Skip to content

Open House and Sheep Shearing Day

April 14, 2017

Sunday, April 30
Noon until 4:00
The sheep shearer is supposed to arrive at 1:15.
Tours will happen about every hour, but self guided tours can happen anytime.

Laughing Frog Farm is a small, diversified, family farm that raises fruits and vegetables, Gulf Coast Native Sheep, Freedom Ranger meat chickens, and heritage laying hens, using permaculture methods and organic principles.

We use the animals to prepare and fertilize the soil and, without tilling, we can preserve the microbiological integrity of the soil. Each growing season (and we have at least two annually in Texas), we dedicate one garden to raising livestock, fertilizing the soil and clearing the weeds. We have a small aquaponics system, a few geese, and occasionally have a pig around.

We use permaculture methods to move the water and huglekulture mounds to rise above the floods.

You are welcome to bring a lunch and drinks and dine on Chandler’s chainsaw art dining tables, with the opportunity to purchase one and take it home. They are made from farm fresh wood.

We will have a few fruit trees for sale.  

Owari satsuma
Brown select satsuma
Republic of Texas orange
Minneola tangola
Rio red grapefruit
Page mandarin
Taracco blood orange
Meiwa kumquat
Lakeland limequat
Iranian lemon

Muscadine grapes, figs, blueberries and blackberries

We ask that you not bring pets and wear closed toed shoes. Hats are great, and remember that mosquitoes, snakes, spiders, etc are all part of the farm.

We request a small donation to the farm to cover the time and effort we put into this tour, but we will not charge an admission fee so everyone, regardless of their financial situation, can attend.

This event will be canceled if it rains so much we cannot park cars in a pasture.

Please see our link under events for any possible updates.

There is a good map on the contacts page of this website.

We are located in northern Waller County, Tx., 60 miles from Houston, 40 miles from Bryan, and 100 miles from Austin.

Gulf Coast Native Sheep for Sale

March 29, 2017

IMG_5028

IMG_5133

IMG_4540
We raise Gulf Coast Native Sheep in Hempstead, Texas.
As of 4/22/2016 we have one two year old and one five year old proven ewes for sale. We still have some wonderful ram lambs available.

They are priced at $280 right now.  As the rams develop, their price might go up if they have not been reserved at the original price.  There are 8 ram lambs still unspoken for.  We are asking for a $50 deposit to reserve a sheep. None of the lambs for sale have needed to be dewormed, despite our warm wet weather. They are ready for pickup.

I often suggest to new, homesteading sheep farmers, who usually want two ewes and a ram, that they get an experienced ewe, a ewe lamb and a ram lamb (because lambs are the only rams I have left available) or two older ewes and a ram lamb.  Any lambs would have the same sire, but none of the older ones were sired by him.
Gulf Coast Sheep are mostly parasite and hoof rot resistant. We do not vaccinate and we worm only if a lamb does not pass the Famacha test. No ewe lambs that have to be wormed twice will be in the breeding program. Ewes that produce multiple lambs that have to be wormed twice will be culled. No ram lamb that ever has to be wormed will be sold or used as breeding stock.
We had 60 inches of rain in two months last spring (2016) and had no cases of hoof rot and one abscessed hoof, even though they were grazing in puddles of water as much as two inches deep at times.
The wet, warm weather is breeding ground for barber pole worm. Out of 29 lambs in 2016, we had to worm 8 lambs. Four had to be wormed twice and they were not in the breeding program.
All lambs are born on pasture with no aid from humans. We do not have a barn or indoor livestock area. We average 1.25 lambs per birth. Gulf Coast Sheep tend to be smaller, reaching processing weight at about 10 to 12 months and yielding about 25 to 30 pounds of meat. The meat is exceptional and is listed on the Slow Food Arc of Taste.  They are fed grass, hay and alfalfa.  With the rains we have had in the past few years, they have had grass almost all year, making feeding economical.  The wool is fairly course with stable lengths varying from two to five inches.
Ours are raised on pasture with a variety of grasses, clovers, forbs, trees and brush. We plant winter cover crops to improve variety and weather tolerance. They tolerate our heat and humidity, but need access to shade when it is hot and sunny.
As parasites become resistant to dewormers, and warming temperatures move those parasites further north, parasite resistant sheep are becoming more popular.
The sheep are registered, or are able to be registered, with the Gulf Coast Sheep Breeders Association. This breed is listed as “critical” by the Livestock Conservancy. Preserving this breed with its’ ability to adapt to the humid southern climate without chemical/medical inputs is important.
If you are spending lots of your time taking care of sheep and are losing sheep to illness or at birth, you might consider the Gulf Coast Native Sheep.
Sheep going out of state might require a health certificate and an additional fee of $100.00  per flock would be added for us to take care of this.
A $50.00 deposit per head will reserve your sheep.
Please contact me if you are interested.

Our Diversity is What We Have in Common

February 5, 2017

Last month two men, who did not speak English, came to my booth at the market. One pointed to the picture of my free range chickens, so I showed him a dozen eggs and a vacuum packed chicken. He pointed to the chicken and then held up 2 fingers. I got another one out and he put his hands close together, so I got a bigger one. I showed him the price, he gave me a credit card, and the transaction was complete.

