There’s Always Something


This farm is located much differently from Stringtown Rising (which is to say, so much more conveniently). Sassafras Farm is 8 miles from the interstate. Handy, but not too close, and all that said, it’s still quite country out here. Like old Stringtown, there was once a little town here, too. The remains of old Clio are more visible than the remains of Stringtown. It was a postal address up until several years ago, but the post office is gone now. The old elementary school still stands, albeit in skeletal form. The old general store has been converted to a house. There is a tiny white church, still in operation. “Downtown Clio” is about a mile from my farm. I like to tell people as we’re driving through–“You’re in downtown Clio!” It perplexes people since it looks like nothing but a cluster of houses and a church. Oh, and that skeletal remain of the old elementary school.

Clio, by the way, is pronounced Cl-iiii-o, with a hard i. Not Cl-eeee-o. One sure way to tell everyone you’re not from around here is to say Cl-eeee-o. Luckily, I’m from only 10 miles away from here, so I already knew how to say Cl-iiii-o. Or I’d stick out even more than I do.

My neighbor Jim grew up here and remembers when the school and the store and the post office were still in operation. I wish they still were. It would be nice to have a little store and post office that closeby. I can only imagine the disturbance when the post office was taken away. (Not to mention the school and the store.) No post office in Roane County serves this road. It’s actually served by a post office in another county. The postal address here is Clendenin, which is in Kanawha County, because that is the town that sends a postman to this road. If that seems strange, welcome to rural living. I’m happy just to have a mailbox at the end of my driveway. I haven’t gotten over that yet. Probably never will after several years on a road with no postal service at all. This road is served otherwise (school bus etc) by Roane County, but it can be confusing sometimes to explain to people that your postal address is of one county although you live in another. If you ask people around here where they live, they’ll still tell you Clio. As do I. I’m more one of them than they know.

This road follows a path between a hollow. There are few farms on this road. The geography doesn’t support it well. Much of the land between the hills is narrow. There are a few roads branching off this road, going over the hills. There are random farms here and there, where the land allows, but no true farms any closer than a mile and a half away where I found Patriot after his escape. Farmers or not, these are country people and they have long roots. The number of mailboxes up and down the road with a single family name tell you that–and that same family name is the name of the road where it turns to dirt past my farm. These people have been here a long time, and they don’t take to outlanders or pretenders.

This farm is one of the few places along this road where the land opens up, providing wide flat spaces and good farmland and pasture. It’s one of the prime pieces of property on this road. The house has been here since the 1930s, and the farm longer than that. The original (now gone) farmhouse and barn were erected in the 1890s. But in recent memory, this farm has changed hands repeatedly, and the hands it has changed through have been outlanders and pretenders (or so goes the judgment of those who belong here).

I am the latest outlander and pretender to buy the pretty little jewel of a farm at the end of this road. The vast majority of the neighbors have been very friendly (and kind and generous and helpful!), though I doubt they expect me to last any longer than the rest. A few are more blatantly leery.

Recently, two little girls came strolling up the road. They were attracted to Patriot. They stood and stood and stood at the drive until I saw them and came down. They wanted to come closer to see him, and they wanted to see the other animals. They’d heard I had farm animals. I took them to see all the animals and then, naturally, their grandmother came up the road after them, looking for her errant girls.

We talked for a little bit and she said, “So do you ride the horse?”

I could tell right away that this was an important question.

She went on: “The people before, they had that big black Percheron, and they NEVER RODE HIM.”

I felt like I was having an Ornery Angel moment. She was testing me, to see if I really deserved to live on this road and to live on this farm and if I was a real country person.

Or if I was just another outlander and pretender.

In some ways, I probably am, and always will be. But yet that’s not quite true either. I have earned my stripes. But now I’m not country enough because I can’t ride a horse?

I said,
“I don’t know how
to ride.
I’m going
to take
lessons soon.
But I have
a milk cow


And that, dear readers, is ’nuff said.


  1. MousE says:

    Truly, ’nuff said’! And



    belong! This is your home! :snoopy: They’ll see that by and by. =D

  2. CATRAY44 says:

    They will see you are the real deal, not ‘all hat and no cattle’! They just have a lot of respect for the land and the way of life. They will soon recognize that you do, too. I firmly believe that the Lord had you in mind to live on that piece of land, in these days, when He created it. :snuggle:

  3. Butterbean says:

    Yes, that was nuff said!! Guess that we are the same way here in ways. Know what you mean about the address thing, there are areas of our county that get mail from a neighboring county, and their phone is from another neighboring county! confusing for those that don’t know. However I will take this country life with it’s oddities, over city life any day!!!!!

