A Forecast of Rambling with A Chance of News

Mar
26

A couple weeks ago, I was out on the driveway at the farm and saw a car driving by slowly. Then a few minutes later they drove back down the road slowly, past the farm. I’ve seen this sort of activity before and had a feeling about it, but I was busy and didn’t want to think about it. I got in my car, backed down the driveway, and drove out the road. I got to the part of the road in front of the Boat Man’s house.


Oh, yeah. So who is the Boat Man? Well, since over the years I’ve come to actually like the Boat Man, particularly after an incident in which Pepper went missing for a week…. Wait, you don’t know that story. SO MUCH YOU HAVE MISSED. So, while Rodney was in the hospital last summer and I was there nearly 24/7, I’d come home once a day, usually in the morning because I’d spend the night in the hospital all cramped up on chairs (or sometimes, eventually, in his hospital bed) then come home, shower, try to do a few things and check on the animals, then run back to the hospital for the rest of the day and to spend the night. During this time, I started leaving Pepper (my little house dog) outside because I just wasn’t there enough to let her in and out. And then she went missing. I was so distraught. I thought I’d never see her again. For a week I didn’t ever see her when I was home. Then one day I was home to shower and the Boat Man drove up the driveway, got out of his truck, and he had Pepper in his arms. I was like, “OMG, PEPPER!” He said, “Is this your dog?” YES!!! He said she showed up at his house and he’d been going up and down the road looking for her owner and had almost given up. I was never home so it was the first time he’d caught me there to ask if it was my dog. I said, “YES, SHE IS MY DOG!” He asked me if I wanted her, because he’d really come to love her. I said, “YOU CAN’T HAVE HER!” But, you know, thank you!

Pepper.

So then I liked the Boat Man after that. I didn’t like him before, but I won’t even start explaining since it doesn’t matter now and this is getting long and I haven’t even gotten started.

Back to the day a few weeks ago when I came down the road from the farm and the Boat Man was in the road. He was standing there talking to somebody in a car stopped in the road in front of his house. It was the car that had driven up and down past the farm just a few minutes earlier when I’d been on the driveway. The Boat Man left the car, though the car didn’t go anywhere, and came to talk to me at my car. He said, “That’s some of your fans.”

I said, “You didn’t tell them it was me, did you?” And then, because a person has to have a reality check, I said, “You’re kidding, right?” Because you don’t want to sound so full of yourself that you think you actually have fans. Because that’s just ridiculous.

He said, “No, I’m not kidding. They were looking for you. Was I not supposed to tell them it was you?”

That activity I mentioned I’d seen before? It’s the driving up and down the road in front of the farm. Sometimes it extends to driving up the driveway and even knocking on the door.

I looked at the car stopped in the road in front of me, then back at the Boat Man. (We call him the Boat Man because he used to captain a boat in Florida, before he moved to West Virginia several years ago, by the way. He doesn’t have a boat and he’s not really a “boat man” but we still call him that because we can never remember his real name.)

I said, “NO! Don’t ever tell anyone it’s me! Say you’ve never heard of me!”

The Boat Man looked perplexed. Meanwhile, the car, it kept sitting there. Waiting. I’ve really never had a very long conversation with the Boat Man, but we had one that day. I just didn’t want to move because they were waiting for me. My so-called fans.

I was not cut out to be a so-called public figure.

I chatted with the Boat Man for about 15 minutes, until the car finally moved, gave up, drove on down the road. And I felt so rude and guilty–because they were waiting for me–and so relieved.

After going on a teeny bit further down the road, I cut off on a back road route to my destination and successfully disappeared.

Do I have any right to privacy at all? Do I? That’s a legitimately questionable topic since some people could fairly call me a public figure and even an attention whore since I’ve embraced numerous various magazine, newspaper, TV, and other media attention for years, not to mention spent years writing publicly about my daily life. What right do I have to privacy now? Do I get to change my mind and be more private now? It’s debatable whether I have any business whining about the results of my chosen public endeavors, so I’ll try to not complain, but I do think I get to choose to pursue the future in more private terms and with different boundaries than I’ve chosen in the past. I think.

In today’s over-sharing social media world (especially Facebook), what I’ve shared over the years on my website possibly pales in comparison. If you want to see the real me, check out my personal Facebook page. (Not my Chickens in the Road page, where I share links to my posts, but my personal individual page.) Based on my personal Facebook page, people may think I’m dead, I share so little. The real me is quite shy and private, which has always been a conflict with my public persona.

Can you be public and private at the same time? I’m still writing on my website. In fact, have just come back to writing on my website. So maybe privacy is a relative concept. Don’t we all make decisions about our own evolving versions of privacy every day, especially in this age of social media and exposure?

I remember this one night in 2009, I was sitting in my bed with my laptop, feeling particularly emotional and overwhelmed and stressed by the sudden success of my website, and writing something that was probably stupid and whiny, and 52 leaned over, looked at what I’d written, and told me to (basically) get a grip and erase it. He was probably right, at the time, and well-intentioned, and looking out for my best interests, but wouldn’t this whole thing be more interesting if I didn’t erase my deeper internal conflicts and the real me? The real me is very conflicted about privacy and being a public person at the same time.

