Rural Free
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Rural Free

A Farmwife's Almanac of Country Living
Rachel Peden
Drawings by Sidonie Coryn
Foreword by Jennifer Meta Robinson
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/14/2009
Format: paper 400 pages, 12 b&w illus.
6 x 8
ISBN: 978-0-253-22161-2
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Rural Free, first published in 1961, beautifully conveys the joys of family life on an Indiana farm. Marked by the slow pace and rich variety of seasonal change, Rachel Peden’s narrative offers an authentic month-by-month chronicle of her family’s daily adventures. Today, as the slow-food movement gathers support and more urban dwellers return to the land to plant roots again in honest soil, Peden’s stories of country life and her lessons on sustainability, frugality, and wastefulness gain a special resonance. Rural Free will be a source of inspiration for all who rejoice in rural virtues and the spiritual freedom of country life.

Author Bio

Rachel Peden (1901–1975) was a newspaper columnist and author of The Land, The People and Speak to the Earth.


"To all who care about nature and the changing seasons, reading it will be a satisfying experience." —Harper's Magazine

"Mrs. Peden's observation is amazingly keen, and her ability to sketch with a few strokes, the color and line of a scene or an occasion is, remarkable. . . This farm wife has written a beautiful and inspiring book." —Raymond Holden, New York Times Book Review

"There is beauty—lots of it—down on the farm and a Hoosier farm wife has captured most of it in her first book, Rural Free. . . . The author shares her love of nature and farm living in a fascinating way with those who already experience this exciting way of life down on the farm as well as those caught in the mad whirl of city living. . . . It's delightful." —Frank Salzarulo, Indianapolis News

"[Mrs. Peden] has a sharp eye for the parade of nature outside her window, and a fine day in May will turn her almost poetic. . . . A handsome book, illustrated with drawings to match by Sidonie coryn." —John Barkham, Saturday Review

"Rachel Peden is a farmer's wife with an eloquent pen and a superb awareness and understanding of nature. Her observations are laced with inspired philosophies expressed in poetic prose. This is more than an almanac—it's a signpost to richer living." —Los Angeles Times

"Poignant and intriguing, Rural Free is worth considering for those who want to gain a better understanding of how most of America lived throughout its history." —Library Bookwatch , December 2009

"[T]hese stories recount far more than just the drudgery of farm chores. Peden's prose is stunning, causing the reader to stop and read again its beauty." — , 1/8/2010

"Now back in print from IU Press,
Rural Free's values resonate once again with a new generation that's searching for ways to re-establish a sense of community within local and natural environments. It's also a well-written pleasure to read." —Bloom

"How much finer our lives would be if we were as attentive to our surroundings as Rachel Peden was to her family, farm, neighbors, and neighborhood. Her ear was equally attuned to rural speech and the grammar of cows, to the creaking of an old house and the chirring of crickets. She rejoiced in every phase of the turning year, every hatching and harvest, every birdsong and blossom, every kind of weather and useful work. Now we can rejoice in the reprinting of this marvelous book." —Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist Manifesto

"Before I knew it, the year had passed, and I felt energized, optimistic, and entertained—as if I had spent the period actually in the company of Rachel Peden." —Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac

"Nature springs from these pages. Rachel gently reminds us that we owe the future our past. May this book light a warm fire in the hearts of many eager to somehow counter the speed and urbanization of modern society and culture. Let wild things be wild and do not be afraid." —Tim Grimm, Indiana singer-songwriter

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