How long have you been practicing the traditional craft of cheese-making? I started making cheese…
What is the name of your Farm, Ranch, or Homestead?
Where are you located?
375 Oak Grove Lane, Henderson, TN 38340
How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher or homesteader begin for you?
The concept of our farm was born in my hometown of Titusville, Florida in February 1998. It took two years to bring the very first version of the farm to life, and it meant giving up an executive lifestyle, living in town, and working a 9-5 job. In other words, life, as I knew it, was turned upside down. Fast forward to 2006, and not only had we outgrown our Florida property, but we had purchased a run-down 131-acre farm in the heart of West Tennessee. No friends, no family, just a dream and a driving vision. Through the years since, we’ve added another 22-acres to the farm proper and another ½ acre short term rental property 3 miles away in town. This year, we find ourselves turning yet another corner in our journey, adding a micro-vineyard to our already busy schedules. Life is full, and we are the richer for it.
What do you grow and/or raise?
Of course, things are constantly changing, but here is the current list of tangibles:
- With the infrastructure completed at the end of summer last year, I just finished planting a ¼ acre micro-vineyard from which I hope to produce a small-run, boutique-style white wine once the vines have matured and begin to produce their commercial crop.
- I grow a changing line up of David Austin roses, and other herbs for culinary use, for use in my soap making endeavors, and for pure enjoyment.
- This year we hope to welcome a litter of Great Pyrenees livestock guard dogs which we will sell.
- We were gifted a breeding trio of peacocks—one male and two females—from which we hope to sell fertilized eggs and/or peachicks.
- We currently lease the “back 100” acres of our farm to a father/son farming duo who row crop—this year, dent corn.
A third category, what I “produce” involves the following:
- I am an HSCG (Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild) certified soap maker. I produce two main kinds of soap—a “Bastille” bar, or high olive oil content vegetable oil bar soap, and utilizing the waste products of a friend’s meat-producing farm, either lard- or beef tallow-based bar soap. I also produce liquid soaps and bath/body products.
- I produce coconut and soy wax container candles scented with high-quality, phthalate-free fragrance oils.
- I am a photographer, and as such, I document our daily lives in photographs. I also accept bookings for portrait sessions on the farm.
- I am an artist producing fluid acrylic pour art pieces as well as vases, bowls, and art pieces from gourds we periodically grow here.
What traditional methods do you use on your farm to grow your crops and/or raise your animals?
Because we are a small, family-owned/operated farm, all of our endeavors on the “front 50” acres of our farm consist of unmechanized, hand labor. I use a hand-operated post hole digger to plant grapevines, herbs, and roses in our clay soil, and any type of spraying program consists of a 2-gallon pump sprayer, walked up and down rows to ensure proper spray coverage. Weeding, pruning, harvesting—all hand done. I also, as most farmers do, perform the vast majority of preventative vetting of my animals, save anything that would require surgery or prescription intervention. Juxtaposed to the front of the farm, the row cropping endeavors on the back 100 involve up-to-date farming practices and machinery.
What is one of your favorite farm-infused recipes you wish to share?
Homemade Pasta with a Garlic-Butter Sauce and Burst Cherry Tomatoes. It is a recipe of my own creation, blending my husband’s Italian ancestry with the culinary magic of locally-grown (when available) basic ingredients. If you would like the recipe spelled out, please let me know—I’d be happy to share, although it would take a few minutes to put it in writing—it currently exists only in my head.
What is at least one farm tradition you uphold?
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on one’s perspective, I can only narrow down to two: hospitality and education. Both of these traditions are combined into one concept on our farm—our farmstay accommodations. We invite guests to check into one of our rentals—ranging from rustic tent campsites to bullet-type RV glampers to stand-alone fully-appointed cottages, spend a few days on the farm, and take advantage of the atmosphere and any of the hands-on workshops that I teach as an add-on to the stay. In addition, guests are welcome to roll up their sleeves and join in with whatever farm activity we have going on that day, whether it be morning feeding, vineyard care, puppy socialization, gardening, or whatever else we’re up to our elbows in. We want our guests to walk away with a more intimate knowledge of and connection to the rural way of life and feel rejuvenated by the rest and relaxation that only time in the country can provide. Of course, should guests prefer to kick back, sip a beverage, and just take in the atmosphere, we are happy to oblige.
What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?
Speaking only for myself, it is the opportunity to leave behind the negative stresses of modern life and be responsible for something greater than myself. It is an awesome stewardship, taking care of the land, and I am most honored to be afforded the liberty to chase the dream—one day at a time.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom to you hope to impart on the future generation of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders?
During my lifetime, I have not found purpose or happiness in the amassing of material things. Chased, it will remain elusive; it has been in the giving, and sharing, of myself that contentment and a higher call has been found.
Where can people find you/your products online?