Growing up in Tennessee, Diane always knew she wanted to live on a farm, but she held a number of careers before moving to Todd. In 1996 when she and her family got the land over a couple who wanted to turn it into an RV park, Diane decided to take the “leap of faith” and begin life as a farmer. But it didn’t begin immediately. Because of its pristine, natural beauty, you would never guess that Mollie’s Branch used to be a girls’ tennis camp. When Diane and her family bought the land, it was covered with asphalt tennis courts. They lived in a mobile home on top of one of the tennis courts for two years while they built their house. Once the asphalt was gone and the house was built, Diane was able to immerse herself into the world of farming.
Diane started with goats, then raised chickens. After she fell in love with her first rescue llama, she added twelve more llamas to the farm. I got to meet the llamas on my visit. I was a little scared because I had heard rumors that llamas were mean, that they would spit on you or kick you if you came near, but I was completely mistaken; llamas are some of the kindest animals I’ve ever met. These fluffy, curious creatures greeted us as we came to the fence, and they seemed to love us petting their soft noses. Although I could clearly see that the llamas were a joy to have around, I had to ask what their benefit to the farm was. Daniel Meehan, Diane’s intern who is full of interesting facts and figures, told me that they use the llama’s manure as fertilizer for the garden. Dan says that llama manure is the only animal manure that does not need to be composted before it’s applied to the soil.
“I’d never farmed before, but it’s always been something I wanted to do. It seemed like this mystical practice, almost like witchcraft, but once I got here and got introduced to Diane, it just took off. We have great chemistry and have so much fun working together.”
"We’ve had hard years, but you just have to pick up and move on. It’s funny because I’ve had a lot of professional careers, but I finally came full circle and realized that I’m the happiest shoveling manure in the barn! I still love to do other things but this is where my heart is."