Over the weekend, we visited Sand Creek Farm with the Hike It Baby Houston group. This was a fun day trip (that was supposed to be a camping trip, but more on that later) that taught us some things and gave us some neat experiences that I wanted to share with you.
Sand Creek Farm is a medium sized natural dairy located in Cameron, Texas, west of Hearne off of a dirt road highway that branches off of 979. The farm was started in 2005 by owners Ben and Alysha Godfrey, and they run it with the help of their five daughters. They feed their cows on grass only, and produce raw milk, cheese and yogurt that you can buy from their store, as well as home grown meat and other yummy foods.
On the property, you will also find a companion business, Sustainable Farm Supply, an aquaponics facility that they run as well as teach classes at, so that others can learn how to run a similar business. Aquaponics is a system of growing crops and fish using water that cycles through both areas, bringing nutrients from one to the other. The plants are held by styrofoam boards with holes in them for their roots, which dangle in the water.
During our day here, we took a tour of the farm by riding in the wagon that Ben uses for this purpose, pulled by a team of draft horses. We heard about their hay growing operation, and then visited the aquaponics nursery area. It was very fascinating to hear about and see in action. Kaleb’s favorite part was holding the caterpillars that were found on a dill plant that Ben was using to show an example of protected vs unprotected plants. Sebastian’s favorite part was trying to pick up any miscellaneous objects from the floor of the nursery and stick them in his mouth.
After visiting the nursery, we paid a visit to the dairy and listened to Ben explain the process of making cheese and the virtues of raw milk. We stepped into the milking parlor and heard an explanation of that process, then walked back into the general store to have samples of the cheese and yogurt, as well as purchase dairy and meat items if one desired.
Most of the time we were on the farm, we spent near the canopy tents that were erected for our group to have a place for the babies to play. Several blankets were spread out with toys on them, and nearby was a hole with dirt and digging toys for the kids to go to town in. A bubble machine blew pretty much continuously, and one of the farmers daughters rode her pony about and occasionally got off to allow the babies to take pictures with her pony. Sebastian really enjoyed his time here. His favorite parts were the sand pit and chewing on the various bubble wands that were laid out for kids to blow bubbles with.
Jason had skipped the tour to set up our camping area in one of the pastures, but as the day wore on, it became apparent that it was going to storm. So, then he spent another hour or so breaking down camp and putting the gear back in the truck. We had decided during our sandwich lunch that perhaps it would be best to just call it a day trip and spend the night in our own beds, because we didn’t want to be caught out in that storm. It turned out to be a decision for the best, because along the way home, Sebastian started acting very cranky, and refused food and milk when we got home, and it turned out that he was burning up with another fever (second one this week).
During the midday break, when the tours had stopped and everyone was either eating lunch, taking a nap, or wandering the farm, I took my own wander. Initially Kaleb prompted me to do this, but he dropped out soon into it. Sebastian was eager to get in the stroller, probably because he was tired. He ended up sleeping for over an hour in there as I pushed the BOB over slightly bumpy pasture trails and roads to check out the pond, the horses, and then wander all the way to the end of the pasture roads.
It was so peaceful out there by myself, with Sebastian sleeping. As much as I love my middle son, it was nice in a way that he had excused himself to sit with the other kids instead of walk, because we didn’t have to maintain a conversation and I was free to just enjoy the solitude of nature. I had borrowed Jason’s camera and tried to capture the joy of tiny details that I found along the way. A gentle buzz in the background was the sound of bees stopping in the clover and other flowering plants. I considered the knowledge that wild bees are disappearing across several states in the US, and was glad to see that were still plenty here in Cameron. I contemplated a world without bees, and hope that never happens.
I marveled at all the butterflies that I saw stopping at the wildflowers along the path. I found little ladybugs and aphids at work. Little crickets jumped in the plants, and tiny moths fluttered about. Even a dung beetle doing its job was fascinating to me. An ecosystem is made of all these little things, and an imbalance in their little world would tip the scales for our big world.
There was a little section of woods in the back pasture, and I walked along the edges to hear the bird songs and see if I could capture any with the camera. We need a better lens for that business, which means we need more money. I suppose that one reason I am so driven at my job is to try to make money to have a better life, one that includes more camera lenses and road trips to explore this great big world. I could hear wrens and cardinals, and I saw scissortails and brewers blackbirds out on the pasture. Barn swallows were ubiquitous. On the way back, a dickcissel sang from his perch at the top of the nearby trees.
This was a very relaxing hour or more that I spent by myself out there, but I started to feel dehydrated about the time that Jason and Kaleb drove up looking for us. Thunder could be heard in the distance, and the storm was creeping closer. We spent another couple of hours playing over by the baby area and taking some more pictures, like this rooster shot below:
We saw the men of the camp preparing for the evening’s fire pit, but we were starting to feel the wind rise and the first drops of rain. We decided that instead of waiting for dinner, we should just get on the road if it started raining, which ended up happening around four thirty. It rained hard the whole way home, soaking our bag that held the sleeping bags and pillows. I am not sure how the rest of the group fared, and how many of them ended up staying through the night.
If you are interested in visiting the farm yourself, they are doing two family type tours coming up next weekend and next month (click imbedded link for more details).
See more pictures that I took below: