Then She Gardened | Apr–May 2022

Thank you so much for the article about the New Year’s Eve traditions around the world and what different states like to drop at midnight to ring in the New Year [in our “Giving Truth” Dec/Jan 2022 issue]. After reading your article (and sharing it with several people), I decided to get in on the fun. Our family figured out the time difference in the different states and then celebrated the Mt. Olive, North Carolina, pickle drop; the Sarasota, Florida, pineapple drop; and the Eastover, North Carolina, flea drop. My single sister and I even attempted the Belarus tradition of a rooster picking the next young lady to be wed. We used my rooster ornament, blindfolded one another, spun in a circle 10 times, and walked with the rooster in our hands in the direction of two piles of corn that were labeled with our names. Turns out there might be a double wedding in our future! Thank you for the great magazine. My mother and I love reading it, and my Tennessee relatives get a good chuckle that this California girl loves the country so much.

– Becky, e-mail

I love vintage, which is just one of many reasons I enjoy your magazine. It’s homey and comforting and cozy! Ahhhh ...

– Margaret, RaisingJane.org

I just wanted to tell you how much I love this magazine. My dad gave it to me last year after I found a copy at the library and devoured it, and I’m continuing the subscription this year as well as ordering it for my sister, who really, really wants a cow and is a DIY mom wannabe farmgirl!

– Sally, e-mail

I have subscribed to your magazine for many years and have saved all of the issues. I read it from cover to cover, and the day it comes, my work is done as soon as I get my mail.

– Joan, RaisingJane.org

Reese and chickens

My daughter, Reese, takes her chicken flock seriously. Each morning, she opens their coop doors, freshens their water, and replenishes their food. She gives them lots of treats, love, and attention, even during school months. Each evening, she harvests the eggs before closing the coop doors for the night. She has 12 hens and one rooster, and our visitors can’t believe how friendly her flock is. Reese wants other children to learn and understand the importance of self-sustaining practices and helping to provide food. She is so proud of the hard work she puts in for our family to have fresh eggs. She takes pride in each egg cracked for breakfast, cookies, or cake baking. She also sells her eggs to local families to buy food and treats for her special flock. At 7 years old, she’s got a big heart and a good head on her shoulders. We are very proud parents of our little chicken farmer!

– Rene, e-mail

I was gifted with MaryJane’s Ideabook years ago, and it still brings me pleasure to page through it nearly 20 years later. A worthy and muchappreciated gift!

– Kate, e-mail

On a whim, I subscribed to a magazine some years ago that looked promising. Little did I understand what MaryJanesFarm would come to mean to me.

The first issue arrived and I stole a quiet moment to look through its pages. Then the tears began to flow. There was a freedom, intelligence, genuine joyfulness, and celebration of the farm woman’s strength and femininity in those pages. You gave me permission to be a woman AND a farmer. I saw your smiling face and long hair and your love of cows and all things farm and felt that we were friends. See, I have long hair, too, and I refuse to go into old age with it lopped off. I’ve earned every gray highlight.

I turned 68 this year. I have raised children (3) and grandchildren (8) on this small farm (just 33 acres) with my husband of 50 years. We were city people with a dream in 1988 who jumped in with both feet and bought a Jersey cow and calf to eat the grass growing in the fields. My husband held a “city job,” so I became the farmer. I went to the library and checked out every book on farming and animal husbandry, veterinarian manuals, old cookbooks, and food preservation pamphlets, and read each one at least three times. My neighbors were patient. The feed-mill people were even more patient, and amused. (“You going to bring that cow in this winter and put Hubby in the barn?”) I learned about a special kind of knowledge farm people possess that most of the world discounts because it can’t be learned from books. It’s absorbed from the cradle by watching, listening, living. These farmers have forgotten more than I will probably ever know about this life.
When I finally composed myself after I read that first issue, fed the family and the critters lunch, put the laundry on the line, and started dinner, I took a moment to find the art box under my bed. The next day, a watercolor portrait of my Jersey materialized by hands that had not held a brush in years.

I so look forward to this lovely magazine’s every issue. Your work has made a difference in my life, and I felt it was important to tell you this.
We are both entering a new phase of existence. Our grandchildren are becoming capable people, our children are shouldering some of our responsibilities. Your magazine is reaching out to a new generation. I am teaching my grandkids the simple pleasures of blowing out eggs for Christmas ornaments and other crafts, using your magazine as inspiration. Quilling, decoupage, simple hand-stitching, and candle wicking are on our list. We are canning together, too—even the boys!
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being YOU.

