My Favorite Things

Hello! I’m Jessie Gussman and I’m so excited and honored to have been asked to join the amazing fillies at Petticoats and Pistols! I have to say, I’ve been watching things behind the scenes for a few weeks now, and these ladies are the absolute best. It’s a true joy for me to get to hang out in the P&P corral. I’ve been learning so much.

For my first blog, I wanted to share a bit about myself.

My kids have been listening to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music lately in the car. You know, A Few of My Favorite Things? Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens? It was written to soothe the Von Trapp children during a thunderstorm. I suppose that might work for girls.

But I had boys. First, anyway.

My boys would never notice anything like raindrops on roses. Maybe if it were pee drops on roses–or pee on anything, for that matter. Pee always makes a boy laugh.

Our last two children were girls; they are so different than boys. My youngest is sweetly naïve and believes almost anything. When she was eight, she heard my husband joking, joking, with a friend about how we needed to go up to the barn after the lights went out and rotate the tail feathers on our 15,000 laying hens so they’d lay eggs in the morning.

The next day, after my daughter’s dental appointment, the dentist came out to me in the waiting room. After giving me the low-down on how I’d be paying for her oldest child’s college education with the dental work my daughter needed, the dentist said, “I can’t believe how

articulate your daughter is! It must be because you homeschool. She was telling us all about how you rotate the tail feathers on your chickens at night after the lights go out.” The doctor’s gaze was admiring. She shook her head in wonder. “I never knew you had to do that to get the chickens to lay eggs! That’s fascinating!”



Back in my own naïve young adulthood, I was two years into my degree when my husband, who had grown up around trucks, started a trucking company. I told everyone I quit school to keep his books, but it was actually because starting your own business means working 24/7, and I had started to believe in alien abduction, since I never saw my husband anymore.

Twenty-seven years later, I’ve almost adjusted.

Not long ago my husband and I were heading eastbound on the interstate, hauling eggs back from Ohio, going about 75 mph. My door jiggled open. At that speed some people might wonder if their door will actually open. I can’t say about a car, but in a 379 long-nose Pete? Yes.

Yes it will.

It was kind of interesting, watching the pavement fly by from a new and rather distressing perspective, as I leaned out, grabbing for the latch. I got the door shut and sat in my seat, panting. I hadn’t quite made it to the euphoria-from-having-cheated-death stage, when my husband, who never left off the throttle, because, you know, he’s a man, and we have to GET THERE FAST, looked over at me. “Wow. Wasn’t expecting that,” he said. With one hand on the wheel, he dug under his seat and handed me a wrench and screwdriver. “You mind checking the latch? I’d hate to lose that door.”

My husband was always interested in trucks—I should have seen the trucking company coming—but I really didn’t anticipate having five children. It took a little while for us to get with the program, but by the time they hit elementary school, in the midst of the chaos, we looked around at all those kids and said to each other, “What are we going to do with them?”

Hubby blames me, but I know it was his idea. We bought the 70 acres of woods beside us, put the kids to work clearing it, picking rocks, digging holes, lying irrigation.

We bought a big, old track hoe and rented a bulldozer and our early-teen boys learned how to use the stuff. I was banned from running heavy equipment after I ran over the lawnmower.

The best way to get a new lawnmower is to bulldoze the old one. (My next book is going to be titled, Getting What You Want; How to Run a Bulldozer.) Eventually we planted the 10,000 blueberry bushes we trucked back from Michigan.

Today, as I write this, blueberry season is over, but those little balls of nutrition sell before we’ve even gotten them picked.

Almost two years ago, just before Christmas, my husband looked at me and said, “I want to buy a farm in Virginia.”

I was completely happy in Pennsylvania. Our ancestors have lived there for hundreds of years. But three months after he said that, I drove my car, packed with my collection of hymnbooks and plants, and followed my husband and girls and our horses to our new home nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia.

I grew up around dairy cattle, so these more aggressive beef mamas have been a learning curve for me.

I’ve been attacked, stepped on, smashed against the fence and bull-dozed into the ground.

