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Constant care

Trauma nurse Angela Williams finds “sanity” in tending to her family’s ninth-generation Whites Creek farm
Story and photos by: Chris Villines 8/26/2019

 

Away from the hectic pace of her job as a trauma nurse at Nashville’s Skyline Medical Center, Angela Williams cares for horses, cattle, and hay fields at her rural Davidson County farm.
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Emergency rooms are no place for the faint of heart, as Angela Williams can attest.

For the past three years, Angela has served as a trauma nurse in the emergency room at Nashville’s Skyline Medical Center. It’s a regular reminder of how fragile life can be.

“We see a lot of car accidents, gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, suicide attempts, bad family situations, and mental breakdowns,” says Angela, who pursued nursing after a career as an international importer/exporter. “This is humanity where the rubber meets the road.”

But, she’s quick to add, she loves what she does.

“I like the feel of the ER, the unexpected,” she explains. “Nurses are the unsung heroes of the entire medical care system.”

Like many hospital nurses, Angela works three consecutive days of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shifts, leaving her ample time to provide care of a completely different sort — for the animals and land at her family’s ninth-generation farm in Whites Creek. The farm dates back to 1787.

Just 10 minutes from downtown Nashville but seemingly a world away, she lives on this picturesque property. Here, she tends to a small herd of Angus and Polled Hereford beef cattle with her trusty border collies, Marshall and Katie, several spotted saddle and paint horses, and fields of square-baled hay.

“This farm is my sanity,” says Angela, a Brentwood native who attended Brentwood Academy and later graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she worked in the ag campus’s meat laboratory. “Both of my parents [Allen and Laurale Williams] grew up on dairy farms, and my grandmother lived here. When she passed away, I originally thought this would be a great place just to keep my horses, but the more I came here the more I could see the work that needed doing. I kind of backed into it about 10 years ago, but I really like it.”

In the spirit of this tight-knit agricultural community once known as “Little Switzerland” for its proliferation of dairies — over 40 used to operate in the area, including one owned by Angela’s grandparents, Mark Sloan Williams and wife Ella Connell — she credits her neighbors for always being willing to help with the “continual learning process” on the farm.

“You can’t do it by yourself,” she stresses. “When something breaks down, I call our local welder who can fix anything. If I need more information about my cows, I call a neighbor who raises cattle and helps me with my hay. He’s the one who suggested we start square-baling, and we’ve built a niche market for horse owners in this area. We’re kind of like the ‘Dollar General’ of square bales — we’re not a huge operation, but we have what you need when you need it!”

Angela says another convenient source of helpful advice, as well as products for the farm, is Davidson Farmers Cooperative, where she purchases, among other items, Co-op 12% Pelleted Beef Feed (#94440) and Co-op Pinnacle 1400 Horse Feed (#321).

“I’m at the Co-op quite a bit,” she says. “I’m always asking things like ‘Do you have any medicine for this?’ ‘What are you supposed to do if [your animals] have that?’ Several times, they’ve called the vet for me. They’re good neighbors to have.”

As she’s broadened her knowledge on the farm, Angela has also become a historian of the area where she resides and a proponent of keeping Whites Creek agrarian-centric.

“[It] was founded in 1779 and is named for Zachariah White, a teacher in the John Donelson party that founded Nashville,” she explains. “This area is huge for Davidson County because we are the watershed for the county — our value to the community is clean water. And I think it’s also significant that we’re a source of tranquility from the chaos of city life only a few miles away. You can ride through here and your blood pressure goes down.”

The respite that Angela’s rural life provides will take on even more importance in the coming months as she embarks on a new educational journey. She has been accepted into Vanderbilt University, where she’ll pursue her nurse practitioner’s license.

“God has called me to be an emergency nurse practitioner,” she says. “It’s crazy and exciting all at the same time. My neighbors are thrilled for me, too, because they know I’ll make house calls!”

 
 
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