Winnie’s latest adventures

Farmgirl Sister of the Year, Winnie Nielsen (Sister #3109, aka Red Tractor Girl) recently took fabulous trips to Europe, with stops in Iceland and Norway. She writes,

“Red Tractor Girl seems to get around to the weirdest places, but always finds a red tractor waiting! Here I am in UllKistan (WoolKistan?), where wool is king! You know you are in the right place because one of the few trees in Iceland is sporting a knitted sweater out front! How about Red Tractor Girl becoming a shepherdess? This tractor seems up to the task of a large Icelandic sheep farm. How about that beautiful wooly coat of the Icelandic sheep? No wonder they have shops full of beautiful knitted items and skeins of yarn! I wanted to sit on the tractor, but figured that would be pressing my luck a bit. I mean, how would you explain Red Tractor Girl to people who barely speak English?


The cowl on my neck was knitted from the wool I learned to spin last winter in a drop-spin class for my Expert Level Knitting Badge. It came out all different widths and degrees of tightness, but the ladies in the yarn store encouraged me to make it into something. Voila! A knitted cowl with “artisan” yarn. All wonky, tight, loose, and weird, like trying to knit rubber bands and fuzz. However, it turned out pretty nice in the end, and it was nice and thick and oh so warm.

As you know, the red tractor love started when I was 4 and my dad gave me a little red tractor toy from a consulting job he did for International Harvester in Chicago in 1955. I played with that thing for years and years. When I joined the MJF Sisterhood, I wanted some name that aligned me with some sort of farm identity, and the idea just popped into my head. I have never actually driven a tractor or know anything much about them. It is all a bit of fantasy in my head, but now I identify with red tractors as my farm connection. It has made for some darling MJF swap gifts, which I cherish and love!!”

Below are a few stunning photos from Winnie’s trips. I don’t know where these actual photos are from, but maybe Winnie will tell us in the comments section below …






  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Where is Winnie, Red Tractor Girl, this last year has been sort of like that book Where is Waldo? Look for a red tractor and I might be near by. The first three photos are actually from the Norwegian Fjords. The landscape is quite majestic with huge cocky and rugged cliffs on both sides of the narrow passageways. The 4th photo is a modern art sculpture in Iceland that resembles an ancient Norwegian boat like the kind the Vikings came in when they discovered and established Iceland around 800 AD. As you can see, Iceland is cold and snowy and the walk down to actually see the boat was pure slippery ice!! The last photo in Bergen in Norway along the quiet inner harbor. All of the colorful buildings are the original ones from the early days of the busy port life of the city. When we were in a Norwegian museum of Viking relics, there are several of the large wooden boats used that resemble the art structure above. They were basically huge row boats with a sail. If you look at a map at the distance between Norway and Iceland, it is hard to imagine rowing the ocean to get from one place to another!

    We learned in Iceland, that a Norwegian Viking, came back to the area of Reykjavik around 800 AD and set up a colony. He built woolen mills and established an economy based on the raising of sheep and wool products. Imagine starting a nation on the backs of sheep? Literally. Today, the language of Iceland is based on old Norse and is only spoken in Iceland. Oddly enough, it is quite different from the Norwegian language today such that neither country knows what the other is saying unless they have studied the language. As far as population goes, Iceland is made up of about 50% Norwegian descent, 30% Ireland, and the rest a blend of other Scandinavian peoples.

  2. Cindi Johnson says:

    THAT is a really, really cool tractor!! Oh Winnie, I hope you got to sit on it at some point in your visit. That such a beautiful place can withstand, thrive even, in such a harsh winter environment is amazing at the very least. I’ll bet Winnie returns with many suitcases stuffed with inspiration ~ and maybe a couple of those gorgeous sheep? 🙂

  3. Janet Pulver says:

    Gorgeous scenery, trip of a lifetime! Awesome tractor!

  4. Karlyne says:

    Winnie, I don’t often envy people, but I have to admit to just a teeny pang of envy here. I’m so glad that you got to see places that I still have on my own bucket list!

