Return from Beyond Organic Ranch
Paul and I have just returned from our first trip to Beyond Organic Ranch and we hardly know where to start.
We want to tell you how therapeutic and relaxing the time we spent with our Beyond Organic family was; how peaceful and vast the acreage was; how beautiful and genuine the people were; how simple and sweet our lives were while we were there; how impressed and excited we are about what’s coming down the pipeline; how blessed we are to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
We want to tell you all about it, but we’d much rather show you. The pictures in this post hardly do justice to the beauty of God’s country. Nature was in her best form this weekend as the rain ended just before our arrival and the floods began once we departed. During our 3-night stay, we had gorgeous days and cool nights. We were comfortable and oh-so-happy to be there.
We made many new friends on this trip, one of whom, Colt Morton, was in the process of moving out to the ranch with his wife, Amanda. Over the course of the getting-to-know-you-convo, Colt learned that Paul plays guitar as landscaper-by-day-and-guitarist-by-night Axe Mulch for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Colt got a good chuckle out of us when he asked, “So, are you an animated character?” We knew what he meant, but laughed in spite of ourselves as Paul replied, “I am a character, but there’s not a cartoon about me.” Paul Smith as a cartoon. Now that’s funny. But it got me thinking a lot about character. I’ll circle back to this in a bit.
Our first morning at the ranch, Beyond Organic President Jason Dewberry took a small group of us on a sunrise tour. Having been dutifully warned of my non-morning-person temperment the night before, Jason greeted me with a tentative, “I’m not talking to you yet, Jenni, but the coffee’s ready,” as Paul and I pulled up in our little golf cart just before the tour was scheduled to begin. While I sleepily stirred in my coconut sugar and raw milk, Mike & Kate Battistelli arrived, followed by our team member Gene Dukart (the less sleepy half of Shar & Gene), and new ranch resident, Colt.
We didn’t expect to see Beyond Organic Founder Jordan Rubin on this early morning tour–mainly because he hadn’t mentioned he planned to be there–but it was a pleasant surprise to see him hop in a golf cart with us. Admittedly, it was a real treat to tour the land with the man who started it all. But this was Jason’s gig, and he was the one who directed us, picked the stops along the way, and shared the company’s vision for future growth and–not only sustainable, but truly regenerative–scalability. I snapped pictures along the way and enjoyed watching the fog burn off (both literally and figuratively as the dew settled on the wet grass and the coffee began to kick in.)
As Jason explained that we’re presently working only 5-7% of our usable dairy/beef ranching and have tons of room for growth, I looked over and noticed Jordan was in his own world. He’d been quiet all morning and, rather than perking up like the rest of us during the couple hours we spent together, he seemed to be deep in thought the whole time. It finally dawned on me that he was reading his bible. We’d likely thrown this tour in during his devotion time, so instead of skipping the trip, he brought the devotion with him.
Between pictures of cows (below) and Jason (above) and spiders (below) and horses (below the cows), I noticed a very studious Jordan in the background. And that’s when I remembered this quote by H. Jackson Brown Jr.: Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.
Character. It’s something we can spend a lifetime building, and a yet moment destroying. It’s life-defining and death-defying. It’s the gate to trustworthiness and integrity, or it’s the gate to destruction and defeat. I know of many times where I chipped away at my character in mere moments, and many of you, unfortunately, have seen me do it. Even worse–I’ll do it again. Despite my best intentions, I’ll hurt people, disrespect those I love, cause undo worry and irritation; I’ll treat my body poorly instead of like the temple God designed it to be; I’ll make mistakes and disappoint you; I’ll fail to forgive when I should just let go. But though I know I am not perfect, I am forgiven! And I am loved.
I’m not often comfortable talking about my faith (another area that needs work, I know), but this was a very Spirit-filled weekend. God was there. He was there as we made a barefoot treck on Doane Ranch; He was there on that sunrise tour; He was there when we blessed every delicious meal we ate (thanks, Deb & Linda!); He was laughing at me when I foolishly called a very obvious dear an emu (no, there are no emus on Beyond Organic Ranch, so you can laugh at me, too).
He lifted me up as I mounted my new four-legged friend, Buck (who, incidentally, required far more rib kicking to get moving than I was comfortable with); He was there during church as we sang worship songs and heard the most moving testimonial of my life (no exaggeration, and also not my story to share).
He was there during the rock n’ roll songs we belted out around the campfire (I hope none of that made it on video); He was there in the quiet, in the still. He was there to remind me my character is fluid–it’s a moving, flowing, changing thing–affected by my every thought, word, and action.
Somehow, I left that place fuller than when I arrived. And no, I’m not (just) referring to the scrum-tu-lescent food we ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I think we brought more than the ranch dust on our boots back to Florida. I believe our character–mine and Paul’s, too–grew this weekend. And while there may be no exact measurement for this growth, I hope you can see it, feel it, and recognize it when we next see you.
And beyond that, we hope you’ll notice a new twinkle of animated excitement in us, because being an animated character is contagious, and we want you to catch it.