Shepherding Their Resources
By Eric Pelnik
Growing up as an Army brat, John Burleson was always on the move.
His father, who eventually rose to the rank of general, moved the family of two boys and their mom about 10 times. John lived in Texas, Illinois and even Germany. Constantly changing locations, John was never able to have a pet or a garden.
This might explain why in 1996, six years after graduating from Virginia Military Institute, John and his wife Sarah bought a farm that dates back to before 1800.
With this hilly 15-acre farm in the Kerrs Creek area, he finally had time in one place. There was time to form a relationship with not just the animals and nature, but also with a traditional home place.
Photos: Eric Pelnik
When they purchased the property it was called Lavender Hill Farm. For the sake of marketing, the Burlesons kept the name. It is on this farm that the Burlesons began to pursue a traditional rustic lifestyle.
Today at Lavender Hill, they grow various edible plants, from figs to lettuce. They also care for sheep, chickens, quail and a few other species, such as a dog and a donkey.
Although both enjoy the lifestyle, John needs to take on a non-farm job to support the family. His main income is from his job as an independent contractor for wastewater engineering. Sarah manages the books for all of their sources of income, including John’s engineering work. John and Sarah also manage their home as a Bed & Breakfast, as it was used when they bought it. With the B&B, engineering job, and the selling of lamb, eggs, and quail directly to customers they know, the family keeps the little farm alive.