The Retreat and Party 2012 Report


This past week has been filled with unbelievable highs and lows for me. Clover’s sudden loss was so devastating, but at the same time, the week was dominated by the energy and cheerful spirits of our camp staff, leaders, and attendees.

Check-in to the retreat began at noon on Thursday. We had a variety of “freestyle” activities going on all day Thursday including biscuit-making and pie-making as well as apple butter-making. Attendees shared crafts, and a special thank-you to the fabulous Pat Springer who taught knitting on the fly to any who wanted to learn. Retreat workshops took place all day Friday and Saturday, including cheesemaking, preserving, soapmaking, breadbaking, candlemaking, natural skin care, spinning, felting and fulling, quilting, container gardening, mushroom log inoculating, apron making, dulcimer playing, painting, goat milking/husbandry, and power tools.

I taught breadbaking, soft cheesemaking, and candlemaking. For me, it is always a thrill to see the light of excitement in someone’s eyes when they see their cheese form a curd, or when they put their fist in the dough and say, “NOW I GET IT!”


Mozzarella Man:

(I had some of THE funniest attendees in my classes.)

Making rolls in bread class:

And oh my, those kids (I mean adults?) in my candlemaking class were a blast. They WERE like kids! I had them making cupcake and cake candles, but they really went to town when they started making pie candles. I’ve never seen such artistes! I was amazed. Behold some of their creations!

Cupcake candle with cherry and stem made from wick remnant:

Cherry pie candle made with wax cherries:

I made it around to as many classes as possible with my camera, but could not hit them all as I was teaching most of the time.

Dulcimer-playing class:

Art class:


Mushroom log inoculating:

Goat husbandry–thank you to workshop leader Shelley for this photo:



There were (of course) numerous mini-crises, most of which were managed without attendees ever knowing they occurred. I was at Wal-Mart between classes on Saturday buying pliers. Problem solved! Our entertainer on Friday night was a no-show. Problem solved! (In this case, I must mention the angel Sherry Gainer, who stepped in with what I am sure every person who was there will agree was a most delightful impromptu psaltery and dulcimer concert to save the day. I also want to thank our most wonderful Granny Sue, who told us stories on Saturday night and DID show up as scheduled!) We had to replace a teacher at the last minute due to a family emergency. Problem solved! (Thank you to my cousin Mark for stepping in.) And those are just a few samples! Anyone who has handled events is probably aware of the many behind-the-scenes crises that can occur. It’s exciting–and scary!–and there are many learning opportunities in managing events with meals, facilities and accommodations, workshops, equipment, supplies, entertainment, and more. My list of lessons learned grows and grows.

It would be impossible for me to thank every single person by name who made the retreat such a wonderful, positive experience, but I want every leader to know how appreciated they are: CindyP, Dede, LauraP, Blyss, Shelley, Heather, Kelly Walker, Kelly Bailey, Leslie and Diane, Mark, Pat, and Sherry. I also want to thank our cook, Debbie, and kitchen helpers Faye and Karen along with camp “lifeguard” Pete. I want to thank Heather (MrsFuzz on the forum) twice because she was at my house the week leading up to the retreat and I could not have done without her. She was a tireless hero every day and I literally cried when she left. And I can’t thank CindyP enough times because despite the fact that I do all the talking, behind the scenes, she is making it happen.

The Party on the Farm, like last year, took place on the heels of the retreat, and it was fantastic to welcome familiar faces from the retreat to Sassafras Farm along with many others who were not retreat attendees but joined us for the party. There was a CROWD. This was the biggest party yet, with spinning, felting, quilting, coffee bean roasting, sugar scrub cube making demonstrations plus hay rides and pony rides. (WOW, Shortcake was a HIT! There was a line to ride her all the time and she was a DOLL. Thank you to Tinia from Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue for handling the rides.) Thank you to CindyP, LauraP, Kelly Walker, Heather, and Dede for helping me get ready for the party, and a big thank you to my friend Jerry for the photos in the party gallery below.


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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 18, 2012  

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24 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 9-18

    chickenstock…you kill me! =o)

  2. 9-18

    Chickenstock! I love it! I’m so glad the retreat was such a big success and can’t wait to learn what the new location will be. I wish I could have came to the party at least. Many more people than when I was there at the studio opening and HOP benefit…WOW!

    You’re doing great Suzanne! :snoopy:

  3. 9-18

    Sounds like fun. COunt me in!

  4. 9-18

    Chickenstock, hahaha love it! Thanks for sharing the pics, looks like so much fun!

