Marla and I met when I was a freshmen in high school back in Y2K. One of my first memories was singing a duet with her at University Heights Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
“His Eye Is On The Sparrow”
I tried to harmonize with her powerhouse vocals, she put me to shame, but I was just up there trying to impress her brother… who I married 6 years later! Ha!
The Barnard family and Wanderin Star Farms is what brought us to Dripping Springs… so this feature is so near and dear to my heart!!! We’ve been following her family around from Lubbock to Dripping and they just can’t seem to get rid of us!
Meet my sister-in-law… Marla Barnard: homesteader, AIRBNB superhost, homeschool mom, deep thinker, painter, bread maker, and famous singer!
What brought you to Dripping Springs?
A dream, a prayer, and a beautiful piece of land!
In 2014 we felt a stirring to a significant life change. We were living in West Texas at the time, growing a family and several small businesses. Our hands and creativity were wrapped up in the coffee industry, a co-working space, and a gourmet pizza shop.
My husband, Justin, was gone a lot! We decided to change our entire path and merge family and business!
Easy enough, right?!
We bought a piece of family land, moved into a cozy Barndominum with our then, four small kiddos(we’ve since had #5!), and began chipping away at what is now the family business we dreamed of and co-own with Justin’s brother and his wife, Wanderin’ Star farms!
We have had our heads down working for a few years now, but the last few have been the sweetest yet. I’m so thankful for every risk, challenge, and opportunity to build a life here in Dripping Springs!
How did you and Justin get the idea to create tiny cabin, short-term rentals?
While visiting family land in Dripping Springs for years, we found two things. Dripping was the newly named Wedding Capital of Texas, AND there was nowhere to stay!
During our visits the year we were considering moving, we rented an Airbnb in Wimberley and would have to drive in. Our initial idea and inspiration was around a family-friendly event venue.
We soon pivoted that idea to building tiny cabin rentals to fill a need for places to stay locally! I’m so thankful for the change because I now love the hospitality industry!
What is important to you about being in the hospitality business?
I really want people to feel at home when they stay with us.
We want to check the boxes and do all. the things right but we want everyone to feel so at peace and wanted here that they can truly exhale and rest. I love the feeling of Home. Belonging. Community. To invite people into a place where they can feel seen and cared for, is such a gift.
I grew up in a really small town and people knew how to be there for one another. I learned a lot about hospitality from that season of my life. It was understood in our home as child that if someone was knocking on the front door, we most likely didn’t know them but if we heard a voice and knock at the back door, we went running because we knew we were about to visit with a family member or close friend.
I hope everyone who stays with us feels warmly greeted as if they have knocked on the back door of our business; we’re still learning and growing in so many areas but are just so happy to welcome others into the space that the Lord has so graciously given and continues to teach us what it truly means to be loved and cared for.
What makes your property and WSF experience unique?
It’s a mix of things! Right off of the newly booming Fitzhugh road, we have tiny cabins and yurts that are so beautiful and cozy, inviting enough to hunker down and rest in but also a simple space encouraging visitors to go out and connect with nature!
We have a common area with a barn pavilion, fire pit, several swings, hiking trails, and farm animals guests can visit! The land is such a peaceful, healing place.
You’ll see most of our family out and about, working, caring for animals, and delivering coffee or extra blankets to cabins when needed!
Another thing that makes us unique is that our family lives and works on-site. My husband, Justin, handles the entire operation, especially all communications with guests (which is A LOT).
My brother Josh is the handiest of men and fixes and builds all the things! They are both so attentive and quick to respond to the needs of our guests. It’s not always easy being that accessible but it’s authentic and real.
I like that.
(Shout out to our local coffee roaster, Weathered Hands Coffee providing the best coffee for our family and guests!)
What is important to you about homeschooling your kids?
We’ve been homeschooling for 12 years now, the important things have shifted through the seasons as they have grown and matured. Justin and I value building our life around home, work, and school holistically.
The heartbeat of what keeps things going for me is getting to customize an education for each of our children. I love encouraging the love of learning, I live for all the lessons we can learn from reading good books and it’s a big deal for me to honor learning styles, gifts, and interests.
I’ve never valued one size fits all in most areas of my life, so this has been a very fitting and life-giving path for our family!
How do other parents who are interested in homeschooling explore the different groups and opportunities in the area?
Dripping Springs has a very vibrant homeschooling community alongside its desired school district!
There’s so much available between Dripping Springs and Austin for homeschoolers; we have to make sure we’re not TOO busy!
We have found a great group and Curriculum for the wide range of children in our family through Classical Conversations; there are also a variety of Co-ops and excellent classes available through One Day Academy.
Our oldest is thriving in School Of Champions, a unique schooling/discipleship program led by Pastor Brent Baston.
I’d love to connect with anyone interested in homeschooling and help point them in a helpful direction for their family.
Tell us about your amazing Fresh-milled bread!
I began learning from a friend Michal Grappe about a year ago.
I watched her heal a few health issues she had struggled with for years by milling fresh heirloom grains. (Sounds crazy, huh? it would help if you looked her up on Instagram #michalgrappe)
She had done most of the leg work, research, and recipe-creating, so it all felt doable when I decided to jump in. Starting something new can be daunting in my season, but she made each step simple and inviting with her Instagram posts and ebook. I dove in and felt like a pro after the first week!
