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Ree Drummond’s blog, thepioneerwoman.com, covers topics from home schooling to pot-bellied pigs.
Ree Drummond’s blog, thepioneerwoman.com, covers topics from home schooling to pot-bellied pigs.

Online trends

Rural blogs harvest truckloads of urban fans Add to ...

Ree Drummond's days are spent wrangling her four children, washing jeans, chipping dried manure from boots and "frying calf nuts."

The Oklahoma cattle rancher's wife details her rural trials and tribulations - as well as photos of her rugged husband, known only as Marlboro Man, and recipes for caramel apple rolls - on her blog thepioneerwoman.com.

Slickly photographed with legions of fans, The Pioneer Woman is arguably the mother of all farm girl blogs. With lively posts on everything from home schooling and country recipes to kitchen gardens and babysitting pot-bellied pigs, farm girl blogs are gaining devotees, most of them dreaming of a "simpler" life.

The blogs' popularity is part of a trend that saw Karl Lagerfeld give bucolic ways his blessing in Paris last week, sending clog-heeled models onto a catwalk littered with hay bales at the Chanel show. That follows last month's surge in Facebook members signing up for farm applications, which let users harvest crops and amass livestock with the click of a mouse.

Farm girl bloggers say their stories appeal to city dreamers, especially since many of the bloggers once toiled in the city themselves. Poring over photos of fuzzy baby rabbits and cured apple sausage stuffed pork chops, readers appear stunned by the farm girls' versatility and endless energy.

Living alone in the Oklahoma panhandle, a blogger named Jeanie raises cattle, horses, pigs, poultry - and shrimp. The 34-year-old divorcee recounts her rituals on cowgirlscountry.blogspot.com, now a hit on the online barbecue circuit.

Men are keenly interested in her smokehouse and wild game recipes - Jeanie hunts and considers herself "a fair markswoman."

The single women who contact her "seem to relate living in the country with a romantic lifestyle," a notion that Jeanie discourages since farm "folks work from sun-up till sundown."

Wistful questions about rural life deluged Susan Thomas's country foodie blog, farmgirlfare.com, so she posted a disclaimer: "I'm no longer able to answer messages that are full of general questions about moving to the country or living on a farm."

But that curiosity came because Thomas, now 41, had clinched the dream: At 26, the one-time graphic designer shipped out of San Francisco, landing in remote Missouri. Today, Thomas's 240-acre farm is home to 53 sheep, 17 chickens, six donkeys, nine cats, four dogs and Joe, her "hunky farm guy." Her roles include cook, gardener, farmhand, sheep midwife and "animal undertaker."

"It's a trade-off. I never sit in traffic any more, but I get the shit kicked out of me by sheep. I used to deal with FedEx deadlines and cranky customers and now it's 3 a.m. lamb deliveries and prima donna animals."

Farmgirlfare gets roughly 75,000 visitors a month, including an 89-year-old woman who recently hit up the blog to nostalgically recall her own rural upbringing.

Thomas believes that the growing locavore movement is helping spotlight the blogs. "There's huge interest in becoming self-sufficient, even in little ways," she said, pointing to the urban backyard chicken craze.

Country dreams and green politics aside, readers return to farm girl blogs because they soothe, said Bridget Berthiaume, who posts anecdotes about her horse and bunny farm outside Tucson, Ariz., on heartofacowgirl.blogspot.com.

"People like to be transported," Berthiaume said. "It gives them a brief respite from their daily world and they get to enjoy mine for a minute."

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