We tried a new bed time story lately, and I’ve just got to share something about it here.

First of all, if J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series offends your religious sensibilities, please don’t read these Terry Pratchett books, and try again tomorrow on the blog.

However, if you’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter series,and especially, if you’ve enjoyed them not so much for the fast-paced adventure and hair raising descriptions of magical creatures and battles, but for the quirky characters, humor, and nuggets of wisdom passed on by Dumbledore in the last few pages of each book – I’ve got something for you.


Meet Tiffany Aching.  She’s nine years old when the first book (The Wee Free Men) begins.  She lives on a rural sheep farm with her family and spends a lot of time making cheese and watching her little brother.  She is the witch, the hag-o-the-hills, in the making.  Tiffany is a practical girl who thinks a lot. She’s an astute nine year old, but still definitely a youngster.  She also fends off the magical creatures and even the deceptive and wicked Queen of Fairyland with nothing more than her common sense, love of the land, and a cast iron skillet.  There are more nuggets of curious wisdom in this first book than in the whole Potter series (no offense to Harry – I do love those books – just saying).

Tiffany’s wonderful foil throughout her adventures are the Nac Mac Feegle, otherwise known as the Wee Free Men.  They are a class of fairies unto themselves.  Six inches tall with dark blue skin, bright red hair and beards, dressed in kilts and carrying long swords.  Feegles are the rogues of the fairy world, whose misadventures are written phonetically in such a strange and hilarious brogue accent that it brought the whole family to uproarious laughter – even the three year old.  They are scoundrels with hearts of gold.  I can’t begin to sum them up.  They are not the stuff of beautiful and sweet fairy tales.  I wouldn’t read them aloud to a tender hearted four year old (I rely on some of this reading flying over Levon’s head for now), but now that Lulah is stepping into a different level of understanding of the world, and a different level of thought and humor, the Feegles really hit the spot.

As with Harry Potter, the Tiffany Aching series becomes more complex and mature as our heroine ages.  In The Wee Free Men Tiffany is nine, and Lulah did not find the monsters and situations overwhelming.  We went on into the next book, A Hat Full of Sky just because she was so enthusiastic (Tiffany is eleven and leaving home to get some more advanced training in the way of being a witch).  It was a little more intense.  Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight follow Tiffany into her teenage years.  We won’t go further until Lulah is older, too.

Terry Pratchett wrote these books.  They are part of his HUGE series, Discworld.  He has written eighty-something books, and has been knighted for his contribution to good reading.  His writing is very smart, funny, and tender in turns.  It’s good clean fun (well, as much as you can call a Feegle clean, anyway).  If you haven’t already, please check him out.

One of the things I love about these books, besides the good entertainment, is that they promote a sense of place, and the place, in this case, is a rural countryside.  That’s a rare find these days.  Tiffany’s family has always lived on the land she lives on.  She feels the land in her bones, and draws strength from that.  Her goodness and power aren’t connected to wands and spells.  She learns that magic doesn’t stop being magic just because you know how it’s done.  Inspiring.

I’ll leave you with an empowering passage:

“She leaned down and the centuries bent with her.

“The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up.  Waking up is harder.  I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going.  You cannot fool me anymore.  Or touch me.  Or anything that is mine.”

I’ll never be like this again, she thought, as she saw the terror in the Queen’s face.  I’ll never again feel as tall as the sky and as old as the hills and as strong as the sea.  I’ve been given something for a while, and the price of it is that I have to give it back.

And the reward of it is giving it back, too.  No human could live like this.  You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn’t get the milking done.  No wonder we dream our way through our lives.  To be awake, and see it all as it really is…no one could stand that for long.”



