Tanya Johnson’s day job is working with mortgage business development at Fort Knox Federal Credit Union. But when she goes home to her Elizabethtown farm, the 52-year-old raises sheep and is involved in area charitable causes.
She has an IT degree from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and a degree in interior design from Sullivan University.
She worked in interior design in Louisville until her husband, Keith Johnson, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006.
“It was a life-changing experience,” she said.
To be closer to home, she quit work for a while and when her youngest of two children went to college about six years ago, she began working at the credit union.
In her job, she often meets with builders and Realtors and helps originate loans.
“It’s really a rewarding position because you get to help people make the biggest purchase of their life and become somewhat of a coach to some of the younger buyers,” Johnson said.
Through her job she also actively works with the Lincoln Trail Home Builders Association and the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors.
Her job can be a 10-to-12-hour workday and she said it’s relaxing to be able to go home and be on the farm.
“It gives me a real sense of peace,’” she said. “You can come down the lane and just relax.”
On her farm she raises Katahdin Sheep. The breed is raised for meat and not wool. The sheep shed and don’t have to be sheered so they are a low maintenance breed, she said.
She looked at other livestock but found these sheep were something that could be easily managed.
She said playing around in the barn and feeding the livestock also can be a stress release. Lambing is an especially fun time as she gets to watch the lambs play and run around.
Johnson is the fourth generation to live on her farm. She grew up with horses but now has sheep.
Sheep tend to wander but she has learned they are food driven and the food pail helps her get them where they need to go.
To help her through the process, she took classes at the University of Kentucky through their extension service. She called it “ewe school.’’
“I would have never survived the first lambing season without them,” Johnson said of the training.
She started out five years ago with 20 ewes and a ram.
The herd was up to 65 and she recently sold about 34 at market so she’s back to a more manageable number. Her current herd is 28.
She can sometimes get attached to the animals when she has to save some by bottle feeding them all night. Johnson said it was always tough when they don’t make it.
“It’s been a great learning experience really,” she said. “I’ve done things I never thought I would do like pulling a sheep.”
She’s expecting a different kind of little one soon. Her first grandchild is due in February.
“I’m hoping to have a little helper on the farm someday,” she said.
Johnson’s sister-in-law, Teresa Edlin, called her a person who “doesn’t think twice about pushing up her sleeves and getting things done.”
“She’s very good at managing her time and taking care of responsibilities and she always has a lot going on with her family, her farm duties and bank job,” Edlin said, adding in her spare time she often assists with event planning. “She is an amazing person who manages things well, is smart, hard working and has a big heart for people.”
Johnson also is involved in a variety of charitable causes.
Her husband’s MS diagnosis happened about the same time the MS Walk came to Hardin County, she said.
Since that time, she and her husband have chaired and been on the committee that brings the walk to Hardin County.
“It’s been very rewarding,” she said. “You just always hope you can make some money for a cure. It’s a pretty ugly disease.”
She also supports the United Way of Central Kentucky and the Community Health Clinic. While at home, before working at the credit union, she volunteered at the Community Health Clinic to help get online prescriptions started there.
And now she is getting ready to start work on her first habitat house. It is something she said she always has wanted to do and there is a group from her office that is going to do it together.