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Advent at the Farm: What is Hope?

The first candle of hope has been lit at Old Stone Well Farm. But this year, I’m giving up on hoping for the best. I’ll explain why. Pull up and chair and join me for a Vermont Advent and Christmas.

Click on the video below! (Sorry this is short and sweet, but preaching in person today and getting ready to head out the door!)

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My Frugal Thanksgiving (And a Look at Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie!)

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, but with groceries being so expensive, I decided to try a frugal holiday meal. As I looked around at what I had here at the farm, I realized having “things” or being “happy” aren’t where thankfulness comes from. It comes from knowing that no matter what life brings you, there is always something to whisper our thanks to God.

So come to Vermont for the holidays. I will serve up a real pumpkin pie cooked the 17th-century way…and share some fun Thanksgiving facts with you. And in this season of thanks, I thank you all for your love and support.

To keep the YouTube channel going strong, I would be grateful if you considered subscribing, sharing with friends, liking and adding a comment! I would especially love to hear from you and what you think about living frugally. And what you think about this unique pie that I made. My sister thought is was disgusting. Oh well, more for me!

Click on the video below and have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

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My Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie

Wow! My Pilgrim Pumpkin pie is amazing. I don’t think I will eat modern pumpkin pie ever again. Not only was it fun and easy to make, but it helped me in my quest to have a frugal Thanksgiving meal — one in which I use what I already have in the pantry.

And since I still had some pumpkins left…I tried this colonial recipe. I’ll share more on the “pie” as well as my thoughts on how to live more simply in the video that will air Nov. 23.

Till then…here’s a sneak peek! Click below and enjoy!

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Banishing Our Sea Monsters

Are sea monsters troubling you? Keeping you from venturing out into unknown waters where are deepest dreams are yearning to come alive?

I invite you to pull up a chair and join me here in Vermont as I find inspiration from Celtic saints who modeled for great faith and how we can trust an unknown future to a known God. (I also find some wonderful greenery along Lake Champlain in which to deck this old 18th-century home for Celtic Advent, which began Nov. 15!)

Click on the video below, and then share with me how you banish your “sea monsters.” And blessings to you as the Thanksgiving preparations begin!

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Why I Stopped Being a Grinch About Early Christmas Decorations

It’s been happening more and more — Christmas trees appearing soon after Halloween. I used to roll my eyes at that, but lately I am becoming one of those early Christmas decorators, and not just because studies show those who decorate early are happier. I think we all need a little more light in the world. Come to the farm as I share with you why I stopped being a Grinch. And let me know your thoughts. Have our holiday traditions or views changed? Comment. Like. Share with others! Blessings!

Click video below to begin your visit!

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The Remedy for Election Fatigue (hint: it’s furry!)

I’m so tired of the political rhetoric, and I know I am not alone. And so, I invite you to step away from craziness of the world for some election fatigue relief as well as to hear the announcement I promised I would share with you. As always, thank you for coming to Old Stone Well Farm. Your support means a lot to me — and the chickens. Click on the video below. Share. Subscribe. Like. And drop me a note. I love to hear from you.

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A Very Scary Story

Many of you know I love early American history, so when I discovered a scary story in Manchester, Vermont, I just couldn’t wait to share with you.

So join me at Old Stone Well Farm where I explore not only Colonial America’s views on Halloween, but vampires as well. Yes, you read correctly. Vampires. But that isn’t the only scary story I share. There is something that frightens me more than things that go bump in the night.

Pull up a chair and gather around the hearth. Bring your friends. Share. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to Old Stone Well Farm’s YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode.

Click on the video below…and remember, this year’s pumpkin message will be revealed as well — with a little help (more like a challenge) from the cows!

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A Very Scary Story is Coming

I am excited about the next episode of Old Stone Well Farm as I share a fascinating piece of Vermont’s dark history with you. It’s a story that will get us all thinking. And of course, this year’s inspirational message in the pumpkins will be revealed — along with some behind the scenes video of how the cows were having fun with the pumpkins. Video will be available Oct. 30. Till then, click on below for a sneak peek. Blessings!

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Staycation Blessings

I just have to say how much I am enjoying my week’s staycation!

I am away from deadlines for the week and I didn’t realize how much I needed the space and freedom to be me — to create, to dream and to write on things that I am passionate about. I have even revisited a book had begun outlining some years ago — a scary tale of a young pastor in a rural area where old headstones introduce her to a family secret. (Cue eerie music, thunder and howling wind!)

But research on this book aside, this staycation has really been a blessing because those close to me have known that lately my creative spirit has been dampened. Better yet, I think the image of my creative spirit being suffocated is more appropriate. There have been so many changes in my “day job” that have been debilitating. Every idea and project now has many steps and countless meetings to go through before actually getting to the work. While these changes are not good or bad — they just are — I have been quietly observing how this “new way” of doing things is impacting creativity. I see it in the faces staring back at me in those Zoom boxes. Once passionate writers are now uncharacteristically glum. Once vocal writers are silenced. I know this too shall pass as change brings a season of transitions, but that’s another story for another day.

For today, I actually jumped out of bed at 5 a.m. filled with eager expectations for the day. After doing my chicken chores, I sipped my coffee and read the Bible. I then got to the gym where I realized how that time was a key role in having a healthy, positive outlook. It felt good to catch up with others, to laugh, to move our bodies to music and to work up a good sweat. And something amazing began happening as I pushed the lever up to increase the resistance on the bike during the spin class. I began having ideas — again. I began getting hopeful. I began dreaming. I began feeling like the old me, which was a wonderful feeling because she was missing for quite some time.

