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The good shepherd: Jester King’s Farmer Peppy shares the renewable farming gospel

Farmer Sean "Peppy" Meyer, along with his herd of 50-some goats, is leading Jester King Brewery's renewable farming effort. (Emma Freer)

The goat barn at Jester King Brewery is home to around 50 goats and their guardian dog, an Anatolian Pyrenees named Sasha. Goatherd and regenerative farmer Sean "Peppy" Meyer, 33, also lived there for a year before decamping for "partial city life"—meaning a place with electricity—in 2019. But the barn and the 165 acres of Texas Hill Country surrounding it remain indisputably his.

It's where Meyer bottle feeds the baby goats, hosts farm tours, grows hemp and tends to the land in preparation for crops that will be used in beer and food production. Each evening, he guides the goats along the property for a graze, carrying a staff and quoting Temple Grandin to the young kids who ask to tag along. "This is my favorite part of life," he said.

(Emma Freer)

Divine intervention

Meyer worked in advertising before transitioning to farming but retains his knack for viral content and pithy slogans, referring to his herd as "the best goats in Texas." His career change occurred around 10 years ago, after an admittedly "woo woo" experience.

"I believe I came in contact with the mother or mother goddess," he said, switching into the present tense. "She tells me that it's time that I serve her and move to Texas and pursue renewable agriculture. I explain that I have no experience in farming. She says, 'That's the point. If you can be successful, then no one else has an excuse.'"

Meyer followed through, moving to Austin from Virginia and breaking into urban farming. Three years ago, he and his goats joined Jester King to support the brewery's farming goals. Renewable agriculture—also known as regenerative farming or permaculture—seeks to give back to the land while yielding its crops.

Jester King Brewery offers a beer garden, live music, on-site pizza, cornhole, goat sightings and farm tours. (Emma Freer)

Jester King Brewery offers a beer garden, live music, on-site pizza, cornhole, goat sightings and farm tours. (Emma Freer)

At Jester King, this starts with the goats grazing ashe juniper, a native species that has grown out of control due to the lack of bison and grassland fires to keep it in check. (It's also a cause of cedar fever.) The goats then produce natural fertilizer, which helps support healthier soil. The euphemized dung also promotes the growth of native grasses, which allow rainwater to permeate the Edwards Aquifer, an underground layer of porous limestone that stores water and feeds Barton Springs.

With Meyer at the helm, Jester King is restoring its land in the hopes of one day growing more food crops for use in its brewery and kitchen. "It's going to be a bigger, brighter stage to begin the talks of how we need to get back to systems that incorporate the strength of happy land, where it's able to take care of itself," he said. "It just takes awhile to get there."

Long-term plans 

Meyer hopes to keep at this work, which he called "the most fulfilling yet painful profession on the planet," for the next 50 years. But he knows he'll need help, both on-site to scale up production and from others who are drawn to regenerative farming as a way to combat climate change and other ravages of global capitalism. "Not to be 'apocalypse boy' …but I feel we are ruining our ecosystem, which we sorely need to take care of us," he said.

In the meantime, Meyer has developed creative ways to support this operation—and perhaps spur others to consider a similar path. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m., he leads a goat walk, where participants can learn more about renewable agriculture and hear his yodel-like call: "Vac-luna," a mash-up of his first two goats' names—Lavaca and Luna—to which the entire herd now responds.

(Emma Freer)

Meyer is also growing his second crop of hemp, which is used to make Jester King Hemp Balm. Made with CBD oil, goat's milk, beeswax, duck eggs and plants, it's effective enough to soothe his own aches and pains. Both of these operations help support the goatherd and Jester King's renewable agriculture efforts, to which he has committed his life.

"I've lost the majority of my human relationships," Meyer said. "But I have to believe that this is an appropriate time of sacrifice, of which later in life there will be the gifts of rest."


Bites & Sips: what's new in food and drink
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  • San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
  • Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
  • San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
  • Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
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