Dreaming of a Farm?

If you’re a farmgirl at heart who’s planted in the city, you’ve probably dreamed about owning your own farm. Well, look what we discovered on our Farmgirl Connection chatroom from Barbara in Ithaca, NY (GreenSleeves2015):


My parents have both passed away and it is time to sell their small farm (14+ acres) and Victorian home. It is located in Laurens, NY. It sits in a lovely rural spot, yet close to many conveniences. We hope there is someone out there looking for just such a terrific property, and I’d like to tell you a little about it. This farm is an excellent and exciting choice for a homestead, craft brewery, organic produce farm, or other home-based business. The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, an extra kitchen with floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets, an amazing amount of storage for an old (1880) home (6 lighted, walk-in closets), and gorgeous woodwork throughout. There is a 2 1/2-story barn, chicken house and detached garage. There are 70 blueberry bushes, fenced with netting, that yield about 200 quarts a year. The land and buildings have been well maintained. There is a stream on the property.

Interestingly, wild hops grow abundantly on the property—AND—there is a great need in NYS for more hops growers. There is a large new brewery going in Oneonta, and a hops processing plant is in the works. This could be a great opportunity for the right person or family. We’ve been told that a 5-acre, fully mature planting of hops could yield a $50,000 income per year. There is room for this, as well as much more on this excellent property. This link will take you to more information. We are not listed with a realtor, but are hoping to find the right family on our own.

If you’d like to make an appointment to see it, or just to ask more questions, please call Margaret at 607-432-8063.


Just for fun, we thought you might like to see what farmgirls are saying on our chatroom about Barbara’s farm:

Nini, Pennsylvania (Ninibini) says:
Oh, BARBARA! First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. So hard. And letting go of a family treasure such as their home and farm must be very, very difficult. Having said that, though, I think I’ve just seen my dream farm!!! What I wouldn’t give to be able to relocate and start a new life there… We were upstate New York last fall and I fell in love, absolute love. But I think I could live a little further south and be quite happy. If only… If only… Thank you for telling us about your parents’ beautiful home and farm. I pray that the perfect family will move in and be able to honor their hopes, dreams, and hard work… and the love they built there! God bless – I wish you the best! Hugs – Nini

Laura, St Augustine, FL (RabbitGirl) says:
Hi Barbara – I am so sorry for the loss of your parents. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to sell their home.

I actually know where Laurens is. I graduated SUNY Oneonta a long time ago, but I imagine and hope it hasn’t changed all that much, so I wanted to offer a testimonial that Otsego County is absolutely gorgeous and rural and the kind of place any true Farmgirl would love. Your parents’ home is beautiful. If my life circumstances were different, I’d want it for myself.

Best wishes to you in finding the right family that will love and preserve your parents’ farm.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I saw this posting over on the Forum and it would be an ideal opportunity for someone. The house is charming and the farm photos are equally beautiful. You can tell is was a beloved homestead and I hope someone soon will be able to take it over and keep adding another layer of love.

  2. This photo represents your family farm home so well. Bless you as you move forward after the loss of your parents. I too wish you success in finding the “just right” buyer, someone who will respect and care for what your parents put together for their family.
    I too am caring for my parents home and land, less land than you are offering. When you know what went in to making it a reality, all the hard work and loving care, you definitely want a responsible person to carry on from where you have left off. Once it leaves your hands, you can only hope it will be well cared for, be scrupulous in your decision. Money comes and goes, but roots and respect are to be handled with kid gloves… I wish you the best outcome.

  3. Bonnie ellis says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your parents. I think the house is so pretty. The farm sounds wonderful. Hope the right far girl finds it.

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food waste sculptures

We’ve talked about food waste.

Photo by Foerster via Wikimedia Commons

How to avoid it,

how entire cities are composting it,

and how some folks eat it.

But I recently discovered another use for food that has passed its prime.


While you may not want to replicate this at home, I know you’ll appreciate the aesthetic. Lauren Purnell, a Canadian photography student living in London, has achieved social-media star status by crafting uniquely beautiful works of art from pitched produce.

Watch this video clip from CBS This Morning:

On second thought, moms might just want to recreate Lauren’s lovelies in their kitchens (using fresher veggies). Imagine how enticing they would be to pint-sized picky eaters.

