Whim City: HausBar Farms
I LOVE my friend Dorsey Barger! She is a super awesome inspiration to me as I ever so slowly work to convert my backyard into a mini-urban farm. Dorsey is way ahead of me. For nearly twenty-four years she was a co-owner of Eastside Café, where she gained tons of experience growing organic food and keeping chickens in the restaurant’s glorious gardens. Now, she and her partner Susan Hausmann, own and operate HausBar Farms in the heart of East Austin.
The farm came to be when, a couple of years ago, Dorsey and Susan Hausmann were looking to shake things up. Two decades of restaurant operating had offered its rewards and plenty of challenges, too. So what next? The two found and purchased a property on the East side that included a couple of abandoned crack houses. They also found a cottage across town that was set to be demolished, moved it to the property, refurbished it and claimed it for their own. Next, they converted one of the old buildings into the Taj Mahal of chicken coops for their first flock of two hundred. These days, they’ve also got a processing building and they’re working on building a bigger main house using lots of reclaimed materials.
HausBar Farms makes me gloriously happy every time I visit. I wander the expansive gardens, have my shirt nibbled by a couple of miniature donkeys, scratch the goat’s head, and cuddle adorable bunnies. I also love watching more than 300 hens run around sort of like chickens with their heads cut off, only without their heads cut off (though that fate does await some of them). The chickens’ antics make TV seem dull by comparison. The flock is perpetually scratching, clucking, dust bathing, and running around. And come mid-afternoon, when Dorsey’s right hand farm assistant, Lola, heads out to a covered feeding area with a bucket of organic feed, things get totally crazy as the birds scramble along in a kooky parade. I’ve been so inspired, in fact, that I recently got my own backyard flock—a half-dozen heritage birds that I got, of course, from HausBar Farms.