Breaking Ground on the Helipad


Finally! The Stringtown Rising Farm helipad is under construction! Champagne for everyone! I’ve ordered a gold-plated helicopter! And a cute pilot! No more driving on that rocky road for me!

Lately, I’ve noted a disturbance in the force. A comment here, a comment there, an email and then another email and then some more, all on the same theme. And so today I am interrupting your regularly scheduled cooking with real fat, decorating with free stuff, digging in the woods, and barnyard antics to address the topic as best as I can because I want you to know that I hear you and that I take your concerns to heart.

The comments and emails I’ve been receiving all come down to this one oft-repeated phrase:

Please don’t change.

I want to reassure you, if you’re one of those who have left a comment along these lines or emailed me about it or just thought about it without saying anything directly to me, that I’m not going to change. This website is and always will be about living frugally, celebrating simplicity, and discovering the beauty in the everyday. I mean, who else is going to tell you to put weeds in pots on your porch? I’m here for you. I’m not going to start flying around the world on book tours, install an elevator to get up and down my driveway in the winter, construct a state-of-the-art two-million dollar milking parlor, hire hands to feed the goats and chickens, or build a guest house for visitors and media representatives to enjoy Stringtown Rising Farm. I’m also not going to start posting gourmet recipes or expensive shopping suggestions. (I don’t have time to shop. I have a cow.)

Rather, I’m going to keep on conjuring up ridiculous stories about chickens, taking pornographic photos of goats, and painting salvaged spool tables.

I don’t have a million readers–or dollars.

Some of the concerns I’ve been hearing were brought on by my recent switch to representation by Federated Media. I’m thrilled that Federated Media wanted to bring my site into their fold, and also amazed. I mean, seriously, think about it. Do you really think the makers of products like Hamburger Helper want to advertise on my site? I’m not exactly an advertiser’s dream. However, Federated Media assured me that they had advertisers who were looking for authenticity, not product-pushers.

I run advertising on my website because I’m a professional writer trying to make a living writing this blog. Writing is what I do for a living. I also write a couple columns and other things, and I have a secret writing project in the works, too. I devote full-time to this website, outside of several hours a day spent in various farm-related tasks not to mention running children around, and I couldn’t spend the amount of time I spend on this website if I wasn’t also trying to earn money with it. (I can make a lot of stuff from scratch, but sometimes you actually need cash. You know, to pay bills. Like the hosting fees for this website, which alone run several hundred dollars a month. And if you try to make cash from scratch, they arrest you.)

I used to write books. In order to read my work, readers had to pay for it. Writing this website allows me to give away my writing for free to my readers with the support for the writing coming from advertising. I see this as a win-win for me and readers both. After all, I’m all about frugal–I don’t want you to have to pay to read my work. But as a professional writer, the money has to come from somewhere. Thus, advertising. (If you block advertising, please reconsider. I know you think you are the only one, but you’re not, and blocking advertising hampers writers from providing their creative material for free to readers, so you are hurting not just me but your fellow readers. Okay, enough said. Thank you for your consideration.)

There’s more to this website than appears–it’s a vast mountain of posts and pages and templates and plugins that require frequent professional technical attention, and there’s also a busy cooking community here now and an active forum. I couldn’t do it alone, and there is a fantastic group of volunteers here who help me with it. I would very much like to compensate these people, but I can’t yet. I hope I will be able to do so sometime before I wear them out.

I may write some sponsored posts in association with some campaigns through Federated Media, and I want to take this opportunity to explain how that works. I will not be pushing products. What I will be asked to do, upon occasion, is write a post in line with some theme centering around an advertiser’s campaign. You can see what a post like that would look like here.

Yes, I just sent you to one of my regular posts.

Because that’s what a post like that will look like other than saying at the end: This post was sponsored by XXX.

Say my post about Mary the Operator was a sponsored post for Verizon. IT’S NOT. THIS IS A MADE UP EXAMPLE. Say Verizon wanted to find some bloggers who would write a post on their blog about how much fun the telephone is. (Again, I’m making this up!) Verizon would ask me to write a fun post about something telephone-related while they were running ads on my site and in return they would pay me a ridiculous extra sum for adding the “Sponsored by Verizon” bit at the end of it. (Verizon is actually running ads on my site right now, but again, this example is made up.) Notice the post itself would make no mention of Verizon or push Verizon’s services, it would simply be a post relating to the topic of using the telephone. If that post about Mary the Operator had been sponsored by Verizon, I would have written it exactly the same way. In fact, why wasn’t that post sponsored by Verizon? (Verizon? Verizon!)