  4. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I know exactly what you mean about the post office. That’s the way it is for us too and when it snows too much in the winter they will not deliver to the rural areas. They say it costs too much to have their vehicles pulled from the ditch all the time. We have been at our place for 23 years and are still considered outsiders and ‘city people’.

  5. Flowerpower says:

    Suzanne…I feel sure you will show these neighbors many things. When do you get your cows back? You know it’s hard for me to imagine that there are places in this great United States that doesn’t have postal service. I figured everybody had it by now but I stand corrected. Sassafras farm is perfect for you especially when you get all the “bugs” worked out and the fences good! :happyflower:

  6. Window On The Prairie says:

    And you could have pointed out too that “big black percherons” are draft horses, not riding horses. And then you could have put a chew in your mouth and spit on her foot. Fppppt!! Ha!

  7. JerseyMom says:

    Our little village was founded in the 1600s and still doesn’t have house to house mail service. You want your mail? Go to the post office. That post office is in a regular house on what was once the stagecoach route and in earlier days the postmistress lived in most of it. Today it’s just post office though. Our county is shaped like a piece of pie with us on the tip end up against the ocean. The wide part runs along the Delaware River and is pretty citified for the moment while be are obviously not. When we call the county offices for something we usually get “you live where?” 😕 We’ve lived in our Victorian era house for almost 10 years and are still definitely newcomers….of course much of the village is descendents of the revolutionary war era residents so we will never be considered old timers!

    Like Clio we used to have more businesses, etc. and it would be nice to have more options, I guess…but I’m happy to live in a place that isn’t convenient enough to draw too many newcomers 😆

  8. princessvanessa says:

    I was just about to say te same thing that “Window On The Prairie” said. Percherons are, indeed, draft horses—work horses—used over the years to haul downed trees out of the forest, pull the farm plow, pull the wagon, etc. etc. Can Percherons be riden? Yes and for that matter you can also ride a cow; but you generally don’t.
    Also, why doesn’t “she” have any farm animals? If she had farm animals her granddaughters wouldn’t be roaming the countryside looking for animals to pet.

  9. Jen says:

    I have to laugh but living here for 22 yrs & still being considered an outsider really isn’t funny. I’ve actually been accepted a little better in the past few yrs because of the friendship I have with another outsider (another transplanted West Virginian like myself even!). She’s very smart, has a masters degree, is a CPA & has a public speaking ministry where she travels alot to speak at women’s conferences. Her husband is a college prof. & her children are all very successful. Because we are such good friends, her success has made me more acceptable – isn’t that sad!

    I have neighbors that NEVER spoke to me, even when I spoke to them, until a few yrs ago when they learned this lady was such a good friend of mine. It really bothered me for yrs that I couldn’t make friends without going outside of my neighborhood. I still miss the type of neighborhood I grew up in where people stopped to talk as they drove by our little country house or moms out riding bikes or walking with their kids stopped in. My neighbors here will at least wave at me now. lol

    I’ve just learned to be open, friendly, nonjudgmental of my neighbors & to be as giving as I can be of my time, my smile & my garden. I like being that way whether my neighbors ever change or accept me or not. Who wants to spend their lives worrying about what other people think?!

  10. JeannieB says:

    The comments on being an ‘outsider’ reminds me of one of my sisters. She married her husband and has been living at the same address for over 40 years. She is still an ‘outsider’ but her daughter is not!! Husband’s family has lived in the area for several generations.

  11. Auquachick says:

    I was just reading this and thinking about Clio. You first lived in Stringtown where my grandmother was born and now to Clio where my grandfather was born! That’s Awesome!

  12. Jenna_Gayle says:

    My address is from another county, too, and if I had a land line phone it would be from the same other county. Our power comes from yet another county and we’re on the end of the line (about a mile from the state line, I’m in South Georiga) so when the power goes out you play a serious waiting game! Our entire county has one red light and the county seat is just incorporated, not an actual “town”. When my hubby and I first got our own place we thought we needed to live in the city and got a one bedroom apartment. I’m glad we did that, because now we know just how good it is in the country!! :sun:

  13. meigseer says:

    I used to live in “downtown Clio” in the two story white house beside the church for my first 12 years of my life. Used to go to the post office and ride with the mail carrier on the short loop to help her out. I still remember sledding off the hill behind our house into the creek a few times when we had a good winter. I loved to be able to set out on the upstairs porch and cool down before going to bed and listen to the rain on the tin roof. Rode the bicycle up and down the roads all summer. Gonna have to make a trip back to see the changes you talk about.

Add Your Thoughts