Interview with Kerry Kelley Author and Editor of Ozark Grannies’ Secrets

I can’t remember exactly when I first met Kerry, but I know it was sometime between 1989 and 1990. All I can tell you about knowing Kerry was that we became long-term acquaintances so I can say that I knew her for thirty-four years, I just never knew her well.

Friendly Acquaintances

When my boys were young, we had a goat that we had to rehome because we were moving from the farm we lived on to move into town. I don’t remember if we sold the goat or if we just gave Posie to Kerry, but she ended up with her. About a year later, we went to her house and when we pulled into the driveway, Posie let us know that she still remembered us. I found out that Posie had just had a kid and it wasn’t doing well so Kerry had brought the kid into her house to care for her. Sadly, the kid died, but it wasn’t anything that Kerry did wrong.

I had not really seen Kerry for a number of years. She had remarried and continued to live on the farm, but I never stopped by to visit or anything.

A couple of years ago, Kerry and I met up again at the local farmers’ market. During lulls in customer interactions, we would talk. She shared a lot of advice about farmers’ markets, farming, gardening, and selling at other venues. She always finds ways to share what she knows and I always appreciate her advice and help.

The idea for Ozark Grannies’ Secrets originated in a conversation at one of our farmers’ market weekends. Several of us were talking about what we might want to share in a book or two or heck, a whole series. Since then, Kerry and I started working on what will be our first book. She is as enthusiastic about writing this book as I am and even though she is a couple of years older than I am, she is anxious to learn about writing as much as I am about learning what she knows about homesteading, gardening, and farming. Truth be told, I would say that she might be the prototype for Ozark Granny.

Preparing for the Interview

As part of the process of writing Ozark Grannies’ Secrets: Gourmet Weeds, I realized that we needed to encourage Kerry to allow us to get the woman behind the laptop and that I interview her for this blog.

We were going to do our interview over the phone, but where I lived, my phone wouldn’t hold a signal so we decided to do the interview at Kerry’s house.

I’m glad we did. My husband dropped me off and Kerry met me at the door. She invited me in and offered me a cup of Earl Grey tea. And ushered me into her sunroom off the entranceway. There she had a table set up with her computer and we sat down and started talking. Here’s what she said.

The Interview

“I had distant relatives in northern Missouri and decided on moving to the Ozarks because the prices were reasonable.

I lived in northern California where there were many different types of foods that we could forage. In the seventies, I lived in a little community where we shared our knowledge.

I started learning about gardening when I was a young girl from my mother. When I was little, we moved into a place that had been an old stagecoach station, and we had a large garden there. From there, my mother moved to a smaller place where she mostly grew flowers and herbs and maybe a tomato plant or two. She taught me a lot of what I knew, however, you know how it is with kids, we never pay attention like we wish we would have later.

When we first got to the Ozarks one of the things that we did was to pick rocks, a lot of them. If there’s something that we have plenty of rocks. We started in an area not far from the house and the kids had buckets and would pick up the rocks. It sure makes it easier with the bucket loader on the tractor!

We homesteaded. I gave birth to my kids at home and then homeschooled them. It was good having all those memories of the time that I spent with my children. Not that it was always easy, but I do have a lot of good memories.

We did a lot of things to make a little income. One time we dug out a pile of rocks to put in a bunch of tomato plants which we sold tomatoes by the bushel in our front yard.

One thing I would never do again is to bring in firewood and put it inside the house. It made such a mess all winter long. I wish I would have just kept the extra firewood stacked out on the porch. Another thing that we probably shouldn’t have done was convert the old carport into our sunroom. It probably would have been better for us if we would have torn it down and just started from scratch.

My three older children did develop an interest in gardening and foraging.

Especially my eldest son and his lady friend have a major interest in foraging and medicinal plants. His lady friend has a degree and extensive knowledge of forageable foods. The other day we went walking down Greer Spring Trail when she saw turkey tail fungus (mushrooms) on a log along the trail. We took some home and I dried them to use later. She just popped them in her mouth.”

Excited About the Future

We talked for a while after that about life and where it has taken us and about this new project that we are taking on with Ozark Grannies’ Secrets. We both are excited about the fact that we are getting closer to finishing our first book in the series and that we are already looking forward to the second.

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