Welcome to Butterfly Hill Ranch
Butterfly Hill Ranch is a place of transformation. As you come up our long drive, you’ll leave behind your stress and concerns and begin to enjoy a positive, enriching experience only found in the natural world. Our ranch is a retreat from urban life, a focus on the simpler things in life and the opportunity to enrich your mind and body.
Bruce and Claudia
We are high-tech urbanites from the metropolis of Miami.
Realizing that we wanted more in our lives than concrete, chrome, and glass, we sought out a place where we could get back in touch with nature, grow our own food, raise animals, and live a more peaceful life.
Through our ongoing efforts, Butterfly Hill Ranch has become that place for us. We want to offer this same transformational experience to others.
Ours is a story about two Baby Boomers — a South American from the country of Colombia who is also a civil engineer (Claudia) and a specialist executive in hospital software solutions (Bruce) — who have left the city life to become the owners of Butterfly Hill Ranch on the rolling Cumberland plateau of Middle Tennessee.
Our journey from the good life in Miami to a different life on a farm in a Tennessee County with 19,000 people is a story about risk, hard lessons and the search for a simpler lifestyle we didn’t know existed.
Our fancy lifestyle in Miami included living in a 4,500-square-foot condo, which overlooked the Atlantic ocean, and had valet parking, a doorman and other amenities near beautiful Hallandale Beach north of the city of Miami.
On a trip to Nashville, we discovered we liked the homey feeling, beauty and friendliness of the nearby countryside and thought the area might be nice for a get-a-away vacation home from the big city.
When Bruce stumbled upon the future site of Butterfly Hill Ranch, he knew immediately that it would be more than a vacation home. The site had a rustic house on 80 acres atop the highest point in Smith County, Tennessee. Once Claudia saw Butterfly Hill, it wasn’t hard for her to convince Bruce to abandon the Miami lifestyle for a new life on a Tennessee farm.
Most of our friends couldn’t put us in a farm environment. To them, we seemed like a rerun of the “Green Acres” television show.
We should have known this wouldn’t be easy. The day we moved from Miami it was a beautiful, 85-degree day. We arrived at our new home in January 2010 to find a blowing snowstorm and 18-degree weather.
We weren’t prepared actually to transform from our comfy lifestyle to a simple life, which we quickly learned wasn’t that simple. Along the way, we’ve had surprises, made a few mistakes and learned a lot. We’ve had to learn how to do everything on the farm, sometimes through trial and error and frequently the hard way.
One of our first steps to try to make a living from the farm was to fence in part of the land and buy a cow. We brought home a certified Angus from an auction in nearby Lebanon. We went back and bought another cow.
After research, we discovered Dexter cattle and realized we started with the wrong breed. The Dexter breed was hardy, good-natured, easy to raise, resilient and would thrive on our smaller acreage. We started buying Dexter cattle in 2011 and fell in love with the breed.
- We raise chickens for eggs and for meat. (Killing and plucking chickens surprisingly isn’t hard for Claudia, who saw her aunts do it when she was a child.)
- After it cost us well over $1,000 to refill the propane tank, we bought a wood stove and keep plenty of cut wood nearby.
- We planted an orchard and started an organic garden filled with vegetables and herbs. We now grow 80 percent of our own food. Blackberries grow wild on the farm, and walnut trees provide plenty of nuts. We also raise goats, sheep, and rabbits.
- Claudia vaccinates the cows herself and takes samples to chart each cow’s DNA. This is one of many examples of doing things we never thought of doing before.
- We’ve built a hay barn and a smokehouse, integrated solar power and developed our own natural water systems.
One of the most surprising and best things we’ve learned from our adventure is a new respect for our farming neighbors, who always are willing to teach us and give us a helping hand.
We discovered that we’re still the same people we were when we started. It’s just that we have found new places within ourselves and have pushed our limits to new levels. This journey has been a process of discovery and transformation, but the greatest discovery has been finding ourselves.
At Butterfly Hill Ranch you can:
- Stay for a night, or even longer, in our bed and breakfast suite.
- Enjoy the harvest of our organic garden; learn how to grow your own.
- Play for just a little while with one of our Siberian Husky puppies, and you’ll be taking one home!
- Commune with nature, ride the horses, feed the cows, and cluck with the chickens.