IMG_4470Inspired? Well, yes I am. With a vacation in my sights, fantasies of endless days with my toes wriggling in the sand, and the impaired belief that I can read at least one book and knit at least one garment per day, I guess I’d better be inspired!!! Really though, I am Inspired by these amazing writers (Barbara Kingsolver, Ben Hewitt, Michael Pollan, and all of the contributors at both the Sun and Taproot magazines) for their mastery of our complex language, the images they conjure with their words, and the topics they are discussing. I can’t wait to let my mind melt into their stories! I’m also inspired by all of my fellow fiber enthusiasts at Ravelry and all of the scrumptious ideas and patterns that are so willingly shared. There is so much inspiration to be found at that site, it’s mind-boggling!!!

tea time

A conversation between the farmwives…

Coree’s wondering…

If, in some imaginary world, you found yourself plopped down on a new and unfamiliar farm without a mentor, what three books, OR authors would you want with you to help you get things rolling?  Now ~ of course you’re also drawing on a number of years of experience at this point, and that’s where we really tap in, but I know there are times that I just need to check a reference, or gain reassurance or inspiration for something out in the field.  It’s darn tricky to narrow it down to three, I know, but give it a shot.


Here’s mine, for this week:

Steve Solomon – Gardening When It Counts, and The Intelligent Gardener – nice reads, practical advice for the novice or experienced gardener alike.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.  Even tho we have a number of books about poultry and farm animals, gardening, crafting, living simply, etc., I find answers to my questions in this book that I don’t find in many others.  Granted, there are a lot of rambling stories that I have to skim through to get to what I want, but it’s worth it.

And then I have to lean on something for biodynamic information and inspiration.  Ultimately, even though it is not concise or or easy to read, I would choose Steiner’s Agriculture Course.  It’s the source.

How about it ladies?

Cher replies…

Mercy, Coree, this isn’t easy but I’ll give it my best. In this moment, these are my choices. Tomorrow might be entirely different. Here goes…

First of all, to cover my gardening needs, I would choose Eliot Coleman’s New Organic Grower. Hands down, without a doubt, this is our most referenced book on gardening. Mr. Coleman is an inventive, practical genius.

(Coree says… I was counting on you to put Eliot Coleman in there!)

And since farm animals are an integral part of our scene here in Bugtussle, I would choose anything by Joel Salatin. Especially his Pastured Poultry Profits or Salad Bar Beef. Plus, he’s just soooo opinionated (and I entirely agree with him) it’s a hoot to read his words.

And finally, I’m having a hard time deciding which I would use more… something dealing with Biodynamics, like Steiner’s Agriculture course or more practically, Peter Proctor’s Grasp the Nettle; Or something dealing with food and food preservation (which is one of the primary reasons that I found myself as a farmer!) like Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation, or his new one The Art of Fermentation. In this moment I’m leaning towards the latter. I must be getting hungry and you all know how I love my kimchi.

Oh, dear, I just remembered Allan Savory’s Holostic Resource Management. And if you are plopped down in the middle of a new and unfamiliar farm, this might be an excellent choice for goal setting and overall farm planning.

I kind of cheated, but I did my best… xo – cher

p.s.  Now, I just realized that I didn’t even mention any titles dealing with Permaculture. And if said farm is on the small side, I would go this route… maybe something by Bill Mollison.

Robin chimes in, Cher you did cheat, but in adding more than 3 you covered so many of the ones i would have chosen. so my hope is,  we are plopped down near enough to each other to borrow from each other’s limited libraray!  in this case, i am simply adding to an already near perfect list.

for Biodynamics i would add Maria Thun’s Gardening for Life.  so easy to use it is just packed with information. Hugh Lovel’s A Biodynamic Farm with its journalistic style is also one i have read more than once.

i have to admit i would be nowhere without my field guides, especially if i landed  in a new region, i would have to add an appropriate wildflower and tree field guide if nothing else. my worn copy of Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky is oft used by adults and kids alike around here. i just remembered the birds, need the bird guide. i will stop now or you might just be able to tell how many field guides we have in this house.

to support the community building which i would inevitably do again, my CSA farmer self is inspired over and over gain by Trauger Groh. Farms of Tomorrow and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited written with Steven McFadden, Anytime i need reassurance of the value of the work we do to not only farm sustainably but build a community around the future of this farm, i echo back to Traugher’s words.

ok, i will stop now, i could go on and on but i suppose i am already over my top 3! happy reading, when winter comes of course….robin