I’ve saved lives, delivered calves, hauled dead cows through the pasture field in the dead of night, lived without electricity, been up to my armpits in…well, it’s a farm, so you can fill in that blank, lived through floods, and touched a cow’s cervix for the first time in my life (that baby lived). I even delivered a foal.

If you stick around you’ll probably be hearing about some of the crazy things that happen here. : )

Trucks. Chickens. Blueberries. Beef.

They represent some of my favorite things—now. Certainly when I was a young woman, thinking of majoring in pre-med and becoming a doctor, I never dreamed they would. Life sometimes has a way of not working out quite the way we think it will.

But, really, my most favorite things aren’t things at all. It’s the husband who’s held my hand through this crazy life. It’s the laughter I’ve shared with my family. It’s the music we’ve made together while our backs ached from work made lighter by willing hands and cheerful hearts.

I love showing that pulling-together spirit in my books. The irony. The fun. The values people have and the hard choices they make.

Titanium love. Steadfast devotion. Sacrifice.

Basically, real life. That’s the kind of life I want to live, and those are the kind of stories I want to write.

Life. Wrapped in love.

I look forward to settling in here and getting to know everyone. I’d love for everyone to tell me a little about yourself in the comments.



Website | + posts

USA Today best-selling author Jessie Gussman writes sweet and inspirational romance from her farm in central Virginia. Having attended, but never graduating from the school of hard knocks, Jessie uses real life on the farm to inspire her cowboy, rural and blue-collar fiction.

When she’s not chasing kids, cows and the occasional roll-away haybale, Jessie enjoys wading in Naked Creek and not cleaning her house. Most of the time her main goal is to keep from catching herself on fire…again.

If you enjoy fun stories with vivid characters showcasing strong families with a ribbon of faith tying everything together, you might enjoy Jessie’s books.

78 thoughts on “My Favorite Things”

  1. You have led an amazing life so far!

    I’m a wife, mom of three boys, writer, social media influencer/contributor to a lifestyle blog, editor, author assistant, and more…


  2. I love reading about your family and life! I also love your books! You’re one of my favorite authors! God Bless!

  3. I loved your blog because reading it is like talking with a close friend. Also, you almost always say something that makes me laugh. I am glad that you have the time to write with all your farm chores and children even if they are older. Children always need their Mom. May God continue to bless you and your family. Merry Christmas!

    • So good to see you here, Karen! Thank you so much for your kind words…and you know I love to laugh! : ) I’m so glad this Christmas is finding you and your husband well and happy. Have a blessed and beautiful holiday season!

    • I agree with you Karen! This the first blog I have read that Jessie has participated in & it is just like her newsletters which I enjoy so much! & she always answers back! Thank you Jessie!

  4. I didn’t know this blog existed but thanks to following Jessie over from her newsletter, I think I’m going to enjoy this! Thanks Jessie for providing the link!

    I’m from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK. I am currently a stay at home mum to four teenagers (or nearly teenager…youngest is turning 12 but she already emulates teenager tendencies!!).

    Have LOVED reading from I was little. I lived on a dairy farm so I totally ‘get’ Jessie’s farm stories! My husband (also from farming background) never wanted to farm so the farm was passed onto his younger brother…my 17 year old son wishes he was farming (he is training in Landbased engineering instead so he’s a farm machinery mechanic in the making) but he gets his fix by relief milking to local farmers…sometimes dragging along his 16 year old sister to help speed up the process if it’s a Saturday night! My 14 year old daughter went once and that was her finished…she had never thought that since cows eat food then it follows that waste comes out the other end !!! She won’t be a farm girl! ? Just a dog girl instead! ?? We have two mad labradoodles called Poppy and Penny…and just 8 hens who are temporarily looking out of a half roofed shed since Storm Barra ripped their roof off on Tuesday…on the plus side…more daylight means more eggs again!!

    Sorry…won’t write this much again!

    Everyone… enjoy Jessie…her books and Bible verses and quotes in her newsletter are the best!

    • Hello, Elaine!! You can write as much as you want to – I LOVED reading it. I had to laugh about your son roping his sisters into helping him. Ha! I love your farm tale (lost your chicken coop roof??). Visiting Ireland is on my bucket list. Maybe I’ll see you someday. : ) Glad you found the blog – these ladies are the best!

