Josh and Beth Hornsby took a leap of faith when they exchanged a paycheck for full-time farming, but have never regretted it.
Lately I have been hearing the same saying over and over: "When God closes a door, He opens a window." A friend of mine recently said that for quite a while she had felt like something just wasn’t quite right in her life. She began to pray about how she felt and asked God to help her see what she wasn’t seeing. She wasn’t sure if she had made the right choices in her career or in her role as a working mother, but she knew that where she was wasn’t a truly comfortable fit.
She prayed for about five months and then a door in her career suddenly closed. She was shaken by the abruptness of it, but still felt in her heart that there was somewhere else she should be and something else she should be doing. Quickly, but with a lot of faith, she considered her options.
|Levi, left, and Sully Hornsby enjoy “helping” in the fields.|
It wasn’t long before a window of opportunity opened just as suddenly. The place where she got her new job had not even had a vacancy when she first started to pray about her concerns. If she had not been in the mindset to look for a new opportunity, she might have missed it. It turned out the perfect place for her had not even been created yet.
"When God closes a door, He opens a window." The problem with the saying is that you can’t always tell where an open window is. Decisions about your career, lifestyle or health can be hard to make, especially in times of transition or loss. You may not be able to distinguish a good opportunity from a dismal dead end, but what about when you intentionally open your own window? How do you know when you are no longer "in your element," and how do you plan for long-term transformation, especially when you have a family to feed?
These questions brought to mind a farm family here in our community. Josh and Beth Hornsby own Hornsby Farms in Little Texas. In 2009, they decided to use their own garden to start a little farm stand as a side venture to supplement their income. With the stand, Beth could stay home and raise their first child Sully. Each year the business grew a little more and, with the birth of their second son Levi in 2013, they started looking at their options.
Josh had been working as a wild-land firefighter and was hardly ever home because of his job. A salaried government position may seem like an obvious choice when weighing the options for long-term family security, but both Josh and Beth knew that something had to change to make their situation better.
They considered their collective skills and financial needs, but they also talked about what kind of work actually made them happy. They really enjoyed feeding the community, growing delicious fruits and vegetables, and preserving their harvest. After countless hours of prayer and conversations between the two of them, they decided to take a leap of faith. Josh left his job and they began farming full-time in February 2014.
They definitely missed the consistency of having a set paycheck every two weeks, and saving for the leaner months is crucial to the long-term financial stability of the farm. But they knew they have made the best choice for their family.
"Income fluctuates throughout the seasons and some months are leaner than others, but we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and we are happy and healthy," Beth said.
Josh and Beth have created a balance of duties based on their talents and abilities, so that both their farm and family can thrive. Josh grew up farming alongside his father and combined that knowledge with his degree in horticulture from Auburn University. He handles most of the major field decisions and all of the tractor work. Beth has been able to put her business degree and marketing background to use by handling all aspects of marketing for the farm. They share many of the daily duties such as picking and deliveries, and Beth cans a variety of jams, pepper jellies, pickled items and tomatoes. Their boys have been included in every step of their farming journey, making them a true farm family.
Although Josh had prior experience with farming, Beth said there is always something new they can learn about farming. In the off-season, they travel all over the Southeast for agricultural conferences. Being able to connect with other farmers has helped them improve their growing methods, educate themselves on new research regarding farming equipment and sustainable farming practices, and share ideas for new methods that might work best for their own farm and land.
The biggest surprise for the Hornsbys about transitioning into full-time farming has been how receptive the community has been to what they are doing. From the early years of the little farm stand, Hornsby Farms has grown tremendously in the past year. Josh and Beth believe it is due to a great support system existing within the community. The demand for fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables has grown and community support and encouragement has made the business a success.
Beth shared that they had days where they didn’t know if they could work another minute because they were dog tired or because they would lie in bed at night worrying about finances. The excitement she and Josh share as they talk about their adventures with people in the community and the pure joy they feel when watching their boys help in the fields have kept them motivated and positive. They still have days where they think they can’t work anymore, but they know when you farm it is part of the deal.
Although it can be very stressful, farming has given Josh and Beth a renewed sense of faith.
"We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow’s harvest, and we trust God will provide. Being able to work together as a family is a huge blessing, and we couldn’t imagine it any other way," Beth said.
Knowing you are working to grow food for the community as well as your family’s next meal can make it all worthwhile.
One of the things Josh and Beth wish they had known before starting to farm full-time is that they could actually do it. They took a chance on their future with a lot of trust in each other and a strong belief that God had a plan in mind to take care of them. Every day they talk about how they wish they had transitioned much sooner. Their family’s financial security was not guaranteed when Josh left his firefighter job, but their hard work and faith in each other shows that you can find your window of opportunity, if you look for it.
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup Hornsby Farms Strawberry Jam
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Heat water and add sugar, stir until dissolved. Add jam and lemon juice. Mix together. Add ice and enjoy! Use lemon slices to garnish.
Note: This is delicious!
Brown Sugar Squashinni
1 squash, sliced or diced
1 zucchini, sliced or diced
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Place squash and zucchini in skillet with butter, salt and brown sugar. (To make more, just double the batch accordingly.) Sauté until squash and zucchini are tender and there is a nice glaze going with the butter and brown sugar. Usually takes 5-10 minutes depending on how veggies are cut.
Note: A Hornsby family favorite!! We struggle to find new ways to eat all our veggies and created a tasty side that we all love!
Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.