Posts Tagged ‘Pamela Stewart’

The Ghost Farmer

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Jody Cothey (Courtesy of Pleasure Boat Studio)

Jody Cothey scribbles bits of poetry on little pieces of paper as she goes about her daily chores.
A farmer as well as a writer, the poet lives and works in the hills of East Hawley, Massachusetts, where she and her husband Edward run Tregellys Fiber Farm. There they raise yaks, Icelandic sheep, Bactrian camels, and several dogs as well as other exotic and non-exotic animals.
Jody, whose pen name is Pamela Stewart, is attuned to the seasons and the cycles of nature. Her farm, animals, and companions appear in her new collection of poetry, Ghost Farm, released by Pleasure Boat Studio.
So do feelings about love and loss, the aging process, and the joys of literature and music. 

I recently talked to Jody about her life and her poetry—and of course I asked her for a recipe! 

Courtesy of

I was curious about the origins of the fiber farm. She explained that she met her husband in Cornwall, where she was working on a poetry project. The two spent seven years in the U.K. before returning to the U.S.
They lived in Montague, Massachusetts, for several years until he suggested a change in lifestyle. “Ed, who used to work on a dairy farm, said, ‘I miss animals. Let’s get a farm,’” recalled his wife. Tregellys Fiber Farm grew out of that longing.
Jody laughed in retrospect at the potential folly of the project. “We got this farm and made it too big. But if I hadn’t gone along, I would never have experienced the stuff I have.
“I would never have learned to spin. I would never have met a camel. I would never have met the Tibetan people that we love,” she said. She added, “I think the farm is the center for the poet in me.”

Courtesy of

Nevertheless, she admitted that sometimes the farm overwhelms her poetry. She explained that she loves to run errands in her car. “That’s when I have time for me.”
When she has enough scraps of paper with snippets of poetry saved up, she takes a break from farming and goes to Wellspring House, a writers’ retreat in nearby Ashfield, which she called “a godsend.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to write the poems [in Ghost Farm] without it,” she noted. “I recommend it to anyone who needs to get away.”
About her writing process, she stated, “I write before I think. I have to write and then think. My angle is just scribbling everything. Then later I follow through on my scribbling.”
She compared composing a poem to making a soup or a stew. “You can start with something and then add something else and so on but you can’t always take things out.”
Asked whether she thinks of herself primarily as a poet or a farmer, Jody laughed. “Mostly I think of myself as a person with a large streak of housemother right now.
“It involves taking care of dogs, our friend’s son who’s about to turn 17, and my husband; and having my mother live with us,” she explained. “I feel that I think as a poet but it doesn’t often come out in daily life….
“I do what I want to do. I know other people for whom poetry is their all-consuming life. It’s not my all consuming thing. It’s a part of me.”
Jody agreed that poetry is not our culture’s most popular or most celebrated art form. Nevertheless, she clearly values it highly herself.
“I think poetry itself has a spiritual life of its own. It will always be there no matter what the culture or the society or the age is busy doing…. If you catch into it at any age, it becomes a part of you,” she said.
“When I’m doing it, I’m in touch with something that’s bigger than me and causes me joy–and sometimes agony, but mostly joy.”
Jody Cothey (and/or Pamela Stewart) will read from Ghost Farm and sign copies of her new book this afternoon at 2 pm at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls. Massachusetts.
If you can’t make the signing, you may get her book from Boswell’s or from the publisher, Pleasure Boat Studio.
While you’re reading it you might like try nibble on one of Jody’s Ghost Farm Cookies.
When I asked for a recipe, Jody happily gave me these simple brown cookies. Their plain exterior belies their richness. “They are brown cookies—my forte,” she told me, “but lovely and crumbly/buttery.” 

I liked them so much I’m adding them to my Twelve Cookies of Christmas collection.

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature
1/2 cup dark (or light!) brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and soda. Stir in 1 cup of the flour. Transfer the dough to a board (on which you have sprinkled part of the second cup of flour!) and knead it.
Knead in the remaining flour. The dough will be quite stiff by the time you finish incorporating all the flour.
Jody suggests a number of ways in which to shape her cookies, including rolling them out and cutting them. Here’s what I did: I rolled my dough into three logs and cut each log into little cylinders. I then pressed the cylinders into little flat circles.
Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Makes about 24 cookies (depending on how big you cut/roll them).

Courtesy of

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Jody’s Homely Oatmeal Cookies

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Jody's cookiesweb

Last month I announced the beginning of my monthly “Twelve Cookies of Christmas” series and asked for cookie submissions from readers.
Jody Cothey of Hawley, Massachusetts (my hometown!), sent in this month’s “Two Turtle Doves” recipe, which she calls Havrekaker (I have also seen it spelled “Havrekakor.”)
The recipe is Norwegian. Jody first found it in a small book from the 1940s called A Grandmother for Christmas. She has been making the cookies since she was about 13.
Jody describes these oatmeal clumps as “homely but yummy.” They are indeed yummy, and they’re homely in both senses of the world: they’re a little plain, and they speak of home.
Jody’s home is Tregellys Fiber Farm. It’s on the other side of town from the Casa Tinky and looks as though it’s in a different country.
The hills outside my door are small and cozy; the ones outside Jody and her husband Ed’s home are dramatic—more like the Andes or the Himalayas than our humble Berkshires.
The Cotheys raise exotic (mostly) fiber-producing animals and have an abiding interest in India, Nepal, and Tibet. Ed weaves lovely rugs and blankets from the fleece. The pair sell his handiwork as well as fair-trade international handicrafts in a shop called Tregellys World in nearby Shelburne Falls.
When Jody isn’t taking care of yaks, Icelandic sheep, or Bactrian camels she writes poetry under her maiden name, Pamela Stewart. Her new book of poems, Ghost Farm, is due out later this year from Pleasure Boat Studio.
I don’t know how she finds time to bake, but I’m glad she does. It helps that these cookies are very, very easy. They hold together beautifully.
Jody says, “This is a fairly stiff mixture so have a strong wooden spoon and an adequate bowl, especially if doubling the recipe.” Ed, who is a big fan of the cookies, adds that they freeze well. (We didn’t have any left over to freeze!)
A Bactrian Camel (Courtesy of Tregellys Fiber Farm)

A Bactrian Camel on a Hawley Hill (Courtesy of Tregellys Fiber Farm)

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 cups raw oatmeal
2 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the oatmeal and flour; combine thoroughly.
Drop or scoop cookies of the desired size onto greased cookie sheets. Ideally, you will have about 2 dozen cookies, but if you want them bigger or smaller, go right ahead.
Just remember that bigger cookies will take a little longer to bake, and smaller ones may take a little less time. Jody says, “Mine are small…. usually cookie size is personal, like bra size.”
Bake the cookies until they are firm and begin to get brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

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