In a Foreign Land


I stopped in at the little store in town today. It used to have five aisles, but recently they reorganized to bring the feed, seed, and hardware into the main grocery building, and somehow they managed to squish it all together and make it work with aisles of plumbing pipes and nails and chains and chickens feeders next to flour, sugar, and canning jars. I’m not sure how many aisles there are now, but there are a lot–and in the same space. And they still have the deli and fast food kitchen at the back with little tables to sit and shoot the breeze or wait for your hamburger.

Now that I’m farming on my own, I’m in the store more often, usually once a week. I’m the one picking up the feed or whatever else is needed. It’s a full-service little store. You can rent movies, get a hot pizza to order, pick up your milk and bread, find any hardware items you need, get your feed and seed or a bale of straw, and even check your deer if you have one–all in one place. It’s the only store for miles and miles around, and it does it all. In the spring, you can get chicks and bunnies, too.

It’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but at first they were surprised when I started coming in to buy the feed because I hadn’t been doing that before. I have to work with them sometimes to get them to understand what I want. Or maybe they have to work with me. I went in there to get some chicken feed the first time and we had a long conversation before I decided which kind to get, trying to figure out what kind I usually got. I didn’t realize they had so many different kinds of everything. I’m still trying to figure out the right dog food. I went in there the other day and asked for a copper block. They were calling back and forth across the store, the clerk and Eddie who carries things from the back out to your car. “She wants a copper block!” “She wants a salt block?” “No, a copper block!” “We don’t have a copper block!” “She says she wants a copper block!” “DOES SHE MEAN A MINERAL BLOCK?”

Well, okay, call it that if you want since that’s what it’s called. I’m figuring out the right words for stuff.

Every time I’m in there lately, I gravitate to the hardware aisles. Not to buy anything, though sometimes I’m tempted. I just walk slowly up and down the aisles and look at everything. I stop and pick stuff up. Read the names of things on the packages, and think, so that’s what a whatzahoozit is. I’m fascinated by all the strange objects and tools and pieces and parts. I want to make stuff and fix stuff. For now, I just look at stuff, let it seep into my brain and tell myself I could use this, I could do something with that, it can’t be more complicated than knitting needles.

In the whole time I lived at Stringtown Rising, I never bought myself any work gloves. I wore the same pair of red gloves I’ve had for a long time. I got them to go with a hat and coat I have. I bought them in the women’s department of a chain store. They’re made of some kind of stretchy velour material with some leather padding on the inside of the palm and fingers. They get wet, and they aren’t all that warm.

The little store had a rack of work gloves at the front of one of the hardware aisles. I picked up a pair of insulated leather work gloves and put them on. I walked up and down the aisles looking at whatzahoozits and thinking about how I didn’t have any work gloves. Every once in a while, I’d put them on, then take them off again, then put them on again, wondering why I’d never bought myself any real work gloves before.

Then after I finished looking at all the whatzahoozits for the day, I walked up to the counter with the gloves and bought them.

I think I never took myself seriously at this farming thing before.

But now I do.

And next time I’m at the little store, I’m going to get a pair for Morgan, too.


  1. Camille says:

    :shimmy: Excellent! They look like they’ll do the trick and protect those fingers. Love hardward stores and all those gizmoes and gadgets. I always figured if the boys can buy this stuff and make it work…so can I…and so can you! :shimmy:

  2. Tow Lady says:

    It’s amazing what you’ll find inside yourself when you take a deep breath and do whatever needs doing, even if you haven’t done it by yourself before. Congratulations, Farmer!

  3. doodlebugroad says:

    Those kind of gloves give you “mighty hands” – you’ll feel like you can wrangle any task … and just wait until they get dingy and dirty – that’ll make you feel even more like a “real” farmer.

  4. CATRAY44 says:

    I love stores like that… great buy on the gloves, too!

  5. Steve Lykins says:

    Thanks for the smile I got from reading your post today. I love hardware stores which seem to have one of everything that was ever made. Center Hardward in St. Albans, where I used to live, is one of my favorites. Enjoy your new gloves!

  6. jbowyer01 says:

    Suzanne its amazing to see how much you’ve grown. Thank you for sharing. I love knowing that there is someone like you out there willing to share not just the ups but the downs and realities too.

