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An Ode to Farmer - The Full Story

An Ode to Farmer - The Full Story

| Katherine Teague

Sometimes it takes faith to step into the unknown–even the seemingly commonplace unknown of dog ownership. This is the account of such faith and how our lives have forever been imprinted by a dog–our droopy, big-eared, red-furred, wandering, sleepy, cuddly hound dog, Farmer. 

My arm suddenly yanked far beyond my body, but my grip tightened and somehow I maintained my balance on the icy snow. The reddish colored hound sniffing the ground ahead me was eager to bound ahead. “Are we doing the right thing?” flew through my mind, “This dog is a boundless stream of energy.” Not only that, he could also eat an entire bowl of food in less than one second, no exaggeration. 

One month prior, we’d been on a trip home to visit family, and a friend introduced us to a hound dog he was fostering. Marshall immediately sent me a picture of him knowing he was the perfect blend of the breed we’d wished for–redbone and bloodhound. But we lived on the other side of the country. Did it make sense to fly him to our new home? We’d never owned a dog as adults, were we ready? Did it make sense in that season of working full time to leave him behind solo most days?  Did we even have enough money to take care of a dog? We worked for a non-profit, which does not exactly bring in a high paycheck. We belabored the decision, and then one day Marshall emerged fresh from taking a shower having reached a sudden point of clarity: Sometimes it takes faith to step into the unknown–even the seemingly commonplace unknown of dog ownership.


We flew our new bloodhound across the country and he entered our world and changed everything. We had no idea how compelled we’d be to watch him play over fiddling with the other hobbies that consumed our attention prior to our young dog's entrance into our world. He was just like our first baby and we were enraptured with the watching. He would climb right into our laps to cuddle and that never lost its charm. He would take fresh dog treats and bury them in the yard to discover later. He became our constant companion. We rarely left the house without him coming with us. He’d join us for drives, visits with friends, hikes, climbing adventures, camping, backpacking and anywhere else we could justify bringing him.

He was called “Red” during his first year and a half of life as he was passed around from home to home. We considered keeping it, but laying on my bed one day, the warm sun rays filtering through my south-facing windows, the name “Farmer” suddenly popped in my mind. I found Marshall and shared the idea with him and we knew it was a fit for our new dog. We found him on our friend's farm--the place we’d spent many of our dating days riding horses and taking walks for miles. It felt reminiscent and right. Little did we know what foreshadowing it was too–oh the irony of not being able to see the future. 

Farmer instigated the unfolding of a story we never planned to write. He became a constant symbol and reminder that it takes faith and trust to leap into the scary unknown–crossing the threshold from feeling safe and in seeming control over to a new world that’s uncertain and uncharted territory. 

A few short years after bringing Farmer home, we decided to move back east to our hometown to climb the steep learning curve to become actual farmers. Talk about life curveballs. When we married, our plan never included sustainable farming. We had normal, everyday jobs. Sure we’d spent time on farms and worked with horses, but we’d never even entertained the idea of being small, agrarian business owners. But through unexpected events and conversations that I won’t take time to go into here, we had a brand new sight into the design that exists in nature and sustainable farming. The tension of the “eden” and the “thistle” that imparts beauty in the process. 

EdenThistle was born, requiring a giant leap of faith. It was a bit crazy. It was the opposite of what we should’ve been doing at that age in terms of gaining financial stability. Very unknown and tumultuous at times. It required depleting our meager life savings, and then zeroing our bank account several times as started things up. 


We loved this farming life. We have been forever imprinted by its rhythms: symbiotic work, rest, fortified fertility, new, sustained growth, harvest and then the cycle repeating itself. It involved many tensions, many thistles. But also provisions. At so many of the junctures in the arduous moments of the journey, all we could do was lean into faith. 

And as we did, Farmer remained our Ebeneazer of sorts–"our stone of help.” His bloodhound nose would cause him to wander off more often than we cared for. At times in our early days together, we’d be on trails deep in the Cascade mountains. He’d be right there with us and then suddenly disappear, bolting off following a scent. Somehow, miraculously, hours later sometimes, he’d find us on the trail. After endlessly searching, all we could do was hold out faith he’d come back–just like the times he’d find his way out of our securely-fenced yard, or the time he got hit by a work truck on a farm–and his chance of recovery was unknown. But each time, he returned to us, and that constant provision was not lost on us. Our faith bolstered by even such regular events.

Just as with farming, our lives have forever been imprinted by a dog–our droopy, big-eared, red-furred, wandering, sleepy, cuddly hound dog, Farmer.

Deeper into our story, we had to let go of farming on a large scale ourselves–this was a grief but also our clear path (our meat and eggs now come from sustainable farms carrying on the good work our brand supports).  And today, we have come to another new juncture in our business. 

We’ve encountered a “thistle” in the form of a trademark issue with a larger company. But that’s ok, we’re using it as a new opportunity to distinguish our businesses and emerge redefined. Our dog boarding and daycare company will continue with the name reminding us of our roots, EdenThistle Dog Co. And all of our grassfed meat and eggs, our dog treats, and new products in the works will exist under our new brand that we are thrilled to announce: Farmer & Thistle.

Our new name, Farmer & Thistle, is an ode both to the life of sustainable farming that still has its deep impressions running through us. And, even more, it is an ode to our beautiful bloodhound, Farmer. Though he is no longer with us, his imprint runs deep. His memory remains our Ebeanzer–our stone of help–to take that leap of faith into the unknown. 

All that we learned belonging to Farmer, and he to us, is the backbone of EdenThistle’s transformation into Famer & Thistle. And we are grateful for the courage he’s given us to leap into something, though familiar, also brand new. 

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Streams That Flow

The tension of good and hard is always present, but by these winding 'Streams that Flow,' I have found more life, love and kindness than I ever knew was possible. This blog is a stream-of-consciousness style record of the people, places, and even animals that have imprinted goodness and love on my life. Stories that I hope will inspire rituals of beauty, rest and belonging for you too within the flow of everyday life.