Our favorite part of owning the farm is welcoming guests. While most spend the night glamping in one of the spacious canvas tents, others come solely for an hour-long private farm tour. Houston loves telling them about the regenerative farming methods we’re using on the property and introducing our animals, but we both especially enjoy it when young children are on the tour.
Since kids are usually more interested in the livestock than our plants, Houston often begins the tour at the front of the property in the peach orchard before they get distracted. He gauges the length of time he spends and how in depth he goes depending on the interest level of the youngest child.
Houston talks about the peach, fig and pomegranate trees and the kind of soil they need, versus the soil required for other crops. He briefly describes the way we’re using cover crops to add key nutrients to the soil in order to grow food for human consumption. As he and the guests begin walking back to the animals, he explains that the two ponds are called “tanks,” since they’re used for agricultural purposes - providing water for our animals and plants.
Houston also explains about our livestock guardians. If the children stayed in one of our glamping tents, chances are they’ve already met Daphne, Ollie, Effie and Samson. The donkeys, he tells them, protect all the animals on the farm, not because they like them so much, but because donkeys intuitively stand their ground. Samson, our Great Pyrenees, who is nocturnal, barks to let coyotes know that he’s on the property. For those kids who glamped the previous night, they will often let us know that he barked a few times during the night and maybe even slept on their deck. They really like that.
Their favorite part of the tour is usually meeting the KuneKune pigs. Houston lets children feed the pigs and sometimes even help move them to their grazing area. Children like carrying the feed bucket and following Mr. Houston to the grazing area with Nigel, Lucy and Nicole squealing the entire way. He also shares a bit about Pru, our sheep, the ducks, geese and chickens.
As he wraps up their time together in the outdoor venue, Houston talks with the adults about our farm to table dinners, events and the wedding we hosted last summer. Meanwhile, the children sometimes run ahead to the large tree swing hanging from one of the ancient oaks.
Parents frequently share their photos from the tour with us. One mom captured her three year old daughter holding the feed bucket and carefully helping Houston pour grain into the donkeys’ troughs. She mailed the photo, along with a thank you note from her daughter to “Farmer Houston,” describing everything she loved about the farm. When the card arrived, Houston and I looked at each other and agreed - this is why we do what we do.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the January 27, 2024 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.