Sunday, September 30, 2012

About Maria Wulf

I first met Maria Wulf at the East Poultney Historical Day a few years ago.  This is a lovely annual outdoor festival held on East Poultney's village green and commemorates this lovely old Vermont town. Being a fabric artist myself I was drawn to her booth filled with unique and colorful primitive/modern quilts using recycled materials. I appreciated their true historical quality, as quilts in past days were mostly made of left over or recycled fabric of whatever kind was available and made to provide warmth. I thought her combination of materials in her quilts were bold and more interesting than those made with special quilt-store, color-coordinated materials. I love textiles and her quilts showcased her love of them as well.

This was the beginning of our relationship.  Maria and I purchased a sample piece of work from each other and exchanged cards, and emails, fully intending to get together, and I had promised to keep Maria posted regarding Vermont's regional quilt shows, as she lived in upstate New York.

Our next in-person connection, however, did not happen for a couple of years, when she invited me to participate in her Pig Gallery Functional Art Show.  Maria featured one of my pincushions on the invitation and she and her husband, Jon came to my house to photograph some. Jon and Maria were drawn to my dog, a very young  pup that I crated during their visit.  She shyly mentioned Jon’s love of dogs, though I did not know about Jon or his well-loved stories about his dogs and farm animals.  My dog, was a young rescue pup at the time and a very out-of-control dog with boundless energy ready to rudely assault anyone new to the house.  Jon had simply brought Maria and had come with his camera in hand to photograph my pincushions and my dog, Cassie remained in her crate!

Her sale was one of the most successful events I had ever participated in. It was held in their refurbished Pig Barn on their Bedlam Farm. It was a scenic location, made more beautiful by the changing colors of fall, but Maria’s quiet and hospitable nature was what made this sale so successful!  She was there to showcase the artists and their work and her own creations took a quiet place among those of her guest artists.  That is Maria.  She is modest about her own work, and truly out to support others. Her work however, was not to be missed.  She had a lovely quilt in this show along with her free-motion,  intricately designed quilted pillows (that she refers to as her "streaming pillows") and her handsome and colorful potholders. (Click here for Full Moon Fiber Art Website).

Click here for to read more about this pillow "Life is a gift, death is a doorway".
I had tried free-motion quilted designs and learned first-hand how hard they are to get nice even stitches.  It must be done with a relaxed and free flowing motion.  Machine work is faster and so a person needs to be very fluid indeed and be ready to quickly and confidently guide their material to stitch their designs.  I would immediately freeze and wish I had lines to follow and even then, I found it hard to relax and let the designs and stitching flow freely!

Click here to read "Sheep Got Out" on Maria's blog
How interesting that this quiet woman who ran the best sale I had ever participated in was master of this sort of art medium.  Like the rest of her life, it seems she flows freely and expressively, making the hard look simple and easy!

Jon writes about Maria in his blog and captures her in pictures demonstrating this same confident, quiet and gentle but strong style. Whether she is throwing hay bales or comforting Simon, their blind donkey that they rescued from abuse and in much need of healing, she exudes that quiet strength of purpose and integrity.

So when you go to Maria’s site note the strength of the colors she uses in her quilts, the simple boldness of her designs and the free flowing use of her stitches and free hand designs in her work.  Read about her creations, for each has a story, and see her in pictures on her husband’s blog (Bedlam Farm) as well.  Her humor, and her quiet, gentle personality exudes a kind and intelligent nature that flows through her work.  Truly she is an artist in every project she undertakes!  It is a delight to know Maria and I hope you will enjoy her blog as much as I do…and Jon’s blog adds to what Maria is too modest to say about herself!  Her rural strength will inspire you!

Don’t miss your chance to win these potholders for your kitchen.  Simply add your comment on her website to register your chance!

(Yes, it was Maria's pillow that proudly commemorates  my "Vacation Chair" story and decorates it as well!! Don't miss clicking on the links to read about the stories behind her creations!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Great Common Thread Give-Away

I suppose you have noticed the websites listed on the right hand side of my blog?  They have been up now for several weeks, though I have not written about them.  They are all part of a group of regional artists (upstate New York and Vermont) that have come together out of mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work.  Yes, it is a mutual admiration “club”, though none of us seem to be the “club sort” and we have no club meetings.  We simply have met through various gallery shows in our region and each of us is on-line.

We wanted to give each other support and encouragement as well as benefit our readers.  From this has come what we think will be a fun participatory monthly activity for our readers--The Great Common Thread Give-Away.  Each month the featured artist of the month will host a give away that is free to the lucky winner who will be drawn from the list of comments left on the featured artist’s post by readers. So all you have to do to register to win is simply leave a comment for the featured artist.  It is our way of offering to our readers exposure to other artists that you may not be acquainted with as well as a chance to win a sampling of their work.  There is no catch, but only a chance for you to check out our various websites.

This group of artists includes a NY Times best-selling author and writer, Jon Katz, whose books and daily blog offer a wonderful opportunity to experience Jon’s journey in finding meaning in his life on his rural upstate NY farm. His writings include his sensitive and existential reflections about his life, his relationship with his wife, friends, dogs, and animals who have become beloved to all who read about them. Jon’s honest and open thoughts and his beautiful style of writing have endeared many to this kind and gentle soul.

Maria Wulf, Jon’s wife, creates functional fiber art from recycled materials.  Her free motion quilted artwork is among the most creative and expressive of such work I have ever seen.  Truly each piece is sensitive, joyful and whimsical and her quilts are colorful, primitive and each one-of-a-kind!  Maria and Jon’s separate blogs tell of Maria’s quiet, but strong farm-woman attributes and her work reflects her love for her farm life with Jon, their animals, friends and neighbors that they both care so deeply about! If you have tried doing free motion detailed designs, you know how difficult it can be, but Maria’s work makes it look like an easy, free and fluid expression of her free hand and original artwork .  Her talent amazes me!

Nancy Bariluk-Smith does lampwork bead  jewelry.  Her work is guaranteed to be the envy of women everywhere! Colorful quality adornment is her specialty. I spent an afternoon over a cup of tea with Nancy and noted her to be a seasoned artist of many different mediums, and she is a delightful person as well.  She shared many stories of her artistic process that reflect her continued striving to create perfection in her work! Don’t miss checking out her website and beautiful creations!

Kim Gifford is a collage artist who combines photos, artwork and prints with a twist of uniqueness that make her artwork both decorative and reflective. Her meaningful pieces are laced with humor, whimsy, philosophy and heart.  All are conversation pieces not to be missed!  One cannot mention her without her pugs. Her website is after all, pugs& and through her wonderful writings and artwork, you will see the world through the eyes of her pugs and perhaps see yourself in them as well. (I identify with her ballerina pug with the pearls, but that is a story for another time.)

I hope this will be an added bit of fun and is scheduled to happen the first Monday of each month, simply leave a comment on the featured artist’s blog to register for the drawing that will be announced the following first Thursday. I hope you enjoy these artists as much as I do! To access their websites merely click on the links to their websites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little House Home Arts Show Schedule

Fall 2012

October 6, 2012 - 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Artist Market and Town Fall Festival
70 Main Street (Align Again Yoga Studio)
Greenwich, New York

October 20, 2012 - 9 a.m. - 5p.m.
7th Annual Handcrafter's Fair
The Champlain Valley Union High School Gym
Hinesburg, Vermont

November 10, 2012 - 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Vermont Farmer's Market Fall Holiday Fair
Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
Rutland, Vermont

November 16, 2012 - 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
November 17, 2012 - 9:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Grace Congregational Church Fall Craft Fair
Grace Congregational Church, 8 Court Street
Rutland, Vermont

November 23-24 - 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Vermont Farmer's Market Poultney Christmas Fair
Poultney High School Gym
Poultney, Vermont

December 8, 2012 - 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
Vermont Farmer's Market Christmas Holiday Fair
Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
Rutland, Vermont

Mark your calendars for one or all and come and see us!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

More and More and More Pincushions

Remember when I wrote that I love to plan and cut out multiple projects at a time?  Well, to say that I got a bit carried away is an understatement!! I have a batch of 89 pincushions I am finishing up.  I thought it was 84, but I had another five cut, sewn, and stuffed but needing finishing details.  Yes, I think that makes me "certifiable" and not just as a pincushion maker!

I thought that it seemed to take me longer than usual to finish this batch, not realizing that I was doing so many.  Fortunately, they were all different styles and sizes or I might have become suicidal!

