PHOTO: Monica Kressman
Farmers: Christian and Lisa Seger
Location: Field Store, Texas
Specialty: Goat’s milk dairy products
Call Blue Heron Farm the farm that author Michael Pollan built—in a roundabout way, that is. After reading his landmark work, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in the summer of 2006, Lisa Seger and her husband, Christian, were spurred into action.
“We had both been interested in the topic and in food politics for a while, but our reaction on finishing that book was that it was time to stop complaining and start doing something,” she says. “We just kind of knew we had to farm.”
“We also knew that there was already a lot of headway being made in sustainable and organic produce farming, but that we were still really lacking in sustainable, humane and transparent protein farming,” she continues. “We decided that was what we wanted to do: We wanted to show that it is possible to farm protein while respecting the earth and the animals at that are central to protein production.”
Christian had already been having dreams of moving to the country and owning goats, and Lisa had no real interest in raising meat animals, so they decided that a goat dairy was the best way to proceed. By the close of 2006, the Segers had closed on a farm north of where they were currently living in Houston and the first five goats had already arrived.
Fast forward to today: With 30 goats on 10 acres, Blue Heron Farm sells cajeta (a Mexican goat’s milk caramel), yogurt, feta cheese and six varieties of chèvre to farmers markets and select retailers in the Houston area.
“I knew from the beginning that our story, our passion and our beautiful farm were not just worth sharing, but were also a key part of how to sell our products,” Seger says. “We want our customers to feel like our farm is their farm, too, and so we make sure they see the way the animals live as well as the way we treat and improve the land.”
“The improvements we have made to our land. We bought 10 acres of terminally overgrazed bermudagrass, and through rotational grazing and a little bit of intentional overseeding, have slowly turned it into a more diverse, resilient and productive parcel. We’ve seen dramatic weather variations in our almost nine years here: severe drought and forceful flash flooding. We noticed that our farm takes longer than our neighbors’ to fall into dormancy and is the first to emerge from it when these extreme weather events happen because our soil is healthy and able to absorb water, even from larger rain events, with no runoff. We did that. And we are really proud of it.”
“Climate change. Our weather has been completely erratic and seems to be becoming more so all the time. There is no way to plan for the catastrophic droughts and floods we have seen, and there no longer appears to be an even remotely predictable amount or frequency of rainfall. If we had a gradually increasing trend one way or the other, farmers could make plans and adjust, but when everything is happening on the edges of the bell curve, you spend a lot of money just trying to make it to the next season.”
“Don’t farm for the money. It’s not that you can’t farm for a living: You can, and we do. But you will never be financially compensated for the amount of hard work you do. Here are my tips: Learn to live and farm frugally. Use more brains than money to solve your farming problems. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”
This article originally ran in the November/December 2016 issue of Hobby Farms.