Retirees find serenity with backyard farm and nearly 70 animals

Holly Viers • Sep 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — After growing up in a city, retired couple Nancy Stanley and Jerry Coleman are now embracing country life.

One of the hallmarks of the couple’s retirement life is their farm, which they’ve started in their backyard. Over the past few years, the farm has grown to include 67 animals, including several ducks, two frogs, goldfish, two Polish bunnies, several chickens, two cockatoos, three dogs and two Royal Palm turkeys.

“I enjoy just sitting and watching them,” Coleman said. “It’s amazing how smart they are — and sociable. If people could get along like they do, we’d all be better off.”

Stanley said she and Coleman have known each other since they were 4 years old and living in Illinois. They went through grade school together but parted ways after high school, only to be reconnected four years ago.

After she retired, Stanley moved to Kingsport to be with Coleman, who was already living in the area. It wasn’t long until the idea for a farm began forming in their minds.

“We started out with this little bitty pond, and we had just the goldfish,” Stanley said. “We had dirt around it and rocks, and then we got talking and we kind of wanted to expand.”

The couple began by expanding their pond to include koi and frogs, which Stanley bought at a local nursery. They then added the chickens, ducks and cockatoos before bringing in some of the farm’s newest additions: the Polish bunnies, which Coleman said are actually from England.

Stanley said she and Coleman have raised each of their animals from babies. They’ve also named most of their animals, including the Royal Palm turkeys, which are called Bonnie and Clyde.

Even though he said the upkeep of the farm can be a lot of work, Coleman enjoys every aspect of it.

“I don’t care if it’s pouring down rain, I’m out here doing stuff,” he said. “I take a lot of breaks, but then I get back at it. If (the animals) are out, I can be out.”

In addition to tending to the animals, the couple also grow several fruits and vegetables in their backyard, including grapes, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, radishes and two types of corn. They also sell between 30 and 36 dozen eggs every month to Kingsport Provision Company.

Though some of the food used to feed the animals is store-bought, Stanley said the animals also get to enjoy food that’s grown on the farm. From week to week, the animals are fed a variety of foods, including noodles, potatoes, corn, peas, green peppers, cauliflower, beans, oatmeal, applesauce and yogurt.

Stanley said she also prepares a special meal for their three dogs every week.

“Once a week, they get scrambled eggs and bacon, and I make homemade pancakes for them,” Stanley said. “They love pancakes.”

During their leisure time, the couple enjoy golfing on their own course, which is also located in their backyard. Coleman said the course is 180 yards at its longest point.

Looking forward, Stanley said she and Coleman are thinking of ways to share their animals with children, specifically schools or church youth groups. They are also open to the possibility of expanding their farm even further.

“It does keep you at home a lot, but it’s so peaceful, and they’re so much fun,” Stanley said. “If you are kind of sad one day and you come out here, they can perk you right up.”

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