If You Want to Live on a Farm


….you better like mud. (My boots, yesterday, as I was leaving Beulah Petunia Land, post-milking.)

The other day, when I wrote about my day and a half, some people commented that I should write a post like that every once in a while so you don’t think farm life is too idyllic. (You can find another similar post here: A Hard Day’s Morning.)

Farm life, and any type of life, is only beautiful if you want it to be. Otherwise, life in general is pretty ordinary, and often, quite difficult. Farm life has its own unique difficulties. You don’t want to hear me whine about those difficulties every day. It wouldn’t be helpful for me personally, either, to dwell on the difficulties. I share them occasionally as part of humorous stories (as I try myself to see the humor). I don’t mean to pretend that farm life, or my life, is without obstacles, disappointments, pain, or sadness. But I don’t think gnashing my teeth over that stuff is the service I have to offer.

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. This website was inspired by The Slanted Little House post. I didn’t write that post for this website. I wrote it for another website. One day I saw a small piece in one of the Charleston newspapers announcing a new website for West Virginia creative artists, asking for submissions from creative people in WV. I contacted them and eventually wrote a piece for them. When it was ready, I wrote to them again to submit it. And never heard from them. Ever. Eventually, I decided not to waste the work I’d put into the piece so I published it on my blog, which at that time was a small romance writer’s blog. I probably had something like 50,000 pageviews a month back then. That was in September, 2007. I really wasn’t sure if I should publish it on my blog as it didn’t fit in with my blog’s tone and topics at the time. I almost didn’t publish it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to waste the work I’d put into the piece, and I thought it was good. It made me cry every time I read it. It came from my heart.

And nothing I’d written for a long time had really come from my heart. Lo and behold, just when I thought I had nothing left to say and should quit writing entirely, I realized I had so much more to say.

The response to that post surprised me. And changed my life. And changed this website. By December, 2007, I had changed the name, design, and tone of this site, and that is how Chickens in the Road was born. I realized I could inspire and motivate and move people in a way that was positive, and I felt as if all the hardships I’d gone through in my life suddenly made sense and had purpose. I determined to leave romance writing and devote myself full-time to this website. From the day of the Slanted Little House post to now, you as my readers give me a service that is incredibly fulfilling to me. THANK YOU. This month, this website had over 600,000 pageviews. (I am amazed.) I am a believer. Follow your heart. You can’t go wrong.

Here’s a little secret–at the same time I find fulfillment in serving you, what I write here serves me. Life is difficult. I’m not always happy. But what I write here helps bring me to a focus, reminds me of why I’m doing this, why this ordinary farm life is splendid, and helps me see the beauty in every day. It is my daily affirmation.

See, I don’t just do this for you. I do it for me, too. Life is every bit as beautiful as I paint it. It just takes a little due diligence to see it through the trees.


  1. Michelle says:

    Wow – I can only aspire to your 50,000 hits, let alone over half a million!

  2. Julie says:

    I love that even when a door closed (they never responded to your piece) you didn’t give up on it. The Slanted Little House post hooked me. Proud to be one of your many readers. I subscribe to a similar philosophy as you ~ look for the beauty where you are, whatever your situation, and know that live isn’t always ideal. :happyflower:

  3. Rose H says:

    I love that you (try) to see the humour in everyday life – I aspire to do that too, but often fail. I’m so pleased that it helps you so much too – you do me the world of good every day 😀
    THANK YOU. :yes:

  4. Judy says:

    You are right…Life is difficult and I have to say watching all the farmers here I’ve come to believe farm life is the most difficult. The reason I come here is that your blog is real…real life…real happenings. I had to chuckle in your “day and a half” post you said the “hard road”. Where my daughter lives they call it the “tar road”. Keep it up!

  5. Johanna says:

    Well, not to be crass but that generates some significant income for you from all of your advertisers. Earlier this week you wrote that you did not have any money, but I think what you meant to say must have been that all of your money is spent on the farm and your children. Because if you have half a million pageviews on a commercial site, that’s bringing in some income.

