“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…”
Or where you are.
The beauty of the night sky was greatly diminished in Andy and Amanda Hopper’s Denton neighborhood, and when they began looking for “a place in the country,” stargazing was a priority.
“I’m sure the guy thought we were crazy,” Amanda said of asking the property owner if they could visit the 10-acre tract at night.
“We can’t see the stars where we live, and we want to see if we can see the stars,” she told him.
The Hoppers moved into their rural Decatur home in September, but they were one of many families who moved to the area during the last decade seeking refuge from the Metroplex and hoping for a quieter lifestyle.
According to 2010 U.S. Census numbers, the Decatur area grew at almost the same pace as Wise County as a whole – 21 percent.
In 2000, the population of Decatur and the surrounding area was 13,377 and in 2010, that number jumped to 16,176.
“I’ve always wanted to live in the country, so it was really about getting established enough to get land and build a house,” Andy said.
He recalled how his father always had projects for him and his brothers when they were boys, and he wanted to do the same for his sons: Grant, 10, Sam, 8 and Ian, 4.
“I wanted the opportunity for them to do some good, honest work,” he said.
The Hoppers had looked for property in Denton County for about two years when a co-worker of Andy’s told them about Decatur.
The couple loaded up and began driving county roads in search of property. They just happened to see the tiniest “for sale” sign on the property they now own.
The family of five went from a plot in suburbia to country acreage.
“I feel like we’re always playing catch-up with country stuff that we don’t know,” said Amanda.
She said when they first learned of an ag exemption for their property, they realized they only had a week to build fence and purchase some cattle. They wanted to plant a garden, but suddenly realized the window to do so was closing.
“We’re having to learn on the fly,” she said. But Amanda said local people have been very helpful as they’ve transitioned.
“You just call someone, and they try to help you,” she said.
The entire family has enjoyed the peacefulness and quiet of their new home, and they say they don’t miss living in the city.
The boys have enjoyed roaming the family’s acreage, and Sam said one of his favorite things about living here is “not being bugged by so many people.”
Grant’s favorite thing about their farm is the peacefulness and what little Ian enjoys most: frogs.
Amanda has documented her family’s transition to country life in a blog “The Funny Farm.” To read more about their adventures, visit http://txfunnyfarm.blogspot.com.