When the Willard family took over an old plot of Central California grassland, they knew they had a lot of work ahead of them. The acreage had been neglected and the farm house that sat on it was in bad condition. But Tamlyn, her husband Scott, and her twin boys had recently driven all the way across the country from their home in Florida in an Airstream, so they were no strangers to committing to adventures. More importantly, they could see the incredible potential that the property held. So they got to work and Wild Run Farm was born.
Today, the farm is a pastoral dreamscape filled with chickens, a vegetable garden, a newly renovated house, an impossibly cute calf named Finn, and plans for even more on the near horizon. We caught up with Tamlyn to chat about functional farmhouse decorating, living out West, and the satisfaction of working hard in a beautiful natural environment.
You have such a beautiful farm and home! Can you talk about where the farm is located and what animals and plants do you raise?
We are on the Central Coast of California just a few miles inland from Monterey/Carmel. It is such a dream to be able to live here. The valley we live in is actually a famous valley known as the Pastures of Heaven thanks to John Steinbeck. He grew up in this area! It is our own little slice of heaven for sure. Our little farm was just begging to be brought to life. When we purchased it last June it was in serious disrepair. No one had ever touched the land! We were shocked because this area is known for having some of the most fertile land. It has been a true joy working the ground and creating our farm.
This last Spring we planted our first round of what will be U-Pick orchard that will be open to the public with almost 300 fruit trees that are all heirloom varieties and organic. Our other big focus will be on large flower fields that will be the backbone of the farm business. We currently have our first field of dahlias growing. And of course, the animals! I want them all and my husband has to rein me in. But we will have alpacas, sheep, goats, and maybe pigs. We currently have our four Highland/Wagyu cows that are pets. They are an actual family: the big mama is Bonnie Mae, and she has her children Tilley, Clover, and of course Finn!
Have you lived on a farm before?
Never! This is all so new to me. I have always been happiest in nature. I am not a city girl by any means, but I have always lived in larger towns. The quiet of living so far removed takes my breath away most days. Maybe it comes with age, but there is something so satisfying about sitting outside or with the windows open as I am right now listening to the sounds of the farm and, as evening comes, watching the night skies in pure darkness. I never knew I could feel this alive.
How did moving across the country come about?
Two years ago I decided that our family needed to spend way more time together because all we did was work! We own our business and while we worked harder than we ever knew possible, I knew were at a breaking point. So I bought an Airstream, loaded them up, and took off across the country. We spent a little over six months roaming about. We were already homeschooling the boys and my husband discovered he could do most of his work remotely. We pushed through that super uncomfortable spot of self discovery. Finding ourselves again and reconnecting in a way I never thought possible. Then the time came for us to turn back around and head back home. That was not happening. I had a taste of living out West again and I was hooked. So my saint of a husband trusted my crazy idea and we moved to California and bought a farm!
How have your twin boys taken to life on the farm?
They are loving it! Unless you ask them to clean the chicken coop. It is so very different from what they are used to but they are nature lovers and explorers. I have found such joy in watching them work side by side with us. This is all new for us, so everyone’s input is taken. The look in their eyes when they see a vegetable grow that they can pick and eat straight from the garden makes this all worth it. But I know how important the balance is. With us so close to the coast beach, trips still happen weekly. Even though the water is so cold they love exploring the tide pools. And hey, that is what wetsuits are for.
Let’s talk about your home. Was it in good shape when you bought it, or did you need to make significant upgrades?
It had the most beautiful bones and the land was everything I had dreamed of. But the home itself was in serious disrepair. We knew we were in for a project. But that is what we love to do, so we rolled up our sleeves and have not stopped! I look back on this last year and I am blown away by how much we have accomplished. Then I look at my dream list and I know we have only touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much possibility! My creativity is in its element out here. Thank goodness my husband understands and supports my wild dreams.
How would you describe your decorating sensibility? What element of putting your stamp on a space is the most satisfying for you?
I love good clean lines that have a bit of texture. Not stuffy but filled with character. A space that is lived in by the people I love. This is my third home renovation and each time I learn so much about what works and how to make a home flow. Find the blocked corners and open them up! Take out that wall. Move a door. Find what works for your family.
Also, it helps to have your home tell a story. I hate matchy matchy but I always run the same color palette throughout the whole house. This house had its own set of challenges and the biggest one was I had to make very fast design decisions. Also, we literally had nothing for the house. Not even a spoon! We had pulled our Airstream into the driveway and all we had what was on us. We still own our home in Florida and have it as a furnished rental, so we used the new home as a clean slate. While that sounds like a dream at first, it quickly becomes a very large task. We still have so many spaces that are not done but will get there.
When we finally moved into the house four days before Thanksgiving and hosted 18 people, nothing was on the walls, beds were barely put together and our first meal cooked was a turkey. We pulled out bread boards, thrifted dinner plates and laughed our way through the craziness! But in that moment I knew this home was exactly what it needed to be.
What’s your favorite part of the house to spend time in?
The kitchen is my domaine. I love what we have done in there. It is functional and beautiful with so many fun little details. I love the mix of modern and farmhouse. The mixes of texture and color. It truly is the hub of the house. But I also love my greenhouse. It is my own personal sanctuary. My husband built it with the kids and we picked each and every piece of wood and window from a local salvage yard. I love to sit in there and work with my baby seedlings. For someone that basically killed every plant I have ever owned, this space makes my heart so happy.
Where do you find design inspiration for your home?
Nature! What is happening outside? What speaks to my mood? I also wanted to push myself a bit with this house, so I brought in bold dark greens, black tiles, totally unconventional floors, and plastered walls. Lots of textures that help bring the feeling of living on a farm inside but with a modern twist.
In one of your posts, you describe yourself as wearing, “a messy bun with muck boots 90% of the time now…” At the same time, you have a beautiful and seemingly pristine home. What’s your secret for managing the mess of a farm while keeping a clean and serene home?
Well first rule of having a farm is your home will never be clean, between dirt, dogs, and children! But I do love an organized home. Clutter does not serve me well. I find I become very emotionally bogged down if I don’t keep the house organized. I am not fanatical but everything has a place or we don’t keep it. And shoes stay outside!
We have to ask… How did you get your calf Finn and how amazing is it to have him in your life?
He is the light of my life! Finn was born here last December to Bonnie Mae and he has been my greatest blessing on the farm. He thinks I am part of the herd. The amount of nicknames a cow could have may be topped out with this boy. I just love all of my cows but Finny is my baby.
Finally, do you ever miss Florida? If given a second chance, would you do this all again?
I miss my friends, and I know I am supposed to say I miss my home there, but my soul is so happy playing in the dirt and living the best version of my life out here in the California sunshine. Life is strange. But if we intentionally listen to the little voice soon it becomes so loud you cannot ignore what it is saying. So follow a path that seems wild and unknown.
Photography by Andi M. Johnson