I know this staycation will come to an end and I will be back to a front row seat of a really bad play called “power plays and grabs.” I will be hearing the “dings” remind me that the next Zoom meeting will begin in 15 minutes (enough time to brush my hair and take off my chicken poop covered Mucks). I will be back to writing deadlines and spending many fitful nights worrying about the stories assigned that are MIA from writers who are AWOL.

Soon I will be back in the “real world.” But I wonder? Is there a better reality in which to live, work and play in than the one that masquerades as “real”?

I’ll continue to ponder, and as I do, I want to remind you that this Sunday, October 30, Old Stone Well Farm continues its Pumkinfest tradition, lighting the back hill with an inspirational message.

What will this year’s message be? Stay tuned!

Blessings (and click on the video below)!

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Autumn’s Song

I can’t believe how fast October is flying by. We are past peak season for the leaves, but there is still so much beauty to be found. As I walked into the forest I noticed an ancient tree that invited me to sit and reflect, and as I did the wind kicked up the leaves and reminded me of a Mary Oliver poem. So come and sit with me for today’s visit at Old Stone Well Farm…and think back to the song the leaves sang to you when you were a child and how perhaps the world would be a better place if we never lost the innocence of a child. What has been your leaf song? I would love to hear from you.

Click on the video…like, comment, subscribe.

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Look All Around, Grace Abounds

The wind has been blowing the leaves all around, but I discovered something startling about myself the other day as I watched some leaves trying desperately to hold on to the safety of the tree limb: I am also holding on tightly to what I know and what seems secure.

I realize when I look up and open my eyes, there’s nothing to fear. God’s grace is all around.

Have you been holding on to what you know lately — what is comfortable and seemingly secure? Are you ready to let go and enter a new season? What do you do when you need a bit more faith on the journey?

Come, join me here at Old Stone Well Farm. (And if you haven’t already, subscribe to the YouTube channel so that you never miss a visit.)

Click on the image below to start watching:

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Frights and Fears Be Gone

Welcome to a special midweek gathering at Old Stone Well Farm, where I have finally caught up with all my chores and rested from leading a women’s retreat followed by a Sunday in the pulpit.

Now it’s time to once again breathe in all the God moments, and today I share with you how I am observing Michaelmas this October.

Yes, the feast day of St. Michael is Sept. 29, but I like the idea of being mindful all throughout this month of how God’s angels are there for us. Frights and fears might abound, but God’s goodness shines.

Come! Join me. Click on the video below. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to this growing channel — and share with others. And let me know how you might weave in some Michaelmas celebrations this month! And who perhaps have been the angels in your life who have walked alongside you in trying times?

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Breathe in God’s Beauty

A busy weekend here in Vermont. After leading a wonderful women’s retreat on Saturday, I now get ready to preach at another church. And so, this week’s time together at the farm will be delayed. But before I head out to church, I invite you to breathe in God’s beauty all around here at Old Stone Well Farm. I can’t wait to be with you in a few days!!! So much to fill you in on.

Till then, blessings!!

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When Life Gives You Green Pumpkins

It’s so great to be back home at Old Stone Well Farm, just in time to enjoy autumn’s arrival. And what better way to cozy up to a new season than with a delicious recipe I discovered — one that I make using unusual ingredient.

Come. Pull up a chair. Get cozy. Join me as I see God’s provision right in my little shabby garden. Click on the video below.

And never miss a visit at Old Stone Well Farm, subscribe to this growing YouTube channel, and share with your friends. There’s always room in my old kitchen for more!

P.S.

And here’s the recipe I mention in the video. Let me know if you make it and what you think of it!

Long Winter Green Pumpkin Pie

(As featured in the Little House Cookbook)

Filling

Four pound unripe green pumpkin

1 cup brown sugar

1 pinch each of ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or you can substitute hard cider or apple cider)

1 teaspoon butter

Pie Crust (You can make your own or cheat like I do…using premade pie crust. I have yet to master the art of a flaky crust.)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup vegetable shorting

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the green pumpkin, cut it in half and the quarters.

Cut pumpkin quarters into pieces that resemble apple slices to measure 5 cups and place in a large bowl. Add to that, the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, apple cider vinegar and butter. Stir.

Pour pumpkin mixture into a prepared pie crust, add the top crust, crimp edges and brush with egg wash. I have also seen recipes where cook the pumpkin mixture on the stove for about ten minutes. That might ensure the pumpkin slices will be tender.

Bake at 45-50 minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown.

You can order the Little House cookbook here on Amazon,

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006…

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Beauty All Around — Even at 1 A.M.

Friends, there will be no new episode of Old Stone Well Farm today. Feeling a bit under the weather after a week away in Louisville. Yes, the world has reopened for this country pastor and my traveling schedule for my work with the Presbyterian Mission Agency has begun.

But, as I was driving home from the airport at 1 a.m. I had a few God moments: I noticed how brilliant the stars were sparkling; I noticed how the abundance of deer on my path forced me to slow my anxious pace down and be in the moment; and, I noticed how my high beams announced that we had just had our first hard frost, as the the fields before me were a ghostly white. I was tired. I was eager to climb into bed.

