new to farming but does have some history in that department.  Both sides of my family, the Littles and the Eyres, have been pretty removed from the farming lifestyle for some generations.  My great grandmother, who I was fortunate enough to know, did grow and raise a lot of her own food.  But besides that, we’ve long been “city folk.”  My parents, the main proprietors of the farm, were part of the “back to the land movement” in the 70s.  When Pops wanted to add some milk goats to his geodesic dome homestead, he discovered that one of the assembly workers at Texas Nuclear had some for sale.  When she went to drop the goats off, she realized she had better stick around to make sure they had a good home.  Not sure he knew what kind of deal he was actually getting!  They started raising goats together but by the time I was 6 months old, the pressure to raise a “normal” family in the city had gotten to them.  Besides, the city was also literally “getting to them” as Austin continued to expand.  So we moved into a suburb.  We still had a vegetable garden and Mom still did a lot of “old fashioned” things like canning, baking bread, making yogurt, etc.  But we left the homestead behind in 1980.

I don’t have the privilege of remembering my family’s early homesteading days but I guess it still must have infected me.   By the time I was 20, I was determined to be a farmer.  I pursued the dream in anyway possible – growing vegetables in containers at rent houses, taking farming classes, etc.  Then in the winter of 2006 I was blessed with the chance to really do it.  I purchased a house, right in the city, with over an acre of land.  By the next spring, I had 25 chickens, 2 beehives and a beautiful vegetable garden.  I began earnestly talking about owning goats – some miniature ones that could pass city codes.  And thus the farming bug was passed back to my parents.

Not two years after I started the urban farm that I thought would satiate all my farming dreams, my parents began discussions with their friends about purchasing a farm.  The friends needed a new place to live but did not have the funds to buy land.  They were both organic farmhands and wanted to start their own farm to run a CSA.  My parents wanted to have goats again and didn’t have the land in the city but did have the means to invest in land.  They also weren’t interested in actually moving…just wanted some “weekend goats”!  It seemed like the perfect match.   Our family would buy the land and rent it to our friends to the tune of feeding and milking a small herd of goats.  They would be able to farm the land and have their CSA and we would have goats to pet and hug on the weekends.

By the fall of 2008, the Littles were the proud owners of Sand Holler Farm.  After 6 hard months of barn building, fencing, and gardening, the project was off the ground.  We had 5 goats with bouncing babies on the ground and a 6 member CSA.  But things were not working out on the partnership front.  For various reasons, the day came that we went our separate ways and the Littles became full time farmers.  I was still working full time in the city but spent all my spare time at the farm.  Mom had not touched a goat’s udder in 30 years and I hadn’t ever in my life.  I clearly remember her sitting on the milk stand that first night, taking a deep breath, saying “here goes…” and milking like a champ!  Apparently, it’s like riding a bicycle!

But my family was not interested in working the farm full time.  I had my own place in the city with a job I loved and my parents never intended to move there.  So we searched for people to replace our original partners.  The farm details have been cared for by various people over the years. We’ve had wonderful experiences with long term managers and laughable painful experiences with short term volunteers. The Littles still work on the farm 4 or 5 days a week, building infrastructure as well as just general farm work.  We’ve added many chickens, some ducks, sheep, a donkey and are always wondering what the next addition will be!

-Marissa