Fishing, Swimming, the Tranquility of Our Farm

For many years, in the corporate world, I had a framed fall forest photo of a lake near Daingerfield in my office. In the stress of the day, I often turned to it and wondered what it would be like to be there all the time. Below the photo I had inserted a caption that brought meaning to the photo in words.

Think of someplace private
Think of someplace quiet
Someplace comfortable
Someplace truly you own

Today we are at that place and it is our home. By choice, we are sharing it with others. These photos of the farm capture all the elements of why this place, this farm is so special.

Mother-Daughter Bonding on the Farm - Making Blueberry Chipotle Sauce

Jill (mom) and Madeline (daughter) picked out the Greer Farm for a short retreat from the city and time to bond. While here they helped Chef Eva make a batch of her world famous Chipotle - Blueberry Sauce (she also makes it with blackberries). This sauce is great to pour over cream cheese and eat with chips or crackers or use as a basting sauce for baby back ribs or chicken on the grill.

What Makes Our Grass Finished (Fed) Beef Better? The Grass We Grow

We believe that our beef is some of the best grass fed (finished) available. This does not come by accident. We start with a breed of cattle that are pre-dispositioned to fatten on grass only. Then we make an extra effort to ensure our cattle have the very best grass available during the growing season. We also do the same on our hay meadows so we have excellent, high quality hay to feed in the winter. This year we plowed 30 acres and planted Red River Crab Grass. This is a summer grass that is as good or better than the most expensive bermuda grasses that require a lot of irrigation or rain and herbicide treatments to control weeds.

We wanted to improve our forage options with a grass that will provide the cattle good grazing until frost and it appears this will. When our cattle were introduced to a pasture with it growing, they went to it first. We also planted with the crab grass Alyce clover and Lablab. The clover and lablab are both high in protein. Both fix nitrogen into the soil during their life cycle so they are a natural fertilizer.

With this additional forage grass, we have several different types of grasses to give the cattle variety as they rotate from paddock to paddock.

Cattle on pasture at the Greer Farm

Hay field of improved bermuda grass.

Field of Red River Crab Grass for forage

Our Blueberries "Save Your Money"

One of our customers took a photo of this blueberry ad in a store in Oklahoma City this week The blueberries have been marked down from $4.39 to $3.99. What a deal. Our farm fresh berries are much better I am sure and a lot less expensive. The customer did not buy any and said they are going to pick at our farm on Saturday.

Colorful Flowers in the Garden in June

The Crape Myrtles have been beautiful the past few weeks and there are so many different colorful flowers in Eva's garden. When you come to pick berries take time to visit the flower gardens. We have some plants for sale also.

School Kid's in the Berry Patch

We hosted a group of kids from the Daingerfield-Lone Star schools today and they had a wonderful time eating blueberries, picking berries to take home and throwing berries at each other. There are so many nice big lush blueberries now.

Eva & Sid - Reinventing Retirement: Second Acts

Eva and I sometime feel isolated here on the farm and about the time that happens someone calls or emails and says that we have a most interesting story to tell and it needs to be shared. In the recent article about us in D magazine, I said one of the most common things I hear is that "you are living my dream". We both know that the reality we live in is not only because we dreamed, but because we made it reality in our lives.

Last week I shared in a
blog regarding Eva being interviewed by a New York based film crew working for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. In fact, the crew spent several days here capturing our life on the farm and interviewing both of us. This became a small part of a program streamed live last week moderated by Charles Gibson (ABC News-retired). Apparently many do think we have an interesting story about our second career.

program is an hour long. We dart in at about the 40 minute mark. The program is not about selling investments or pushing Merrill Lynch's services, but is focused on the fact that many couples approaching their 50's or later have not planned the rest of their life. I heard a new term I had not heard before, life coach. There are a lot of services that assist you through your life, but as you near the end, there is not one that helps your prepare for the 20-30 years you have left as you wind down from a career.

If you are in this place yourself, it is well worth the time to watch the program. If you are younger, it is still very interesting as you see your parents look for that next stage of their lives. We were featured along with a couple in Atlanta and a former CEO. Each of us have approached our next career (second act) differently.

We hope you enjoy it and learn about this interesting subject, and a little bit more about Eva and I.

Cooking in June: Baby Back Ribs and Auntie Skinner's Riverport Club

The June cooking class, Mixed Berry Fest, was a lot of fun. Baby back ribs marinated with Chef Eva's homemade chipotle pepper-blackberry sauce and a the blueberry blackened blue chicken were a highlight. These photos are compliments of "Maverick" who attended the class with his wife and partied very late that evening.

