Love, Life, and Purpose Down On The Farm
Categories: Life Stories
The story of how landscape designer Connie Cunningham became a farmer and then opened a bed and breakfast has more twists and turns than a bumpy country road — but the telling reveals how love of home breeds perseverance and passion.
It begins with her mother, Patty Cunningham, a widow who raised her three children (Connie, Chris and Bob) in St. Louis by painting large murals in commercial buildings. For years Patty longed to return to the Ozark Mountains where she grew up. After she retired, she discovered a lovely 80-acre spread in a small valley outside of Morrison, Missouri (population 123), and settled down on it to raise hay and fix up its dilapidated cottage. But then her life — and the lives of her family — changed dramatically.Photos by Carmen Troesser
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: Connie Cunningham lives in the nearby barn. The house operates as Gosherd Valley Cottage (a gosherd is like a shepherd for geese), a bed and breakfast.
Size: 1,200 square feet (111 square meters); 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Location: Near Morrison, Missouri
After 25 years on the farm, Patty developed Alzheimer’s disease. Connie, who had gone on to found a landscape design business in Chicago, moved back to Missouri to care for her mother. “She wasn’t about to leave her home, and we didn’t want her to have to,” she says. “I thought that living with her would be just a temporary thing.” But when Patty was diagnosed with lung cancer as well, Connie’s short-term situation turned into long-term living arrangements in the barn. And when Patty died, roughly four years after doctors had given her four months to live, Connie found herself with a thriving goose farm (more on that later) and an empty cottage.
WATCH: See more of this working farm and bed and breakfast on Houzz TV now
But before the geese and the cottage, there was the land itself, and the spell it cast on Patty Cunningham.
“While Mom was working in St. Louis, she missed farm life and a connection with the land terribly,” says Connie. “It became her big goal to go back to the Ozarks.”
When Patty bought this land, she knew it was special. “She decided this was the place she wanted to live the rest of her life. She thought it felt magical,” says Connie.