Cover image for Chickens in the road : an adventure in ordinary splendor
Chickens in the road : an adventure in ordinary splendor
McMinn, Suzanne.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : HarperOne, 2013.
Physical Description:
xii, 305 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
"Craving a life that would connect her to the earth and her family roots, McMinn packed up her three kids, left her husband and her sterile suburban existence behind, and moved to rural West Virginia. Amid the rough landscape and beauty of this rural mountain country, she pursues a natural lifestyle filled with chickens, goats, sheep--and no pizza delivery"
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Eden Library F294.W25 M35 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"It was a cold late autumn 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.'"

Thus begins former romance writer Suzanne McMinn's wild ride into self-sustainable living halfway up a hill on one of the most remote dirt roads in West Virginia, with a cast including her children, an enigmatic partner, the "rural neighborhood" of quirky characters, and a whole slew of ridiculous and uncooperative farm animals. An unlikely adventurer, the suburban-born-and-bred author tackles one daunting challenge after another on her new forty-acre farm, from hatching chickens and milking a cow to herding sheep and making her own cheese. Whether she's trying to convince a goat to accept its baby or just get her ornery neighbor to move over and let her pass on the road, every page of her adventure is fraught with laughter, passion, drama, and the risk of losing it all before she figures out why she's doing it in the first place. And when she does lose it all, she discovers a triumph she never expected--along with the truth for which she'd been searching all along.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In her candid memoir, its title taken from her popular personal website, romance author McMinn chronicles a major life change. McMinn's nomadic childhood deprived her of all but the shallowest of roots, set in a West Virginia farm owned by her father's family that she came to love during summer visits. Many years later, when presented with the opportunity to relocate, McMinn decided to follow her heart and head back to the hollers. With three reluctant children and a seemingly reliable lover in tow, McMinn began to build the farm of her dreams, but nothing went quite as planned. Writing with the keen attention to detail of the seasoned author she is, McMinn relates the unexpected challenges that came along. Her honesty is matched only by her desire to both take full responsibility for her failures and share the glow of her successes. The recipes and craft how-to's provided at the end of the book open the door for all readers, experienced or green, to get a little taste of country life.--Peckham, Amber Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A romance writer propelled by divorce to change her bearings radically found her road to self-realization much rockier than she imagined, but ultimately very satisfying. With relatives in rural Roane County, W.Va., where her father grew up, McMinn hit on the harebrained scheme to haul her three teenagers, aged 10, 13, and 15, to live in Walton in order to be exposed to the virtues of having no paved road, no Internet access, no public water source, and no school bus, among other no-frills. After settling in at her family's house for two years, McMinn met a suitable man, called "52," who was an amenable handyman and also seemed to want to take care of her; some time after, the two purchased a farm and built on it a house, Stringtown Rising. Except 52 had emotional problems, and despite the author's back-breaking labor to take on animals like chickens, goats, cows, and pigs, and her writing a glowing blog about it all, she grew increasingly vulnerable to 52's sniping. Although she had put her all into the Stringtown farm, as she delineates in her heart-on-her-sleeve, nutty narrative, she had to face the necessity for her own self-sufficiency, and found another farm close by that she could call her own and that even had amenities like a barn and electricity. As McMinn demonstrates in this enjoyable memoir, she learned by trial and error how to do everything from scratch, and offers Jelly") and DIY ("How to Make Laundry Soap") at the back. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Best known for her blog of the same name as well as a handful of romance novels (High-Stakes Homecoming), McMinn here provides a lively, whimsical account of her adventures in West Virginia farm living. Things don't always go smoothly for her family of suburban transplants, but there are plenty of engaging characters (including some without fur or feathers) to meet along the way. The menagerie of animal friends on their 40-acre farm includes chickens, goats, cows, horses, ducks, and sheep. Fans of McMinn's long-running blog will be glad to see that her memoir includes a selection of old-fashioned recipes as well as down-home craft projects (e.g., chocolate cream facial mask and apple spice simmering potpourri). The work has poignant moments, too, as McMinn outlines the trials and tribulations of adjusting to new routines without her old companions to join her; this ultimately paves the way for an epiphany or two. VERDICT A memoir of a suburban mother's move to the country, this book is perfect for fans of McMinn's blog.-Dan McClure, Pacific Northwest Coll. of Art Lib., Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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