A Walk on the Ridge


Almost every day, I walk the ridge road that runs out behind my farm. Two and a half miles there, and two and a half miles back, for a total round trip of five miles. Sometimes I run parts of it.
From my farm, the road starts out following along my upper pastures. The first half mile or so leads to a family cemetery, the Payne Cemetery. The Paynes were a major family player here in the old days, and the Paynes remain. The name Payne is on mailboxes up and down the road leading to my farm, and my neighbor Jim who helps me out when I have a plumbing or a cow crisis, and whose daughters mow my yard, is part of the Payne family. His girls mow the cemetery, too. If my family had stayed in this county, my family name would be up and down the road in Stringtown, maybe. But they didn’t, except for my cousin. And then me. And now Ross and Selena plan to settle here when he gets out of the Navy. I did, after all, bring my family back to Roane County. (Too soon to say what Weston and Morgan will do.) Anyway, the half mile leading up to the cemetery is a long, long uphill, starting my walk with a good workout.
By the time I reach the top of the ridge, I’ve made it past my upper pastures and to one side is land that is part of a large cattle farm that stretches all the way over to the next road on the other side of the hill, and the other side is the ravine dropping off from the ridge road. The road will hug the ravine most of the rest of the way. There are no homes, farms, or even cabins for two and a half miles.
There’s no traffic here. It’s like a walk through a nature preserve. I see bunnies, turtles, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and birds, so many birds. The woods are filled with their song.
The path is narrow, canopied by trees that make a good shelter when an unexpected rain falls.
Rain is a virtuous excuse to turn around early, by the way. I’ve been caught out in the rain a time or two lately. There’s nothing to do then but keep putting one foot in front of the other and pretend you don’t mind getting soaked. There’s only one way to get home. Keep walking. Dogs come with me, friends and protectors along the way. There are obstacles–muddy ruts in the road that these days lately are filled with rain. Dogs don’t mind splashing right in.
I find ways around. Mostly. The ruts are made by the only traffic you ever find out here–gas company trucks. There are gas wells out here. Lately, by the way, I seem to have more and more company on my ridge walks. If Chloe is out, she comes with Casper and Gwennie. And now–
Seriously. I think I just need a couple chickens, and maybe a donkey, to complete my animal train, don’t you? Maybe a sheep and a horse and that ornery goose. And Glory Bee. CAN YOU IMAGINE?! Yeah, that little goat, she makes me imagine. Some have suggested she is of Clover. Believe me, I have thought of it. For the first time in a long time, I am inspired by a goat, and loving it. And her. It has been hard to get over Clover. But Maia, she is doing it.
Just before I reach civilization at the far end of the road, I turn around and head back. I’m sweaty, and my legs feel strong. Here in the middle of this lush nowhere, I might be in a quiet piece of Central Park. Or the deepest Amazon jungle. A Pacific island, or Snow White’s darkly magical forest.
But I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. A little faster if I hear the rustle of raindrops in the leaves overhead. Because the only place I really want to be is….
…c’mon, Maia….


  1. bonita says:

    The psychic sister had it right, “You are the one.”
    The one for whom Sassafras Farm is home in the most mystic sense of the word.

  2. Old Geezer says:

    This post made me immediately think of these lines:

    “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.”

  3. Faith says:

    I loved going on that walk with you. I love my West Virginia and seeing your part of West Virginia is fun. I love nowhere too, one of my favorite places. Cemeteries, rain, views, woods, wild animals, good company…life is good!
    The picture with your friends, the way the rocks are exposed under the gravel looks like my drive way. No shortage of rocks here, I love them. Neighbors are always asking me if I am planting them or digging for them. I do both. Great “free” landscaping, berm building material.

  4. Mandys says:

    A lovely walk!

    I love Maia, I too have been missing Clover, and Maia just seems to be delivering a message – “I’m ok! I love you. Carry on and enjoy life. Look, A wonderful new baby. I’m always with you”

  5. mamajoseph says:

    There is nothing like life in the country. You’ve described the blessing and benefit so well, once again. Thank you.

