The last mama in our Marvelous Mama series is someone super-special to me. She’s my own sister. I am grateful and proud to be her sister and love seeing her and her family chase a dream. I hope you enjoy a look at what pursuing a God-given dream looks like in real life.
Devi James was born and raised in Palmyra, NJ. After earning a degree in special education from Eastern University, she married her high school sweetheart, Kevin. They now have two boys, Henry (16) and Owen (13).
Devi has been teaching for over 18 years and is now pursuing a dream to be a farmer as a second career. Though the past couple of years have been filled with ups and downs, she is enjoying the journey! Here’s my interview with her:
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: How and why did you and your husband decide on moving from suburban life in your hometown to purchasing and establishing a working farm?
In 2014, we made a decision to invite my Mom-Mom to move in with us. After my grandfather died, she was lonely, her health was declining, and she needed some support with daily living. She moved in on April 1, 2015, after her grandparent suite was completed.
Mom-Mom settled in, and we enjoyed having her with us. Sadly, her health continued to decline and she passed in February 2016. Shortly after, my husband came to me with a wacky thought. He stated that he had been reading about it and thinking about it and thought that we should start an alpaca farm.
My initial reaction was shock. This idea was something crazy that I would suggest, not him! I loved the idea and was in! After attending a workshop on alpaca farming, we realized that alpacas were just not the right thing for us. Our thoughts shifted to sustainable farming.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What fears and obstacles met you along the way to realizing this dream?
There was the fear of leaving everything that we were so comfortable with. Most of our family and friends lived within walking distance or just a short drive. We also feared the financial risk of purchasing a property and starting over again with a new and significantly larger mortgage payment.
The decision wasn’t just for Kevin and me. It was a family decision. After all, we would all be working hard to make the farm a success. The boys had to be on board with the move and the new lifestyle.
The biggest obstacle we had was finding a property and selling our home. We had very specific needs and a limited budget. After much looking, we had a contract on the farm, but our house was not selling and the contract ended. We continued looking, but nothing else was panning out. Five months after the original contract ended, we were in the position of having a contract to sell our home and purchase the farm, which was still available.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: How did you learn what was needed to make this work? What resources helped you?
We spent a lot of time reading books and watching YouTube videos to learn the many skill sets that we would need. Currently, we are continuing to read and watch videos along with forging collaborative relationships with like-minded people in our new community.
One of the best resources I read during the period of waiting and planning to make the move was Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson. The book is not about farming, it is about dreaming big and moving towards that dream.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What have been some of your greatest successes in establishing this new way of life?
Raising livestock! It has been very rewarding to raise baby chicks, ducks, rabbits, and goats! This is something we had no previous experience with, yet we are thriving in this area.
We are so glad to steward this land and the animals we have. We are proud of making a shift from purchasing all of our meats at the grocery store to raising some of our own meat animals.
Many ask, “How can you do that?” Being involved in raising your own meat makes you have a very different perception of food. You respect and are more thankful for that animal during its life, you honor the animal during processing, and you are more conscientious about not wasting.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What does a typical farm day look like when you are teaching also? What about summers?
During the school year, our oldest son, Henry, helps me with morning chores. We go out to the barn and begin feeding and watering the animals around 5:45 AM. After school, our younger son, Owen, collects the chicken eggs. Most of our extra time on nights and weekends are spent working on the farm in some way. This includes planning, price checking and ordering items online, maintaining social media and financial records, planting, weeding, harvesting, selling at farmer’s markets, etc.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Is there anything you learned as a teacher that helped you in your transition to farm life?
Like teaching, farming has so many variables. You always have your general knowledge and plan for how to get to the desired outcomes. However, you often experience unexpected variables and sometimes failure. So, it is often necessary to think outside of the box and have fortitude.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Since working full time and farming is demanding and time-consuming, how do you like to recharge?
Coffee and dessert every night with Kevin, playing the piano, and “sleeping in” until 7 on the weekends.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What is your end goal for the dream of Sparrow Lake Farm?
It would be wonderful if our boys would like to continue running the farm when we pass on, however, as of yet, they do not seem to show an interest in doing so. We would like to see the land become Preserved Farmland of NJ.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What’s your favorite passage of scripture and why?
I have a couple–Psalm 103 and Matthew 10:31.
Psalm 103 – I remember memorizing a section of this passage as a little girl in Sunday School. This passage clearly explains who God is and how much He loves us.
“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:31 — This is our foundation verse for the farm. We wanted to honor God in naming our new farm. The message of trusting God and not being afraid resonated with us.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Rainy morning with nobody else home–coffee or tea?
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What’s your favorite family activity that isn’t related to farming or extracurriculars and why
Simply spending time with family. We all enjoy getting together with our family for birthday celebrations and other important events.
EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
Thanks to Devi and to all the mamas who have shared in this series. If you missed any of them, simply click HERE to see the other four interviews. You are appreciated too, dear readers. Thanks for sharing some of your time with Earl Grey and Yellow.
Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.