Fate has a funny way of getting you were you need to go sometimes. Jennifer and I have been involved with the organic farming, ranching and gardening for almost a decade now. We even owned our own organic gardening education business for a number of years, before that was a thing. Now, in Austin alone, you have a half dozen businesses you can call for help. We’ve been active with the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association as Regional Representatives, helping organize their conferences, advertising at farmers markets, updating their website (not the current one!). We’ve been canning, gardening, raising chickens, slaughtering, making and smoking sausage, growing fruit trees, playing in our greenhouse, making yogurt and cheese and doing things generally considered homesteading for over a decade. Oh yeah, we also made two beautiful babies.
But we’ve never farmed, never ranched, never grew or produced for a living. But, after a full year of unemployment and a full year of looking for employment for Jennifer, we’ve been forced to consider something we’ve never seriously considered before – moving to the farm and trying to make a living there. “The farm” is the Naivar Farm in Granger, Texas. My mother grew up there in a strong, vibrant Czeck community. My grandfather Leo and my grandmother Annie spoke fluent Czeck. I remember it around the breakfast table when I spent the night there as a kid. There was even a Czeck radio station on the air until the early 2000’s. The radio station and my grandparents are no more, but the farm lives on.
The farm is now owned by my parents (Bobby and Barbara Buratti) and my aunt and uncle in Florida (Jim and Dorothy May Nipper). Ninety-six acres of fertile Texas clay loam soil. It’s a diverse piece of land with upland prairie (if it were still in its native state), bottomland hardwoods and riparian areas, two wet-weather creeks (one always used to flow except in extreme drought, but that’s the new normal), and a former gravel extraction pit.
Most of the land is covered in coastal bermuda – or devil grass as it’s also known. A neighbor leases the fields, fertilizes, sprays poisons, cuts grass and makes hay. Another local family leases the gravel pit and the bottom land for their miniature horses and cows. We also let him kill as many feral hogs as he can shoot.
What will we do there? We’re not yet sure. I know we’ll have our chickens and plants. Right now we’re leaning toward sheep – a triple threat: meat, milk and fiber. Maybe goats as well. Only time, our finances and fate will tell.