Alumna lives homestead lifestyle

As the sun inches up the skyline, the cows are ready for milking, the wood stove is being fired, and sourdough muffins are rising in the oven –  all before 6:45 AM.

Decatur alumna Ashley Browning, her husband and two kids perform these tasks together everyday. They generate their own heat, build shelters for their farm animals, and preserve their own food.

 They live a homestead lifestyle, which encompasses not only farming their own food, but relying on themselves and the land around them.

Browning describes homesteading as “a life centered around the home and the land it sits on.”

Browning was raised in the city of Decatur and played soccer for the high school. Soccer coach Stephan Gathany remembers her as “outdoorsy”and environmentally conscious.

“I remember gardening at her house more than mine,” Gathany said.

After graduating, Browning attended University of Georgia but left to work for Southeastern Expeditions, a rafting company. She then moved to Montana, attended  Montana State University in Bozeman and received a BSN in nursing. There she met her husband, paramedic Shannon Browning.

Soon after the Brownings began chopping firewood, maintaining a garden, and caring for livestock to keep their household up and running.

“There is no better feeling at the end of the day knowing that you provided for yourself.” Browning said.

Keeping her farm of 25 laying hens, 55 meat chickens, and a milking cow named Tilly up and running is a time-consuming task. With most of her time going to the farm she misses out on movies, museums, and dinner with friends.

“[But] really, what is the most important thing in life? Family. And we love to spend time together,” Browning said.

One of the main reasons the Brownings decided to homestead was Browning’s desire to teach her two daughters, Violet and Savannah, how much work goes into maintaining a healthy household.

“Not just the ease of paying $5 for a good loaf of bread. What went into making that? And once you know, you can truly appreciate it,” Browning said.

“We all help out here. It’s a family thing. We are all in this together,” Browning said.