Creating A Family On The Farm

For these farmers who thought starting a family was impossible, the circle of life all around them made the farm feel like home.

by Starla Hester
PHOTO: Starla Hester

My husband Daniel and I live in Tuscumbia, Ala., and our farm is located on Hawk Pride Mountain in the foothills of the Appalachians. We currently call our farm a hobby farm, which any farmer will tell you can quickly become expensive: Animals, feed and equipment are pricey. We hope it will one day turn into a profitable and productive working farm. Either way, it has been amazing to watch it grow over the last few years and knowing that the hard work of me and my family is a part of that growth is particularly incredible.

Daniel and I have been married for 10 years and have been through many ups and downs, but infertility was our biggest hurdle. We tried to have children for years, but it never happened. We fostered children for three years, but the children we fostered never resulted in adoptions. Although I would not give up the experience for the world, fostering children was unbelievably difficult for us. Bringing home children from the hospital and watching them leave sometimes up to two years later was almost unbearable.

We always knew we wanted a lot of farm animals, but we put it off for years, thinking children were the key to our happiness. I didn’t know how I would overcome not ever having children. It was truly heartbreaking.

cow and calf
Starla Hester

But one day, things started to change. Daniel found a beautiful horse for sale, and we cleaned up the old barn and fenced in several acres of land. The horse was picturesque in our new pasture, and it was very humbling to have something to care for.

Another day, out of the blue, Daniel showed up with a kid goat that he bought on a whim. Eventually, he thought that the goat needed a nanny, and suddenly, we had a whole herd! We are up to seven with more on the way. But that’s not all: We also took in the cutest bottle baby heifer whose mother died. I call her “Little Orphan Annie.” Annie grew up to be a beautiful cow and is about to have a calf of her own.

Our cow herd is now up to seven, and we are expecting two of our heifers to calve this year. Our bull is a registered Dexter, which is great for first-time heifers and also us first-time cattle owners. Dexter calves are generally small, and the heifer can handle the birth well on her own.

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As a woman, I find myself very excited about the birth of the animals. I attain happiness in watching life being brought to our little farm and knowing I had a hand in the development of these animals. I never thought that I could be happy without children, but I am. I have many young cousins that love to see our animals, and an ex-foster child still visits me and is learning all about farming from our little hobby farm.

As difficult as farming can be, it has brought me a sense of peace and happiness knowing that life goes on. I can’t imagine a better life than this.

This article originally ran in the November/December 2016 issue of Hobby Farms.

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