I love Instagram. While I appreciate the fact that it is not always an accurate representation of reality, I love it for the fact that I’m able to get little, visual snippets of life from friends, family and people I follow in a quick and concise manner. For awhile now I’ve been following the husband-wife team of Catherine and Tanner Klemcke. They are the couple behind 1915 Farm and I find them intriguing.
Perhaps it is because while I love spending time at a ranch, I’ve really grown up most of my life in some of the largest cities in the world. I’ve never personally known a farmer, planter or otherwise. I think in my mind having a small farm where you raise the animals and sell the meat is something that was a reality 100 years ago but not really anything that happens today.
Enter Catherine, Tanner and Instagram. If you are an Instagram person and you don’t follow them, check it out. Catherine captures daily life on a farm with stories and anecdotes that have a fun and playful side to them. There seem to always be something going on at the farm.
I’m learning that one of the perks about writing a blog about South Texas is that I can reach out to people and tell them I’d love to talk to them and learn more about them and it’s not creepy. Honestly, even if I didn’t write a blog I’d want to know more about the Klemckes but the blog gives me some creep cover. So, with my creep cover in place, Catherine and I sat down the other day after she delivered my March meat bundle (more about that later) so I could understand why and how they became the proprietors of 1915 Farm.
When I told my mom I was talking to Catherine she said, “How’d she get into farming” and my response was, “I don’t know. That’s what I’m going to ask her. But my guess is Texas A&M and some type of Agriculture Degree are involved.” Well, I was 50% correct. Catherine is in fact an Aggie, but she came out of College Station with a business degree and her first job was in marketing. Insert head tilt.
Catherine is from Corpus Christi and began her career in Marketing for an oil and gas company out of Victoria. By the time she had graduated she and Tanner (who lived in Corpus Christi) had been dating for about a year so the idea of getting a job close to him was appealing. After that job Catherine started selling pharmaceuticals in South Texas for Eli Lilly. Head tilt to the opposite side.
Life marched on and Tanner and Catherine got married and it had always been a dream of theirs to live in the country with some land. They were looking for 2 to 3 acres. They came across a property for sale that had 57 acres and a “free house”. You can probably image where those quotes are going. As Catherine tells the story, the house was a gem but totally run down. They spent the next 2 1/2 years renovating the house by themselves, room by room. During that time they got Netflix out at the farm. I can almost guarantee you that neither Catherine nor Tanner had any idea that Netflix would drastically change their lives. But it did.
One night Catherine, with the world of movies and shows at her fingertips, decided to watch the food documentary Food, Inc. Her eyes were opened and that one film changed their path in life.
Catherine says that after that documentary she decided to research the topic herself because as we all know, bias is a real thing. If you are going to be an informed viewer it’s important to fact check what you are hearing rather than taking it as uncontested truth.
After doing the research she and Tanner decided that they wanted to be a small scale answer for people who wanted to find an alternative to eating industrially produced meat. Even though she and Tanner had no previous experience raising animals for consumption, they looked at each other, looked at the 57 acres around them and thought, “Let’s give it a go”. Man I love people like that.
So that’s just what they did. In 2017 they purchased their first animals. They had 2 cows, 2 pigs and 50 chickens and started telling people about their farm on social media. The response was instant and has continue to grow. In 2019 they expect to finish 20 pigs, 15 cattle (steers) and about 700 chickens.
Catherine says one of the best parts about being a newbie farmer is that she does research about the “best practices” for the cleanest meat around. Then she goes to all the different players (feed providers, processors) and asks them to do it the way she wants. All the ways “they have always done it” don’t matter to Catherine because she’s never done it. She knows how she wants to raise and process her animals and get this, the providers agree.
In the opening line of Food, Inc the narrator says “The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than than in the previous 10,000” and that change has not been good for our bodies. One of the last lines of the movie comes from an exasperated farmer who says, “You have to understand that we farmers are going to deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands. People have got to start demanding good, wholesome food from us and we’ll deliver it, I promise.”
Catherine and Tanner are two of those farmers striving to produce healthy, wholesome, unaltered meat to South Texas. They have tons of buying options. If you live the in South Texas region you can be a part of their monthly meat share that brings pasture-raised, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat to your door step. If you don’t live in this region though, you can also order online and they will ship it to you. This has instantly become one of my favorite South Texas gifts. What a way to say thank you to someone.
I realized while writing this piece, that what draws me in most about them is their authenticity. Catherine is very open about the fact that they are not 2nd or 3rd generation farmers. They literally figure it out through trial and error. Obviously they are getting better and better with every year but they never pretend to have all the answers. I would watch them on an HGTV show. Just sayin’.
As Catherine was walking out the door I remembered one thing I had forgotten to ask her–how they came up with the name for the farm. She smiled and said that after they bought the property they kept trying to figure out when the house had been built but were not able to find any records. Then, while they were doing the renovations they found a date written on one of the boards: September 14. 1915.
For years they had been trying to find out the full story about when the farm house had been built. It was important for them to know the origins and history of that house. What an appropriate name considering that is exactly what they do at their farm. They work every day to take care of animals and raise them in a responsible way so that by the time meat from 1915 Farm gets to your table they can tell you exactly where it came from. They know it’s history. They know it because through leaps of faith and a whole lot of hard work they have created something to be very proud of in South Texas: 1915 Farm. Give them a try sooner rather than later.