"It's really my husband's dream farm," says Donna Brown of her family's Hy-Tower Farm in Coosa County.
"The farm is just a half-mile from where he was raised. The lady who owned the land gave Ronnie first choice to buy the property after her husband passed, and we've been there since 1986," says Donna.
While Donna and Ronnie both work off the farm, she says their other jobs often intersect with farm life. Donna, a registered nurse, says she's provided emergency veterinary care to their Black Angus cattle on more than one occasion.
"I even performed CPR on a calf once, and he made it," she says.
Ronnie, who serves as president of the Coosa County Farmers Federation, owns The Feed Mill in Eclectic. "So at the very least we can get our feed for cost," jokes Donna.
"Ronnie and I both showed cattle when we were young, all three of our children showed, and now we're in the third generation of showing with our grandson Cody," says Donna.
Donna says she encouraged her children to save their winnings while they were showing cattle, so each of them had their own money when they were old enough to leave home.
"Now Cody has his own fund started for college, and when our other grandson Dilan (now 4) is old enough to show, we'll do the same thing with him," she says.
Originally from Elmore County, Donna says she always cooked with her mother but also learned about cooking through her involvement in 4-H.
"I was champion of the Elmore County Chicken-Q when I was in 4-H, and my oldest daughter, Monica, won the Coosa County Chicken-Q, too," she says, adding that both of her daughters were fairly good cooks by the time they graduated high school.
Donna says her hobby is traveling, and she loves to take a trip anytime she can get away.
When asked her favorite vacation destination, Donna quickly answers, "Anywhere!"
"I made my second trip to Italy in January, and I've been to Spain, France and Australia. We took a driving trip along the West Coast from the Redwood Forest up into Canada and back again, and we've taken several last-minute, long-weekend trips to Cancun," says Donna.
Donna's recipes are ideally suited to busy farm families like hers as they can be made quickly or in advance, or sometimes both, like her recipes for Crock-Pot Chili and Camp Stew. And as the days warm up, her Layered Lettuce Salad and Spaghetti Salad are make-ahead sides that would make great cool accompaniments for a supper cooked on the grill.