    Everyone cobbles together their life as they see fit.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Johanna, it actually takes millions of pageviews a month to make a significant amount of money on advertising. I do make an income from the site, but I’m not getting rich here, LOL. Writing this site is a passion for me. I’ve done it through (many) months where the site made no money at all (or very little), and I’ve believed every day until it got to where the site was supporting itself (there are a lot of expenses associated with running a site this size) and making enough beyond site expenses for me to survive. That’s where I am right now.

  6. Johanna says:

    Suzanne, I apologize. I did not mean to be confrontational. Sometimes I see things very black and white. Of course everyone’s situation is different. I enjoy reading your stories, no matter what your financial situation is. xo. Johanna

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      I understand, Johanna. I know it’s easy to just look at the surface and think, wow, there’s advertising, that must mean a lot of money. Advertising pays in (tiny) percentages of a cent per pageview. It takes a lot just to add up to a dollar. If I was getting rich, my boots wouldn’t look like that–I’d have a hired hand like my great-grandfather, LOL. I have come to enjoy the challenge of being frugal, but I’m frugal out of necessity. The advertising allows me to survive devoting full-time to this website, and without it, this website would not exist as it is because I would have to find another way to survive. (It also allows me to give away my writing for free to my readers, which is really important to me.) I mentioned the growth in pageviews as an example of the power of following your heart–and how you can impact other people’s lives as well as your own, for the good, just by living your dreams. Success to me is not about getting rich but about fulfilling the purpose I have here.

  7. greensborodailyphoto says:

    “If you want to live on a Farm.”

    Now there’s a catchy title for a show tune! Which makes me think you should write a MUSICAL about your life on the farm. Clover and Beulah Petunia could be on Broadway!!! For authenticity, you could import WV mud to NYC! During halftime, just like they sold umbrellas at Mary Poppins, they could sell rubber boots!

    VISUALIZE it now!

  8. kristen says:

    Life is pretty hard if you aren’t able to see the humor in at least some of it. You’re a joy Suzanne and I love how you are inspiring others to see the beauty in farming! :duck:

  9. Heather says:

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  10. hershiesgirl says:

    My mother, who was full of “old fashioned” wisdom always said, “If you never had a bad day, you would not be able to appreciate a good day.”

    She was right. The reality of life is: Daily life is A RUT. Everyone’s rut is different, but sometimes the *effort* to see it’s beauty and glory is the difference between a happy face and a sad face. 🙂

    Thanks Suzanne, for the wonderful job you do of sharing at CITR, good days and bad!

  11. Mary says:

    Slanted Little House hooked me too, and I’m so glad. I haven’t missed a day in nearly 3 years. I don’t live on a farm, but it’s just the kind of thing I love to read…but mostly it’s your writing talent. Beautiful.

  12. Alberta Price says:

    I absolutely enjoy your writings… I would love to live in a rural environment but I really would not want to do the work that you do.. I would love to just sit in my sewing room and look out at the changing seasons as I sew on my quilts.. So you are fulfilling a few dreams for the rest of us who either cant or wouldnt do the hard work you do.. we can just daydream about it a little and enjoy the times you have with the animals and also making all your from scratch items. Please keep up the work and the writing.

  13. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much! I needed to read this today. I think I might write some of your more pithy statements above onto note cards and stick them on my mirror.

  14. Angela P says:

    Well said Honey Bunny! I appreciate the “lets keep it positive and happy theme!” If others want the drama, depression, fear and worry of the everyday go sit and watch the news. As for me and my life. Its short. I want to be happy and its a choice. Sure stuff happens to us all, its how we deal with it and go on. Love, learn and BEE GRATEFUL. Even for the bad days. If everyday was peachy keen, perfect how would you know it???
    Thanks for all you do and for who you are. I for one am grateful! :heart:

  15. Virginia Farmgirl says:

    Very well said. I hope this site one day makes you millions. It’s already worth that to me.God Bless your giving heart.

  16. Luann says:

    beautifully said.

