Lately, I have been ruminating over the word “beginning.” It is so fitting at this time of the year, with the New Year right behind us, and the spring waiting to peek its face out at any moment.
An early spring sun begins to shine over Pioneer Peak and the snow-covered hay fields
One of my new beginnings is this, right here, what you, my fellow Farmgirls are reading. I am honored to be the new Rural Farmgirl for MaryJanesFarm, and I am eager to share and hear stories near and far from this inspiring community of amazing women!
New beginnings are in order for this spring chick! But first, it needs to stay warm. Cute little clucker.
First, some introductions are in order. I am a young-ish, pragmatic-idealist (this makes sense after hours of debate), with dreams of one day running an educational farm in the Midwest. Presently, I work and learn on an educational farm in Palmer, Alaska; and I truly love it here.
I have the rare privilege of living, working, learning and recreating in one breath-taking and inspiring place. Granted, this one place covers 700 acres of hay fields, forests, grazing fields, gardens, tents, a super cool yurt, and teachable moments around every bend of the wooded trails. It would be hard to not love it here.
The snow-covered yurt, with fields in the background
The farm is aptly named Spring Creek Farm after a small creek that meanders through the property. The late Louise Kellogg donated the property to Alaska Pacific University with the well-known expectation that it become a place for environmental teaching and learning. Louise was a woman of many beginnings from her childhood in Chicago, to her stint as a California pilot, to her international work with the Women’s Army Corps and finally to her position as one of the most successful dairy farmers in Alaska.
Louise Kellogg and her Wall Tent
My favorite anecdote about Louise is how she acquired her farm in Palmer. In 1948, male landowners in the area were reluctant to sell land to a woman with barely any farming experience. However, Louise didn’t back down and eventually bought a small, unfinished farm of 240 acres from a widow. At its peak, Louise’s farm covered 1,000 acres (she bought out some of the properties that had refused to sell to her before) and she milked 120 cows.
Louise had what I consider to be true Farmgirl spirit. She saw opportunities knocking and didn’t submit to those who told her she wouldn’t make it. She was feisty and resourceful; she was courageous and wise; and she is definitely one of my idols. How many people get to live in a house that one of their idols built?
I would like to think that I have shadowed Louise’s life path in some way. I, too, grew up in the Midwest near a large city; and we were both English majors in university. While I never have been (and in all likelihood never will be) a pilot, we did both work internationally for an extended period of time. Finally, we both ended up on this farm with dreams of farming, yet barely any past experience in the field (pun intended). I hope, one day, to be half the woman Louise was.
This is Taz, the best farm dog around. She is a true Farmgirl at heart, too. Her favorite activity is protecting the fields from hungry moose.
As I finish up this inaugural post, I am full of gratitude for what I have on my metaphoric plate. These new beginnings are extensions of my past experiences and jumping off points for future endeavors, and I am so excited for this Farmgirl journey. More importantly, I am so excited to hear from all of you, the Farmgirls that make every day organic a reality!
Finally, let us all send a big congratulations to the lovely Louise for her induction into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame today, March 1, 2012. What an amazing way to remember this even more amazing woman. Congratulations, Louise!
Happy Beginnings to you all!
Welcome aboard! I look forward to reading your posts and learning more about one of the few states I have never visited when I was a full-time RVer. Congratulations on becoming the Rural Farmgirl!
Thanks for the welcome, Adrienne! you must have an RV full of stories after Life as a full-time RVer! Alaska waits for your visit, Best, Alex
Woo-hoo! Greetings from The White Mountains of NH to you, all the way up in Alaska!! SO nice to make your acquaintance! My son will be visiting your neck of the woods at the end of May and early June, when he and his new bride will be taking their honeymoon in your beautiful state. Thanks for a great post … a wonderful ‘beginning’! Looking forward to reading many more!
