Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Barn Chicks Who Blog- Suzanne McMinn Interview

     In the past year I have had the pleasure of reading many new blogs. My very favorite blog is Chickens in the Road. The author is Suzanne McMinn. She is a former romance writer with twenty-six books that have been published. Several years ago, she moved with her three children to a "slanted little house" in West Virginia. She eventually built a new house on forty acres and lovingly named it Stringtown Rising Farm.

Photo property of Chicken in the Road

     In a blog post titled The Slanted Little House, Suzanne had a sentence that jumped out at me when I read it. She said, "I was at a turning point in my life, a crossroad where for the first time I could choose where I would live, not simply be carried along by circumstances." This was so noteworthy, because she not only chose where she would live, but how. Suzanne chose to cook from scratch, have a garden, raise livestock, craft, and even learn cheese making. I have lots of respect for this lady. She not only writes and shares great photos, but she is actually out there getting her hands dirty. She blogs about her day to day experiences. This is not a vicarious documentary of others working, but an incredibly enjoyable blog of someone who is really living a country life.

The Animals of Stringtown Rising Farm
Photo property of Chickens in the Road

     I would love to one day sit down with Suzanne and have a cup of tea/coffee and just chat. I would bring a pastry to the meeting, and I would hope that she would too. Suzanne has posted some wonderful recipes and has a section of her blog called the Farm Bell. It's a place where members can share recipes and tips. It's worth joining and filling your "recipe box" with some of the great things to be found there.

The Interview
1. Please tell me what things are currently happening on Stringtown Rising Farm?
    Right now, Stringtown Rising Farm seems to be all about the taming of the wild calf, Glory Bee.  I hope we're finally on the right road there.  A calf has been an all-new experience for me.  I've made some mistakes, but that's how you learn.

2. I love all of  the stories about your animals. Please tell my readers a little about your animals. Do you have a favorite type of farm animal? Do you own them or do they own you?
    I don't know how to pick a favorite type of animal.  That would be like choosing between my children.  I love my animals.  I can say that sheep are my least favorite, and what I'm mostly likely to stop raising, mostly because sheep need so much pasture and we just don't have it.  For now, I'm sort of in a holding pattern with the sheep and will decide at a later point whether I want to continue or not.  I adore my goats and my chickens and my ducks, and I just love my milk cow.  I even love that ornery calf.
Photo property of Chickens in the Road
3. You mentioned visiting a cabin there in West Virginia when you were a child. Did you have experiences visiting farms, that might have contributed to your desire to farm?
    I've never been to a farm.  I had no idea what a farm was like other than from children's stories.  That might explain my semi-angelic take on farming, which in reality can be hard.  But I see it through the eyes of children's stories, and that makes the difficulties seem easier.  I've wanted to live on a farm my whole life.  I have no idea why.

4. Was there a moment when you said, "That's it! I'm moving to the country?"
    I've always wanted to live in the country, but never really thought I'd get there, at least not as rural to the max as I've gone.  In a way, it was a circumstantial move in the end, and by the time I got this far into the country (the slanted little house), it was easy to go all the way and out a dirt-rock road and over three creeks into the wildest boonies.  By then, I was sucked in and loved it here.

5. What was the hardest transition for you when  you moved to the country?
    Grasping the difference between hay and straw.  (Just kidding!)  Probably the most difficult issues for me are dealing with rough roads in the winter.  I'm not a good winter driver in conditions that include ice and snow and unplowed roads with steep drop-offs.

6. When you wrote romance novels, were any of them in a farm setting?
    Most of my books were set in small towns.  I did a few in rural settings.  I would write those better now!!

7. Is it more fun naming novel characters or your farm animals (who ARE characters)? 
    It's more fun naming my farm animals.  They're real.

Photo property of Chickens in the Road
8. Have you ever looked back and questioned your decision to move to the country? If so, what calmed that feeling?
    I've never regretted moving to the country.  I love it here and never want to live anywhere else again.  Sometimes I wonder if I've taken on too much on the farm itself--on days when I'm really tired or things are very difficult.  Walking around on my farm is always a reassuring feeling.  The lands feel good.  And hugging a goat solves a lot of problems.

