LIFE OF FRANKLIN—
For Deanni and Willie Lindsey and their four children, life on the farm is the best life.
Lindsey Family Farm and Custom Milling, located in the Frog Pond area, is home to Franklin natives and children Hunter, 16, Crimson, 15, Will, 12, and Wyatt, 11. They have dabbled in most businesses farms over the years. – working cattle, cutting hay, raising sheep and goats – but these days their main industries are chickens, horses, an orchard and the sawmill.
Chicken coops have been a mainstay for the family since the 1970s, when Deanni’s father built his first chicken coop 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.
Working in three chicken coops for Pilgrim’s could be the bread and butter of his life on the farm, or at least it was, until Willie discovered his love of sawmill work in 2021.
“I like being able to take something raw, like a log, and turn it into something usable,” explained Willie, a 2002 graduate of Belgreen High School. He first purchased a sawmill in January 2021 primarily for the family’s needs: to maintain the barn, rebuild the front porch, whatever they need. But as people found out, that personal use turned into a successful logging business. He works with oak, hickory, cedar, southern yellow pine—”I do it all,” Willie said. He cuts wood that customers have used for all kinds of purposes: to re-floor trailers, to build pergolas for outdoor kitchens, to create unique countertops and more.
Since then, he has sold the first sawmill he bought, upgrading it to an electric model from his original gasoline model; the new one is twice as fast as the first one. He has ordered a second diesel-powered sawmill and when it arrives next year he will be able to operate both at the same time, and the next one will be twice as fast as the one he has now, marking a significant increase in his production rate.
“I love that she can do what she loves,” said Deanni, a 2000 Red Bay graduate who now works as an elementary aide at Belgreen. “If he is happy, I am happy. He provides for us and he loves what he does.”
Although Willie sells to numerous customers, he still cuts wood for personal projects. His big undertakings at the moment are the construction of a kiln to dry wood and an office adjacent to the sawmill to conduct business.
It’s an effort your kids can help with: “Hunter and I often throw wood. We’ll be in the Bobcat or the tractor,” Wyatt explained, and that’s not the only involvement of the kids on the family farm. His horse operation and garden are largely the efforts of his daughter Crimson.
“I have loved horses all my life. I like being able to teach them things, and I like being able to get away from humans,” Crimson joked.
When COVID-19 hit and the school closed in March 2020, it was time for a different lesson: Deanni’s father decided to teach his grandchildren how to garden. Crimson was the one who really took it, and in 2020 and 2021 he made several thousand dollars selling potatoes, tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, cranberries and more, including, according to the Franklin County Watermelon Festival, the “best tasting.” watermelons in the county.
With her winnings, she and her parents spent half on Crimson’s first horse, not counting Poky, who was part of the farm several years ago. After buying Amos, she bought two more horses, and two more, and another. With a white board, she keeps track of her feeding schedule, and each day she and Will spend time working and training the horses: Amos, Apache, Big John, Cherokee, Lady, Red, and the newest addition, Ghost. . They also have Millie the donkey. “I like the responsibility,” Crimson said. “It makes me feel older.”
What is now a large solid horse barn, complete with stalls and a tool room and soon a concrete wash pad, started out as an open hay barn. Willie put the sawmill to work and gave Crimson the space she needed to become an Amazon.
All four boys said they love living in the country, from hunting and fishing to wading through mud and, for Hunter, playing disc golf. It’s a rural life that her parents love too.
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else. You couldn’t pay me to go live in the city,” said Willie. “I love the quiet, not being able to hear vehicles tearing up the road. I am an avid nature lover.” The whole family hunts deer and venison is a staple in their home. Will also hunts rabbits and squirrels, and another early-stage family business for him is breeding and selling hunting dogs.
“We’re a family that really makes a living from farming,” Deanni said, noting that her job at the school is primarily to provide her health insurance. For her, the joy of her life on the farm is also in the history and heritage of the property: her children are the fifth generation to live on her piece of land. “We are 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 is the most important thing for me: being able to be with my children all the time.” Willy agreed. “Being here and being able to see every moment of the children as they have grown has been the best thing for me.”
The family attends Belgreen Church of Christ and is active in Rustic Youth Camp at Cedar Creek Lake.