This Wonderful Week


I’m in love with this week. I wish I could get this much done on the farm every week! But, I don’t usually have this much help. Weston was home from college this week. The superboys (Sean and Sean) had a rare day off in the middle of the week. And Dave and Matt wiggled their noses and came up with Eugene out of a genie bottle.

Eugene is actually Matt’s dad. He finished Patriot’s field yesterday. We are ready for Patriot! Patriot is tentatively scheduled to be delivered on Monday. (I’ll let you know! We are excited!) Remember the weird gates that were on the horse field?

They’ve been replaced with two four-foot gates.

These gates, when both are opened, are wide enough to bring in a tractor with a mower or brush hog. That is all I expect to need to bring in here periodically. This is not a potential hay field. It’s a primary horse field. Grass is growing! The farrier is scheduled for this afternoon so I’m keeping Jack and Poky at the barn today, but after that they will be moved to the horse field in advance of Patriot’s arrival.

I’ll try to answer a few recurring questions in this post from the past week or so. Sometimes I don’t know what you will be curious about and don’t get it into a post, and also remember that the photos I show of progress and work on the farm don’t show every step or include explanation of every plan. (Always feel free to ask!) As to companionship for Patriot, for now, it will be the donkeys, which I’ve been assured is adequate. However, that doesn’t mean that will be his only companionship forever. See Zip. Zip is a gentle, older mare I’m hoping to adopt—for me! Yes. ME. She’s a little present to myself.

A couple of things here–one, Zip was discovered, wandering and starving, with Patriot and they are already bonded. While Morgan was primarily attracted to Patriot, we met Zip, saw her bond with Patriot, and both felt enchanted with the idea of keeping these two horses together. I have room and pasture for a second horse, and happily, I also feel confident now that I can afford the care for a second horse. I’m looking forward to the challenge and pleasure of learning to ride. This is something I’m looking forward to doing for myself, and also to share with Morgan. (And don’t worry–I will be looking for someone who can teach me, preferably someone local who is willing to come out to the farm. Also FYI, I do plan to acquire a livestock trailer of my own, a small one like we have used to move the cows, that will also be perfect for horses, sometime this summer. I will need it for the horses, and also if I am going to continue to move the cows for breeding, borrowing can’t go on forever. It’s a real hassle always having to beg, borrow, and hunt one down.) If we are permitted to adopt Zip, she will be coming a bit further down the line, after Patriot.

Eugene will be back next week, by the way! He will also be working other fields for me–the big upper pasture for the cows, for one, as well as the Bee field (across the road) to prepare it as a rotational horse field. He will also be doing some minor repairs to the rear barn yard, and putting final touches on the Park field and finishing up the Blueberry Hill field (both of which are rotational sheep fields). I’m also paying attention to what Eugene is doing so that I can make minor fencing repairs myself in the future. He’s an older farmer, very patient, and good at explaining things to me. He will be here on and off for several weeks. The task at hand is enormous with so many different fields needing various work. He’s not available every day (he has his own farming to do), and I’m very grateful for his help. Once the fields have all been put back in proper order, I hope to maintain them on my own, so I’m eager to learn from him.

For now– Sheep in the Park!

There were several questions about this field. It’s not finished yet, but I went ahead and moved the sheep. They aren’t exactly motivated to go anywhere at the moment with all that green grass they have been longing for the past couple of weeks, so I’m not worried too much about them escaping before the final touches. Finishing up the Park field includes bracing on the fenceline as well as correcting the creek crossing. A rain shelter will also be added to this field (and others).

Meanwhile, back in the studio! Sheetrock is up.

Mudding and taping has begun. And responding to questions here–yes, there IS insulation.

By next week, there will be painting!

For me, I am hoping to finish the entrance gate post painting today. It was a bit windy yesterday, so I’m hoping today will be better. I’d love to have the gates back up by the end of the day. All of the house/studio grounds fencing is completed except for replacing some of the missing pickets. I will probably be doing some planting along the white picket fencing, but haven’t made any decisions yet. (I do love the hollyhocks suggestion.) I will probably plan several different things here, but I’m just not there yet.

With fencing in the yard blocking off the direct access to run down the bank to the road, I’ve felt confident enough to allow Chloe to come up to the house and enjoy some visitation (and romping) with her people and her Casper.

A long, hard first winter at Sassafras Farm is blooming into a beautiful spring!