  5. 9-18

    OMG! I have to admit, I didn’t go this year because I had gone last year and there were only a few things I could have learned this year that someone last year didn’t already help me master. Except hard cheesemaking. There are SO many new things coming up that I think my husband will want to attend too. I’ve been reading on wine making and brewing but…just to scared to try it. I’ve always been curious about bees and I’m getting my first 4 chicks this next spring. If I’m lucky they’ll be laying by the time Chickenstock comes around. Can’t wait!!!

  6. 9-18

    I am so looking forward to next year!

  7. 9-18

    Wow, the retreats sound more wonderful each time. And more work to put on. Congratulations on your success, Suzanne.

  8. 9-18

    OMG! I filled out the survey and you have addressed most of my concerns! I can’t wait until next year! This year was fabulous but next year sounds even more exciting. Maybe I can convince my husband to come with me. Can’t wait to hear more details.

  9. 9-18

    py for your work shops. take care of your health.


  10. 9-19

    ROFL!!! …I hope I can make it next year but if not I’ll STILL be laughing about that name, it’s so awesome!

  11. 9-19

    Looks like you all had a great time. Love the blue solo cup Suzanne! Wonder why CindyP didn’t have one too? One of these years I’ll make it. I can’t resist anything “chicken.” Maybe 2013 is my year.

    Thanks for sharing. Loved the pics, especially the kids on the hay ride.


  12. 9-19

    Chickenstock, that cracks me up! I had such a great time and meet so many great people this year. Looks like I better start saving for next year! Thanks to everyone behind the scenes that made this such a great weekend for everyone!

  13. 9-19

    I filled out the survey as well and am happy to see that you are are addressing everything I was concerned about. I wasn’t sure I would come back next year but now I think I might. I loved all of the people and really had a great time!

  14. 9-19

    Chickenstock. I love it. I wish I was closer!

  15. 9-19

    “Another venue has already been selected. (I think you’ll LOVE it.)”

    Oh, Suzanne! Greenbrier! It’ll be perfect! We can all stay in the Executive Atomic Bomb Shelter!

    (You did mean Greenbrier, didn’t you?)

  16. 9-19

    I love this post. You can see how much happier and freer you are (or maybe it’s my imagination!) Anyway, I must try to get there next year as this thing is growing bigger by leaps and bounds. Good thing you moved to 100 acres!!

  17. 9-19

    I too, thoroughly enjoyed myself. And, it looks like most of my concerns/suggestions are addressed for next year, including some of the additional classes, yeah! Thank you all for a great time.

  18. 9-19

    So impressive and so amazing! So hoping I can attend one of these and that you keep on doing them until I can!

  19. 9-19

    I had a great time at my first CITR retreat and hope there are six new classes for me to take so I can come next year. Oh, and where ever the venue is, please make sure to bring along that rooster that serenaded my waking every morning. :happyflower:

  20. 9-20

    I cannot believe you have alREADY! been thinkinginging about this for next year ! Don’t you ever sleep? I love the idea of beekeeping ! Angela P and catray are old pros ! chickens ! new digs ! (I did love the camp of Shepard, tho —gorgeaus sunrises and sets) jams and jellies ( must be jelly coz jam don’t shake like that) More goating, more Twiggitys ! Was there ever a happier looking man that Twiggity Don?
    sigh. I am so happy for us !

  21. 9-20

    Wow! You are GOOD. I have also just filled out my review and you’d already noticed the things I mentioned. I’m glad I got to experience Camp Shepard– though those narrow bunks and squeeky springs won’t be missed :)

    Also wanted to mention that in a way I’m glad I didn’t read the post about Clover before the retreat and party. I kept expecting to see her and thought I’d just missed her in the crowd. I’m glad you named the wagon after Clover who had a personality twice her size and much bigger than her poor heart.

  22. 9-20

    I’ll just live vicariously through the blog, but the retreat sounds like it was GREAT and will continue to be even GREATER! I wish I lived closer to WV and had the time/energy for doing at least one of the things you teach.

  23. 9-21

    How about “Hen Party” or “Farm Frolic”?
    Or “Hen Party & Farm Frolic”?

    Or “Sassafras University”? SASS U for short! LOL (I amaze myself!) I can see the logo now = = a “seal” with a Latin phrase around the outside and a big SASS U in the middle.


    SASS U, SASS U sis boom bah!
    We like chickens Rah, Rah, Rah!

    Can you tell that I had a looooonnngggg night at work?

    Luv ya, Cuz!

  24. 9-23

    I really like Sassafras U Sheryl, or something similar. I think you’re on to something! :happyfeet: No matter what it’s called, I call it a great time!

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