Yet, I was once again reminded of the serene beauty of God’s creation that is always present to us if we open our eyes.

What beauty are you seeing today?

Let me know. And Old Stone Well Farm will be back!

Blessings!

Donna

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Keep Climbing

I just came back from an opportunity to realize a dream.

I was in Florida speaking about and sharing with others Old Stone Well Farm Media & Ministry.

And so, this time together will be a short one as I need a day to hug my chickens, mow the lawn … and find time to be still with God and ponder what this recent trip means.

But during my travels I thought about what it means to “keep climbing.” (That was the tagline of the airline I flew…talk about a God moment!)

What does it mean to soar high? Am I really ready to realize a dream? Are you?

Come and join me today in seeking to climb and dream. Click the video below…and take time to comment. I love hearing from you. And share with others who might need to be inspired to realize a dream this day.

Are you ready to begin living…really living? I hope so, because I don’t want to do this alone. Join me in believing with God that all things are possible!

Blessings,

Donna

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Picnics in the Pasture

The death of the Queen, the anniversary of 9-11… along with so many other losses and stresses in my life … made me realize something important: I don’t want to anything to rob me of my joy — or peace.

Yet there seems to be so much, for lack of a better word, pure ugliness in the world. I have been especially heartbroken lately hearing colleagues (especially in ministry) saying that if someone doesn’t agree with them, they can leave. The games I see being played are so petty. The talk about love is just that: talk.

As I take my picnic blanket and enjoy time in the pasture, I think about how big I want my blanket to be, how I want to live my life welcoming others…listening to others…including others. So, come. Click the video on below and sit with me for a while.

And I would love to hear from you.

Better yet, send me a picture of your picnic that I encourage you to have.

Blessings!

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Resting From Our Labors

Deer running through the pastures. Goldenrod casting a heavenly glow in the fields.

The seasons are changing here at Old Stone Well Farm…in many ways!

As I take some time to step back and breathe — and share with you a wonderful opportunity Old Stone Well Farm has been blessed with — I invite you to do the same: step back and breathe.

While not our regular time together, I pray for even a few short minutes you will find rest, peace and enter this new season with me here in Vermont with eyes open to the God moments all around. (Click the video below, and I will be back with more Old Stone Well Farm adventures!)

Blessings!

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Dreams Require Baby Steps … And Listening to Your Life

After watching my stone mason “listen” to the stones in the creation of my 18th-century outdoor bake oven, I began realizing that for dreams inside our hearts to become true, we — as Frederick Buechner puts it — need to “listen to our lives.” Listening the leads to taking those important baby steps in making things happen. So I invite you to some to my Vermont farm as I pray about dreams, baby steps and listening. (You will also see my latest 18th-century hand-sewn creation!) So click on the video below. Stay awhile. Renew. Relax. Feel God’s Spirit! And I would love to hear what small baby step you might take this day in making your dreams come true!

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Thank You, Mr. Buechner

Pastor, theologian and author, Frederick Buechner died on August 15, 2022. He was 96 years old. An ordained Presbyterian minister who never served a congregation has always been an inspiration to me. Rather, Buechner saw his writing as ministry.

Whether you are familiar with his writings or not, I invite you to visit with me at my 18th-century home here in Vermont as I share with you not only the words that have inspired my life — Buechner gave me the courage to say “yes” to serving a rural church. He also gave me the courage I needed to leave the church life to regain my identity as a writer! — but to take in all the beauty that inspired him.

And one of the God moments I share, is that I live, work, write, dream, right down the mountain road from this literary great. So, come and hear some of the nuggets of wisdom. Click the video below and ponder, pray, dream — and as Frederick Buechner once said, “Listen to your life.”

Blessings,

Donna

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Dreaming of a Little Log Chapel

Lately, I am right in line with the psalmist, who once asked why, o, soul, are you downcast? I thought a week away from Old Stone Well Farm would improve my spirit.

So, I went into the wooded area on the farm, up the hill named after a beloved Bernese Mountain dog who used to greet my day. I went to Sofie’s Hill to revisit a long-desired dream of creating a prayer area…perhaps, even a mountaintop chapel.

As I explored, I came to realize the reason for my heavy heart. So if you are feeling out of sorts today, or even if you aren’t, come and join me as I find healing in dreaming, pondering, praying and spending time amid the trees. Click on the video below. And know, that where ever your heart might be this day, you have an accidental country pastor, praying for and with you.

Blessings!

Donna

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Monk Moments

Addicted to hurry is something I never thought I was until I began noticing how quickly I ran through my days, cramming in them more and more things to do.

So when I had a few days away from Old Stone Well Farm, I decided to use the time to reset my spirit — and my priorities. I didn’t pack books to read and I didn’t even jump on social media. Instead, I decided to savor the spiritual space I was in and listen to what author Kathleen Norris calls the “monk moments.”

Come and feel the sand between your toes with me, and find the courage to truly be still. (And discover a few old churches with me!) I would love to hear how you are resetting your life? Drop me a note or comment.

So, let’s begin. Click the video below and enjoy!!

Blessings,

Donna

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Grossvater’s Wisdom: Swiss National Day at the Farm

I cannot believe how fast the summer is flying by. As we head into August, the month starts with the celebration of Swiss National Day here in Vermont.

My father’s family is from the picturesque village of Appenzell, and so my Swiss roots are deep and dear in my heart.

