Late Autumn greetings, writers, readers, and lovers of historic farms:

We hope this finds you hunkered comfortably, safe and reasonably sane during this tough, strange time.

Jill and I are buttoning down for winter, the raised beds in the kitchen garden weeded and covered, the fields cropped from the season’s final mow, and fallen leaves heaped against our old trees and the still-colorful furze of our weedy lane.

Nearly every day, big V’s of Canadian geese wing low overhead, clacking and honking as if to clear the way and, nearly every night, the coyotes have been noisy too, yipping and yapping in the forest behind us. They seem to be getting bolder and no doubt account for the disappearance of Ruby, our most recent barn cat who went MIA about a month ago. As we live so close to Nature, we reluctantly accept such loss as part of the bargain we’ve made.

Our two basset hounds, Maisie and Oliver, spent a good part of autumn nosing through the Kousa berries under our large, aged Japanese dogwood. The berries are edible and the dogs seem amazed that the grass is full of them.

Here’s the latest news from Good Contrivance Farm:

We have continued operations of the Writer’s Retreat during the pandemic, since we’re renting to one person at a time and observing virtual check-ins, in addition to implementing extra measures to ensure the safest sanitation. So far all has gone well and we’ve never had a busier year. Bookings are now into May 2021. But May isn’t as far off as it may seem. So book now for a Covid-free escape! And don’t forget you can purchase a gift certificate to reserve a much-deserved get-away for your besties.


Captivatingly Cute Cottage Now Open for Writers!

Speaking of get-aways: we’ve just completed building our tiny house cottage from an antique hen house. It’s more than a little charming, offering a full bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping area (with a queen-sized bed), plus free wi-fi and a generous, eclectic collection of books.



To see full details and some glorious photos, click this link: the Hen House Cottage at Good Contrivance Farm.



Barn Sale? Workshops? Picnics?

Oh, yeah, we continue to dream, despite the pandemic. So: if there is a particular kind of workshop, event, or session you think would have broad appeal in the post-Covid future, please let us know. Also: if you would like to rent the barn for a workshop or small session of your own, click here for details: barn rental for writers and artists.

The’Tis the Season for Giving!

As you know, Good Contrivance Farm is a 501 (C-3) educational nonprofit. Even though our expenses are considerable (maintenance, improvements, etc.), we have kept our Writer’s Retreat prices at the same level for four years and are committed to doing so for 2021 because we know these are hard times for all of us—and we want to give what we can.

You’ll recall that our mission is to promote the preservation and restoration of small historic farms in Maryland. Towards that end we painted both of our big barns this summer, made numerous improvements to the Writer’s Retreat (including a new fridge), installed a wildflower meadow, finished construction of a picnic pavilion, and planted all kinds of flowers and trees.

You can help us by making a tax-deductible donation. We’ll send you a groovy receipt you can use to impress the IRS. You can send a donation via Paypal to We’ll also accept checks or take a card over the phone.

The Director Wins a Prize

Although directing Good Contrivance Farm is time-consuming and distracting (especially when Ron’s chasing after Maisie and Oliver) it’s not so consuming that Ron hasn’t found time to write. This year, he won Elixir Press’s 2020 competition for a book of fiction. His collection, Far West, will be published in 2021. You can learn more about it at his website:

We look forward to staying in touch and, perhaps, seeing you here soon someday soon!

Wishing all good things for you and your family and pets and projects!

Ron Tanner and the Good Contrivance Board of Directors: Michael Downs, Leslie Gilden, Mary Marchand, Joyce Schaum, and Sheri Venema