Michal was an old friend from West Texas, so you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when she pointed me to Barton Springs Mill for all my wheat Berry needs.
Wait, BARTON SPRINGS MILLS is my NEIGHBOR!
I quickly found out that freshly milled heirloom grains are a whole thing. An entire world of flavor and nutrition that has been blowing my mind!
We have reintroduced freshly milled bread, milled hamburger buns, and pizza dough into our family menu. Michal has helped me score significant points with my kids!
Freshly milled wheat tastes incredible.
When using all parts of the grain, you’ll also find that you are consuming bread packed full of SO many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
That makes my momma heart really happy!
How did you get involved with King’s Porch music?
Two years ago, our farm hosted a community worship night.
It had been such a long season of hesitant gatherings, and this was the first worship night I had been to in a while! I got a last-minute invite to stand in the worship round with the group and ended up leading a song that didn’t start off in the best key. Ha! (my fault)
But just when we all were thinking the song was about to go south, the chorus came in strong, and it was the MOST beautiful moment together as we sang about the Worth of Jesus. It was such a unifying night, and we were a band from that moment on. I sang on our first Kings Porch album just a couple weeks after that special night.
I’ll never forget how important it felt to sing I Speak Jesus with my talented friend and local worship leader Britton Hardcastle, with powerful lyrics written by the incredibly gifted songwriter Jesse Reeves. I Speak Jesus quickly became an essential anthem for my life and, since then, for the church at large.
You can find the first KP album on all streaming platforms, and be looking for new songs released this month!
What are some local resources for people interested in music or voice lessons?
I know there are so many excellent private teachers out there; a quick search/ask on Dripping Neighbor’s facebook page and you’ll surely have a long list of contacts.
Hudson’s on Mercer street has a special thing going. It’s a one-stop for voice and multi-instrument instruction plus a once-a-month option for performing songs! I’m also a huge fan of online lessons for the budding musician!
My kids have learned a lot through a program run by my brother-in-law called Worship Initiative. It’s an online subscription for anyone interested in worship leading.
The program has hundreds of video instructions for every instrument in a worship setting and tutorials for whatever song they want to play. It has proven to be super helpful. I highly recommend it!
Why is farm life important to you? Which farm animal is your favorite?
Farm life has become increasingly important to me as the years go by. I am a nature lover, love being outside working with my children, and I am learning more and more about growing and raising our own food.
I failed a lot at first but I’m pretty stubborn and keep trying. I remember one summer early on when we lived in Lubbock, Justin asked, “Are you sure you want to try tomatoes, again?!” ha!
I truly believe we learn the most by just doing the thing, failing and keeping at it! I love knowing where our food comes from; it has been a simple way for me to prioritize that value. I really enjoyed raising geese because of their extra-large eggs that are SO flavorful.
I found myself creating souffles and custards almost daily. Unfortunately, the geese weren’t the most hospitable farm animal for our growing hospitality business, so I keep chickens. I would confess to loving them the most.
Don’t tell the donkeys because they always believe they are everyone’s favorite.
I have a variety of Chicken breeds and enjoy having a colorful pallet of eggs in my basket each day. Although right now, we are mainly getting shades of blues and greens, which are just so pretty.
What are your favorite local places to hit up for shopping and fun experiences with your family?
We regularly go out and hike/swim at Reimers Ranch Park!
Climbers Canyon is so beautiful in every season, plus it’s not far from us, I thrive off of a good last-minute adventure that doesn’t interrupt our day too much! I think Mercer Street is such a fun place to linger on a nice day; I love that I’ve now lived in this town long enough to stop in for a Coffee at Mazama’s and see someone I know every time.
I’m also a huge fan of Vintage Soul through the years. I’ll never forget Justin shopping there when we first moved to Drip. He was trying to surprise me with beautiful things to make the barn feel a little more like home; he bought so many random items from Julie and she began to wonder how I’d feel about all his purchases without my approval but I LOVED everything. Needless to say, most of my clothes and decor come from Vintage Soul after that first visit.
Lunch at Thyme and Dough, a treat from Crepe Crazy and reading time at our sweet community library will be core memories for our kids.
We are also regulars at Rippy’s Ranch Supply, the charming and nostalgic older building on Mercer Street. You may wonder why the add for those who may not need hay or feed but a mechanical horse ride to the tune of Roy Rogers “Happy Trails” for a quarter just warms the heart and makes everyone smile. Rippy’s also provides fresh eggs, honey and sage advice on life and the weather. I do really love this town.
Where can we follow you on social media?
I regularly post for our business on Instagram @wanderinstarfarms, my personal account is barnyardfam7 and there’s info to book through airbnb on our website. www.wanderinstarfarms.com
Looking forward to meeting someone new!
Are you interested in visiting this area? I’d love to send you recommendations of things to do and places to visit! Wanderin Star Farms is always my go-to recommendation for accommodations!
Thinking about buying or selling real estate in this area? I can help you there, too! I’m a local Dripping Springs Real Estate Agent and would love to help you in your real estate journey. Just email or call me to get started… 512-569-8480 or firstname.lastname@example.org