Three decades ago, Carolyn Hill made a decision that changed her life. It was a decision she has never regretted. She and her husband, Del, moved to the country to run Selwood Farm, a business they inherited from Del’s father.
“Mr. Hill was a county agent. He bought this land in 1948 from descendants of the original settlers of the property. He raised turkey, sheep, cattle and other commodities and began smoking the turkeys to improve the market for them,” she said.
Carolyn and Del have since expanded their business to include smoked hams, and have a mail-order operation that ships their hams and turkeys all over the United States. Del serves on the Federation’s Board of Directors for Talladega County and the State Wildlife Committee. He and Carolyn also created one of the state’s first hunting preserves and continue to host quail hunts and sporting clay shoots at Selwood Farm.
“We serve lunch to the hunters as part of the hunting packages, so I started making lots of soups and breads for them,” said Carolyn.
But Carolyn’s love of cooking goes back much farther than her business. When she met Del, she was a home economics major at Auburn University. She was a teacher for five years, but gave up her career in education to be a mother and farmer.
“Del and I knew this farm would be a great place to raise our children,” she said. “I decided I would do without some of the things I could buy in order to have some things I couldn’t buy and some things that would pass me by. That income doesn’t mean as much as my family and all of us being out here in God’s creation.”
The Hills’ son, Alan, lives and works in Montgomery and has a daughter named Mary Judith. Their daughter, Mary Lyn, lives in Seattle, Wash., and has a son named Hill. Carolyn says that while she is very proud of her family, she does miss her children and would not change the time she had with them on the farm.
In addition to the cooking Carolyn has done for her family and business, she also has entered a number of cooking contests, including the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Heritage Cooking contest. Her recipe for Ham-Rice Salad even earned her top prize in the state pork cooking contest several years ago.