New Beginnings

| 8/17/2011 1:36:12 PM

Tags: Beginning farmer, Family farm, Starting a new farm,

Suzanne HeadshotMy 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.

Macey and William 

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!

First Farm 

renee fortson
9/1/2011 5:19:19 PM

It warms my heart to read your story Suzanne and I look forward to many more! Makes me a very proud Aunt and Great Aunt! David loved it too! I married into a farm life, but still just like dealing with dogs, cats, and yes a ferret :)

suzanne cox
8/26/2011 10:53:52 AM

Thanks Jennifer! Hope you check in here often. I've got plenty to say about our experiences so far, and I'm sure every new day will bring more to share! We sure are learning a lot here! We've had some problems and made a few mistakes, but for the most part things have gone pretty well. I'll be writing soon on our sheep, and how different our first purchase was from our second. Lots of pointers on what NOT to do will be in there! LOL. Some things you just have to figure out by trial and error I guess. My daughter wants me to write about apple butter soon to, and include her picture in it of coarse! So I guess those are next on my agenda!

jennifer chappell
8/26/2011 9:20:21 AM

What a beautiful story! My family and I are late to the farm lifestyle, but our dream looks an awful lot like yours, just with bigger kids. :) I look forward to reading more!

suzanne cox
8/24/2011 10:30:21 AM

Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments! Just in the 8 months that we have been officially farming here, we have learned so many lessons! Some good, some not so good... but all a part of life! We look forward to sharing them with everyone and would love to hear from you if you have advice, similar experiences, or just got a good laugh out of us! Nebraska Dave, love reading you by the way! And the best part of being here so far has been the change in our children. They love the farm life, and are turning in to some pretty good chicken and turkey wranglers and sheep herders! I'll be blogging soon on our garden this year. We attempted to do a little to much this year and didn't have a good yield. We had everything from spinach, radishes, beets, and lettuce to sweet potatoes, corn, beans, tomatoes, you name it and it was in there. Now, it didn't all SURVIVE but it was there! LOL.

nebraska dave
8/18/2011 7:56:40 PM

Suzanne, I suspect you and your husband will do well and succeed at whatever you decide to make happen. You have already embarked on a great adventure in life. I hope you continue to supply us with the ANS farm stories of life. You will find many blogs here with homestead stories of what's happening in all parts of the country. Your kids are in for an exciting time being able to grow up on the farm. What did you plant in your garden this year? Have a great day on your farm. May you have many wonderful memory building years with family.

8/18/2011 1:48:50 PM

Love your story. My husband & I done a similar thing. We bought 80 acres. The two of us built our own house & a barn. We had to put in our own road & fences. It's a lot of physical work, but so worth it in the end. Good luck on your further adventures!!

phillip whisnant
8/18/2011 12:45:22 PM

Good story, I can't wait to read and see what you do with your dream.

roxane whisnant
8/18/2011 12:21:02 PM

Great job Suzanne! Looking forward to where life takes you and our entire family. We're so proud of you guys.

cindy murphy
8/18/2011 7:18:49 AM

What a wonderful story you'll have to tell your children as they grow older. Welcome to the Grit blogging community, Suzanne. Looking forward to reading more from you soon. Cindy ~ A Lakeside View

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