Imagine a life where days are spent tending to the land on which you live. The food you eat is the food you grew. You get your hands dirty – and it’s always in a dress. Adorable goats, chickens, and rabbits grace you with their presence every day. Beauty is all around, and you never cease to notice it.
I discovered Jade on Instagram one day. Her beautifully curated photo gallery was something of a dream. The colors, the textures… each image seemed to be part of a bigger, beautiful picture. All I knew about her were the words typed inside her profile: “City girl married a farmer boy. Welcome to our perpetual juxtaposition.” I needed to find out more.
Tell us about this city girl who married a farmer boy. Where are you from? Where did you two meet? Where do you live now?
I am Texas born and bread, raised in the heart of Dallas but passed between a small east Texas (Miranda Lambert) town and a prestigious upper-class neighborhood known as Highland Park, so I am no stranger to a life of intense contrast. My only childhood video features me with a thick country twang, a white rabbit fur coat and tie-dye pajamas. Most of my upbringing was in the city but exploring my environment (be it urban or rural) was always in my nature. The farmer and I met in college. He wore bell bottoms at the time and didn’t quite know he wanted to be a farmer yet. But it was obvious he was too intense to end up doing anything typical. We now reside in Denton, Texas, where we met and attended college. The small-esque college town with a heavy emphasis on the arts, local pride and music seems to suit us just right.
It appears you may live the type of life where a “typical” day might not exist, but can you paint us a picture of one likely day in your current life, from morning to night?
You’re right, there’s no typical day around here. Truth be told, we had been renting the land we farmed and recently lost everything in a strange set of circumstances. We are on the hunt to buy but have had to sell most of the animals and downsize to a small (but impressive) backyard garden until we can find a place of our own. When the farm is up and running and the Farmer is tending to business elsewhere, a typical day for me is long and yet surprisingly rich. I wake up before the sun, feed and water the chickens and goats, pick vegetables for market and, if our goats are in milking season, get to milking. Milking seems like a bigger deal than it actually is. Lots of steps for sanitation’s sake, but I have learned to love it. There is something so gratifying about seeing your food through the entire process, beginning to end. I can place dishes on the table with much more pride and gratitude when I know exactly where it all came from.
On the days I don’t help on the farm, I make a lot of food, trying to keep up with the influx of pure delicious harvest and – of course – document whenever possible.
You seem to be surrounded with the most beautiful animals. Goats, rabbits, horses… who are these beauties and how do they fit into your life?
The goats and chickens are or were our own and the horses are actually on another farm in a nearby town. We contemplated partnering with a farm south of here and using their gigantic horses as draft horses to run the farm. The farmer’s goal is to make business/lifestyle as sustainable as possible, meaning no fuel and lots of man power. He wishes he were Mennonite but this city girl isn’t quite ready for that. Also, I have been surrounded by creatures as long as I can remember; I have had pet rabbits for most of my life. Sweet Edie is no longer with us but when she was alive and hopping, she rode in my car, my backpack and my purse – she loved to be on the go with me and we were often caught sharing accessories. She was my pal and I hope for more bunnies in the future. When we have our own land, I also will most likely be the bee keeper and have big dreams for sheep and wool and weaving but I can’t get too far ahead of myself – stay tuned for that one.
It’s clear that you have an eye for beauty. Your photography is so stunning – and it all has such a simple yet perfectly composed moment-in-time vibe to it. What’s your philosophy on capturing such moments through your lens? Where did you learn to harness your skills so gorgeously?
What a compliment, Brigette! I am not a formally trained photographer, but have been an unofficial artist for as long as I can remember. I dabble in calligraphy, drawing, painting, and custom invitations. The “moment-in-time” vibe comes from a genuine attempt for this to always be the case. I can’t stand when our generation is consumed with their phones and I myself have to fight the urge. On vacation, we use our phones only to take photos and editing/posting is reserved for specific times. I have to absorb my surroundings, it’s an addiction. People watching and carefully wading through my five senses is something I aim to practice daily. It’s so easy to get caught up in documenting the moments that we miss the moment altogether. I work hard to keep things moving, snap and taste and laugh and move on. Still, my husband has been very very patient to let me get that shot before he devours his plate haha! He hates cold food so I am forced to move efficiently when eating is involved. I am still attempting to harness my skills and compulsively delete a good portion of what I post, trying to achieve quality over quantity which has never been a strength of mine. I think if your photos reflect genuinely who you are, then a good gallery will naturally flow from it. It’s a good discipline to slow down, ingest the world around you and enjoy what at first seems mundane or ordinary.
What’s one thing that no one would ever guess about you upon first glance?
