In 2016, Emilee and Brandon Kennedy purchased a 1990s farmhouse on the outskirts of Tupelo.
The 1,800-square-foot two-story home had a bedroom, bath, kitchen, living area and a large bonus room upstairs – plenty of room for the two of them.
But a month after they bought the home, Emilee found out she was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Noli Mae.
“We had planned on adding on, but that news sped our plans up a good bit,” Brandon said.
In 2017, they added two more bedrooms, a bath and a formal entryway. They replaced exterior composite siding with Hardie board, added a new roof and freshened the outside of the home so the addition looked cohesive.
“We had somebody come in and frame the house, but Brandon did the majority of the work,” Emilee said.
They turned the upstairs bonus area into a multipurpose area. Books line the walls across from a seating area, a small office is tucked under a window, and bunk beds anchor one end of the room.
“The whole time we lived here, we worked on projects around the house,” Emilee said.
In early 2019, Brandon’s family gifted the young family a calf.
“It was a twin,” Emilee said. “A lot of times when twins are born, the mama will reject the first-born and nurse the second one. They didn’t have time to bottle-feed the calf, so they offered it to us.”
That calf is now an 800-pound cow named Daisy. She is joined on the farm by four sheep – Elsa, Ana, Maui and Moana – a donkey named Olaf, and four laying hens.
“Chickens are hard to keep alive,” Emilee said. “At one time we had seven or eight of them.”
“That’s what the donkey is for,” Brandon said. “It keeps predators away.”
As the farm has grown, so has the family. Noli Mae, 4, was joined a couple of years later by sister Ruby, who is 2. Emilee is now pregnant with Rosie, who is due in April.
“One of the things we enjoy about the farm is being able to roam and play and hang out,” Brandon said. “Emilee thought other people might like to enjoy it, too.”
When COVID-19 came on the scene in March 2020, Emilee started talking to friends who lived in downtown Tupelo or in a subdivision with limited outdoor space.
“They wanted a place to run around,” she said. “So we started doing farm nights. I would set up a picnic table and a place to eat, and they would bring their own food.”
The couple named the property Sonny Creek Farm, a nod to Emilee’s grandfather, Sonny, and the two creeks on the land.
Farm nights turned out to be so popular, the couple started renting their outside space for birthday parties, field trips, and wedding and baby showers.
“But it was still our home,” Emilee said. “We still lived in the house.”
That changed in October 2021, when Emilee’s father gave the couple some family land in Mantachie to build on.
“Right now, we’re living with my dad until we decide when and what we want to build,” she said.
“Until we can figure out what our future is going to be,” said Brandon, an electrical engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority.
To earn some income, and because Emilee can’t resist a project, the couple decided to turn Sonny Creek Farm into an airbnb, which Emilee manages.
“You have to rent the whole house,” Emilee said. “A lot of people like the 20 acres of land that comes with it.”
The cost is $400 per night, possibly a little more on holidays and weekends. Guests are treated to Tupelo River coffee, fresh eggs from the chickens, and a handwritten note from Emilee.
The original bedroom has a double bed. One of the new bedrooms has twin beds, and the master bedroom has a king. The kitchen is equipped with a fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave and double farm sink.
A lot of the furniture in the home is antique, including several family pieces, like an upright piano and an intricate gold mirror.
“A lot of the original artwork in the house is from local artists and for sale to guests,” Emilee said.
The artists include Tracie Johnston, Jene King, Amy Crabb, Shelby Prather and Julia Monts, all of Tupelo; Kimberly Allred of Georgia, formerly of Tupelo; and Alanna Brooke Osborne of Baldwyn.
The outside touches are as charming as those inside the home. The couple laid bricks and built a pergola for a seating area, complete with Edison lights and a fire pit.
Garden boxes are built from cypress from Emilee’s grandparents’ house, and a screened-in porch on one side of the home keeps mosquitoes at bay.
Nearby are blueberry bushes, apple trees and pear trees, and a single magnolia tree.
“Noli Mae’s real name is Magnolia,” Emilee said. “My dad gifted us a magnolia tree when she was born. It’s been neat to watch it, and the farm, grow.”