Being a very old ex-psychiatric nurse, I remember the old days before a lot of the new psychiatric medications were available, along with the new research of brain chemistry changes that occur with mental illness. Treatment was a bit "old fashioned"  or maybe archaic would better describe our therapies?  We thought that depression was simply anger turned inward and so to treat a depressed person, prior to electro shock therapy or lobotomies, we simply gave the patient a box of tangled up yarns to wind into balls.  When the person realized the ridiculousness of such a requested task, and turned their anger outward, throwing the yarn back at us and telling us where to put it, we knew the treatment had worked and they were no longer depressed, only angry!

I do remember some not being cured by our "tangled yarn therapy" and instead becoming catatonic, likely induced by our form of harassment therapy or still others, being more like myself, would legitimize the task, enjoy the challenge, and ask if we had embroidery thread to untangle as well? Perhaps hurling walnut shell stuffed pincushions might be a new therapy of the future, another reason that every house should have at least one such special pincushion for maintaining good mental health?

No, I am not depressed, just masochistic perhaps, for during this exceptionally long period of making my 89 pincushions, I allowed myself breaks (mental ones?) to shake still more new wool, photograph it, then refold and bag it up to be sorted into separate bins according to color.....only to take it back out again soon to create my wool fiber art! Me crazy?  Absolutely! Crazy about textiles and fibers, though perhaps I will soon take another break from making pincushions and sew some fleece socks instead?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is a Home Security System Needed Now?

I continue to marvel about the sale, though NOT about the good deal that I got, so much as about the great gift I was given for it wasn't by my cunning, but rather by the mercy of the seller, that I am so fortunate to stand before all this wool.  I can't help but wonder about the intent of the woman  whose collection I now own.

My daughter asked, "How could I help but not feel gluttonous with such a collection?" and she is right and that is why it seemed odd when I received a phone call advertising a home security system to be installed free of charge if I allowed them to place a sign in my yard saying my house was protected by their  system.  I had always believed that nothing is "free" and normally never fell for such a line, but truly, my wools made me feel special and I was pinching myself already with my good fortune!

Isn't there a scripture verse about not laying up treasures that can be subject to robbers and moths?  I did seem to remember something about that?  Mmm, maybe they were thinking of a large stash of wool when they wrote those words?

I pressed "1" to get more information, for that is how rich I feel now!  I could, at least, be protected against robbers; the moths I wasn't so sure about!  My phone isn't working well and so the phone call was disconnected before a live person came on the line.  I could only hope this phone solicitor bugged me as often as the others!  I was now a wealthy woman that needed protection from robbers, after all, aren't wool robbers common? (My neighbor later made me realize that there are robbers by phone and all for the click of a button...insecurity easily reigns when one has great wealth!

How much life can change in simply a moment!  But, it is odd that with my increased wealth of wools, came an increased awareness of how vulnerable I really am. Just as its original owner, I am a mere mortal!  And then I smiled, realizing that I was a mere mortal before acquiring such riches, but like becoming a new parent, I am now responsible for something quite precious!!

I understood now why religious embrace poverty and childlessness. Children and wealth can be burdensome and "unfree" and I recalled what it felt like to have just given birth and suddenly have a helpless baby to raise for some thirty years (the most recent estimate of how long it takes to raise a child until becoming self-supporting and my experience concurs!).

I also recalled purchasing my first and only, wonderful, computerized and automatic embroidery machine.  It was like my fingers had suddenly become obsolete, as they had just been replaced by something able to stitch hundreds of stitches per minute! But I am still here hand-embroidering designs for I am not fooled!  My fingers have even greater value now, as they do what no machine can do, rare and imperfect hand-stitching!  Their labor is still elevated beyond any machine work!

Still my mind was not settled, and I wrestled further in my brain, "It is not the material that owns me, but the other way around", I thought, not sure if that was really true! More thinking was needed!  "The choice is mine: to own it, to sell it, to give it away, to enjoy it by creating with it or to have it own me", I wrestled still further!  This realization felt freeing. "I won't let it own me, but the other way around", I assured myself, still feeling the pressure created from the beautiful materials!  "I don't need to feel intimidated, but rather simply feel lucky to have greater options in stitching my wares", my self talk continued, still trying to get comfortable with my new wealth!

