Knotty Farmgirls Merit Badge

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,205 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,043 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 Outpost/Knotty Farmgirl Merit Badge, I had an ulterior motive. You see, if you give a farmgirl a tree, then she’s gonna take notice of the branches, and if she takes notice of the branches, she’s gonna get the urge to swing, feel the breeze on her face, kick her bare feet up into the air, and lean back to let her hair tickle the grass below.

It’s true.

After all …

How do you like to go up in a swing, 
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside— 

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down! 

Robert Lewis Stevenson (I like to affectionately call him Bobby) and I have a lot in common.

Anyway, before I could get my swing on and kick up my farmgirl boots, I had to learn a few things. Like, you know, safety precautions. Like, how to tie knots. Not just shoelaces, scarves, and curly-ribbon-bedecked packages, but real knots. This was going to involve

a) another Internet tutorial


b) a bored sailor

Being fresh out of sailors, I taught myself with a tutorial and several lengths of twine. I practiced and practiced until my practicer was sore! Not sore so much as tied up in knots. HA! Being extremely adept at friendship-bracelet-making back in the day, I think I picked it up quite quickly. But was my skill good enough to test my weight with a tree branch and a cedar board?

We shall see.

I gathered my supplies for my swing:

  • the tree
  • one cedar board
  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • 75 feet of braided nylon rope
  • scissors
  • matches
  • ruler and pencil
  • drill with a 3/4” boring bit
  • hammer and 4 fence staples (or bent nails)

I sanded and drilled and measured and marked. I threaded and tied (here is where my knot-making expertise came to fruition). I secured and tossed and shimmied (the rope, sillies, not me)! I pulled and cut.

And then?


Well, then of course, I swang. Swung? Swinged? I did some swinging. And it was every bit as lovely as I remembered it to be. I leaned and pumped and admired the view over my neighbor’s garage. I kicked and felt the grass tickle my feet. I tipped over backwards for that indescribable head rush. I even did a fancy dismount (a triple axel with a half twist) and stuck the landing.

It was as good as I knew it would be.

Except I don’t remember my tushie hurting so much afterward.

Next up? Weatherproof pillow.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I remember doing a knot badge in Girl Scouts so that we could make latrines and table structures in a primitive camping expedition. Today, I can’t remember a single knot so maybe I should consider re-learning them again. One never knows when you might need to know some fancy knot to save the day!

  2. Karlyne says:

    Loved the picture, and, of course! the article! Might have to go locate a tree…

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I L-O-V-E to swing as well! Learning knots is lots of fun, too. Guess I’ll have to start on this merit badge soon.

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