  5. I’m so happy to know you just a little better. You lived the kind of life I would have loved in my early years while I was sidetracked being and EMT (when female EMTs were unheard of), working as a correctional officer in a prison, and doing some painting (some of my work was featured on The Price is Right…..twice). I finally ended my career at the Post Office as the only female Electronic Technician in the entire state for 15 years. Now I’m just a goat farmer shoveling…….goat berries every day and I love it!

    • Sidetracked?? Ha! You lived a full and stereotype-breaking life, for sure!

      Goats are so much fun to watch, especially the babies. They all have such big – and different – personalities.

      It was great to hear a little about you, too, Rhoinda!

  6. I always enjoy reading your writings, whether it be your books, newsletter, or blogs. You’re inspirational, uplifting, interesting, thought provoking, and humorous.

  7. Thanks for telling us about this blog. It’s another place to read your wonderful life stories and the stories of others as well!

  8. Excited to see another site to hear all your wonderful (somewhat hilarious) experiences and stories. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  9. I too am a born into it farm girl and these thing you describe are every day things for us that have a farm to be blessed with! We recently got 2 llamas again (first got in 1999 as guard animals for sheep) and wow the fun starts every day! thanks!

  10. Jessie, Jessie, Jessie!! I knew everyone would love your first blog with us as much as I did. We are so proud to have you here. Thank you for sharing us with your world! Hugs!

  11. Hi Jessie,
    I love your books and reading about your life. This KY girl grew up on a farm, but I’ve been transplanted to FL. I’m not complaining…..I love the beaches, but sometimes I miss the family and work of the farm.

  12. I really enjoyed your post, so funny. I was raised on a small 13 acre farm but now live in a small town. I loved the country life and wish I was still there. I have one son which is grown now. I enjoy reading and so does my son.

    • Small, family farms are the best! But town life is easier. No cows to put back in at 5 am (like we had this morning – it wasn’t even light! lol). Congratulations on raising a reader! That’s a true accomplishment.

  13. Hey girl, now a whole new bunch of people get to know and love you and your crazy, funny, uplifting stories. ( I Hope you give Watson a really hard time about the “I don’t want to lose a door” comment. Tell him he needs to up his game to get to be in the book boyfriend category. Lol). Seriously you continue to amaze me and I’m so lucky to have found you and your stories and insights and wisdom. Just stay away from the big machinery-unless you want a new lawnmower. Hugs and love.

  14. Haha! Oh, Wren, you are such a beautiful person. I’m still laughing about Watson upping his game. lol Thank you so much for your kind and always wise words. : ) (And, it’s like I always say, a girl can never have too many new lawnmowers. ; ) It was good to see you here, my friend!

  15. You have a life well lived. You are a true pioneer to me. I have lived all my life in cities. Although I do live on the cusp of rural area of Southern Ontario, Canada. It is what we call Mennonite country. And it has some of the best produce and homemade goodies I have ever tasted. I am a single women, never married, but I have lots of nieces and nephews I spoil despite their moms and dads telling me not to. I have never listened and done just what I want. But they are good to their Aunt Kathleen. I always refer to them as Aunt K’s Treasures. I am looking forward to reading your books Jesse.

    • It sounds like you’ve made a beautiful life for yourself with all those nieces and nephews running around! What fun! And, I guess that’s what my life really is. Finding fun and laughter and God’s hand in the middle of all the crazy. Mennonites are such great cooks and gardeners. But they really work hard, too. Nice to “meet” you!

    • Hi, Jessie,
      Thanks a lot for bringing me to this blog. i am sure I ” ll enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading your books and the glimpses you share with us of your certainly busy and interesting life!!! I
      I am a city girl( a 57 years old girl, anyway!???) but I love nature and If I had a chance I’ d like to live some day in the country.
      By the way, I am Ana, from Seville, a beautiful, sunny, ancient city in the south of Spain.
      Love , hugs and thousand of kisses!!!!

