By Bailie Wilson
Nestled at the end of a bumpy dirt road in the hills of Fayettville lies 40 acres of backcountry bliss. Pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys roam freely about their designated areas, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying all the benefits of living in their natural, intended environment.
“We try to allow the animal to be as much of an animal as they can be,” says the farmer’s wife, Lynsey Kramer. “We want to foster that natural environment.”
Yonder Way Farm exists to cultivate a healthy living space for their animals and produce healthful meat for customers in their local community as well as Brenham, College Station, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.
It all started when Jason and Lynsey Kramer packed up their family and moved to family owned land in Brenham. “At first farming was just a hobby,” says Lynsey. “We had a flock of chickens, our two pigs, Lucy and Ethel, and a few cows.” The family was in the habit of buying from local farms, so it was a natural transition to start farming their own food.
It wasn’t long before passer-bys began to notice the farm. “People would see our farm from the street and drive up and ask ‘So what are you going to do with those eggs and pigs?’” says Lynsey. Eventually, Jason made the risky decision to quit his job as a firefighter and become a fulltime farmer.
Eight years later, Yonder Way Farm has moved, grown, and expanded, but their mission remains the same. “We want to be able to steward creation in a way that is honoring to our animals and our customers,” shares Lynsey. “We want to have integrity in all that we do because it really does matter to us.
“There is a whole movement of people who want to know their food, know their farmer, and be able to ask questions,” Lynsey explains. In a society driven by labels, people often want to know if Yonder Way Farm is “certified organic,” or if their chickens are “certified free-range.” Farmer Jason always says, “We are not certified anything but certified transparency.” They invite their customers to visit the farm and come see the process for themselves.
“We are hesitant with labels,” says Lynsey. “We don’t really want the labels because we go so far above that.”
Their laying hens, for example, are outside and unrestricted instead of packed into chicken houses. They are allowed to go through molting seasons to let their reproductive systems catch up and rest. Typical commercial laying hens are in a confined environment with controlled temperature and constant light – all unhealthy conditions for the chickens.
The cattle are grass-fed, grass-finished. “Our animals are never fed corn – cows were never meant to eat corn; they can’t digest it,” explains Lynsey. “And commercial pigs won’t even see sunlight,” she continues. “Our pigs get to be outside in the pasture, just being pigs.”
Allowing the animals to live like they were intended means they work together to keep the farm healthy and harmonious through rotational grazing – each animal interacts with the land in their own way.
“The pigs till it up, the chickens go behind them looking for bugs and broadcast it, and the cows stomp down the grass,” Lynsey explains. “It’s actually good for the land to have a multispecies farm.
“Our least favorite day is when the animals go to be butchered,” Lynsey shares. At Yonder Way Farm, the farmers love what they do and care about their animals. “We aren’t ‘certified humane.’ I mean, how do you kill something humanely? But we do try to make it as stress-free as possible up until the very end,” says Lynsey. Jason always adds, “We only want our animals to have one bad day.”
As the meat travels from the farm to the table, the Kramers get to interact with the community. “We have a really cool community of people who support us,” says Lynsey. “It’s neat to make those connections, to build the relationships, and to get to know those families.
“For a lot of people, the commercial system hasn’t worked for them, so they are returning to natural, local farms. It is really rewarding to see that come full circle. Jason delivers it to them. People love the idea of getting their food hand-delivered by their farmer.”
“People like to glamorize our lives,” says Lynsey, a busy mom who homeschools their four girls. “But it is very hard. There are so many variables when you live on a farm, but it has been good for us to realize we are not in control. We have learned a lot of life lessons through it all.”