9. Have you run into anyone who knew you before you became a farmer? What has been the reaction?
    It depends on the person what the reaction is--depending on their view of country living.  Some people are fascinated and want to hear about, and other people just think I've gone to an alien planet and lost my mind.

10. Please finish this sentence for me: If someone had told me twenty years ago, that I'd be farming, I'd have said.....
    Can I do it sooner?  Do I have to wait 20 years?

11. You mentioned, on your blog, that this has been a very good thing for your children. Please tell me some of the more positive things that it has meant for them.
    I like the most that it has changed their perspective in regard to materialism.  That is not to say they don't love things.  They're teenagers.  They want things.  But they don't get things, and aren't even exposed to things, the way they were when we lived in the suburbs.  A few days ago, I took them for a treat to Wal-Mart after I picked them up from their practices and told them they could buy junk food.  I sent them off without a cart (on purpose).  Morgan came back with her arms loaded up to her chin--she did the holding while Weston did the stacking of packages and boxes.  Then he carried all he could, too.  They were thrilled because they never get to buy junk food.  When you live a simpler lifestyle, it doesn't take near as much to thrill kids and helps them appreciate the little things.

12. What's in the future for Stringtown Rising Farm?
    Babies!!!!  (Lots of goat babies coming up.)  Hopefully a barn!

Thank you for this interview, Suzanne. You and Chickens in the road are super!

Welcome to anyone visiting from Chickens in the Road! Hello and hugs to my regular readers!
I will be having a giveaway. Here is the prize:
1 hand-painted frame with mirror. 7"x7"

To enter:
Mandatory- Make a comment here about this interview or about Chickens in the Road. (1 entry)
Extra Entry- Leave a comment on any post on EverydayRuralty. (1 entry each, up to 3 extra entries)


I will draw for this with Random.org.
This giveaway will be open until Friday at midnight (EST).

Note: Did you notice  that I didn't say you have to follow? I want folks to read my blog because they like it, not because of a contest. I'm learning that number of followers could never mean as much as the interaction I have with  the great people who visit here!



  1. (Don't enter me in the giveaway. :D)
    Great interview!

  2. Way to go, Patrice! Great first interview/interviewee. I think Suzanne is a wonderful 1st chapter for your new efforts as she sets the bar for all other country/farm/gardening/crafting/surviving-life-and-making-soap-with-it blogs! And she does it with such style! :)

  3. I think you did a great job on your interview!! :)

  4. Patrice, what a great person to choose for your first interview! I think you asked the perfect questions. Suzanne makes her daily life so interesting and amusing, and I can hardly wait to make daily visits there when I'm on line.
    The mirror frame looks so cute - what a great giveaway!
    I'm just off to find a goat to hug - best wishes as always.
    Rose H

  5. Really enjoyed the interview. CITR is a blog I read everyday. You asked Suzanne some questions that were very interesting and I learned new things about her from your interview.
    Well done!

  6. I too love Chickens in the Roads blog and faithfully read it everyday..actually 3-4 times a day. I love that you dug a little deeper and got some answers/insight into her wonderful, crazy life. Thanks for that. I love your blog and will now be reading it too..isn't this the best? I'd love to enter your give away and win that mirror..what talent you have! Count me in-Sharon/puckettsnest@yahoo.com

  7. ENJOYED the interview and absolutely LOVE the painted frame. I have just the place for it at my little farm in VA :)

  8. I have found so many wonderful new blogs via Chickens in the Road! Please enter me to win your lovely frame.

  9. I loved the interview. Chickens in the road is my favorite blog too! I love the mirror you painted for Suzanne! And the one your giving away. Great Work :)

  10. Well done! So nice to have you in our little community that is CitR.

    Of course, winning that lovely mirror would be great as well, but it was a pleasure to just enjoy looking at the results of your talent.

