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what's lost is found: Jake Keiser found her soul in the hills of north Mississippi.

In 2011, an outsider looking in would have surely thought Jake Keiser was living the life. She was living the city life in Tampa; had a successful career as a publicist for clients in the tech, fashion, and hospitality industries; and was one of those people who seemed to have it all together. But behind her flawless facade sat a real woman that was hurting.

"Over time, I had dealt with a lot of trauma," says Jake, who suffered several miscarriages and hardships. When it came down to it, Jake just wanted to go home. "When the going gets tough, so many of us run home." She asked herself what would make her happy, and she says it's the question that truly set her on a path of change, albeit a question that wrecked her world. She couldn't think of anything that made her happy, but she knew she was longing for simplicity and nature.

When Jake ran home, it was to her new five-acre homestead in Oxford, Daffodil Hill Farms, close to her family. Her stepmother helped her find acreage complete with all the things she had recently discovered she had always needed--fresh air, pecan trees, a pond, hills, and a cozy house with a fireplace.

Jake says here, on her farm in Mississippi, is where she found real, true happiness. Once on her very own blank slate of a farm, Jake started with raising a couple of goats, then chickens, then geese, then quail, then rabbits, then ducks rescued from Pompano Beach, then turkeys. Bees are next. "I've been intimidated and terrified by every new thing I take on," she laughs. "But that was the beauty of it. It was how I began to heal."

"I had this great career, and it was embarrassing to admit that I moved away from it all to be alone," says Jake. There were rumors that I had lost my mind. It was hurtful. But it was true--yeah, I lost my mind, but I found my soul here." "The irony of it all is that I'm not looking at my life now and being shocked about the change," explains Jake. "I'm just seeing what it is that so many people are missing." The land, the air, the livestock, the challenge of farming, have brought her peace. But not only that, she says the people were the unexpected surprise. "In Mississippi, the people have this magic about them. There's a kindness and authenticity you truly can't find elsewhere. I am accepted. I am embraced."

Sharing her story and the journey on her blog, connected Jake to a calling--to help others and help herself. Jake was quickly, and unexpectedly, noticed by Cosmopolitan and People magazines, creating a flurry of publicity. "It was nuts," she remembers. "I was blown away. I realized it had nothing to do with me but had everything to do with the fact that so many of us are dissatisfied, disempowered, hurting, and not knowing where to start to change. My story resonated with people that were craving that change."

Now, a day in the life of Jake Keiser consists of rising with the chickens, feeding her animals, collecting eggs, and writing her new book, which is scheduled to be released in 2020, where she tells her story of hurt, healing, and a change of pace and mindset. And it all started with fresh air and goats on her Mississippi farm.

As of 2017, Daffodil Hill Farms is a Mississippi nonprofit, functioning to teach young and old alike sustainable living practices through farming. During a farm visit, children will marvel at learning the development of animals, living off of the land, and more. One stated goal is to teach others to create "mini-farms" that will meet their needs. "I have a lot of moms and children, school groups, and special needs individuals come here to learn," she says. "I've found my community." Keiser's pride and joy are her Lemon Chiffon Brahma chickens she raises, but her flock is filled with many varieties as well as gorgeous Sebastopol geese and goats.

Through this unconventional journey, from Gucci to a gaggle of goats, Jake has found her calling. "A farm is really like running a daycare," she laughs. Always yearning for motherhood, she now nurtures more than she ever bargained for--and wouldn't have it any other way. "I'm nurturing after all."


Caption: ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: A family of Sebastopol geese wanders near the water. Henri is one of Keiser's Brahma chickens. Keiser gets snuggletime in with Hattie the goat. OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Jake Keiser left her busy corporate life in Tampa to return home to Mississippi and run Daffodil Hill Farms. Now, collecting eggs from her chickens is part of her busy day. Nurturing new life has brought her much happiness. Her gaggle of goats keeps her on her toes.
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Title Annotation:HERITAGE & CULTURE: Culture Center
Author:Wells, Amanda
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Nov 1, 2019
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