Many residents grew up on farms as well, Becky Shannon said, and the chickens have turned out to be a form of occupational therapy. Everyone also feasts on the garden's bounty through the summer.
Inside, Christmas decorations glint in the sunshine, and the decor suggests “home” rather than “facility.” Framed jigsaw puzzles hang framed in the hallway leading to residents' rooms. The Shannons breed and raise Norwegian elkhounds, gentle fur balls who sometimes pad through the house eliciting oohs and aahs.
Visitors, family and otherwise, are always welcome, and about 22 people crowded around the table at Thanksgiving, Becky Shannon said.
Only a few clues suggest that there's something more: the day's date printed clearly on a white board mounted in the entryway, a fire escape map hanging near the puzzles in the hallway, the occasional uniformed worker gliding through.
Potential residents often find their way to Green Acres through word-of-mouth — case workers, home health workers and others have sent people their way over the years.
“I love it,” said Bob Simmers, who moved in almost two months ago. “I wouldn't have it any other way.”
“He fits in,” piped up Verna Schrameck, drawing laughs.
Schrameck comes in every day with her daughter-in-law Lisa Schrameck, who is Green Acres' manager, so the older woman doesn't have to spend the day alone. The structured schedule helps out even a visitor, Verna Schrameck said.
“When I'm not here, I get my days mixed up, and I have a tough time realizing what day is what,” she said.
The grounds are surrounded by a fence, secured with coded gates. The Shannons live there, upstairs in a studio apartment Becky Shannon has dubbed the “escape hatch.” Out back Cody Shannon has his own escape hatch, a huge shop where he restores cars and creates woodworks. A lot beyond provides space for the garden and an occasional bon fire. Cody Shannon said he is thinking of converting one building out there into a greenhouse.
There also has been talk of buying goats as well, Becky Shannon said, but there's no consensus on how to keep them contained.
Meanwhile, she's in the home stretch at nursing school, scheduled to graduate as a registered nurse on Thursday.
Giving up everything wasn't an easy decision, but it's not one she regrets.
“I don't know if it's the American dream,” she said, looking around the backyard. “But it's my idea of the American dream.”
For more information on Green Acres Residential Care, call 745-7735.