It all began with a wink. That’s how I met my husband…a wink. I had no idea what I was getting into, but they say things happen for a reason and I believe that now more than ever. Here is our story of Fort Morgan Farms.
Tim was a police officer in the Atlanta area at the time I met him and I was a single mom working as a contractor for the Army in transportation. Now, I may have lived in the city, but I loved to bow hunt, camp, hike and basically do anything outdoors. It was pretty typical of my son, Nate, to ask me “What adventure’s next mom?” Well, this worked out well for Tim’s courtship, as I fell right into his trap of luring me to the country life. He enticed me with stories of his beautiful log cabin among 50 acres that he’d been working on for the past few years. It was in the little town of Glenwood, West Virginia. He told me of the beautiful hickory cabinets in the large kitchen—knowing perfectly well I loved to cook and bake—and of the Ash wood floors that he laid…..how peaceful it was to sit on the front porch overlooking the creek watching the sun disappear behind the mountains….and the solitude of not having a neighbor for miles.
We continued on to have long conversations about chickens, goats and cows and rural life in general. How fun it would be to romp around on 50 acres of our own! After awhile, his plan of talking this city girl into moving to the country worked (without much arm twisting, I might add)….and off we went to West Virginia to start our homesteading adventure!
For the next four years we developed our garden, built chicken coops, canned, hunted and played. We learned so much those four years. Hardships, struggles, the loss and giving of an animal’s life, and the rewards of hard work. I had also decided to home school Nate, who was in the 7th grade, which was quite an adventure in itself. In the evening, you could often find Tim and I spending our date nights in the kitchen, canning green beans or making jelly from the blackberries we picked that day (and we had all the scars to prove it!).
And other times, were spent among the rocky hills exploring with Nate and finding all kinds of natural treasures, new trees to climb, and wildflowers! Living way out in the hills wasn’t easy by any means, but we were happy and very proud of what we had accomplished. A basement full of canned goods that we raised, processed and grew, a freezer full of hunting meat and blackberry pies….and all the long, hard hours that went into that, felt pretty good to see.
Through those years and many trials and errors we perfected our raising and processing of the meat birds, we also learned how to raise and process rabbits and ducks and had just got our first set of bee hives. We were so excited!!!! But then, in an instant…everything changed. We lost it…..we lost everything we’d worked for. God must have had a bigger plan, I just didn’t realize it at the time.
On April 4, 2015 our lives changed forever. Normally, at the farm, we’d sleep in late, as Tim worked night shift and Nate and I homeschooled. This particular morning, we had gotten up early and left for a race I’d entered. It was a fundraiser for a church in Ohio. On the way home from the race, we received a call from a neighbor that we normally never hear from. He told us someone had burnt our home down and that there was nothing left.
I can’t imagine how he felt having to make that kind of a call. And how does one receive that news? How can I possibly explain the emotions of that call? How can I possibly explain the feeling of pulling up alongside the road and seeing nothing but the chimney standing two stories tall with nothing around it? All our hard work, all our dreams….. I can’t fully explain…as the tears still trickle….I have no words.
We pulled up to see fire fighters, police and neighbors just standing there….watching the smoke…..there was nothing left to save. We found out, that while we were gone that morning, a local drug addict broke into our home, stole our belongings and then went through the house with a kerosene can and set it on fire. Our kitty Rocky was in that fire.
Everything we had was gone. All of Tim’s family treasures which covered generations, years of hard work…plans…dreams…..gone in an instant.
This by itself is a long story and I could go into detail about the emotional months and year to come. However, I choose today, two years later to tell the story of why. Why God had a bigger plan and why I choose to see the reasons of good in it. See, while I was running in the race for the church that morning, I remember a specific part of the trail I was on. I could still picture it perfectly in my head today. Now, let me tell you I’m not a runner. Never have been fast and I always struggled. But that day, during that specific time, I remember singing as I was running “God is with me, God is with me”…and my body felt lighter than air at that moment. I didn’t know it, but my home was burning down at this time. A week later, I got a medal in the mail for finishing first in my age group.
It was now a month after the fire and we were still living on the farm in small camper we had bought since we had animals and barns to take care of and guard from looters. Now, Rocky was the kitty we lost in that fire. She was six months old at the time. Gray with a half tail…she was the cutest thing. Rocky and I would love to take naps by the warm wood stove during the cold months and she was with me always. I was totally devastated over her loss. So anyway, one mid-morning, we were getting ready to leave for the store and I stepped outside the camper we were staying in and I heard the faintest of “meows”. I thought it was a bird, because they have one in West Virginia that sounds like a cat. I stood there and listened…..and then I asked my son if he heard it….and Tim…and all of a sudden, out of the middle of nowhere (and I mean the middle of nowhere because that’s where we lived), came this 4 week old kitten…scared to death and all wet. He was gray and white just like Rocky….. Then we noticed his tail. He had a kink in the same exact spot as Rocky did. Shivers I tell you…..this gave us shivers. Even Tim thought it very weird, and if you knew Tim, that’s a rarity.