This year, though, I think of the lessons I have learned from my grandparents, most of all my grandfather, who is called “grossvater.”

So join me today as I share lessons and wisdom — and information on a Swiss chicken I would love to get!! Click the video below to start our time together.

As always, it’s a joy to have you with me.

Blessings!

Donna

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Has Truth Become the Flavor of the Day?

I was getting ice cream the other day and noticed all the flavors that were available. I began thinking about how “the flavor of the day” changes with the season — early June it’s strawberries, the blueberries when they are ripe, then come early fall, pumpkin.

I then thought about “truth” and wondered: Has it become our flavor of the day, changing with societal seasons. I held this in my heart as I went on an adventure, attempting to make ice cream the 18th-century way, which meant no hand-crank machine and no fruity flavors!

And as I did, I discovered a very unique flavor of the day: parmesan cheese ice cream. Yes, cheese!

So join me at Old Stone Well Farm (click the video below) for a time of reflection and some amazing homemade ice cream! I would love hear your comments.

And please share this with your friends, like, comment, subscribe to my YouTube channel as well.

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Summer Sabbatical

Writing deadlines are tight and I know I need to take time to breathe, to be in the God moment. But since I can’t fully do that right now, I took a few minutes to take note of the gifts all around me. I called it my “summer sabbatical” and while it wasn’t very long, it was just what my soul needed.

I share with you this day the importance of finding a pace that restores you, not wears you out. So take time to give thanks for this very moment…for it is a moment filled with beauty. (Click the video below to begins!)

Like, share, comment…and if you haven’t, subscribe and tell your friends about Old Stone Well Farm either here at Accidental Country Pastor or on YouTube — type in “Old Stone Well Farm” — and you will discover more than 100 videos there to enjoy!

I love hearing from so many of you who come, and I love seeing where in the country you are visiting from! So drop me a note!

Blessings!

Donna

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Are You Making Life Harder?

This Accidental Country Pastor is getting ready to preach in Ballston Spa, New York, but before I go, I share with you how I have recently realized that I often make life harder than it has to be. Why do I do that?

Some interesting insights I discovered when I decided to explore this. We have to stop making things harder than they are. And we have to take comfort and courage and embrace the great hope we have knowing the God is near. God’s word is near — always speaking to us in so many ways.

I share these ways with you today here at Old Stone Well Farm! Just click the video below and enjoy your time in Vermont with me!

Blessings to you!!!

Donna

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Kitchen Treats from the Farm (Or My Amish ‘Salad’ Saga)

I’m in the kitchen sharing with you how my Indian Strawberry Cornbread turned out, as well as sharing my adventure with an Amish recipe. It’s a fun time here at the farm. So join me…and make sure to leave a comment telling me what you think of these recipes — and if you are tempted to make them yourself. Speaking of recipes. Here they are:

Indian Strawberry Bread

2 Cups of Corn Meal

1 Egg (I forgot the egg when I made mine…so maybe the egg helps!)

½ tsp of Salt

2 tbsp Shortening

Just strawberries and their juice Enough to moisten mixture to cornbread consistency, sort of soft, but not too stiff.

Use white fine corn meal, add salt and melted shortening (butter or crisco) Beat egg a little, and add moistening your mixture with strawberries and their juice (If using frozen strawberries melt them first and they have a little juice with them. If using fresh strawberries, sugar them and let them set awhile until there is juice.) Use a 9 inch pan, bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until it seems done and golden on top.

Creamsicle Salad (This is enough for a Barn Raising!! So if you have small gathering, cut the amounts in half.)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

16-oz. tub whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

2 cups mini marshmallows, fruit-flavored or regular

6-oz. pkg. orange gelatin

1 to 2 15-oz. cans mandarin oranges

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and pineapple. Fold in marshmallows, whipped topping, and orange gelatin. Lastly, stir in mandarin oranges. Spoon into a large glass bowl for best presentation and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Can sit out for at least an hour without getting watery.

I got this recipe from Amish365.com, a great resource for Amish living.

Blessings!

Donna

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Fourth of July or a Strawberry Thanksgiving?

It’s Fourth of July weekend and the red, white and blue is painting the rural landscape. While I add to the patriotic scene, hanging my Betsy Ross flag on my 18th-century house, I am thinking more of having a Strawberry Thanksgiving celebration.

Native Americans would use this time to gather the berries and give thanks for the fruit. It was also a time to make peace and forgive. I think our country needs a lot of that — peace and forgiveness.

So come, join me at Old Stone Well Farm. Pull up a chair and press play on the video below, and think about how we can only be truly free through forgiveness. And please take a moment to like, comment, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and most of all, tell your friends and invite them to the farm! Lots of changes are in the wind for this accidental country pastor and I would love to see where the Spirit wind takes this media ministry.

Blessings!

A Raccoon Came to Breakfast

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And so, it begins.

This morning there was a raccoon at the chicken coop trying to get its paws inside, reaching for them. Luckily, I chased it away.

But once a raccoon has found its rural vending machine, it will come back eager to select a treat — or two or even five (the number of chickens I have). There’s not much you can do to safeguard your chickens.

The more I read about raccoons, they are smart little bastards — able to open doors, unlatch latches, reach in through wire fences and gnaw and chew on a wing or leg of a still alive chicken. The latter is actually a gruesome tale I read on one of the many chicken chat groups I frequent. Ugh. That is definitely a sight I do not want to see.

