Romance writer McMinn’s story of how she moved her family to a slanted little house in backwoods West Virginia following her divorce.
There, she connected with her father’s family’s 200-year history in Appalachia, and they provided stability and a resource of rural knowledge for the author. Plucked from the suburbs, McMinn wanted to live where she “could find chickens in the road.” She created a blog (chickensintheroad.com) featuring step-by-step instructions for recipes, country living and crafts, all documented with stunning photography. McMinn fell in love with a local man, whom she dubs “52,” his age when they met, and together, they bought a 40-acre farm with the idea of living off the land. In hindsight, she realizes the farm was “one of the most inhospitable, inaccessible, and unmanageable pieces of land on the planet.” And yet, “I loved that cold, muddy, hard life.” The farm presents countless challenges for the author, including creeks running under her unbridged road, slow-driving neighbors, and the farm’s icy, steep driveway. Winter also means power outages, cramped quarters and cold morning chores. McMinn balances tending goats, cows, sheep and chickens with raising her three children and dealing with an increasingly sullen partner. The book follows the arc of her romance with 52, from fluttery first kiss to the stage where McMinn knows she needs to leave him but can’t run the farm on her own. Meanwhile, readers learn how to make soap, test a cow for pregnancy and create tasty goat cheese. The book concludes with recipes for rural delicacies such as stuffed squash blossoms and summer vegetable pie and a section for making natural crafts and health products.
The book provides back story for McMinn’s blog, allowing a deeper, humorous look into the rewards and challenges of her rural life.