Visit Lauren’s Culinary Canvas website to see more.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Isn’t it amazing how some people can look at what others disregard as waste and come up with useful and beautiful alternatives? It is incredible what creative people can do!

  2. Dolly says:

    Beautiful! She has such talent! I’ve always thought fruits and produce have the most beautiful colors textures…Love this thanks for sharing.

  3. Who doesn’t like to play with their food? For TRUE SILLINESS try the vintage cookbook ” Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls” from 1957. I was given a copy when I was about 10.It is filled with amazing play with your food ideas like: Bunny Salad, (Made from a pear half) Candle Salad ( made from a banana) Three men in a boat (using a baked potato),Raggedy Ann salad ( peach halves, celery, cheese etc) , a whole chapter on silly cakes,campfire cooking,ludicrous fruit toppings for cereal, and so much more. They really should reissue this sweet little cookbook. I lost my childhhood copy but my friend and fellow MJ poster Debby Mckissic gave me a copy as a gift. Talk about reliving your childhood! Again, thanks Debby !

  4. Linda says:

    Veggie sculptures could be a great rainy day project. LOL!

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The Little Store That Couldn’t

This post is for Winnie, who asked recently for an update on the status of our little store that moved home to my farm.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work we’re doing before we get to the store. The store will eventually have a new roof that includes two cute little carports on each end (farm truck in one, Shasta trailer parked in the other, fully hooked up to power/water/electric) and a rocking-chair front porch. Inside will be a community bathroom, retro kitchen, and washer/dryer for farmstay guests.


But first, what’s that peeking out from behind?


Why, it’s my Airstream! She’s found a permanent home beneath her own carport, complete with concrete pad and water/sewer/electric hookups. When I took these photos, I’d just planted a “dryland pasture grass mix,” and since then, her new yard is green and lush. Winnie, she has a very old homestead apple tree right outside her door, as well as lots of indigenous plum trees in her new yard.


The next few pics show all the work being done to essentially take apart and naturalize what we’ve always called our “upper garden,” which is located beside the little store. We’re taking out the deer fence and removing all the black felt and netting we had throughout for weed control in our large strawberry bed and raspberry patch.




Our strawberry patch has been dramatically downsized to these two new raised beds in our “lower garden.” (The large strawberry patch was destroyed this spring when we had to reroute our sewer, water, and electrical lines.) In the distance, you can see a wall of tomatoes. We’re growing a market-garden patch of heirloom black cherry tomatoes to sell in town, and they’re just starting to come on. This whole patch was grown from seeds I saved from one little tomato I bought two summers ago. The first year, I grew a number of plants from the seeds of that one tomato, then I saved lots of seeds and offered them to my readers. I sent out around 80 envelopes full of seed.


  1. Jan Kerr says:

    wonderful peaceful hardworking Photo

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Can you see me sitting here grinning with tears in my eyes??? “Sweet Dreams” has a new neighbor next door and new landscaping. Look at the little darlin’ all bright and cheerful and awaiting her turn for a new beginning. See those little steps our front her door? Yep, I climbed up them and pulled myself inside for a look around this little abode that dreams are made of. She is a natural beauty inside and charming with a nod to her circa 1880s origins now updated with bold colors and trim. Oh how perfect this little house will be when she is ready to accommodate Farm guests and a porch for them to sit upon and gaze at the wide expanses of the Palouse!

    Your new airstream setup is AWESOME!!! How many glampers come complete with an heirloom apple and plum orchard? I am imagining being in the trailer and walking out in late August to pick an apple from the tree to make into apple pancakes for breakfast using our beloved MJF Budget Mix. Then onward to a plum tarte and fresh raspberries for afternoon tea with the all the little Grandchildren over at Sweet Dreams on the porch.

    What a ton of work you and crew have been doing this summer, but what a fabulous updated portion of your farm that will soar into the future. I love it !! Love, it all!!!

    Sending Farmgirl Hugs to “Sweet Dreams” from your biggest fan here in Florida. In my imagination, I “see” a pail of apples on your front porch in the future that I just picked wearing my Tee shirt from John Bunker with his apple designed graphic on it. We will take those apples and see if we can determine their variety name and then fix them up into a delicious something or another in your little kitchen. Maybe MaryJane will let us put up a little garden flag out front with an apple graphic on it. Hehehe, what a sweet dream it is to reside in the airstream home and use the little house as “MJF Apple Central” for the month or so that the apples are available. I volunteer to do the first year!

