We just completed ten days of farm-sitting on our friend, Judith’s island home—the Betty MacDonald Farm on Vashon. The Farm (as we call it) has special significance for us, holds many cherished memories, and is the place we go to create, rest and reconnect. It’s steeped in nature. The orchard is lined with Jonagold apple and Asian pear trees. On the hillside, rhododendrons, lilies, fairy slippers, blue flax, and flox bloom. In the trees, we see eagles, hummingbirds, and owls. In the woods and fields, there are deer, foxes, raccoons, even coyotes. And in the passages between Vashon and the Kitsap peninsula, Orca whales feed on Chinook salmon.
Many of our family members have never seen the farm, so we thought we’d create a special (private) blog post to share more about it.
ABOUT THE FARM
Northwest author, Betty MacDonald lived on this seven-acre farm in the 1940’s while writing her books, The Egg and I, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series, The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, Nancy and Plum, and Onions in the Stew. Our friend, Judith, married Betty MacDonald’s nephew and came to the farm in the 1970’s.
Today, the farm is a B&B. The cottage (to the left of the main barn entrance), is a cozy unit with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bath, and a deck that overlooks Puget Sound.
Please enjoy this brief kindling-chopping demonstration starring Torbjorg, the Norwegian Woodsman:
THE COTTAGE DECK
The Loft is the top floor of the barn (once the haw mow) and is a one-bedroom, open-plan suite with wood stove, kitchen and bath, and a deck with more amazing views of the water and (when it deigns to show itself), Mount Rainier.
THE MIDDLE BARN
Below the loft is the “Middle Barn”—an open plan studio space and a trove of interesting odds and ends including Betty McDonald’s old typewriters, books and miscellaneous, collected artwork. Over the years, I’ve spent hours in the Middle Barn, examining old papers, almanacs, log books, maps, and art supplies.
THE WEST WING
The West Wing (to the right of the Main Barn entrance) houses more random rooms filled with strange and wonderful antiques—Edward Curtis prints, paintings from all eras, sporting equipment, and yes, more books.
Also in the West Wing—things like this:
How many times did we walk by this blanket over the years and never look beneath??
What Lies Beneath:
Ever seen the inside of a juke box?
THE WOOD BARN
The Wood Barn contains farm and woodworking tools. And yes—LOADS of wonderful wood. There is also a small apartment (a kitchen, living room, bath and bedroom) in the Wood Barn that overlooks the back orchard. Tor and I have stayed there numerous times over the years. Note the mammoth woodpile against the wall that feeds the farm’s many wood stoves throughout the colder months.
This is Jenny, Judith’s daughter:
In 1978, when Jenny was eight, she was killed while riding her bicycle near the Vashon ferry dock. Her ashes are buried beneath the big copper beech in the upper garden.
And last but not least, two of four farm cats:
WAFFLE, 9 years old, who lived with us in our house on Vashon. When we moved to Mexico, we left him in Judith’s care where, he has flourished.
STELLA, Waffle’s mama. Age unknown, but she is still sweet and beautiful and a very skilled hunter (like her son).
Hope you enjoyed the tour!