After the class, a few participants that were staying in a cabin slipped off to Auntie Skinner's Riverport Club in Jefferson for some "down home east texas" fun.

Is My Tractor Sexy?

A friend that follows our blog read the one about my tractor being so dirty last winter and it reminded her of Kenny Chesney's song "She Thinks My Tractors Sexy". It is summer and we spend a lot of time on tractors doing what ever farmers do on tractors. In a way, I think a tractor is sexy.

Contented Greer Farm Cows

Despite the excessive temperatures this month, our cattle have been enjoying all the fresh green grass they can eat. We work very hard to maintain high quality forage and use rotation to keep our paddocks in prime condition. This group of cattle at our Rocky Branch Grass Ranch can enjoy a dip in the lake to cool off. Contented cows produce healthy calves which in turn produce high quality grass finished beef.

Paddle Boards Have Arrived on the Farm

Not wanting to be left behind in the latest ways to enjoy the lake on the farm, we now have several Paddle Boards Ours are SUPATX ( short for stand up paddle board Austin Texas). Having a choice,we went with a Texas supplier. Ours are 34 inches wide and 11 ft 11 inches long.

They are not as hard to use as you might suspect. This is a simple instruction video.

These photos are of our son Karl who is normally surfing the waves in Galveston. He had no trouble getting up and on his way on our lake.

The paddle boards join our kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and jon boats. Now you have one more reason to come to the farm.

Berries, Berries and more Berries

This season is our best blueberry crop since we started the berry farm. Every morning in two hours Eva and one helper pick 130-150 pounds of lush berries without making a dent in the supply in the field. Many have told me they picked over a gallon off one plant in just minutes. Now is the time to pick. there is no limit to the ripe berries.

These photos were taken in a collection tub before we packed the berries in pint containers.

Eva On Camera for New York Film Crew

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch picked out Eva and I to profile in a special streamed program this week. Reinventing Retirement: Second Acts featuring former ABC news host Charles Gibson and others will look at three families that moved from their first career to a second.

A New York based film crew spent two days last week at the farm interviewing us and capturing life on the farm. After the program streams Thursday a longer version will be online and we will post the address.

Berry Patch Photos June 12 2010: Lots of Blackberries & Blueberries

Saturday was a great day to be in our berry patch. No one went home short handed. There are more blackberries and blueberries than you can pick now.

Berry Picking with Granny.... Creating a Lasting Memory

I wrote about picking berries with my grandmother in a recent farm news update and many said I should post it on the blog. The Update is below and my story.

Blackberries and Blueberries.... Oh So Sweet! June 7, Daingerfield

The time has finally arrived when we have both blackberries and blueberries.  There are many blueberry bushes to be picked.  Over the next few days there will be a lot more ready.  Pickers are having no problems finding the number of berries they want.  The blackberries are in prime condition to pick; lush, large and sweet.  These berries were picked June 5.
Our prices are the same as in 2009.  Pick-your-own are $3 per pound.  Pre-picked are $38 for a flat of 12 pints.  Please order pre-picked berries at least a day ahead.  If coming very far for picking, feel free to call us on availability before you leave home.
We anticipate having blackberries until mid-July and having blueberries a bit later. It is hard to gauge this due to the excessive heat and dry weather we are experiencing.
We provide the buckets for picking and fresh ice water from our well.  Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the berry patch.  Toilets are available.

Cabin Availability & Summer Discount Special

We have had a cancellation for June 18 and 19 (Father's Day Weekend). Several cabins are now available for that two night rental period.  We also have three cabins for the three night rental period July 2-4.  Both of these weekends are in the middle of berry picking season and a great time to visit the farm.
There are other dates available in the summer on weekends and during the week.  Our lakeside log cabins are so relaxing.
We are offering a special discount of 10% off for a four night rental Sunday through Thursday nights through August.  This will give families a chance for a short vacation on the farm and perhaps the discount will cover the fuel cost to get here.  Mention the summer discount when making your reservation.