My neighbor lost all 10 of his young chickens last week. Bits and pieces were left behind, as well as the hearts, which were eerily placed in a ritualistic-looking circle. “Raccoon,” was all he could mutter to me without breaking down in tears.

My writer’s mind began narrating this spooky little story into the pages of a still unwritten manuscript I have been toying with about a young pastor stumbling upon an 18th-century homestead — that seemed to be calling for her — only to discover ghost children roaming its rooms, calling out, “Pastor, welcome home.”

The story is actually inspired by an old 18th-century saltbox house I had purchased as a new pastor moving into a rural community. The day I closed on the property and officially received the keys, I discovered in an overgrown corner of a pasture headstones from the early 1700s. There was also a shuttered window banging on the upper level of the garage one day soon after I moved in. The noise was so annoying that I ventured in the wind and the rain and climbed the rickety ladder to the loft to secure the window. It was then I noticed a child’s tea set laid out in front of the window. The hair stood on my neck. I felt like an intruder. Or maybe I wasn’t? Maybe I was supposed to be at this poltergeist playdate. “Pastor, welcome home…” (Cue spooky music now.)

Turns out, the previous owner of the saltbox had a side gig as an antique dealer. Thus, the old children’s tea set in the loft.

But I digress. Back to the raccoon.

The carnage the raccoon left behind was horrific, my neighbor said. We then just stared at the now-empty coop, both of us offering a holy, silent blessing to life — and its fragility.

I then heard him speak softly, sadly: “Watch out for your flock.”

Today, a raccoon showed up at my coop. My girls won’t be running freely today chasing bugs or inhaling worms. Sorry, ladies.

It will be a miracle if my chickens survive the summer. Luckily, I do believe in miracles. I also believe in God’s strength to help me face whatever I will need to face if said miracle turns into a massacre.

(And no, I didn’t take this picture. I was not lucky enough to capture such a funny photo.)

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Remembering Birthdays

Friends, there won’t be a Sunday video this weekend as I am taking some time to catch up on projects, tend to the garden and chickens and — after the latest news coming from our government — I am taking time to be still and soak in all of God’s healing grace that I find in the chirping of the birds, the cackling of the chickens and the robust bellowing of the cows (watch the video for the backstory on this!).

It’s also my birthday weekend…well, my birthday is June 27. Still, my husband knows how I like to milk my special day. It is special. And as I get older I realize this more and more. I also realize how meaningful it is to remember someone’s birthday (more on this, too, in the video).

To be remembered … to know we are loved … to feel our gifts are seen … our voice is heard … isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what makes this world a better place? So, thank you all for remembering my birthday. I know I am not the greatest at returning the favor, but this year as I blow out the candles on the cake, I will vow to become better at remembering.

Blessings and peace!!!

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A Dress and a Missing Chicken

Many of you know that I love all things 18th century — food, music, architecture and clothing. In fact, for two years I have been working on sewing by hand an English round gown that would have been worn in the Colonies between 1760’s-1770’s.

I found a period-correct pattern and researched the correct material, including a cream colored under skirt with a quilted pattern. Of course, any authentic dress would only fit right with the right underpinnings. And so, I found a wonderful 18th-century reproduction company and ordered a shift and stays. Stays were a corset that laced up tightly to flatten the bosom and narrow the waist. The look of that time was a conical shape for a woman’ torso, with emphasis being on big hips and butt. So I had to order a bum roll, too. Then came the shoes, buckles, stockings, garters, cap and ribbon.

I began this dress right as the pandemic hit in the early spring 2020. And today I finished it. Not bad for someone who doesn’t follow directions well and is not a seamstress. It was a lot of fun learning about how dresses were made. For example, the pleating in the back was often fodder for petty gossip among women because if your pleats weren’t perfect, word would get around. I also had to figure out the inset of the sleeves. I kept wanting the shoulder to hit on top as our modern-day shirts do, but these 18th-century sleeves were not aligning to what looked correct to my 21st-century eyes. Then I realized, after some research, that 18th-century sleeves were set further back to pull a women’s shoulders back to give her better posture. Who knew?

As I was filming to show you the finished product, something terrible happened — so I thought. I was in the yard calling the chickens. All of sudden they were clucking like crazy. A big commotion. I was confused. Two hid in the deep thicket beyond the fence. One froze in place screaming. It all happened so quickly. I didn’t see any predator, but clearly there was one among us. When things settled down, three chickens hid, clearly frightened. One made a mad dash back to her coop. I looked around and realized PotPie was missing.

I looked at the video as the camera was still rolling when this happened, and the last I saw of PotPie she was running from the lilac bush toward the overgrown raspberries up a ways.

It was so sad. It happened so quickly. All afternoon, I kept looking out the window for her. Nothing. I had accepted that she was gone. But then my husband came home from work and the first thing he asks when he came into the house was why was there one chicken outside of the coop running around it in circles? What? I had securely locked them in the safety of their run in the coop. I ran outside (in my petticoats!) and saw that PotPie had come home! I was so relieved — and stunned.

What a day it has been here at Old Stone Well Farm! Of course all this commotion had to happen when I was dressed head to toe in 18th-century garb. I wonder what those passing by in their cars thought as they watched me running around, searching for my chickens.

Well, here’s my finished dress…and a look at the excitement as a day in the life of an accidental country pastor.