Thanks for the warm welcome, Cathi! Your son and daughter in law will love it up here, especially with their mountain roots. Your Mountain Farmgirl life is enviable, and I thank you for sharing it with us, too! Best, Alex
Welcome to MaryJanes Sisterhood. I love reading about how other women share their interests,knowledge, and love of our country and sisterhood values. Congratulations and I look forward to reading about your farmgirl experiences. Blessings,
Thanks for your kind words, Toni. Best, Alex
Welcome Alexandra. It’s great to meet you and to learn about your farm and Louise Kellog. I am encouraged by what you said about seeing opportunities and not giving in to the naysayers. (I’m my own best naysayer.)I, too, am looking at and for new beginnings in my life, hopefully starting with my garden. Here on the Central Oregon Coast, we have milder weather than you do in the winter, but it is probably more variable. Last night we had hail, sleet, rain and heavy winds. Today, it’s sunny and quiet.
It’s nice to meet your dear dog, too, and the little chicklet as well.
Thank you, Nan! Darn those naysayers…They can be so easy to give in to, but the emotional reward of overcoming them is even better! I hope your garden works out; Oregon has great potential for veggies and berries! Cheers, Alex
Welcome Alex! I love to see "newcomers" because it means there is still hope for me! I grew up on a very large, family owned, dairy farm. It is my hope someday to go back. I have spent nearly 30 years working in one of those office jobs in order to get good retirement and health insurance. I have only 4 years to go, and then I hope to be able to get back to cows, chickens, and llamas! The older I get, the more certain I am that I want to get back to my roots. I have done the "responsible thing" that my parents wanted me to do, which means staying at a job long enough to earn retirement benefits and security. But my "life" will not really start until I can get back to the country and the farm where I grew up. All these blogs are such an inspiration to me. Please keep it up – you never know the effect you might have on someone, or that maybe on a particular day, they needed to hear just what you had to say! Love, Annie
Thanks for your kind words, Annie. While you may not be incredibly happy with your position now, it’s refreshing to see that you are still inspired to follow your dreams. You are an inspiration to me! Best, Alex
Welcome! I live in Seldovia, Alaska and am glad to see an Alaskan Farmer Girl being featured. I look forward to reading your articles.
Thanks fellow Alaskan, Sandee! It is a pleasure to live in a such a unique and beautiful place! Cheers, Alex
Welcome! Looking forward to getting to know you better through the adventures and musings you share. New beginnings can be exciting and so full of optimism if we let them.
Thanks Jo! New beginnings are time consuming but oh-so rewarding!
I’m so excited for your new beginnings and can’t wait to read more about your life in Alaska. Welcome to the farmgirl fold!
Carol from MaryJanesFarm
Welcome, Alexandra! I’m excited to read your blog. Sounds like you are a true farmgirl
How exciting it must be to live and work on a farm in Alaska. My name is Ace and I work at ‘henquarters’ here at MJF. One of my job descrips’ is social media, so I will be posting up your entries on Facebook/Twitter and the like. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures, your inaugural post was a pleasure to read! Louise is quite the amazing role model.
Toodles, and best of luck!
Thanks fellow co-worker, Ace (cool name)!
hi alex i’m so excited to hear more from AK! i too farm in Idaho and always dreamed of being a pilot in AK. I grew up in a flying family in Chicago and love the idea of being somewhere so remote and beautiful. stay warm!
Thanks Kate! I love those Idaho farms, and I love that you are from the midwest! Any flying in your future? Best, Alex
Welcome, Alex! I’m looking forward to reading your blogs. The first picture of Pioneer Peak is breathtaking, and Taz is a real cutie, too. Glad to "meet" you! Big Farmgirl Hugs!
Your blogging sis’, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)
Thank you, Nicole! I love your blog, as I am a born and bred Suburban girl. I’m lucky to live out here with cute animals and awesome views! Cheers, Alex
That place where you work and live sounds really exciting 😉 My family used to live in Alaska years ago…and they all still talk of it with fond memories 😉 Have a great weekend. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 😉
p.s. I’m MaryJane’s Farmgirl Sisterhood Member #2176
Thanks for the smiley, warm welcome from California!
Welcome Alex! So glad to have "met" and cant wait to read more about your life adventures! Taz looks like the ultimate farmgirl- calm,gorgeous, and totally in control of her surroundings! I have a dog named Rose Marie who fits the mold well too. She adopted my family after someone dumped her at the end of our farm lane about 8 months ago, and has slid into the role of boss dog without a hitch. That is saying something about her diplomacy considering we already had four other dogs! Anyway, welcome and glad to meet you!
