Three and a half years ago Ken and Penny Varble were living within city limits in Lawrenceburg when they began to run out of space in their home after they had grown their family by three.
They decided to do respite for the foster care system, but ended up adopting three boys.
“The three boys were 18, 13 and 5, and we were thinking we needed a bigger place and I wanted to be back out in the country,” Ken said.
They had mainly been looking in Anderson County, until Penny’s father told her about a property for sale in Franklin County off of Bald Knob Road. Kenneth, who serves in the Kentucky National Guard, couldn’t go with Penny to look at the property so she went with her father.
“She went with her dad and she called and said, ‘Ken this is the place — it’s everything we ever dreamed of,’” Ken said.
Penny and Ken’s home sits on 11 acres of land on a private drive off Bald Knob Road. As you arrive on their property, you cross a bridge over a slow trickling creek, which can become a roaring river after enough rain. As you turn onto the drive that goes up to their home, you pass a copper sign that says “Outskirts of Heaven.”
“It feels like a vacation home,” Penny said. “If we had to pick anywhere to live, you can’t get much better than this. The view is so pretty.”
A porch stretches the length of the house and welcomes visitors with wooden rocking chairs and a swing, and an expansive view of the rolling hills in Bald Knob.
The home is 2,400 square feet with a split floor plan. The first floor master bedroom is on one side of the house while two other bedrooms and a bathroom are on the other. One of the bedrooms is their 9-year-old son, Alex’s room. Downstairs is a small living room and a large bedroom and a bathroom, which is shared by the two older boys, Matthew, 22, and Chance, 18.
The upstairs living area is an open concept. A beautiful fieldstone fireplace is the centerpiece of the living room. The Varbles have a large farmhouse style dining room table to accommodate the five of them and their older daughter, Kaitlyn Burrus and grandson, Kenneth “Drew” Lee Burrus IV, 2.
Their kitchen is large with a U-shaped countertop that offers plenty of prep space.
Off the back of the house is another porch that offers a beautiful view of the woods. They eat many of their meals on the back porch at a patio table and chairs or a picnic table.
“When we first moved here, we ate every supper on the back porch,” Ken said. “We probably didn’t watch TV for the first three months we moved here.
“I would get home and we’d just come home and enjoy this beautiful place.”
The Varbles have registered their homestead with Kentucky Proud and they grow their own vegetables and have chickens for eggs. Kenneth designed and built an 8-foot by 24-foot chicken coop with a run that houses their 30 chickens.
Ken spent two years drafting the coop on Sketchup.com and then built it for about $2,500.
“They’ll produce enough eggs for us and for us to make a profit,” Ken said.
They eventually plan to sell the eggs at the Franklin County Farmers Market, along with other products in the works. Penny and Ken plan to purchase honeybees, so they can produce their own mead wine. Penny also makes body sugar scrubs.
“If I had to be quarantined for two months, I don’t care,” Penny said. “There’s plenty to do here.”
Ken and Penny also hunt on their property. Ken killed a deer the first year they moved there. Penny killed her first ever doe last year while Ken was deployed with the Kentucky National Guard.
“I grew up in Arkansas and I enjoy the outdoors,” Penny said. “I used to want to go back to Arkansas, but this is my home now.”
The Varbles are very active at their church, North Frankfort Baptist, and credit God with everything they have in their life.
“I feel like when you’re obedient to God, that he is going to bless you,” Penny said. “I truly believe that God gave us this home because we answered the call to adopt these kids.”