“For some reason this place draws you in. And you just don’t want to leave.”
Just over 20 years ago, Kristin White made the move from Southern Appalachia to Northeastern Pennsylvania. She’s a southern girl at heart – Tennessee born and so eloquently curbing her Smoky Mountain English. Right away, however, NEPA came to feel just like home for the chicken-loving librarian… I’ll explain.
She followed the fish, so to speak. Well, her husband did. He’s a fly-fishing guide. He manages the Delaware River Club, a fly-fishing lodge conveniently hugging the west branch of the Delaware River in Starlight. Up here, on the last road out of Wayne County, where the economy of convenience gives way to a “make-it-yourself” mode of living, Kristin found her calling.
She’s a librarian by trade – a lover of books, literature, digging way too deep into just about all things. Add to that a penchant for working with her hands, summoning sustenance from the bare earth and, yes, chickens and you have NEPA’s resident homesteading expert – the Chicken Librarian.
Over the past few years, Kristin has built a small business around her passion for simple living. She offers homesteading consultation, writes a weekly homesteading blog and hosts a popular, virtual book discussion. Along with her husband, Kristin shares the homestead with her rescue pup, Annalee, and two cats, Bobby Jack and Corny. Oh, and she also lives with Loretta, Tommy, Gussie, Sassy, Winnie, Marin, Gracey and Martha – yep, all chickens (with names).
We caught up with Kristin for coffee and a conversation at Black & Brass in Honesdale. We got to know the woman behind the Chicken Librarian and why she loves to call NEPA home.
How long have you lived in NEPA?
20 years… off and on for the most part.
What do you love about your town?
I’d say it’s more of my “area” that I love. Because I travel all over the area, especially when I’m teaching my classes. You know, before COVID, I was teaching in Middletown, New York and Honesdale. I did a lot of markets in Binghamton. I was all over. So, I have like this general area of the northeast that I love. Honestly, to me, it reminds me of growing up in the south. We’ve got a great sense of community here.
It’s funny how I look back over my twenty years here and I think, “I don’t really know anybody.” But then, all of a sudden, you look around and realize (laughs), “Wait, I actually know a lot of people here.” You know? You meet people at the grocery store. And then you see them here and you see them there. I don’t know. I think it’s the beauty of it all, the great people, the culture and the community – that’s what I love about it.
What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?
Hmmm… (whispering) What IS my favorite restaurant?… (excited) Oh! Dutton’s! In Tyler Hill – it’s this amazing little diner. That’s my favorite – THE best breakfast ever. And it’s super cute – the way they have it all decorated. Favorite. Hands down. They kind of fly under the radar, but they’re so busy – all the time.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
I do like to hike and stuff, but I kind of do all that through homesteading anyway. You know what? I really love to just travel around and take pictures and see where that takes me. I like to find all these great local things to do. So, after this, I’m just going to walk around today and pop into shops and maybe grab lunch at Ba & Me, if they’re open. I think I really just like to be in the car traveling. I like to see the scenery. I know that’s kind of weird (laughs). There are so many roads to travel here. And I always have the camera, because you never know.
What’s next for you?
I want my business to be successful (laughs). I want to teach a lot of people and have repeat clients. I would like to have my own homestead. Yeah, my dream, I guess, is to have my own homestead and to have people coming in to learn how to do all these great things. And I want to host weekend events. That’s what I see in the future.
A lot of people are starting to turn toward homesteading, especially now. And there are many ways to learn this stuff, but I want to show people how to do it right and be successful at it. I think a lot of people just jump right into homesteading and maybe they don’t exactly know how to raise chickens, or how to properly build a garden. Then, some of them end up failing at it and turn away from it. And I don’t want them to fail. I want to help them to be successful.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
Oh, I think it’s definitely on the rise. I mean look at Honesdale. This town, to me, has always been progressive, but over the last 20 years or so, they attracted all these great businesses. And now, you’ve got places like Here & Now Brewing and you’ve got Native. Our friends opened up a cool new tattoo shop – Happy Tats. So, there are a lot of people and businesses that want to be here. It’s a cool, happening place to be. And I can only see that progressing. Like I said earlier, I’m literally just going to spend the rest of the day walking around to shops and taking pictures. I love it.
I don’t know if I can say that there’s one particular “why” for us. It all started out with the fishing. That’s what brought us here. And then we moved back to Tennessee, and I thought I was all set. I thought I was home. We were there for only a couple years and we were both like, “We gotta’ get back to Pennsylvania.” It’s the river. It’s the area and the people that we’ve met here. We had a group of friends here and a community that we loved. It’s all the people we meet at the fishing lodge who come from all over. I don’t know. For some reason this place draws you in. And you just don’t want to leave.
I’m sorry. I don’t know if I even answered the question. It’s hard to put it into words. Why NEPA? For all of those reasons, and because it just seems like, for what I’m doing with Chicken Librarian, that this is the right place for it. People here embrace this kind of thing. They love their small businesses. It’s a beautiful and friendly place. And I’m certain you can get all of that in many places, but this is where we’ve landed. We’re grounded here. And I think that we can be successful here.