Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"I Had a Farm in Alabama"

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills."

With this simple sentence, Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) began her book Out of Africa, the story of how an amazing farm transformed her life.  While I am no Isak Dinesen and the only book I've written about our farm was published on Shutterfly, Herb and I also had a farm that changed our lives.

We had a farm in Alabama, at the top of Sand Mountain.

We purchased the 60-acre farm and rundown house in September 2007, named it Leahaven in anticipation of what it could become, and set about turning it into a retreat for pastors and missionaries.  We rented a Bobcat and a couple of dumpsters and spent several weekends cleaning up 50 years' worth of garbage on the property.  We hired a crew of talented young men to rehabilitate the decrepit 42-year old farmhouse.  And in the process of restoring this run-down old farm, we fell in love with it.

Other than vacationing on a ranch in West Texas, we had no experience with rural life, but we soon discovered that we loved it.  

We loved the wildlife, the helpful neighbors, the quaint small-town life.  And most of all, we loved the peace and quiet and the beauty of God's creation outside our front door.

A short year after we bought Leahaven, we stumbled upon our current home, Zephyr Hill Farm, and took the leap of faith to sell our suburban Victorian house and move out to the boondocks.  For the next seven years, we continued to run both farms.

Over the years our one-dog, two-horse family grew to include three horses, a pony, a half dozen Dexter cattle, three dogs, two cats, a half dozen chickens and ducks, and most notably, three grandchildren.  It became harder and harder to get down to Leahaven, an hour away, to clean it and mow the lawn and bush hog the pastures--much less get to spend time there ourselves.

Finally we realized that we could no longer keep up with two farms, and we regretfully decided we had to sell our farm in Alabama.  On September 24, a little more than eight years after we bought it, we sold Leahaven to the son of the farmer we bought it from.  Saying goodbye to Leahaven brought plenty of tears and left us with heavy hearts for days.  Now almost two weeks later, I find myself filled more with thankfulness for all that Leahaven brought us.

Thanks to Leahaven, we've spent hours socializing, laughing and fellowshipping with friends.

Thanks to Leahaven, we have a new tradition of annual visits from far-flung family members.

Thanks to Leahaven, we've learned to handle farm equipment and tackle jobs we would never have thought of taking on.

Thanks to Leahaven, we've learned to value the cycle of the seasons, each one beautiful in its own right.

And finally, thanks to Leahaven, we have Zephyr Hill Farm, our cattle and other animals, and our life in the country today.  Without our experience of country life at Leahaven, we would never have taken the plunge into this life full-time.  How much we would have missed!  How much, how very much, we owe that farm in Alabama!

Thank you, Lord, for Leahaven.

And thank you, Leahaven, for everything.


  1. Leahaven looks awesome Susan and so does your current farm but Leahaven was 60 acres so what made you sell it and want your current farm? I am always looking too for better ground so I am just curious.

    1. Good question, Gordon! As beautiful as it was, it was just too far away. It was close to an hour and a half from our son's family and the three grandkids and also from our daughter in Chattanooga, as well as from our church. Since we moved to the Chattanooga area in 2001, we have friends, doctors, church, etc. in and around Chattanooga. Our Georgia farm is 30 minutes from family and church, 45 from doctors. The Alabama farm would have been at least an hour and a half from our doctors, a real consideration as we approach retirement years. Also, Herb is working on his counseling license for TN and GA, but if we moved there he would have to add AL. Psychologically it seems even farther than it is, since it's up on a mountain. We found that people just didn't want to drive that far to visit. And finally, the house was much too small for us, and we would have had to add on to it. Here we have two barns plus an extra garage that were on the property when we bought it; we really need them for hay and equipment storage.

      I would have to say, though, that the most important factor that kept us from considering retiring to Leahaven was the grandkids. Being 30+ minutes away, we can easily spend time with them for an evening or a day, without it being a major undertaking.

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, it is, Lanita, and it will always have a special place in our hearts!


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