Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Barn Chicks Who Blog- Interview with Amy from Verde Farm

     I've found that I really enjoy interviewing people. Maybe it was from following my journalist mom around for many years. Maybe I just enjoy getting to know people. Being a city girl, turned country girl, makes me curious about others who have chosen life on a farm.

     A few months ago, I started following Amy at Verde Farm. I like Amy. Her blog is fun to read, with great photos. I have fun reading about a chicken who tries to hatch light bulbs, a furry pig named Pansy, and mini-donkeys.  I can imagine being in Ireland, like Amy was, and being inspired by the country life. I fear that I'm becoming like a small child wanting a pony, but my "pony" would be a mini donkey like some of Verde Farm's. They are absolutely adorable! I hope you enjoy my interview.
Photo property of Verde Farm
1. Tell us about your farm.
We live on 12 acres of land in Huntington, W.Va. The main house was built about 1916, and the cottage was built in the 30s. We totally restored the cottage and potting shed. We also restored an old 20s era barn. Other buildings on the property include a tool shed connected to a garage and another garage at the bottom of our driveway. We also have a cabin in the woods behind our house and a pond with bream, which the ducks love. 
2. Do either of you work off the farm?
I work full time for a large corporation based in the north east.  My job allows me to have a home office but I travel many days a month out of state for multiple nights.  My husband is a full time farmer and if he wasn’t I don’t think we could do it.  He lost his job a year and a half ago as a full time newspaper man.  We decided at that time it was our opportunity to really have a full fledged farm and try to make small business with it in return.  He loves the animals and takes great pride in it.  

3. You came from the suburbs. Did you have any farm experience prior to owning this one?
The short answer is no, we did not have any farm experience prior to moving from the suburbs. However, my husband is from the mountains of Western North Carolina and some members of his family were farmers. Long before we had any intention of moving from the suburbs, he would often talk and sometimes have dreams about riding the tractor with his uncle and watching the black dirt kicked up by the tractor discs. When he was a boy, he ordered baby chicks from hatchery ads he saw in magazines. He likes to talk about the thrill of entering the post office and hearing his babies chirping behind the counter. 

4. What animals do you have? Do you have a favorite type of animal?
We have three inside dogs: two Papillon’s and a Chihuahua. Shepherd is our Great Pyrenees outside dog and guardian of the flock, which includes--five donkeys, two Shetland wethers, two Kunekune pigs, two rabbits, about 15 Muscovy ducks and about 20 chickens, 2 guineas, a pair of peafowl and four barn cats. Since our animals are our babies, it’s difficult to pick a favorite. But, each one occupies its own space which comes with a distinct personality. I can honestly say, each one is my favorite when I’m interacting with them. 
Photo property of Verde Farm

5. I'm very interested in your Miniature Donkeys. They're adorable. Tell us about them.
Miniature donkeys were bred in the mediterranean many years ago.  They are known for their incredibly lovable dispositions.  I never heard of them until one day when I was watching Martha and she raises them.  I fell in love that day. We went from 1 to 5 in a year and a half. 
Talk about distinct personalities. You have Samuel D., who’s a bit ornery, stoic Otis, friendly Andy, Elmer, the donkey who’s most like Eeyore, and sweet, Cherry Cola. They are gluttons for attention and love. However, they not only clamor for our attention and love, but also want to give their love to us. They will rub their necks all over your head, readily put their noses up for you to kiss and rub them. If you’re ever in a down mood, go spend time with the donkeys and you’ll be picked right up. 
Photo property of Verde Farm

6.You have a picturesque white barn. What went into making this so great looking?
The barn shell was there when we bought the property.  It was really a shell with no windows, missing doors and very little support overall.  We started from the inside with support beams and floor joists to secure its stability.  We had electric run to the barn and added new windows.  The doors were rebuilt and then came a plank siding and white paint with black trim.  It was a project of love.  We also took some old stone that was on the property to use as foundation.  I never get tired of looking at the barn.  It’s one of the biggest transformation on the property.  It was all alone and falling down and now it shines and now many wonderful little lives that call it home. 

