We closed the cafe. We closed the farm store on Hwy 87. We said we are “moving back to the farm”… What does that even mean?
Well, a lot of things. We are working on an honor-system store on the farm, where in the next couple of weeks you’ll be able to stop by unannounced and buy eggs, raw (pet) milk, along with your favorite cuts of beef, lamb and pork. It’ll be open from 9 til dusk seven days a week, cash or check in the box.
This month we started our on-farm pickups of pre-orders (reverencefarms.com will remain the only way you’ll have access to our whole 150-product full offering) at the little circle of vegetables, fruit trees and flowering plants that Doug planted as a wedding present for Hue and me. (1568 Haw Ranch Rd., across from Haw Village and 1/2 mile up on the right from the Saxapahaw General Store.)
All the energy we spent managing a whole separate building with all the accompanying repairs, upkeep and dilemmas has been dramatically shifted towards systems, infrastructure and husbandry on the farm.
This is what we’ve been up to during our August/early September lact-cation: repairing and building fences, water lines and roads; organizing and cleaning up and selling equipment we no longer need (farms accumulate a tremendous amount of stuff, stay tuned for what we have for sale…); mowing fence lines and spreading compost; planting annuals so that our cows and sheep have high-nutrition forage available all winter; training a dozen new heifers to the parlor and getting 30+ cows and heifers bred to calve next spring (on top of the 29 we are calving in this fall); cutting down old barb wire and removing rotten fences and filling old post holes with rocks; getting our winter “camp grounds” ready with water lines, frost-free waterers (we like JUGs) and culverts for non-sloppy lanes so that we can get cows to/from their hay-feeding areas and the barns, and we can feed hay on ground that needs feeding; organizing all of our inventory towards retail instead of wholesale-sized packages that we had created for cafe kitchen needs and readying our nation-wide shipping platform (that project alone is enough to take up the whole agenda); working on convincing the regulators that no, thank you, we do not want to put powdered eggs (or some liquified egg product) in our ice cream, we want to put our eggs in our ice cream, and jumping through all the hoops therein; harvesting our own summer annuals (hay/balage) for the first time on our 60-acres of rented ground and dealing with myriad equipment failures and learning curves but managing to come out victorious nonetheless; harvesting 55 turkeys and 150 laying hens and preparing to get a new flock of 300+ laying hens; dropping off and picking up bulls on lease spreading grazing genetics to local herds and collecting our bulls to sell straws to other farmers looking to milk cows that can thrive on grass only; forging relationships with a half-dozen Alamance County farmers and engaging with their knowledge and willingness to help start a dairy farm from scratch …
That list is not comprehensive, and it just reflects our August projects.
And… that’s on top of taking care of two groups of pigs (the mama/baby Ossabaws along with the rescued factory feeder pigs who finally turned the corner and started growing robustly), two groups of sheep, three groups of cattle, 10 livestock guardian dogs and a lovely Ossabaw boar that is going soon to his new home with new Ossabaw ladies. Twice a day, every day, rain or shine. We spend about 40 hours a week just running temporary fence! There are probably 100 tires on the farm that could need fixing at any given time, not to mention a couple dozen motors/engines and their accompanying vehicles.
The cafe was our public face, but the real engine of Reverence has always been, and will always remain, farming. The cafe was how most of you knew us, however, so I wanted to spend a little time explaining what was always behind the veil. Most of you have been served a burger and fries by my family, but many of you still haven’t been to the farm. We hope you are as committed as we are to changing that. We plan to host outdoor events for our customers and friends this fall to see and experience the beauty and the magnitude of the farm and it’s vision. In the meantime, here’s how to visit. It’s a great place to take a walk or a jog (please, just leave your dogs at home).
For the precious among you who have been cheering us on for more than a decade, buying hand-raised and individually-cared-for food out of my garage, off my porch and at the side of my barns since 2009, there are no words that I can say to adequately convey my gratitude. Many of you are still making an effort to procure everything you can from us, as you have been for more than 10 years: you are the backbone of our business — our reason for being what amounts to a really large homestead producing beyond our family’s needs — and why we get to keep going. Thank you.
For three years we ran a grand experiment: Could we prepare and serve food without compromise on a country highway in a rural Southern county overrun with a food culture of quick, fast and cheap — living a couple of generations away from the traditions of raising hogs and harvesting sweet potatoes and corn as a community and then all getting together to feast —while still having enough margin for our family to still run the 400-acre farm that produced every bit of beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs we served? As it turns out, no. It was a high calling and a noble purpose, and it succeeded because we now know all of you, and the experience we took away.
Along the way we gained a lot of wisdom about remaking the food system from the ground up — something that the radicals have been talking about for a couple of decades and now the need for which is abundantly and plainly obvious even nestled in a convenience culture where there is plenty of money to be made on our dis-ease.
For starters, it all starts with really good soil. And in that soil is the seeds of hope, community, peace, justice, abundance, mercy and truth. We are building soil every day, and your participation, support, love and continued encouragement spurs us on. We believe that real food belongs to real people, and we have the highest standards of what constitutes real food that we know of. And for us, “real food” is also produced with an abundance of love. Was your food loved? Does it matter to you?
Great writing and story telling of all aspects of the farm. These are perfect times for teaching, sharing all the possibilities of eating local; farming regeneratively .
Really nicely great news letter Suzanne