Skip to main content

A Love Letter to Slipped Disk Farm

Back to Blog

A Love Letter to Slipped Disk Farm

Written by Anne Knauff, who put a conservation easement on her 28-acre Williamson County property in 2023.

My home at Slipped Disk Farm looks like a regular bungalow from the street. But on the pasture side, the walls are full of large glass doors and windows. The lack of curtains or other coverings over the glass welcomes the beauty and harmony of the outside to the inside. 

The morning starts with the rays of the rising sun hitting the suncatchers and prisms attached to the east screen wall of my bedroom porch. The prisms turn the morning light into rainbows projected onto and moving across the white west wall of my bedroom. I start the day thinking of all the things I’m grateful for. I project each specific prayer of gratitude onto its own little rainbow and watch it move across the wall until it is out of sight. 

Sunrise at Slipped Disk Farm, from Anne Knauff’s camera.

My tenant keeps 40 head of Black Angus cattle on my 30 acres of pasture. He works to improve the breeding stock of the Angus breed. He, and his grandfather before him, have been tenants here for nearly 30 years. When I attend cattlemen’s dinner meetings, I usually am the only vegetarian on site. 

 If I see something amiss, I call him. One morning, I saw a cow rubbing her very pregnant side against a post in the rail fence separating her land from mine. This was something I hadn’t seen before, so I went outside to see what was going on and to decide whether I needed to call my tenant. I no sooner got to the fence when she stood stock still, then had a major contraction that delivered her calf right in front of me! I ran back into my home and watched with binoculars so my presence no longer would feel like a threat to the cow. I had never seen anything like this and was moved to tears. 

Anne Knauff leases her 30 acres of pasture to a tenant aiming to improve the Angus breeding stock.

Sometimes I walk the pastures to check fences, look at all the natural beauty, and see if anything needs attention. 

The wild tom turkey always needs attention! He struts across the pasture, followed by his seven-hen harem. He’ll stop, turn around to make sure all the girls are nearby and watching, then grace them with a big show of his tail feathers. The girls seem very impressed. I mutter “Do you see why I don’t date?!” And we all move along. 

Birds are ever-present. They fly from the treetops and roof tops to the feeders and back. They nest in all the trees around my home. In the spring I put out lint from the dryer and yarn scraps from my studio for extra nest-building material. I love to see empty nests later in the season that include a scrap from me; I like to remember what I made from the yarn when I was using it. 

I no longer grow and can my vegetables; I buy my produce from local trusted gardeners. My raised beds now are full of reseeding flowers (zinnias, cleomes, cosmos) and perennial herbs, all of which pollinators love. All summer the raised beds are in perpetual motion as bees and butterflies visit. 

A “favorite hangout” for pollinators at Slipped Disk farm, according to Anne Knauff.

There are dozens of clusters of perennial canna plants here, all full of bright red flowers. Hummingbirds constantly buzz around them. 

I like to think that the burrow-digging groundhog who lives near the big barn is a relative of Punxatawnie Phil. He’s always busy, always moving at his top speed. He looks like a fur-covered water balloon, every part of him jiggling as he runs from one place to another. 

Chipmunks can be seen running from place to place here, their tails always sticking straight up in the air like reversed rudders. I always wonder if they carry their tails that way to keep from going way too fast. 

There is always something wonderful to see at night here where there is no light pollution. I was amazed when city friends told me they were going on a guided tour “out west” to get a clear view of the night sky! I often go out on my big back deck before I go to bed, just to take one last look at yet another beautiful aspect of life here. I can’t get over the display of twinkling stars in the dark night sky. Sometimes the moon looks like a rounded sliver. Sometimes it is full and so bright I will get up just to make sure I didn’t leave a light on somewhere. I can see the tree outline nearly 1/4 mile away at the east end of my Farm by the light of the full moon. Sometimes the lightning shows are spectacular. A recent meteor shower was breathtaking.

Spring cherry blossoms outside the potting shed.

