The country people we have met

Posted by Tiffany Wilson on June 27, 2016

In celebration of Rethink:Rural's first birthday, we're taking a look back at the country people we've introduced you to throughout the Southern U.S.

Farmers, fly-fishing experts and even a celebrity survivalist have helped Rethink:Rural tell the story of country living in its first year in publication.

Subscribe to Rethink:Rural's monthly e-newsletterIn celebration of our first birthday, we’re taking a look back at some of the fascinating people we’ve introduced you to. They can tell you better than anyone why you should rethink rural life: it doesn't fit into a box or a stereotype. To the contrary, it opens up a world of possibilities. What would your country life story look like?

Other highlights from our first year:

1. The Conner Family: From Chicken Farm to Corn Maze

Eddie Conner’s family has owned the same farm since before the Civil War. It had been used to farm sugar cane, cattle and chicken. But when the Conner family was faced with a sudden change of plans, they tried something new: a corn maze. It’s become a favorite family destination, drawing crowds to the farm in Hilliard, Florida.

Betty Jean and Eddie Conner share a laugh on the front porch of the farmhouse he grew up in.

2. Colbert Sturgeon: Life as a survivalist

Colbert Sturgeon lives the primitive life in Georgia’s swampland. His life is so rustic, in fact, he was chosen as one of the leads for National Geographic’s reality show, Live Free or Die. Colbert tells us how he came to know so much about surviving in the wilderness, and what made him leave his white collar job as an accountant to instead live off the land.

Colbert Sturgeon wears some of the clothing he made, himself, from pelts he harvested in the wild. / Photo courtesy of National Geographic

3. Vickey the Sustainable Shepherd

Vickey Russell left her corporate city job and followed her dream to become a shepherd, herding sheep on a sustainable grass farm in small-town Georgia. She gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her 22-acre farm and explains how she learned to manage her farm.

Vickey Russell left her corporate city job to start a sustainable sheep farm in rural Georgia.

4. Tradd Little: A teen who has found his calling

Tradd Little may be young, but he’s already a fly-tying master, listed in the ranks of the pro teams for more than one manufacturers. The North Carolina teenager explains how the delicate art of fly-tying became a passion for him.

Tradd Little shows his fly-tying skills at a fly-tying event in North Carolina.

5. Simon Webster: Creating a Surprising Getaway

You won’t find longtime chef Simon Webster donning a cowboy hat or riding horses on his East Texas estate. Instead, the New Zealander gave up his 5-star city restaurants to create a picturesque vineyard with guest cabins and an on-site restaurant serving incredible food.

Simon Webster at his East Texas estate.

6. Troy James: The Land the Keeps on Giving

Many years ago, Troy James had a choice to make: buy a small beachfront property, or - for the same price - purchase acreage on the rural west side of St. Johns County, Florida. He chose the rural land and has never looked back, raising chickens, starting businesses and finding more and more ways to use his land to his advantage.

Troy James feeds a few of his 150+ chickens.

7. Jayne Gray: This Girly-Girl Went Country

Georgia girl Jayne Gray thought her husband was crazy the first time he drove her down a long, dirt road to see their future home. But she packed up all her sparkly things, moved to the country and fell in love with the peaceful outdoor setting she would one day raise her children in. Her version of country involves speeding down the road with her convertible’s top down, dust flying in the air - and she loves it.

Girly-girl Jayne Gray shares a kiss with her husband while their sons avert their eyes.

8. The Pond Family: The 1000-Mile Journey

Catherine Pond was 45 when she moved with her family from an old New England house to a farm in Kentucky - 1000 miles away. She tells her story of making friends with their Old Order Mennonite neighbors, who held a barn-raising to help them get on their feet, taught them about farming - and showed them a beautiful way of life.

Catherine Pond calls herself the "Farmwife at Midlife."

9. The McCarthy Family: Raising Goats on a Florida Hobby Farm

Patrick and Janis McCarthy traded life in a subdivision in Fernandina Beach, Florida, for a nearby timber tract they transformed into a hobby farm. Patrick used a portable sawmill to turn trees from the land into lumber for their front porch. He later built homes for their goats designed to look like a town from the Wild West, and their chicken house looks like a covered wagon.

The McCarthies visit with their goats and show off their chicken house, which they're designing to look like a covered wagon.

10. Raising Farm Kids: A Family's Move from Island Life to Farm Life

Jeremy and Suzanne Flood grew up on an island in Northeast Florida, but they wanted a different life for their three sons. They bought a 10-acre farm in Huntington, Texas, and began to teach their children how to appreciate hard work, good food and the beauty of the outdoors.

The Flood family moved to a hobby farm to raise their three boys with an appreciation for the outdoors, hard work and good food.

Do you know someone with a fantastic country life story to tell? Let us know! Email

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Tiffany Wilson

The former editor of Rethink:Rural, Tiffany Wilson has been passionate about writing - and country life - since childhood. She grew up in a log house in the hills of a small town in Upstate New York. She previously worked as a newspaper reporter and hospital communications coordinator. Today, she lives with her husband and children in Yulee, Florida.

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