Stewards of Love
The name Bee Tree Farm comes literally from bees. Not long after Jenna and Jeremy bought their property in Manor, they discovered a giant hive living in an old fallen down post oak at the edge of their property. Once the hive was found they let novice beekeepers retrieve the hive, so that in turn these men could feed their own passions and turn bees’ gold into a business. Bee Tree Farm is an oasis of deep connections and giant heart. But it buzzes to the beat of goats’ hooves, not bees any more.
Why goats? I first asked Jenna this when I visited the farm. “Love.” That’s why. And is there any better reason to do anything at all?
Jenna received her degree in Social & Economic Policy from LBJ school of Public Affairs at UT. She worked hard and was a Project Manager for the Texas Education Agency, implementing early college programs in high schools throughout the state. Jenna and her husband were doing well for themselves and it was a good life. But at some point, she began to feel disconnected from all the reasons she perhaps first started on that path - climbing and claiming success in a career she had chosen. Thankfully, she again trusted the universe and started listening to the subtle hints and whispers of something else…..something bolder… something bigger. I often contemplate the interwoven yet combative difference between choosing something vs. something that chooses you…. something that chooses us perhaps long before we had the courage to whisper what we wanted for ourselves, and how we decide whether to give it space enough to breath. How does one find and prosper their own passion in the midst of those two places?
Goats. Goats are of course in the same lineage as Rams. In talking with Jenna, it wasn’t long before I asked what year she was born… I had a hunch. Like me, Jenna was born in the year of the Ram. It’s no wonder she fell in love with these animals and discovered she had to find a way to spend more time with them. She was truly trying to find a way to connect back home. To herself. Jenna explained that creating a goat and dairy farm was never really the intention. That was not the plan. But once they had their farm, Jenna immediately got 3 day old baby goats and raised them. After feeling the interconnected, indescribable experience of sharing the goats’ life-cycle - raising them, caring for them and loving them through births of their babies while she was pregnant with her own and then learning to milk them - there was no turning back. All she had shared with these animals was palpable beyond their emotional bond, and it was something that could nurture others - cheese. “Creating food based off of this relationship with my animals is empowering: both in the way it allows me to express my love for the animals, and in the way it allows me to offer something to the local food economy that I know is clean and supports an incredibly humane and loving connection with the animals.”
Goats. “They feel everything,” Jenna told me. Which can be very difficult in a job that’s already plagued with difficulties. But it’s also one of the golden rewards. Goats were of the first animals to be domesticated. As far back as 6000 BC, they have lived with and given themselves to the lives of humans. A goat can forage and prosper on little to nothing in almost any region on earth, due in part to her attention to detail. Goats are independent but they long to be touched and seen. They are both sturdy and nurturing. And perhaps my favorite part about goats is that even in domesticated farm life, they are so adventurous. Driven by deep curiosity (which can also drive a farmer crazzzzy) they climb any and everything and long to roam. And they are persistent in their desire to climb and see what they can see. That’s what I felt from meeting and connecting with Jenna, too. She is a powerful woman, led by a gentle persistent drive, lit bright from within. As the mother of 2-year-old twins, with the support of her amazing husband who works full-time in Austin, she is a goat farmer leading a life of persistent passion, giving herself to what has chosen her. And what she has chosen.
(this originally appeared in a newsletter for Farmhouse Delivery, highlighting local farmers. June 2017)