The Farmhouse Year in Review 2010


January. We start the year in the midst of the snowiest winter I’ve experienced since moving to West Virginia. We get a foot of snow at once three separate times, with plenty of other snow in between. I try to learn to drive in it. Mostly, I stay home and enjoy being much better prepared than I was during our first winter here. I know now that there will be days, even weeks, when I can’t get up the driveway much less down the road. I am stocked up.

We bring Mr. Pibb, Rhett, and Eclipse home to our farm as our new bucks, and Clover has a racy affair. I’m determined to make this the year of farm babies. Bring on the cuteness!

February. It snows and snows and snow some more. Have I mentioned the snowing? We lose power. Again. For days. But this year I have a generator. I can watch TV and run the fridge and freezers. What I can’t do is go anywhere, between high water and ice.

I continue to obsess over Clover’s love life, and her life in general. I want babies!

March. Do you see that?!

There’s GREEN upon the land again!!! We bounce in excitement. And while I’ve been focusing all my attention on the lusty love life of Clover, the sheep surprise me with babies of their own! WE HAVE FARM BABIES!

I tell Clover she can relax now. (Not really. I WANT MORE BABIES!)

April. I’m given the most unforgettable birthday present of my life.

A cow.

A COW! I name her Beulah Petunia and learn to milk her. I learn to skim cream and make butter. My random efforts at cheesemaking turn regular. A cow changes your life–challenges you, tests you, exhausts you, rewards you. And best of all–

Oh, yes.

Best of all–she’s pregnant!

May. I need more babies. I get ducklings and chicks and guineas. And one insane puppy.

I’m baby crazy.

In other news, I make a big step in expanding my website when I launch Farm Bell Recipes, a new cooking community born from the Chickens in the Road forum.

It’s green, green, green, but between babies and launching Farm Bell Recipes, the garden is gonna get planted late….

June. As much as I love my farm babies, I love my own babies more and June is the month one of them grows up. Ross starts Navy boot camp June 17. I feel as if he’s disappeared into a black hole as I wait anxiously for letters, news, anything. I send him a questionnaire, desperate for word.

I make plans to go to his boot camp graduation with my mother.

July. My mother passes away suddenly.

To make this month bittersweet, I get letters and letters and letters from boot camp that I will treasure all my life.

We fence a new pasture for the sheep and I wait and wonder about Clover and Beulah Petunia’s impending deliveries.

August. Clover comes through and has two little bucklings! As exciting as that is, it’s overshadowed by the experience of my son’s Navy boot camp graduation.

Weston, Morgan, and I travel to Great Lakes, Illinois for the event and get to spend a few days with our new sailor before he goes to South Carolina to begin nuclear submarine training. It’s one of the most wonderful weekends of my life.

September. Beulah Petunia does it! And I have a baby cow!

I am so knowledgeable about baby cows that I can’t even figure out if it’s a boy or a girl, but a farmer friend comes over to help. IT’S A GIRL! I name her Glory Bee and wallow in her splendor.

I have no idea what lies ahead.

October. I discover that I have the worst baby cow in the history of baby cows.

Dateline: Stringtown, West Virginia.


A woman, reportedly beaten by a baby cow on a farm in the boonies, declined to comment on the incident that occurred late Tuesday. Officers arrived at the scene after chickens in the area filed a disturbance call. A goat identified only as ‘Clover’ stated to officers that the woman had been harassing the baby cow before the beating and that she was known for her inability to control animals. “It’s embarrassing, really,” Clover said. “But at least she makes good cookies.”

Officers attempted to question the woman about the reported harassment, but she fled the scene in chore boots. A calf halter was taken into evidence. The case remains under investigation.

Embarrassing news reports are the least of it, and getting a halter on her is just the beginning.

November. Another of my babies shows signs of growing up. After five years, my high school senior plays his last season of football.

I’m surprised by how sentimental I feel considering this has always been the game I loved to hate.

I spend most of the month struggling with angry cows as I try to find a balance between keeping mother and baby together–and milking my cow at the same time. I finally work out a reasonable compromise with Glory Bee. I let her milk mommy sometimes, and she lets me lead her around by her halter. She might turn out to be a good cow, after all!

We end the year much as it began–with way more snow than I expected.

And the promise of more babies as Sprite, Fanta, and Nutmeg all show signs of being pregnant and due to deliver sometime over the winter. I think sometime next year Jack and Poky will give me a baby miniature donkey, too.

This photo goes down as the favorite photo of the year.

And as for my babies, I’m looking forward to the holidays with all three as my sailor comes home.