If I could get an advertiser to sponsor every post I write, I would happily do so. (I am not rich! In fact, I’m poor. Which is okay, but I do have to pay my bills, so I’m a workin’ girl here.) But I will never write a post for an advertiser that compromises my principles. (And I have turned down such offers already. It will be a miracle if I ever get an advertiser to sponsor a post here!)

The bottom line is–I’m really not that big and I really don’t have any money. What I do have is an undying commitment to the simple life, and to sharing ideas and tips and nonsensical barnyard tales with you. That has always been my promise to you as my readers and friends, and I hope you understand in return that I also need to find a way to pay my bills with my writing. There was a time that I was so hard up, I had a donation button on my site. Many of you kept this site going through some really bleak months for me financially. I promised I would take the donation button down as soon as I was able to support the site myself, and I took the button down last summer. This site is still here because of your support, and serving you is foremost in my mind every day when I sit down at my laptop to write the next day’s post with the goal of entertaining, inspiring, informing, or just giving you a laugh while you’re drinking your coffee.

So please don’t worry. I’m not changin’.

I will not forget who took me here–it was you.

P.S. I don’t really have a helipad. Or any champagne. (Or a helicopter or a pilot.) However, the chore boots and shovel in the photograph are very real.

P.P.S. I also wasn’t wearing any pants and there was a puppy chewing on my knee.

Just, well….. Keepin’ it real. I promise.


  1. Nancy in Iowa says:

    I wouldn’t want a thing to change – unless you brought home another surprise farm critter, or an elephant. I love your blog; I’m glad it posts in the middle of the night so I have an excuse to stay up late and see it first thing now! The only thing that would make it better is if you could somehow squeeze a goat or lamb or chicken through my monitor to visit me in person!!! :sheep: :chicken:

  2. Leah says:

    I like you just the way you are.Would’nt change one thing,for real!

  3. SuzieQ says:

    We love you just as you are!! :heart:

  4. Julie says:

    Thanks for keeping it real! Because we read to know we’re not alone! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Celia Allen says:

    Don’t change a thing… your daily blogs just like they are.
    Heart warming, funny & down to earth. Got to have more pictures of “52” though!

    Mrs. Turkey

  6. Lori Skoog says:

    You have consistently produced a very informative and entertaining blog. The whole concept of having these “sponsors” is very interesting and if it works for you…fantastic. I certainly feel that you meet your goals everyday, with outstanding tips and stories.
    What’s so bad about getting some $$$ for it?

  7. CindyP says:

    Oh, but a helicopter would be NICE! ๐Ÿ˜† I’ve always wanted one, point A to point B soooo much nicer!

    Do what you have to do, Suzanne, we ALL know how hard it is to have money just for the bills…that’s a main part of what brought many of us to you :heart: Just keep it simple with some fluffy butts and I’ll be more than happy!

  8. Mary says:

    With your education and superb talent and hard work I want to see you get paid well for what you do! It’s only right.

  9. Tovah says:

    I’m glad you are getting some good advertisement on here. Like you said you need some money to pay the bills! But my favorite part was the puppy eating your knee. Ah puppies!:)

  10. Katie says:

    Thank you for preemptively explaining! I like your advertising anyway; it doesn’t roll around the screen or unexpectedly enlarge over the page I’m trying to read. Even if you had to change, I trust your decisions.

    P.S. I am intrigued by this super secret project! Is there an ETA?

  11. Carol Langille says:

    Suzanne….you who give us SOOOO much!!! I don’t believe there is one single reader here who would begrudge you earning something, little or LOTS, for all the things you do. Making ends meet nowadays is a challenge and you present us with tools that make things easier. And you give us laughter and happiness and fun. You share your family with us and teach us things we never would have known. (Who know Cornhusk dolls would act up like yours did???)
    So you get all the sponsers you can and you earn money to make your life and your family’s life better. I for one, and I know I’m not alone, wish you all the best in every endeavor you put your hand to.
    Life isn’t always a walk in the park but, thanks to you, at least we can walk outside the park and have a good time doing it!