From Our House to Yours

Like many of you, I had grandparents that lived on a farm and all things about their life reflected the rural heritage they were a part of.  In my youthful summers spent on their hard scrabble south western Oklahoma farm, I will never forget picking fruit for making jam and cobblers.  Granny would load up as many grand kids as there were, of all ages,  into an old 1954 Chevy sedan and over the dusty red dirt roads she would fly to that place she knew was ready for picking.  Some days we picked blackberries growing on a fence, on another day wild American plums in a creek bed thicket or my least favorite, prickly pear cactus fruit that grew on the steep banks of those dirt roads.  These experiences became part of my memory of childhood.  Now as an adult, with my own grandchildren, I can look back and remember those hot summer days as a child as being very special.  Granny has been gone for many years.  I remember her, her sun bonnet and cotton dresses and the taste of her jam and cobbler will linger with me always.
Bring someone special in your life to the Greer Farm and pick a few berries or spend a night in a log cabin.  Create a memory for them that will last forever.
If you missed our early summer newsletter, you can read it here. 
We do little advertising, so please forward this on to your friends or post it on your facebook page.  Word of mouth from satisfied visitors is the best advertising of all.
We thank you for supporting our family farm and look forward to your visiting. 
Sid, Eva and all of us on the farm

Early Summer Greer Farm Newsletter

The links are not active, but email us and we can forward you a copy on which they work.

