poetry in motion

Just because it’s so daggum, mind-bendingly pretty:

It’s a kinetic sculpture by artist Derek Hugger, who says, “I have a passion for mechanisms and an insatiable urge to solve mechanical puzzles. I like to sweat the details.”

Reminds me of an old-fashioned clock, somehow, only the inner parts are the feature attraction. And it’s a hummingbird, hovering.

Tripping the art fantastic, wouldn’t you agree?

Check out more of Derek’s sculptures here. Continue reading

Mary had a little lamb … and a turkey

What do a magazine editor, a girl named Mary, and Thanksgiving have in common?

No, not this magazine editor, or this girl named Mary … although I can think of many reasons to give thanks this holiday season … and at the top of the list are all you farmgirls!

But I’m also giving thanks to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Sarah was a prolific writer (her first novel was the first American novel about slavery written by a woman) and editor of Ladies’ Magazine from 1828 until 1836, a job she took in hopes of promoting the education of American women, the cause of which she carefully said, “not that they may usurp the situation, or encroach on the prerogatives of man; but that each individual may lend her aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within her sphere.”

Poems my children love best of all, 1919, via Wikimedia Commons

And, it’s Sarah we have to thank for our modern-day Thanksgiving holiday.

Even though historians trace a traditional Thanksgiving dinner back to the year 1621, when the Pilgrims invited their Native American allies to a celebratory corn-harvest feast, Thanksgiving wasn’t established as a national holiday until 1863 … thanks to over 36 years of campaigning by Sarah Josepha Hale.

Nearly 200 years after that first feast, New York was the first of several states to declare an official Thanksgiving holiday. But different states celebrated the holiday on different days, and the southern states, for the most part, didn’t celebrate it at all. In 1827, Sarah launched her campaign for a national holiday, and using her mighty pen, she published numerous editorials and wrote to governors, senators, and presidents to heed her call. And like the dogged lamb in Sarah’s nursery rhyme, she didn’t give up until 36 years later, when Abraham Lincoln, in a gesture to heal the wounds of the Civil War, proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be a national holiday celebrated on the final Thursday in November.

What’s that, you say? You can remember a time that Thanksgiving was celebrated on the third week of November? Well, if you’re a 75+ farmgirl, you’d be right. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week to try to spur holiday retail sales after the Great Depression. His plan, called “Franksgiving” by his opponents, was so widely unpopular that FDR signed a bill just two years later reinstating the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November.

So this Thursday, send a little thanks to Sarah for a holiday that’s all about being thankful.

Portrait of Sarah Josepha Hale by James Reid Lambdin via Wikimedia Commons

  Continue reading

Thank you, Farmer Froelich!

John Froelich was born on this day in 1849. Who? John Froelich.

John was the inventor of the first gas-powered tractor, an invention that dramatically changed the lives of farmers everywhere. Prior to John’s invention, farmers relied on either horse-drawn field equipment or bulky and dangerous steam-powered equipment that resulted in frequent fires.

Evolution of sickle and flail, 33 horse team harvester, cutting, threshing and sacking wheat, Walla Walla, Washington, 1902 via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Brunswyk via Wikimedia Commons

In 1890, Farmer Froelich tried something new: he mounted a one-cylinder gasoline engine onto the running gear of his steam-powered thresher. (Gasoline, or internal combustion engines were a new invention; Karl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz, had just designed the first automobiles in production in 1885.) With his experiment a success, he went on to found the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, and continued to work on his engine, but by 1913, he had sold only 20 tractors. That didn’t stop John though—plowing through adversity is something farmers know well. John continued to improve his tractor engine, and considered it a success when he sold 118 tractors in 1914 alone. He named his hit The Waterloo Boy and went on to sell 8,000 tractors by 1918, when plow-manufacturing company Deere & Company (later renamed John Deere) bought the company for over 2 million dollars!

The Waterloo Tractor Works, in Waterloo, Iowa, is still owned by John Deere, and is one of the largest tractor factories in the U.S.

Thank you, John, for your visionary invention.

Continue reading

potty talk

Potty humor …

No, I probably shouldn’t.


Then again, maybe I should.

Dare I wallow in witticisms about … the loo?

Oh, darling, you know I do!

I promise, this might even be good for you.

(You know I care, and so I dare.)

But, don’t worry—this snippet of silliness isn’t off-color.

It is, in fact, rainbow colored.

So, yes, I’ll go THERE. To the Squatty Potty.

Do you dare?

WARNING: The following video advertisement for the Squatty Potty contains graphic images of pastel unicorn poo and a number of references to going “number two.” Watch at your own risk—or, perhaps, your own reward.

Continue reading

Cricket, anyone?

You know that when you send your kids off to college, they’ll get the chance to broaden their horizons in many ways.

Self-discipline? Check.

Social experiences? Check.

New ideas and philosophies? Check.

Sports and recreation? Check.

Gastronomic adventures? Check, check!

Especially if they’re attending the University of Connecticut, where one innovative purple food truck is serving up everything from Asian tacos to …


photo, U Conn’s DailyCampus.com

The aptly named “Food for Thought” truck is serving “organic, GMO free, and earth-friendly” roasted crickets as a topping for their popular Asian Tacos—or for an adventurous few, as a crunchy snack. After a week of offering free samples to anyone willing to try them, UConn’s Dining Services reports that they’re selling two to three containers of the crispy critters a day.

The crickets are sourced from Next Millennium Farms, who strive to lead a new “protein revolution” and “raise” an estimated 30 million crickets at any given time. Now that’s a lot of chirping!

  Continue reading


“What?!” you say.

It’s true.