Old Stone Well Farm

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Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The wild roses all around Old Stone Well Farm are beautiful, reminding me of bridal bouquets. Yes, June is a month of weddings — and anniversaries — and I can’t help but to remember how God answered my prayer for love in my life. But beyond that, I can’t help but to be awed as to how great God’s love toward us is. I invite you to take time, pull up a chair, sit back, have some sweet tea, lemonade or an iced coffee, and spend some time with me here in Vermont. And please take some time to like, comment — even subscribe to Old Stone Well Farm’s YouTube channel (that is, if you feel so moved.) 😉

Old Stone Well Farm is a fledgling ministry, one in which I do not know where God is taking, but this I know: I love sharing this life of faith with you, I am comforted to know I do not journey alone, and I look forward to sharing with you my little piece of God’s beautiful creation.

Old Stone Well Farm

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Fitting In or Truly Belonging?

Ever wonder where you truly belong? I have, and I have always been in awe of those who followed their hearts and chose to be in the world but not of it. My recent trip to Amish country in Pennsylvania reminded me of people like this, as did my time exploring the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

So come and join me here at my Vermont farm as I ponder some more — and share with you some of the music composed by the Ephrata Cloister.

(Sorry for a shortened time together … and my brief words to you today … I am sadly dealing with a sick chicken and my heart is just breaking. Trying hard to keep it together and focus on all the editing, writing, gardening, sewing, baking bread, etc. that I have on my plate.)

Old Stone Well Farm

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The Winds of Kindness

The winds were blowing here in Vermont, making Pentecost even more of a reality for me. As I watched the tall grass sway in my back pasture and laughed wondering if my chickens would take flight, I thought about the power of the Holy Spirit that God sent to his followers. It, too, came like a rush of mighty wind.

But as I think about how the Spirit empowers us to do incredible things, this year, I think the most incredible thing we can do is to speak more words of kindness. And, yes, that will indeed take help from God’s Spirit.

So, come. Join me. Feel the Pentecost winds and then have a seat as I share one of my many finds from last week’s trip to the Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania.

Old Stone Well Farm

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Amish Grace and Shoofly Pies

A slight delay with this morning’s video. Wifi isn’t great out here among the Amish. But I share with you some thoughts this day as I invite you to come and join me at an 18th-century cloister where I found some peace for my rattled soul. Enjoy! I am now off to get some scrapple for breakfast! Blessings!

Old Stone Well Farm

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Foraging for Fiddleheads

Yes, only I would go foraging in Vermont for fiddleheads and ramps on one of the hottest days in May. But I have been feeling out of sorts lately and so what better place to lighten a heavy heart than in nature? Well, as wonderful as God is, I didn’t get fiddleheads and ramps. Rather, I got a basket full of God’s surprises, and a reminder how I need to “forage” for more of God when I am feeling low. What about you? What are you in need of this day? Let me know and let’s be prayer warriors for one another. Now, grab your basket and let’s forage!

More than Just the Monday Morning Blues

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Woke up feeling…not sure how to describe what it is that I am feeling. Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious?

I look at the grass glistening with dew. The birds are singing. The humidity captures and accentuates the smell of lilacs. The scent is almost suffocating. I don’t recall the lilacs ever smelling that strongly.

How is it that I am surrounded by such peace and beauty and yet I still feel…Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious? (Perhaps I am feeling all of these things?)

Two horrific shootings in our country over the weekend — yet again. Two acts of violence that capture how sick we as a people are. My prayers for those grocery shopping in Buffalo and those attending church in California feel hollow. I am numb. And yet, I need to focus. I have stories to write. I have stories to edit. There are magazine deadlines that cannot be missed.

But it is hard to get to work today. Hard because all that I do today seems trivial and silly compared to the great pain, the endless tears and the broken hearts of those grieving today.

I cannot believe we are living in a world where we risk our lives going to get groceries, going to school, going to church, going to…wherever.

I want to retreat further into the woods. Go off the grid. But that is not the solution to the world’s pain and suffering.

And so I find myself sipping my coffee with tears streaming down my face. I have deadlines to meet. I have stories to write. The world’s love of productivity prods me to get on with my day.

My reply to the world, “Really? Get on on with the day?” Is “getting on with our day” the way we heal a broken world?

When do our hearts ever have a chance to heal anymore?

There seems to be no reprieve from horrific news. And each headline, each senseless death, each act of hate, rips off the tender scab that began forming on our tender hearts.

All I have left inside of me is a tired, broken whisper: Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.

May God’s mercy wash over us this day and may our bitter tears flow into deep streams of grace.

My morning run included a stop alongside this little stream. I stood there entranced by the soothing sound and the simple beauty. That’s when I wondered: Would there be less hate and violence in the world if only we allowed ourselves to stop what we are doing long enough to be entranced by God’s beauty all around us?

Old Stone Well Farm

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Some Time Off

It’s been a busy time for me and, as many know, I struggle with taking time off. But I have, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it.

What about you? When was the last time you tossed your “to-do” list aside and took time to marvel at God’s beauty all around? The sunning shining, the birds singing, the heavenly scent of lilacs blooming…take that time today. Make that time now.

I will see you next week.

Blessings,

Donna

Old Stone Well Farm

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I Shall Not Want

Spend some time today with me as I share with you one of my favorite places from my childhood — the Wick Farm in Morristown, NJ.
On a cold, rainy May day I get to explore, pray and ponder — and enjoy a few God moments, like meeting the friendly park ranger who
welcomed me into the old 1750 house and shared a tale about a horse. As a Presbyterian pastor, I also learned the Wick family had Presbyterian roots!
What God moments will you have today? They all begin by listening to our Good Shepherd and following where he leads.

