Up-A-Hill Farm includes 44 acres of hills, pasture and a man-made pond stocked with a variety of fish. Shorthorn and Angus cattle roam the fenced-in areas, along with Jerusalem donkeys. But the heart of the farm isn’t the animals or the scenery; it’s the three generations of the Browder family that live there.
Kyle and Carolyn, married for 55 years, have a house on one side of the farm, and their son Trevor and wife Michelle, married for 20 years, live on the other side with their 16-year-old son Logan.
“I farmed here when I was a kid,” Kyle said, after explaining his great uncle started the farm in 1860, and his father took it over in 1933.
Although Trevor has worked as a steam power operator at Eastman for the past 25 years, on the side, he and his dad are artificial cattle breeders. It’s a complicated process that involves artificially gathering a bull’s semen, a veterinarian determining the sex of any offspring that would come from the semen, and freezing it in liquid nitrogen until ready for use. On the flip side, a cow is given a shot that will expedite her going into heat, with the 12 days in the middle of her heat cycle providing the best chance for a successful implantation and pregnancy.
“Trevor has been very fortunate,” Kyle said. “He’s been about 75 to 80 percent effective in using the process.”
In the pasture, a 2-day-old calf sits, surrounded by other cattle and the donkeys. The donkeys were incorporated onto the farm several years ago as a deterrent to coyotes and dogs that might chase the cattle and wear them out or harm them. When the family drives around the farm on their Kubota ATV, the donkeys approach quickly and unreservedly. Trevor said they’re loyal and affectionate animals.
“I call it aggravating,” Kyle said. But Michelle insisted the animals are that way because Kyle spoils them with treats.
The father-son team also has a passion for restoring antique tractors.
“I find them everywhere,” Trevor said. “Some come in buckets filled with pieces and we fix them.”
He currently has 11 restored antique tractors, including makes like John Deere, Farmall and Oliver. Michelle said he generally only sells them to make room to restore more. Trevor’s love of tractors started when he was a child, and when Michelle’s dairy farming grandfather passed away, he left his favorite tractor to Trevor. Trevor even owns a large collection of model-sized tractors as well.
Inside the room that showcases his model tractors are photographs of the family’s restored antique tractors, of Michelle’s grandparents’ former dairy farm in Abingdon, and of Logan as a younger boy. The frames around many of the photos and the display cases for the model tractors were built by Trevor, who also enjoys woodworking.
“Trevor can build anything,” Michelle said.
It’s a talent that has come in handy in making life enjoyable and normal for Logan, who is a special needs child. Trevor built a swing in their yard to accommodate Logan’s wheelchair. A wheelchair-accessible dock sits on the family pond so Logan can enjoy fishing. And Trevor even makes costumes for Logan that will work around the bulk of the wheelchair, including one shaped like a Farmall tractor.
Logan is the only child living who has his particular genetic disorder, Michelle explained. Developmentally, Logan is equivalent to a 4-year-old. He smiles and laughs, but cannot communicate verbally. He sleeps for only four hours at a time, and still wakes up “always happy.” Michelle’s job is as his biggest advocate. Her fear is that he’ll be made fun of at the mainstream school he attends, but he won’t be able to tell her about it. Currently, Logan is between schools while he recovers from his fifth back surgery. When he returns to school, he’ll attend Sullivan Central High School.
“I don’t have to worry about my child driving, taking drugs or causing a pregnancy like moms of normal kids. Even though I have the health problems to deal with, I wouldn’t trade Logan for 100 normal children,” Michelle said. “I’m blessed with what I have.”
In her free time, Michelle works with stained glass and creates items she regularly sells at Rogersville Heritage Days. She also spends her time making sure her husband doesn’t wear out her father-in-law.
“I have to remind Trevor that his dad isn’t as young as he is,” she said.