      • Seville is an amazing city, and Spain is a beautiful country! And I still call myself “girl” too, (even if that ship sailed, like, a million years ago). Living in the country is awesome, but there are a lot of conveniences to city living. (Like all the yummy food! : ) Hugs and love right back at you, Ana!

  16. Your life is amazing! I will never get over 15,000 chickens. And the story about rotating feathers on hens was hilarious. My life is super boring compared to yours.

    • Oh, Alexa. You are a beautiful soul. But boring? Please. You speak how many languages? Six? And you’ve travelled the world! You grew up in an exotic and interesting country and you have a bazillion degrees. Plus, you were a model. Your life is overflowing with amazing stories. And all that, plus your compassionate heart, is what makes your stories so interesting. : )

  17. I’m a wife, a mother, stepmother, a grandmother (18 + more as my oldest daughter and her husband occasionally takes in extra children), and a great-grandmother expecting the 5th one. Actually I have to add another great because one of the extras has a baby. I’m a retired Head Start teacher and was a Sunday school teacher for over 20 years. Less you think I have all this free time, I don’t. My husband has Parkinson’s and my elderly mother lives a mile down the road so I stay pretty busy. I also try to make lap or crib quilts for the grandchildren and greats.

    • Wow! You wear a lot of hats! I took care of my own mother for a few weeks this summer, which gave me a profound appreciation for how very hard the job of caregiver is. And you take care of TWO people. Wow. It’s great to meet you. Your kind, compassionate life is inspiring.

  18. Wow! A few of my uncles had farms, and we’d visit almost every summer when I was growing up. It was an experience getting us “city girls” to milk cows, feed the chickens, gather eggs, slop the hogs! I have quite a few of your books in my TBR stack. I’ll get to them eventually!

    • Haha! Visiting a farm is a lot of fun – the work never feels like actual work. Actually, I will never get tired of gathering eggs or picking fruit (except strawberries – I love them, but picking them hurts my hips). Great to “meet” you and happy reading!

  19. Hi Jessie!

    What a busy, interesting life you have lead. It sounds like there is never a dull moment!

    I am retired, married, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on the 12th of this month,have one son that seems to be a confirmed bachelor, from North Carolina, and have a yellow lab named Dixie. I love working in my flower and vegetable gardens in the summer and reading a lot in the winter.

    • Congratulations on your golden anniversary. I hope Sunday is a beautiful and amazing celebration of a wonderful marriage!

      I bet your gardens are beautiful. I gave up a lot of my gardening when I started writing seriously. I miss it. Nice to “meet” you!

  20. Hey Jessie,

    I actually signed up for Petticoats and Pistols’ newsletter last week after a comment about them you made in your Facebook group. So, happy to see you joining the ladies. I know you will be a great addition to the group.

    • Hey, Tiffany! Great to see you here. I bet it was me talking about their Cowboys and Mistletoe fun and games. I hope you enjoyed it. : ) The story they came up with was super cute. Thank you for your kind words!

  21. Welcome!! I’m laughing at so much here. Growing up on a dairy farm and now having horses and chickens I can sympathize quite a bit with you. Country life for the win in entertainment and contentment. Can’t wait to hear more stories!

  22. Jessie, It is always fun to read you on yet, another website. Your books are the best….and, when you hook them up with Jay, your wonderful narrator, it is an unbeatable combination!
    Keep writing those ‘From the Heart’ Books!

    • Hey, Nanci! Glad to see you here. : ) Thank you so much for your kind words about my books! I’m so glad you enjoy them. I have to agree – Jay’s unique talent of bringing stories to beautiful life is a true blessing. I’m so grateful he’s willing to perform my books! He makes them better in every way.

  23. I love your writing because it doesn’t matter if it’s a newsletter, a blog post 😉 or a book, it always ends up hooking me in. I also love how you summed everything with these 5 words (they’re perfect!): “Titanium love. Steadfast devotion. Sacrifice.”

  24. Welcome. It is great to learn a little about your. Look forward to seeing more of you in the future. 🙂 An encouraging post. Thanks

  25. Hello Jessie and Welcome I am a Widow, a Mother to 5 Adult children 15 grandchildren, and a Great GrandMother to 6 great grandchildren and I Love to read great books! Love to garden and can our yummy garden foods!

