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Isaac Medley straps on his thigh-high waders in preparation for frog gigging on the muddy banks of this family's farm pond. Hunter and Scout play in the foreground. Isaac and his brother, Luke, who love the outdoors, are thriving in their rural location.

Living a Dream Boyhood

story by Masao Okano

Imagine being a teenage boy who loves hunting, fishing, trapping and mountain biking, but he lives in a suburban neighborhood. Then imagine his happiness on a 61-acre farm with wild turkey and deer, ponds for fishing and woods for trapping and camping out.

This is the life that the Medley boys – Isaac, 15, and Luke, 13 – now live, thanks to their parents' hard work and sacrifice.

Lalah Medley, 44, an art teacher at Lone Oak Middle School, dreamed of moving to a house at the end of a cul-de-sac with an in-ground pool and a Jacuzzi. She and her husband, Kelly, 47,  believe that in the end, God had a different plan for them.

"It's a miracle we're here." says Lalah, reflecting on the last few years and how fortunate they are to have such a special home for their boys.

Lalah is a Paducah native. Kelly, who works at Troutman Signs, a three-generation business of Lalah's family in Paducah, came from Metropolis, Illinois, just across the river from Paducah. In 2013, they purchased the farm in Boaz. It was plagued with neglect and would require a lot of work to fix up, but the couple could envision a stretch of land on which to raise their active, outdoor-loving boys. Lately they added grass-fed cattle as a possible income producer.

Isaac and Luke do many things together. The land and the animals on it offer them endless possibilities. They're learning about the world, interacting with nature and the wild, side by side. They may do it differently, and they may argue along the way, but in the end, they're doing it together.


En route to the pond, Luke fulfills his younger brother's duties by hopping off the cart and opening the gate for Isaac to drive through.


Isaac pets Scout and Hunter on a crisp autumn day. This is a rare moment of quiet with the dogs, who usually are chasing calves or wrestling with each other.


Isaac pulls a railroad spike from his forge. He is making it into a knife. Coal is hard to come by, so he is able to blacksmith only when his uncle brings some to him.


Tigger is safe in Luke's arms after being chased up a tree by his dog, Scout. She was the first kitten born on the Medley farm.


The Medley boys ride through the starry night back to their house after a successful hunt. They bought the Honda Chuck Wagon from someone who couldn't start it. "I just knew we knew we would make it work," says Isaac.


A small herd of grass-fed cattle at Medley Farms confront a parked tractor. Kelly Medley will use a head gate attached to the tractor to give some of the calves their routine immunizations.


For the past three years the Medley family has put exhaustive work into the farm to get it running. Now that it's more self-sustaining, the boys have time to take on other projects. They recently created a pump track for bmx biking. Luke builds up momentum for a jump as he navigates between cow pies on the track.


Luke opens a gate for Isaac to drive their Chuck Wagon through. They're heading into their woods with dogs Hunter and Scout.


Isaac rides in the back of the family pickup as he and Kelly return home after vaccinating and tagging a couple calves. The Medley family is raising grass-fed cattle and preparing for their first slaughter, which will take place next spring.


Kelly, Luke and Isaac (from left) steer two calves toward a pen in order to give them vaccinations. The Medleys had no farming experience prior to purchasing the farm in January 2013. The internet and YouTube have been their greatest learning resources.


The Medley boys scan the banks of the pond for the reflection of their lights in frogs' eyes. Isaac, a freshman in McCracken County High School, is described by younger brother Luke as "non-talkative and adventurous, likes to build things and craft from his own hands." Luke says Isaac, a seventh grader at Lone Oak Middle School, is "nice at times."

28 of 70 stories