AgArts from Horse and Buggy Land

AgArts from Horse and Buggy Land, hosted by Mary Swander, explores life among the Amish and the arts and agriculture in the wider rural community. These podcasts were produced and recorded by Rick Brewer of Brewhaha Audio Production.

Season #1, Episode #17: Corn Is Not the Answer

Host Mary Swander returns to Red Fern Farm and takes a tour with owners Kathy Dice and Tom Wahl. Swander reads three poems she has written about the farm, reciting them as she is guided past chestnut trees, to paw-paws and persimmons. Dice and Wahl describe the beginnings of their perennial plantings, their U-Pick operation and their Bosnian customers. Eventually, Swander’s poems will be anthologized in a book sponsored by SILT and the the Writing the Land Project. Features Meskwaki flute music.

Season #1, Episode #16: Red Fern Farm

Host Mary Swander makes a trip to Red Fern Farm in SE Iowa to interview Kathy Dice and Tom Wahl, visionaries in agroforestry. They talk about how they transformed a corn and bean row crop farm into one that will be forever preserved as a perennial paradise, emphasizing nuts, fruit, and vines.

Season #1, Episode #15: Down the River

Host Mary Swander tells the story of the “Bridge to Nowhere,” the antique structure that once spanned the Amish River and connected Bull Town and Freemartin Town. Swander follows with a reading of some excerpts of her book of poetry The Girls on the Roof, a Mississippi River saga of a mother and daughter stuck on top of the roof of a catfish dive for three days during the 1993 flood. While there, the two women discover that they have both had a affair with the same man. Music by Catfish Keith and Annie Chapman Brewer.

Season #1, Episode #14: Light and Variable Winds

In the final segment of the Farm-to-Fork Tales performance in Mt. Vernon, IA, farmer David Miller captures his runaway duck with a Mattel fishing net and puts out a wildfire burning through two acres of cover crops. Host Mary Swander then throws open the mic to two young volunteer storytellers–Eva and Alyssa–who have their own tales of ducks and crops. Music by Dale Beeks and the Mississippi String Band.

Season #1, Episode #13: How One Woman Became a Farm Activist and Another Weathered the Weather to feed her CSA Community

Host Mary Swander provides a continuation of the Mt. Vernon, IA, Farm-to-Fork Tales performance. Suzan Erem, the Executive Director of SILT, a sustainable land trust that builds food security by circling cities with community-based food farms, recalls how she became a rural activist. Laura Krouse, owner of Abbe Hills Farm and a legend in sustainable agriculture, tells how she endured this season of erratic weather patterns to finally feed her CSA customers. Music by Dale Beeks and the Mississippi String Band.

Season #1, Episode #12: Flying Grain Bins and Baling Hay in a Bikini

A Farm-to-Fork Tales performance: The first of three live recordings. Host Mary Swander coached farmers to tell their own weather-related stories at the Mt. Vernon, IA Farmer’s Market. First, Allan Mallie tells of his optimistic approach to derecho damage on his farm. Then Kevin Woods recalls surviving adolescence on a farm where the farrowing house was warmer than the human house in the winter. Music by Dale Beeks and the Mississippi String Band.

Season #1, Episode #11: Quilting Bee

It’s the Quilt Show in Freemmartin Town. Host Mary Swander tells of her inclusion in an Amish come-as-you-are quilting bee. Ruby, the grossmommie, gives her recipe for Jell-o Postage Stamp Quilt Salad. A browsing of Plain Interests, the Amish newspaper, includes the care of a brood of bluebirds. Music by the Silver Trailer Girls, Laura Hudson Kittrell, Monica Leo, and Aleta Murphy. Underscoring by Marco Cacho.

Season #1, Episode #10: Vernon Ropp: Sewing Machines to Tractors

Host Mary Swander interviews Vernon Ropp, a local Mennonite man who makes lawn art, converting sewing machines to toy tractors. Ropp tells of attending an Amish one-room school and struggling to learn English. During the Korean War, he became a conscientious objector, performing his service work at the Alexian Brothers hospital in Chicago. Ropp traveled the world with the Mennonite Disaster Service and other relief organizations, to return to his off-farm job selling John Deere tractors. Music by Dean Gray.

Season #1, Episode #9: Farm Jokes

Host Mary Swander tells farm jokes and stories that she has garnered from her Amish and Mennonite neighbors, Practical Farmers of Iowa members, and her own experience of living in an old one-room Amish schoolhouse. Music by Alan Murphy from his album Hogs in the Cornfield.

Season 1, Episode #8: Star Gazing

Host Mary Swander tells a story about star gazing with the Amish and what it means to stay home for long periods of time. She explores the connections to the night sky in her poem “Heaven?” She reads about a universal cure from the Balm of Gilead tree when she browses Special Interests, the Amish newspaper. Music by Annie Chapman Brewer, Too Many String Band, and Marco Cacho.

Season 1, Episode #7: Heavenly Harmonicas

Host Mary Swander explores the history and use of the harmonica, the one instrument that the Amish are allowed to play. Gospel tune: “We are Going down the Valley” Story of harmonicas as wedding presents. “Heavenly Harmonica Potatoes” recipe by Ruby, the grossmommie. Music by Patrick Hazell.

Season 1, Episode #6: Adeste Fideles in Chinese

Mary Swander’s sixth podcast features Mary reading from her book, Adeste Fideles in Chinese. It is the third in a series of handmade books published by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press in Anamosa, Iowa, depicting the author’s interactions with her Amish neighbors. This book captures a poignant Christmas story of multicultural exchange. Read more about Mary’s books here.

Season 1, Episode #5: Marcia Wegman: Farm Country Landscapes

Season 1, Episode #4: Drive-In Church Services

Season 1, Episode #3: Hunting Bear and Bugs

Season 1, Episode #2: Taking Livestock to Market

Season 1, Episode #1: Online Implement Dealership