Living Richly

Living Richly


I know this breakfast doesn’t look like much at first, so I’ll explain.

As farmers, Justin and I have never expected to be wealthy. We know this isn’t the life of nice cars, expensive travel, and frequent luxuries, but almost every day of my life I look around and see that we are actually living like kings.

I’m feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, which is a good place to be, and my breakfast this morning is a symbol of this real abundance. Let me break it down for ya. 

Vibrant orange bell peppers from my very own garden. 

Orange is a color you don’t get from a pepper until it has survived the intense heat of summer, managed to avoid damage from pests, disease, and sun-scald, and then finally, at the tail end of summer, that crisp green pepper ripens to a glorious sweet orange. It takes patience, care, and a good measure of luck. I value this pepper because I know intimately what it took to get to my plate in late August.

Buttery potatoes.

One thing that saddens me about agriculture in America is many farmers do not or cannot eat what they grow. For example, chicken farmers are bound by oppressive contracts to Tyson or Sanderson Farms or some other large agribusiness in which they make 20k/yr, are not permitted to taste their hard work, and end up purchasing discount food for their family as cheaply as possible striving to make ends meet. It’s dumb. Justin and I are so lucky to get to eat nearly as much as we want of our hard work.

These amazing potatoes were almost all given out to members in the CSA this year but we saved one crate for ourselves. We worked really hard to protect them from moles, to store them properly to prevent greening, and by-golly, we’re enjoying them now. And they are really, really good potatoes.

Fresh eggs with deep yellow yolks.

Hens all over have been through the ringer this year. Our hens were lucky to avoid the avian flu that killed a huge number of chickens and sent grocery stores placing limits on egg purchases. Our girls are lucky to be alive.  Also, our yolks were pale in the intense heat and drought of the summer, but with recent rains and cool temperatures, the hens are less stressed, have been moved to lush pasture, and are eating loads of bugs again which have turned their yolks a gorgeous yellowy-orange. This quality isn’t even available in stores, but also, this intimate understanding and appreciation for my meal can only come from the connection I have to the production experience.
A masterpiece of artisan bread.

Do you know how lucky I am that I can trade two pints of sungold tomatoes for a fresh, steaming loaf of traditionally fermented, hand kneaded, naturally leavened bread that was baked at 4 am the same day? Do you know how lucky we are to have Sola Bread in Tyler?

Organic fair trade coffee in a hand-crafted pottery mug.

I have friends who own a sustainable, ethical coffee farm in the Dominican Republic.  And then I have other friends who buy up all that coffee at a fair price that honors the farmer’s labor, they roast it to perfection right here in East Texas, and then on top of all that I get to sell vegetables right next to them every Saturday while sipping their amazing brew. How lucky am I?

And if that wasn’t cool enough, this morning I poured my perfect coffee into a beautiful moss green coffee mug that a friend of mine made. Dave Funk teaches art at the local junior college where I used to work. Every morning I have a moment of opportunity to be thankful for the artists and artisans who gave my meal these finishing touches.

And that was my breakfast. See, it’s not a peasant meal at all. Now it’s a feast, right?

Other days the same sense of gratitude and richness comes from an enormous bouquet of fresh flowers my mom leaves as a surprise, or grass fed steaks of perfection fresh off of the grill, or a whole overflowing basket of delicious juicy heirloom tomatoes, those prized jewels of the garden that I sometimes get to eat by the armload.

This life, y’all – this LIFE! My whole community made my abundant breakfast this morning, and they made my dinner last night, (we brought the veggies, Sola Bread baked it into Pizza, and the local brewery provided the beer.) all with quality I probably couldn’t so frequently afford and created and eaten with joy that money can’t buy.

And hens that we nurtured might have even provided your breakfast today. That feels so good.

Is there money in farming? Yeah, there’s a little. Enough. But this life is truly rich.