Help Save Swede Farm Dairy!

In 2008 a family dream of starting a farm was realized when we moved our growing family out of Houston and began a goat dairy farm. Swede Farm has not only provided for our family, it has also provided life-sustaining milk to infants and others in fragile health. It has provided a retreat for those who are craving the peace of the countryside. It has educated thousands about the agriculture necessary for life via its work with the Livestock Show and Rodeo. By sharing life on Swede Farm through the critically acclaimed independent movie “Stop the Pounding Heart”, we have been able to share insight into what we feel is a timeless way of life and, by doing so, brought hope and encouragement to many. Swede Farm has never been simply a home for our family, it has, from its inception, been a place that offers physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance to many.  To truth remains, though, that it is our home and our business and it is in serious danger.

In 2012, Swede Farm sought to expand its influence by partnering with another local dairy. Swede Farm would purchase milk from this larger dairy, allowing us to provide product to those who needed it but whose access was limited.  In April 2014, we were informed that the other dairy would not be milking their goats past November.  Goats, being mammals, make milk to feed their babies.  In order to make milk, they must be bred, go through their five month pregnancy and then deliver their babies.  When we were told that the other local dairy woud cease milking their goats in November, we made the decision to stop milking all but a small percentage of our herd to allow for them to become bred earlier in the year than normal.  The plan was that when our source of supplemental milk was no longer available in November, Swede Farm would be ready to continue independently of the larger dairy.  

All appeared to be progressing according to plan.  Swede Farm goats had been "dried off" when the other local dairy was unexpectedly shut down in May, 2014, causing a complete and unanticipated cessation of the milk supplied to Swede Farm.  This left Swede Farm without adequate milk with which to make cheese, yogurt, etc.  Essentially we found ourselves with the challenging equation; no milk=no product=no income from April through November.

Facing a total loss of income is causing us to reassess the direction of the farm and our family.  We have been able to hold on from May into August, but we have fallen further and further behind until we have reached the end of our ability to compensate for not having enough product to sell.  We need to find a way to make it from now until December, when the goats will have their babies and once more provide milk!   Selling our livestock would allow us to cut expenses and pay bills in the short-term, but selling our “seed corn” in such a fashion would essentially call for a decision to leave dairy farming. Ours would not be the first family forced to make such a devastating decision, but we would prefer to avoid it at all costs and we believe that there are others whose lives have benefitted from our farm who would likewise prefer to save Swede Farm.

Hanging on to the farm for the past three months with income barely at one fifth of what our family normally needs has drained every resource, removed every cushion that we may have had and we are now facing the time of year when we have to make decisions critical to continuing on the path to which we feel we have been called. If we desire to hold on to the dairy until December when our goats will once again be in full milk, we need to renew our dairy licenses by the end of August.  We have tried to locate other milk suppliers, but have been unable to find any close enough that has the volume of milk available that we would need. We have the opportunity to purchase six goats currently in milk. Although this is not nearly enough to support our family, it would allow us enough product to meet the needs of customers who depend on our product for health reasons as well as allowing us to maintain a vital presence at two of our farmers markets so that we may hold on to our customer base until we have enough product to actually support our family again in December.  In addition to these very specific needs, there is the reality that we have been operating on a shoestring while we hoped and prayed that the other dairy would be able to begin selling to us once more.  In this time we have fallen behind on bills, the vehicles that we need to get to market are in desperate need of repair, those goats just won't stop eating and it takes money to be able to support a family!  We did all this via our farm, the farm isn't able to currently produce!  Our adult children who normally work on the farm with us have taken jobs off the farm. We have cashed in all of our retirements savings and we have explored many other ideas to bridge the gap between now and when the dairy will be producing at full capacity once more.  These measures have helped, but do not even come close to being enough and we face making the decision to not renew our licenses and selling off our animals in order to provide for our children.

In the end, we are left with a total need of $35,000 to allow us to survive until December when we will be able to stand on our own two feet (or more accurately, 28 feet counting each of our twelve children!) once more.  This includes state licenses, six new goats and supporting our family until the end of 2014.  

The amount that each person is able to give is not important --saving one more family farm is important.  Because of this, we would like to send a handwritten thank you note to every single person who makes a donation.   While a donation of any size is appreciated, we do have some very specific needs that absolutely must be met in order to give us even a hope of remaining in farming--some of these by the end of August! To us this seems insurmountable; we simply do not know how to proceed in such an endeavor. We know how to milk goats, make cheese and share the story of the farm--not fundraise! We are earnestly asking those who have been touched by our family and farm to work with us in getting word of our situation out to those who may be able and willing to share our burden between now and December.

Donations

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  • Lillian Petty 
    • $100 
    • 58 mos
  • Lillian Petty 
    • $100 
    • 59 mos
  • Lillian Petty 
    • $100 
    • 60 mos
  • Lillian Petty 
    • $100 
    • 61 mos
  • Lillian Petty 
    • $100 
    • 62 mos
See all

Organizer

Swede Farm 
Organizer
Waller, TX
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