For those of you who may not know, the biggest change for the Engel family in 2015 is our move from New York to Tennessee.
We are political refugees from the State of New York! No longer citizens of the empire, long live the republic!
We had planned to find a place to live outside New York this fall, after our daughter graduated from high school. Cisco opened a position covering Tennessee, Kentucky & West Virginia January 2nd though, which moved up our timetable. I asked for the position and officially took over May 1st.
Turns out Tennessee is a good place to move. The website Freedom in the 50 States ranks states in several categories (fiscal, regulatory, jobs, education, etc.). New York ranks 50th overall. Tennessee, though, is 3rd, and the weather there is far warmer than North & South Dakota (#1 and 2).
So after much looking online, and a few visits there, we found and bought a 69 acre farm south of Nashville.
The house is large enough we can host guests! Also, the house is all on one level and pretty open, so Pamela can get around easily. With a couple of small modifications she’ll be able to get around more of the house and even outdoors by herself. We’re also planning on building a garden she will be able to get to, where she can “play in the dirt” like she used to!
I heard someone say that amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics. I learned this to be true trying to move a wife in a wheelchair, a daughter, a dog, two cats and a household we had lived in for 17 years 1,100 miles! I took a few trips bringing needed supplies down during the summer, then moved the family mid-August.
Now I’ve lived in the country for a while, but this is REALLY out there. At night the sky is so dark and the stars are beautiful. It is so quiet I will sometimes just stand outside at night, basking in the glory of God’s creation. And the weather is so nice I truly enjoy getting up every morning and reading my Bible on the front porch swing.
Shortly after moving, we found out Country Artist Jimmy Wayne was putting on a benefit concert at a local high school. Since both Pamela and Joelle are big fans (and I like his music as well) we went. It was a very interesting night learning about a local charity for troubled youth (Junior’s House) and Jimmy’s own troubled youth as a foster child. After the concert we purchased Jimmy’s book and Pamela & Joelle had their picture taken with him.
So here we are, with almost 70 acres of land. What are we supposed to do with all this land? I thought about raising cattle. If they have access to food and water, beef cattle don’t require daily care. And with me having to travel for work this seemed to make sense. Since I’ve never raised cattle though, I didn’t know where to get started. I met with the county agent for the cooperative extension who put me in touch with a young man who wanted a place to graze a new herd. So September 1st we rented out the land for grazing. For us, this is the best of both worlds: We get cattle on the land and someone to take care of the herd, too. Then, as icing on the cake, the rent I get not only qualifies me for Tennessee Green Belt (TN’s agricultural tax discount) but actually pays my taxes. (Did I mention that even though the house is three times the size and the land almost 15 times the size of what we had in New York, our taxes are about 1/4th of what we paid up north?) After some clean-up and preparation, Joshua (our renter) brought seven pregnant cows to the farm.
Then the Monday before Thanksgiving I walk outside and what do I see in the pasture? A newborn calf. OK, so we sound a bit like city-slickers, but we all enjoy watching the cows. And if there’s one thing that will get Joelle up in the morning, it’s the sighting of a new calf! We’re up to three as of this writing.
My father & step-mother drove up from Florida for Thanksgiving. Like I said, we have room to host guests, and it was nice to have family around. Then around mid-December Joelle & I went out into the pasture to cut down a cedar tree for Christmas. Cutting down a Christmas tree in short sleeves was quite nice (except for the itchiness!).
Finally, just to make the holiday more different, we had thunder and lightning from Christmas Eve all through Christmas. (There was severe weather and even a tornado throughout the area.)
Now here we are at the end of 2015. It has been a busy and exciting year and we look forward to what God has in store for us down here. If you find yourself in the Nashville area, let us know.