Monthly Archives: August 2013



The Game of Farming

Would you like to know what it’s like to be a

REAL farmer?


Photo of land girls courtesy of Ministry of Information Photo Division via Wikimedia Commons

Well, here’s a fun way to get the dirt (while still keeping your nails clean):

gift_gab-farming2Waaaay back before video games and virtual reality, a hardscrabble rancher in central Washington State dreamed up a board game (remember those?) that got right to the heart of farming …

“It happened in a hay field just as the sun was coming up in early July 1979,” recalls George Rohrbacher. “The Farming Game really was invented on the seat of a tractor.”

At the time, George and his wife, Ann, were struggling to hold on to their family farm in the throes of a three-year drought. With little left to lose, they literally bet the ranch, mortgaging “everything that wasn’t nailed down” to produce the first edition of the game.


Photo of the Rohrbacher family in 1979 courtesy of

The entire family pitched in from the get-go, assembling parts and pieces of the game at home. Eventually, assembly was turned over to the handicapped at Portland’s Goodwill Industries, and the rest is a magical blend of history and perseverance (a trait required of any good farmer).

Suffice it to say, the Rohrbacher’s gamble paid off, and they won “the game.”

You’re wondering what makes this old-fashioned game so special, aren’t you?

The answer is simple:


Playing The Farming Game is about as close as you can get to working the land without actually diggin’ in.

“About half of this nation’s two million farmers or their spouses work an outside job so they can stay on the farm,” George explains. “They are ‘Weekend Farmers,’ farming early mornings, nights, and weekends, trying to get that next piece of land, a tractor, a harvester, to finally farm big enough to afford to quit that darn job in town and come home and farm full time.”

So, in a nutshell, that’s the object of The Farming Game.


Photo courtesy of

Each player starts the game with 20 acres—10 in hay and 10 in grain. The acreage isn’t profitable enough (at first) to feed a family, so you must also have a part-time job in town. Keep plowing money back into your farm as you circle the board, exploring the possibilities of diversification into fruit and cattle (and weathering whims of “farmer’s fate”), and you might just end up on top of the tractor!


Photo of land girls harvesting flax courtesy of Ministry of Information Photo Division via Wikimedia Commons

The Farming Game has sprouted into a crop of other fun games for all ages that you can order at, and George has even written a lighthearted book chronicling the family’s adventures in farming and gaming called Zen Ranching and the Farming Game.




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 … the Krell family!!!

Alysha, Caleb, Emma, Ethan, and Paige Krell (Young Cultivators of Jessica Krell #5148) have received a certificate of achievement in Farm Kitchen for earning an Expert Level All Dried Up Merit Badge.

“We picked some raspberries and some Saskatoons with my family and our friends. Then we dried some of the berries and used some more berries to make some fruit leather.

Emma picking berries

Picking the berries was really fun! The hardest part was not eating them along the way! At home, we dried some of both kinds of berries and used them in our oatmeal the next day for breakfast!

Picking the berries was hard work, but we like to work, so it was fun.




I received an e-mail from Karen Pennebaker this week. Turns out, we share an affinity for the letter ‘G’ that for Karen, goes back 60 years.

When Pig Latin was the “thing,” Karen and her childhood friend came up with their own secret language that only they knew—inspired by that wondrous little letter that we’ve all come to love.


Waldorf chalkboard drawing introducing the alphabet in 1st grade. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Hgilbert

“When the other kids in school would start speaking Pig Latin, we would talk to each other in Gigickilan, and it drove them nuts because we could understand THEIR language and they didn’t have a clue as to what we were saying. Camping, to us, would have been “gamping” rather than “glamping” but I know how you got the “glamp” part … glamorous camping sounds like the best kind.”

“Gi gent go ge gail gox gand gound ga getter grom goo.” (I went to the mail box and found a letter from you.)

And here’s my splash page, an ode to ‘G.’


Thanks for sharing, Karen!! Gi gove git!

Unprocessed Kitchen Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,301 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 Farm Kitchen/Unprocessed Kitchen Merit Badge, I was moving up the ranks to Intermediate and Expert Levels. That’s right: you’ve come a long way, baby! Why yes, I have, and thanks for noticing. First up:

Level Deux

This badge, my little dears, is a piece of cake. Well, not a literal piece of cake, more like a cracker. Unprocessed, organic, nutritious and delicious, homemade Cheez-its.

Oh. Yes.

You. Are. Welcome.

But not just homemade Cheez-its. Oh, never let it be said! For this particular level, I needed to replicate two used-to-love-em-had-to-have-em-not-so-good-for-you-unwholesome-guilty-pleasures. For the second recipe idea, I had to wrack my noodle.

And then it came to me:


More specifically, macaroni and cheese. Ah, that blissful bowl of ooey gooey, melty, comfort food! It’s like heaven in a bowl.

A large bowl.

Continue reading



Sweet Lorraine

Ready for a dose of sweet, sweet heartache?

Of course you are.

This is the kind of story that makes it feel like Valentine’s Day in August.


Image by L. Prang & Co. via Wikimedia Commons

After 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh lost his wife of 75 years, he did something he’d only done once before:

He wrote a song.

Inspired by loneliness and love, he sat alone in his Peoria, Illinois, home and penned “Oh, Sweet Lorraine.”

Oh, Sweet Lorraine

I wish we could do

The good times

All over again

Shortly after putting his love to lyrics, Fred spotted an ad in the local paper announcing a contest for singer-songwriters sponsored by Green Shoe Studio.

He didn’t suppose he fit either bill, but he just happened to have one song up his sleeve …

Oh, sweet Lorraine

Life only goes around


But never again

“I’ll just send a letter,” Fred remembers thinking, even though contestants were asked to send newfangled YouTube videos of their musical performances.

With old fashioned resolve, he sent his song on paper. He wrote on the envelope, “‘I don’t sing, I would scare people, haha!”

Fred assumed he wouldn’t hear back from young, hip Green Shoe Studio.

But you know he did.

This is just that kind of story.

Contest director Jacob Colgan contacted Fred to tell him that he would like to professionally record “Oh, Sweet Lorraine.”

“Why would you do this for me?” Fred asked.

The answer was plain, Jacob explained, “Your song touched us.”

My memories will always

Linger on

Oh, sweet Lorraine


Listen to the song in the video above, wipe your tears, then go and pick up your own copy of Fred’s song on iTunes. so that you can listen,

again and again and

think about how sweet life can be

if we just will, sweet Lorraine.