    • Hello, Sarah! I also have five children – plus one that lives with us and calls me mom. So, I usually say six. : ) Wow! Six great grandchildren! That’s so nice. I love to garden as well. I haven’t had one for a couple of years, but I really want to get one going this coming spring. I’ve been planting bulbs this fall. Nice to “meet” you!

  26. Jessie, I’m so glad the fillies had the great idea to bring you in to the corral with them! Yee-haw! You drew me in with the first book of yours I read and couldn’t put down. Since then, I’ve read all of your newsletters and as many of your books as I could get my hands on. I was chosen to be one of Jay Dyess’ mom’s for the big party a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun! The first newsletter I read had me crying, I was laughing so hard! Oh, and my hubby knows your name! I’m constantly saying “You’ve got to listen to this sermon Jessie wrote today”! , or some such thing, and he listens to everything and hmmms, or laughs out loud in all of the appropriate places, so I know he loves your writing, too!

    • Haha! Lana, you are a joy! And you were amazing as one of Jay’s moms! Just rolling with everything. : ) I’m so glad we can share laughter and fun stories between us – and we’ll drag hubby along. : ) Thanks for the warm and wonderful welcome!

  27. Jessie, welcome to the fold. There are so many wonderful people here, both the fillies and those who follow them. I grew up in Northern NY on the Canadian-Vermont-New York border in the Adirondack Mountains. Ever since President Kennedy’s speech about the Peace CorpsI decided that was what I wanted to do. I still had to finish high school and college, but I left for Peace Corps training about 4 weeks after college graduation. I spent 3 wonderful years in the P. C. after which I married a friend from high school I hadn’t seen in 7 years. He was in the Air Force which took us to Maine, New York, Colorado, California, and Washington, DC. We retired to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in. NE TN where there was a good VA hospital. I have always been an active volunteer. I have been a Boy Scout leader, 4-H leader, and filled many positions in Girl Scouts. At one point, I was on the boards of 5 different community organizations at the same time. Since my husband’s retirement I have worked as a science educator at a children’s museum and as a children’s librarian. I enjoy needlework, sewing, cooking, gardening, and my two favorites: reading and traveling. COVID has put a stop to our travels for the most part, but in 2019 we managed a long planned trip to Alaska. We spent 2 1/2 months on the road with our RV and were still speaking to each other when we got home. We have always had pets, sometimes quite a few at once. Right now we are down to one senior dog and a small flock of chicken. They give us a nice supply of eggs even though we don’t rotate their tail feathers every night.
    Again, welcome. I look forward to more of your posts.

    • Wow! What a busy and interesting and compassionate life you’ve had. I think the best testimony, though, is that you spend 2 1/2 months in an RV with your hubs and both of you survived. I love it! lol I live on the other side of the Blue Ridge. : ) We’re practically neighbors. We share a mountain range, anyway. Thanks so much for giving me a glimpse of your life and family. I loved it and I appreciate the warm welcome!

  28. Wow, you are very busy! I grew up on a dairy farm and three of my uncles were egg producers. My cousins now have over 100,000 layers and still have a home delivery route in addition to their wholesale business. I now live on a wheat, cattle and hog farm, small compared to our neighbors, a very long way from where I grew up. Our daughters are grown and our oldest grandson enjoys spending time helping on the farm when he’s not in school.

    Welcome to Petticoats and Pistols

    • What a fun farming family you have! I love that your cousins have a home delivery route even with 100,000 birds. Super neat. Thanks so much for sharing a little about your farm and family and for the warm welcome! : )

  29. It is fabulous to meet you here, Jessie. My sister, Linda Broday, told me about you and WOW, what a catalog of books you have! Congrats and it’s great to learn more about you.

  30. I had not read this story in your newsletters. But I laughed while reading, which is why I always read every word you write there. And of course, your husband was more worried about the door. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your life exploits and cannot wait to learn more about everyone else here at P and P.

  31. Enjoyed your letter! I live in the middle of Georgia on a cotton farm. Three kids, husband (basically the fourth kid 🙂 two dogs and a cat.

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