Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Living the Country Life Feature + Thoughts

We have a feature in a magazine I had never heard of called Living the Country Life. It is published by Meredith (think Better Homes and Gardens). A while back, I heard from an editor who wanted me to fact check an article they wrote about my work. She said they were re-using photos from a Rikki Snyder shoot that Country Home did here. (Meredith owns Country Home too and they hired Rikki for the shoot and they own all the photos - Rikki has no right to them anymore and I never had any right to them because I was the homeowner.) I was glad that there would be more photos being used because Rikki gave them 100 and they only used a few in the original feature. 

I was quite thrilled with the opening spread - a photo with my oil paintings of animals on the porch wall and the stairwell wall with a kitten. 

When you agree to have your home photographed, you never really know where it will lead. Publishers are trying to get more and more out of a photo shoot they pay for as a frugality measure to stay in business. I get that because print publishing is not what it once was. Everyone is just struggling to stay in the game.

It also seems that there are more and more "new" magazine titles coming out that are newstand only. Sometimes they are called bookazines and they are very targeted to a small segment of readers. These publications are usually more expensive than the mainstream magazines - at least $10 and sometimes $15 and $20. When I get the chance to go to Barnes and Noble, which isn't often, I am always floored by the number of titles that I have never heard of. Most of them have little or no advertising - hence the higher cost. 

I am grateful for any publicity I get because I only have so far of a reach on-line. Usually I hope something good will come out of a magazine feature and I might sell something but usually nothing happens except that I will get a few more newsletter subscribers or Facebook followers. So for all of you who think that people who get featured in magazines are making the big bucks - think again. For me, it is mostly an ego stroke. And my publishers like it because they might sell a few books.

Lately I have kind of resolved my thoughts of world domination, possible licensing agreements, and professional success. I guess I am getting older (that is an understatement) and am happy with the number of people who come to my blog and read (thank YOU), might come to a class here at the farm or perhaps might buy something. It really is all about showing up and making or writing things. I'm never going to get rich off this but I appreciate the small amount of success I have from time to time.

I thank you all for coming here and reading my thoughts. As I breezed through the pages of this Living the Country Life magazine, I got a kick out of the other features. One was of a family who raised sheep hosting a "sheep shearing party." Beautiful photos of gorgeous grandchildren, perfectly set tables, neighbors visiting. 

OMG - how hilarious that was for me to think about. When we shear our sheep, it is days full of long, dirty hours of hard physical work. There is nothing romantic about it and we all end up looking like we are covered in dirt. We stink to high heavens and if by mistake you lick your fingers, they taste like lanolin and poop. How funny to see a shearing day portrayed in a magazine with people looking beautiful. I guess it is a Martha Stewart moment when you have lots of help and money to pay people to do things for you. 

My take on this magazine is that they are trying to sell the "country life" as some kind of bucolic lifestyle where everything is perfect, people are beautiful and animals never get sick and die. Of course that is their take. That is the country dream of so many urban and suburban dwellers. It's a story that has been told for decades. Remember Green Acres? Or from the 1940's The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (thank you Therese) which later became a film with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. The later spin-off was the Ma and Pa Kettle series of movies.  

My take of the "country life" after living here for almost twenty years is that it is so different than what is pictured in the glossies. Many things are harder and most things are more expensive - although I think the internet has changed a bit of that (that is if you live where there is high speed connection - for many rural dwellers that is not available.) It takes much longer to get places (with no traffic jams) and most things that suburban and city dwellers take for granted are totally inconvenient. I'm not complaining - I'm just stating a fact. Every time I go to visit and stay with my sister close to Boston or my Mom in the burbs of NJ, I realize this. 

I really don't want to live anywhere else and I can't imagine my life any different. Which is a nice feeling. As long as I plan, trip-chain, and realize that I really don't need most of the stuff that most people think are necessary, things are fine. We subsist on less and so what if your clothes are 15 years old as long as I can still squeeze into them. 

That's my thoughts for the day. If you are interested in reading another blog about living on less, I am enjoying Rhonda's blog Down To Earth - she is from down under. Hope you all are well. 


Anonymous said...

I think many of the changes in our country are just so sad. I remember fondly my summers on my grandfathers farm, with the turkeys and other animals. But as you say, time marches on. Everything changes and no one asks for our opinions.

But I love reading your blog, am thoroughly cognizant of how hard you and your family work. I admire all your projects and the beauty of them nourishes me.

Just sayin'!

Anonymous said...

Great to see your work in some magazines, Kristin, but I too think that so many of them are just too funny. I guess it sells magazines to make things like shearing days look pretty, but you are correct, no one is showing us out in the middle of the night lying on the ground helping a kid or a lamb along, or the mess in the kitchen when you don't have the time or the energy to tidy up because you have to keep moving, feeding those bottle babies, cleaning up after feeding those babies, and on and on.

