First and Foremost


I’m so proud of my book, and so excited (and scared) that it will soon be published. It’s the most important thing I’ve written in my whole life, as well as the most revealing. I’m proud that I lived the life that is in the book. That I dared. Because there is no reason on earth that I or anyone should have thought I would.

From the book: “I was about to buy the most magical farm in all the land! Or, in fact, I was about to embark on an intense experience of hardship, deprivation, passion, danger, and romance gone awry. But it was a good thing I didn’t know any of that right then.”

coverfinalsm2How could any of that life even be mine?

I lived a safe life for the first 40 years of my existence on this planet. Safe, safe, safe. Good girl, safe, good girl.

Good girls who eat their peas and desire a safe life don’t run away from the suburbs and move into a slanted little house with no insulation, no central heat, and no money. Good girls don’t move to dirt roads barricaded by rivers and creeks and icy narrow ways out with no guard rails. Good girls don’t throw away all the security and money they always thought they needed to be happy, and drive off with nothing but their laptop and their cat and their kids.

If I die tomorrow, I have lived.

I did the hardest things alone, most notably explaining it to my kids, who were coming with me.

A few weeks before, I had sat in a rocking chair next to my dear Georgia on the porch of the slanted little house and asked perhaps the most important question of my life. She sat there, looking at me, wondering why I was visiting, and I said, “Will you let me move in to the old farmhouse? I want to live here.”

And she didn’t blink, she didn’t question, she just said, “Of course, you’re family.”

I lived there for two and a half years before moving to a farm of my own at Stringtown Rising. I paid a (very) minimal rent at the slanted little house, enough to cover the gas it cost to heat the house. Near the end of my time there, that last Christmas, she gave me a card. Inside, she wrote to me that her gift to me until I moved out was that I wouldn’t have to pay any more rent.

It wasn’t the greatest gift she gave me. That greatest gift was herself. She was in her 70s, and she’d grown up on a farm, knew how to do it all. She rambled around the farm between her house, my cousin’s house, and the slanted little house where I was living, dressed like a cross between a church lady and a gnome with her curly silver hair sticking out from under a cap, wearing a series of West Virginia t-shirts and polyester pants and always, always, a sweater, unless it was 90 degrees. She made me do chores. She made me hoe and then she made me can. She made me rake leaves and clean out gutters and carry sticks to the brush pile. She made me drive her to the store and she tried to make me put on sweaters every time a cloud crossed the sun.

She made me crazy.

And she made me want to be more like her.

Georgia was the conductor to my journey, the one who gave me my key to the rocket ride by providing a means for me to come to West Virginia and by inspiring me to be a different kind of woman than I’d ever imagined. There were many people who made this book possible, but she was first and foremost. She was like the “Yoda” in my backroads Star Wars, and if you’ve ever had someone like that in your life, I think you will connect to her role in my story. And if you’ve never been fortunate enough to have a Georgia, let me share her with you. Through this book, she can be yours, too.

As the release day of the book approaches, I hope I’ve done justice to her, and to so many people who became part of my story along the way. While this story came to be larger than life in some ways, at least to my former sheltered eyes, it is a true story about real life and real people, with all the real emotions that come hand-in-hand with reality.

graphic1When I came to West Virginia, I didn’t really have a plan. I was lost, to tell you the truth. It was the people I knew on this journey, like Georgia, who showed me the way and gave me a purpose both within and outside of myself. I hope with this book I can share those inspirations that changed my life, and with that, create something that means as much to you as it does to me, and be something that you, also, will want to share.

You can pre-order now, and I hope so much that you will tell me what you think!

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  1. CindyP says:

    As having received and read an advanced copy of Suzanne’s journey, I can only say I am in awe. I’ve been reading the blog since October 2008, worked with her on the site and the forum, planned and hosted retreats with her, emailed daily, and I was still crying in some parts and laughing my butt off in others. I didn’t know everything in this book! She inspired me to do what I’ve been doing and learning the last five years. But the book finally puts to words WHY she was learning and doing everything I suddenly had to have in my life. Reading the years worth of her journey from the first page to the last page is so inspiring…

    “Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.” by Alfred Sheinwold should be in the foreward of this book.

