Wiepie (Rojas ’13) Cross, who spent 10 months as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, has returned to West Texas to make her home. Her husband, Cody, a Texas A&M University graduate, is a fourth-generation farmer in the Jim Ned Valley.
Here’s how Cross describes her farm:
Nestled in the Jim Ned Valley sits a little yellow farmhouse on the Little Acorn, a diversified and traditional farm on 100 acres that grows food for quality and taste, not quantity and appearance. We started the farm because we wanted direct access to REAL food. We love to cook, love to eat and enjoy working with our hands, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Running a farm is a challenge, but it’s also a good way to slow down and to get to experience creation in a way most people never do. I’m always learning new things about myself – mostly about my patience!
The great thing about farming is that there is always something new to experiment with. We currently have lamb, comical Nubian dairy goats, a flock of fussy red hens for eggs, seasonal produce (think: juicy, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes), grass-fed beef cattle, and some value-added products like sourdough bread, and canned goods. We also grow some of our own livestock feed like wheat and milo.
We believe in stewarding the land God has given us in the way it was intended. Our farm uses no chemicals and practices herbal techniques for animal health. It’s not perfect. We run into plenty of problems, squish lots of bugs, and pray often about growing enough grass for our animals, but we do our best to hold true to our convictions.
Cross, who earned a degree in environmental sciences from ACU, is now working on certification with the Nutritional Therapy Association, which addresses nutrition from a holistic perspective teaching practitioners to assess the body’s nutritional deficiencies and address those weaknesses through diet, supplements and lifestyle changes.
“As a nutritional therapy student, I thought that to give clients solid recommendations for healthy food choices, there needed to be farms in the area to provide that food,” she said. “I believe the root of our health comes from the soil and thus our connection with farms is essential. When it comes to food, you pay for what you get, and while we’ve been trained to hunt for deals, I’d encourage everyone to invest heavily in what you put in your body because it pays dividends. Support local farms and get excited about getting back in the kitchen!”
Here’s one of her favorite seasonal menus:
Krisp Kale Salad:
1 bunch of fresh kale leaves
1 block of goat/sheep feta cheese
2 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan Salt
1 clove chopped garlic
1 small purple onion, chopped
1 lime, squeezed
Toss ingredients together.
Blue Cheese and Pecan Roasted Beets
2 medium beets (any color: pink, red, orange, white)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Blue cheese or gorgonzola
½ cup pecans or pecan pieces
1 teaspoon salt
Cube beets into small squares and season with salt. Add into melted butter in a casserole dish. Chop and stir in pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until beets are tender. Sprinkle cheese on top and put dish back in oven for five minutes.
Roasted Lamb Shank with Vegetable Chutney
2 pounds lamb shanks
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons unrefined palm oil
Chutney: cooked carrot, celery, onion
2 cloves garlic
Sear lamb shanks in oil at high heat in a skillet for five minutes per side, then set aside. Cook chutney with diced garlic at high heat in the same pan until it starts to stick, to cook it down. Combine all ingredients in a dutch oven. Add red wine and two cups water with all the ingredients, and cook at 275 degrees for two hours.