    Better get my knitting needles busy making apple cozies, and apple pickin’ hats for family and visitors to take home!

    Thank-you, thank-you MaryJane for this wonderful update. It has made my day! And you enjoy your little airstream set up when your heart yearns for a spur of the moment glamping night with your little Grandgirls too.

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    I loved that little store! Robin and I were able to shop there on our road trip in 2011, while it was still in Moscow. When we were there in 2013, we were sad to see that is was no longer there. However, at that time we didn’t know exactly what happened. It was after we got home that we learned she got moved to the farm. So glad she has a new home.

    Sounds like plans for her use are just perfect! Hopefully, someday, I/we can come visit your farm again . . see this little store, your trailers, your new gardens, etc., etc. Most of all to see YOU and ALL YOUR FAMILY!

  4. Debbie says:

    Hi MJ,
    I don’t know what it is about seeing projects midway through that gets me so excited but it does. I’m so happy you shared what’s doin’ for your little farmstore and your cover for Lilly is perfect. I want something similar in my backyard for field to vase workshops in the future. It’s all looking wonderful. One day I’m gonna drive up that dirt road of yours and stay a spell…! Thank you for sharing your farm with all of us farmgirls!

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Lace Gardens

I mentioned “gardens in lace” in my space salad post, promising to tell you more.

So …

Believe your eyes.

Those are pics of LACE garden fences.

Yup, lace.

Like a dream come true, right? Doily heaven.

This artistic installment, a collaboration between Swiss landscape architect Anouk Vogel and creative design company De Makers Van, appeared in Amsterdam a few years ago, transforming the courtyard of a city housing block into an ethereal garden of white flowers and lace. It’s no surprise that the location has become a popular spot for wedding photos.

Little did I know …

  1. A) There is a flourishing lace fencing movement, mostly in Europe to date.
  2. B) Lace fencing is not only pretty, it’s pretty big business in places like Belgium and the Netherlands.

Well, now that I know, I hope the trend catches on here in the U.S. Leading the way is the Philadelphia University Design Center, which commissioned De Makers Van to craft a fence segment for their 2009 Lace in Translation exhibition.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via Facebook.com/designcenter

Mind you, this “lace” isn’t exactly what it appears to be. If you’re an old-school fabric fanatic like me, you’re thinking needle, cutwork, crochet … but, no.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via Facebook.com/designcenter

Rather than stitching thread to form a fence or weaving into an existing chain-link fence, De Makers Van’s creations are actually crafted using mysterious high-end galvanized metal wire that is “knitted” (don’t ask me how) to create lovely—and deceptively dainty—illusions of lace.

Look closely at this fence in Belgium:

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via Facebook.com/designcenter

Remarkable, isn’t it? There are several more photos of fabulous fences here.

“In our projects, we often combine the sensitive and the small with the powerful, large, and industrial,” explains the De Makers Van team. “Fencing is a sign of how we have modified and cultivated our environment. Like brambles, fences are rising rampantly around us. What would happen if a patch of embroidered wire would meet with, and continue as, an industrial fence? Hostility versus kindness, industrial versus craft.”

A sound artistic sentiment, but I still want one for my garden, don’t you?

Until lace fencing goes mainstream, we may simply have to content ourselves with outbursts of crochet, knitting, and weaving to give our fences festive flair. I’m picturing something along the inspiring lines of Brooklyn yarn bomber London Kaye’s fleeting installments of urban joy:

What a wonderful way to give our yards and gardens a bit of flair all year round.

  1. Cindi says:

    THAT is the most remarkable new development ever! I am in line waiting for one of those right behind you Mary Jane. Wow!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Beautiful , creative, and uplifting! What an artistic endeavor to make our world more beautiful.

    Remember that photo of the knitted collar on the tree in Iceland in front of the wool store? What about crocheting lace to put around a tree for a summer look on a main street? It won’t last like metal, but it would definitely make it statement for the season that could be enjoyed.

    • MaryJane says:

      We have a yarn store here in Moscow and they’ve knitted a sock that’s on the trunk of the tree in front. Adorable. Make sure you tune in Saturday for my “Winnie Asked” post.