"My great stash of newly acquired wool has not altered me, except to make me better appreciate the gift of my life that goes with it", I thought. A new realization came to my mind, "to he who much is given, much is expected"! Gulp!!

I am a new master and with it comes the responsibility of stewardship. (Perhaps I am an unknowingly a member of Garrison Keilor's fictional, but very real church, Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility in Lake Wobegon?).  All is well, except this acquisition is so wonderful that I really do expect "lightening to strike me dead now" for my husband and I know full well, that without bad luck, we wouldn't have any at all! Whatever did I do to deserve this?  I have no answer to this question, but I will get busy and get to sewing quickly just in case, but first I must bag it all, and put it away, and that leads to another unanswered question, where?

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Gift for Labor and Love

After getting home, I patted myself on my back for exercising control in my spending, and took a long nap and had the most pleasant dreams, combing through these beautiful wools all over again.  I am delirious over textiles!

I was preparing to go to church when the phone rang.  It was the sale’s ladies calling me to see if I was interested in purchasing more wools. Apparently they had some left.  I told them that I would have to call my husband and get permission, and call them back.  We are on a tight budget and we had had recent serious discussions about my weeny craft income and the need to use it to pay some bills at home.

My husband, bless his heart, gave me permission to do what I needed to do. I think he trusts my judgement and knows that my sewing survives on good deals. I called the sale ladies back and minutes later I was en route to this sale over a half an hour from home. On the way there I had the chance to think about what monies I had earned and what future sale entries I was already committed to, and do some mental math. Truly I didn't have much to spend.

I arrived with my car smelling of burnt rubber, and the sale lady noted that one of my front wheels was smoking.  We both surmised that I had perhaps driven at least a few miles with the emergency brake on which was no accident to be sure! All the way there, I was trying to put the brakes on to what could be “out of control spending” for following my own inclinations and wants, I could have considered remortgaging the house to buy such beautiful wools at the right price. After all, my name is Jane and I am a fabricaholic and wools are expensive to buy at full price.

My mental math had helped me decide upon a limit and stick to it. Their prices were more than fair to begin with and I would simply purchase more and advise them to sell what was left on  With no woolen mills left in this country, wools are in scarce supply and are so valuable that  they don’t last a day on this site before they are all sold. I was at one with these "women of the cloth" as well as the family of the deceased and wanted them to get a good price for their already well-priced goods!  A shrewd business woman I will never be!

When I indicated that I was a person of modest means, the sales woman asked how much I could spend and I gave her my top dollar, and gave her the rest of my prepared spiel. I grabbed my large red nagahide sale bag and headed toward the house, eyeing one large kitchen bag full of wool sitting on the lawn and asked it that was what was left. She laughed and said, “Goodness no!” and indicated that my huge big red sale bag wouldn’t do at all!

 I was then led to bags and bags and bags of wool materials! Their turn out was not what they expected, and my meager offer was apparently adequate enough to make me the winner of all the remaining wools, though there was another woman that had called, and I encouraged them to call her back to maximize their earnings, as there was surely enough for her and I both, especially with my limited monies!  No, their sale was over and they weren't interested in the scalpers and scavengers.  I had attended the sale and bought in its early hours and then came back and didn't try to get more than my money would buy!  I was to get what was left and if I couldn’t use some of these wools, I was to pass them onto a local charity in my town.  I readily agreed and marveled at my good fortune and the sales woman's generosity!

We then packed my car and I could not believe what I had just done!  I was delighted, and scared and overwhelmed.  Our house, garage and storage sheds were already on overload and in need of thinning out!  We had had family fights over what should be saved versus thrown out to make space for all we had too carefully saved over the years! Truly, the quantity of wools I was bringing home, really meant that my children needed to move out to make room for them!  I wondered if these bags would be the final straw and perhaps my family would elect for me to leave instead?

Hard decisions will fill the days ahead to be sure.  I likely won’t be disposing of either of my children, and though tempted, I believe that my husband and children will keep me as well.  My youngest is to get an apartment of her own soon and there will definately be no empty nest here!