This was a roller coaster year of amazing highs and difficult lows. We hosted our third Chickens in the Road Party on the Farm and started making plans to expand next year to a workshop/retreat weekend along with the party. Farm Bell Recipes launched and grew into thousands of recipes and members. With the help of the generous donors to the Ball Blue Book Project, I gave away over 60 BBB’s this year. I learned to make soap! And milk a cow! And together with New England Cheesemaking, I began a challenge to make a new hard cheese every month. The Chickens in the Road forum continued to grow and this year, for the second year in a row, the forum year ends with gift and ornament swaps between members. The community that has grown up here astounds me. There is so much generosity and warmth and knowledge in those of you who visit here. Thank you for making the choice to spend time here and make friends here. I appreciate you so much.

I got my year of farm babies. I learned so much–and have so much yet to learn. A farm is a mysterious mixture of magic and hardship, much like life. You never know what lies ahead, just that it will be happy, it will be sad, it will be worth the experience. It will be an adventure.

This is my now.

Come with me and we’ll find out what happens next together!

Go back in time:
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2009
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2008
The Farmhouse Year in Review 2007

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 17, 2010  

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42 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-17

    I have enjoyed spending 2010 with you and all your “babies” this past year. I have learned so much through your site and look forward to learning more. Thanks for everything you share with us! Looking forward to an amazing 2011 on CITR!

  2. 12-17

    What a great year! And I am still amazed at how beautiful Glory Bee remains.

    I was wondering what you do about gas for your generator? I can’t remember reading about that. I looked into getting a generator, but it seemed like I’d have to have a humongous amount of gas stored to make it feasible if a power outage lasted several days to a week.

  3. 12-17

    Suzanne, I always love looking back at the year on your farm. Also, did I miss something? When you said that was the favorite photo of the year were you simply saying that it was your own personal favorite (mine, too. I love that photo and the one of Jack) or were you referring to the contest? Did I miss the results?

  4. 12-17

    Myrna, I was just referring it to being a favorite of mine and a number of people also commented that it was their favorite, so nothing official there!

  5. 12-17

    Myran, yes you did miss the results!

    Thank you Suzanne for another great year! It’s been a busy, busy year with lots of great changes :yes: Hoping 2011 is as good for you and the farm :happyflower:

  6. 12-17

    Thank you for the wonderful year too!

  7. 12-17

    You have had a very interesting and fulfilling year…I have enjoyed your stories, recipes and the farm animals so much!

  8. 12-17

    Thanks Suzanne for the great year!

  9. 12-17

    Thanks Suzanne for brightening up my days with your blog site. I found this site this year and I have to read it once or twice a day. I hope next year will bring you good health, joy and much happiness on your farm. And have lots of farm babies. :snoopy:

  10. 12-17

    What a great year. I have learned so much about your family, your animals and how to do so much. Even if I never make soap or cheese I know how and that is more than I knew last year. Thanks for wonderful memories, and I look froward to 2011 and more crafts and babies.

  11. 12-17

    Cindy, thank you for the link! That must have been one of those days when I read Chickens in the morning and failed to come back later. Usually I check back, but this week has been really hectic and I missed that post about Suzanne winning the contest, so…congratulations! (Late but still heartfelt).

  12. 12-17

    Good Morning Suzanne, I have only been here a little over a month, but I have come to rely on CITR for my daily dose of farm life other than my own. I have so much to catch up on in your recipes also. this has been refreshing for me and a BLESSING. Thank you for CITR, I pray you have the best Christmas and New Year ever with Ross home and your other two children there from school.
    Your calanders have been a hit with my friends I have given them to. I don’t have a favorite animal in your family, but I enjoy them all.

  13. 12-17

    Oh my gosh, your little “police report” was hilarious! :lol:

    Thank you, Suzanne. This is my second year of following you and you have been a “joy” to me. Merry Christmas! :hug:

    :happyflower: Joy :happyflower:

  14. 12-17

    Just finished reading your past year end reports…my goodness, you certainly have had an eventful time!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family (human and animal) and best wishes for another wonderful year to come!

  15. 12-17

    Wow, I’ve been here for all of that! Love your recap. Was 2010 really all just one year? Doesn’t feel like it, but maybe it never does. Congratulations on the year and here’s hoping that the last few days of it are lovely!

  16. 12-17

    I really enjoyed the year in review and went to take a look at 2009 as well. I realized that I started following you, Suzanne, after seeing your post with the twig star ornaments. Honestly, I cannot even remember HOW it found you but SO happy I did.
    I love everything about CITR and share it often with patients in our office.
    I look foward to another wonderful year… especially with my CITR calendar to give me a smile when I cannot get online during the work day!

  17. 12-17

    What an incredible year! I didn’t miss a day checking your website! Next year will be even better, can’t wait! It never snows in San Jose California. :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave:

  18. 12-17

    What a great year in review! I have two brothers in the Navy :)

    Merry Christmas!

  19. 12-17

    Suzanne, I love reading your blog and I’m excited to see what the new year brings for you! Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you.

  20. 12-17

    I’m so glad that I found your blog this year. I luv all your babies!