    Pete, from CitR

  11. I live chickens in the road. It's one of the blogs I read everyday.

  12. Really? Your first interview? I couldn't tell. It was very well done, with great questions! I am a visitor from CITR, and you did pick a perfect subject. However, in learning about you and nosing around your blog, I enjoy it here and am now following it, too!

  13. I'm a dolt. A dolt whose coffee hasn't kicked in.

    (not that it matters, I never win, but just so you know I'm a real person!)

  14. I have fallen in love with Chicken in the Road and I might add Glory Bee! Each time I read about the life you have there and see the pictures, it just warms my soul! Thank you for sharing!

  15. have been loving me some Suzanne for awhile..my favorite blog.auntbear :)

  16. I fell in luv with CITR the 1st time I read one of Suzanne's post.

    Good interview. Luv the mirror that you painted for her too!

  17. suzanne is an amazing author and i love to read her blog daily ..... great interview ! i would love that mirror it would be a great reminder of chickens in the road

  18. I found you through CITR, and I really enjoyed your interview! I'm looking forward to browsing around your blog some more. I love finding interesting new blogs to add to my sidebar on my own blog!

    I'd love to win the mirror, because it reminds me of my own chickens (who never go in the road, but often poop on my deck) as well as Suzanne's lovely blog.

    My email is beppers777 (at) yahoo.com

  19. Such a wonderful interview. I've come to love Chickens In The Road. I have living on the farm in common with y'all. We had every animal except goats. I feel so close to Suzanne, I think we could be sisters. Wish I lived closer. I am in MN. We have lots of snow.
    Your first interview ever was great. Please keep doing it. Your painting talent is wonderful. I would charish your give away forever. Mona Slocum

  20. Im a loyal reader at CITR and I loved this interview!

  21. LOVE your first edition of Barn Chicks who Blog! I'm passing it along to my farm chicks! Good Luck!

  22. I have enjoyed reading Suzanne's Chickens in the Road for awhile now. She gives some great information about so many things, and is a great encouragement for us country "noobies." Loved your article!

  23. My about-to-be-married daughter really needs this...soon to be living part-time on a farm, writing children's books, etc.

  24. I love vicariously through Suzanne and I like it that way. If I were younger farming was something I would love to do but not now - too much work. I love Chickens in the Road - read it everyday. Great interview by the way!

  25. From one CITR addict to another, nice job on the interview! I'm surprised you got Suzanne to hold still long enough to answer your questions!

    And now I'll be visiting your blog regularly, too..poking around, reading old posts...to see if this blog, too, feels like home. :)

    Oh, and I'd love to win the chicken mirror!

  26. I loved your very first interview!! Don't enter me either, let it be for your new readers. :) Very nicely done, Have you been a interviewer too in your very interesting life. You are much better than Larry King.
    Prettier too. :)I enjoyed it.

  27. Thanks for the great read! I like your style of interviewing and I learned more fun things about CITR. Keep up the great work!

  28. That was a great interview! Please enter me in the drawing. Love your blog and CITR!

  29. How cool to see Suzanne from a different perspective. I read her blog everyday, I really look forward to her posts. I'm glad she introduced us to you, I always like a new blog to read! Hope I win the frame it is so cute!

  30. Love the interview. I found your blog (and Farmgirl Writes) several months ago thru CITR. I can't remember if I'm a "follower" or not, but I visit regularly.
    Please enter me in the contest for the beautiful mirror.

    Take care,

  31. I LOVE LOVE the picture of Clover peeking out from behind the shed....I want Suzanne to come and take pics of my goats too!!!!

    Please enter me in the drawing for the cool mirror!!!

  32. I've read Chickens In The Road for a long time now. Suzanne is down to earth and hilarious. She reminds me of I Love Lucy when they were living on the farm.
    This was a great interview.
    Also a great introduction to your site. I plan on reading more. :0)


  33. I'm a CITR addict! I love Suzanne and her style of writing. I'm looking forward to being a regular reader of your blog as well now that I found it!
    turtle topp07 at aol dot com

  34. The customized mirror that you painted for Suzanne is AWESOME! She posted it, along with the link to you, on CITR this morning.

