Chickens in the Road by Suzanne McMinn

Chickens in the Road is a back to the country saga based on McMinn’s popular blog of the same name. chickens

The author has strong roots in West Virginia, and after her marriage ends, she moves back to the county where her father’s people have been settled two hundred years or so, and it’s somewhat of a culture shock to her and her kids.  Her initial move is into a house belonging to her cousin, but what she really wants is her own working farm.  Once she begins a relationship with a man known as “52”, buying land of their own becomes more of a reality. 

Out of necessity, she learns what is required to be self-sufficient – raising farm animals and being tested by them, the weather, and her significant other, who varies between a knowledgable handyman and an emotional abuser.  It doesn’t help that their farm is literally out in the middle of nowhere – not far from places, but difficult to access, particularly during the winter, and their land is mostly sloped. 

McMinn gets the city beaten out of her by the toil of farm living, and writes about all aspects of her life, including cow milking, soap making, and other affairs of not-quite-so plain living.  She has some hard lessons, but farming gets into her blood and defines her, even as certain other things fall by the wayside.

Back to the land literature has been popular for a long time, and I’ve seen a fair number in recent publication; these types of books are easy fulfillment for a reader’s fascination for slower paces and meaning.  Chickens in the Road begins with these ideas in mind, but quickly moves to the grittier side of farm life.  McMinn does not romanticize the never ending hard labor, nor does she belittle the rewards.  She also adds lots of humor to the narrative – you’d have to be able to laugh to get through some of her predicaments.

The woman sure can acquire a menagerie.  And I do want to try some of her recipes.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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