In the course of the evening, my shock lessened, and I realized that such an acquisition was really a boost to my business and not just to the headaches of sorting and storing it!  I continually think about my nursing license that is quickly slipping by as I am not well enough to put in full days of work and fifty are needed before being able to re-license in March.  My husband has been encouraging me to give it up for my health’s sake.  I don't seem to have a choice at this point…and here it is, another sign from God that while one door is closing, another is opening wider and wider.

I am moving from a hobby business to something perhaps more serious…seriously fun and something that I can hardly wait to get to each day!  This Labor Day Sale was truly a commitment to the labor I most love! I am indebted to this sale and the generosity of those who selected me for these precious wools that have become a gift for future labor and love.

I hope to make them proud of my use these beautiful materials and I have changed my philosophy about cutting all my materials before I die! I am grateful for the freedom to pick and choose what I do with these materials, and I shall allow those that follow me to do the same! I am a steward to this collection, though I will use what I can before passing on the rest.  And if I am lucky enough to be a Grandma Jane, and live to be one hundred and one, there may be less rather than more to leave behind.

This writing brings to mind the many others whose contributions are making my craft business possible and I  want to thank them all!  It is my belief that traditional needle arts are such an important tradition of our past, and need to be taught and preserved in our day so that future generations may still enjoy, create, and pass on these traditions!

 My sewing instructors through the years, including my mother, and the many who have passed on their scraps, and hand-me-down wools and craft items, as well as J.S., who sent me boxes of used wool clothing for only the price of shipping during my first days of business are among the many who have encouraged my continued creations.  I have also been nurtured and supported by my customers who enjoy my creations.  Your positive feedback has truly been a life line!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More than a Sale

What a bitter-sweet experience this sale was turning into for I realized that whatever I purchased could possibly end up in a sale like this. I heard other women comment that they would buy this or that, but they are beginning to reduce the sizes of their own stashes realizing that they are getting older and getting more real about what they can and cannot accomplish in the course of one life.

Only a few years ago, fortunately, or perhaps,unfortunately, I went with my husband to visit Grandma Moses’ collection of art, and I fell in love with her story.  She first painted at the age of 76, after being a farmer's wife with all the chores that entails, having ten pregnancies, and raising five children.  When she finally found the time to paint she created over one thousand  works and she passed away at the ripe old age of one hundred and one from "wearing out".  I wondered if she lived longer as she fully embraced what she most loved to do in life? She became my heroine and doing what I love to do became my creed.

By the time I hit the most amazing collection of wools I had ever beheld, short of shopping a wool mill store, I was fully appreciating this woman and her most amazing collection of materials, threads, machines and various notions.  I wanted it all, but was being so good about containing my greed, and enjoying the spirit of the sale.

Sewers were gathered and there was talk amongst people who knew and loved these various crafts.  Quilt talk and rug hooking talk prevailed, and then someone recognized me as The Pincushion Lady.  I felt like the Speaker of the House had just announced the entrance of the President as I was suddenly elevated to such status!! I was so proud to be recognized and appreciated amongst these women of talent, though in truth, I am easily and truly dwarfed among great quilters and craftswomen of the world, for my skills and talents are truly modest in comparison!

My neighbor sat in a chair in the living room of this house.  She was taking this sale at her leisure, as the pressure to buy was truly not like the other estate sale I had been to, and I was beginning to relax myself.  There were enough materials, threads and patterns and sitting made her appreciate the extent of the sale and take it in incrementally.  I sat on a brick hearth nearby and joined in the chatting.

I don’t socialize a lot these days and this was truly a special event on many different levels, not just a sale but a happening with like-minded women.  A nurturing and supportive environment to soak in, and soak up and we were doing just that, though we had promised each other to get back home within only a couple of hours, as we are both busy and caught up with our various tasks of living. But my neighbor took time to savor the moment and extend it and who was I to complain?

We eventually circled the house many times reconsidering our choices and tempting ourselves still further and finally carefully selected our purchases.  Mine included a button collection with antique bone buttons among others that I would later enjoy sorting and mixing in with my own collection. I also got a thread basket of embroidery thread and pearl cotton, only later to discover that the basket held wool, cotton, linen, and hand-dyed threads as well. There were over 25 balls of pearl cotton, though mostly of one color. All were priced to be true treasures as for those of us creating beyond hobby level, threads alone at full price can raise prices higher than this economy will bear! (The picture I took of the basket's contents was taken after I had sorted it all and thrown out  the scraps that all sewers collect.)