  12. Sandiplus5 says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I :heart: your blog the best, you write about the things that matter to ME, I have tried alot of your projects because you write it in such a way that is not overwhelming for me (single Mom of five). I love your sense of humor and your writing style keeps me interested. I didn’t think you would ever compromise, so no worries….and yes, why not make some $$$, you go farm girl..

  13. Peggy says:

    You are far from poor. Poor being having nothing and no one. You are very rich with people who love you, many you know and most you don’t know. Your honesty, wit, wisdom (yes wisdom) and love of life and others are the things that many people lack. When looking for friends I look for people like you, not those that live like money is what is important in life.

    I read many blogs that have advertisers. All are just like yours, down home, real and all of the writers are people who give…give and give some more to enrich each reader in some way. Keep writing and enjoying life and don’t worry about the need to advertise.

  14. Mary Lee says:

    Whew! I am so glad to read this post! I have secretly been worrying about your blog going big. I started reading your blog after seeing another country/pioneer blog turn from fresh and homey to a full blown business deal. I am so glad to read your honesty today. What a relief! Thanks so much!!!!!!

  15. CATRAY44 says:

    Thank you for everything… especially for finding ways to keep all this going! And I thank all the Sponsors for helping!

  16. northcountrygirl says:

    We like you just the way you are. That was very evident during the SAM-E campaign. We wouldn’t want you to change a thing. You are such an inspiration…a veritable fountain of ideas, information, and energy to spur us on. Where else can you get a good laugh, a great idea, and shed an occasional tear all in one sitting? So, just keep on keeping on. Wouldn’t want it any other way! AND, as for the helipad and helicopter…welllll, let’s just say…after all those horrendous trips with you down that driveway, it may not be a bad idea! Have a great day!!!!

  17. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Again with the no pants Suzanne! Now see, Levi Strouss isn’t going to be knocking on your door either with an attitude like that! And doesn’t Manolo Blahnik make barn boots? Sheesh girl!

    You just keep on doing what you do, I for one wouldn’t be offended if you DID mention specific things in your writing because I trust your integrity when it comes to what you do. I can count on one hand the few products you have mentioned and those because they were integral to making cheese, milking etc.

    And exactly who sponsored you with that post about the FREE APPLES the market stand guy gave you because they were culls and the FREE donkey, and what about the FREE labor those chickens are doing in the flower bed… oh yeah, never mind on that one.

    You just keep doing what you do Suzanne, we’re here because we love it.

  18. Lisa L. says:

    I think you should do whatever you can so that you can keep writing as your passion and living and support your animals and farm!!!! Hugs Lisa L.

  19. Lola-Dawn says:

    Thanks for clearing that up … I was a little worried that you were going to go the way of fancy guest houses and cross-country shopping trips too! Love your blog for what it is, knee-chewing puppies and all!

  20. claudia w says:

    I am just amazed at how you get everything done in a day…I mean, you write this blog, you take excwellent care of all your furry and feathered babies, take excellent care of your two legged babies, and MILK A COW!
    Plus, all the cheese, and clotted cream, mixes and country decorations you do. And then teaching us about it all. You truely inspire me…I just wish I had half your energy! My goodness Suzanne, some days I think there are three or four of you there!
    We all love you as you are. I, for one, appreciate all that you do for us. (I know there are hundreds of others who appreciate you like I do)
    You just keep doing what you need to do to stay here with us…cause Heaven forbid we lose you!

  21. Mass Chick says:

    I feel bad that you even had to write this post. Never would I think that someone would be upset at the fact that you have sponsors. To me you are a real person. Someone I can relate to. NO flying around the country meeting people, no TV spots, no over the top recipes with ingredient lists two feet long. I have learned so much, and have tried sooooo many new things because of reading this site every morning with my coffee. It makes me happy. Keep on doing what your doing woman! Your awesome!

