People Who Live at the End of Dirt Roads: Terry and Sandy Stapley – Deseret Peak Alpaca Ranchwebdev
This article is part of a series highlighting families who have embraced Georgics in significant ways.
After a very nice life in the heart of Saratoga Springs, Utah, the Stapley’s have made a drastic lifestyle change.
They sold their beautiful home of 13 years, and moved to 10 acres, a house 1/3 the size of their previous home, a patch of corn and a herd of Alpaca.
Terry and Sandy Stapley have just completed their fifth month of ranch life. I recently visited their new alpaca ranch and spent some time talking about life on the ranch, the differences from living in suburbia, and why they did it.
It is lovely here but Grantsville, Utah is kind of in the middle of no-where. Why here?
Well, we believe that we were Providential influenced in this direction and we were able to find 10 acres in our price range.
But did you feel that to have a ranch and be more self sufficient, you would need to move out away from it all?
No, we believed all along that having acreage, even in town, would give us a certain level of seclusion, as we planned to be pretty much self-contained.
Great. Tell me about you vision for the ranch. You and I have spent many hours talking about this kind of thing, what’s your ranch vision?
We have always had a dream of going back to basics, growing our own food, teaching our children and especially our grand-children the laws of life, but you can’t teach what you don’t know. Having the animals as a part of this way of life is helping us learn and teach our children the very basics of living, that you have to nurture life, you have to care for that life, that the world is full of life beyond our personal needs and that we need to be responsible for living things that are dependent on us.
Our children and our grand-children are coming alive in this environment. They are grasping the whole idea of the American Dream, of owning a home, having a cottage industry, supporting yourself by your own labor. It is a dream come true to see those grand-babies love the chickens and ranch dogs and the alpaca.
What are the most drastic changes you have noticed with this move from suburbia to a small ranch that you are—outside of the house—literally building from the ground up?
I would have to say the realization that conveniences are not what makes life enjoyable. To understand that the life of convenience we had at our finger tips in Saratoga Springs, of running to the shopping malls and grocery stores at every whim, the movie theatres, having ready access to almost anything one can imagine, does not bring the greatest joy. The greatest joy is to see what we have done to the land with our own hands. As you can see it is not much at this point but we can see it and we know it is our own creation and effort that has brought it about. Being exhausted at the end of the day and being joyful, that is far more gratifying than going to a movie. Rather than watching others live life, we are living real life, close to the ground life and we love it. There is no greater satisfaction.
How exciting Sandy—without getting too personal, you have mentioned that this new lifestyle has infused some vitality in your relationship as husband and wife. Can you expound on this?
That is very true. When you remove all the distractions, it is much easier to focus on the reasons why you are attracted to the person you married. Life becomes uncluttered and you see the value in your spouse more clearly. The physical things around the ranch that I can’t do by myself, Terry is there to help me. And I take care of him whether it is ensuring that he eats right or beautifying our home and he really notices.
The harmony and diversity we come face to face with in our daily struggle to shape our land to our vision, has truly lead us to appreciate each other in ways that were less obvious in a world were we would go out to eat several times a week or engage in useless diversities all the time, for no purpose, simply for entertainment.
It take the unnecessary things of life away and brings it back to a whole new meaning of a man and a woman joined together, having dominion over the land and creating something uniquely yours.
You mentioned that Terry is happier now that he is engaged in this physically tough environment. What do you mean?
In the specialized, competitive workforce of today, it is so easy to get lost in the shuffle, to become a number, to feel unappreciated and not honored for the divine gifts we possess. But not here on the ranch. When you pull it back to the basics of life and you are appreciated for what you can contribute physically, mentally and emotionally to the success of your home and your ranch, and you can clearly see what you have done—there is a great sense of satisfaction and a great feeling of worth. But it’s not a false pride or pretense, it is genuine sense of self-satisfaction that comes no other way than by hard work and honest accomplishment. It is kind of rare these days.
OK, tell me about the ranch itself and what you like about it.
They are cute little critters. Alpaca are a means to an end for us, as I said before, we had always wanted to have a ranch, but we just couldn’t see how we would ever be able to afford it, but by creating an Alpaca ranch and purchasing the animals and breeding them and making use of their hair or fiber, we have found a means to live our dream.
