New on the tour this year is Green Acres Farm and Old Mill Creek Smithy. With a drive across a shallow spot in Mill Creek, getting there is half the fun!
Gary and Nancy Kelley and their two sons, Jonathan and Christopher had grown weary of suburban living and were longing for the country, so in 2012 they moved from Nashville to this 28-acre slice of rural paradise on Mill Creek. To the Kelleys their farm is more a source of play than a source of income. Gary still has a day job in Nashville, and Nancy and their high-school-aged boys spend their days homeschooling. In their spare time they all enjoy learning how to farm and are taking on new projects little by little. They will enjoy sharing their successes, and failures, with anyone who’d like to stop by and chat for a while on Friday.
One of their success stories is having learned to make maple syrup from the trees on their farm. Gary did the research, built an outdoor cooking station, and enlisted his sons’ help with tapping trees, bringing in the sap, and boiling it down to a finished product of golden goodness. They were pleased and proud three years ago when the first batch turned out just as they’d hoped, and they’ve cooked up a supply of the sweet stuff every year since. It has turned out to be a great winter project for the men of the house. Gary will enjoy sharing with you the nuances he’s learned for how to make great maple syrup. If you’re a seasoned syrup-maker, he’ll welcome the opportunity to learn a new tip or two himself.
The Kelleys have also had success with keeping their 40-plus blueberry bushes thriving, supporting the free-range lifestyle of a dozen or so chickens (who in turn support them with fresh eggs), and raising their two head of cattle, affectionately named Victor and Briscoe Darlin’.
The most recent addition to Green Acres farm is the handsome side-draft forge fifteen -year-old Christopher has built. Chris has named his forge “Old Mill Creek Smithy,” and he enjoys crafting an array of hand-forged items there. “If I do say so myself,” Nancy says, “he’s quite good at it and has the touch of an artisan.” He will offer blacksmithing demonstrations every hour on the hour and will be selling his hand-forged items. After the tour Chris’ wares will be available at Centerville Marketplace in downtown Centerville.
Seventeen-year-old Jonathan enjoys leather craft and also has an artist’s touch. He will be happy to show you some of the techniques he has learned for turning a piece of leather into something elegant and useful.
Next door is Gary’s mother, tenderly known as “Granny.” She joined the Kelleys on the farm three years ago, and they say she is a treasure to have close. She will be displaying her large collection of quilts, and she looks forward to your stopping by for a visit. The quilts were handmade by her mother, Lucille, who was born in 1915 and lived to be 100 years old.
Country life is suiting the Kelleys just fine. Gary’s city job is one in which he spends all day at a computer “aligning ones and zeroes,” as he puts it. He relishes the opportunity back on the farm to get his hands on some dirt and do something tangibly meaningful. There’s a similar draw there for the rest of the family. They all say they love Hickman county. They love the dirt roads, having to drive through creeks to get where they’re going, smelling the honeysuckle along the way, seeing a hand go up to wave as they pass. Life, they say, truly is better in the country.