Archive for February 21st, 2013



Morgan, leading the staff.

We’re expecting a potential ice storm overnight, so I’ve done my usual preparations. My generator wouldn’t start, so I put the float charger back on it. (Argh.) I brought in wood for the fire. I’m baking bread and cooking a pot of beans–my customary power outage comfort food. Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe the power won’t go out.

It’s okay either way, and that’s a good feeling.

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Why I Wrote This Book


Dsc_8819Photo by Jerry Waters.

Coming in October, 2013 from HarperCollins–Chickens in the Road: An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor, the wild and juicy memoir of my life at Stringtown Rising Farm. (Cows, cookies, high water, and love!)

My publisher asked for a couple of paragraphs from me about why I wrote my book, for marketing purposes. I was surprised to discover that it was actually a hard question! The book is so organic to my life and what I’ve been writing about for years that it wasn’t as if it was some sudden decision–I’m going to write a book! I have, in fact, been writing a book for years, right here. So many readers have emailed me over the years telling me how they found my site and went back to the beginning to read every post through to the present, to get the whole story. That’s a hard way to go about it, of course, and involves people spending hours at the computer clicking through post after post, some of which don’t really contribute much to the real story. Some posts are just random events or photos, stories that may be cute or funny but don’t complete the picture.

When I sat down to put the book together, I did what so many readers have done–went back to the beginning and did the crazy task of sorting out the story from the morass of posts. (There are THOUSANDS of posts, five years’ worth.) It was hard to see the forest for the trees. My wonderful editor at HarperCollins helped me find the final vision for the story, as did my agent earlier in the process. Sometimes it’s easier for an outsider to see what is important.

Once I understood the arc of the story, and that it WAS a story with a beginning, middle, and end like any good story, it was easy to choose the pieces that contributed in important ways to building that story in all its facets, from the animals to the people to the farm itself, along with the personal journey that I was on within all of that. There were significant pieces missing from the story I’ve told here, of course, and those pieces were in my private life. That was the most difficult thing for me to do, to complete the picture I’ve written about in public with the private life I was living at the same time. But it was also necessary to tell those personal stories in order to bring this journey to life with depth and emotion. I went through revision after revision, like peeling back layers of an onion, bringing myself to give up those pieces of my private life that were relevant to the story. Those stories were always there, woven invisibly into the fabric of the public story–and now was the time to tell them.

I wrote this book for the same reasons I write this website. I live on a farm–so you don’t have to. (Ha. Favorite line from a video I made a couple of years ago.) This website is my journey into the simple life in rural America, a life that has largely vanished in today’s world. The only ones living it today are those who seek it out and choose it, because there are so many other easier choices available. I write to inspire you, entertain you, teach you, and most of all, to encourage you to have fun. I want to make you laugh, even though sometimes I make you cry. I believe life should be LIVED, which means joy and pain. I believe in taking risks–and going on adventures. I wrote this book because I experienced a big adventure at Stringtown Rising, not all of which I wrote about at the time, but I was ready to write about it now. And every big adventure comes with big lessons, and joy and pain.

In the same way, I’m on a new adventure now, and it’s shaping up to be a big one. Maybe someday I’ll write the adventure of Sassafras Farm and tell the personal stories I’m living here that I keep private today. It’s a journey to independence–that sometimes, ironically, works against me. Lately, a lot of it has been wildly romantic–and that is only because I was willing to take a risk again and go on another adventure. There’s been joy, and there’s been pain, and there’s been kissing in the fencing aisle at Tractor Supply. It’s all worth it. I’m living.

And if anything I write encourages you to do the same, oh yeah, that is why I write.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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