Summer on the Farm
It is only the end of May, but the hot afternoons have convinced us that summer has arrived on the farm.  It is not hot all the time. We can still have our coffee in the cool of the morning on the front porch as the sun comes up and a glass of tea after dinner outside as the evening cools.  The summer birds and butterflies are everywhere to be seen.  Our display gardens have been beautiful since early spring.  Our seasonal work is only beginning.  We have finished the first cutting of hay and the summer vegetable garden is trying to get started.  Breeding season for spring 2011 calves has begun.  We have not finished plowing and planting summer pasture.  It has been a good year already for our lakeside log cabin rental business.  Many weekends and some week days are fully booked.  Kids are running all over the farm unaware it is hot.  Most important is that much anticipated opening of the berry patch which occurred May 29. Yes, summer has arrived at Greer Farm and the circle of life continues. 
The Berry Patch
This past year has been good to our berry plants for the most part.  Most of the time there was more than adequate moisture from Mother Nature and we had no killing late frosts like last year.  The blackberries are now being picked and I believe they are the tastiest we have ever raised.  They are very large and very sweet.  The bushes are loaded and there will be plenty for everyone.  The blueberries are not yet ready.  The cooler nights we have had delayed the crop.  We anticipate the first blueberries will be ready in 5-10 days.  Please call before coming if you are driving far so we can update you on availability of blackberries and blueberries. Check out photos taken in the last few days.
Both blackberries and blueberries are $3 per pound pick-your-own.  This is the same price as last year.  Pre-Picked are available for $38 per flat of 12 pints or individual pints for $3.75 each.  Pre-picked must be ordered in advance.
We planted a row of different table grapes and raspberries this winter.  We shall see how they do in our climate.  One row of raspberry froze just after being planted in January, so if the others live we will re-plant next winter.  The variety we planted is supposed to take the Texas heat and produce July berries. 
Farm to Fork Cooking Classes
Chef Eva's cooking classes have been a great success this year.  Only a couple of spaces remain for June 12 and July 10.  Due to demand, a special class has been scheduled June 5.  It is "Sweet & Savory:  Cooking with Greer Farm Blackberries and Blueberries".  This class will feature black and blue lemonade (destined to be a family favorite once you learn to make it), a blueberry pesto appetizer, blackberry salsa, goat cheese with wonton salad served with blueberry dressing, pork tenderloin with curried blueberry sauce, sauteed portabella mushrooms and a treat from heaven.... fried blueberry pies.
I am not sure which of her next classes are going to be my favorite. August 7 is a traditional "Too Hot to Cook" class that takes advantage of all the fresh vegetables and fruit available in late summer featuring blackberry sorbet in chocolate wafer cups.  During Labor Day Weekend September 4 it's "Picnic Fare for Labor Day".  The extensive menu for this class will be a holiday feast including chili spiked grilled corn with cotija cheese.  October 9 is a time when things are cooler and the menu is "Fall Fest with Winter Squash".  Six different menu items all feature different kinds of hard winter squash.  A basic cooking class October 23 gets everyone ready for winter; "Prepping for Winter: Savory Stocks and healthy Breads".  November 13 is a different kind of class and offers six different items that you can use to entertain during the holidays.  They all sound so good and I know they will be. Enrollment in all classes is limited.  Please sign up early. We still have cabins available for some of the cooking class weekends (two nights minimum). 
Private classes have been very popular this year thus far, with a combination of groups attending. Some family, some friends or couples and some corporate.  One of the most interesting was preparing a menu from the recipes in Julia Child's first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  That class went through a lot of butter and cream!
In April, Texas Co-Op Power magazine had an article on learning vacations.  Our farm and Chef Eva's cooking classes were featured. Her hands on classes are a lot of fun as demonstrated in a few of these class photos.
Life on the Farm: Lakeside Log Cabin Rentals
We are so pleased with the number of nice folks that pick our farm as a place to get away from their normal life.  The June issue of D Magazine has a rather special article called Calling all City Slickers: Get out to the Farm.  We hope you enjoy it.
We made a few changes this year.  We added some nice cedar yard swings outside each cabin.  The sand in the beach was replaced.  Once again we added Tilapia to the lake to eat the moss on the edges, mosquitoes and to provide forage fish for the bass.  Very soon we will add recycle bins as Daingerfield now has a recycling center.  The landscape was improved with a few more crape myrtles and various plants that will require little to no water once established. 
Hopefully we will soon have enough eggs from our  free range hens to provide a few eggs for each party as they arrive.  We raised 50 chickens from day old chicks and in July they should start to lay eggs.  They are five different types of brown egg laying heritage breeds. We moved most of the pigmy goats out of the old barn by the house to the pasture for summer grazing.  Remaining in the barn area area new mama and baby (Sammy), our oldest pigmy goat Dijon and "Miss Fancy" that is bottle fed for chidren to pet. We also have three cuddly kittens that are quite tame and love to be held.
If you wish to stay on the farm this summer we encourage you to make your reservations soon.  Many weekends are fully booked.  We have maintained the same prices since opening in 2008. The most consistent comment we get from our guests is how relaxing and pleasant it is to be on the farm. These photos were taken this week.
Cattle, All Natural Beef and a Beef CSA
A lot continues to be written regarding the virtues of grass finished beef versus grain finished beef. I believe  that grass finished has to be more healthy for you. The reason being that, the cattle themselves are healthier on grass only versus those on a diet with a lot of grain.  The greatest difference in buying our beef is not so much what they eat, but how they are raised.  Our cattle are on large clean paddocks and rotated to fresh grass often.  We raise special grasses for them.  This year we planted Red River Crab Grass which is extremely high in protein. They get plenty of sunshine, fresh clean water and a lot of TLC.  We do not feed antibiotics in their feed; we use no growth hormones or any artificial supplements.  There is absolutely no comparison in how our cattle are raised versus those raised in feed lots.  This continues through the harvest and packaging process. Our cattle go to Mineola Packing (full time USDA inspected) where only a few cattle are harvested daily versus the tens of thousands harvested daily in commercial slaughter plants.  There is a great difference in our cattle versus others.
As you can see from these photos, our cattle are enjoying a lot of fresh green grass. We appreciate all of you that have purchased beef from us.  We continue to strive to provide the very best beef you have ever had.  Giving you what you want, we continue to have a mix of grain finished cattle and those that are finished on grass.  We will have our next set of cattle ready for harvest in a few months.  Details are on our website regarding this.  Basically, our beef averages about $4.90 per pound packaged.  This is about $700 for a split quarter (2-1/2 normal freezer shelves). 
We realize that this is more than many families can store in a freezer or afford at one time.  We are considering selling beef through CSA shares if there is enough interest to justify the expense to build a state certified storage facility.  There have been CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) for vegetables for years, but recently some have started for beef.  The basic concept is you sign an agreement to take a given portion of beef (for example a split quarter) for a fixed price over a given period of time (6-12 months).  You pick-up or have delivered to you the beef you have agreed to take monthly.  This allows you to pay as you take delivery and not need as much room to store the beef.  You would get to make your own cutting and packaging decisions.  This beef would be like all our beef from cattle that are raised naturally.  We would be able to  furnish grain finished for those that like this or all grass finished for those that want this type of beef.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, please email ( us so we can get more details to you.  This will only work if we obtain enough customers to justify the expense.
In the meantime, we have beef available at the farm or for purchase by the split quarter or half. 
From Our House To Yours
The days are hot, the nights are cool and our berries are the best in Texas.  Isn't it time to visit The Greer Farm again?
From our family to yours we wish you a wonderful summer. Thank you for supporting our family farm.
Sid, Eva and all of us at the farm
Please feel free to forward this to any of your family or friends that may be interested in our family farm.

Blueberries and Blackberries: Pick-Your-Own Now

This photo was taken June 5. the berries will be used in today's cooking class.

Cowboy Logic

"When a hen crackles, she is either laying of lyin".