Elkmont, Ala. (WHNT) - Last week, the owners of Humble Heart Farms in Elkmont advertised an essay contest on their Facebook page.
Their very livelihood.
That includes a 20-acre goat farm, dairy and creamery, 100+ goats and sheep, a mortgage-free, 3-bedroom brick ranch home and $20,000 in operating expenses.
It was a bold decision but hardly the family's first.
In 2004, they launched their operation with no training and no prior farming experience. Paul Spell's background was in radio advertising. Leslie Spell had been a stockbroker.
They wanted to start a goat farm because of the family-oriented lifestyle and the time it would give them with their young son, Isaac.
More than 10 years later, the operation is at the height of its success. The Spell's sell their goat cheese at six to seven farmer's markets a week. Their products are also used by area restaurants.
Yet, when some missionary friends in Costa Rica wanted to start their own goat farm, Paul Spell says he felt led to help.
The family decided they would give up the farm and use the profits to assist their friends.
But, they would not sell Humble Heart Farms outright.
Instead, they would use an essay contest, similar to one they saw used successfully by the owners of an inn and restaurant in Maine.
Since then, Paul Spell says the Humble Heart Farms website has been averaging 12,000 hits a day.
The family has been asked for interviews with media outlets as far away as Germany and the first essays are beginning to come in.
The entry fee for the contest is $150. The Spell's hope to get at least 2,500 entries by October. That will allow them to pay off the house, give the new owners the $20,000 in operating expenses and still have a sizable profit to give their friends in Costa Rica.
Through the contest, the Spell's say they'll be able to ensure the next owner is someone who will truly care for the land and the animals.
If all goes well, a winner will be selected October 15.
The Spell's have promised to spend a month or so showing the new owners the ropes of goat farming before leaving to help set up their friends' operation in Costa Rica.
Afterward, they plan to retire to Elkmont, an area they've grown to love and one they believe the new owners will love, as well.
To learn more about the contest and how to enter, click here.