  5. Heather (nndairy) says:

    What a fabulous time you must have had Winnie! I love that you found a red tractor 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us farmgirls that aren’t able to travel the world yet.

  6. Linda says:

    Great pictures and story, Winnie! I’ve never been to Norway or Iceland – maybe one of these days!

  7. Connie-Killarney says:

    Winnie the pictures are breathtaking and you look adorable!! FarmGirl hug!

  8. CHARLYN says:

    Enjoyed all the pictures, we had a red tractor on our farm. thanks for sharing

  9. Kellie says:

    So, so gorgeous, Winnie! The bright, warm colors of the architecture do reflect a Swedish and Irish aesthetic as well. I never realized they were such a large part of the culture!
    The red tractor is just perfect. <3

  10. LisaMarie says:

    Oh thank you! So gorgeous and interesting history.

  11. Pingback: Iceland’s nod to women | Raising Jane Journal

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Glamping in Style

Look who’s gotten into glamping …

Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, and some very fashionable friends went glamping in California’s Joshua Tree National Park for New Year’s Eve.


(Photo via @shionat)

While there, they took an epic group photo that got me to wondering if Solange might be interested in knowing …


(Photo via @saintrecords)

how glamping got its start.

Dearest Solange,

Several years ago, myself and some B&B guests were sitting around a morning campfire (hope you got to enjoy one also, BTW, love your hat) when the husband of one of our couples (housed in tent 3) said, “You know, I have to tell you, when my wife said we were coming over here to spend perfectly good money to use an outhouse, I told her, ‘This MaryJane thing’s got you catnipped,’ but now that I’ve been here and seen it, I’m thinking I’ll go back home, buy a wall tent, put it up the way you’ve done, and the missus and I will finally have our cabin in the woods. So yeah, I get the girly camping thing now. But I’ll have to let her do the glamour part of it.” I said, “Right, how about we call it glamping?” To which we toasted our enamel coffee cups.

Now that someone like yourself gets it too, I’m thinking a star was born that morning (BTW, loved your wedding also, congratulations!).

MaryJane Butters (the woman who ever-so-proudly pioneered the concept)

P.S. Thanks for taking glamping to its highest fruition yet!!!!! Here’s my Airstream.

P.P.S. Next time you go, let me send you some of our s’more kits (w/our homemade marshmallows and organic graham crackers).

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    You tell’em , MaryJane! Our Queen Bee has revolutionized what simple living can be about and we are thousands strong in embracing that concept. I think many of us Farmgirls want a Wall Tent, glamped up outhouse. outdoor spa tub, and one of her tear drop campers parked outside for road trips with friends. You should purchase her book on Glamping if you need a how to guide.
    P.S. And don’t forget to order some of her OutBack instant organic meals for quick and yummy easy meals. We’re talkin’ easy peasy and outrageously good!

  2. Cindi Johnson says:

    Your airstream ~ now THAT’s glamping! I can be pretty handy with a drill and a few nuts and bolts, even a hammer, nails and paint brush, but now I wish I had taken the shop class right next to the home economics class when I was in school. Oh well. You have inspired me to make my stationary home a bit more glampy and enjoy it just the same.

  3. Karlyne says:

    Loved this! I hope she replies and becomes a farmgirl convert!

  4. Nancy Coughlin says:

    I was a tent camper for years, even in the winter. Then my favorite State Park Worlds End opened their cabins during the winter and I became a regular. Spent a few Christmas days up there, too. But, when people visited me they were always amazed at how I had “glamped” up the rustic cabin (electricity but no running water!) with the ‘extras’!!! Decorated for whatever season and used the wood-burner for heat in the winter. Found a local person to buy my wood from and was cozy and warm. Now, I have an upstairs screened in porch and I have turned it into my “at-home-camping-experience” and glamp it up from the early Spring into late Fall. I love it and with arthritis, it is much easier to deal with than packing and hauling and toting things around. We do what we can!