But all you do is so colorful and wonderful, it should be in the magazines! Good luck with the rest of lambing season, and I hope you get a little more traffic from the articles. Can't wait to see your new book!

Auntie Shan said...

;-} "Bucolic" is the perfect word! -- And so, when the only thing keeping THE FARMER upright at the end of the day is his LEVEL-5-BIOHAZARDED OVERALLS, don'tcha just wanna paint his portrait into some idyllic landscape..?? Eh?

I'm not certain, but I think that Magazine is available up here... I'll be sure to check the next time I'm out shopping.

Actually, if it weren't for the high liabily costs, and possibly traumatizing YOUR Livestock, hosting some [paying] city-school kids to "watch" a sheering session and/or "help" with some of the clean-up, would be an "Educational" experience for them... Especially the part where they can't get a CELL *SIGNAL*! And, " your step! - Ooo, that's gonna leave a SMELL!.."

Anyhoo, hope that you're getting through mud season alright...
Stay DRY!
*HUGS* all round!

Corina Sahlin said...

Yes! I love your reflections! We live not only in the country, but in the wilderness, and I write about our life in my blog. Most people have a totally romantic view of our kind of life: seeing the beautiful photos, reading the stories, and although I write about the challenges as well, lots of people kind of don't believe them!
Bears in the backyard stealing our apples? Coyotes howling next to the goat barn? Racoons stalking the ducks?
Well, no...
They see the darling baby goats, but don't realize I am covered in amniotic fluid and blood helping to birth them.
They see the photo of the yummy ham on the table, surrounded by homemade bread and candles, but don't realize that we spent three days slaughtering that pig.
And so on, and so on.
That's what I love about your blog: it has cute pictures and lots of beauty, but it also keeps it real!
Plus, the knitting and crafting inspiration is awesome!

Karen Budnick said...

Hi Kristin - Believe me, we're not all fooled by the photo's of a comfy brass bed set up so we can sleep outside, counting the stars and swatting mosquitoes as pictured on Mary Jane's Farm. I have wondered from time to time why you don't consider raising meat sheep that also produce decent fleece for yarn. I know some of them are good for both and might produce extra income. Love your blog and have purchased one of your books. I do appreciate how hard you work.

Ettenna said...

I too live in the country but WAY more rural than you. We used to have both sheep & cows so I can always relate to your posts on raising sheep, in fact I went into labor with our second child on sheep shearing day. Now we are strictly cow-calf operation. I am over an hour from a grocery store, etc. the local school is 7 miles away & has a total of 29 kids in the high school. Did it hurt our children? They grew up understanding how to work, how to be alone, how to give to both community & the needy. They are all three engineers with our oldest giving up her chemical engineering job to come back to work here on the ranch. One is getting her masters as she also works, our middle child is getting his PhD. Living here has never been romantic or "beautiful"t. But it is good in every way.

Melaine said...

Thank you for that truth. As a late bloomer in moving back to the "country" and trying our hand at raising a few animals it has been rewarding and also a reality check on country life. Well said, I laughed at your take on sheep shearing and the magazine's as I try to navigate the rivers of mud in my back yard. Take care, Mel

Sally said...

Dear Kristin-- I find myself skimming my blogs lately and spending so much time keeping up with what's going on politically, writing letters, signing petitions, making phone calls, but this morning, I'm treating myself to savoring posts like this. Thanks for being here for us, especially in these troubled times. BTW, I'm knitting a pair of socks in Colorations Color, Spin, and they will be, I think, my very favorite pair of socks EVER (and I've knit a fair few). All best, always. --Sally

Mary Lou said...

Out in the exurbs of the Twin Cities, there are many complaints about the smell of manure, animal noises, etc. Sigh.

rhonda jean said...

Hi Kristin. I'm so pleased you're enjoying my blog because I'm enjoying yours as well. We have a lot in common. I'll continue to visit. xx

carol said...

Hi Kristen,
Been coming here for a long time and love your blog for its honesty.
I wonder where you get your energy! I also read Rhonda's blog . All your info and hers is about real life.

Angela said...

I constantly rant/laugh/cry/ about the false narrative of "country" life. No one shows the dirt, the lack of money, the negative effects of weather, the lack of access to services like mental health care or things for special needs kids. Yes, the ag life can be amazing but it isn't tidy. But life isn't tidy anyway. I was raised on a farm, it didn't look like a magazine spread. Mostly I think people just don't understand the monetary and family costs. I know all sorts of people who want to homestead but also take those family vacations to cool places. I am just mean and say you likely can't do both because land is expensive, your big garden is going to need water if you want to have enough to eat and you can't take the dairy cow to the kennel like a dog.

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