The culture of the animals, their personalities and their pecking order, their relationships and just working with them is such a delight. There are a lot of natural relationship lessons to be learned in caring for a bunch of animals. It makes everything so real. It erodes all of the superficiality of the world and the contest between equal rights and feminism and the whole world contest of “what is my place in the world?” And it brings it down to a reality that we all have a place, and the animals play a very important part in this. There is such a peace and joy that comes from taking care of them.
Just one last question, you are struggling a bit with that corn patch there, can you think of any natural laws that you have violated in the process of this first batch of corn?
Yeah, if you don’t give it enough water it isn’t going to grow. It is very interesting, taking into consideration the contour of the land, it is so important in getting plants to grow. We’ve got plenty of sunshine and we thought we were giving them plenty of water, but the flow of the water and how long the water stayed on the plants and the depth of water penetration into the soil is a reality that you can not ignore—if you want to grow corn.
Thanks Sandy. It is a real pleasure being here and seeing your progress. Can others come and see what you are doing?
You bet. We are happy to share what we are doing with anyone. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is awesome! I am so happy for the Stapleys. I also look forward to when I can make this type of thing happen for me and my husband!!!!
Congratulations. I live in a city that allows me to have goats and chickens in my back yard (I have great neighbors, too). Caring for the animals and using and sharing what they produce has brought a new dimension to my life and made me think about things differently. I am much more appreciative and grateful. And my joy is greater in the things I have been blessed with. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Paula Tarver, Austin, Texas
I appreciate you taking time to read and comment. Good luck in Texas.
Jacqueline, you are much closer that many others.
Jacqueline, you are much closer than many others.
This is great. Thanks for being an example to the rest of us “Closet Georgics”.
Best to you, Ruth and the family.
I really enjoyed reading this article this morning. My husband and I are trying as well to move onto 200 acres in Suthern California. We left a 7000 square foot house, with plans to move into a very very small 1930’s home. Who needs a big home when you have land to live outside! We have 4 boys and 2 girls. I related so much to the sweet couple with the Alpaca farm. We too have felt the strong need for our children to grow up with a little dirt on their hands. I’ve had my nose in every book and my ears towards every word of how to live a self sufficient life on land. We have also started a non-profit that provides communities and religions of all kinds with counseling, and classes that prepare families with information and product that aid a self sufficient lifestyle. It is empowering to see families give up some conveniences to enjoy the true simplicity of living on land. Thank you for submitting this article. It has motivated me, and I will be passing it on!
Susan, bring the family next year to our Families for America Retreat! What for it on the website. See you then.
I loved this article – congratulations to the Stapleys.
The Millsaps have also moved away from suburbia, although we haven’t been able to focus on life at the farm as completely as the Stapleys.
We live on 2 acres in Honeyville, Utah, and we have goats, chickens, and sheep in addition to a nice big garden. (The sheep are just 4-H projects for the boys.) Fresh eggs, milk, and vegetables are nice but we are a long way from self-sufficient.
I still work full-time in Salt Lake, so I make a considerable commute every day. Until I can find an acceptable alternative way to meet the family’s needs, I’ll probably be making the drive.
Dale, I am always looking for family’s to highlight. Are you one or do you know of a georgic family I can talk to?
No worries. We do what we can. Just keep the dream alive. I hope to see you next summer at the Families for America Retreat here on campus at http://www.monticellocollege.org. See you then.
Way to go Stapleys! We bought land, in the country, built our own home and now have garden, sheep, chickens, milk cow and calf. Three days after we got the milk cow, we went out to milk her for the morning and found that she had stepped on her back left teet. It ripped it open and left a nasty gash. A local dairyman was able to mentor us and help us know what to do. I was able to use my knowledge of herbs and essential oils to help heal her. After a hard go of it, she is almost completely healed and we have saved that quarter. We have had her since th last week in June. I have struggled with health problems for most of my life. This last summer I have gotten up early tended to the cow and the garden each day. I am stronger than I have ever been in my adult life. I am filled with peace and joy. I cannot imagine a better life. Because of the cow, we have met people in the community that we may otherwise have not met. I can see the hand of God moving in our lives each day. It sounds like the Stapleys are having a similar experience.
Wow, what a great story CW. It sounds like we should talk and do an interview. If you are interested contact me at email@example.com.
This is great–very inspiring! I’d love to hear more about several who have commented here, and more–keep it up!
Comments are closed.