Monthly Archives: January 2013

You’ve Got Mail!

“We love your magazine, it’s refreshing after a day of mud and manure at the barn, followed by laundry and dishes (sometimes mud and manure too) at the house.

We have 30-acres in West Virginia, complete with geese, ducks, chickens, cattle, and an occasional lamb or turkey. These are our girls washing their now-grown bottle baby, ‘Rocky,’ before the county fair. They, and my son are truly country kids.

This was our daughter’s first showmanship class. Hope you can use these pics somewhere.”



Hay You!

Look up the word “neighborly,”

and you’ll come up with the expected:

helpful and kind,

friendly, amiable, sociable …

In other words, a neighbor is generally thought of as someone you can count on to lend a hand when the going gets tough.

And the beauty of neighborliness is that it goes both ways,

back and forth across fences,

without demand for reciprocation.

It’s there should you need it.

Among rural Americans, “neighborly” is communicated through often subtle signals …

a wave between passing cars,

a fresh batch of Christmas cookies left on a doorstep,

a call after a storm, just to make sure everything’s alright.

Loving thy neighbor, as the saying goes, is a timeless credo among farm folks—one that keeps us civil, makes us strong, and sheds a ray of light in even the darkest hour.

I much prefer it to the phrase,

Good fences make good neighbors.

But lately, fences are being fortified as suspicion spreads throughout America’s farm country, spurred by a handful of troublemakers who are taking advantage of the trust that farmsteaders live by …

Continue reading


May I have more “special sprouts,” please?

Have you ever had “special sprouts”? They’re actually Brussels sprouts, but if you say it fast, it sounds an awful lot like special sprouts, especially to a 6 and a 3-year-old. (Our very own Nanny Jane calls them Barbie cabbages.)

I love Brussels sprouts. I admit it. (There. I said it.) So I introduced them to my girls last month. I take mine whole, sautéed in a bit of butter, and then tossed with a splash of balsamic vinegar and sea salt a few minutes before serving. I eat them with abandon the same way I can eat bacon or popcorn. And guess what, so do my girls! Mia asks for seconds and Stella, thirds. Mia likes to peel back the layers and savor them one leaf at a time. Stella is an eat-’em-whole girl like me.

Last week we had BLTs, organic French fries, and … special sprouts (a rather interesting combination, but that’s what happens when it’s dance and gymnastics night). Stella’s fries remained untouched, and on her third helping of special sprouts, I wondered if I should make her eat her entire plate of food before I let her have more of something else. I promptly decided against it.

When she asked Friday morning if she could take any leftover special sprouts to school for lunch, I also decided against that. No need for her to know just yet that her peers might not love them the way she does.

Continue reading

Build It Green Merit Badge

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 4,690 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—6,500 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Beginner Level Make It Easy/Build It Green Merit Badge, I’m going green in my decorating. At first, yes, I may or may not have thought that meant a green theme, as in the color green, as in sage, pea soup, lime, forest, emerald, etc. But I quickly wrapped my brain around what it really meant: responsible, earth friendly, no regrets, kind of green. I knew that!

Continue reading


Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Marsha Gulick!

Marsha (Osagegypsy, #2988) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning an expert Level Horse Dreams badge!

“In 2005 I bought four Gypsy Horses with the savings my father left me. He always wanted to give me a horse, so I knew this was a good investment for me. I researched the Gypsy Breed, sometimes called Vanners or Cobs; and where it originated in the UK. I joined a forum and learned SO much from the folks I met there. After researching and buying Gypsy Horses, the REAL learning started. I read books, The Soul of a Horse, Foaling books and magazines.

We now own 10 horses and have raised and sold a number of them.

Continue reading


Greener Pastures

It’s no secret I’m a country girl through-and-through,

but …

I find myself swooning over images of lush gardens that are softening the harsh concrete edges of cities around the world …

transforming urban landscapes into places where even a country girl might get her fix

… of green.

My virtual tour of global garden-scaping began in Phuket, Thailand, where entire apartment complexes are draped in greenery. Colorful flower boxes overflow from the balconies of airy verandas, and rooftops are meticulously designed to boast a botanical bounty.

Photo courtesy of

Travelling north to Darmstadt, Germany, I found the Waldspirale (or “Forest Spiral”), a residential building complex designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The forested masterpiece houses 105 apartments, a parking garage, kiosk, café, and bar. The inner courtyard contains a playground and a small artificial lake. Many of the wildly random windows boast “tree tenants” growing out of them, and the diagonally sloping roof is planted with a veritable woodland of grasses, shrubs, flowers, and trees.

Photo courtesy of Norbert Nagel (CC-BY-SA-3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

A jaunt over to Avignon, France, led me to Les Halles Market, a cornucopia of French regional produce whose exterior has been beautified by the vertical gardens of creative botanist Patrick Blanc. Blanc spent years examining the way wild plants naturally grow on vertical rock faces and trees, and then he

Continue reading