Old Stone Well Farm

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Resurrecting Our Dreams

On this third Sunday in the Easter season, I’ve been thinking a lot about new life and the resurrection of dreams. If God makes all things news, then why do we hesitate to embrace that newness?

A question for today: Are we grabbing our nets and returning to waters we know or are we going to listen to Jesus calling out to us to cast those nets into new waters.

So come, join me here in Vermont for a time that I pray will inspire, comfort and fill your heart with Easter faith!

And if you would like to join me for some traditional in-person worship, I will be in the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin, NY, this morning at 10 a.m. Live stream on the church’s FB page@Broadalbinfirstpresbyterian.

Live Worship April 24

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Friends,

I invite you to join me for live worship on April 24 at 10 a.m. ET as I lead worship in person at First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin, New York. It’s a wonderful little church, great hearts and people eager to serve God in so many ways.

You can join the worship at First Presbyterian’s Facebook page (Facebook@broadalbinfirstpresbyterian)

We will still also have time together at Old Stone Well Farm. The video will be up and running Sunday morning. And so, click below for your invite.

Blessings,

Donna

Conversations at the Old Stone Well

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Easter is a Way of Life

By Donna Frischknecht Jackson

My quiet Easter included listening to the birds sing their songs of praise here at Old Stone Well Farm, Vermont. I invite you listen before reading on.

Easter Sunday was quiet this year. Being a “free-range” pastor (I have been inspired by my chickens to dub myself that) I didn’t have the Holy Week and Easter Sunday responsibilities my friends had. There were no multiple services to plan, sanctuaries to decorate with flowers and plastic eggs to fill with candy for the children.


It was quiet, and that can be a good thing — especially when your soul is thirsting for peace in a world filled with noise, strife and sadly, violence and hate. It is in the quiet where you can do nothing but listen to your heart speak its deepest desires. It is in the quiet you can hear Spirit’s wisdom softly howling in the wind that blows through the gaping windowsills of my 18th century house. It is in the quiet I feel the presence of the Risen Lord speaking his beautiful post-resurrection words, “Peace be with you.”


Yes, peace be with you. With me. With the world. Yet there can be no peace if we do not put healthy boundaries around all the ceaseless activities and demands filling our lives. There has been much talk lately about work-life balance, but what about work-life AND faith balance? What are we doing to nurture our relationship with the Divine?

There has been much talk lately about work-life balance, but what about work-life AND faith balance? What are we doing to nurture our relationship with the Divine?

Donna Frischknecht Jackson


I think that is why I welcomed a quiet Easter Sunday — even when its celebratory dinner was a bag of stale chips and a wilted salad because I didn’t expect I would have a problem getting a last-minute restaurant reservation.


I didn’t mind, though, because Easter is not a day. It’s not even a season leading us to Pentecost’s mighty rush of Holy Spirit wind. Easter is an invitation to a new life and a new way of living that life. To live with hope — always, and in all things. Hope amid failed plans. Hope amid missed opportunities. Hope amid betrayals and heartache. Hope in the promise of seeing those we love again in the great by and by.


Easter Sunday gives way to Easter Monday and then Easter Tuesday and Easter Wednesday, etc. For those who are not of the Catholic faith, there is officially the eight days of Easter. This time is called the Octave of Easter, and each day a mass is held and the Glorias are sung and the Alleluias are shouted. Scripture readings focus on the various appearances of the Risen Lord, reminding us that he is alive and, as one of my friends likes to say, “Jesus is on the loose!”


The Octave of Easter is rooted in the great feasts found in Hebrew scripture, where many Jewish celebrations lasted for eight days. The Octave of Easter ends on the second Sunday of Easter which in the Catholic Church is known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy.

The Octave of Easter is rooted in the great feasts found in Hebrew scripture, where many Jewish celebrations lasted for eight days. The Octave of Easter ends on the second Sunday of Easter which in the Catholic Church is known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson


My Protestant Reformed upbringing has never included the Octave of Easter in any liturgy or even conversations. The closest I ever came to celebrating the Octave of Easter was honoring Easter Monday. My father is Swiss, and I remember growing up hearing how in Europe, Easter Monday was observed with a day off. That intrigued me, especially as I wondered why we here in the states returned to work the day after Easter Sunday. It seemed that we celebrated the Risen Lord and then the next day forgot all about the life-changing opportunity we have been given in his resurrection. It just seemed wrong. Even now, this focus on a one-day Easter Sunday celebration seems “off.”


In my own work circles, more emphasis is placed on extended time-off during Christmas, with Easter getting just a nod. This year, on Easter Monday, friends I knew arrived at airports as the crack of dawn so that they could gather for weeklong church meetings. Other meetings, like a weekly 8:30 a.m. Monday meeting, went on as usual. Easter seemed quickly forgotten. I, though, chose to embrace the profound holiness of Easter Monday that I have discovered exists when you choose to live — not just observe — Easter.