A few other notes: I do intend to bypass and drain the water heater in the hiding spot in the house. (Other work is ahead of it, but it will be done by the summer. Also, I went ahead and turned on public water in the house. Really didn’t want to do that, but the water pressure in the house was so low, I decided to give it a try since I had brought public water up already for the studio. The first time I put a glass under the kitchen faucet to get a drink, the water pressure literally knocked the glass out of my hand! I wasn’t expecting the force of the water and it took me by surprise! I was lucky the glass didn’t break when it slammed down into the sink. This means, for one thing, that when the power is out, I will still have water. Losing water is one of the worst things about a power outage. It will take me a while to get over that I don’t have to fill buckets and the bathtub with water every time a storm is expected. It also means that I can wash my hair–and feel like I’m getting the shampoo out! The difference in water pressure is amazing. I did leave the well on to the barn yard faucets, of course. Clover is a little upset that she still can’t get shampoo out of her hair, but I made it up with a few extra cookies.

And coming up– Ross has finished his two years of nuclear power school and has been assigned to the USS Scranton (a fast attack submarine) in Norfolk, Virginia. He’s not sure yet, but we are expecting he will have a few days leave before reporting to his ship. Next weekend, I expect to have ALL THREE of my kids here. Can’t wait!

I hope he wants to mow!

P.S. Coco update: I was hoping I’d get to take her home this week, but no. She is beginning to put pressure on her injured leg, showing the early signs of trying to walk on it. They want to continue with the splint, as it is helping strengthen her joint, and there is also a lot of concern about re-injury if she comes home, gets excited, tries to run, etc. Plus, they won’t let me take her home with the splint on and they want to keep it on another week or two. So. SIGH. As I noted before, they are not charging me for continuing to keep her, so I believe fully they are doing what they believe is best. I could put my foot down and take her home any time I want to, but I want the best for her, too.


  1. JeannieL says:

    It sounds like you are settling in well… Its so green

  2. Darlene says:

    Wow Suzanne, just wow! I am blown away that you are getting Zip. You will love riding and what better way is there to get to know your farm. Everything looks beautiful. You deserve it all and more!

  3. browardl says:

    So excited for you! Nothing better than the bond between a woman and her horse. Come to Florida and ride with us sometime! Love to all.

  4. Leck Kill Farm says:

    I am so happy for you!

    Good to know about the insulation, I can stop worrying about that!

    I am amazed you have public water so far out “in the country.” Are you close to a town? Or is there a water tower close by and the main runs down the road? The intense water pressure makes me think the resevoir is close by. (I am in the biz.)

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      The water comes from Walton, and the water plant is probably about 15 miles away. I’m not really close to any town here. However! This is a main county road–I am at the end of it, so there isn’t much traffic, but I have the benefits of being at the end of a main county road with mail delivery, school bus, and water line. The “intensity” of the water pressure may just be in comparison, LOL.

  5. doodlebugroad says:

    Life is good … storms always pass.

  6. amateisgal says:

    Wonderful progress on so many levels, and so many answered prayers. The book sale is going to open so many wonderful doors for you! I can’t wait to read it – and give it to people as gifts, too!

  7. TeaCup says:

    So pretty. I can’t wait to see the Sassafrass Farm at the retreat!

    Such a nice way to start the day, thanks Suzanne.


  8. manlovea says:

    Such a beautiful farm! I am so happy for you! One question for you though – DO YOU EVER SLEEP?! WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ENERGY FROM?! I struggle everyday just doing the basics – going to work, taking care of the house/family – you amaze me with your seeming never ending energy! :happyflower:

    ~Amy in WI

  9. CATRAY44 says:

    So many blessings- so happy for you!

  10. Dottie says:

    WOW!!! What a week!!! Beyond words!!!

    2 horses! How exciting to be able to ride
    all over your beautiful farm. You are in
    for a real treat.

    It’s such a GOOD feeling watching all the
    activity and progress.

    Thank you for sharing.

  11. robinc says:

    Congratulations on all of the great things that are happening! Something does come to mind about the water though. When we bought our house, we had to have a pressure regulator put on the city water at the meter. The house had AMAZING water pressure, but the lack of regulator caused problems like worn out gaskets and leaky faucets after a bit. With the regulator, the water pressure is still good. It might be a good thing to check if the house wasn’t set up that way to begin with.

  12. lattelady says:

    Congrats on absolutely everything. I am glad you are getting “Zip”, she will have a great forever home. Yes, learn to ride, and ride appropriately. Gaited horses are so soothing to ride, but you have to do it right.

  13. norahse says:

    I’m so glad that things have finally settled down for you. I love reading your blog every day.

  14. Julia says:

    I have another theory about Coco. They LOVE her and they never will let her go. You will have to break in one night and tempt her away with steaks and ham bones.