  22. Nancy says:

    Quite frankly, I don’t care what you have to do to keep this sight online! Is that selfish? I just know I would have a gaping hole in my morning if you weren’t here to start my day! So, thank you Suzanne and kudos to you for “keepin’ it real!

  23. Barbee' says:

    Ditto to all the above. We understand “bills”. We don’t want you worrying about how they are to get paid. We want you happy and living the life we can’t, and writing to us each day. We love you, and I wonder why more advertisers haven’t contacted you. That sponsor method seems like a no-brainer, and wouldn’t offend your readers at all. As others have already said: do what you have to do to get the bills paid and to enable you to keep spoiling us. :yes:

  24. Valerie says:

    I love your blog! I was even just telling my husband how awesome it is and how I found his favorite homemade bread recipe here. Also, everyone I have ever made them for LOVES the cinnamin rolls. For the record, I’ve never once felt negatively impacted by any advertising on your site. I understand that you need to make a living and I respect you for addressing this issue with your readers.

  25. Diane says:

    I had not worries about you going big. I love this blog. And hey I am all for the advertisments. A girl got to pay the bills and this is a way to get that done. After all the advertisers do it for their business, you are doing it for what you do. People buy the products because of the advertisments. Is a win win. The American way so to speak.

    I have become kind of a country girl myself. Not quite to the point of getting cows or chickens. But living frugally all the same. I got excited I got my dd some summer tops and a pair of shorts she wanted for 5.00. Found nice ones at the flea market today. And they were not old and raggy looking either. They were like new. But you know teens are like babies. They sometimes get something wear it a few times and they are tired of it. So cheep clothing. No one will ever know the diffrence. lol. And because of your blog I am going to can this summer, and I pick the pretty weeds from my yard and put them in vases. And I always loved free stuff. So keep on doing what you do. See you tomarrow.

  26. mamawolf says:

    If Chickens in the Road was do disappear for lack of funds I would have to get rid of my computer because a day without a visit from Suzanne would be unthinkable. I visit other sites mostly out of curiosity and none can compare to CITR. Keep doing what you have to do Darlin’ and we will all stand by you. Have a great weekend. :heart:

  27. Myrna Mackenzie says:

    Suzanne, I can’t believe that anyone would complain about the advertising on your site. It’s unobtrusive. In fact, I’ve been excited by the fact that you’ve begun to have more well known advertisers, because I assumed that that meant that the site was finally beginning to pay off for you and hoped that it might mean that you would have to struggle less to make ends meet.
    Frankly, I’m one who likes your writing no matter what you write about (I loved your recap of your former trip to England posts and especially loved your Nora Roberts post), but then I read you more for your humor than for the actual “how to” stuff (city girl raising her hand).
    At any rate, do whatever you have to do. I’ve been reading you for years and would continue to do so (hmm, that helipad thing sounded interesting).

  28. lola23 says:

    You know,you’ve got a great site. So do other people. And although I’ve poked fun at PW, b/c I do that to everyone, the more successful she became, the more animosity swelled, as is typical. She’s not particularly rich, I guess it depends on your idea of rich. What many call expensive is in reality middle of the road. Again, it depends on awareness of the full spectrum of wealth. To a person barely getting by, I suppose she is “rich”. Do your own thing, find your own niche, if you get a book deal, screenplay option, more power to ya. This is a free market economy, and yes, people’s starting points vary a whole lot. But we’re all in the races, so stay focused. And educate youselves, folks.

  29. Shelly says:

    Love that cute puppy. Suzanne your doing a great job with your website. I check it first thing everyday. No regrets! :airkiss:

  30. Grandmatotwochicks says:

    Dear Suzanne,

    I love you and this site!!! :fairy: you do what ever you have to do in order to pay the bills. Your site inspires me on a daily basis, and feels like a big family, I love to read about your kids! all the animals, and what your up too! Heli Pad would be kind of fun don’t you think? :snoopy:

  31. LaVonna Gates says:

    Suzanne, I love your blog. No need to explain. I just have to say I thought you were announcing that you were getting one of those 4 wheeler vehicles so you could get out as needed in the winter.

    Just keep on doin’ what your are doin’ because you are doin’ very good.