After saying goodbye to our old as well as newly made friends and promising to keep in touch at local quilt club meetings, as well as privately, we made our exit.  In checking out I gave each of the women running the sale my card and told them how wonderful they were to pay tribute to their friend by hosting this sale to be sure that her materials found worthy homes and then muttered that if all the wool didn't sell, to give me a call as I had heard one person say that the husband of the deceased had threatened to take the contents of this sale to the dump, uncertain that anyone would have any interest in her collection. I couldn't imagine this happening to her beautiful wools so carefully purchased and cared for, though only my want was driving me to buy anything at this time.

My own stashes, though small in comparison, especially in terms of wool materials, were still more than adequate for my immediate needs and then some and  my total collections of craft related "stuff" fills every corner of my basement and spills from my dining room to the living room as well! I sincerely added that I hoped buyers would come and support their sale. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently rug hooking groups had been notified as well as other wool craft groups. These were professional sellers to be sure and they advertised this event well!  (To be continued)….

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Serious Sort of Labor Day Weekend Sale

I went with my neighbor to a serious sort of Labor Day Weekend Sale.  Two of her friends from her work were selling the private stash of a serious spinner, and sewer who had died prematurely before getting the opportunity to consume her materials.

We were one of the first to arrive.  Though it was a less intense estate sale than the sort that I had been to before, I had learned well with the first one!  I knew enough that if I saw something I wanted and touched it, not to pause or put it down, as the person behind you will take more interest in it and it will then be a lost opportunity unless they put it down as well.  It also taught me that not everything is a bargain, no matter how inexpensive it may seem.

I started in the room with the Husquvarna equipment.  I have an embroidery machine. I have far from exhausted the possibilities of its use and I spotted a 3D Sketch, that would help me to design my own images and move away from commercial designs that are overly pattened for commercial use. The price was right and it was the first thing that I picked up.

I find Husquvarna instruction manuals wanting, and instruction a hassle to obtain. I have limited physical energy, so lugging my equipment to class remains an issue for me. A couple of years ago I stumbled upon some dealer instruction manuals that don't seem to be readily available to the public through I am in search of these sorts of books and so I hit the book section of the sale next.  There it was: a 3 D instruction manual for instructors with detailed directions to create various projects to develop embroidery skills on my machine.  It was a fat and expensive spiral book and looked promising for learning more about digitizing designs! It was only $5--now sold to me! I clutched it tightly, and added it to the bottom of my pile lest anyone else be tempted to mix it in with their selections.  Yes, I had started a pile at their check out station!

Are women the worst when it comes to sales?  We become like greedy scavengers, and must have an innate foraging ability built in perhaps from primitive days of gathering food for our children.  My innate foraging ability has been well developed indeed, though only used for gathering food for my children, through a phase of triple couponing and more honed with coupon sales at Joann's Fabrics!

There were primitive quilting design books, including rug hooking magazines.  These are the sorts of designs I research to create my own designs.  I then began to realize that the person who had left such materials and I were like soul sisters and I began to feel the pain of her mortality along with my own.

I joke about cutting all my materials before I die, making it such that whoever gets them next will be committed to my plans for them, but it was not a funny joke to the person who had volunteered to put on this sale.  She responded that I had better be sure to organize my materials with written plans and prepackage my projects for those that come after, to help others sell my wares.  She was hitting upon the truth that I try to avoid.  It isn't a case of IF I die, but WHEN.

The job of putting this sale together was no small venture.  I realized I am one of those “cut from the same cloth” that are committed to serious craft creations. We truly live and die to create, and what we plan to create far exceeds the parameters of our life and our collections of materials reflect that!  (To be continued)…………

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Everyone Needs a Farm in their Life!

I know a farm for sale.  It is a beautiful one in upstate New York.  It is the original Bedlam Farm and can be seen on line in Jon Katz’s blog (

Why would I recommend a farm to anyone?  It is simple.  Some twenty-three years ago we moved from our city life in Denver, Colorado to a three hundred acre farm in Orwell, Vermont.  It was one of the best decisions in our life,  just ask our children, who were 2 ½ and 7 years old at the time and are now 24 ½ and 30.  They are on their way to adulthood now, bold, determined, courageous, respectful and responsible young country women that value their connection to God’s finest creation, the land and hills, wildlife and nature.  Rural New York is only a step away from the green hills of Vermont and Jon and Maria’s Bedlam Farm is truly one of the most beautiful old farms I have ever seen.

