Environmentalists Ron and Nancy Bryant gave up their life in Myers Park almost two years ago to move to 170 rural acres in Stanly County. On the property they call 3Eagles Sanctuary, the senior citizens are living in an eco-friendly “round house” complex where they grow much of their food and use solar thermal panels to heat their water. Staff writer Jennifer Rothacker spoke with the Bryants. Their answers have been edited for space.
Q: How is life different at 3 Eagles vs. Myers Park?
Ron: A big thing for me has been learning to coexist with beavers. They started building (a dam) in the wrong place for us … but I invented a little drain system and they haven't been able to figure how to dam it up.
Nancy: Another big difference is of course the serenity of the farm and living on the river. You can't see any human buildings or dwellings from where we are.
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Q: Do you drive each other crazy with such solitude?
Ron: Just occasionally, but when I need my space I go to my barn.
Q: Describe a typical day.
Ron: We try to get up reasonably early when it's still cool. She's doing gardening, I'm doing construction, building extra sections on the house.
Nancy: We have gardens, with an “s:” Ron has built a four-foot high, 50-foot-long raised bed so I can stand and garden. I have everything in it: cauliflower, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, three kinds of peas, turnips and more. In the big garden, we have hills that we created for watermelon and cantaloupe, and winter and summer squash.
Q: Are you truly living off the land?
Nancy: As much as we can. Ron shot a rabbit in the beginning of the week and I cooked that; I shot one and it's in the freezer. Hunters have brought us venison, wild turkeys.
Q: You lease some land to other farmers. Are you making money?
Ron: It pays the taxes on the land.
Q: Is it a full-time job tending the property?
Ron: I wouldn't call it a full-time job, we probably each put in 30 hours per week.
Q: Do you get into civilization often?
Nancy: We're active in our church in Albemarle, do three or four environmental activities. Ron is a mentor/advisor for the new Yadkin Riverkeeper group. The other big thing is we helped start a group, Friends of the Land in Stanly County, to preserve farmland and to promote good land-use planning so we won't get flooded with (growth).
I can get to Food Lion in five minutes, and we have a lot of neighbors along the main road.
Q: Is the physical labor harder than you thought it would be?
Ron: It is strenuous, but that just means I don't have a monthly bill at the Y anymore.
Q: Any regrets?
Ron: I'm just as a happy as a pig in slop out here. The only thing, I'm an hour from my parents, and before I was 15 minutes away.
Nancy: I miss being able to go to concerts and art exhibits. We've just decided we'll go into Charlotte once a week max, on Thursdays. I get to see my daughters and he gets to see his parents.
Q: How long will you live at 3 Eagles?
Nancy: We said we have 20 good years… We've got 18 more years.