During renovations
Photo property of Verde Farm

Voila! A lovely finished barn.
Photo property of Verde Farm

7. How do you come up with your critter names?
We have a few ways, actually. My husband loves Greek Philosophy so sometimes he’ll take a name from an ancient book, such as Plato’s “Republic” and use it. For example,our Seabrite is named Adamantus after one of the book’s characters. We also have a rooster named Plato. 
Our choices for our critter names are sometimes obvious, as in the case of Shepherd, who guards our flock, including the sheep. Sometimes we’ll take a name from a family member or friend. We use old television shows, two of our cats are named Laverne and Shirley and two donkeys are Otis and Andy. It’s interesting, though, how we couldn’t imagine, Frank, our tiniest rooster, as anything other than Frank, or how Bill the duck could be called anything else. I think we get to know them a bit and then the names sort of find us. 

Photo property of Verde Farm

8. You went on a trip to Ireland. How did it inspire you with regards to farming?
Ireland was inspiring in many ways.  It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I hope to go again someday.  In terms of inspiration for our farm, we visited a sheep farm one afternoon.  The cottage was small with a thatched roof and the lady of the house made homemade scones and whipped cream for us. The house smelled of burning sod as they use that in their fireplaces.  It has a sweet smell to it and I loved it.  After we ate a bit we headed out to see the sheep and they had chickens and ducks too.  I was in heaven.  I couldn’t get enough of the animals and didn’t want to leave.  It just felt right  being there.  My other friends enjoyed it too but not the same way I did.  I was ignited that day and truly believe the first seeds were planted of Verde Farm, although I didn’t realize it at the time. 
Cottage in Ireland
Photo property of Verde Farm

Sheep in Ireland
Photo property of Verde Farm

9. Do you have a garden? What do you grow?
Yes, we have a small vegetable garden that is my husband’s baby. We love to grow and eat tomatoes, green beans, corn, okra, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, carrots and yellow squash, among others. The garden is great in that it encourages contemplation. He spends many hours down there hoeing and thinking amongst the plants. He also grows a row of sunflowers each year for me and I can’t tell you how happy those sunflowers make me.

Photo property of Verde Farm

I have a few flower gardens and have always loved growing annuals and perennials.  I love shade gardening and have many hosta varieties as well as various woodland ferns. Different varieties of hydrangea and rhododendron are found there too. In the sunnier gardens I love to  grow zinnias, Brazilian Verbena, cosmos and my favorite shrub, knock out roses.  They are the  easiest rose on earth and look beautiful from May to October. 
Photo property of Verde Farm

10. Twelve acres is very manageable compared to some spreads of land. Do you ever wish you had more land? Would that mean more animals?
Yes, I wish I had more land so we could have more animals. We are running out of room. My husband complains all the time about lack of “elbow room.” If we had a bigger place we would definitely have horses and even a few cows for sure.  
11. Tell us about the cottage. I love the idea of having a place for guests.
When we bought the property, my husband, father-in-law and uncle all told me to bull doze the the 1930s structure and forget it.  Luckily, my mother-in-law and I had different ideas.  We knew it could be salvaged.  There were raccoons living in it when we first got there.  We took it down to the studs and redid everything.  We kept the same layout but redid everything, support, roof, floor, kitchen, windows, you name it. We were able to salvage the original claw foot tub and sink to go with it.  I had a man come look at it and he said it was too much work.  A friend of mine was able to re-do it with a product from Home Depot and it is gorgeous.  We also salvaged an old mantle with about 11 layers of paint on it.
I love the cottage.  The colors and style are my favorites. Our guests love being able to have their 
own little place to get away and yet visit with us too.  We also rent the cottage for short term stays and have a romance package, a spa package and a country living package (including cooking your own breakfast with fresh eggs).

 How would you like to stay at this wonderful cottage?
For information on Verde Cottage, click here.
Photo property of Verde Farm

12.What lies ahead for Verde Farm?
This year we really hope to host our first weddings, have our first litter of piglets and sell some of our pure breed chickens and muscovy ducks. The work we’ve done so far was to make these things possible.  I think we’re ready to just jump into it this year.  It will be fun and exciting. 
Who knows where else the farm will take us. We certainly didn’t know we would be doing any of 
this 4 years ago and here we are. 

Thank you, Amy, for this interview. I wish Verde Farm all the best for 2011. I will continue interviews for as long as I can find interesting people. I guess that means I can go on for quite some time! If you have a farm/farmette or ranch and would like to participate in Barn Chicks who Blog, please contact me at  patrice@everydayruralty.com .