  17. Jane says:

    I love your website and read it EVERY day.I have lived on a farm all my life and know how hard it is BUT it is very rewarding.I no longer am able to do these things, so I live vicariously through you.lol

  18. Joycee says:

    Such a blessing to have clear vision of today and tomorrow. Not a thing we can do about the past but each day God gives us another chance to do it better! You do inspire us Suzanne to live a life that makes sense…instead of following the masses to find our own path, just pick up our stuff and start walking toward it. I have found a lot of insight since I started blogging. Writing it down and sharing is fulfilling. I wish I had more readers, although I said at first I was writing just for me! If I just had a starring cast of chickens and goats…

  19. claudia w says:

    It is such a break for me to come here and see what you, your children and your animals have been up to. It is also a little dreamy, because I would love to have a small farm and try my hand at living sustainably. I don’t know that I will ever get there, but I can try and you are helping me, because you teach so much in each and every one of your posts. Mainly you teach how to be satisfied with what you have and use it to the fullest.
    It seems to be a theme amongst bloggers this week to make the choice to be happy each and every day. I myself love finding the humor in things that are difficult or frustrating. It sure helps get through those hard times!
    I love your blog!!!

  20. sophanne says:

    I found your blog this summer when looking for a more natural way to make hamburger helper. A sheer accident. I have been here ever since. I teach in rural WV (outside of Morgantown)- live in rural PA. I look forward to your blog posts DAILY- you are my most favorite blogger.

  21. prayingpup says:

    Slanted Little House hooked me too! I’ve been here every day, since. I love your outlook, insight and love of life on the farm. I can no longer, physically, do the hard work, but I still try some of it and I love to read your adventures! Please don’t ever leave us!

  22. Bev in CA says:

    Dear Suzanne, having raised our children and lived the farm life everyday is a challenge. Acturally this includes all of us human beings. We have a saying in our family. “Nothing ever goes in a straight line!” Yet we manage to arrive at the end of the day achieving what ever the turns bring us. I am inspired, laugh, learn and truly enjoy your site. The first thing in the morning I can’t wait to see what is gong on at “Chicken in the Road.” Thank you.

  23. Jane says:

    I firmly believe that if you want something with all your heart, the universe makes it possible for you. You just have to want it, and that is where many of us fail. Thanks for these posts.. they have been very inspiring and beautifully written.

  24. mintamichelle says:

    Very Well said!!!! Love this site and the writing!!

  25. Sue says:

    Suzanne, I grew up on a farm which was like yours in some ways and different in some ways. However, I recognize the hard work and the joy that is part and parcel of the whole. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade that upbringing for anything. I don’t know that I’d ever want to repeat all of it, but I do appreciate the value. From these last few posts, I see your true character emerging and I like it. The kind of passion you have for your life is something for the rest of us to aspire to. Please keep prodding us daily to live our own dreams!!

  26. Dorrie says:

    Suzanne, I absolutely love your website! Your writing reminds me of that of Gladys Taber who, back in the 50s though the 70s, wrote books and columns about her life at Stillmeadow Farm in Connecticut. Almost all her book titles begin with “Stillmeadow” (Farm, Seasons etc.) I actually discovered her books in the 80s. Anyway, I hope someday you will write a book centered around the seasons at your farm. It would be great and I sure would buy it!
    Dorrie in NC

  27. texwisgirl says:

    I had read “The slanted little house” post before, but I just went back and read it again. It just makes my heart swell and my eyes fill with tears. What a wonderful leap of faith you took for a better life for your children and yourself. God bless! And I’m with the other commentors that wish you billions of hits on your website and gobs of money from it! The love of life and animals that you share with all of your readers is worth millions!

  28. Jane says:

    You know what else I love about your site? The comments. I read a lot of blogs, but yours is the ONLY site where I read comments! You have great readers.

  29. catslady says:

    Simply said – that’s why we love you :hug:

  30. Lori Skoog says:

    Having lived on a horse farm for the past 30 years, I sure understand where you are coming from. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired or busy…there are things that have to be done with animals every morning and evening. I am in awe of your 600,000 pages read in a month. Guess you are doing many things that others love to tune in to.
    Most of my friends would not be remotely willing to do what I do for the love of my animals and this property. You know all about commitment and have an absolute flare in so many directions. Kudos.

