Burton Ouzts grew up in the big city of Dallas, Texas, where celebrity-owned restaurants, fast-moving freeways and high-fashion shopping malls rule.
While his parents worked and lived in Dallas, they owned a small country property in Athens, about 75 miles outside of Dallas. Whenever Burton could escape the city, he did. And the minute he was old enough (age 23) to escape the urban sprawl, he did that, too.
And he never looked back.
Burton met his wife, Shana, in 2000, when she was a senior in high school. Although Burton had a bit of city boy left in him, when friends introduced them, the city boy vanished and he was committed to country living with his girl. The couple married four years later at New York Baptist Church in New York, Texas, a whopping city consisting of only a church, a cemetery and a feed store.
Fast forward to today.
Burton and Shana, who was born and raised in Athens, have two children, both country-loving boys. On 100 acres in Larue, Texas, the family raises cattle, and the kids grow tomatoes, squash and strawberries. Their oldest, Dylan, plans to start competing in the livestock show next spring. The goal is to start raising chickens and eventually fill the farm with Texas Longhorns.
The couple also owns Athens Tractor & Equipment, selling Kubota tractors, lawn mowers and hay equipment. Shana calls herself a "Domestic Goddess, shuttle service, dishwasher, cook and family secretary.” But, everyone knows, she rules the home.
This family would never question city living. It’s not even up for debate. Having grown up where she is now raising her children, Shana loves not having neighbors right next door and is proud that they are teaching her boys to hunt and shoot just the way she did when she grew up.
“My brother and dad have always been and will always be avid hunters and fishermen, so it's in my blood. My 20-gauge shotgun is my baby!” Shana says. “We love the natural beauty of our place, wildflowers, birds, deer, huge pine and oak trees. We can hunt deer and dove from any porch on our house, and go fishing in our two stock ponds on the property. Life in the country is simple.”
Life is so simple, in fact, that they usually stay within a few miles of home.
“You never have to be in a hurry and the only traffic jams we run into are if somebody's cows got out and are running down the county road,” she jokes.
Most of their friends live within a five-mile radius, and they have a Ranger utility vehicle that they drive around town. Entertainment is easy and never far. They ride horses, cook out and boil crawfish with friends and play washers and horseshoe games. Shana jokes that all the boys really need is some mud.
“Once the kids find a dirt pile, we don't see them for hours,” she says.
When the Ouzts foursome do have to visit the city, for perhaps a wedding or an event, they go. But they race back home when it’s over. Because for them, the only real life is in the country.
All photos by Crista Couch Photography.