– Kathleen, e-mail

Courage+Dreams= | June–July 2022

Oh, what fun to see your article about visible mending in the “Inviting Solitude” Feb/Mar 2022 issue. When I was a youngster on the farm, we only wore denim overalls to the barn and for field work. When the knees wore out or something caused a tear, they were mended. My mom taught me how to carefully prepare the “hole,” fashion the patch (from old, worn-out jeans), and then carefully mend with tiny stitches that were sewn with care. We didn’t want it to appear that there was a tear, so we patched very carefully. Consequently, “visible mending” gave me (who loved making clothes but not mending) a chuckle. My great-grandmother (who “took in sewing”), my grandmother (who mended and sewed for all of us), and my mother (who hated anything to do with a needle or thread) would have all gotten a laugh from it, too. We or “our men” would never have been seen in public in torn jeans!!

But I loved this article. And I’m thankful that the gals and guys today are going to visibly and beautifully mend rather than make intentional holes in their jeans. It gives me hope that the new generation is not going to throw away, but conserve and make everything beautiful again.

MaryJanesFarm is my favorite magazine—I can’t throw away or give away any issues! I prefer to buy a subscription for anyone I know who loves the magazine.

– Gail, e-mail

I wanted to share my experience making bread using a recipe in your Wild Bread book. I’ve made sourdough before and already have an active starter. I thought the book would help me expand my knowledge of using it, but instead, it presented a whole new method. No problem! In fact, it gave me a great opportunity to let my 4-year-old help. I decided to try the einkorn wheat from Janie’s Mill that I buy because it is local and organic. However, the einkorn from their mill is a 100-percent extraction, and after reading all of the tips about einkorn flour in the book, I decided to add the flour slowly and go by consistency versus amount. I ended up using four cups and did a series of stretches and folds when I divided the dough, which was sticky but not impossible to work. It rose to the top of the bowl. The bread was really good. It was, of course, my first week, so it will be fun to see how it progresses. I look forward to trying more of the recipes.

– Kathryn, e-mail

MaryJane's Wild Bread Book

I have taken MaryJanesFarm for many years and I’ve saved every issue because of the beauty, joy, and information. I just could not part with even a small piece. I also make cards to give to patients in a local nursing home. This week, I started to use your beauty for a greater purpose. I am creating handmade cards from art in older issues, bringing even greater value to each carefully saved issue. Your work, talent, and affection is going from you, to me, to folks who will also feel your warmth and love. Thank you for each and every issue. Each one has been a very personal gift from your hands and heart to mine and now on to others.

– Sharon, RaisingJane.org

Dear MaryJane,
When I opened the “Inviting Solitude” Feb/Mar 2022 issue of MaryJanesFarm, I was astonished to see a photo of a magnificent sourdough chocolate cake—the same photograph you emailed me six years ago after we serendipitously met in the baking aisle of the Moscow Co-op! I’ve taped the photo of the cake and your accompanying story of “Solitude & Sourdough” to the inside of my kitchen-cupboard door. Many things have changed in my life since that birthday adventure to the Palouse, but this cake seems to be a gentle sign, pointing forward to the good way ahead.

Your magazine remains a distinct loveliness in my world. Thank you for inspiring so many of us in so many ways. I trust our paths will cross again!

– Lindsay, e-mail

Sunbeams | Aug–Sept 2022


Lorelei's Garden

I am writing to introduce you to one of your most avid readers, my sweet daughter, Lorelei. Years ago, when she was around 11, she was given several previously read and well-loved MaryJanesFarm magazines by a friend of my mom’s. She read them cover to cover. My mom found out how much she loved them and gifted her a subscription for her birthday. Every time a new issue would come, she would lock herself in her room to read it fully.

Lorelei was an old soul who loved animals (specifically, cats), fairy gardens, knitting, embroidery, and cooking. She would often bound down the stairs after reading a recipe and beg me to try it with her. When we would travel, she would bring her favorite copies and reread them on the drive. She crafted a case for them and collected as many issues as she could.

She loved to accompany me to estate sales, nurseries, and the local library. She was the type of child who loved to help and never shied away from work. When she wanted something, she would give it her all to make it happen.

On April 27, 2021, a month before her 14th birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare leukemia. We were allowed to go home for one night and pack for a long stay in the hospital. One of the first things in her bag was her homemade caddy of MaryJanesFarm magazines and a hot-glue gun. She ended up going through four rounds of chemo, but her doctors could not get her into remission. She spent almost six months in the hospital. For each and every stay, those magazines came with us. We spent hours in hospital rooms crafting and talking about her dreams of her future farm, the recipes we were going to make, the chicken coop she wanted to build in our suburban back yard, and the cat rescue she planned to start.

In the end, those magazines traveled all the way from our hospital in Tennessee to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Unfortunately, on December 2, 2021, she lost her battle. She was 14½ years old.

