My name is Suzanne Cox. My husband Andrew and I met in high school. We were friends from freshman year, and high school sweethearts by our junior year. Andrew was raised with chickens and cattle helping his Dad on their TN farm in Putnam County. Just a few minutes up the road, I grew up with chickens, horses, and in my teen year’s alpacas. Andrew and I didn’t have to work at a relationship, it just came naturally. We shared common interests, beliefs, and dreams for the future. At the top of that dream list, has always been a family farm with children to share it with.
When we were married in 2003, that dream was still very much alive. However, like most young and newly married couples we were only able to afford a rental in the country. We spent the next several years living in rentals and hoping, saving, and praying for a way to make our dream a reality. In November of 2005, after two miscarriages and pregnancy complications, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl we named Macey. Much to our surprise, we found ourselves expecting another child just a few months later. William was born in February 2007 with a hole in his lung which quickly collapsed. After being transferred to the NICU at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital he made a full recovery, and one week later was able to join our family at home. Having two new babies in 16 months was exciting, challenging, and a real blessing. However, it was also a serious drain on the savings we had built up. We struggled with just the basics that year, as well as the next. Doubts began to creep up that we would never be able to make progress towards our family farm, and the future that we had hoped for our children.
In the summer of 2008 we found ourselves still in a rental home, in the middle of the city limits, and not very happy with our circumstances. My parents asked us if we might consider purchasing a doublewide, and move it onto their land for a while until we could find some land of our own in a few years. While not ideal, and nowhere close to our dream situation, it would at least get us in our own home and out of the city. In January 2009 we moved into our new home on a 1/3 acre corner lot of my parents property. Here we were able to reduce our housing cost, pay off some bills, and once again contribute to our savings. We were back on track!
In August 2010 we decided to take a road trip with the kids and headed out towards the lake in Dekalb County, TN. The previous day we had talked with a man who had property in that area for sale. It was a 24 acre farm which was just out of our price range. He was not willing to divide, and it didn’t sound very promising. Still, we had no other plans for the day and thought we would spend the day at the lake and maybe go check the place out. What we found made us smile and want to cry at the same time. It was exactly what we had described as our dream farm! But, it was out of our price range since we didn‘t have enough savings to qualify for a traditional loan, and it was over an hour from our family! After several days at home pondering how we could possibly pull this off, we made a phone call to the local FSA office. That next week, we headed out to meet with the FSA loan officer. We left that day with a completed loan application and renewed hope that maybe we could live our dream! To celebrate, we headed over to the farm to take pictures. This was the view that made us fall in love!
Much to our surprise, the loan officer was very helpful and supportive of our plans for this property. After 12 weeks of paperwork, interviews, and anxious waiting we were APPROVED! This would soon be the view from our front porch.
What happened those next few weeks is now a blur. Things moved so quickly for us. There were trees to cut down, utilities to secure, contractors to deal with, gravel to move, and the actual house to move. While we knew from the beginning we would have to relocate our home, we had no idea exactly what all that involved until it actually happened! Our initial plan was to be displaced for roughly a week. Due to weather and some hiccups with the movers we were out of our home for over a month. We spent this time in my parents home, which put us there for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a wonderful way to spend our last few weeks in our hometown! When we weren’t celebrating with family that weekend, Andrew was busy manning the ditch witch digging ditches while Russell (his Dad) laid water pipe. They got 1350 ft. of water line done that weekend!
Seven weeks after closing on our farm loan, we were moving in! It was the week before Christmas. On Christmas morning, we woke to a light snow with our presents wrapped the night before under our hastily thrown together tree sitting next to a stack of un-packed boxes. We had managed to miss the entire festivities of the holiday season in our rush to relocate. Still, it was our sweetest Christmas ever! It wasn’t about the gifts under the tree this year, the biggest gift of all lay right outside the front door!
We celebrated the New Year in our own home, on our dream farm, with our healthy and happy children dancing in the living room. We could never have imagined being here just a year ago. It was a new beginning, and the start of a new way of life for the Cox family! Welcome to ANS Farms.