Dear MaryJane ...
I picked up a copy of your magazine and headed to the hospital with my daughter—she was in labor with my first grandchild. After 28 hours of labor, it was time to push, and Johanna was working so hard that her husband grabbed my magazine to fan her off. He was REALLY vigorous, and after an hour, my magazine looked a bit beat up! But it did the job, and Andy and Johanna have a beautiful baby boy, Alexander James. I found that not only is your magazine filled with all sorts of inspiration and help, but it also made my precious daughter more comfortable. I have bought every book and magazine you have produced, but this copy will always be treasured just a little more.
In the “Simply Bee” issue of your magazine, you wrote about the sourdough “Mother” that sits on the kitchen counter. I was so intrigued that the next day, I started my own. I even went to our local hardware store and purchased a two-quart cast-iron pot to bake Mother’s offspring. What a joy it has been to take care of her and to bake such wonderful bread. Last weekend, I decided to make raisin and cinnamon bread from my Mother. All went well ... I put her offspring in my pot to rise and put her near a growing lamp I use to raise herbs in the winter, and then promptly forgot her until the next day when I went to my herb garden to clip some basil. There she was—she had “grown up” above the pot, but looked fine, so I baked her. She was so good, I could not believe it—left alone for a day and a half, she still produced great bread! I said to myself, “A mother always takes care of her offspring, no matter what!!!” Thanks for bringing me back to the farm with your books and magazines. Life is good on the farm, even farms in the suburbs!
MaryJanesFarm has been part of my everyday living since I moved to southwest Idaho in 2003 from California. The “Simply Bee” issue reminded me that as a child, while running through sprinklers on the grass, I would sometimes accidently step on a bee hanging out on the clover. I would say “Ouch!” and hop around on one leg, sit down, pull out the stinger, get up, and keep playing ... never thinking at the time how important bees are. I have not finished reading the entire magazine, but this issue will definitely be one of my favorites. I have taught classes on rolling beeswax candles and had honey tastings. To help my pre-k class learn about pollination and what bees do for us, I make pretend bees for them to put on their fingers so they can buzz around the room to find a flower. I have a wonderful “Nectar Collector Bee Board Game,” originally created in 1939, that teaches everything MaryJanesFarm is all about: nature, conservation, cooperation, self-sufficiency, social values, and peaceful and simple living. (The same company had an “Organic Farm Board Game” also.) In the game’s rule book, there are two pages written in 1978 about pesticides and how they will impact bees and hives in the near future. The future is here. This is a poem I enjoy reciting (from George Herbert, 1633): “Bees work for man; and yet they never bruise their master’s flower, but leave it, having done, as fair as ever, and as fit to use: so both the flower doth stay, and honey run.”