Stocking Up


I have a new favorite grocery store. It’s the studio.
Since I got rid of the beloved yet pesky Explorer, I don’t have a four-wheel drive.
I don’t like driving on snowy icy roads in any case. I did that. I’m all done. Snowy icy road at the other farm:
I do not know how I survived. Especially that one time when I nearly ran out of aluminum foil. As God is my witness, I’ll never be aluminum foil-less again!
Okay, really, that’s not the main thing, but I am stocked up on aluminum foil and other things. I have freezers full of food (and yes, a generator to run them in a power outage or coolers to store them if it’s cold outside). And home-canning and pantries and cabinets and shelves full of food. Food is not something I’m likely to ever run out of if I don’t go to the store the entire winter. I’m not stocking up for the end of the world as we know it, though, just for a possibly snow-stuck winter in which I would prefer to have the choice of not braving the roads during bad spells. Since I have food running over here, it’s more things like toilet paper, toothpaste, and light bulbs that I was focused on. The sort of things that we in our first-world spoiled lives consider convenient comforts.
I made several trips to the store to stock up, storing things in the house and the studio, where I won’t be holding workshops again until spring. I made sure I had several of everything that seems to make life comfortable and that one doesn’t want to realize one has run out of on a snowy day.
We don’t want to go out in that, do we, Precious?
When I was all done, I realized I’d bought more of one thing that anything else.

Apparently, I think the thing I will need most to get through a snow-stuck week is not aluminum foil, after all. It’s wine.

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The Farmhouse Year in Review 2014


The year in highlights!

It snowed a lot last winter. As in, a LOT. School was closed more than it was open, and it was Morgan’s senior year. Seniors don’t have to make up snow days, but she was upset anyway because she loves school! Looking back at posts from last winter gets me worried when I remember all the troubles I had with frozen pipes and all the times I had to carry buckets from the house to the animals. And that time that the water at the barn AND the water at the house was frozen at the same time. I had to haul buckets of water back from a neighbor’s house to get water to the animals. But since then, I’ve installed three new gas water heaters (in the studio, in the house, in the cellar–where frozen pipes has been a serious problem in the past and those pipes run to both the house and the studio), laid in tons of wood, and made various changes to help the animals get water, too. The new gas heaters and the wood will also prevent me from having the problems I had last year when my furnace went out twice.

I still don’t think I like looking back at posts from last January, though!


On to February! Wait, that was so much like January…..
In real life, you cannot skip entire months. However, in review, you can! Let’s just pretend February didn’t happen! We didn’t like it.


Glory Bee had a baby! My delicious little Moon Pie. I absolutely fell in love with Moon Pie and she helped me turn the corner in deciding I really wanted to start my own little beef herd. I wished I hadn’t sold Dumplin to my neighbor.

In April, I brought home Boer goats, having decided to re-start my goat herd in a different direction. The snow was finally gone, and it was green again. Time to start farmin’! And it was also the beginning of my workshop season. In 2014, I had more retreats here at Sassafras Farm than ever before–seven all together, from one- to five-day retreats, this was a big year in expanding my workshop business. (I’m planning more and new and different ones for 2015!)

Also in April, my father died. My mother died in 2010. I feel like an orphan now.

Weston surprised everyone by joining the Army and I took him to Pittsburgh for his swearing in before he was shipped off to Fort Sill for boot camp. Back at home, I learned to mow and weedeat the yard. It’s a really big yard, so this became my really big job for the rest of the spring, all summer, and into the fall. But wow, did I get in shape mowing this upside down hilly huge property!

Meanwhile, Morgan was finishing her final days of high school….and getting ready for–

I milked Glory Bee twice a day most of the summer, and on into the fall. With so many workshops going on, it took a lot of milking. I love that routine, but Dumplin and Moon Pie were often sullen with me over the separations from mommy. Morgan left to explore Morgantown (where she would start attending West Virginia University in the fall) and I wrote letters every day to Weston in boot camp.

I had a different kind of “mister” in 2014 for Glory Bee–I tried artificial insemination. It’s way past time to have her checked. I hope she’s bred. I had her AI’d to a black angus named Night Off.