    I must admit that I have a bone to pick with Suzanne, after this interview: she CLEARLY got the WRONG SHEEP! I raise Shetland Sheep and write about them on my blog: "A Shepherd's Voice"
    http://shepherdsvoice.blogspot.com and I must say that my sheep have touched my heart and changed my world, unlike any other animals that I've had the privilege of sharing my life with!

    Other than that, I very much enjoyed your interview with Suzanne. ;-) Now I'm going to go check out the rest of your blog...


  35. Thanks for th interview with Suzanne - I love her blog, and am glad to have found yours through her link. I also love chickens! Please enter me in your giveaway.


  36. I have been reading CITR for quite a while. Thanks for the interview! I learned a few things. :)

    Off to read your blog. Anyone that paints chickens is dandy in my book!

  37. I can smell the coffee in my cup, (cream, please) and the pasty is fluffy and full of apple and cinnamon sweetness. Your questions are intelligent and kind, with a slight flavor of admiration. No envy escapes through your words and it is clear that you love what you do.



  38. Love your interview.What a great artist,love the hand painted mirrors!!

  39. I have recently found the Chickens in the Road blog and love it. Great interview... I have found another great blog to follow. Thanks!!

  40. I grew up in a midwest city and then moved to the suburbs but always felt I belonged on a farm. Thanks for the interview; it's nice to know I'm not alone with that sentiment. Please sign me up for a chance to win that great mirror.
    PS; I'm finally out on 10 acres where I can hang my clothes outside to dry, see the stars at night and have some chickens.

  41. I loved your interview with Suzanne. Well done!

    I love the mirror with the chickens. I raise three out of four of those types of chickens and next year, I hope to get some Delawares (white).

  42. Great interview! I love Suzanne and the CITR site! Especially reading about her life on the farm and all of her animal family adventures! Your paintings are beautiful! You captured such wonderful expressions! Please enter me in the giveaway-thanks!
    gwendolyn_gwen@hotmail .com


  43. I love Chickens in the road.I was raised on a farm.Wish I did now.Chickens are my favorite farm animal,although I did get flogged a few times growing up.Had to learn to leave those fluffy baby chicks alone.Enter me in the drawing.

  44. Great interview!

    romaaneja at hotmail dot com

  45. Great interview! I love Suzanne's perspective on life & enjoy reading her blog. Now I can add yours to the list of "to read daily"...good stuff! *Love* the frame you painted for Suzanne and would love a try at this frame giveaway too!
    missjennybliss at gmail dot com

  46. Came here from Chickens in the Road. Isn't Suzanne just awesome? I particularly miss her battles with Mean Rooster.
    I'll be bookmarking your blog to see what you're up to!

  47. I stumbled upon Chickens In The Road in looking for some canning advice. I have been absolutely hooked since. As a "city girl" in my 40's, I've learned how to bake bread, PC Can, WBW Can, make cheese and many meals from scratch. I am totally HOOKED!


    I want to win that cool mirror!!

  48. I stumbled upon Chickens In The Road in looking for some canning advice. I have been absolutely hooked since. As a "city girl" in my 40's, I've learned how to bake bread, PC Can, WBW Can, make cheese and many meals from scratch. I am totally HOOKED!


    I want to win that cool mirror!!

  49. I enjoyed your interview with Suzanne and have been following her blog 2yrs now and wont miss a post! The mirrors are very pretty and special. Now I will ck out the rest of your blog. Thanks, Leah

  50. I have been reading chickens in the roads for a few years now.You can learn a lot from Suzanne McMinn as well as get some good smiles in.Melody dustydawn555@yahoo.com

  51. I have read Suzannes blog before it
    became CITR.

    I think she is an amazing woman.
    kissinoak at frontier dot com

  52. What a lovely interview, I found your blog through CITRoad, which I found through my friend Jen. I could not imagine living in the city. It is heartwarming, to see people who are coming back to basics, who enjoy the beauty, hardship (because yup there are a few lurking around) which makes you appreciate the good things. Again I will enjoy reading further. Oh, yea the mirror is adorable, enjoy whomever wins it!


