I grew up on my family’s self proclaimed “farm” in the Texas Hill Country. It’s made up of twenty acres, of my dad’s dream land, fourteen rows of mom’s lavender, six chickens, two “guard dogs” (they are both labs and will lick you to death), two horses, one cat, one sometimes creek, and a spring on top of a hill. What drew my parents to this place was the historical home built in the 1800s by German settlers. This “farm” is our family’s little piece of paradise.
Growing up here, with my earth goddess mother, is where I learned how special it is to have this place to call home knowing, home is really where your heart is and where your community grows. If you know my parents, you know you have a standing invitation to come out anytime you want — for a quick swim, a walk around the land, a nap on the back porch or a glass of wine in the garden with my mom.
While my dad was building “the big house,” we lived in “the little house.” My dad bought this land from a little old lady, Esther Hatton, when I was seven years old. Esther and her first husband (she out lived two reaching the age of 104) first bought this place in the 1940s and they turned the old German cottage, “the little house,” into their home. These two lived a love story for the ages and cleaning out the house full of brochures of their travels and a Valentine’s Day card for every year expressing their love was a journey in itself. Esther and A.R., who was a professor, would often leave for months on end to travel to Mexico and Spain and wherever else women weren’t supposed to go during that time. The lady was a real pistol and made her own rules.
It was always my mom’s dream to renovate this little house into a bed and breakfast but with a contractor as a husband and two over active kids, DIY plans always take a little longer. Finally, after twenty years The Hatton House is open for business and my mom will bring you fresh baked goodies each morning of your stay. If you opt not to be woken, she will stock the fridge with fresh eggs from our chickens, and an array of fruits and veggies from the local farmer’s market.
I have come and gone from this place many times; lived on my own for a while and then moved back when things got a little tight. In this chapter of my life, I am living back on the farm and finding it a hard place to leave again come September. So much so, I have started convincing my fiancé we need to build a house on the land and just stay. My favorite horse is buried here next to our family’s dogs, Arrow to the Sky and Spanky—after the character in the movie The Little Rascals, a childhood favorite of mine. There is a rock looking over the creek where my brother sat and prayed every morning since he was fourteen; when he married, our entire family prayed over them in the field under the oaks. Mom sings hymns in her garden as she lets out the chickens and a cup of my dad’s coffee on the back porch beats any coffee shop this side of the Colorado River. It is here we have loved hard, prayed harder, fought like a family, cried through pain and had enough belly laughs to heal—we also play a lot of Mexican train really late at night!
I share these pieces of my heart with you as an insight to where I come from and where my passion for local food and small business stirs. It is an incredible time to go out and enjoy what your city has to offer right down the street. The local restaurant industry has embraced supporting local farmers and turned their produce into delicacies. Spring time comes with the most beautiful wildflowers you have ever seen and there is something so cool about buying beef from the cattle rancher who’s daughter was married in the front pasture and sold off half his herd to pay for the wedding. Just like my family’s story, there is a story behind every farm-to-market stand and every small business owner. Ten bucks says, they are happy to tell you all about it, so grab a lemonade and just ask!
I love wine, I love food and I love local, so, when the three combine I can get pretty drunk on life and proceed to post it everywhere! This is what you can expect to find on my days posting to the Society Letters. A story about the farm down the street, a new restaurant, or a locally owned boutique I found and had to stash my purchase away from my fiancé (we are supposed to be “saving” so it will be our little secret)… all with a side of wine. I refuse to eat at a chain when we go out, so, I am always looking for recommendations. I admit, it does make David a little nervous every time I pick up the latest issue of edible Austin or I start scouting food blogs and he hears, “Oh my gawd BABE! We HAVE to go here!” It usually means I want to drive an hour away just to buy strawberries or the food is gunna be “weird.”
When you support a small business or a farm you share life with your community. I hope my familiy’s little piece of paradise inspires you to experience local, share a story and grow.
… ’till next time y’all!