In other semi-related news, back when I was taking my long break from this website due to major changes related to my growing Etsy business, tidying up the end of my workshop business, and taking care of a very important person in my life who’d had a major accident, I also moved, by the way. Over the holidays. Because why NOT move during the busiest, most stressful time of the year? This decision was made for multiple reasons, some I’ll talk about it, some I won’t. (Sassafras Farm is still alive and kicking–Ross is in charge of it at the moment and remodeling it when he’s not busy with school.) Meanwhile, the time had come in Rodney’s recovery for us to be ready to recreate our lives with a new perspective, and we chose to move to a smaller farm together. Something more manageable. Not far away, still in Roane County. The cows and chickens moved with us–we built a new milk barn and new chicken house. And I’m never going to post details in public about the location other than its in Roane County, somewhere between Sassafras Farm and Stringtown. We love it and we’ve been very happy here! Downsizing is not a bad thing! Neither is a little more privacy! When I was over at Sassafras Farm a few weeks ago, I was there picking up some things and checking on the house. I was glad to get out of there and back to my new private life. I was barely an hour at Sassafras Farm and someone was driving by the house! Take me back to Kansas, Toto!

It’s a strangely public world for all of us these days. Sometimes I wonder if younger generations coming up will even understand the concept of privacy at all. Those of us who grew up in the days before the age of the internet remember privacy. We can’t go back to those days, and really, who would want to? I love my cell phone and Netflix and all the wonderful things that make up modern life today. Finding the balance between public and private isn’t easy, though. Deciding what to keep to yourself is one of today’s most challenging–and interesting–journeys, when the momentary satisfaction of spilling every detail of your life–to attentive, listening ears always somewhere on the internet for all of us–has never been more available.

Sometimes we all need to look at our lives and adjust the privacy settings–for our own happiness, don’t you think? Where do you keep your privacy settings? High, low, or medium? And who wants to see my new chicken house? IT’S THE BEST CHICKEN HOUSE EVER! I designed it myself and I’m very proud of it!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on March 26, 2018  

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Comments

16 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 3-27
    10:40
    am

    I’m glad you’re back! My favorite parts of your blog were always the animal stories. Crooked Little Hen! Clover’s love life! Those were always so fun-I would love to see you bring those back. My thoughts about privacy are that no reader ever has any kind of “rights” to a blogger’s personal details – and I can’t imagine just driving up to somebody’s house without an invitation!

  2. 3-27
    10:45
    am

    Suzanne! You’re here with a new post – again! What a wonderful thing to discover over my Monday morning coffee here in Wyoming! I love your ramblings, and completely relate to your aversion to oversharing in this age of the internet. I am one of the few remaining dinosaurs who have never been on Facebook, so I can’t look at your page and wonder if you’re dead or alive. ;) Also, I am launching a business, and conflicted about how much to share about myself personally on my business website – all while knowing that sharing who I am will probably help sell my product. I am SUCH a private person, and I don’t WANT to share much of ANYTHING! lol Pepper’s face – be still my heart! No wonder Boatman wanted her. :) YES! Indeed I do want to see photos of your new chicken coop! Have a beautiful day. -Dawn

  3. 3-27
    10:49
    am

    You have a right to privacy! Good boundaries are healthy. If fans want to interact with you, they have to do it online, not in person. It’s not polite to stop in unannounced.

    Can’t wait to see the hen house!

  4. 3-27
    11:40
    am

    … so many changes! You MOVED?

    Of course you have the right to privacy. What you choose to share online is all we should be privy to. Driving past your farm is inappropriate and stalking behavior. I’m glad you are ok.

    Does this mean the workshops have stopped? Or are only at Sassafras? I’m sorry you moved, but yes, downsizing is good, not that you need validation from us!

    I’m glad Rodney is getting better. Be well. And show us the hen house! Also, where’s your teeny tiny teacup doggie?

  5. 3-27
    11:42
    am

    PS:

    We missed you very much. Welcome back.

  6. 3-27
    11:50
    am

    I would love to see the chicken house since I am trying to get mine back in shape for chickens. A death in the family caused me to have to give up my chickens to take care of other things. I MISS them!

  7. 3-27
    12:20
    pm

    Well I for one..am glad you decided to continue writing on this blog. I love to read about all your adventures with the farm, kids, animals, & life in general.
    And yes…your very much entitled to privacy…we all are! no matter what you share on a blog…you deserve your space. Some people just don’t get that there are boundaries and certain lines in the driveway…should never be crossed. Rule number one growing up…you never show up on someone’s doorstop uninvited!! and rule two…you never show up at meal times!!! lol
    I’m glad your back and I can’t wait to see the coop and new digs for the cows. This was the very first blog I ever came across…and was hooked upon reading it. Thanks bunches for sharing your & your family’s life with us/me…and if I ever see ya on the road or Wooley Walmart’s, or Kroger’s…I’ll smile and maybe wave to ya. :hug:
    XOXO
    Sandy

  8. 3-27
    4:17
    pm

    Pepper is adorable. I’m sorry it’s been rough. I went back to the CITR forums after a few crazy years and found that it wasn’t being used much. I thought perhaps the chatting had moved to another forum (FB or something). I sent you a message on FB asking if the forum had moved but never would have been nasty.