I, though, chose to embrace the profound holiness of Easter Monday that I have discovered exists when you choose to live — not just observe — Easter.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson


I lit a candle, poured a cup of coffee, spent time in prayer and then went for a walk in the woods. During my walk, story ideas to write came. Ideas for future Old Stone Well Farm videos filled my mind. I felt my steps quickening. I felt lighter. Joyful. Hopeful. I was excited about this day and the ones to come. I also pondered what a friend wrote on Facebook that I found so beautiful. She said that “Easter Monday was like breathing in a deep breath of Resurrection power.” I paused on the muddy trail and drank in a deep breath of that power. It felt good.

. . . ‘Easter Monday was like breathing in a deep breath of Resurrection power.’ I paused on the muddy trail and drank in a deep breath of that power. It felt good.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson


It was then I realized something: Could all this busyness after Easter be because we really are afraid — or hesitant — to accept Easter’s invitation to a new life because that would mean doing things differently, thinking differently, acting differently…and “differently” is not what many people want, is it?


As for the pushback I receive from valued friends when I bring up a more monastic way of doing business, with their insistence that there is so much work to be done, I ask gently, “Who then are you truly seeking to glorify with all the busyness and Zoom meetings? Self? Others? Or God?” (In the corporate world, I know my views will probably have me crucified.)

Who then are you truly seeking to glorify with all the busyness and Zoom meetings? Self? Others? Or God?

Donna Frischknecht Jackson


I’m sorry, we have no availability for Easter dinner for two. We are booked.


I thanked the hostess on the other end of the phone and turned to my husband and smiled, “Oh well. We will have our Easter dinner another time.”

He smiled back. He understood.

Easter is every day if we only dare to say “yes” to a new and risen life. Now take that deep breath of Resurrection power — and live.

The chickens of Old Stone Well Farm are waiting patiently for the daffodils to bloom. Till then, they are clucking their Easter praises to all who will listen!

Easter at Old Stone Well Farm

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Hope Always Blooms

Happy Easter to all from Old Stone Well Farm! It’s a special day, one where I find hope amid despair, life in the face of death, and remember that God is holding each one of us.
I also invite you to join me on Sofie’s Hill on this Resurrection Day for a beautiful sendoff for Rev the cat. (More on the timing of his farewell in the video! Talk about a God moment!)
It is a joy to have you with me on this day!!! I would love to hear about your Easter God moments. Email me at accidentalcountrypastor@gmail or watch the video on YouTube and leave a message.

Click below for our Easter celebrations to begin.

Blessings!

Holy Week at Old Stone Well Farm

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Seven Greens Soup and Seven Words

The holiest days leading us to Easter are here and I spend the day making a Swiss German soup known as Seven Greens Soup. Traditionally served on Maundy Thursday, the soup features seven greens, which got me thinking about Jesus’ seven last words spoken to us from the cross. Come and ponder with me these words as well as Jesus’ mandate to love one another. Let us journey toward Easter together — and bring a friend as well!!

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Legacies, Palms and My Redeemer

What better way to spend Palm Sunday than at the church where I hear God speak the most powerfully to me — nature.
It’s on a cold, rainy trail where thoughts of legacies, palms and my redeemer, got me wondering: What do I really need in life?
So let’s usher in Holy Week together. Join me. I promise you won’t get wet like I did.
I pray our time together will be a blessed time. (Oh, and there was a little surprise during filming. Something that I wonder if Rev, the cat, had something to do with? A little smile from heaven?

Old Stone Well Farm

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Heavy Heart and Holy Week Expectations

Getting ready for Palm Sunday at Old Stone Well Farm and realized just how not ready I am. Ever find yourself in a season where all your best laid plans got changed?
Perhaps, when this happens, it is God’s invite to us to really be open to something new. Or perhaps it’s just an invite to stop “doing” and just be. So, won’t you join in this short time together to just “be”?

April’s Day at Old Stone Well Farm

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The Chickens Play a Joke on Me

It’s April’s Fools Day at Old Stone Well Farm and my chickens played a joked on me that involves one of their eggs!

So I invite you this day, to take a few minutes, press play and listen to how after I got done laughing, their joke got me thinking about the season of sadness I’ve been in and the need for self care. And let me know if you have ever had the experience I have had. I’m learning so much about chickens.

(And a reminder, I will be off this Sunday and so no worship video, but please go to YouTube and make your Sunday an Old Stone Well Farm rerun day…or marathon!

Go to YouTube and type in “Donna Frischknecht” in the search and you will see in the library 156 videos! I will be honest, there are some I really should take down. Wow. Old Stone Well Farm has and is always evolving!)

Old Stone Well Farm

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Running Home

Need a smile? Need encouragement? Need to feel the love and grace in your lives again? Then let’s “run” back to where we will find wholeness again. On this fourth Sunday in Lent we ponder the parable of the Prodigal Son with a little help from Rembrandt, Henri Nouwen — and some cute little piglets! Enjoy your time in Vermont at Old Stone Well Farm. Comment, share…and let me know your answer to what brings a smile to your face.

Blessings!

Old Stone Well Farm

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Gathering at the Sugar Shack

My favorite season is here. No, not spring, but maple sugar season!

The sap is flowing from the trees and the sweet air from the sap being boiled into syrup is wafting on parts of the trail I run on daily. Maple syrup season makes mud season almost bearable — almost.

So, as we begin our third week in Lent, I invite you to the farm where I think about God, maple syrup, sugar shacks and this thing called “community.”

And a shout out to Rathbun’s Maple House, rathbunsmaple.com, for always serving such a wonderful breakfast! It’s a blessing to live near such an iconic place.