  15. cabynfevr says:

    Life is good :sun:

  16. wildcat says:

    What an incredible week at Sassafras Farm! So happy for you, on every level! :snoopy:

  17. copgrrl says:

    Suzanne, I am so excited for you and your family! Humbly, I am living vicariously through your endeavors. I too want so much to buy a small farm; alas, this is not in the cards for me right now. If I lived closer, I would volunteer some of my time to work on your farm, just so I could be closer to the animals and get back to the land. I now kick myself for not appreciating what I had as a kid. We had a small place, about 1/2 and acre. My dad knew what he was doing but could not express his dream for us. Thank goodness I have those memories in my DNA and NOW can appreciate what he was doing for us. I have to wait at least 3 years before I can make any purchases–had to short sale a property. But that is okay. This is a long time goal for me and I believe I will make it happen. In the meantime, I love to read your stories and watch the events unfold. Thank you for the willingness to share with all of us! P.S., I made Robiola and it is now aging. Photos coming soon!

  18. liz2 says:

    Thanks for your progress report & so much information. I’ve wondered about many of these issues but didn’t want to ask because you have been so busy. I don’t know how you find any time to post! Wonderful news about Zip. She should be perfect for you & Patriot. You are so fortunate to be able to add Eugene to your crew–such a skilled helper. Sorry you must wait a little longer to bring Coco home, but I agree it’s good for her to remain at the clinic to achieve the best possible recovery. And best of all the good news–all three children possibly at home next week. Sending much happiness & admiration to you.

  19. boulderneigh says:

    I read in awe at the chain of events that have led you to this moment. All the heartache of losing Stringtown Rising led to the writing of a memoir which has put you and your dreams for Sassafras Farm on solid financial footing. Who could have guessed that such pain could lead to such joy? (Well, maybe every woman who has gone through childbirth…. 😉

  20. Bev in CA says:

    Thanks for answering questions. Everything looks so beautiful. Love the picket fences. You mentioned holly hocks, etc. Something to plant would be a Forsythia bush. The lovely yellow in spring is so wonderful to look at. Have a great time with your family. Congratulations to Ross on his first ship. Also happy for Morgan,you and the horses. Such excitement. Happy Spring!

  21. kdubbs says:

    I am so glad you’re investing in riding lessons for Morgan–and for yourself–hooray! Kudos to you for doing the smart thing and making sure you’re well-informed, well-trained equestrians. Riding is a fabulous workout, and I hope you love it!

    Congrats–what an amazing week!

  22. rhubarbrose says:

    A wonderful week indeed! Many blessings to come.
    So happy to hear that you too will have a horse to ride – Zip looks great!
    Congrats on every level Suzanne!
    BTW – our ramps are ready and I hope to dig some this weekend – yeah!!!!

  23. NancyL says:

    What a fantastic post! I feel like I’ve been there with you all week. You and your gang did accomplish so much!!! And I can only imagine how excited Morgan is about Patriot arriving on Monday, and I’m more than delighted that you plan to get Zip for yourself (and Patriot!) I hope Ross gets home as you hope – the 4 of you will have a wonderful weekend!!!

    Tell Clover if she can’t get all the shampoo out of her hair, it will just glisten and make her more attractive!!

  24. mds9 says:

    I am happy for you! I’m concerned that your water pressure is too high. Ask one of your very knowledgeable construction experts. You may need a reduction in the pipe to reduce pressure,or your pipes might burst. A simple job.

  25. wanda1950 says:

    I’m so glad you’re having this special time of joy & accomplishment. Also very grateful that you are able to take in the horses. I looked at that site–so many in such need that it makes me want to cry. Wish I was richer so I could help.

    I miss seeing Coco!

  26. MMHoney says:

    Let’s rehash this plumber qualifications – – –
    Water pressure must be regulated (period)
    To much pressure will destroy your washing machine – rubber hose – commode valves inside the water tank – dish washer – ice maker —
    need I add more??????? All of this doesn’t happen over night but it will get you in the end and when you least expect or are prepared …..Take care of it NOW!!!!!!!!

  27. STracer says:

    People just make me laugh sometimes. Congrats on such a great week! You seem to have everything under control and now that the money worries have sort of solved themselves, enjoy life and the adventure of it all.

  28. Claudia W says:

    Suzanne – I can “hear” the excitement in your words! HEAR it! I am so very happy and excited for you.
    Zip looks like an old mare i had 20 years ago. That mare taught my kids and I so much about love and life! She will be a lucky lady to be in your family!

  29. Robin Wrenn says:

    Congrats on your horse! Can I leave something that I learned the hard way when I got my first horse years ago? Horses are not like cows etc when it comes to new green grass. Mine got a crippling condition called founder. Apparently horses gorge themselves on fresh green grass after being on dry hay and put on a lot of weight – and if they don’t get tons of exercise their feet swell up but because they have hooves the swelling is constricted by the hoof shell and it’s very painful for the horses. They spend a lot of time lifting and resting each hoof to relieve the pain and their hooves are very hot. I had a mare and we had to keep her on dry pasture all the time. It cost a lot in vet bills and apparently damages their hooves so that can’t be rode much. I just wanted to let you know so you could check into this before you put your horse on green grass – I’m sure the people you get him from can explain it to you and give you advise. My horse was a single horse also – which I believe makes them eat more. I just wish I had known back then BEFORE I got my horse.
    I love your farm and your blog. And am inspired by your “can do” spirit. Thanks for a lovely blog.

