Franklin farm life: Lindsey family enjoys peaceful rural living
For Deanni and Willie Lindsey and their four children, farm life is the best life.
Lindsey Family Farm and Custom Milling, located in the Frog Pond area, is home to the Franklin natives and children Hunter, 16, Crimson, 15, Will, 12, and Wyatt, 11. They’ve dabbled in most farming ventures over the years – working cattle, cutting hay, raising sheep and goats – but these days their primary industries are chickens, horses, a vegetable garden and the sawmill.
Poultry houses have been a mainstay for the family since the 1970s, when Deanni’s father built his first chicken house in 1979 – two years before she was born. After the couple married in 2001, they worked with her father for about 10 years before taking over the poultry operation from him.
Working three chicken houses for Pilgrim’s might be the bread and butter of their farm life – or at least, it was, until Willie discovered a love for sawmill work in 2021.
“I like being able to take something raw, like a log, and turn it into something useable,” explained Willie, a 2002 graduate of Belgreen High School. He first purchased a sawmill in January 2021 primarily for the family’s own needs – to upkeep the barn, to rebuild the front porch, whatever they might need. But as people found out about it, that personal use transformed into a successful lumber business. He works with oak, hickory, cedar, Southern yellow pine – “I do it all,” Willie said. He cuts lumber that customers have gone on to use for all kinds of purposes – to re-floor trailers, to build pergolas for outdoor kitchens, to create one-of-a-kind countertops and more.
He has since sold the first sawmill he purchased, upgrading to an electric model from his original gas model; the new one is twice as fast as the first. He has a second, diesel-powered sawmill ordered, and when it comes in, next year, he’ll be able to operate both at once – and the next one will be twice as fast as the one he has now, marking a sizable increase in his rate of production.
“I love that he gets to do what he loves,” said Deanni, a 2000 Red Bay graduate who now works as an elementary aide at Belgreen. “If he’s happy, I’m happy. He provides for us, and he loves what he does.”
Although Willie sells to numerous customers, he does still cut lumber for personal projects. His big undertakings right now are building a kiln to dry lumber and an office adjacent to the sawmill for conducting business.
It’s an endeavor his children can help in – “Hunter and I will usually dump the wood. We’ll be on the Bobcat or the tractor,” Wyatt explained, – and that’s not the children’s only involvement in the family farm. Their horse operation and their garden are largely the efforts of daughter Crimson.
“I’ve wanted horses my whole life. I like being able to teach them things – and I like being able to get away from humans,” Crimson quipped.
When COVID-19 struck and school closed in March 2020, the time was ripe for a different kind of lesson: Deanni’s father decided to teach his grandchildren to garden. Crimson was the one who really took to it, and in 2020 and 2021 she made several thousand dollars selling potatoes, tomatoes, beans, squash, pumpkins, blueberries and more – including, according the Franklin County Watermelon Festival, the “best-tasting” watermelons in the county.
With her earnings, she and her parents went halves on Crimson’s first horse – not counting Poky, who was part of the farm several years ago. After buying Amos, she purchased two more horses – and two more – and another. With a white board she tracks their feeding schedule, and each day she and Will spend time working and training the horses – Amos, Apache, Big John, Cherokee, Lady, Red and the latest addition, Ghost. They also have Millie the donkey. “I like responsibility,” said Crimson. “It makes me feel older.”
What is now a good solid horse barn, complete with stalls and a tack room and – coming soon – a concrete wash pad, started out as an open-ended hay barn. Willie put the sawmill to work and gave Crimson the space she needed to become a horsewoman.
All four of the children said they love living out in the country, from hunting and fishing to mud-riding and – for Hunter – playing disc golf. It’s a rural life their parents love too.
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else. You couldn’t pay me to go live in town,” Willie said. “I love the quietness – not being able to hear vehicles ripping up and down the road. I’m an avid outdoorsman.” The whole family deer hunts, and venison is a staple at their house. Will also hunts rabbit and squirrel, and another family endeavor in its early stages is raising and selling hunting dogs.
“We are a family that truly lives on farming,” said Deanni, noting her job at the school is primarily to provide for their health insurance. For her, the joy in their farm life is also in the history and heritage of the property – their children are the fifth generation to live their piece of land. “We’re always here together. It’s not like he’s in an office and we’re not going to see him until 5 o’clock,” Deanni said. “That’s the main thing for me – getting to be with my kids all the time.” Willie agreed. “Being here and getting to see every moment of the kids as they have grown up has been the best thing to me.”
The family attends Belgreen church of Christ and are active with Rustic Youth Camp on Cedar Creek Lake.