  21. 12-17

    Wow, I always love your year-in-reviews Suzanne. I get to look back and recall all that happened at Stringtown Rising Farm, and there was a lot. The sadness of your mother passing, the joy of Ross graduating Navy Boot Camp, the birth of Glory Bee – what a cutie! It’s been so delightful being along for the ride with you through this blog. You’ve brought tears to my eyes with your moving posts, and I cannot count the times I’ve laughed out loud too. That photo of Boomer (my fave, of course, if it’s possible to have one) with his feet off the ground is precious. thanks for a great year Suzanne. You bring so much to the lives of those who follow CITR, and you are a dear heart. May the coming year bring you peace, good fortune, lots and lots of BABIES, and more joy than you know what to do with. If that’s possible. Merry Christmas to you and your family. And God bless. :hug:

  22. 12-17

    Well, that’s one jam-packed year. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. I can see you’re very busy, but I wonder if you have time to check Clover’s pedigree. Seems like she may be a cross between a goat and a pig: She’s such a ham!!!

  23. 12-17

    Thankyou for sharing your life’s stories! I have 9 days until I move on down and I hope I have half of the adventures that you have shared. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. Have a wonderful day!

  24. 12-17

    I pretty much LIKE your “now”…and i am enjoying the babies vicariously, so keep up the good work!!

  25. 12-17

    Hi Suzanne! You have inspired me,made me and my family laugh almost daily, and have gotten us addicted to our own “farm TV”. May your people family and the farm family have a wonderful Christmas and new years!!! From the Suttons,4 people, 5 goats, 9 chickens, 2 muscovy ladies and the household pets.

  26. 12-17

    It’s been a great year! :happyflower:

  27. 12-17

    I’m so glad that I found your site this year, and can’t wait to see what 2011 brings!

  28. 12-17

    Love your blog, :heart: thank you so much!!! :sheep:

  29. 12-17

    Suzanne, Thank you for a look back over your year! I only found your blog some time in September, so I hadn’t seen all that happened before that (although I love to click back on old links and read what I’ve missed). I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. That is such a sad, heart-wrenching time. :cry: And, I have to agree with you that boot camp graduation, and the few days you finally get to spend with your beloved, greatly-missed son are absolutely delightful! That weekend (for me) sticks out in my memory as one of the absolute best moments of my life. :snoopy: I’m looking forward to next year with you!

  30. 12-17

    Hi- this is my first time at your site. Very inspiring. I would love to live on a farm… one day.

  31. 12-17

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Suzanne! I found your blog in late January or February this year and just love it! Thanks so much for your postings and may 2011 be good for all of us!

  32. 12-17

    I enjoyed this post. You’re definitely a real farmer now, lady! Welcome to the club.

  33. 12-18

    I’m chiming in as well. Thank you for sharing your lovely animals and life with us. It’s such a part of my day, checking in to see what’s new. The recipes are wonderful and the animal antics are charming and of course, seeing what your family is up to is always interesting. Thanks for showing us what we all can be and aspire to.

  34. 12-18

    Thank you for sharing your life with us! :snuggle:

  35. 12-19

    Thank you for a wonderful blog. I only started following you since the middle of the year and I learn so much from you and the community members. Merry Christmas and looking forward to a great New Year following your adventures.

  36. 12-20

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. It’s been an experience I will not forget. Thanks to you and your site, I’ve made lots of friends I would never have met otherwise. We’ve enjoyed great meals and recipes from the Farm Bell site. I’ve been inspired to attempt to make soap and cheese. That’s on my TO DO list for this coming year. And, most of all, I’ve got to share your experiences with you…the ups and downs…bittersweet and sweet. I’ve seen your members rally around you and support you when your picture was misused. What a family we all have become! That’s how I would best describe it…and extended family who care for each other. Wow! And all because of you. Thank you, Suzanne, for making our lives richer and happier and sharing yourself with us. :happyflower:

  37. 12-20

    What a year! I’ve enjoyed following along this year. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2011; may it be as rich and rewarding at the Farmhouse as it was this year!

  38. 12-20

    Your delight in life and living each day to the fullest is inspiring and delightful, Suzanne. Thanks for sharing your sweet family of farm animals and also your ‘people’ family with us. Wonderful, one and all, and always entertaining.
    Wishing you a warm and festive Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year! :hug:

  39. 12-20

    You have a good now.

  40. 12-21

    What a year for you and all your babies..did you mention the great photo steal in your review!?

    Have a wonderful Christmas! Can’t wait for the next batch of farm babies.

  41. 12-22

    Wow it was a busy year for you. With each passing year, you’ll get the hand of raising animals and farm life. I know I am. Take care, and Merry Christmas.

  42. 12-27

    hi! I just started following from Delaware. :-) Hope you’re well. I had to comment because my fiance was a nuclear submariner for the US Navy and loved it. After being out of the service for more than a decade, he still says it’s one of the best times in his life.

    Hope you and the family are all well.

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"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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