    Thank you, Suzanne! Love you!

  2. Cousin Sheryl says:

    I, too, have been privileged to read Suzanne’s book in advance. Of course, I was also right here, living most of it with her! Some days during the living of it, I was rolling on the floor laughing at Suzanne’s antics (the kids and the critters antics, too)! And some days, I would hang up from a phone chat and cry for the hardships and pain that Suzanne endured. The book is wonderfully written and you will enjoy reading every word!

    Suzanne – Again, thanks for the wonderful story of Georgia above. Cousin Mark and I care for her daily and we are watching her age more each day. It is so sad that she is not able to enjoy life, the farm, her cooking, her garden and her chores anymore. That woman loved to work! But, she has given us all a lesson in a life well-lived and well-loved.

    Suzanne, YOU are giving us a lesson in life well-lived, too! I hope the book is a runaway best seller and you keep letting those chickens run in the road!

    Love you, Sister!

  3. bumblebee says:

    Good Morning to you!!
    Loved your post! I CANNOT WAIT to read your book.
    How is Georgia?? I have been thinking of her and wondering for some time. She must be SO proud of you too, for your book. 🙂
    HUGS to you! Enjoy your day!!!

  4. Leck Kill Farm says:

    I am very anxious to get my copy. It is my plan to “save it” for my November vacation but I don’t know if I will have the self control!

  5. outbackfarm says:

    Well, if the chill bumps all over are any indication to the rest of the book, then I want one! Georgia is amazing! I also have a Georgia in my life. She’s 96 but swears she’s 99 and the birthday on her DL is wrong! She is my Georgia and so glad she’s in my life. We all need someone like these ladies.

  6. Pete says:

    Must agree with Cindy!

    It may seem a little cruel to tease everyone, but having read it, I can tell you that it is a great read. And, as someone who seldom reads memoirs, can also say that it will appeal to a very broad group of readers.

    Wonderfully told story. Well written. Engaging. Could any of us ask for more? Oh, and my favorite recipes are there also!

  7. momtoadiva says:

    I know I can’t wait to read this book!!!

  8. ddlapew says:

    I am happily anticipating your book and love your site. I am writing to tell you about another woman who lives on a ranch – alone – in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. Her blogs are fantastic and she’s a wonderful photographer with a hearty sense of humor. Carson has donkeys, chickens, a dog, a horse and a story similar to yours. She left the business world to settle on her own ranch. Her site is The 7MSN ranch, which stands for ‘7 miles out in the middle of nowhere.’ Fair warning – once you start reading her blogs you may not be able to stop going through the archives. I hope you check her out and enjoy her adventures. She’s going to be your new best friend!

  9. ddlapew says:

    Ooops, that would be ‘7 miles South of Nowhere, sorry.

  10. WildTrails says:

    “The road leads back to you, Oh Georgia” They could have written “Georgia On My Mind” for Georgia. 🙂 Your writing is a wonderful tribute to all she did for you. Kate and I can hardly wait to receive our copy of your book.

  11. Luann says:

    Suzanne, You are awesome. I had preordered my book a while back from Amazon, I cannot wait to receive it so I can bury myself into it and enjoy every word. I have been following your blog a good 3 years now, I live not too far and I did come to a workshop at your new farm once. I hope that I am able to come to more work shops but have to see how life goes for me. So far I only have pigs and chickens. My goal is to have goats, so I can have fresh goats milk to make my soaps and cheeses. You inspire me, keep it going…thank you! Luann

  12. blabass says:

    Already crying… can’t wait. pre-ordered a couple of weeks ago.

  13. Noël, the Production Editor says:

    Everyone in the office is on pins and needles for this to arrive–we are all looking forward to it!

    My function in the pubication process requires me to do a lot of skimming, but every time I caught Georgia’s name I stopped to read…and laugh! Your love and admiration for her shine through.

    Only a few more weeks until it’s here!

  14. Birdi says:

    Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for my copy to get here. I was anxious already before reading this post… now its just unbearable!!

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