Who they are
He is a former sound engineer who toured around the world with live musical acts, before promising Lisa that if she helped him start a farm, she could make cheese. "The goat dream was a joke, really, and it's gotten too far out of hand at this point. I read an article once about an entrepreneur who rented his goatherd out to the highway department somewhere in the South to chew down the kudzu. Then he'd shear [the animals] and sell it for wool. I thought it was such a cool idea that I decided I wanted to retire and have a goat farm."
She is a former marketing copywriter and greeting card writer who found the writing "soul-crushing" and turned to farming for a more meaningful existence. "I never thought I wanted to be a farmer -- that was Christian's crazy idea -- but he lured me in with the promise that I could make food for people."
They started Blue Heron farm seven years ago. Christian explains, "You can't tell people for like, a decade, that you want a goat farm and then not do it so -- here we are."
You can find Blue Heron Farm cheese for sale at Revival Market, Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market and Rice Farmers Market. Menus at restaurants such as Down House, Haven and Sparrow also feature Blue Heron Farm products.
What they do
Lisa is primarily in charge of making and selling cheese, as well as marketing and social media. "I'm also in charge of taking lots of photos and sharing them, making people 'squeee!'," says Lisa. Christian takes care of the farm work, the "heavy lifting." "You know how when you own a house and everything breaks, and you have to fix it?" asks Lisa. "A farm is that, times a hundred."
Why they like it
"We love working for ourselves," says Lisa. "We've always had a good work ethic, and have been frustrated before in jobs where we worked harder than our boss for no reward. The most satisfying thing about this is that everything we put into it, we get back out of it."
What inspires them
"Well, the mortgage is a pretty good inspiration!" says Lisa. Christian adds, "Those udders are full of milk every morning, no matter what!"
"The truth is," continues Lisa, "we really love it. We used to work really hard for these bosses who rarely thanked us for things. But every day we sell cheese to people who are thankful for what we do. There is an immediate reward in that. We have to go out there and milk twice a day, every day -- and by "we" I mean Christian -- and there are weeks I'm in the cheese kitchen five days a week and the market two days a week, and there are days in there where you don't feel like doing it. But what makes us remember how much we love it is first, the animals -- we are really crazy about the goats -- and second, what we do has such an obvious impact on people. I make cheese on Friday and sell it to someone on Saturday, and they thank me and tell me how delicious that cheese is -- I'm complete, and everything feels great!"
If not here, where?
"We'd love to farm in San Diego! But we couldn't afford a hundred square feet there," laughs Lisa.
"I have this fantasy farm I would one day own in the British Virgin Islands," adds Christian. "On a hillside, looking down into one of those harbors where the rich people keep their boats. Every day at 5 p.m., I would go down in my little rowboat and row my fresh cheese out to the yachts and sell it to them. But I've done a little research and it's about a million dollars per acre to raise goats in the British Virgin Islands. Unless we can convince Richard Branson to let us raise goats on his island, we're screwed."
If not this, what?
"Someone just recently asked us this question," says Lisa. "If we weren't doing this, we would be figuring out how to be doing this (farming). It sounds totally lame, but we can't imagine doing anything else anymore. We're pretty passionate about ecological and sustainability issues, treating animals and the environment well. We talk about, maybe in retirement, helping other people to do this once the work is too hard for us to do."
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"We got a young farmers grant from the state of Texas -- that makes me laugh, because they consider under-40 "young" -- I guess it's young in farming!" says Lisa. "We got the grant to expand our business, which we've done this year. We grew 20 percent, which meant five new goats -- that might not seem like much, but we're in the throes of it now, and it's a lot. We're doing more, the demand has grown; we can never seem to make enough cheese! This year we are going to try to make enough cheese."
"I always say, we didn't grow up as farmers or thinking about farming, but once we started we realized that if we can farm, anyone can -- and everyone should. If you have a crappy job and you would rather grow food, quit your crappy job and grow some food."