Mary Swander is a well-published author and playwright, the executive director of AgArts, and the host of the “AgArts from Horse & Buggy Land” podcast. Find her work at maryswander.com. She is a member of the Iowa Writers' Collaborative. Subscribe to her blog, Mary Swander's Buggy Land, here.
Who is this? A call from the Amish phone shack takes some guess work
By: Mary Swander - March 5, 2023
“What are you doing this afternoon?” a man’s voice came over the line on the telephone. I didn’t know if I were being harassed or this was someone friendly. He sounded friendly, but a harasser can sound that way, too. “Who is this?” I asked. “I’m wondering if you could run me into the doctor […]
Heart and soul: Home butchering is a lost art
By: Mary Swander - January 15, 2023
It started with a hunk of beef liver. I’d stopped by my Amish neighbors — Eli and Naomi’s Yutzy’s farm — to pay a bill I owed them. We stood in their breezeway, filled with old chore clothes, jackets, caps, overalls and five-gallon plastic buckets. The Yutzys had begun their butchering for the season, a […]
Only one thing dumber than a turkey
By: Mary Swander - November 24, 2022
Thanksgiving is big business in Buggy Land. My Amish neighbors Abram and Bertha raise turkeys — free range, no chemicals or hormones — hot items for Iowa City folks who like to drive down here to pick up their fresh birds the night before their holiday dinners. The Yutzys call all their grown children back […]
An invitation to an Amish party: Bring your hammer
By: Mary Swander - October 13, 2022
Abram Yutzy dismantled my neighbor Donna’s library with just a hammer, board by board, a huge room that she’d added on some 30 years ago. The library had once housed Donna’s husband Stu’s vast collection of books. Then, after 25 years, their marriage dissolved. Stu took off for California. The books went to the local […]
The Ballad of the Freemartin Town P.O.
By: Mary Swander - September 15, 2022
We had faith in Faith. We knew the Freemartin Town post office ran like any other local business, so we pulled together and supported it. But our previous postmasters stayed three months, maybe a whole year if we were lucky. One up and left in the middle of the night and our Budgets (the Amish […]
Farmers and artists: Strange bedfellows?
By: Mary Swander - August 27, 2022
Farmers and artists? Many think that these two are strange bedfellows. But Midwestern winters are long and farmers are creative. And handy. They often find themselves in the barn or garage after chores are done, tinkering with the objects that surround them. The farmer may be the man (or woman) who feeds our bodies with […]
Nobody talks about the Hunkerdown Bridge
By: Mary Swander - August 19, 2022
Right now, you don’t even want to mention the name Hunkerdown. Two words: the bridge stops all conversation. People sigh, roll their eyes and look the other way. But it wasn’t always this way. A hundred years ago, the Hunkerdown Bridge connected our two adjacent towns. Farmers loaded up their wagons and brought their grain to […]