Welcome to Chop Wood Carry Water – a blog that gives voice to stories from the Appalachian foothills to the Gulf of Mexico.

My name is Leigh Watson Healy, and I’m writing to share what I’ve learned from bringing neglected farmland back to life, preserving an 1840 farmhouse and outbuildings, and having amazing conversations with friends, neighbors, and complete strangers about life today and past lives in the Deep South.

I’m also a writer, consultant, and speaker … but more of that shortly.

Giving Voice to Stories You Need to Hear

Way back when, one of many jobs I worked to get myself through graduate school was being a docent (and researcher) for the Atlanta Historical Society’s Tullie Smith House, an 1840 farm house of the plain plantation style typically owned by a small farmer. I became immersed in the hands-on history role and that kindled my fascination with life in the late 18th to early 19th century South.

This experience changed my life in many ways. I learned how to deliver a polished and well-informed tour that forever gave me confidence in my speaking skills and ability to engage the interest of strangers that’s served me well in all my businesses. I hungered to understand the everyday challenges of life in the 19th century, and this drives my fervor for historical and genealogical research.

When we stumbled into buying the remnants of a working farm in Northeastern Alabama with a pre-Civil War dogtrot house, barn, blacksmith shed, and smokehouse, I immediately started this blog. This began as a personal blog where I’ve explored – with my partner John writing sometimes, too – issues of Southern history, architecture, culture, farming – and other peoples’ stories just started finding their way to me ready to be shared.

I’ve learned so much from the experience of exploring past lives in the deep South that it inevitably leads me to meet interesting people with equally inspiring stories. This endeavor now is much about connections, community, and giving voice to their stories. Chop Wood Carry Water and working the land turn out to be as much a spiritual endeavor as physical.

Why Chop Wood Carry Water?

This site is dedicated to helping others learn from stories of struggle, survival, thriving and growing, to sharing these experiences, and to building bridges where there are chasms.

I started Chop Wood Carry Water in 2012 mainly because I wanted to keep a record of what I was learning about transforming hunting acreage into orchards, rescuing rural vernacular architecture, and because I wanted to connect with others who share an interest in American history and culture.

Since then I’ve redesigned the blog to share both stories and images to give both voice and vision to these experiences. If you would like more information on Chop Wood Carry Water please get in touch!