  1. hey all the info i got from here is very interesting and usefull..
    i hope i will find some more interesting info further…


  2. I really enjoyed this interview and I love reading the Verde Farm Blog.

  3. I love Amy at Verde Farm. Thanks so much for the interview.

  4. What an absolutely magical place to live! It looks like something out of a magazine...and those miniature donkeys...:)))

    Thanks for letting us get to know Amy....a great interview!

  5. I adore Amy and Verde Farm! I don't know if I've ever seen her up close and personal in a photo before, so that was a treat!

    If I was traveling to that area, or considering a wedding place, that would definitely be at the top of my list! It is a place so full of love - what better place to begin a marriage or have a romantic retreat! :)

  6. P.S. Great interview, Patrice! Keep up the great work! We love these ladies!

  7. I enjoyed your interview very much as I am also a fan of Amy and Verde Farm. She is just as lovely in her picture as the words she posts on her blog! Thanks for the great interview, and what a good idea! Keep it up!

  8. Patrice, how fun this was. Thank you so much for thinking of me and for celebrating all us barn chicks who blog :)

  9. Love Verde Farm blog, I enjoyed the interview as well !

  10. patrice, that is very generous of you to interview amy. i love to learn about bloggers and like you i love to write. i sold amy her farm when i was in real estate and she and richie have done a superb job in making it the magical place that is. nice interview!

  11. What a picturesque place to live and work. I'm in love with that little cottage. Great interview.

  12. verde farm is a great farm and we are honored that amy has visited us with kritter keeper. west virginia is a great place for weddings and her cottage is adorable! jill

  13. Great interview! I always love my visits at Verde Farm. And I love the name of your series. Barn Chicks Who Blog..I love it!

  14. Patrice, this was amazing to read. You and Amy have an amazing repoir that comes through in your writing and her answers. Good job. This was really fascinating to read.
    Thanks for stopping by Weezers Haven and leaving a comment.
    Have a blessed day.

  15. Love the interview! I really like the interviewee's finished barn - that's the style I love to see when going on road trips through the country.
    I love reading about other farm chicks, keep it up!

  16. I adore Amy and Rich and their precious farm!
    Thank you for the great interview!

    Smiles, Dolly

  17. They have a gorgeous farm! What a fun idea to interview farm chicks.

  18. I`m so glad I found you via Verde Farms blog! It`s always such fun to meet and read about other farming chicks!

  19. nice interview
    and nice blog
    greetings from a hen keeper and VERY small holder from wales

  20. I love Amy's blog, what a wonderful way to get to know her better.

    Thanks, and now I think I need to delve into Everyday Ruralty!

    Be well

  21. I just found your blog through Verde Farm's. Great interview, and great idea! I've been enjoying Amy's blog, so it was a treat to read your post. I'll be back!



  22. I am also a Verde Farm fan! Great interview.

  23. Thank you so much for this interview. I love Verde Farm and lately I have been hoping for guests in their cottage, many weddings, and success in every way. They have worked so hard and deserve all the best. What a great idea to interview these hard working women.Love it!

  24. This is great - you are a well versed journalist as the questions you asked were exactly the ones I would like to know the answers about Verde Farm...

    "No stone unturned" teehee! Looking forward to reading many more!

  25. What a great interview! I really enjoyed learning more about Amy and Verde Farm.
    She has such a wonderful blog with great pictures. Always a joy to visit.
    Have a great day.

  26. Beautiful! I love Verde Farm and am so happy to have been led/linked to your fun blog! Congrats to both of you lovely ladies on a great interview. I'm off to explore the lay of the land here now!

  27. Great interview. There are always exciting details to learn about othe "barn chick" bloggers I follow.
    I wonder who has the most snow shovels....

  28. Great interview! I just put a barn update on my blog and thought I would spend sometime blog surfing. Wow I found you! I really enjoyed my visit at your blog and I will be back. Have a great day.

  29. Looks like I am a little late getting here. I just found you this evening.

    I have to agree with everyone else, this is a fantastic way to get to know someone.

    Does a Tuff Shed shaped like a barn count? We moved back to town and I so miss my little acreage. But I do have a garden and a really big Tuff Shed shaped like a barn. I love the farm life, I grew up on a farm. thanks for sharing! Marla

  30. I just discovered Verde Farm blog, because it is 103 degrees outside so I surfed the net. I love it and your interview. Great work

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