The Log Splitter


I’m such a fan of this log splitter!
I’d never seen such a thing before!

I had a HUGE pile of logs waiting to be split. My winter preparations this year are based on issues I had last year, which include my furnace going out twice, and each time I had to wait a week for the needed part to come in. Meanwhile, it was pretty cold at my house. I didn’t have enough wood laid in–due to my reliance on the free gas and my furnace–and if not for my neighbor helping me out with wood, I would have been even colder. Not this year. I probably have enough wood for two winters, if not more. I’m over-preparing, but after last winter, I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.

I also have a new gas wall heater, which will be installed soon. It doesn’t require electricity to run. So if the furnace goes out, between the wall heater and the wood stove, I should stay warm, even in a power outage.

My hired men split some of the wood with a maul, and some with a small log splitter, but it was frustrating and they aren’t much into hand-splitting. (I can’t blame them.) I thought about buying a log splitter, but they’re very expensive and wood is really only a backup source of heat, so investing in a log splitter made me uneasy. (There are other things that need to be done on the farm, so it didn’t make it to the top of my priority list.) I thought about waiting until the holidays when some other young backs would be available to pitch in–my two sons, my daughter’s boyfriend. Maybe if I divided up the wood and asked everyone to split just a portion of it with a maul, it wouldn’t be too bad. My hired men didn’t like that idea. The wood needed to be split so it could dry properly. I’d already waited pretty late to have the wood cut down from the ridge, which was why they only cut standing dead trees (to give a headstart in drying).

And so they borrowed a trailer and brought over their nice big log splitter.
It was pretty amazing to watch how fast it went through even huge logs.
After splitting, the wood was brought over by the truckload for stacking and to be covered with tarps.
If I’m ever cold this winter, it won’t be because I don’t have enough wood!

(It was a total of six truckloads.)

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The Conductor


I wrote this post a year ago before the hardcover of my book was published. I’m re-running it today, the day before the paperback version of my book is released, in Georgia’s honor, edited to add links to some of my favorite posts on the blog about Georgia. I hope you’ll click through to the links and enjoy!


I’m so proud of my book, and so excited. It’s the most important thing I’ve written in my whole life, as well as the most revealing. I’m proud that I lived the life that is in the book. That I dared. Because there is no reason on earth that I or anyone should have thought I would.

From the book: “I was about to buy the most magical farm in all the land! Or, in fact, I was about to embark on an intense experience of hardship, deprivation, passion, danger, and romance gone awry. But it was a good thing I didn’t know any of that right then.”

How could any of that life even be mine?

I lived a safe life for the first 40 years of my existence on this planet. Safe, safe, safe. Good girl, safe, good girl.

Good girls who eat their peas and desire a safe life don’t run away from the suburbs and move into a slanted little house with no insulation, no central heat, and no money. Good girls don’t move to dirt roads barricaded by rivers and creeks and icy narrow ways out with no guard rails. Good girls don’t throw away all the security and money they always thought they needed to be happy, and drive off with nothing but their laptop and their cat and their kids.

If I die tomorrow, I have lived.

I did the hardest things alone, most notably explaining it to my kids, who were coming with me.

A few weeks before, I had sat in a rocking chair next to my dear Georgia on the porch of the slanted little house and asked perhaps the most important question of my life. She sat there, looking at me, wondering why I was visiting, and I said, “Will you let me move in to the old farmhouse? I want to live here.”

And she didn’t blink, she didn’t question, she just said, “Of course, you’re family.”

I lived there for two and a half years before moving to a farm of my own at Stringtown Rising. I paid a (very) minimal rent at the slanted little house, enough to cover the gas it cost to heat the house. Near the end of my time there, that last Christmas, she gave me a card. Inside, she wrote to me that her gift to me until I moved out was that I wouldn’t have to pay any more rent.