  32. SkippyMom says:

    I always say – my blog, my rules. [Then again I write mine for myself and family to keep track of our lives…not a writer by any means] but I think it applies to you too [and anyone who writes a blog] So if you want to have addys then do it – I don’t think anyone is running, screaming into the night because a small Federated ad showed up on the sidebar or because one of your posts was sponsored by “Verizon” – really the ads are unobtrusive and your posts far outweigh their presence here [just my opinion, of course]

    Now the question I am dying to ask – if you aren’t wearing pants – what the heck were you wearing to get the pic’? I don’t imagine that was a dress – so I am guessing bathrobe? PJs? And if that is the case then I am in good company because my neighbors know my entire wardrobe of nightly wear due to the fact I go outside every morning to retrieve our newspaper dressed in them! ๐Ÿ˜€

    The puppy is so cute!

  33. Deb says:

    Ya know, if you do get the urge to write a book I’d love to see one similar/but different to the ones Mary Jane Butters has written; I’d certainly buy it!

    I don’t think people realize how expensive the “simple life” can be. We spend well over $100 a month on animal feed for our goats, rabbits, chickens and ducks. Sure, we get to eat organic meat, eggs, and milk; but it would actually be cheaper to buy those products at the grocery store! There’s also extra expenses in gas and time when you have to drive 30 miles to a store.

    However, the benefits of raising your own food and living in the country go far beyond the costs. The peace of mind, sense of well being and accomplishment and lowered stress make it worth it to me every day.

    I’m glad you’ve found a way to fund your lifestyle through advertisers. You being available to your children is a huge benefit. (Seems teens need mom more than toddlers do!) I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to the advertising since I don’t buy all that much……..but I hope someone does so you get all the support you need.

  34. marymac says:

    All I can say is I agree with what every one else is saying…. I love you !!!! :heart: :heart: And this site, there is none better!!!!

  35. Patti says:

    I once read a book titled, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” If there’s any truth in that,and I believe there is, it won’t be long before you’re a millionare! And I’m rooting for you!! Being rich doesn’t have to make you any less creative, entertaining, or loving. There’s no rule that says you can’t milk your cow and own a helicopter at the same time. (Of course, if you really don’t want a helicopter, you can always settle for some macadam on that road, and perhaps a bridge over the river as well.) I enjoy what you do! Thanks!!

  36. Tammy says:

    Ditto what they all said. You’re awesome and talented – why shouldn’t you get paid for it? Although quite frankly, I think Mary as opposed to Verizon should get a theoretical cut from your theoretical example – she’s a theoretical hoot. I personally think it’s pretty consistent with MY frugal lifestyle to have someone else pay for your talents – kinda like gleaning good feelings.

  37. joycee says:

    I need a link where I can buy the chore boots and shovel…love you Chickens in the Road! :heart:

  38. LisaAJB says:

    Have you ever considered letting us, the readers, become your sponsors. I know you had the donation button, but what if you let us become sponsors for paying X amount per year. You could give us access to your posts early or give special benefits on the forums or something to make it extra special. Because you are providing us with a service here, and in the real world when you provide a service you get paid for it. I’d pay to be a contributor to the site. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t read you. Thanks!

  39. LisaAJB says:

    And it just took me 20 minutes to figure out, but I just unblocked all of the ads on your site. (your site only, I don’t need to be bombarded by text and flashing colors whenever I’m online). I had no idea that the advertisers could tell it was being blocked.

  40. Dianne says:

    It makes me sad that you have to explain yourself. Become rich or not, do what makes you happy and you will always have your authentic readers. When people learn they don’t have to bad mouth others to lift their own ego the world will become even more marvelous! Everyone is entitled to make any and all changes they want to! Love you, love your blog. Thanks. Love the others too who have changed , grown and evolved. As long as you stay happy. Thanks

  41. Jo says:

    I agree, LisaAJB! I would be first in line to donate….either monthly or yearly, that is a great idea! Because I just love reading your blog, it would be a donation of love. I don’t think I have ever seen your donation button. I seriously think you should put one up and let those who want to, donate!

    I too, unblocked the advertising on your site only. I didn’t know!

    Whatever you need to do, or wherever this path leads you, Suzanne, I will be there. We all love you and know that you must make a living. I don’t begrudge you that and in fact, am glad to see advertising on your site because I know that means you are being successful and making a little money.

