Couple sells farm, heads for resort country

It's hard moving from family, friends

Associated Press

HARLAN, Iowa -- They're moving on up to the north side because they finally got a piece of the pie.

Wade and Hollie Mills are selling the family farm in Harlan and buying lock, stock and barrel into Sand Bay Resort in scenic Battle Lake, Minn., 362 miles from home.

The couple, now both 40, decided about four years ago that it was time for a change of pace, said Hollie about moving to west central Minnesota.


"I'm just ready for a change," Hollie said. "When you've been farming for 20 years, you're ready to do something different. We've been going up with the kids every summer for some 16 years at different resorts. We just kept going back."

Wade said that when he and Hollie were thinking of different ways to change their lives, they both thought the idea of owning and operating a resort would be perfect.

Always farming

Wade cannot remember a time when he was not farming in some fashion.

"When I started scooping eggs out of the carton, I couldn't have been very big," said Wade of his earliest farming memories. "I grew up on a farm and have been a farmer all my life."

Bitterness is not part of the equation for Wade. He said he isn't giving up farming because he hates it; it's just time to try something else.

"At 40, we're both at a perfect stage for making changes," he said. "This isn't retirement, there's no retirement in the resort business."

Resort life is not just a fun summertime vacation activity for Wade, Hollie and their three sons, Cody, 18, Casey, 16 and Kyle, 14. It is also a good match for Wade's outgoing personality, according to Wade.


"The personality of the host and hostess IS the resort," Wade said. "We think we have the personality people are looking for. What we've seen is needed in resorts, we plan to give them: Hospitality, comfort and good times."

New adventure

The Mills' new life is an adventure waiting to happen. Even the kids are excited about the move. But the move does not come completely without a price.

As Wade has spent the last few weeks cleaning up the last of his farm, it has begun to sink in that no matter how old you are when you leave the place you have called home most of your life, it still stings a bit.

"This is the last of a 20-year era for me and my family. We only owned the 10 acres we lived on and sold that off for the down payment. We sold off all of our farm equipment. All of our family is here. We live a half mile from our parents and grandparents. My brothers and sisters are all within 10 miles. It's gonna be different," Wade said.

"It was easy to make the decision, but it's actually hard to go."

Wade and Hollie will have plenty to keep them busy. They have not traded one hard life for an easier one. They may not have fields of corn to harvest any more or livestock to tend to, but they do have 14 cabins on Battle Lake and customers to take care of.

For now, the change of pace will do them good, and both said they hope folks from Iowa will come up for a taste of Sand Bay Resort life next summer.

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