  30. Stick Horse Cowgirls says:

    Wish we could hook up to city water–it’s available, but expensive–maybe when we can better afford it! I do love to drink our well water, but I’m tired of low water pressure and rusty toilets!
    Excited about all the changes at your beautiful farm! Are you getting your stove back or perhaps you could find a commercial range for your studio kitchen!
    Stick Horse
    Cowgirl V

  31. newyorkquilter says:

    Congratulations on the horses! I grew up with horses and when my husband started farming one of the first things I got was two horses. Nothing beats a nice ride with the my kids. Sharing a common love really helps keep us close. I see that Zip is a standardbred . . wonderful, wonderful breed! Very calm, easy going, easy keepers. Dont’ worry if Patriot is the solo horse for a while. She’ll (or he?) will do fine with the donkey as company. Size doesn’t affect equine bonding! Good idea to take lessons then you will have someone you can ask questions/advice, etc.

  32. Granma2girls says:

    I just love how your farm has become so much more picturesque with the green grass. It seems like every picture is calendar worthy, or even coffee table book worthy. There doesn’t seem to be a sorry sight to focus a camera on anywhere. Once the trees are in leaf, and flowers are blooming, it’ll be the sweetest place on earth! Congrats on all the wonderful blessings you’ve received over the past few weeks.As a mom of 3 adult kids, I know the excitement of having all 3 at home for a weekend! Enjoy!

  33. enjay says:

    Standardbreds are a good breed. They tend to have kind, stable personalities and to be a really good, dependable joe’s. She looks like a sweetheart.

    I would ask about her dental care, if she’s been floated since they got her, and I would have her evaluated by an equine chiropractor. She looks a bit stiff under saddle, it could be a remnant from being emaciated and out of shape, it could be age, or it could be she could benefit from an adjustment.

    I look forward to getting to know Zip and Patriot 🙂

  34. Blessings says:

    As I keep reading these empowering post this quote came to mind:
    “It’s the independant American spirit that built this country – hard-working entrepreneurs who believe in the reality of their dreams.” Robert E. Hughes
    I also thought of the movie, “Field of Dreams, build it and they will come”
    Suzanne, keep following your dreams!
    ~~peace & love & joy & blessings~~

  35. wildbeth says:

    On the quote theme…a favorite of mine I was reminded of recently:
    “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” (Pablo Picasso).
    So happy for you & your family, & you are blessed to have so many helpful willing hands about!

  36. yvonnem says:


    Weren’t you supposed to have a front page article in the Charleston Daily Mail this past Monday..or did I get the day wrong? I don’t subscribe to home delivery any more, but have checked online and couldn’t find anything. I also thought you were going to post a link to it and can’t find it either. Maybe it’s this coming Monday?

    Just wondering, reading the Daily Mail is how I found your blog in the first place….and SO glad I did! :happyflower:

  37. lavenderblue says:

    All best-selling authors deserve a horse of their own! And Sassafras Farm looks much better suited to riding than Stringtown. It will be good for Morgan, too. I was a touch worried about her riding alone, not that she won’t ever but it would be good to have company along as she gets used to Patriot. Not only that but maybe Mom could loan Morgan’s non-horse owning friends her horse for a short cantor or two.

    Those fences are beautiful. And as much as I love hollyhocks (I have them planted around my house, even though they are not really “in-town” flowers) could I put in a word for some sunflowers along the fence to feed the birds.

    And what “terrible Charlestown fire”? Did I miss a post or do I just have a horrible, horrible memory? Probably the latter.

  38. bonita says:

    Wow, can’t believe it’s been two years since Ross left for bootcamp. All three at home will be a treat for you, and them! Great news about Zip, guess you will be able to ride the range ” a’lookin fer busted fencing” and generally getting to know your place. Maybe you’ll even be able to delay getting a 4-wheeler to get around. Or, maybe your mss can get that for you! Really sorry about Coco. The longer she stays at the vet, the more miraculous it seems that you got her back at all. The car collision must have been worse than it seemed, even if the vets are being super cautious. Coco—and her rescue vets—are in my prayers

  39. JerseyJenny says:

    Oh, I am so excited for you! I saw Patriot was marked as adopted and Zip is adorable. My mom has horses and I do not ride, but do enjoy brushing, petting and loving them. Plus, there’s nothing like this massive animal walking up to you and ever so gently placing their head over your shoulder. Ugh… Love that!

    I was happy to hear how the gates, studio and Coco are progressing too. I just love your blog! 😀

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