  3. Well I actually did have a real lace fence once. Story is that I was growing my seedlings one winter in my living room that had all the sun. The rare ” Sikkim Cucumber” that I had never grown before, just took off and “attacked ” my lace curtains. This was my previous home with long floor to ceiling windows and I had the lace curtains to fit. That cucumber was so tangled up in the curtains that come planting time I had no alternative but to take the curtains down and take them outdoors to the garden and hang them up there, while it continued to grow . Like 20 feet! I ended up sacrificing those curtains but it was worth it to grow those amazing cucumbers.

  4. Darlene Ricotta says:

    That is very pretty, It is about time they beautify chain link fences.

    Thanks for sharing this.


  5. Oh my word. I love that video. She is awesome. My little grand-girl Jillian is learning to crochet so I showed her this video and she just kept saying, “Gram that is so cool” over and over!!! 🙂

    And those lacy chain link fences? Perfection!

    – Dori –

  6. Evelyn Mayo says:

    What a great way to bring a little beauty into a bla bla yard!!

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Space Gardens

Gardens in buckets,

Gardens in lace,

Gardens on rooftops …

Gardens in space?

Captain Kirk never dared to dream such succulence.

Nevertheless, it’s not science fiction.

On August 10, astronauts at the International Space Station ate fresh food grown in space for the very first time. In a collapsible and expandable Veggie Unit dubbed Lada, the astronaut gardeners grew a real, live crop of red romaine lettuce out there among the stars, and the taste test was documented in live-stream fashion:

It turns out that growing veggies in space is not as easy as it is on Earth, what with the soil-free and sun-starved spaceship environs. Even so, astronaut Scott Kelly sowed a smattering of lettuce seeds on a fabricated “seed pillow” in early July, illuminated them with multicolored LED lights, and harvested leaves a month later.

Sure, it’s a little avant-garde in the realm of gardening, but it sure beats the Jetson’s Meal-o-Matic fare.

Image courtesy of Mike Licht via Flickr

Driven by more than mere curiosity (and serious cravings for fresh salad), NASA is experimenting with space-grown food in hopes that it might aid astronauts in extended expeditions through the galaxy.

Watch out, Mars, here we come.

Photo by Cmichel67 via Wikimedia Commons

P.S. If you’re “spacing” out and still wondering about the “gardens in lace” mentioned in line two, come back for tomorrow’s post!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, fascinating! I admire astronaut , Scott Kelly, a great deal. He has a positive go for it attitude about life and it does not surprise me that he could figure out how to grow lettuce in space. Thank-you MaryJane for today’s wonderful morning science moment here at raisinjane!

  2. My late father worked for NASA for years and he would have been thrilled with this experiment! I often had conversations with him about sustainability in space. Basically most of my childhood centered around space and travel in space and the exploration of space. I was fortunate enough to meet some of the astronauts even ! Now that I have a business growing plants ( mostly edible) for seeds this is particularly poignant.

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farm anatomy

As you  might know, I’ve been happily immersed in the charm of children’s literature …

(Who knew writing for kids would be THIS much fun?)

While frolicking in this wonderful world of whimsy, I’ve happened upon some gleefully green pastures, and here’s one I wanted to share:


Farm Anatomy isn’t strictly a children’s book—the author, Julia Rothman, wrote it to explore the “curious parts and pieces of country life” for herself—but its bite-sized nibbles of fact and fancy certainly appeal to the inquisitive kid in all of us.

“From the shapes of squash varieties to the parts of a goat; from how a barn is constructed to what makes up a beehive, every corner of the barnyard is uncovered and celebrated.” (Amazon.com)

Of course, her adorable illustrations capture the interest of even the youngest readers, even if the facts flutter over their heads for now (sneak a peek here).

With over 200 pages of fabulous farm trivia, this is the sort of book that can be picked up time and again. In my professional opinion (as a farmer, firsthand) you should enjoy a routine bedtime reading rotation of Farm Anatomy and Moo-n Over Main Street Metropolis for best results.

What to expect?