    I remember when I was participating in the forums and reading your blog consistently, I wondered how on earth you did it all without burning out. You moved at a pace I didn’t think possible.

    Can you expect to have privacy? Yes. People don’t have a right to be in your business all the time. It’s wrong for people to drop in on you. And people you don’t even know? Didn’t their mothers ever teach them any manners? Even if your address is out there, it is still wrong for people to use it in a way that wasn’t intended.

  9. 3-27
    6:23
    pm

    Very happy for you and Rodney and that you love your new farm and don’t have to worry about strangers driving by. Also thrilled that you are writing again. Be sure to post a pic of that new chicken house soon!

  10. 3-27
    7:07
    pm

    I totally agree with you about the privacy issue. We were taught to NEVER drop in unannounced, always call first. I’m not on
    Facebook so will never see your posts there.
    However, would love to see pics of your new chickenhouse and cowbarn, and any others you wish to share with us. Your blog is one of the few I read, and I love your animal stories. Do you still have Coco and the other dogs? So glad you got your tiny doggie back!
    Looking forward to many more years of CITR, I have a whole notebook full of your recipes and make many of them often. Your Quik Mix is a staple in my kitchen.

  11. 3-27
    10:38
    pm

    I’m pretty private, being an introvert and raised to think about everything I write in terms of whether or not I’d be embarrassed to have my beloved grandmas read it. I’ve also been bit by sharing too much. Facebook is NOT a platform I am comfortable with; blogging and Instagram are much more my style.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and as much of your life as you do. Sassafras Farm was a gem; I’d love to see your chicken house!

  12. 3-28
    12:00
    pm

    Of course we want to see the new chicken house! That’s important and fascinating stuff.

  13. 3-28
    12:43
    pm

    :happyflower:
    Oh my! This is quite a post, so many things have happened in you life, so many changed. I am happy for you and Rodney, it is nice that you found one another and that you are starting your lives together in a new place making new memories building a farm together. I hope that a full recovery is in the future for him. Medicine helps but the love of a good mate in life is the best medicine of all, and he has that. Privacy is a rare commodity these days for everyone, even those of us who are not in the public eye, I hope you find peace and quiet in your new home.
    We are all looking forward to your future postings and can’t wait to see that new chicken house.

  14. 3-30
    1:54
    pm

    Do you still have Princess?

    I can’t believe people drive around looking for you or come up and knock on your door. That is CRAZY. (I remember the story of the guy driving out there to make sure your farm was real!) I’ve been reading your blog for like ever, but I don’t *know* you and I do not have the right to come over unannounced, not that I would anyway! Sure, I get curious about things, but I don’t dwell on the curiosities, they are just passing thoughts.

    I’m in Nicholas County on a commercial property that rents cabins. While it’s not busy here, people come and go, we get random drive through lookee loos, and some people think that because they stay here, they are now our BFFs (and even friend us on FB, which actually makes me uncomfortable…) I’m too polite to deny it, my bad, but I hate to alienate people and lose business over it. I don’t particularly care for our loss of privacy. It’s not *too* bad living here, but there are times when I wish we could move somewhere more private.

    My FB and Instagram are private. I have people I need to purposely keep out of my life. But I don’t like being too public either. I’m not glad social media came about, but it does help me keep in touch with real friends and family. I would stop using FB if it weren’t for the handful of people on there I care about who live too far away to visit.

    Yes, you must share your coop! Please. :) We have chickens and ducks, and this summer or next we’ll have a horse too.

    And OMG you moved?!! I hope the new farm provides you with the privacy you want, and that it brings happiness to you and Rodney!

  15. 4-4
    9:14
    pm

    Hi,
    I very much enjoy reading about all the animals and life on the farm. You asked a question about privacy and yes, now when it’s so easy to know so much about others, I think it’s more important to safeguard your privacy. I would say most people who drive by slowly, turn around and then stop etc. are benign. They may have read the book, attended classes, admire you etc. I don’t want to scare you but I strongly recommend you get surveillance cameras plus motion activated exterior lights; both for Sassafras Farm where you run the business and for your private new home. If the surveillance cameras etc. never are needed for your personal protection that’s good, but in case something bad were to happen they would establish what has happened. Crimes might not be related to you, it could be someone stealing a truck or tools or a regular break-in. A lot of hardware for surveillance can be bought online, so your family could do the installations. On a lighter note, you could perhaps watch recordings of local wildlife. Good luck!

  16. 4-6
    2:29
    am

    Yes we wanna see the new chicken house and it is totally understandable reading this but Hard…as it was wonderful always seeing your life and sharing all the animals over the many years I’ve loved my Chickens in the road. I think many times it kept me sane. Reading from afar made it felt like being part of it. I never stopped to think that this other side could happen. People not respecting privacy, People that were near would do that. Just so glad to have you back will take what you can share. And so happy to know that Rodney is doing well. Hugs

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"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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