That forest kitty is now our Miracle Kitty, as I think God sent us our Rocky back exactly one month after the fire. Its things like this that kept happening the next year or so, just weird things, but with a feeling that God was guiding us. He saved my family that day of the fire you know. We all would have been sleeping that early morning you see.
The next few months we went back and forth about rebuilding or moving. After many deep conversations, concerns and questions on should we start over somewhere else with land, should we rebuild as this is our home place……well, we decided to move and go a completely different route. We just weren’t ready to have a homestead again and at this time, really didn’t think we would ever have one again. But in this move, like everything else, God knew what he was doing….I just didn’t know it at the time.
So here we go……With two bee hives, a few ducks, a dog and a kitten, we packed up what we had in WV, got on the road and headed to our new home…. in Southport, NC. It was a beach town, very quiet, and ten minutes from the ocean. This new house was only on one acre……we had neighbors…..and stores….and traffic…..it was quit the change of pace, going from farm to beach. But it was a nice little town, and we now look back at the year we spent there and realize it was our healing place. God gave us that place, with just enough land to grow …..to slowly start a little garden, to get back a bit at a time of self-sustainability and the like. During this year in NC we built a little coop for the ducks (which we snuck into this subdivision), got our bees set up and built a bunch of raised beds.
It was nice and we enjoyed it.
But after a year there, we started missing the woods again.
You know, just to hunt and romp around. So Tim started looking for land close by that we could go use on the weekends. He looked and looked for months and months and just couldn’t find anything nearby. Well, for some reason, and unbeknownst to him, a little spot of land for sale kept popping up on his side screen of his computer….like an ad of sorts. It was in Arkansas. Arkansas, people! We never heard anything about Arkansas, never thought about Arkansas. To be honest I thought Arkansas had tumble weeds and was all brown! I knew nothing about this state but it kept popping up. So, Tim looked at it. It just so happened that this plot of land for sale, was perfect! It had everything Tim was looking for. After about a month of watching this ad and both of us saying, “We can’t possibly move to Arkansas”, I decided to go check it out. Now, I’ll admit, it was a trip to mostly to rule Arkansas out and get it off our minds so we could move on to something else. So I packed up my dog and drove the 16 hours there to check out this little piece of land. During the drive, between french fries shared with Ruby my German Shepherd, I kept repeating…”bless it or block it God”…..and He did. From there, things just kept falling into place….weird things. And when I was headed back to NC, I repeated the same prayer.
The next day after I told Tim about what I saw, showed him some pictures of the land and little town nearby and the big beautiful lake….he asked me what I thought. I told him, “We should do it”, and with such confidence I think I scared him. He said, “Just like that, because you have a feeling we are supposed to go there?”…and I said “YUP, just like that.” So without telling anyone…..we sold our healing home in Southport and moved to our new homestead….in Arkansas! It’s craziness I tell you!
But, we were ready. So once again, with a convoy of ducks, bees, dogs and cats we were on the road.
It was quite hysterical to see this convoy move through the big cities in rush hour traffic. People would wave, stare and honk in support. It was quite a site!
So there we were….. in Arkansas, on 30 acres, living in a camper once again and hoping we made the right decision…..and then I saw it….the sign I needed. As I stepped outside in the early morning with coffee in hand before anyone else was up…..there was a cross.
It was the top of a young cedar tree standing tall on its own in the front of the woods. It was the perfect shape of a cross. And it was at that point, I knew we were home. I knew everything had happened for a reason and we were where we were supposed to be.
Currently, we are building our small 1000 sq ft. farm house on this wonderful rocky 30 acres of property in Arkansas.
We’ve already built the rabbit hutches, bought a chicken coop from an elderly couple, have our chickens on order, Bakers seeds waiting to be planted, a garden cut out, the two bee hives are set up and a greenhouse is in the building stages.
We also have a plan where Nate will be in charge of our first aquaponics system as well, which will be part of his homeschooling assignments. People have told us, “grass won’t grow under your feet” as we’ve only been in Arkansas seven months now. They’ve also said we’ve had such strength, courage, and determination through this whole process. But it’s really the people that we have met on this journey, and the listening to God, that has and does keep us going forward with such a positive outlook.
It’s been amazing! I guess at this point, we’re just ready to homestead once again….to see chickens run across the yard and to shell beans on the front porch overlooking the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen. Yup…..we’re excited for homestead adventure to continue!!! Isn’t that what homesteading is all about….the journey? Well, this is our journey……and we are forever grateful.
Fort Morgan Farms
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