And I went all the way to Oklahoma for Weston’s boot camp graduation.
This was his choice, and I’m very proud of him.

I also got a big delivery of two trailer-loads of round bales, switching from doing all square bales as I have done in the past. This was the beginning of a variety of adjustments I made with the help of my two hired men to make winter jobs on the farm easier for me to manage alone. I also finally got comfortable with driving the tractor! SERIOUSLY. As long as I’m on dry, flat ground.

Maia made several appearances in 2014, at libraries, and here (above) at this community bazaar. Have goat in tutu, will travel! Ross also had gotten a four-wheeler, which is living here at the farm, and following my success with the tractor, I learned to drive the four-wheeler! Which was even MORE fun!

A BIG project this fall was cutting down, hauling, and splitting firewood. After the winter before, which had been filled with disasters, I was determined to prepare better than ever. I ended up with enough firewood for two winters, probably, though that will depend on how this winter goes! I was also continuing workshops every month, and milking Glory Bee twice a day.

And…. Getting ready for–

–my book to come out in paperback!
And in case you don’t have your own copy yet, You can get it in hardcover, e-book, or paperback!

Amazon Button BarnesandNoble Button iBooks Button IndieBound Button

Not all was wonderful in October, though. My dear Georgia passed away–if you missed it, I wrote about her here

In other news, I was able to buy Dumplin back from my neighbor and I started planning my beef herd.

I purchased myself a 30-30, getting ready for deer season. I didn’t get one, but we did catch a poacher! I also got myself a 20 gauge over-under shotgun and started squirrel hunting. The creatures of the woodland are pretty safe so far, but I’m really enjoying the learning process.

Ross was home from the Navy for Thanksgiving, and we had a great time!

Weston came home for Christmas. I had Ross and Morgan home at Thanksgiving, and Weston and Morgan home for Christmas. With two sons in the military, it’s difficult these days to get all three home at one time, but I take what I can get!
And in December, I got a Chinese Crested powderpuff puppy. I adore her. She’s my “baby” to replace Morgan (I like to tell Morgan that because it annoys her) or she’s my therapy dog….or something….


2014 was…..a year. This is the part of my annual “year in review” posts where I say something about how excited I am about the year that I had, but I had a hard enough time just thumbing back through the posts to find something good to say about each month, much less sound very excited about any of it in summary, so how about I do what I do best when I do it. Say something honest. Those of you who are longtime readers here know already that something was off this year, I’m sure. It’s clear to everyone (most of all me) that my writing has not been regular or up to par in any way. I’m sure some readers got frustrated with me and wandered off. Others of you, bless you, are patiently waiting for me to get a grip. Me, too. (Where do I get this “grip” thing? Does Amazon sell it?) I was involved in a long-term relationship the last couple of years, and I spent most of 2014 being lied to, cheated on, and devastated. I survived this year, and that’s the best I can say about it. But, every year is a new opportunity, a new challenge, and a new page to write fresh. I don’t know what 2015 has in store yet, but I’m thinking it can’t be worse. Let’s turn the calendar page, shall we? I’M READY.

Go back in time:
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2013
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2012
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2011
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2010
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2009
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2008
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2007

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  1. IMG_3651

    December 8, 2014 - A Squirrely Obsession

    The two-week buck season in West Virginia is over now and my current obsession is squirrel hunting. Around here, the people I’ve talked to who go squirrel hunting use either a shotgun or a .22. Ammo for a .22 long rifle is getting hard to find. I’ve tried using both my .22 and a 20 gauge and have had no luck so far, but … Continued…

  1. vacation

    November 26, 2014 - Nabbed!

    Me, hanging with my new Marlin 30-30, ready for hunting.

    First of all, I need to apologize because I took vacation without saying I was taking vacation. That was because I was so into my vacation.

    However! I’m back and with excitement.

    This Monday started the two-week buck season here. We have had a non-stop problem with poachers here since we moved in. Yesterday, it came … Continued…

  1. IMG_3504

    October 29, 2014 - 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 … Continued…

  1. IMG_3397

    October 6, 2014 - 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 … Continued…

  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…

Daily Farm


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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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