Although we missed our family and friends in Colorado, we took this courageous, albeit, risky step and drastically changed our life style almost overnight, though actually it took us about five days to make the cross country trip in a big U-haul truck pulling another small van behind it.  I followed behind in my old VW convertible. The bottom had literally fallen out of my car the day before our trip and thus began our lessons in Yankee ingenuity. My most sturdy cookie sheet was bolted over the hole and we simply carried on with our plans.

After driving off into the sunset with friends watching, and stopping for our first break on the long journey to Vermont, the starter went out in the VW.  Being too hard to unpack the car to have it fixed, we simply continued.  All the way across country, my husband could be seen pushing my VW to jump start it! We learned to stop only on the tops of  inclines, making his push a bit easier and getting another lesson in practical living!

But what does that have to do with needing a farm? Like I said, a farm in Vermont was our destination and in good faith we took on the challenge and the biggest adventure in our life!  From organic gardening (A Tomato Is Born) to experiencing wildlife right in our own back yard-sort-of-speak, being the fields, hills and woodland surrounding the old farmhouse. We treasured every moment of this life, as did our children,  who never lacked for subjects to write about in school and we are all still telling the stories that we gathered during this experience!

We would be there still had the owners not surprised us by selling the farm, as we were almost permanent renters! We have since moved to a small town down the road a piece, shortening my husband’s commute to his work by a few miles and pulled down the shades on the windows,  as it was hard to look out and not see the beautiful fields, orchards and wild life.  Curtains were merely window decoration on the farm, as it was totally private and serene!

Whether you rent or buy a farm, farm life provides a rich experience not to be forgotten.  We will never forget the lessons we learned.  It changed our values and made us into people that we wouldn’t be now without such an experience. Our love of the land and stewardship of the earth with its wildlife and wonders of nature continues to be a shared value for us all!

My young children’s city interests in sophisticated life beyond their years was replaced with frogs and newts, newborn kitties, and climbing high into haylofts to take in a bigger picture of life.  Howling to call coyotes was added to their list of memories, many of which I was fortunate enough to be clueless about until later, but that too added to the thrill of their young years!

My girls became best friends, as their friends from school were spread throughout the country side and not next door or across the street.  Our farm road was so private that the dog thought it was the best location for soaking up the rays of the sun. Our kids watched their cat birth kitties, walked through puddles, ice-skated on the frozen wetland under the big old willow tree in our back yard, and enjoyed simple play and family times gathered about the cozy heat of our wood burning stove despite developing a bit of cabin fever every winter.  We all led a truly charmed life.

Our local small town held its treasures too. Memorial Day Parades with everyone in the town from bands to girl and boy scout troops participating.  Historical re-enactment groups, including The Green Mountain Boys were wonderful ways of learning love for American values and history! The local town band formed every summer, gathered any who had an instrument and could play a note to the village green once a week.  These concerts brought all who didn't play in the band to come together to enjoy a nice concert, connect with friends and extended family.  Just bring your lawn chairs, blankets, a picnic dinner or thermos of lemonade, your tiny children in their pajamas and your knitting or peas for shelling, and have a great time!

True communions were gatherings for Bible study while listening to the peepers in the early spring, or meeting at local ponds or lakes to swim and wade and gathering with friends.  These were rare moments, better appreciated when contrasted with isolation caused from lives too busy to afford many such breaks. 4-H groups thrived and showcased their life-sustaining skills of rural living at the local county fairs and a value for  excellence was taught by example!

So if you are suffering in traffic jams each day as you commute to work, are living with the demands and pressures of the city with little time to slow down and live, consider what such a change in location could do for you and your family.  More and more careers are done via computer and could be done in the country as well as the city…consider the fresh air awaiting you and the adventures to be found on a small rural farm.  Guaranteed, you and your family will never be the same.

Visit Jon and Maria's Bedlam Farm on line at and while you are there check out Maria's Full Moon Fiber Art, as well as Jon's books.  In his Running to the Mountain, I realized that we were not the only ones to find peace and serenity in rural living!