That I am 29? Most people don’t believe my age. It could be because of the way I dress, but is probably because I am goofy and often caught being ridiculous/clumsy/too loud, much like I was at 16. I hit 30 next year and am feeling this tremendous pressure to hurry and “grow up.” But I doubt that’s going to happen.
If you could live in one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Dresses, any kind. I do farm labor in dresses. I bawled my eyes out (dramatic) when my mother purchased my first pair of jeans. I have far too many black dresses to wear with turquoise in the winter, and who doesn’t like an everyday summer dress? A dress, a good hat and some boots with too much jewelry is my go-to. I have been rocking that look since before I could talk and don’t plan on changing (my clothes) anytime soon.
What do you most admire about your man?
He is passionate. I haven’t known someone so unwavering in their convictions about life/lifestyle. He has high aims to change the world through food and is completely counter-cultural (especially for Texas) in his aims to provide for our family and community through food. He wants to fight against the consumer mindset and eventually teach us to contribute to our community versus take from it. His intense passion (while it often leads us to bump heads) also drives me to think bigger than I do on my own. Also, because he takes nothing lightly, he remains a hard working husband, dedicated to making our marriage stronger, our friendship deeper, and our lives more purposeful. How can you get better than that?! Also, he plays guitar well and has an amazing voice. When we dated, he played/sang “Girl from Ipanema” in Portuguese and it was a done deal for me. Guys who are musicians…it just works every time…we girls can’t help ourselves, right?!
What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?
When I was 21, I lived in India for about six months. I can’t explain what that time meant to me, but it might as well been several years. I went on what was supposed to be a two week trip and decided to stay until my visa ran out. I did a lot of growing up there. From the middle of the city to the tea plantations in the southern regions, I felt like I didn’t have an ounce of fear about the world around me. I loved fully sinking into a culture other than my own, it was good for the soul and taught me a lot on how to engage people – no matter where I find myself. We humans like to think we have it all figured out but, the more I see and do, the more I realize there is to learn. It’s good to feel small in a great big universe.
Favorite time of day?
The golden hour. The afternoon golden light usually hits when I am working on dinner and my senses are already so overwhelmed with the product I’m working with. I get to capture our beautiful produce at the time of day when things appear most beautiful. I am by no means a morning person. I try to be and usually have to force myself be, but the creative juices aren’t usually flowing at dawn as they are at dusk. My mother lives on an island off the coast of Seattle and the golden hour there really lives up to its name. The trees and sky are filled with an intense yellow light that is overwhelming, it’s kind of an artist’s paradise. If I had a transportation device, I would pop over to see her before every sunset.
Soundtrack to your life?
Paul Simon’s Graceland album (preferably my vinyl version). This has been a favorite for most of my life; it’s happy, funky, upbeat, multicultural and a product of the 80′s – much like myself! I can’t think of a better fit but I have been heavy into some Laura Mvula lately.
Go-to dessert item?
Anything mildly sweet. Dark chocolate, in most any form. Also, is red wine a dessert?
Weirdest thing you’ve ever been caught doing?
Weird-EST? I don’t really have an embarrassment sensor, which makes “weird” hard to define. I can sometimes identify that what I’m doing might appear odd to someone else, but for the most part I’m oblivious. Which means I’m not really sure.
What are your thoughts on making ones own dream a reality?
Surround yourself with other dreamers. Denton is a good hub for expression. Everyone seems to be doing something abnormal, and many talented, legitimate makers/creators/musicians come from here. If you can keep from being threatened by one another’s pursuits/success, you can be challenged and inspired to share ideas and thoughts with one another and encourage one another in pursuing those dreams.
Tell us something about love.
Hollywood will tell you that love is a feeling but I can’t disagree more. My feelings change daily, usually moment to moment. And I don’t think I’m alone on that one. I have only been married four years and, they’ve been both the hardest and best years of my life. What beautiful thing is developed without hard work and a fight? When my mind is committed to loving my husband, rain or shine, highs or lows, we grow closer. When I decide to love him, make the choice to care for him, regardless of absent butterflies or the complete invasion of them, we cultivate something lasting that sets us apart from who we were when we dated. We are in it for the long haul, no negotiations. There is something to be said for the decision to love and the feelings that inevitably follow, instead of the other way around.
And finally… what does free mean to you?
Free! Free means a lot of things, but a good starting point is to be free to break from the norm, move against culture, challenge why we do things the way we do them and assess if there is a good reason or if it’s just mechanical. I feel most free when I am not aiming to impress, fit in, or be what I think others are wanting me to be. I am most free when I stay strong in my deepest beliefs, regardless of how I appear to others. So go put on your version of tie-dye with a fur coat and be you!
Thank you so much, Jade! What a beautiful soul. Friends, be sure to check out Jade’s gorgeous photos on Instagram!