Posted by: canthold | August 16, 2007

Farm Girl

Have you two met? Dear Reader, I’d like to introduce Mary Jane Butters. Mary Jane, Dear Reader. My mother introduced me to Mary Jane when she let me listen to her book on CD, which I never did, because I spend all of 10 minutes at a time in the car and if my kids don’t like what’s on they are very vocal. (Fortunately, I’ve brainwashed them into liking my favorite music, so we’re all good, most of the time.)

My mom then gave me Mary Jane’s Ideabook, Lifebook, Cookbook: For the Farmgirl In All Of Us for my birthday or Christmas, I don’t remember which one. And I love it!

First of all, there is nothing like holding a book in your hands to grasp (pun intended) the weight of the contents inside. The photographs are inspiring and have urged me to create. I went right out to look into buying embroidery rings to teach my daughters embroidery. Being a super cheap-skate, though, I balked at the price of almost $5 a pop for little rings at the local art store. I’ll buy them eventually, but I wanted to shop around first.

Secondly, I thought about going out and buying a clothesline. I haven’t done that yet, either. But I wanted to. I’ve really been into saving money and energy lately as a sort of side hobby. Supposedly, the electric (or gas) clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy suckers next to the refrigerator. I already dry a lot of stuff on a wooden-dowel dryer on my lower deck, but I thought I’d try sheets or socks, too, just to do my part for Mother Earth.

But lastly, I’m not just thinking about worms, I’m doing something about them. Mary Jane talks about the benefits of having worms in your garden, which I don’t really have with this house, but I’ve gone a step further. I bought some worm bins. I’m going to make them myself from a simple set of instructions and buy some worms from the local organic gardening center. I made my husband’s wonderful spaghetti sauce recently and hated to throw all the onion skin and veggie waste away. It seems like a good way to compost for me.

The worm bins will live under my car pad in an area that’s like a shed crossed with a garage. That’s hillside living for you. Supposedly they don’t smell if you do it right (I inspected this for myself at the garden center,) and I’ll be able to feed the worms all the stuff that I hate to throw away. The end result is very good soil left over after the worms have moved on to the next bin. Perhaps I can use this to make it up to the plants in my front yard that apparently want to be watered more than I care to water them.

The whole concept that Mary Jane is presenting is that there is a Farm Girl in each of us. We can do it. We can live it no matter where we actually reside.

My original obsession with being a Farm Girl is probably rooted in my previously urban living. My apartment was about 750 square feet, and by the time my husband moved in and my two children were born, that two-bedroom apartment was pretty crowded. As an antidote, I fantasized about wide open spaces. I wanted to grow things. I wanted to see the stars from my house.

When we moved to the suburbs – or small town – depending on your perspective, I got a little closer to what I wanted. Sure, it wasn’t my One Acre & Security, but I had a 15′ X 18′ garden and room to move. Since buying this home, I had to give up my gardening to a couple of containers, but I have the stars to look at out my deck. I have so many trees around me that it feels like we live in a forest – we call it the tree house. 

I love the area in which we live because the people around here don’t look at you funny when you tell them you’re going to vermicompost (worms!) and they think you’re cool (not crazy) when you do anything to save energy or recycle. And it’s the next best thing to actually living on a farm. Besides, I can sleep in here.



  1. A chef on tv recently suggested taking all the peelings and putting them in the freezer until you have a good stockpile then simmering them in a pot of water to make vegetable stock. This sounded a little more a”peeling” than worms to me but I don’t know how much compost you can make from cooked garbage. Have fun with the worms.

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