Nothing ever goes to waste at Slipped Disk Farm. Food scraps go to the raccoons or into the compost bin. There is a 300-gallon cistern near the raised beds. Rainwater from the pastures and from the picnic pavilion roof flows through drains and gutters into the cistern. An old-fashioned red iron hand-pump brings the water up to hydrate all the plants. Any fallen deciduous tree becomes firewood. Downed branches become kindling or are chipped into mulch. Tubes from bathroom tissue and paper towels become firestarters once they are filled with fatwood and reed scraps from the baskets I make, and then wrapped in recycled gift tissue paper. If anything is here that isn’t used or loved, it is donated to someone who needs it. 

Everything that is planted here offers something of beauty and interest sometime during the year. There are beautiful spring and summer flowers on some bushes and trees. Some offer brilliant autumn color. A few show off their corkscrew branches when the leaves are shed for winter. Louise Penny is a favorite author of a series of books set in the fictional Quebec village of Three Pines. The author explained in her newsletter that, when refugees fled world wars in Europe, seeking peace, shelter, and safety in Canada, they knew they were welcome when they came to a village where three pines had been planted in the square. When a 40-foot pine tree here was uprooted in a big storm last spring, it crushed all the small trees and bushes in its crash path. Recently part of the empty space was planted with three silvery-green pine trees to mark Slipped Disk Farm as my own place of peace and refuge.

View from Anne’s back porch in autumn. Nandina berries, dogwood burgundy leaves, and purple asters.

This feels like my own Heaven on Earth, each thing used and reused until it has nothing else to contribute. Everything in harmony. Plenty of room for everything. 

But what if Slipped Disk Farm land got sold off for what some think is its “highest and best use”; namely, a subdivision?

First, the cattle would have to be removed from the land. We can’t have them “enriching” the soil of a subdivision the way they do! 

And then there would be YEARS of construction noise as the natural lay of the land would be altered to cram as many houses on this 30 acres as possible. And then the bulldozers and saws and hammers would start shoving and cutting and pounding everything into compliance with and submission to a builder’s plan to maximize profits. 

Those houses, all built east of my home, would block the rising sun, ending the rainbow/gratitude ritual of the mornings. 

Sunset at Slipped Disk Farm.

If I went onto my back deck in my nightshirt to stargaze for just a moment before bed, the subdivision dwellers no doubt would call 911 to report that “that woman” was out on her porch in her nightshirt again. Privacy would be a thing of the past. Doors would have to be bolted, and everything locked up to deter theft or nosing around by curious strangers. 

The ponds would have been drained and filled with soil to keep mosquitos away and make room for more houses. The geese would have to fly somewhere else for their water access and socializing. 

The subdivision noise and light would scare all the birds and creatures away. 

Irises at Slipped Disk Farm.

The chipmunks would be declared “vermin rodents,” and exterminators called in to poison them. 

And speaking of poison, think what all those lawn chemicals, concrete cleaners, car exhausts, and household trash items would do to this precious pristine land. 

What happens when the soil is suffocated by layers of cement? What happens to rainwater when run-off encounters a contrived contour? 

A barn built in 1969 at Slipped Disk Farm.

So, that is why Slipped Disk Farm now is protected against residential development in perpetuity. A soil survey done after World War II shows that 90% of the soil here is prime agricultural soil. It will stay that way. The Land Trust for Tennessee declared that Slipped Disk Farm is a sanctuary for a full array of Tennessee wildlife. It will stay that way. The closing on the conservation easement to be enforced by the Land Trust was held on June 28, 2023. 

From left: Anne Knauff and The Land Trust for Tennessee staff at the closing of her conservation easement at Slipped Disk farm.

Ten years ago, in 2014, I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. At the time, only 2% of those of us with that diagnosis survived two years. Here I am, ten years later, feeling better, stronger, more peaceful, and happier than I ever have been in my long life. My doctors have declared me “cured”; one of my surgeons called me a “miracle.” All of us with this diagnosis who are strong enough to endure treatment go through a huge surgery, are saturated with chemotherapy, and zapped with radiation. And still 98% of us die within two years. 

What is my secret? How did I survive? I think my survival secret is Slipped Disk Farm. I live here in peace, in harmony with God’s other creatures, with quiet natural beauty everywhere I look, where nothing goes to waste. 

Summer blooms on the walkway to The Cabin at Slipped Disk Farm.

I owe Slipped Disk Farm the life-saving protection it gave to me. 

Rest well, My Home.

There will be no subdivision built on you.