  5. Wayve says:

    I wanted to take shop class, but in the ’60s, they wouldn’t let me, because I was a girl. So now I’m a farmer and drive a fork lift. I would love to have a glamping campground on our “land-locked island”, but I don’t have a decorative bone in my body. I love seeing what others do, though.

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We Made the Cows Curious

We finally had a good snow day and spent the day at the farm.

By the second run, the cows came around to see what all the fuss was about.

We had a wonderful day and learned about our echos in the silence of the snow.

Photo Jan 04, 2 05 35 PM

Daddy and Mia found out their weight together made them so much faster! Good thing they wore their trusty helmets.

Photo Jan 04, 2 47 00 PM

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh StellJane, this brings back such fun memories for me. I remember when the dish pans came out for the first time in the 1950s and we all were so excited to try them out on our favorite neighborhood sledding hill. They are so much fun! Thanks for sharing those videos of you and Mia having great rides.

  2. Cindi Johnson says:

    What great fun!! Odd that I don’t remember sledding as a child, yet I was on skis by age 3. Maybe if cows had been watching I would remember better. Just watching brings a thrill.

  3. Eileen says:

    This is SO LOVELY! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    How fun! Brings back tons of memories!

  5. Nancy Coughlin says:

    And a fun time was had by all!! What great fun and oh, the memories this brought back to mind.

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New York City Adventures

Just before the holidays, Mom and I snuck off to the big city for a couple of meetings and some Mom/Daughter time. The city was bustling as usual, but the holiday cheer was an experience in its own.

Photo Dec 12, 3 33 25 PM

And somehow the nighttime was even more spectacular than usual. I’d never seen a tree as large as the glistening Rockefeller tree (this year’s tree was an 85-foot Norway spruce from Hemlock Township, Pennsylvania).

Photo Dec 11, 3 05 31 PM

We spent two hours in Macy’s “shopping,” but are such country bumpkins that we didn’t buy a thing.

Photo Dec 11, 2 55 04 PM

The Empire State Building is a marvel at night. And I took one silly selfie during the daytime. Only because I decided we needed a poinsettia for our hotel room, and as I walked back to the room, it began to snow on me and my mini poinsettia. Happiness.

Photo Dec 10, 12 45 56 PM

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Visiting New York City during the holidays has been on my to do list for awhile. The pictures of Rockefeller Plaza are my favorite with the huge tree and ice skating rink. I am glad you two had a little time for some Big Apple festivities this year. I bet it was fun!

  2. Nothing is more wonderful than New York City at Christmas time. I lived there for 5 years as a bachelorette in my younger years. Loved to go to Rockefeller Center and watch the skaters there. We would always go to the tree lighting ceremony where all and sundry would break out in spontaneous Christmas carols- happy memories indeed.

  3. connie-killarney says:

    Thanks for sharing!! It is a shame that Macy’s does not cater to us Farmgirls! LOL!! I love to visit NYC! it is exciting! I have family right outside the city, but I would never want to live there!

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Traveling Pups

In the midst of what seems like almost-daily bad news, I was recently touched to hear a feel-good story about a dog who rides public transit in Seattle all by herself in order get to the dog park. It appears that the 2-year-old black Labrador mix named Eclipse has become a regular fixture on the D-line. The bus stop is right in front of her house, and if her owner is not quite ready to go, she jumps on board alone and meets him later at the dog park. Regular riders say that she sits quietly in her seat and watches out the window for her stop, and transit authorities say they are happy that Eclipse can appreciate public transit, although she really should be on a leash. This whole idea made me giggle.

Photo Jan 04, 2 06 51 PM

Does the age-old phrase “country pup vs. city pup” still hold true?? Haha. Our golden retriever wouldn’t know what to do with public transit, but he’ll happily hop right up into the bed of a pickup. Hmmm, maybe he could fake it like I do when I make a trip to the city?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    We found this story with a video on the internet and it was just the cutest and sweetest story ever! And what a joy Eclipse gave people on that line when he hopped on by himself. There is something so disarming and positive about friendly dogs that just puts a happy smile on your face and brightens your day. Animals give us such joy just being themselves with no strings attached. Well, except for some pets and scritches behind the ears@!

