Our Story

We are Caleb and Amy Rae, and our sons Liam (8), Malachi (5), and Ewan (2).  

In 2007, we bought 90 acres of abandoned coalmine property here in central Tennessee.  It had been minimally reclaimed by the state, but was basically piles of shale smoothed into rolling hills, covered in brush.  It look pretty worthless, but we saw it's potential, for grazing animals in particular.  
In 2009 we built a small home, doing the work ourselves, and began our homestead.  We brought chickens, ducks, turkeys, and a few goats with us, and quickly added our first Scottish Highland cattle, Fergus and Thistle and their calf Myra.  Over the next few years, we continued to both expand the existing flocks and herds, and add new facets to the farm - geese, alpacas, bees, hoophouse for winter vegetables, gardens and more gardens, etc.  In 2010, 2013 and 2016 we also added boys, the second actually born here on Solace Farm. In 2010 and 2015 we built strawbale additions to the house as well, to accommodate our growing family.  We now have about 25 cattle and 15 alpacas, ~30 goat mamas (+60 kids each spring), 9 sheep ewes (10-15 lambs each spring), 40+ ducks, and a handful each of the other poultry roaming the yard, and 2 beehives.

We practice intensive grazing with our livestock, keeping them in close groups and moving each day to mimic natural herd dynamics.  We keep the cattle, goats and alpacas in one herd, which helps greatly with natural parasite control - we try to avoid chemical use on the farm whenever possible.  This is both better for the animals and the pastures - which really need the help.  We've seen definite improvement in the pastures over the last several years, including an increase in both organic matter and plant diversity.  We keep a second herd of my milk goats and sheep, and the soon-to-be mama alpacas during the summer.  We move our dairy herd every 2-5 days since we only give them enough feed to keep them still on the milk-stand, and carefully monitor their production to maximize their nutrition almost entirely on pasture.  I make several kinds of goat and sheep cheese - so good!

We are off-grid, with solar power, well and rainwater and wood heat - we do have cell phones and a propane cook stove and tankless water heater.  We try to avoid over-used catchwords like "green" and "eco-friendly" but the truth is, we are very concerned about the world we live in, and caring for it.  We try, in every facet of our lives, to minimize our impact on our world (our boys have never seen a Walmart!) and this carries over to our products.  I wrap most of my soap in simple brown paper, hand-cut from our duck-feed sacks, and the hand-folded boxes for my little Tree of Life soaps are also hand-cut from feedback paper.  I knit adorable newsboy caps, soap-saver bags, and other items out of the strings from the duck-feed sacks as well.
We try to use local ingredients if we don't make them ourselves - I use local pastured non-GMO lard from a fellow small-farmer in my soap (and for all our cooking), and I supplement our small harvest of beeswax with only that of other local backyard bee keepers.

I, Amy, make soaps and salves, maintain this website and an Etsy shop, spin wool, knit, milk and make cheese (true sheep feta!) etc. in my "spare time" between raising 3 boys and homeschooling the older 2, and farming, gardening and homesteading.  Caleb manages the livestock, the homestead at large, and increasingly the gardens and boys as my soap and fiber business grows.  We have begun the transition to full-time farming, Caleb quit his FT Physician Assistant job in June 2017 and now works 2-10 days a month as a PA at an urgent care clinic.  We are playing catch-up for the first few seasons, from years of working 5 days a week, but hope to really start building the farm and life we want this coming year.
Our motto here is "by hand" because we truly appreciate the "old-fashioned" abilities that seem to be fading from our collective memories, such as hand-milking, cheesemaking, butchering, tanning hides, canning and dehydrating produce, soapmaking, papermaking, spinning and knitting wool, cutting and splitting firewood, using handtools such as scythes, and many, many more.  We enjoy sharing what we've learned with others who are looking for that knowledge and experience, so we host interns such as WWOOFers (WWOOF-USA.org) and college students year-round.  This arrangement generally benefits both the farm, with additional hands working here, and the intern, who learns valuable skills for "free".  We always take interested, hard-working, reliable help, so check out our "Opportunities at SFH" page and get in touch if that happens to be you :)  
We continue to refine our livestock management to have the best life for them, our fields, and our local environment - the wildlife population and variety has grown noticeably since we started our farm - and expand our enterprises to the best of our abilities and work together as a family, doing what we love!