The daughters of Destry and Shannon Burnett learn everything they need to know from the farmThe Burnetts live way out in the hills of Madison County even though their postal address is Winslow, Ark. Destry and Shannon Burnett homeschool their daughters: Sagely, 11, Sierra, 10 and the youngest Sicily is 5. Shannon and her three daughters consider themselves the four “s’s.”
Shannon said, “I look at homeschooling as my job. I try to use my background in FFA and livestock judging to keep it interesting in, and many times out of, the classroom. You can turn almost anything into a learning experience. Whether I’m trying a new recipe, gardening or going out to AI cattle our girls are there helping. They truly get a hands-on education.”
Destry grew up on top of the Bobby Hopper tunnel with two brothers and a sister. His childhood taught self-reliance, farming and a love of hunting. Destry quipped, “We raised cattle and rocks, and in eighth grade I was still hauling water out of the well in five gallon buckets.”
Shannon was raised in a home she can see from her new house. In fact, some of the land she and Destry now own they bought from Shannon’s father.
The couples crossed paths once before their first date, a blind date. When her mom had a wreck in Fayetteville, Ark., in her dad’s truck. While Shannon was sitting on a rail waiting, Destry was delivering mail and greeted her as he walked by. The blind date, however, was arranged by two of their brothers who knew each other. Everybody sang gospel, and their brothers suggested a date. Destry and Shannon went to see Grumpier Old Men and thus began their lives together.
The family goal is to be more self-sufficient. Destry said, “Most kids don’t have a clue where stuff comes from, and being self-sufficient saves money.” To support that concept, the Burnetts have a variety of animals as well as a garden. They have a cattle herd of 130 momma cows and six bulls, four of which they have raised as well as chickens, goats, a turkey, a dairy cow and four horses plus the usual cats and dogs. They also supplement their diet with venison, which Sagely fries up for the family.
Each girl has a favorite animal. Sierra said, “I love milking the cow,” while Sicily explained that she likes the goats bests because they are the easiest to handle. Sagely, on the other hand, is most fond of the calf she is raising. Even though it was her first time showing by herself, Sagely won Championship Heifer for her registered Gelbvieh heifer at the fair this year. Shannon supports the girls with her extensive knowledge of farming and animals, while also serving as the local 4-H leader.
Destry has clearly defined future goals. Once the house is paid off, he wants to decrease the size of his cattle herd and start a hunting lodge. Much of his land is densely wooded and supports an abundance of deer.
While Destry still works for the Post Office in Fayetteville, the girls stay home, do chores, complete the day’s schoolwork and enjoy the freedom of their lives. The family is happy in the isolated hills, enjoying what many others can only dream of.


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