Before you know it, your little city mouse will be crooning for a taste of the country and a tractor of her own while visions of Sally O’Mally dance in her dreams!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I purchased this book by Julia Rothman several years ago and love, love, love the artwork! I often get it out and read it cover to cover just to learn more about farms. It is a great resource as well for so many aspects of plants and animals. Of course, the red tractor on the front makes it even more special!!

  2. How adorable! I collect children’s books and may have to add this to my collection for sure. As well as MaryJane and Meg’s book.

  3. Teri Schneider says:

    Thank you so much for the sneak peak! I never knew anything about the differences in the chickens combs even though I’ve had chickens for 15 years. Haha! Shows you can learn something new everyday! I’ll be picking this up to have on the coffee table when the grandkids come around. So fun!

  4. Bonnie Ellis says:

    I love the book you wrote Mary Jane and Meg. April has it and I read it there. I also have the other book and love the illustrations. She knows her farm. Thanks for sharing.

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farmers protest low prices

Can food get TOO cheap?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

While we might all like a bargain at the checkout, remember that behind all food, there is a farmer, and that farmer needs to make a living.

In Belgium, farmers recently took to the streets to protest low prices for milk, pork, and more. A convoy of hundreds of tractors blocked a major highway while famers burned piles of tires to bring awareness to their plight. Belgian famers are paid about 26 euro cents per liter of milk, but need 35–40 cents to just break even. Many farmers say low prices are pushing them to the edge of bankruptcy.


photo © EPA

Protesting is nothing new to Belgian farmers; in 2009, dairy farmers sprayed nearly 800,000 gallons of fresh milk onto their fields in protest of low milk prices, and in 2012, thousands of angry farmers on hundreds of tractors sprayed fresh milk on the European Parliament in Brussels during two days of demonstrations.

Just last year, the European Union lifted a milk quota that had been in place for more than 30 years, allowing cheap surplus milk to flood the market. That, and a Russian food embargo banning imports of crops that had been shipped there for years caused a lopsided market, where demand is now smaller than supply. Farmers’ losses are estimated to be as high as 5.5 billion euros.

What to do? Belgian farmers have launched a national fair trade label they hope will help. Six other countries in the EU currently have fair trade guidelines that help farmers get a fair share of the profits. Similar protests in France recently led to an emergency government aid package worth 600 million euros in tax relief and loan guarantees. Belgian farmers are hoping for something similar. On September 7, European agriculture ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels to address the problems.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am all for the farmers shaking people up to make them aware of their plight. We have to get away from this notion that everything should be cheap no matter the cost to the farmer or the environment! I hope they come to a reasonable agreement this coming September.

  2. terry steinmetz says:

    My hat is off to the farmers. They need to survive or we as a people will not survive. Farmers need to “make a living” and they can’t do it when they are told what they can get for their goods. Hopefully in September all that will change for them.

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farm dreams

If you’re a city gal who’s always dreamed of owning a farm, you might like a new HGTV series called Farmhouse Life. Based on the model of the popular House Hunters series, Farmhouse Life follows potential buyers as they tour farm properties to buy around the U.S.

Historians in period dress at the Hillsman Farm House Museum, Virginia State Parks via Wikimedia Commons

“Families wishing for wide-open spaces head to the great outdoors to search for the luxury farmhouse of their dreams,” says HGTV’s website. “From hundreds of sprawling acres to classic, quaint country living, follow along as they look for the perfect homestead and discover some of the most affordable and beautiful locations, proving you don’t have to be a millionaire to live a Farmhouse Life.”

Spark your dreams of owning a farm Monday nights on HGTV.

Farmstead, East Earl Township, Lancaster County. by Nicholas via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Ohhh, this sounds fun!! I will definitely look it up for my area and try and watch or tape for later. This sounds like fun and right up my alley. Thanks for sharing this tidbit today.

  2. Chrissy says:

    Actually, I have already seen a couple of episodes. It’s interesting to watch non-farm/ranch people with what looks like a lot of disposable income. But I’m not adverse to dreaming large!

  3. Teri Schneider says:

    Looks like my kind of show! Now I wish I still lived in the city because I got HGTV there. Out in the country we get whatever the wind blows our way 🙂 That’s okay though, because being outdoors is sooooo much better!

  4. I don’t get TV but I am sure I would love this show. By the way, the last pic is taken about 5 miles or less from my farmette.

  5. Stephanie Guevara says:

    I will have to watch this!

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