Barn Quilts, Recycled Chicken Coop and Tomatoes

1 / 8
The making of a barn quilt.
2 / 8
This photo was taken at one of the workshops offered by Glenn and Barbara Gross, of Emlenton, Pennsylvania.
3 / 8
To get more information on the workshops we talked about in “Bridging the Gap With Barn Quilts,” send an email to Barbara Gross at
4 / 8
Madison, 14, wanted some chickens of her own, so, she researched the topic and set out to make it happen.
5 / 8
Do-it-yourself chick brooder from Madison, 14, in Mississippi.
6 / 8
Do-it-yourself chick brooder from Madison, 14, in Mississippi.
7 / 8
The West Union Covered Bridge in Indiana was built in 1876.
8 / 8
A photograph of the West Union Covered Bridge in Indiana, shot by drone.

Barn Quilts  

I was delighted when I received my May/June issue of Grit, and it had an article on barn quilts (Barn Quilts Bridge the Gap). I, too, paint barn quilts. I have sewn and quilted many projects in my life, but painting barn quilts has been the most fun. I have painted more than 25, and have sold many of them.

Two years ago, I remodeled a sun porch. It was painted in green, orange and yellow, and trimmed in dark gray. I have taken these four colors and painted 24-inch barn quilts for the wall. They are awesome, and each quilt is a different pattern.

I am getting ready to do a 36-inch triangle pattern for the front of my house. It will have four triangles: red, blue, green and yellow. I have one in my bedroom in the Ohio Star pattern, in colors of a Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket. It’s orange and turquoise with a tan background.

I live on a 1-acre homestead in town, growing mostly berries for the farmers’ market. I have blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries and goji berries. I started 67 goji berry plants last summer, but it looks like the rabbits ate all of them this winter. I still have the original six plants to play with though. I also have a vegetable garden and grow hostas and daylilies.

I receive several of your Ogden Publications magazines, and they have taught me so much – thank you for that. I was even able to attend one of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS several years ago. They are so informative, and it’s fun to see the people you read about. I got to listen to Joel Salatin, Bryan Welch and Hank Will speak, and I even got to talk with Diane Whealy of Seed Savers. She started Seed Savers about 60 miles from where I live.

Please keep up the great work passing all this valuable knowledge on to us. I do so appreciate all of the information. Even though I’m 67 years old, there is so much out there to learn.

Sarah Saltmarsh, Kirksville, Missouri

Tomato Love

What would a garden be without a long row of tomatoes – big ones and little ones?! I mostly grow the large kind, but as of late, I tried some of the grape tomatoes – very tasty with few seeds. I can find some space for these. I guess the saying that the tomato is the love apple is true; many lovely dishes can be made with them.

When I plant my tomatoes, I use a plastic drain pipe like you buy at the home improvement store. It comes in 12-foot pieces. One kind has small slits cut in it; that’s the best kind. I cut the pipe into 1-foot pieces, and I use my posthole digger to dig a hole about 5 inches deep, and then stand the pipe up in it. The reason for leaving some out of the ground is so you can water and keep frogs out. Drive your post down in it, and plant a plant on each side.

I use the ready-mix potting soil. It has enough plant food to last almost until harvest. I also have lots of maple leaves I use for mulch. For about $20, you can buy a telescopic pole, made to clean gutters, that you screw on your water hose – works perfect. Don’t turn the water on full force or you will wash your plants out of the ground.

I place a shallow pan of water in my garden and catch all the frogs I can find. I put these frogs in the garden, and I never have to spray for bugs. Last year, however, a monster black snake left me frogless before I sent it on its way.

Gardening has always been a way of life for me. When I was little, the only reading material I had, other than the Bible, were seed catalogs and the Grit paper. I had a paper route, but always had to donate one copy to the household even though it meant less candy for me. Hope everyone has a great garden season.

Dock Hyde, Clover, South Carolina

Grit and Determination

We bought an old farm in 2014. My daughter, Madison, who was 14 at the time, decided she wanted to raise chickens, so she did a lot of research. She cleared out a barn, fixed the fences, and then installed nesting boxes she recycled from tin, old factory windows and old pop crates; then she got her first 20 chickens.

This year, she decided to get more chicks and ducks, but she wanted a brooder that was more convenient. She drew up blueprints and started looking around the farm for things to use. She found an old planting cart that already had lighting installed, as well as some 1-by-1 posts and barn wood. She made a frame from the 1-by-1 posts to go around the cart, then wrapped it all with barn wood. She added tin to the roof, made some doors out of 1-by-1 posts, and constructed the sides from an old dog cage. It turned out really nice, and makes it easy to care for the chicks and socialize with them. The kids love them.

We are really proud of her creativity and hard work. Madison loves her chickens and spoils them like crazy. When she’s not in school, she’s with her chickens.

Christina Jones, Metamora, Mississippi

Gooseberry Correction

Gooseberries are not prohibited in West Virginia as stated on Page 37 of the May/June issue (“Gooseberries: America’s Forgotten Fruit”). They are prohibited in 23 of the 55 counties.

Thanks for the article that made me research this.

Richard McLane, Kenna, West Virginia

You are absolutely correct, Richard. Sorry for the mistake! Thanks for looking into it. – Editors

Good Samaritans

In the March/April issue of Grit, we asked readers to write in with accounts of neighbors helping neighbors – being Good Samaritans – which prompted the following letter.

My story is about my partner, my best friend, and the most appreciated father, Jake Butler. He’s shown my daughter and me the skills of hunting, fishing and raising our own food. He’s a hard worker and a good teacher. He converted an old shed into a new chicken coop when we decided to start raising our own chickens for food and eggs a couple of years ago. Now, each year we get new chickens to stock our freezer and allow us to collect about a dozen eggs per day. Last year, we had to build on a run because of a pesky fox.

Jake also taught my daughter how to be a skilled fisherman – how to clean and fillet fish, build trout lines, check bank poles, and fish for bass. He’s taught us both how to hunt, and showed us all the ways to respect the animal – we even eat the heart!

Jake is all about trying to be resourceful. He installed a wood burner a few years back that heats our home and our water. He always tries to be there when anyone needs him, but he’s usually busy building, repairing or helping a friend, family member or neighbor. He even got a memorial nomination at our cabin for building a dam on his own. When Jake lost his parents – his father in 2006 and his mother in ‘09 – he had to take on a lot of responsibility, and that included our home and the sportsman’s club where he was voted to be president, third year running now.

He’s respected and looked up to in many different ways. I thank him for all he’s done and continues to do.

Dalayna Winget and Kyah, Good Hope, Illinois

Covered Bridges

In our March/April issue, we explored covered bridges and rural bridges in general, and then invited readers to send in photos of their favorites. Check out the images in the slideshow for a couple of our favorites. – Editors 

Need Help? Call 1-866-803-7096