  31. Tina says:

    Well, girl, this one brought tears to my eyes….
    Yesterday’s post about following your dream was so powerful and inspiring; I’m still feeling edified!
    And today? This? Your heart is in every word you write and I can FEEL it. I have never felt so connected to someone I’ve never even met; I am grateful for your spirit and your talent with words.
    Like I said yesterday, I truly hope that you are able to sense and fill yourself with the outpouring of love from your readers….xoxo

  32. Melissa Marsh says:

    God bless you, Suzanne. I’ve followed you since the romance writing blog and you know that your journey has inspired me to find my own happiness. Thank YOU for being YOU. 🙂

  33. Julia says:

    :snuggle: I found your blog that winter and have continued to read and follow your journey since. You have given me the courage to also follow my dream. From growing our own “kitchen garden” to locating raw milk and cheese/yogurt making and also canning. With a good amount of trepidation your encouragement, through your blog, has given me a journey towards a better/simpler life. Thank you.

  34. lauren says:

    I love starting my day reading your site. It just starts the day off right 🙂 Hope you make goobs of money one day with the daily gift you give us all.

  35. Whaledancer says:

    When life gives you mud, make mudpies!

    I love the theme of this website, “Life in Ordinary Splendor.” If I had to choose a theme for my life I think it might be “Celebrate the Ordinary”. It seems to me that life is made up of the ordinary, and if you’re paying attention, it’s breath-takingly, amazingly wonderful (even when it’s kind of awful, too). And reading this blog is something like having a friend to takes your arm and says “Look, look! See the way the sun is catching the dewdrops on that dandelion? It’s that pretty?” It reminds me to pay attention and celebrate the ordinary.

  36. Carmen says:

    I wonder how many of your readers have been inspired to do something “rural” because of you? I personally may not have had the guts to get my three hens for our very urban backyard had I not had the encouragement of reading your blog and others on the subject. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences – the good and the bad! – for all of us aspiring homesteaders out here in the urban wilderness.

  37. Quietstorm says:

    I think i found your site thru stumbleupon…the first post i saw was the one where you were making grapevine wreaths and whether or not you had any pants on in the picture…your sense of humor definately hooked me and ive been a daily reader since.

    When im having a “day and a half” of my own, i know i can always come here and there will be something positive, whether in your post or just the sense of community that is here. No other blog i read has that.

  38. Luann says:

    I am grateful you choose to see the good and humor in all the hard work you do. I am especially grateful you share it here. Reading your blog helps me get through my trials albeit different but helps me look at life more positively. Thankyou!

  39. auntbear says:

    This blog is a labor of love and a gift to us all.Thank you Suzanne. :heart:

  40. Beth says:

    Very well said! :cowsleep: :chicken: :sheep: :moo: :happybutterfly:

  41. Ulrike says:

    What hooked me was your struggles in milking Clover the first time around. Your posts were anything but idyllic, but they were definitely not depressive in tone. I love that you look on the bright side. I also know that it’s HARD WORK growing food for a family, and I like reading about how hard it is sometimes, too. As long as you keep on keepin’ it real, I’ll keep reading! 😀

  42. Ramona says:

    I have several pair of those!

  43. Julie Hilton says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    I live on a farm in Nelson Co. Va. I so agree with the reality of mud! Don’t forget to remind folks that with great fun healthy animals you get lots of poo. Sometimes you get mud AND poo! Such is life–on the farm and elsewhere. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.


  44. Sheila says:

    I actually found your site when I was looking for a recipe for homemade poptarts (ironic huh LOL) and I have to say that in the few months that I’ve been coming here and trying some of these recipes , I’ve really and truly enjoyed it. I love reading the stories and the little anecdotes and definatly the recipes :). Suzanne if you ever come out with a cookbook please let us know , I’d love to add it to my collection and I think my mom would like it too :D.

  45. texasmelgal says:

    I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying this blog! I ran across it while researching how to pasteurize your own milk. I had insomnia and just read old post for hours! Love it!

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