  7. easygoinglady says:

    And isnt it a wonderful thing to have the RIGHT gloves AND they fit :snoopy:

  8. doubletroublegen says:

    Gosh Suzanne I do the EXACT same thing at our farm store!! You have to be familiar with all that stuff, if they sell it someone must use it for something. Keep pressing on Sister, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish! :snoopy:

  9. rileysmom says:

    Even if you’re still learning, now you have the right equipment…
    gloves and your make-up! :happyfeet:

  10. bonita says:

    Has it got a wooden floor? I think the bestest hardware stores have wooden floors. Some of those have nearly twice as much merchandise ‘downstairs’ as they have in the store. Luv it when I describe what I want to do (I never know the names of things) and the guy disappears down the rickety ladder/steps, re-emerging a few minutes later with what I need in small, medium and large. He alw

  11. bonita says:

    . . . He always says, “This should do the trick, Sweetie. Lemme know how it works out.”
    It always does. And he’s the only person I let call me Sweetie, it’s just not offensive when he uses it! I’d take a one of those over a dozen Walmarts!

  12. brookdale says:

    Great looking gloves! You are lucky that you found some to fit. They are always too big for me.
    And don’t be intimidated by the store guys…they need something to do, make them feel good by letting them help you!

  13. Julia says:

    I love the gloves!

    You said “You can … even check your deer if you have one–all in one place. ”

    What does it mean to check your deer?


    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Julia, if you shoot a deer during deer hunting season, you have to “check” it or sorta sign in with it or something. (I’ve never checked a deer. I’m sure someone will come by to give a more concise explanation.) You’re only allowed to get so many deer, and if you are stopped by a game patrol officer, you have to show that you have checked your deer or you will be fined.

  14. yvonnem says:

    You go girl! :shimmy:

    It’s great that you want to make stuff and fix stuff….I know you’re smart enough. You won’t need no man, maybe except for the really heavy duty stuff!

  15. TeaCup says:

    Our local hardwarre store has wooden floors and we (or at least I) always feel like they must go, “Oh God, here she comes again!” I’m always looking for something by the wrong name, or want to use it for something other than what it’s supposed to be for.

    When we lived in the desert, at first the local drug store also sold clothes and lumber, but enough clothing shops opened, and they stopped that, and then a big hardware store opened, and the drug/everything store folded.

    I love the sound of your store and I think your gloves are great!

    What did Morgan say or has she seen them?


  16. yvonnem says:

    Julia…Checking your deer is during hunting season. The hardware store near Suzanne is an official game checking station. If you don’t check in your deer, it is an illegal kill. We have a little grocery store here in Tornado that checks in deer. :wave:

  17. rurification says:

    I have a pair of gloves just like those. I love them. They make me a better farmer because they make me less afraid to get in there and get stuff done.

  18. dkyoung says:

    Julia, when you buy your deer hunting license it comes with a tag for the deer. You fill out the info and check it (like register it) at a game checking station. There are limits on deer – buck, doe, gun, bow, and number of deer. There are multiple checking stations spread around each county. You just tie the tag on the deer and go check it in. Not hard at all.

    Suzanne, you impress me more and more all the time. I love seeing a woman become strong and independent. Did you ever think when you moved to WV that you would be stretching and growing like this?

  19. MMHoney says:



  20. shirley T says:

    So! let me get this straight, you wore a pair of dress gloves to do farm work for 3 years. You poor thing, I bet those gloves were wore down to the bone, you deserve a good pair of work gloves. So does Morgan. I’m so glad everything is working out for you. :ladybug:

  21. tea4too0 says:

    Boy, it kinda does something to you, ya know. The fit of the glove, the smell of new leather and a great feeling that you CAN do whatever needs doing. I got that feeling with the first pair of real work gloves I bought for myself. You have arrived, Suzanne, welcome home. T

  22. Runningtrails says:

    Wow! Not that place sounds like my kind of store!! We have to drive a long way around here to find somewhere to buy chicks and farm stuff! I’d be in there every day, just looking at stuff and thinking of making and fixing things!

  23. KarenAnne says:

    Do you have storm windows? I’m now remembering I’ve seen bloggers post about not having storm windows and getting some sort of kit from a box store – heavy duty plastic or somesuch that can be temporarily applied over the windows for winter.

