Like everyone, I’ve been under a little stress. With my dwindling 401(k), relationship woes, and a pesky 10 pounds I can’t seem to drop, I had plenty to ponder as I drove 150 miles northeast to Greer Farm, a getaway that appealed to me because of its unlikely combination of cabins with indoor plumbing and access to nature galore. In dire times, I’m normally more spa girl than farm girl. But after seeing pictures of the gorgeous grounds, I wanted to check it out.
Located near Daingerfield, Texas, Greer Farm was once the summer getaway of owners Eva and Sid Greer. In another life, Sid was an oil and gas executive who traveled 300 days a year. He and his wife were living in London when the company he was working for went through a merger. Sid had to make a decision: take a new job or accept a buyout package. He opted for retirement, and they left London at their first chance—taking Christmas ornaments off the tree and tossing them into suitcases on the way out the front door. The couple went straight from corporate to country—in search of a healthier lifestyle and a change of vocation, they moved to the farm full time. It wasn’t as tough a transition for Sid as it might seem. “I already farmed in my mind,” he says, laughing.
It wasn’t a tough transition for me, either. Within minutes of arriving, I had kicked off my heels, petted farm dogs Pepe and Tux, chased a rooster into a pen, gotten nipped by a French Toulouse goose, watched Sid search for eggs, and hand-fed goats Lightning and Floppy. “When I got here, I bought every animal I ever wanted,” Sid says. He has French Guinea hens, sheep, cows, and horses, and he’s currently on the lookout for a new pot-bellied pig—while mourning the loss of his last one, Hooch.
Wife Eva has made her own mark on the property. “Cooking and flowers are her passion,” Sid says. This explains the 3.5 acres of landscaped gardens with everything from lilacs and 100 varieties of roses to caladiums, lilies, and the Emperor’s Tree from China. Both of the Greers are passionate about sustainable agriculture, which means farming in a continuously prosperous yet environmentally responsible way. They’ve had great success with it—visitors flock to the farm every summer beginning in May for blueberry picking, followed by blackberries through July and figs in August. But there’s lots more than berries: the land is like a health-conscious Wonka factory—everywhere you look there’s something edible. Take a few steps and check out asparagus (Sid picked a sprig from the ground and ordered me, “Eat it.” And I did!), cabbage, and sauerkraut. Go in another direction and you’ll find heirloom tomatoes, basil, summer squash, and white eggplant. And then there are the fruit trees: cherry, fig, apricot, and apple are all represented.
All of these fresh foods come in handy for Eva’s cooking classes. She hosts up to 10 people at a time for instruction on culinary delights ranging from gumbo to artichoke bisque. She immediately sensed my unease in the kitchen and laughed it off. “Sometimes people don’t like to be all that hands-on,” she says. (I explained that I am hands-on in my own way: wolfing down her homemade bread with chipotle butter.) After the lesson, students sit down to eat the fruits of their efforts coupled with plenty of wine.
About a year ago, the Greers built four log cabins by the lake, which is stocked with sunfish, Florida bass, crappie, catfish, and coppernose brim. Guests can fish, kayak, rent bikes, take a hike or a run on the numerous hiking trails that line the farm, and “have their own little petting zoo,” as Sid puts it. I especially enjoyed seeing all the old structures—some dating back to before the Civil War—including an old outhouse that now houses a croquet set and a sampler that said “How To Be a Mean Mother.” Feeling a little European? Take in a game of bocce ball. Or, if you’re like me, just stay indoors. Forget camping. These quaint cabins have kitchenettes, big bathrooms, air conditioning, flat-screen televisions with satellite, and Wi-Fi. (That wireless comes in handy—cell service is iffy at best.)
My night in Little Red Hen cabin was perfection. Not only did I get to watch CNN, there was a made-to-order storm. I haven’t slept so well in ages. By the time I awoke (to the sound of roosters), I was stress free and ready for the farm-fresh eggs in my refrigerator. No thoughts of 401(k)s, my love life, or even my diet.
I can’t wait to go back.