When I go to work off the farm, I interact with people of different ages, races, countries of origin, religions, politics, sexual orientation, income, and culinary skills. In Houston, one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in America, I sell at the vibrant and diverse Eastside Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome to shop and join in the civil discourse about life, farming, and food policy. A conversation about the herb rau ram, with a woman from Vietnam, leads to a new recipe to try at home. A Romanian customer and I share sauerkraut recipes. The Indian couple and I discuss the difference between tulsi and African blue basil. Later a young woman tells me she has never cooked a chicken and asks for a simple recipe. I am learning the Spanish words for cuts of lamb but am not so adventurous as to learn any of the other 145 languages that are spoken in Houston.

The vendors at the farmers markets, and all small farmers, are independent beacons of capitalism. While industrial, corporate giants control most of the food chain, we are entrepreneurs running family businesses. The organic product that you so love at the supermarket is probably owned by a corporation whose web site will tell you that their mission is to “maximize shareholder value”. Most of the farmers I work around would agree that our mission is to provide the best, freshest food we can deliver and hope to make a living doing so. We represent the closest thing to free market capitalism in America.

As small independent businesses, including farms, close year after year, we need the support of everyone, and we will, in return, support the community. Much of our money (that was your money before you bought from us) stays in the community supporting local processing facilities, butchers, and restaurants. We owe our farm’s existence to the loyal, single family customers.

While the number of butchers, bakeries, fishermen and cheese makers dwindle, and most Americans cannot tell the difference between the taste of chicken or armadillo, because salt, flavoring, and sweeteners cover the fact that there is no flavor in much of the industrial foods, our customers go out of their way to get the perfect chicken, egg, chèvre, kale, or bread, because they can tell the difference.

We are stewards of the environment, we preserve heritage breeds and seeds, we risk our own capital to do these businesses, and we seldom get the subsidies that support our wealthy and politically influential competitors. Of course, they are not really competitors because they make something completely different. There is a reason our products are called food, and theirs are called commodities.

The greater Houston area eats, or wastes, about a million pounds of food an hour. We local farmers will provide only the prime part of that to anyone who wants to visit a farmers market or a farm and support real food and real farmers.

We are a diverse group of farmers. We love our diverse group of customers and welcome the refugees and immigrants.

P.S. I was told a story about a man that was buying trapped armadillos and selling the meat as chicken with no complaints.

Integrating animals in specialty crop rotations

January 8, 2017

This is a pdf of the slides in my presentation at TOGFA 2017

integrating-animals-in-specialty-crop-rotation

Hugelkultur at the farm

December 16, 2016

img_0224
In the past few years we have had flooded gardens dozens of times. The most recent rain totaled 13″ over two and a half days, making for the third double digit rain event this year. But we have also had a few 3″ to 6″ rains that can do their share of damage as well. We have lots of dead wood dating back to the drought of 2011 and we are using that to build hugelkultur mounds in the garden. Combining these mounds with more swales to hold and move the water, will help us work better with our little ecosystem.
This combination of sticks, soil, hay and yes even dirty paper egg cartons, will turn into rich organic matter. Then we can raise a few chickens on and around the mounds, continue to add compost and soon we will be selling produce from our new and improved gardens.
So do not throw away your leaves, dead wood, grass clippings and newspapers–put them to use building a permaculture garden, rich in organic matter. Or you can drop them off at the farm.

Microgreens

November 1, 2016

img_5998
We are now growing microgreens. These nutritious and tasty little seedlings will be available at the market on Saturdays.
This is an article from ACS News Service from 8/29/2012
“The first scientific analysis of nutrient levels in edible microgreens has found that many of those trendy seedlings of green vegetables and herbs have more vitamins and healthful nutrients than their fully grown counterparts. A report on the research appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Qin Wang, Gene E. Lester and colleagues point out that microgreens have gained popularity as a new culinary trend over the past few years, especially in upscale markets and restaurants. Those seedlings of spinach, lettuce, red cabbage and other veggies are usually 1-3 inches in height and harvested within 14 days of germination. They enhance the color, texture and flavor of salads, soups, sandwiches and other foods. Despite their growing popularity, no scientific information existed on how nutrients in microgreens compare to those in mature plants. To fill that gap, they analyzed vitamins and other phytochemicals in 25 varieties of microgreens.

They found that microgreens generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. But they also found wide variations in nutrient levels among the plants tested in the study. Red cabbage microgreens, for instance, had the highest concentration of vitamin C, for instance, while green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E. Concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids in popcorn shoots and golden pea tendrils were low compared to other microgreens, but were still as high as some common mature vegetables.”
We will be slowly ramping up production as demand grows. See you at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturday.

Fruit trees for sale

October 27, 2016

DSCN0289
We will be at the Eastside Farmers Market Saturday Oct. 29, from 8:00 until 12:00 noon to begin the fruit tree selling season–and most Saturdays after that.

We accept cash, checks and credit cards. Email me if you want to place an order for pickup at the market.
We have the following fruit trees/bushes:

Persimmons on d virginian a $35DSCN0661

Fuyu
Saijo

Fig 3 gallon $25

Celeste
LSU purple

Blueberries Southern Highbush 3 gallons $25 very low chill requirements
Misty
Sunshine Blue
Emerald

Blackberries $25

Natchez
Kiowa

Muscadines $25 female vines must be planted within 50 feet of a self-fertile vine

Carlos bronze self fertilecarlos
Cowart black self fertile


For care see my fruit tree fertilization schedule