December 10, 2008 12:00 PM

Patty Loveless isn’t usually awake past 1 a.m. But on nights when she keeps sleepless “musician’s hours,” she slips out into the darkness of her 170-acre property near Cartersville, Ga., with a quilt in hand and her German shepherd Shosta by her side. The final destination? The bed of her husband’s pickup truck. “I don’t even tell him,” says Loveless, 51, of the middle-of-the-night escape. “I’ll just go out there and look up at the heavens. I love that.”

Quiet moments like that are easy to come by for the singer and her husband of nearly 20 years, producer Emory Gordy Jr., 63. In 2001 the pair left Nashville for the remote Georgia countryside to be closer to Gordy’s family. The move wasn’t easy. “I had to say good-bye to 20 years in Nashville,” says Loveless softly. “Good-byes are hard, but life is about changes.” Luckily, the Georgia property—with its English-Tudor-style house, guest house, three studio cabins and a pond stocked with catfish and bass—soon felt like home.

After laying low for a few years, the singer jumped back into the spotlight in September with Sleepless Nights, a collection of 14 country classics that showcases her rich alto voice. But even with the career revved up again, Loveless’s focus is still her country home. Today’s challenge? Armadillos, or as the Kentucky-born singer calls them, “rats on a half-shell.” “I’ve had it,” she says. “They’re tearing up my yard!”

Loveless loves pouring her attention into household chores and her family, which—in addition to Gordy and Shosta—includes another German shepherd, named Bach, and a cat named Blue. “I feed all the animals,” she says. “I go out and walk around the yard. Sometimes I’ll cut grass.” Her to-do list also often includes hiking the surrounding hills with gun in hand (“There’s bears around here,” she says, “and coyotes”) and tending to her garden, which sprouts corn, okra and jalapeño peppers. And though the big house requires a lot of caretaking, Loveless wouldn’t change a thing: “After living out of a suitcase for years, it’s a feeling of peace to wake up in the night and know where I am.”