Thanks Meredith! Taz is the best–you describe her to a T (for Taz). I can only hope that my future farm dogs will be as great as she is. Your Rose Marie sounds like she was meant to be part of your farm from the get-go! Best, Alex
Welcome, its good to meet you. I’m from the midwest, I live in Michigan. I enjoyed your post on Alaska and look forward to many more of your blogs.
WElCOME to the family Alex! Hip Hip Hooray! Glad to have you here! You’ve accomplished so much already in your young life. So great to have you join " the sisterhood ". After reading your first post I have to believe that Louise is right by your side spurring you on to continue the dream! I look forward to your future posts!
Your MJF Beach Farmgirl Blogging Sister
Why thank you fellow blogging sister, Deb! I’m so excited to be part of the blogging crew. We have some incredibly inspiring readers!
Welcome Alexandra, I’m looking forward to reading more!
Welcome Alexandra! New beginnings! i have done my share of those in my 62 years. Hearing about Louise was like a song to my heart. And, she is my namesake. You don’t meet many Louises these days. She reminds me of my great grandmother who left Poland for America with her young children after her husband was murdered by thieves. I am so impressed with stories of strong women. Thank you for yours. God bless you as you start your new beginnings.
Louise! What a great name, thanks for your warm wishes. Your great grandmother must have been quite the woman!
Welcome Alex! I will be looking forward to your posts. I am from Southern WI and just like you, I am inspired by the dairy farms that are part of my State’s history and hopefully, future. Louise sounds like an amazing woman and a wonderful muse. I am so glad that she is being recognized for her contributions and spirit.
My Hubby is in love with Alaska and wants us to move there. I am not so sure. I have been looking for a hobby farm in the Driftless Region of WI for the past couple of years. I look forward to your posts so I can get a glimpse of Alaska through your words and pictures.
Diane, you make me yearn for the Driftless area–such a beautiful, secret place. In college I dreamed of having a farm and teaching near Viroqua, spending my weekends canoeing on the Kickapoo river…
Welcome! I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your special world. I have a fondness for Alaska tho I’ve never been there cuz my aunt, uncle, and grandmother lived there for a number of years (and lived thru the great quake) and loved it and my nephew and his wife lived there for a time doing commercial fishing. Also, I love yurts. LOL
So many diverse farmgirl voices and ways to live the life give me a feeling of hope that one day I may be a farm(old)girl someday myself!
Hi Nora! Thanks for the warm welcome. Yurts are amazing, I want to live in one in the near future. Think of how great this world would be if we all embraced our inner farmgirls! You can do it!
Welcome Alexandra . . from Alaska!
Thanks for sharing your life with us and I trust your experience as the Rural Farmgirl "Blogger" will one of tremendous reward.
Grew up on a farm here in southwest Colorado where I still live (returning after a few years in the Arizona desert) with my hubby, dog, cat, llama and hobby herd of Longhorns.
CJ . . . aka "ceejay48"
How providential to see your blog this morning as I’m having my first cup of coffee in Sandpoint, Idaho. I’m a 64 yr. old "farmgirl" originally from New Orleans, but even in our yard there, we raised chickens, bees and did our organic gardening. We’ve been in Idaho for a bit over 10 yrs relearning how to do what we knew from a northern perspective.
But "new beginnings" is very important to me this week as my husband, George, of 45 yrs passed away this past Mon. He was one of those incredible men who believed that with a brain and a library card, you could accomplish anything. So now I’m facing a completely new beginning and it’s a wee bit daunting, paticularly at my age. Your telling Louise Kellogg’s story was inspiring and I hope when this week is over that I’ll have the courage and spirit to move forward in the same manner. On our 21 acres, there is so much that we started and though, I am committed to our plans, in the last few days I have taken more than a few deep breathes. So for me (and you) your maiden voyage here has already made a difference in someone’s life (mine) and I look forward to the comments of other’s who read it and further thoughts and insights from you in the future. Thank you so much and God bless you.