  24. Birdi says:

    I agree with the other posters…your strength and independence is showing through. Being alone there aren’t many people to tell you except us chicken buddies…..but I am proud of you!! You should hear it often. You go girl!

  25. Julia says:

    It’s amazing what I learn here! Thank you everyone for explaining about checking your deer.

  26. bonita says:

    Yup, thanks for the deer explanation—I thought it meant checking your Deere, as in Nothing runs like a Deere!

  27. Murphala says:

    You go girl! I end up in stores where the guys can be somewhat patronizing. I just let them be and act sweet and roll my eyes back in my head the minute my back is turned. I’m almost certain their eyes are rolling as well, but it makes me feel better to do it.

    I have a love/hate relationship with gloves. I have them to do various things, but end up never wearing ’em. As a result, I don’t have the smoothest, softest hands, and during gardening season, the lily-whitest of hands either. Something about getting your hands dirty…it doesn’t feel like work unless the hands are dirty!

  28. whaledancer says:

    Great gloves. I love my leather work gloves. Remember the feeling when you got your chore boots? Like that, only more so. Gotta have ’em.

  29. BJ Farm says:

    :happyfeet: :shimmy: :happyfeet: :shimmy:

  30. Glenda says:

    Sounds like an ideal store! You will soon learn all about the various feeds you need. Don’t forget the internet is a great tool to learn about nutrition for various animals.

    What I hated way back when was the local feed store. There would always be 3-4 old men sitting in chairs and when I would walk in,all talking would stop and they would stare at me until I left. I soon found that I knew more about the feed I wanted mixed than the owner and he finally admitted that to me! Made me feel a little smug! Eventually it will all become easy for you….and them. I still need advice now and then on various hardware things. My sweet husband isn’t much of a handyman!

  31. Diane says:

    Too cute about the gloves. I dont know how you manage to get by with out work gloves. Wow. lol.

    We have a farm store called Tractor Supply. I love going in there sometimes. I dont farm but live in the country its a handy place to find odd things you cant find at Lowes or Walmart. I like to walk around to see what they have sometimes too.

  32. JerseyMom says:

    I’m wondering how your gloves will work out…I’d be interested to know because I can’t seem to find the right ones. I end up feeding the horses in my silly little dollar store knit gloves although dh bought me a pair at the hunting store recently. They are stiff and the fingers are too long. Maybe that’s why that, although they are supposed to be ever-so-warm, the ends of my fingers ache in the cold when I wear them. Same thing as the cheapo ones but more cumbersome. And I still have the issue of catching the ends of the fingers in the snaps on the hay slow feeders. I guess I need warm, flexible, and close-fitting. Too bad it’s an hour to a Tractor Supply…last time I was there I spent 15 minutes looking at gloves but didn’t buy any. Maybe I should have…..

  33. lavenderblue says:

    Love, love, love hardware stores and a hardware and feed store combined can make me delirious. If my husband is in a hurry, he knows better than to take me with him to Home Depot or Central Tractor. Oops, sorry, Tractor Supply.

    But, the very best is our local hardware, Grimble’s. The place has existed since time out of mind. Yes, it has wooden floors! Yes, it has the guy that disappears down that ladder and magically appears with the part you want. Plus advice for how it really won’t work for what you want it for. And it has corks for bottles in all sizes, canning jars, mixing bowls, toy trains at Christmas (right in the store front window). If Hogsmeade had a hardware store, this would be it.

    Best of all, it has lye, real lye for soap making. I asked for it and instead of the blank looks I got from the lovely people at the chain hardwares, Magic Guy whipped it off a shelf in seconds. Their
    motto is “Grimble’s has got it! and I must say I believe them.

    The only downsides are, there are no misogynist men around the woodstove. I’m sure there are misogynist men there, there is just no woodstove. And it is so small it is hard to just browse. You sort of need some reason to be there or they look at you really strangely. Especially if you are a woman in the plumbing section, All By Yourself!

  34. lavenderblue says:

    Jersey Mom, I feel your pain about the gloves. Suzanne’s look magnificent. Work glove fingers are always too long for me, too. The closest things I have to work gloves are my kids Veggie Tale ones that they quickly outgrew many, many years ago. For what I use them for, the have lasted pretty well but I would hate to mend a fence in them. And on them, the fingers are a bit short.