  2. Cindi Johnson says:

    I love the picture of your dog! Dog plus snow equals great fun and those ears are poised for a lot of it. There was a little girl in our neighborhood about 5 years old that would often take her big retriever for a walk around the block. Such a big old dog ~ reminded me of Nana from Peter Pan ~ Such a tiny little girl walking in the lead, swinging her arms around as children do when they play and walk at the same time; and her dedicated guardian slowly following, carrying his own leash in his mouth so it wouldn’t drag. It was a picture worth a thousand smiles.

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Love that story! My country dog, Bramble, wouldn’t go anywhere with me and she goes just about everywhere I do. She’s a great traveler and very well behaved. She’s a wonderful traveling companion! She even made that Glamping Road Trip with Robin and me in 2013 when we went to Washington and Idaho, glamping along the way . . . meeting up with you and your mom in Coeur d’Alene. And, I cannot STAND leaving her behind! Oh, the look on her face is awful!

  4. What a cute story! Yes, animals do adapt, but are such creatures of habit. When I first got my property out of town, my cat about had a heart attack(not really!), the first time she encountered a deer outside and it snorted at her! Now she gets almost nose-to-nose with them and the moose!!

  5. Kathleen says:

    This is a beautiful story. I love animals so much. I rescued a Bijon frechei,(Sp), and a Schitzu, who were raised together, who came from Hawaii. Can you imagine the ordeal they went through. Flying on the airplane and traveling with their original owners to SD. Only to have the Mrs. turn them over to a Vet office. It was because after they got here, her husband died. She was going to give them to a shelter.
    The Vets office said ,”lets foster them out”. While those two were fostered to a women and her husband
    My husband who is a mail carrier was asked by the women if he could help find a home for both to be together always. Guess what, It was me who did. The female is named “Anela and the male is named Kiquau”. Each name given to them is name from the big Island of Hawaii. You can look it up on internet.
    They have been an added joy to our family. Kiquau love his squeaky he came here with. And Anela is quiet and reserved. I now have 6 dogs, four of which I rescued. So as you can see, I love animals. KMD

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    The snow dusting on the brown grasses is just beautiful. I can almost hear the crunching sound if I was walking over the ground.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I just want to shore up that old red beauty and hang some curtains and bake bread on a wood stove!!

  2. CHARLYN says:

    I enjoy each day the picture you post and sure glad I don’t have to decide which one I like the best. They are all good mostly because they are about our country life. Lots of people don’t know what they are missing and our country life is also changing.

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LeeRoy Brown, the baddest goat in the whole dang town!

Steve Wescott has been on the road for three years, traveling across the U.S.—on foot—with a goat named LeeRoy Brown. Steve and LeeRoy started the 2,800-mile journey at Seattle’s Space Needle and intend to end up in Times Square in New York City. He calls his project Needle2Square.


Why, you might ask? And why a goat?

Steve is trying to raise awareness and funds for Uzima Outreach and Intervention, a Kenya-based ministry for substance-addicted adults and neglected and orphaned children. When Steve set out, he intended to walk 10 miles a day, which would have put him in NYC in just a year. But Steve and LeeRoy have been on the road now for three years, due to injuries and the myriad of people who stop them to find out the story behind the unusual pair. The extended time has put the duo in the public eye, only helping Steve’s cause. Now, a documentary and reality TV show are in the works. Say hello to LeeRoy Brown, the baddest goat in the whole dang town, and the first-ever reality-TV goat star.

Follow Steve and LeeRoy at

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a great story and a beautiful campaign. I am wondering if the bad weather up north has forced them inside again or if they are taking a southern route? What a trek and such a determined young man. I bet the goat is happy to tag along and sample all of the delicious grasses along the way from west to east.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    My goodness, what an endeavor! I think I’ll go take a nap! 😀

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