I’m writing to let you know that your magazine touches people of all ages. Lorelei kept and reread every single issue she received. They inspired her to garden, fill her bedroom with plants, and dream of her future. She lived every day to the fullest and gave her all to everything she did. She was the hardest worker I have ever met. Thank you for giving a beautiful young girl the ideas to craft her dreams for the future. I truly believe those dreams are what kept her going each time she received bad news regarding her diagnosis. I pray that her story inspires you and your readers to continue to seize the day, put the work in, and dream big.

– Ashley, e-mail

I read MaryJane's story this morning as I recover from a fall I took yesterday while building a retaining wall in the Pioneer Mountains with the Student Conservation Association and the Montana Conservation Corps. I am so very impressed with her story and also her backpacking food!! My wife, a former Fire Management Officer with the USFS, makes sure I have very nutritious meals while I am out on the trail. I have worked for the USFS for 33 years (mostly in trails) and am wrapping up my last season in December! I am inspired by MaryJane's story and my wife and I will continue to support this great idea that turned into a movement. Again, thanks for the inspiration and awesome food!!!

– Phil, e-mail

You've Got Mail | Oct–Nov 2022

“You’ve Got Mail” tumbles through my mind with Tom Hanks’ and Meg Ryan’s visages landing upright in the mind’s eye, a movie made to point a finger at the changing landscape of what our thoughts conjure up at the word “mail.” After hundreds of years of post as we know it—which would have been as recognizable to the scribes of ancient days as to the Pony Express riders of the 1860s, on to the servicemen of WWII in the 1940s, and all the way up to 1980s teenagers in love—the written page began to hear its death knell. And in the blink of an eye, “You’ve Got Mail” is no longer the preferred mode of written communication. The succinct text of electronic devices is now the norm.

How did the beauty of the written word get demoted to tiny, uniform shapes, every person’s exactly the same? The prose and pen strokes scratched upon a surface are only a portion of the allure of the handwritten word. I think back to my grandfathers (born in 1916 and 1924). One had a fancy script, embellished with the beautiful loops of yesteryear. The other? Well, more like a chicken scratched its way across the page (and he was the one who kept the log on his submarine, submerged dark and deep within the waters of the Pacific theater). When I come across a long-forgotten scrap or page written by them, the beauty to me is that one of my grandfathers actually touched the paper. Someone I love held the sheet within his hands and his uniqueness poured forth from his pen in the shape and structure of the letters and the wording of the text. And, though they are now gone from me in a tangible way, here they are—a piece of them that I can hold in my hands and close to my heart. How can a cold screen ever compare?

Death knell? Well, perhaps not. As with many things, resurrection occurs. From vinyl records to homegrown food, a mystique surrounds. And something that was once so very common becomes special. When we experience it, a jolt of the unexpected heightens our day and its bright ray of sunshine touches our lips with a smile. “You’ve Got Mail”? Here’s hoping that today, your inbox will once again be that of a metal domed box flying a red flag. That the text within will be a bright beam of sunshine that warms your heart and can be pulled out again on a cloudy, rainy, dreary day to work its magic all over again!

– Kerri Chaney, e-mail

I cannot imagine my life without my Farmgirl Sisters or MaryJanesFarm.

– Debbie, RaisingJane.org

I have enjoyed your magazine immensely over the years, but I must say the “Then She Gardened” April/May 2022 issue is over the top! At 71 and a retired home-economics teacher plus a dyed-in-the-wool farmgirl, I see your magazine as a textbook for young women (and some young men) to glean knowledge and ideas for homemaking, gardening, farming, animal husbandry, creativity, thinking outside the box, independent living, science, literature, and wholesomeness. It is a treasure trove!!! I can’t wait to try the cast-iron skillet recipes. My 90-year-old momma, who I caregive, was impressed. Keep up the good work!

– Judy, mail

In two days, I will be going glamping in my Class C motorhome in Rock Hall, Maryland, with my glamping club. Since my rig is driveable and I am not quite at a point to buy a vehicle to tow behind, I will be without a vehicle. Although there are those who will gladly take me around, I often feel uneasy if I don’t have transportation in an area I am unfamiliar with. This morning, I finally got to read the “Inviting Solitude” Feb/Mar 2022 issue of your magazine. As I read the beautiful words of Cydnie’s “Fall into Wild” article, I realized that I don’t need transportation. I will be glamped on a lake that allows swimming and beachcombing. I can stay put and be content and enjoy peace, solitude, and nature. I, too, can share the space with the bugs and stars. I am so glad that this article came up at just the right time!

– Joy, e-mail

I found your Wild Bread book last November and fell in love instantly. Being able to bake edible loafs of bread has been such a confidence boost. My go-to favorites are the Boule, and I also love using the Calzone for pizza dough. I also have chickens, keep bees, grow food, and have recently started brewing kombucha. Knowing where my food comes from is important to me, and I love getting to know my local food producers. Thank you for writing such a beautiful book. It really has changed bread-making for me.

– Jennifer, WildBread.net

Wild Bread book cover