It wasn’t the greatest gift she gave me. That greatest gift was herself. She was in her 70s, and she’d grown up on a farm, knew how to do it all. She rambled around the farm between her house, my cousin’s house, and the slanted little house where I was living, dressed like a cross between a church lady and a gnome with her curly silver hair sticking out from under a cap, wearing a series of West Virginia t-shirts and polyester pants and always, always, a sweater, unless it was 90 degrees. She made me do chores. She made me hoe and then she made me can. She made me rake leaves and clean out gutters and carry sticks to the brush pile. She made me drive her to the store and she tried to make me put on sweaters every time a cloud crossed the sun.

She made me crazy.

And she made me want to be more like her.

Georgia was the conductor to my journey, the one who gave me my key to the rocket ride by providing a means for me to come to West Virginia and by inspiring me to be a different kind of woman than I’d ever imagined. There were many people who made this book possible, but she was first and foremost. She was like the “Yoda” in my backroads Star Wars, and if you’ve ever had someone like that in your life, I think you will connect to her role in my story. And if you’ve never been fortunate enough to have a Georgia, let me share her with you. Through this book, she can be yours, too.
I hope I’ve done justice to her, and to so many people who became part of my story along the way. While this story came to be larger than life in some ways, at least to my former sheltered eyes, it is a true story about real life and real people, with all the real emotions that come hand-in-hand with reality.

graphic1When I came to West Virginia, I didn’t really have a plan. I was lost, to tell you the truth. It was the people I knew on this journey, like Georgia, who showed me the way and gave me a purpose both within and outside of myself. I hope with this book I can share those inspirations that changed my life, and with that, create something that means as much to you as it does to me, and be something that you, also, will want to share.

You can order now (hardcover, paperback, or e-book!), and I hope so much that you will tell me what you think!

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Links to some of my posts about Georgia:
Driving Miss Georgia
Guiding the Lost
Downed Tree Causes Year’s Worst Pileup
My Real Garden
The One That Got Away
The Big Excitement
Then She Ate Some Pie and Went to Bed
Over the Hill and through the Woods
Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse
The Orange Boosh

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  1. IMG_2332

    October 3, 2014 - My Dear Georgia

    I’ve waited several days to write this post. Partly because I wanted to give time for the immediate family to be notified, and partly because I needed some time myself to put my thoughts together. Not that I can ever put my thoughts together properly in this case.

    The obituary, written by my cousin, Mark Sergent.

    Georgia Pauline Sergent, 84, of Johnson Creek, Walton, West Virginia … Continued…

  1. today9

    October 1, 2014 - A Ride in Stringtown

    I took a ride to Stringtown recently with my friend Jerry on his four-wheeler, and a four-wheeler is the way to travel this road, let me tell ya.

    I hadn’t been out there in about a year, and things have changed. There’s a new owner, an English fellow. Yes, really. I don’t think they intend to keep livestock as they’ve torn down the goat house … Continued…

  1. blogsize

    September 29, 2014 - Available October 7!

    It’s almost here! Here’s the new paperback cover.

    It was a cold late autumn 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 … Continued…

  1. IMG_3136

    September 24, 2014 - It’s Starting to Look A Lot Like Autumn

    Fall checklist:

    Hay. I have most of the hay in that I need to get in. I’ve got some more lined up that will be coming in a few weeks. I’ll be set then.

    Wood. I have all the trees pulled out of the woods and half of it is already split and stacked. The other half is cut into logs, waiting to be … Continued…

  1. IMG_3027

    September 4, 2014 - Gettin’ Wood

    One of the busy bee activities going on around here is the harvesting of firewood from the hills on the farm. I’ve started up this mission a bit late, really, so we’re targeting dead trees. Last night, I was up on the far upper pasture with my hired men.

    Dogs were up there helping, you know.

    After each dead … Continued…

  1. IMG_2868

    August 13, 2014 - A Girl, A Loaf of Bread, and A Goodbye

    Morgan, packed and ready to go back to Morgantown, this time–basically–for good. School starts at WVU next week.

    I was thinking about clinging to her ankles or throwing myself behind the wheels of her car so she couldn’t back up, but I’m pretty sure she would have kicked me out of the way then run over me. (Just kidding. I think.) She’s excited, eager, … Continued…

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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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