  6. Miss Judy says:

    You have a beautiful way with the camera…and your words. Thank you. Made me homesick…sigh…but in a good kind of way.
    Such a blessing for me this morning.

  7. Anita says:

    A grand walk, for sure. I love how Maia appears to have something spraypainted on her side in white paint!

  8. TracyT says:

    Beautiful post. Does Maia really make it the full five miles? Wow!

  9. cinderbama says:

    That was lovely Suzanne. Thank you. It made me feel so homesick for my own home place in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. Have a wonderful Independence Day!

  10. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    What a lovely walk you have. It must be paradise.

  11. Rah says:

    Thank you for the beautiful account of your walk–beauty in the words and the photos. Maybe you are related to St. Francis? heh heh I love seeing the animals trooping along with you.

  12. NancyL says:

    I concur with everything that was said before me – what a wonderful walk! I love what I’ve seen of WV, but this took me back to my hiking days in North Georgia. A walk in the woods on a mountain always seemed spiritual to me, even in the rain. I can’t do that anymore, so I am grateful to you for sharing your walk.

    Nancy in Iowa

  13. lesliedgray says:

    What a wonderful post! It almost brought tears to my eyes..That is nearly all I long for too… A HOME! Not just a house that I own, but a place where I want to stay until the end of my days.

  14. DeniseS says:

    I have been a silent reader for about 7 months now. I found Chickens in the Road when I stumbled upon the post about your grandmother’s dishes. I have been reading ever since. I love see how you and the farm are doing every day or every couple of days when life gets busy. I live in a condo so farm life is all new to me. Today, as I read about Maia following you, I too, thought of Clover. In 7 months of reading I fell in love with Clover and her stores and then mourned her passing. I now love reading about Maia and all the other animals. I bought the photo of the chickens praying in front of the door. Love it.

    A direct result of reading C.I.T.R. is that I talked my girlfriend into attending a Beginning Shepherd Clinic at the WI Sheep and Wood Festival in September,2013. Not that I’m going to raise sheep in a condo, l.o.l. but I am just curious and want to learn. Thank you for sharing your life and farm stories.

  15. MousE says:

    What a lovely post! I wish I was there to hear the birdsong. You are very lucky although of course I know you have worked very hard to get where you are today.

    And that Maia. Clover’s spirit indeed. How comforting! Thank you for this post, Suzanne. 😀

  16. MousE says:


    Old Geezer, I love that poem. :snoopy:

  17. cyndispot says:

    Suzanne, just the other day I thought of you and clover and wondered when you might be putting crowns and jewels on baby maia. She is a good everyday reminder. You could put a picture of her up everyday and I would be very happy to see it.

  18. Jen says:

    Are there any bears?

    This would make a great children’s picture book – a story about Maia taking a walk.

  19. Della says:

    :wave: Hi
    I have to tell you I have decided to walk again. I so love my mountains and have been neglecting them. I live SW of Denver in a wonderful isolated area of the Rocky Mountains.

    I enjoy reading about all your adventures and all your wonderful family human and animal. :hug:

  20. bbkrehmeyer says:

    What a lovely place to live . I live in the high desert on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, but no mts. here just hot dry desert. Our altitude is about 4800 feet, but its very hot and dry…. You are lucky you have such a lovely place to walk.
    We have lovely places if you like rocks, :sun: cacti, snakes, and sage brush….

  21. whaledancer says:

    Lovely. It seems as though a walk like that every day would strengthen your spirit as much as your body. It sounds like you have found the home of your heart.

  22. ibpallets (Sharon B.) says:

    Beautiful post!

  23. holstein woman says:

    That is absolutely beautiful lady.

  24. Rose H says:

    What a wonderful walk – thank you for taking me along with you (and the dogs and Maia!)

  25. VictorianGirl says:

    Your own little piece of Heaven on earth.

  26. EMarie says:

    I loved it….thank you.

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