    Don’t worry, lovely… are the best. ((((((hug)))))) :heart:

  42. vachickenfarmer says:

    I too enjoy the simple life, and am working towards “complete homesteading”. Suzanne…..this site is perfect…..I’m just saying….. :turtle:

  43. Carol says:

    I love you just the way you are and wouldn’t want you to change. I read your blog every single day, sometimes more than once. You are inspirational in ways you can’t imagine. If you ever decided to sell items on your website, I would be happy to purchase, or to help you in any way that I could. Take care. Sending you a virtual hug of encouragement.

  44. Miss Becky says:

    I love you Suzanne :heart:

  45. cathycan says:

    Suzanne, Change away!! you deserve some recognition and compensation, this is your career after all. Your’s is not some little polka-dot blog. We will still love you with your changes. You’ll still be you, goats and all!

  46. Jenny says:

    Ummm..I don’t believe any of US ever had to apologize for making money at the jobs we go to…sigh…everyday!! I wish I were as smart as you being able to do the things I love and get paid for it too. I wish you sucess in getting more sponsors…especially if that means we get to continue reading your wonderful blog!

  47. Linda says:

    Hehe. Cute puppy. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Glad to be able to read blogs again.
    And congrats! If you can make money doing what you enjoy, more power to you!
    Have a Happy Memorial Day and a great week!

  48. Shirley Corwin says:

    I love your blog because it is about everyday life. I thought, well, I write on my blog everyday and have pictures but I have to link up with “parties” to have many comments. Then I realized . . .DAH . . . that it’s your writings that make your site so wonderful. You make me smile everyday and yours is probably the only site I read every last word!! Of course it’s great, you’re a WRITER!! Ads or not, doesn’t matter to me. It’s the content! And of course, because you’re an animal lover like me : ))

  49. David Ryan says:

    Your choice of subject matter and delivery is refreshing,the compensation for your efforts is no concerne of mine. 52 is a lucky man.


  50. patrice says:

    I think you’re great the way you are!
    *I would stand in line to have you sign a book if you were on a book tour.
    *The farm animals might enjoy riding on the elevator.
    *Beulah Petunia might be overwhelmed by a fancy milking parlor, but if it was big enough it might keep Jack from eating her food first.
    *Hired hands feeding animals sounds like a good idea to me. If they were hunks you could post photos and word would get around. There might be a calendar to sell on the book tour.
    *The guest house would be interesting, but not original. The idea of a crooked house where people might wonder if they would ever return from it may be a selling point though.
    *Posting gourmet recipes? Anyone can post them, but you post recipes for laundry detergent(which I think works great). If you need that extra push for the website, maybe you can refer to it as Gourmet Laundry Detergent! :dancingmonster:

  51. Gen says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the post. I had not considered that you might change, while certainly being sponsored by FM is quite a compliment. I appreciate both your business and frugal candor and it is why I religiously read your site. So thanks for the clueing us in on some of the background. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  52. Vicki says:

    I am fine with you accepting sponsors. I appreciate that you write about real life, and actually have a story to tell. I am considering not following another blog because it has gotten too commercial, but I like how you write; you don’t make me feel like you are only posting to make money. Keep up the good work.

  53. Pat says:

    I would really like that donation button back. Or even better (but more work as well) the donation together with the special benefits.
    At least the donation button.
    I get so much out of your website it would be only fair to donate every once in a while something.
    Please reconsider.

  54. Glenda says:

    Suzanne, whatever you do is your business…lots of folks started small and got big, made money, and had an easier life because of it. You would be real if you were as rich as Oprah. it’s who you are…Who are we to hold you back from your destiny…I say ‘go fer it” Most of us would if given the chance..there’s not many out there with your talent and abilities..forget the naysayers, and follow your own heart.
    good luck,

  55. Natalie O. says:

    Ooooooooooo, I really hope your secret writing project is a cookbook because that would be AWESOME and it would TOTALLY SELL!!

  56. Patchkat ~Susan in TX says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for a terrific, inspiring and wonderfully entertaing blog! I read some of your posts to my hubby as he likes hearing about your critters.

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