At the crossroads
By Russ Bray

Dunbar, one of Lyra and Charles Miller's geldings, savors a peppermint as the sun rises over their Rosecrest Farm in Bourbon County. In addition to raising and racing thoroughbreds, the couple operates a bed and breakfast on the farm and Lil's Coffee House at the corner of Main and Seventh streets in Paris.

As the sun sets over Rosecrest Farm, Lyra Miller, 67, kisses one of her yearlings and says, "We don't know your name yet, but you're gonna be a winner."

As owner of Lil's Coffee House and co-owner of Rosecrest Farm with her husband, Charles Miller, 79, Lyra finds herself busy from morning to night.

Lyra starts her days early, catching the sunrise while cooking, either at Lil’s or at the Guesthouse at Rosecrest Farm, the B&B she runs on the farm’s property. Everything she makes stems from recipes she would use at home, from strawberry crepes to her seasonal tomato pie.

Her reason for opening the cafe was simple: "No one else was serving coffee in downtown before 11 a.m.” So in 2011, she rented the old soda fountain counter in the former J. J. Newberry Co, a five and dime store on Main Street.

She was stuck for a name for the business until Charles suggested Lil’s. Lil was the name of Lyra’s mother. Now her name lives on through the coffee house. Regulars and new customers alike often call Lyra "Lil".

Lyra and Charles moved to Paris from Cincinnati in 2005 after looking in the Lexington area for land for a horse farm. When they found Paris, they both knew it was the place they were meant to be and secured 150 acres just a few minutes outside of Paris.

They began as breeders, focusing on broodmares. They first raced one of their own horses in 2008. The most notable horse from Rosecrest - so far - is Goldencents, who won more than $3 million in earnings.

For Lyra and Charles, their horses are more than an income – they are family members. One is Sweet Halory, a filly they bought in 2015 and sold as a yearling. In a blog post on the Rosecrest website, Lyra describes her struggle to sell the horse: “So this morning I fed Sweet Halory a few mints, kissed her nose and said goodbye.” Now Sweet Halory is back home at Rosecrest as a broodmare.

The way Lyra treats the family she's built in Paris is why a favorite horse is named Good Time Wilson. On the day of the funeral for close friend Louise Rodes Wilson Alverson, a foal was born at Rosecrest. Lyra and some members of Louise's family watched the colt being born and saw him walk within 10 minutes.

He went straight to the stall door from where everyone was watching. “This is Louise born again,” Lyra recalls saying as she watched him. When choosing the rest of the name, there was no question what it would be. Lyra says every time she and Louise, whose maiden name was Wilson, attended a race together, Louise would say, “Aren’t we having a good time?” Good Time Wilson had his name.

While leading a tour of Rosecrest Farm for guests at the B&B, Lyra drives the golf cart and talks about the history of the farm and region.

Lyra kisses Madaket Sunset's unnamed son, known as Sunny around the farm. Before this kiss, Sunny threw his food pan out of his paddock, a game he plays with Lyra daily to make her throw it back.

The early morning sun illuminates the B&B on Rosecrest Farm.

Before the sun is up, Lyra finishes making strawberry crepes for her guests at the B&B. She asks every guest to send her any allergies, preferences and diets to make sure the meals she makes fit everyone's needs.

Dusty Doulin, 31, leads a yearling into its stall for a bi-weekly checkup. Charles and Dusty brought the horses from the paddock to check for any medical problems or concerns to ensure they will be ready for a racing career in the future.

Lil's Coffee House sells a variety of dishes, including several different kinds of quiches Lyra prepares in the morning.

As Halloween draws near, Lyra kneads cookie dough and cuts it into Halloween shapes. After Lyra prepared and baked the cookies, her sisters Linda Danko, 80, and Lois Fricke, 75, decorated the cookies. Her sisters moved to Paris years after Lyra to be near family as they grow older. They help in the shop whenever they can.

Lyra helps prepare meals and coffee at the counter with Trinity Taylor, 19, while Lisa Devary, 59, attends to customers. Lyra runs back and forth between the kitchen and the front of the diner, ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Phone orders and several customers at tables and the counter keep Lyra, her employees and her sisters busy.

"You want a good photo?" Lois asks as she grabs Lyra and shakes her playfully.