Pair of empty-nesters find peace outside hectic city life

By By Rita LeBleu / American Press

When Ken and Karyn Corkran of Sulphur,

La. starting getting close to retirement age, like a lot of empty

nesters they found

a patio-style home plan that suited them. The plan was to

downsize. But instead of constructing their 1,850-square-foot home

on the typical zero line lot, they did what many might consider to

be a complete turnaround. They’re “city slickers who have

“gone country,” which is how Ken puts it. His description is

perfect for this family’s story of leaving the subdivision lifestyle

behind for 40 acres in Beauregard parish.

Ken is a LaGrange graduate who made his

career in the design and building industry. The house that the Corkrans

live in now

is their sixth. He subcontracted each one of their former homes

and built a few custom homes to flip as well, while working

at C. Gayle Zembower, Architect, Inc. in Lake Charles for 37


“We’ve got sawdust in our veins,” he

said. Karyn (Woolman) is from Sulphur, a teacher, who worked in the

classroom and in

administrative positions. They’re both retired now – at least from

those jobs. (Ken suggests “re-fired” instead. Like “Gone

Country,” it also fits.)

The two got to know each other “through a church newsletter mailing,” and began writing letters back and forth when he was

in Europe during the Vietnam era. When he returned they were married in 1971. That was 43 years ago.

After the Corkran’s two children, Jason

and Amanda, left home to begin their own homes and families, Ken and

Karyn thought

they might look for a few acres out of town. “We chased listings

and rumors for a little while,” he said. We wanted a place

that we could run, but wouldn’t run us.”

Hurricane Rita put a hiatus on that

plan. Ken had his hands full sub-drafting for several architectural

firms during the rebuilding

of Southwest Louisiana. Before the Corkrans knew it, two years had

passed and Karyn would be retiring soon. They didn’t think

any more about country living. Instead they pre-selected their

patio-home style lot in Sulphur to build on.

But right before time to build, Ken saw a listing that piqued his interest. It was for a mobile home and at the bottom of

the ad, in small print, was the following: “Includes 40 acres.” They thought the price might be a misprint, but Ken called


The location was ten miles north of Longville and ten miles south of DeRidder. The price was no misprint. “We beelined it

over here quick, Ken said.

The mobile home and land was “in the

middle of Mennonite Country. A creek cut through the slightly wooded

area. There was

a pond, a rolling hay field and an old shed of a barn. I even saw a

wild turkey,” Ken said. “I had looked at a piece of property

in DeQuincy and was disappointed when the owner changed his mind

about selling it. When I saw this, it felt like a huge blessing

from the Lord. He had something even better for us.”

The Corkrans purchased the property and

moved in three days. Stuffed into one of the loads was a decorated

Christmas tree

that they moved all in one piece. It was Dec. 2007. It snowed

their first winter, a Southwest Louisiana rare occurrence. Ken

said he looked out at his “retirement” BMW convertible sitting in

the middle of the pasture, covered with snow and just laughed.

He traded it in for a tractor the next week. One morning he

looked out the window and remarked to his wife that he didn’t

recall buying the deer statue in the yard. It wasn’t a statue.

When they decided to walk their property, they discovered that

it took longer than they thought. “For you city folks, 40 acres is

a quarter mile square,” Ken pointed out.

Everything changes when you move to the

country, according to the Corkrans. Their apparel changed. They added

boots of course.

And Karyn organized her shopping in a way to cut down on the spur

of the moment grocery runs that were easy to make when she

lived in Sulphur. She also took up hand piecing and quilting,

something she’d always wanted to do. In fact she dug out a pattern

she’d had for 20 years. “I’m not much of a TV watcher. I have to

be doing something,” she said. She made jelly one year but

the Corkran’s didn’t take up gardening. “There are only so many

hours in a day,” Ken offered.

“It even smells different here,” Karyn

said. They don’t seem to be as bothered by allergies and they were both

surprised by

how quiet it is. As far as restaurants are concerned, they say

that they have discovered two steak places in DeRidder that

are, to them, better than any other steak place at which they’ve

ever eaten in any city, and a gift store that sells different

coffees and other gift items.

The first three years in their new environment, they spent cleaning up the property, reshaping the landscape, refencing the

acreage, cross fencing, restoring an old barn and building a new one. “He wanted to keep the old barn and he couldn’t live

with one that was leaning, so he fixed it, painted it…. He’s OCD,” Karyn said about her husband, Ken.

When it came time for them to start building, Karyn was a tremendous help. The house was built in 100 days.

Highlights of the design and decoration

include the three large unadorned windows in the living area that are

duplicated in

the master suite. The windows have a view of pasture land that

seems to go on forever. There is no need for light in the early

morning hours in the beautiful country kitchen. One of the many

antiques in the home includes a rocker from Karyn’s side of

the family, over 100 years old. Three antique folding church pew

chairs front the stone fireplace. “We can use those around

the dinner table when we need to,” Ken pointed out.

At the entrance is a clock that he explains is a landing or granddaughter clock. (Grandmother and granddaughter clocks are

shorter than grandfather styles and can be used in landings and other space restricted locations.)

Built-in china cabinets hold pink

depression glass that’s gone from a couple of dollars for a goblet when

Karyn started collecting

it right after she and Ken married, to $55 dollars a goblet today,

according to Karyn.

Engineered, hand-scraped wood flooring, exposed interior brick, tray ceilings, real wood walls in some places and a mahogany

wood ceiling in the hallway are a few other highlights of the home.

The Corkrans remain committed to making this new place where they’re thoroughly planted, “home.” They have found a dentist.

They’re in the process of finding a doctor, and they found a new church home.

They also started cattle farming and

have grown from three head of cows and a borrowed bull to over 20 head

(which are all

named) along with their own registered bulls. Ken scoffs at the

term “hobby farming.” “This is the real deal,” he said. Cow

manure, catch pens, and coyotes are a way of life for the


“We work our cows with a golf cart, a

bucket of cubes, a border collie named “Lucy” and a house-trained

schnauzer named “Sophie”

that thinks she’s a cow dog. When calves reach the 180-day mark

you pick up the phone and call U.P.S. to get them to the sale

barn. Three days later the check is in the mail. OK. It’s not

really U.P.S.,” he said, chuckling. “But it’s close.”

Taking care of the cattle, keeping up the equipment, haying and cutting the grass (which can take a couple of days) may not

be the peaceful rural existence at the slow pace the Corkrans imagined.

But Ken and Karyn think what they have

is even better. They have been on the property for six years. “We have a

few aches

and pains, but we declare that God is good. We have re-established

our ministry, our purpose and our goals. We live a rewarding

life directed by God, abundantly full of his many blessings,” Ken


For Ken and Karyn these include the

view of a star-sprinkled night they never noticed in the city, the sound

of the wind rippling

through the pines, fishing at their own door step and watching

eagles soar high overhead. At the end of the day they sit on

their porch and discuss the day as they watch the sun go down on

the house that they have made into their home.