HOMETOWN: Austin, TX
FARM NAME & LOCATION: Coyote Creek Farm in Elgin, TX
FARM TYPE / CROPS: Organic, pasture-raised eggs, organic feed for livestock
- Music: I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to music and the arts. I prefer singer-songwriters, people that write their own music. I think that’s important. So, I don’t focus on poppy, mainstream music. My music preference has been anything from Waylon Jennings to Wilco.
- Food: The food that I eat most are eggs. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten tired of it! Honestly, nothing can beat a good ol’ fashioned ribeye and mashed potatoes.
- Drinks: My favorite beverage is a good IPA. I don’t think there’s anything better than that.
- Blue Jeans: Honestly, I don’t know. I wear blue jeans all the time. For work, Wranglers. No doubt about it. I’ve got pairs of Wranglers that have lasted me ten years. For dress, the most comfortable is a Gap style — I don’t know the name of it. They’re more comfortable, but I tried to wear them at work and they lasted two days. Strictly dress!
- Thing to do AFTER work: I like to garden and I like to brew my own beer.
- Movie Stars: Michael Shannon. He's an oddball that I kind of like. He's out of the super-stardom.
- Mantra: Slow and steady wins the race.
How did you get into farming?I always respected farmers and ranchers growing up in Texas. I never had lands of my own or anything like that. I always had a passion for animal science and the food side of it, and I knew that I wanted to be connected to it. So, I studied animal science and food tech in college. Long story short, I just wasn’t entirely complacent with the conventional production methods and that’s what drove me into organic production methods. I guess about 3 1/2 years ago we went full force at it. We now produce eggs for about 50 grocery stories and organic livestock feed for 150 families.
What do you think a big MISCONCEPTION is about farming?Being that we produce feed for a lot of people and have so many connections, I get to converse with a lot of new farmers and a lot of old farmers. One of the biggest misconceptions is that farming is not highly profitable and it’s not easy. I've seen a lot of new people come on board and say they'll turn a profit real quick and still have a vacation — it just can’t happen. Really understanding, trying to understand the way farming works is hard. It is a 365 day a year job, whether you’re on the farm or not. Ultimately there’s always going to be 365 days of work and it’s not going to come easy.
What's your relationship status?I've been married a little more than 5 years. She does more farm-support. She does writing for a couple alternative news magazines. She’s been real supportive in terms of state legislation, highlighting farms in the region, reporting it, all the nuances of farming. Basically trying to connect farms to the people & shine light on some of the unknowns. We definitely enjoy that aspect of it. A lot of farmers take on a lot of responsibilities (engineer, laborer, bookkeeper, accountant), and when you look at the end of theday how much time you just have to talk to people, it’s hard to do that. So to have a built-in voice and somebody that can speak on your behalf when you’re busy doing things to keep farm running is a great thing.
Do you have children?No, no children.
What is your attitude about money?I honestly think money is a tool. I think people can be obsessed with it and let it guide their lives, but in truth it’s a tool like hammer or screwdriver. It can be used how you want it to & do good or a lot of damage.
Where is the farthest you have traveled to? Where would you like to go?The furthest I've been is into Canada, just north of Montana. I haven’t traveled as much as I’ve wanted to. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and visit Germany.
What was the HARDEST part getting started?One of the hardest things is that there’s a lot of noise, a lot of info found on the internet, but not a lot of real information when you really look at it. You can find stuff that’s relevant, but you can’t stuff that’s specifically to help you in the long-run. There are not a lot of resources (how to set price points, what’s a suitable margin, stuff like that). That stuff you pretty much have to learn the ropes yourself and that’s definitely the hardest part is just trying to figure out what works.
What SURPRISED you about farming?Well, it didn’t surprise me as much now that I look back on it, but there’s always some challenge or hurdle in front of you, just gotta keep going. There's no downtime. It's really a 365 day a year job. If there's not one thing, there's something else to do or take care of.
TELL US ABOUT A DAY ON THE FARM: When does your day start and end?Typically, I’ll start communicating or doing something at about 6 in the morning and usually my days end at about 7 or 8 p.m. Usually, I work about 12-14 hours a day.
What makes you HAPPY in a day on the farm?The greatest satisfaction is knowing at the end of the day all the work has been completed and knowing that it was done in a good way, a satisfactory manner. We don’t like to cut corners (if you do, you're just gonna have more problems in the long run). We're just staying persistent and continuing whole-heartedly with doing a good job.
What makes you FRUSTRATED?When something can go wrong, it will.
What's the BEST part of a day?Right when the sun comes up. It’s a new day, no matter what happened the day before whether good or bad you start fresh. Doesn’t matter if it's 100 degrees or 30 degrees, the beginning of day always most optimistic and promising. Sometimes I even look forward to going to sleep just so I can wake up the next morning. It's really my favorite part of the day.
What's the WORST part of a day?I dunno if it's necessarily worst part of the day, but the hardest part of any day is about mid-afternoon on any summer day. I’ll be outside and it’ll feel like 115 degrees (even if it's really only 106).
Any lessons learned on the farm?Always take advice when it’s given, or at least listen to it. Never skip the planning stage of anything. If you don’t properly plan you're basically setting up for failure and nobody wants to do that.
Is there anything concerning you right now about the future of farming?No, actually I’m quite optimistic. We’re on the organic side of industry, and we're seeing a lot of growth potential, a lot of people concerned about where their food comes from and are increasingly becoming more aware of the cheap lackluster empty calories on the grocery store shelves. For us it’s nothing but optimism. If there’s really any concern, it would be not being able to produce enough.
Anything to say to those who aren’t farmers?What it comes down to is we’re all people trying to support ourselves and our families. You get what you pay for, but even though organic production/products cost more on the retail shelf, ultimately it’s an investment in yourself more than anything and an investment in your health and long-term sustainability. You can look at that from a health aspect or economic aspect.
That money recirculates back into local economy 7 times, versus when you spend on conventional products your dollars will only recirculate maybe twice. No matter how you look at it, organic is an investment in yourself and your local economy. We pay taxes like everybody else, we want to build our local infrastructure, keep people employed, and build a happier, local tight-knit community. We can do that largely by buying local and knowing your farmer.