  53. Beautiful painting, Patrice! Great interview, too :) She's such a down to earth person in real life, it just adds to the charm of the animals.

    I visit your blog often, don't always comment, but I visit :)

  54. I, too, love CITR and visit at least 2 times a day to see what Suzanne is up to. Thanks for posting this interview and offering such a great giveaway!
    Happy Holidays!

  55. This was really good to read. Nice post.

  56. I Loved your interview! I started following the CITR bold a few months back....it is always comforting to me. I found your blog from the CITR blog and come here to enjoy also. Please enter me in the drawing! Thanks, Luann

  57. I came from Chickens in the Road like many others have commented. My blog reading has really changed in the past year from silly/ frivolous to country living. I have a feeling yours will be added to my list. I love your mirror frames.

  58. Your interview with Suzanne was great. You asked her some wonderful questions. I have been following Suzane for a few years now (I think) It is so fun to go on her site and see what they've all been up to uover there.
    I would love a chance at winning that mirror. You are so talented! My first thought when I saw the mirro you painted for the giveaway was that we could possibly have our own chickens in the road..uh..er..on our wall! Thanks for the oppotunity!

  59. melissa92791@verizon.netDecember 8, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Love the inteview....I would love to live in the country and live a simplier life and I'm working on it through sites like yours and chicken in the roads...I'm addicted now.

  60. Thanks for this great interview. Lots of admiration for Suzanne who leads a life I can only dream of in another life; I am too old to take on anything like that, but I love the stories of the farm and the animals, in fact, I live for them.

    Thanks for doing what you are doing.

  61. That was a great interview of Suzanne. I've been reading CiTR for about one year now and haven't missed a day. I will be checking your blog out too.

    I would love to have that mirror, to remind me of Suzanne and her farm!

  62. I am a daily reader of CITR. I love it! I enjoyed reading your interview with Suzanne! Would love to win!

  63. Good interview. Interesting questions that made me want to hear the answers. Thanks.

  64. I subscribe to Suzanne's blog and love reading about her farm life. i enjoyed your interview and would love to win. (I love not having to jump thru hoops to comment.) :)

  65. Interesting interview with Suzanne. I read her blog daily and I don't live on a farm or have animals other then the normal dog and 2 cats. I can't wait to explore your blog.

  66. Hello,
    What a super group photo very cute!
    I am following you from Follow Friday 40 & Over blog hop, I would love it if you could follow me back.
    Have a lovely day.
    Helen x

  67. Visiting from Never Growing Old's "Follow Friday 40 and over"

    We have a "farmette" of sorts...

    We have chickens and ducks right now. We used to have goats, but the demands of my business was making it harder and harder to keep up with everything so we gave the goats to friends.

    I go outside in the freezing cold now and can hardly handle it...funny I used to feed 2x's a day and do barn chores, too.

    BRRRRR....don't miss that part!

    Anyway, great interview!

    Stop by my blog- I have a blog hop this week end as well!


  68. Very good interview...I've been following CITR for a couple months now, always something interesting going on there! Now I'll check out your blog too!


  69. Patrice, just getting to read this as I’ve been out of town for my job all week. I love this interview. She is a local celebrity here in WV. We are quite proud to have her here. I admire her so and love the questions you asked. My favorite response was the one about her kids gettting excited over simpler things...now that is a great thing. Love this post :) Please enter me in your giveaway if I’m not too late.
    Amy at Verde Farm

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. I wanna come have tea/coffee also:)and I like the mirror!

  72. I really enjoyed reading this post. I learned some things about Suzanne. Chickens in the Road was one of the first blogs I read. It is my favorite also.


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