McDonald’s is going organic!

The fast-food giant is jumping on a healthier bandwagon these days … replacing sodas on its Happy Meal menu boards with juice and milk; adding apple slices, Go-GURT and Cuties Clementines to its menu; printing fun nutrition facts on its Happy Meal boxes; testing healthy salads with ingredients like kale and quinoa; and unveiling plans to phase out antibiotics in its chicken products and source only cage-free eggs.

And this month, McDonald’s debuted its first hamburger made entirely with organic beef at over 1,500 locations in Germany. The “McB” burger makes a test run through October and November, sporting Lollo Bionda lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onion rings, Edam cheese and sauce in addition to the organic patty. Later in the month, the same locations will test a  “Long McB” burger—organic beef, arugula, Maasdam cheese, red onion rings, tomatoes, and spicy sauce on a sunflower seed bun.

Long McB, McDonalds


  Continue reading

Boston Hits an Organic Home Run

The Boston Red Sox hit one out of the park.

But this home run wasn’t hit on the well-known diamond at the oldest baseball stadium in the country, Boston’s Fenway Park, which my daughter and her family just happened to visit last summer.

Think higher. The next time you watch a Red Sox pop fly soar high into the sky, take a gander at the stadium rooftop. That’s where Fenway Park’s new urban garden grows. Fenway Farms made its debut this summer, sporting 5,000 sq. ft. of garden rows that will produce more than 4,000 lbs of organic produce each year. The produce will be used at Fenway Park’s concession stands and restaurants during events, and also provide tools to educate local kids about healthy eating and environmental stewardship, giving the term “farm team” a whole new meaning.

photo, greencitygrowers.com

Talk about a grand slam! Continue reading

corn mazes

Ever wonder where the first corn maze was grown?

Photo by Hugho226 via Wikimedia Commons

Well, if you hadn’t, you are now.

So, let me fill you in …

Walkable mazes are as old as the early Greeks, but they were generally made of stone until the Victorian era, when “puzzle hedges,” like the gardens at Hampton Court Palace, became all the rage in Europe.

Photo by NotFromUtrecht via Wikimedia Commons

The corn maze was America’s agrarian version of the labyrinth: cheaper to build and a whole lot faster than stone walls, plus it’s easier to groom (or not groom) than those darn hedges.

Now, can you guess when the first corn maze was created?

If you’re thinking centuries ago, think again. I was surprised to learn that the landmark date was 1993.

Surprising, right?

But sources-in-the-know say it’s so:

“The weather is cool and the leaves are falling, and in Central Pennsylvania, the corn stalks are drying in the field. This time of year is perfect to get lost in a corn maze, a unique attraction that originated at Lebanon Valley College in 1993,” reports the Lebanon Valley College (and they should know, no?). “In the early 1990s, Midwest farmers were struggling to recover from severe flooding, which ruined many crops, including corn. LVC alumnus and Disney World producer Don Frantz and then-student Joanne Marx had a plan to do something about it: build a corn maze, charge admission, and contribute the proceeds to the Red Cross to aid the disaster victims.”

How cool is that? Apparently, Frantz was intrigued by European hedge mazes that were designed to fit in a backyard or terrace, and it struck him that such attractions hadn’t caught on in the U.S. So, he contacted England’s eminent maze maker, Adrian Fisher of Minotaur Designs, and they conspired to craft the quintessentially American corn maze.

The first maze was 3.3 acres in size and boasted 1.92 pathway miles in the shape of a dinosaur (a stegosaurus, to be exact, confirms my astute granddaughter).

You can check out a small picture of it here (the only photo I could find of the very first corn maze—go figure).

Find a corn maze near you at Corn Mazes America. Continue reading

Tree Down

I’m remodeling …

my farm.

I’ve learned to avoid deadlines whenever possible, so I’m remodeling my farm for …

however long it takes. I must say, re-doing my B&B is a kick in the pants. I’m lovin’ that part. I didn’t love all the digging associated with new underground sewer/water/electricity. Mud mounds abound-ed!! One of the changes I had to make that was a tad sad was a 120-year-old pine tree that was rotten in the center and needed to go.












The end result? Lots of firewood. Continue reading

the sum of your parts

The next time you doubt your ability to tackle a daunting task, stop to consider the sum of your positively powerful parts.

Photo by Christopher Michel via Wikimedia Commons

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, in case you didn’t know …

  • Your body is made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms! That’s a whole lot, considering there are only 300,000,000,000 (300 billion) stars in the galaxy.
  • Your atoms—all 7 octillion of them—formed during the “Big Bang,” 13.7 billion years ago.
  • Your hair, if braided, could support several tons.
  • Your blood vessels, stretched into one strand, could circumnavigate the planet about two and a half times.
  • Your belly button contains thousands of (healthy!) bacteria,  creating an ecosystem that rivals a rainforest (follow the link to get the dirt on that one).
  • Your smokin’ hot body (tee-hee) gives off enough heat in a half hour to bring a gallon of water to boil.
  • Your blood travels 12,000 miles around your body in a single day.
  • Your body produces 25 million new cells each second, so every 13 seconds, you make more cells than the population of the U.S.
  • You’ve been told you have a heart of gold. Well, your heart IS made of gold. Sort of. You have 0.2 milligrams of gold in your body, most of which is coursing through your blood, which travels through your heart … you get the idea.
  • Your skin is bioluminescent—it actually glows in the dark! Our eyes aren’t strong enough to see the glow, but it’s there, girl, it’s there.

Photo by ServiceComDigne via Wikimedia Commons

And that’s not even counting your creative spirit, which is capable of moving mountains. Continue reading