By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Schmidt's of Brooklet not your typical family
W Schmidt Lifestyles 2
The Schmidt family of Brooklet: Top, from left to right, Sarah, Henry and J.D. Bottom, left to right, Rachel, Alice the cow and Norman. Esther Schmidt is missing from the photo. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
      The Schmidt’s of Brooklet are not your typical family.
      Raised in Mennonite communities in rural Kansas, and after earning graduate degrees at the University of South Carolina, Rachel and Norman Schmidt moved to Bulloch County.
      Rachel said, "We both felt God was calling us to settle here."
      So, they came to Brooklet with their children Henry, Esther, Sarah and Jehoiada Daniel.
      The family also discovered their Mennonite upbringing meshed well with Southern Baptist philosophy.
      Norman Schmidt said: "To tell you the truth, what we found when we started attending Eastern Heights Baptist Church reminded us very much of what we were taught in our church back home. The only thing missing was having our families close to hand. Now, our church family fills that need."
      Harry Sherrer, senior pastor at Eastern Heights, praised the Schmidt’s for their involvement with the church.
      "They have become a very important part of our summer Vacation Bible School staff,” Sherrer said. “Norman is one of the leaders of our Collegiate Ministry. Rachel is our electric keyboardist during Sunday services. Sometimes her daughters Esther and Sarah provide vocal accompaniments."
      Norman Schmidt is a professor of Analytical Chemistry at Georgia Southern University. He also has worked for the Vidalia Onion Council to improve Vidalia Onions with an even sweeter taste for many years. Rachel is a stay-at-home mom who home-schools the Schmidt children.
      Rachel explained, "There are certain things we wanted to make sure they learned."
      Norman agreed.
      "We were willing to sacrifice our time to ensure they grew up with our beliefs,” he said. “However, we knew that Rachel wouldn’t be able to teach them some of what they needed to know before they went off to college."
      Therefore, each of the Schmidt children’s home schooling ends when they reach high school age.
      "Southeast Bulloch High School has always been our choice for a public education," Norman Schmidt said.
SEB faculty who have taught the Schmidt children have high praise for them.
      "Henry was always a very dependable and hard-working student,” said Linda Fix, a language arts teacher. “Esther was not afraid to ask questions when she didn’t understand."
      "Henry was always looking for new ways to solve problems,” said math teacher Susan Boddiford. “Esther, on the other hand, was always eager to put what I taught her to good use."
      The Schmidt's house is right in the middle of Brooklet and yet has all the trappings of a working farm. They raise cows, in order to have fresh milk, butter, cheese and meat. Their bovine companions all have names. There was a bull named Mr. Steak who until very recently was master of the barn. He now resides in their freezer.
      Then there are Ellie Mae and Cindy Lou, who are Jersey milk cows, and Mabel and Alice, two young Jersey calves.
      There are numerous chickens in the barn, as well, which provide the family with fresh eggs. In the pasture behind the house there is a small orchard of peach trees, some very healthy-looking Muscadine and Scuppernong grape arbors, a strawberry patch, and the remnants of rows of both sweet and field corn. To top it all off, scattered around the Schmidt property are numerous beehives.
      The Schmidt’s are honest-to-goodness beekeepers who have been selling their wildflower honey to locals for some 18 years.  They currently have some 50 working hives. Norman custom builds most of his bee-keeping equipment, like the vacuum extractor he employs to pull bees out of enclosed spaces, such as people’s homes.
       Trained as a scientist, Norman Schmidt recently started conducting research into the presence of pollutants in beehives. He is looking for ways to naturally improve the health of the hive with the help of some of his fellow faculty and students at GSU.
      Rachel Schmidt, meanwhile, bakes bread daily in her kitchen. She always prepares many extra loaves that they sold along with their honey at the Statesboro Farmers Market.
      When the children get home from school, they do their chores. Unlike most families, where that would mean taking out the trash, for the Schmidt children that means milking the cows, feeding the chickens and checking on the hives.
      The members of the Schmidt family all agree that there is rarely a dull moment around their house. And that, they say, is just the way it ought to be.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter