Canning & Crafts Retreat!


Many people have requested that the date for the annual Chickens in the Road Party on the Farm be posted farther in advance for next year. (Every year, I’ve only posted the date a month in advance. I don’t know why. It’s probably related to organizational issues.) However! I intend to be organized and post the 2011 CITR Party on the Farm quite far in advance. I’m also exploring the possibility of offering a hands-on learning experience along with it. In the past, we’ve had activities/demonstrations during the party (and will again in 2011), but these are limited by time, space, and the amount of people, and therefore not hands-on. What I’d like to offer in 2011 is a true hands-on experience in a two-day retreat leading up to the party.

I’ve found a great location for this event, within (amazingly) about 15 miles of our farm, at a fully renovated facility that can provide both kitchen and workshop/activity space as well as accommodations. The idea behind this retreat is to provide a learning experience in both fun and functional skills that apply to self-sufficient living and old-fashioned crafting. Possibilities for workshops include canning (boiling water bath and pressure), soapmaking, candlemaking, felting, cheesemaking, and other basic country skills and old-time crafts. The cost of the retreat will include two nights accommodations, all meals, workshops, and supplies. Participants will have a hands-on experience and take home what they make. Workshops will be available in both basic and advanced.

The cost for this event will depend on several factors yet to be determined, but is expected to be in the $200-300 range per person. This will include accommodations, meals, workshops, and supplies, and you take home what you make–and the CITR Party on the Farm (which will, as always, take place AT the farm) will follow on the heels of the retreat, hopefully making the trip–for those of you who travel–that much more worthwhile.

Please take the poll below if you think you might attend. Check as many topics as you like–and if a topic you’re interested in isn’t listed, please add it in the comments. This is a work in progress and I want your input! The “Handy Small Construction” topic includes such “small” construction as cheese presses, chicken feeders, birdhouses, etc.

Also, please express in the comments whether or not you’re interested in this type of event at all, and your level of interest/intent in attending. We are currently exploring this possibility, and will have to make a deposit on the facility soon in order to make this a reality. I hope this can be an exciting and new adventure that offers both a learning and a bonding experience for the community here, as well as providing opportunities for participants to try new things in a hands-on way with in-person mentorship from fellow CITR friends.

This is a huge, exciting step. With me? Interested?

[poll id=”21″]

P.S. More information and updates will be forthcoming as plans progress!

P.P.S. THE POLL IS FIXED NOW. You can vote for more than one selection. (Sorry about that!)


  1. geekette says:

    So far it’s only allowing one item to be checked, otherwise I’d check cheesemaking, bread, and butter.

    My level of interest is higher than the probability of going. Not out of the question, though!

  2. Luann says:

    only let me choose one but i am interested in all…

  3. bonita says:

    cheesemaking, canning, homemade R&E…I’ll check tomorrow to see if I can make more than one choice—who will be the workshops?

  4. bonita says:

    …that should read who will be leading the workshops!

  5. Cin says:

    One day I WILL get a passport and come down to this event!!!!!!

  6. Nona says:

    Yes I only was able to select one I liked many!

  7. Margaret Rusnak says:

    It only allowed me one choice and there are several I’d be interested in. Sounds like fun!

  8. melody says:

    It would only let me chose one also.All sound good to me. I have wanted to come to your party every year. I live in Martinsburg WV, I do not drive so not been able to.Is there a buss or train station in your area?LOL

  9. judydee says:

    Again, only one vote allowed, but would be interested in all of them as well. Given enough notice to plan time off from work and other travel arrangements, I would say I would definitely be there. If Bossie Flossie (that’s what I call my Garmin GPS)can figure out where it is!!!

  10. Kelly says:

    Sounds like fun and I would be interested. If you think anyone would be interested in learning to paint or would like a demonstration I would be happy to do that for you.

  11. Hope Benedict says:

    As you’ve probably already figured out, the voting buttons aren’t working right. I would be interested in pretty much everything.

  12. greensborodailyphoto says:

    I think your Chickens in the road party and this event sound like two completely different events, both FUN and EXCITING. You could have the two day event i summer before school starts and still hold a fall event. The woman at the LaPaix Herb Farm in Lewis County does some fun events, with workshops. Maybe she could talk to you about the ins and outs. I’d like to see you find something that would generate a little revenue as I want you to be able to afford to do what you do FOREVER!


  13. Jen M. in VA says:

    You need an “all of the above”! This sounds like a wonderful idea Suzanne. I have very little experience in most of these but desperately want to learn. I like to read to learn new things, but I think in some cases doing hands-on can’t be beat.

  14. marylecompte says:

    Sounds good, I would like to attend if my schedule permits.
    I voted for dehydrating, pickling, etc because it is a new area of preserving for me and I would like to learn more. I’m also interested in soap making, bread making, canning, and homemade remedies. I have a background in smocking and have taught classes, won awards, and written articles on the subject if there is any interest.

  15. Rachel says:

    This sounds like an amazing opportunity! I would love to attend, but know I won’t be able to. DH and I are expecting our first baby in the spring and we live all the way up in Maine, so finances will be tight and we won’t be able to afford a trip. But if we could, I would so be there!

  16. BuckeyeGirl says:

    YAY! I waited to vote because I knew it would be working soon, then I picked my 4 top ones, plus one less intense sort of thing. I figure we’ll be gathering together, sharing, discussing and having little mini-workshops amongst ourselves anyway! I have a big lap hoop and can bring a small quilting project, and I’d bring my knitting to see if anyone can HELP me! I’m a mess with knitting but I bet there’ll be lots of people who can help me and probably won’t laugh too hard at me. (it’s ok if you laugh with me though)

  17. Becky says:

    I am very interested in coming to this event. Hopefully funds will permit me to be able to make it.

  18. SandyCWV says:

    I am interested in coming! I like the dehydrating and homemade things. Since I would be driving up – live down in Mercer county, I have a rarely used dehydrator and two big canners to bring if they would help out. Jars too, lots of jars. Just let us know if anything is needed to support the classes. Hey maybe the extension office could do pressure tests on gauges.

  19. Tammy/psmflowerlady says:

    :woof: WooHoo! Sounds like such fun! And given the great lead time, I can start saving for it now and MAKE it possible. :snoopy: I’m also relatively close and could provide supplies as well. Count me IN!

  20. Naomi says:

    It all sounds like great fun, and with a little more planning on my part, I’m really going to try to attend this year. I get a bit jealous seeing all the pictures after the party because it looks like such fun!

    Just a little aside, I do rug hooking classes in my area, and would more than happy to do a rug hooking class under the needlework category!

  21. Angelina Haley says:

    I would love to attend this in the future, it sounds great! Plus it would give our family an excuse to finally visit some of our friends in Virginia since they moved there. It is a long trip from Missouri, but now there would be more than one excuse to travel. :wave:

  22. judyh says:

    Sounds like a GREAT idea! Voted for “All of the above” but am hoping it doesn’t fall on our family reunion or church homecoming weekend. :happyfeet:

  23. Lisabeth Olson says:

    This sounds like so much fun, however me being there is out of the question. I do hope it goes perfectly for everyone.

  24. Hlhohnholz says:

    If the timing works out right, I will be there! If not, I’ll still be there in spirit. 😀

  25. Marjorie Wolson says:

    What a marvelous idea! We live several hours away, an “overnighter” sounds just right.

    Just a few months ago, I discovered that there are several “community canneries” in Virginia where you can go to put up your garden bounty in quantity. The closest one to us is down in Ashland, Hanover County, near Richmond.

  26. emily says:

    I would LOVE to come to this. I think the $200 range is feasable, but I’m looking at having to drive (not going to fly under the current situation) from Oklahoma. The added cost, for just me, would make it closer to $700 to attend. Though I think it’s a great idea and I am extreamly interested, I just don’t see it being a reality. Ya’ll have fun though!!

  27. I Wanna Farm says:

    When I mentioned in my ‘Mentor’ thread that Dede should totally do something like this, I didn’t expect it to really happen! THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT WAS IN MY HEAD!! I hope hope hope I can come!

  28. Joy says:

    Oh my gosh!!!!! How exciting!!!! I live about 15-17 hours away!! Boo! (Iowa) I won’t be attending but some day I WILL come, Suzanne!!! (Sorry for all the exclamations lol) :snoopy:

    It would be really cool to find other’s that are from Iowa and we could road trip together! What a blast! (not this year though)

  29. I Wanna Farm says:

    Sorry, I should mention Dede said it first, I just seconded the motion! Or third! Anyway, what I meant was that I heartily endorse this! LOL

  30. Blyss says:

    I know for a fact there will be a whole car load of us coming from Michigan! Can’t wait!

  31. heidiannie says:

    I’d like to come.
    And $200-$300 is a good price.
    Attending the party is a great bonus.
    It all depends on the WHEN.

  32. Beth says:

    I might actually be able to attend if I can figure a good way to get there from the Midwest. Not certain but it would be so so so fun for me…

  33. Sherie Adams says:

    Can you tell us more about the accommodations? Like, will we be sharing a room? Can husbands come if they pay? I’m interested! In all of it!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Sherie, the accommodations would be “camp” style in (very nice) cabins. It’s a fully renovated facility.

      In other words, not private rooms. Anyone who wanted completely private accommodations would need to make their own separate accommodations.

      Accommodations for men and women would be separate, so again, if you want to come with a husband or partner and sleep together, you’d need to make your own separate accommodations in the area.

      The date would be sometime in September and October. I can’t set a specific date until I’ve put down a deposit.

  34. Deb says:

    Well, I have a big van if some people in Iowa wanted to road trip with me! I already do most of the things on your list so I wouldn’t be interested in taking classes. However, I would be interested in being an assistant if you needed one. I definitely hope to attend the party in 2011.

  35. Mary Kellogg says:

    I am very interested. I live in the Seattle area, and to go to JUST the CITR farm party was too expensive for me. But, coupled with some training (ah hem) it might be easier to convince the family CFO that the cost would be justifiable. 🙂

  36. CindyP says:

    Remember that the cost involved is everything you need once you’re there (if staying in the cabins), even meals. Any extra would just be traveling. I drove 10 hours one way for this year’s party. Gas expense was approx $100 round-trip. We brought a cooler for food on the road, so there was no extra expense for that.

  37. Gennifer says:

    I would so come to this! Especially if it was in the fall. Other than some black out dates I can’t take off work and my sons basic training graduation If you offer this I would make it happen. Even hubby would come he helps me alot….The earlier we know the date the better it would be is the only request I have.

  38. Mim says:

    I am so excited :snoopy: to see this post…..It would be nice to get everyone together that “understands” each other. At times, my family members look at me like I am crazy…may be but at least I am happy…Let me know if I can help in anyway and I will see what I can do. :dancingmonster: :woof: :shimmy: 😆 :happyflower:

  39. Ramona says:

    I would luv to learn almost all of those things. I think my husband would too. But, with critters, your location, work, etc. It’s just too far away for us.

  40. Miss Becky says:

    I would certainly consider coming, as it sounds like a grand idea. I have one question though. Would it be possible to keep the accommodations for the party also? In other words, if I secured the room/cabin for the retreat, would I then be able to just continue my stay at that room/cabin for your party, and pay the additional cost for the extra day? (I would be driving from the Midwest.)

  41. KristenA says:

    I would love to attend and bring 10 year old daughter. If there is enough interest to carpool from Iowa, I will make every effort to be there. This sounds like an amazing experience.

  42. AimeeS says:

    I have always wanted to come, but I was living in Arizona until recently. Now you are a more reasonable distance, and if you add this on I am going to try my hardest to get there!!! I might be able to bring my Aunt as well, she is trying to learn to live more off what she has and less off store bought! Its been a personal dream of mine to make my own cheese and soap! Also I hope in your needle craft section knitting it being included! 🙂

  43. Beth Brown says:

    This would be SO awesome! I’ll start saving my money now!!!

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  44. Karo says:

    OMG, Suzanne, my daughter would LOVE this. We wanted so badly to come to your last party but I just couldn’t justify the airfare for one party and I live in Dallas so that’s a looong drive. I’m definitely interested.

    You are amazing.

  45. Helen says:

    Oh, I would so LURV to do this! I live in north-central PA, so I think it would be a one-day drive for me. I’d have to save up for it though…its not something I could spring for out of one or two paychecks, so the sooner I would know if/when it would be the better, because of figuring gas money and a meal on the road into the cost, too. But its such an exciting idea, Suzanne :happyfeet: :snoopy:

    p.s. I volunteer to demonstrate spinning and I could also bring my table loom to demonstrate weaving, if you would want me to demonstrate those things, that is. But even if you don’t I would just so love to participate!

  46. Cheryl S says:

    This is a great idea. I am interested in the possibility of maybe leading/teaching a class on herbal medicine making if you have the need, as well as attending others. I teach painting classes at the local community college but don’t teach the herbal stuff because my good friend does, but definitely would enjoy that. Keep me on your list of possibilities. I am looking forward to hearing your plans as they evolve. E-mail me if you like.

  47. Lisa says:

    I would love to come. I would have to know quite far in advance though due to the fact that I will have to save some money to buy plan tickets from California,

  48. KarenAnn says:

    Depending on the date, I’d also LOVE to come. I’m from Iowa too. If there’s enough of us from the midwest who want to go, maybe we could arrange to drive together. The cost of $200-$300 seems very reasonable to me.

  49. Helen says:

    I don’t know if you want in-put of this kind, and its just a suggestion of course, but you might want to think about requiring the payments to be in advance and non-refundable. I’m thinking that you don’t need to get stuck paying for anyone who can’t make it for one reason or another, because that could add up to a big bill very quickly if just a few people had to drop out. Just a thought.

  50. BeckyW says:

    I’ve dabbled in all of these things, some more than others…so I would be interested if some advanced classes will be in the offering…

  51. Mama Bartelle says:

    I’ve been lurking in the background for a bit now and saw this and was immediately intrigued. The price range of $200-300 sounds like a great deal to me! Count me in …. Thanks Suzanne!

  52. andrea pierce says:

    I’m so jealous! I live in Idaho so I definately wouldn’t be making it, but I sure wish we had something like this over here. How much fun will this be?! You guys are going to have a fabulous time!

  53. Joy says:

    We need a Chickens-in-the-Road” BUS!!!!

    Start at one end of the country, pick people up at certain stops and make our way there! (just kidding of course, but hey…I can dream, can’t I?) :sheepjump: :happyfeet:

  54. Shelley (eastern Roane County) says:

    Sounds like a wonderful idea. Would it be possible to make it available at a reduced rate to us “locals” who would be commuting? Could possibly advertise it for local folks too who don’t follow your blog (yet) for additional revenue.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Shelley, I’ve considered the possibility of “day” campers to the retreat. The thing is, the bed accommodations are actually the least of the expense of the event. The facilities (kitchens, workshop space etc in the hall), meals, supplies, and workshops/teachers are the greater part of the expense. The accommodations will be offered as a first-come (first to signup) bonus because they’re certainly cheaper accommodations than people will find outside the facility, but the cost will likely be the same for overnight and day campers alike as the greater part of the expenses remain. In the big picture, the “bed space” is a minute part of the cost.

  55. Julie says:

    I just hope you have this after I’ve moved back to the US! If so, then I’m in!!! GREAT idea!

  56. Kim says:

    My mom and I are so there…driving from SE GA, just name the dates!

  57. Stacy says:

    This is a great idea! September is the better month for me, as we already have a family vacation planned for October. Since my parents live in Spencer, I, too, would be in the “day camper” category.

    I’m having flashbacks to high school band camp at Camp Sheppard in the late 1980’s! 8)

  58. Shelley (eastern Roane County) says:

    I’m having those band camp flashbacks too Stacy except mine are from the (gasp)1960’s.

  59. Rachael says:

    oooh… me,me,me!!

  60. Kelly says:

    I will SO be there! It’s a drive from Northern Illinois but worth it to LEARN some of your skills!! Can’t wait!! :sheep:

  61. Cyndi says:

    So in with those who’d like to road trip from Iowa. I would totally love to do something like this! Yes! Yes! Yes. I am going to save vacation time too just in case it all works out and people are up for a road trip!

  62. JenW!~ says:

    I would be very interested in coming and want to try it all. I think price range is very reasonable and can’t wait to find out more.

  63. mygirls01 says:

    I would so love to come!! It would just depend on the dates for me and the farther in advance I know the dates the better the chance of me being able to save up enough money to drive from Kansas! This sounds like so much fun!!

  64. Wendy B. says:

    This would be a definite possiblity! I’d be coming from Michigan and I see others are too, so maybe carpooling would be a possibility?? Anyhoo, sounds good to me, an adventure! Another topic I’d like to possibly see is animal care/tips, etc. I’m getting my first goats in the spring and will still be quite the rookie still into the fall.

  65. Betty Jean says:

    If I know in time to ask off work, I’d love to come. Would love it if you were able to include a class on herbal remedies. This is such a wonderful thing you’re doing. Thanks!

  66. Betty Jean says:

    Oops! I should read closer…I see that homemade remedies is on the list! How about wildcrafting/how to recognise wild herbs/plants?

  67. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Just a note for those driving…..Please do not rely on GPS devices. These services have “lost” several people in our area due to poor directions. This event is easy to find. Get to Charleston, WV by plane, train or automobile. If driving, use Interstate 64, 77 or 79. Then from Charleston, take US 119 north. This facility is on US 119 between Walton and Gandeeville, WV. I will help Suzanne give you more detailed directions when the time comes and we will post some signs/balloons to help show you the way. Hope to see you there. So far, I am drafted to lead “camp-style” singing around the fire.

  68. Kim Gibson says:

    The dates are really important, I work in retail and holidays are not possible, since whenever everyone else is off, I work!

  69. Lisa says:

    VERY interested, and one of my girlfriends is interested as well. This is fantastic idea, Suzanne!

  70. JeannieB says:

    I wanta come, I wanta come, maybe things will settle down here and I can make it!!!

  71. Elaine S. says:

    This sounds great and the price is reasonable. Unfortunately, coming from the West Coast is not feasible for me. Like Emily in Oklahoma, I will not fly under prevailing conditions and it’s just too far to drive/too expensive to take the train. I hope you are able to bring this off. I’m sure everyone who is able to attend will have a great time!

  72. Carole Koehler says:

    I am in Iowa and will save for this price is reasonable. Carole

  73. Donnely Barber says:

    Oh, I so want to do this, how fun to do things you love with others!
    Checking my schedule now!

  74. Melissa (N4M) says:

    I am SO interested and would attend it all….this is just what I’ve been looking for….you have gotten me hooked on this and would love to learn how to do it all…..

  75. Kochernut Mama says:

    I would absolutely LOVE to be able to attend! Feasibility depends on the dates. I have 3 small children, so finding childcare would also be a deciding factor. I live in a VERY rural area and for some reason I seem to be the only person under the age of 70 that enjoys doing a lot of the same things I do…seems crazy to me! I would adore to meet others that share the same ideas I do. You pick the dates and I will do my absolute best to be there! Definitely interested in the cheesemaking, butter and yogurt, felting and needlecrafts. I already can quite a bit, but I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting things to put in a jar :0) Thank you for the wonderful opportunity!

  76. lavenderblue says:

    This is a great idea! Unfortunately, I don’t see myself attending this year, but like many of your other readers, I vow one day I will attend.

  77. Vicki in So. CA says:

    Sounds like tons of fun – and learning! The price is reasonable, but travel expense from the west coast makes it prohibitive for me – at least for now. Again, sadly, I won’t be able to attend. I know all that do will have an absolutely wonderful time. Great idea, Suzanne! I hope the retreat grows each year, as does your party. 😀

  78. Paula Clark says:

    I would love to come! I’ve been lurking around and enjoying everything here and would learn so much. I am in southern Alabama but we are hoping to move to northern Alabama soon so it could be possible. I’ll have to wait and see. It sounds like so much fun!

  79. Becky says:

    Sounds WONDERFUL! I’ll sure be there if at all possible! Couple of suggestions… about quilting? And raising livestock? I quilt already, but I’m wanting to raise livestock other than just my chickens. Also, could you have the instructors write down and print instructions for all that they are going to do, so we can listen and watch without spending all our time taking notes? That would be soooo helpful! Or maybe a large folder/booklet with instructions and lessons from every “station”. I’d certainly be willing to pay it to cover costs, expenses, etc. You have such great ideas!!!

  80. Summersweet Farm says:

    Hey! If anyone is interested I could probably get a loaner wheel and come do a bowl-throwing demonstration with y’all. 🙂

  81. Miss Dana says:

    I’m very excited! This sounds like just the thing to do this year!

  82. Crafty Girl says:

    Would love to come!! Just depends on the date. . .

  83. Laura says:

    How many people usually attend? When will you post prices? I am interested in the possibilities. Laura :sheep:

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