Kim, your story is incredibly moving…and it brought tears to my eyes, as I know it did for other readers, too. George (one of my absolute favorite names) sounds like a rare breed of man that the world needs more of. I hope you can find solace in working your farm and seeing some of George in the growth and life in the land you both loved. Grief, to me, is like smoke…heavy and seemingly inescapable at first; yet it slowly dissipates (but never disappears). It is cathartic and debilitating at the same time–but necessary. You will come out of this on top, Kim! There are women around the nation sending you peace and love. I hope you can feel it. Best, Alex
I have a warm place in my heart for Alaska. My daughter and son in law lived in Anchorage for 3 years and I was there when their first son was born. Then our son went to school at UA at Fairbanks. I’ve flown up 4 times and miss that there is no one to visit now. Love your pictures. And I will always dream of being there again someday. Welcome aboard!
Thank you for the kind welcome, Brenda! Alaska is a beautiful place and I feel very lucky to live here (at least for the time being). It’s great that some of my readers will be able to identify with my experiences. Cheers, Alex
Alex, fantastic writing! I wish you the best in your current endeavors.
Welcome from me too! I live at the end of a dirt road in a growing rural town in northeast San Diego county. I am looking forward to hearing your stories. You sound brave and open to new experiences. I predict that you will have a very interesting life.Thanks for sharing it!
Thanks for the warm welcome, Lorrie!
Thanks to ALL of your for your warm welcomes! This is an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to responding to all of your stories and hellos–until then. THANK YOU! You are all great people and I’m so grateful to have met you, if not in the "real world" at least through the wonders of technology!
Sending peace and love,
Alex, the rural Farmgirl
Hey Alexandra! It was so great to read your blog & read about you & what you’re doing in AK! I love the photos & the history. I live in rural Isanti County, near Braham, MN & I noticed you’re from around here. We have a little hobby farm & we’re so happy to be doing the whole organic thing with chickens, apple trees & honeybees. Everything we’ve made or remodeled has been with recycled materials. My husband remodeled a little room for my writing and art studio, using all reclaimed wood that is 101 years old. Our chicken coop is made out of reclaimed materials and this spring we’re making a greenhouse out of materials that were advertised online. We’re looking forward to getting a larger animal like a cow or sheep. I love coming online & reading people’s stories, I’ve been a reader of Mary Jane’s farm for about 4 years & it was what inspired me to get out of the Twin cities in the first place. It is beautiful here with the sun rising almost due east now, & we have Common Redpolls at the feeder which I haven’t seen before. Happy Spring! Peace, Love & joyous farming! <3
Carolyn, your farm sounds perfect! I hope to one day have a very familiar situation in nearby NoDak! Thanks for sharing and enjoy the balmy MN spring! Best, Alex
Alexandra, it is just wonderful to read such enthusiasm! I hope all your dreams come true! And by the way, your profile pic is just so sweet, you look so happy and ready to enjoy life to the full… Good for you! May God bless you. Catherine
Thank you for your wonderful compliments, Catherine! Best, Alex
Dearest Alex, The Pederson family…many generations of MJF farmgirls deep in North Dakota are so proud and wowed to call you our own! Through the many generations of stewardship and conservation for the land we have been allowed to call our own, each generation has not only preserved but renewed our responsibility for the soil we hold dear. With your environmental education you will be able to take it one step further and share it with people who do not have our opportunity.
New beginnings while seemingly linear are full circle for some in my family. Happy Farming and we can’t wait to read more.
Thanks Gail! I have you to thank for my first exposure to MJF (coming in a future post!). Love you and miss you!
Hi Alex! You’re an excellent writer. Maybe your dream of having an educational farm in the Midwest could somehow coincide with Mike’s dream of growing his own food for his restaurant. We’re going to start with a restaurant in Madison within the next few years, but once he’s established a reputation, his dream is to have a restaurant in a farmhouse and grow most of the produce and raise animals right there. We would absolutely love to come up and visit you at some point. I hope we can make it work financially and with our work schedules! Love and miss you lots!
JK! Miss you girl, hope you, Ajaya and Mike are happy in Madison. I love the plans for your future and I see them coming to fruition! Love you, A
I don’t live on a farm but am 86 years old and love to read the blogs. I can just relax and think what a great life you are all enjoying. I liked haveing lots of flowers and a big garden. Loved canning fruits and vegetables. Can’t do things like that now but we are still quite active and I like reading because it reminds me of the past. I live in Springfield, Il, and all our kids and grandkids live here but one. He is a park ranger in the Grand Tetons in Wy. My best to all of you. Louise
Check out this Alaska Farmer’s website for sharing and selling local food!
Love your blog, Alex!!