    Oh great, Suzanne, not only do I have farm, barn, land and animal envy now I have to add glove envy, too. Thank God, I have kids. Although a Navy guy, a scholarship student and an athletic farm-hearted girl…Oh, I am so going to :devil2: 😉

  35. Anita says:

    You remind me of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” movie, when she doesn’t know what all the human things are, or what they’re for. Giave me a smile this morning!

    I love the way a hardware store smells! Especially when spring is coming, and they’ve got all that soil and peat moss in stock, and tomato plants started…

  36. Jersey Lady says:

    Yup,if you are going to do the job, you need the right equipment. A nice pair of work gloves is a good start. We used to live in a little town in MO with a store like yours. They would make sandwiches to order too, and the pig wormer was by the Twinkies.

  37. joykenn says:

    I absolutely LOVE hardware stores. Like Suzanne I like to just wander through looking at all the connectors, screws, do-hickeys and such. I started thinking that someone INVENTED those. They needed something like that, thought it through and actually created some THING to meet their need… and the needs of others. They convinced a company to manufacture it and little stores everywhere that enough people would want it to give it precious shelf space. What a marvelous process of need, ingenuity and commerce a hardware store is!

  38. Jan Hodges says:

    A couple years ago I found leather mittens with warm layers on the inside, they are amazing for keeping your hands from freezing. I was surprised you can do most of the chores in them too. Lots warmer than gloves. And the big work gloves aren’t that much easier to do things in. I found them online.

  39. Darlene says:

    I’m having CITR withdrawal :hissyfit: What to do???? I’ll read comments from yesterday’s post, perhaps that will help. OMG, what do I find? PIG WORMER next to TWINKIES!! 😆 😆 😆 I’m ok now. Thanks Jersey Lady

  40. SuzzyQ says:

    I grew up 1 block away from a “Mercantile” and I loved it. I can still recall the smell of the store (good) and going there after school to buy a candy bar. That was a big deal! The sweet older lady that ran the store helped teach me how to count back change by letting me get it out of the cash register and counting it back to her. I miss those days. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  41. KarenAnne says:

    JerseyMom, Can you use mittens instead some of the time?

  42. yvonnem says:

    I’m with Darlene…withdrawal after one day without a new post. But really, I worry something is wrong more than anything. :hug:

  43. kdubbs says:

    “…I walked up to the counter with the gloves and bought them.

    I think I never took myself seriously at this farming thing before.”

    I am so glad you’ve reached this point! Just plain all-around COMPETENCE at a wide variety of things (many of them so-called “man chores”)is one of the things I value most about myself. You can already do so many great things–but I’m happy to see you developing new comfort zones. Congrats!

  44. Old Geezer says:

    When it comes to winter work wear for the hands I have taken a liking to a kind of glove/mitten that has half fingers for each finger but also a mitten flap that covers all the fingers but folds back out of away when needed. The flap will be secured out of the way of the fingers by either a velcro tab or by a small magnet (I’ve had both kinds). I shop for this kind of stuff at This way you can slop the hogs with warm hands but then get in a quick spell of knitting between bucket loads!

  45. Gem says:

    LOVE this little foray… 🙂

  46. jamitysmom says:

    Those gloves look awesome! I bought myself some gloves this year, we have a new flock of hens and two roosters (long story) and I decided I needed gloves but I didn’t look long enough apparently! I bought UNLINED deerskin gloves (they look like yours but no warm lining). I found out the first really cold day that they aren’t warm at all when they get wet! I’ll have to go back and look at the lined deerskin gloves. It’s going down to the single digits tomorrow, I’m going to wish I had your nice warm gloves, I’m sure! By the way, your post actually brought tears to my eyes, it’s about so much more than gloves… you are such an inspiration Suzanne.

  47. Gwen says:

    I just love the gloves, the right choice i think.
    I always go by the ayles with whatzahoozits, love to figure out what it is for, even though we do not live on a farm, we live in a village mainly surrounded by small agriculture, so we also have a little store to go along with this.
    And again, we don’t have a farm, but when i walt through the store, looking at all they offer I can just imagine farming with them…. so I have a fantasy farm 🙂

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