A tribute to a true angel on earth — Maggie, a friend, mentor, and milkmaid
I’ve struggled to write these words these last two weeks, because a part of me cannot believe Maggie is no longer here. Two weeks ago, this world lost a guiding light, a source of wisdom, and a mentor who touched the lives of many, myself included. It is an honor to stand before you today to share memories of a remarkable person who not only impacted my life but also the lives of countless others in this close-knit community.
In 2020, like many of us, gave us 20/20 vision of who I was and who I wanted to build with. When I set out to find a community that resonated with my beliefs and values, Maggie’s presence shone above the rest. I was in search of a kindred spirit, a rogue homesteading homeschooler who would not only share my ideals but also become a source of inspiration and guidance. Little did I know that the voice on the other end of a two-hour phone call would become the cornerstone of my new life.
The day I called her to order real grass-fed milk was the day after she received the devastating news of a rare cancer diagnosis. Despite her own battles, she welcomed me into her life with open arms. I started volunteering to help her with the cows one day a week, not realizing that this seemingly simple act would lead to a journey of shared laughter, wisdom, and genuine connection.
Maggie always had an aura around her, and I don’t know if it was because of her shiny white hair, or the color of her eyes, but the air around her felt lighter in her presence. Every time I visited, Maggie would come out to spend time with me. We would engage in conversations that spanned the spectrum of life, from family, politics, religion, farming, the state of the world, and building a better future, all the while she patiently taught me the art of milking a cow with my hands – a skill I initially resisted, frustrated that she had a perfectly good milker. Yet, she persisted, imparting her knowledge with a touch of Mr. Miyagi-style wisdom. She wanted me to know how to properly strip out the cow’s milk to prevent the possibility of the cow getting mastitis and then having to give them antibiotics, which would render the milk unusable. She would test me and asked me how each cow looked regularly, training me to develop my instincts to see when a Jersey cow would be too skinny, and how important that knowledge is so that they don’t lose too much weight on them because bringing them back to health on a grass-fed diet is more difficult than a grain-fed cow.
I’m honored that Maggie entrusted me and called us, “The Two Milkmaids,” as we ran a grass-fed micro-dairy together.
But Maggie’s influence went beyond the barn. In the face of her own health challenges, she encouraged and pushed me. She believed in me when I struggled to believe in myself. She listened to my dreams and aspirations and played a pivotal role in helping me achieve them. In Maggie, I found not just a mentor but a friend who saw the potential within me and dedicated herself to nurturing it. She joined me on a 16-hour road trip to visit with Joel Salatin and Sally Fallon Morrell, and helped me finishing writing my proposal for “The Nourishing Asian Kitchen” book. We shared stories of her hopes and dreams, and one day she would write a book titled, “I live in a barn.”
I have worked with MIT, Harvard, and Stanford graduates, and a few months ago, I called her in the early morning when I woke up and told her that she was one of the most intelligent women that I knew. She had intuitive wisdom that real milk was a living food, and fought for what was right in the health community, without listening to all the manipulated “scientific studies” and a strong narrative. She was a warrior for the truth, and I am SO honored to have fought along her side for the time we had together.
A few months ago, I recorded Maggie and John’s incredible story on our podcast of her wisdom to live this old-fashioned life on purpose over 30 years ago. It was something I wanted to document not only for me and our family, but for the world to hear. In the world of social media, there is so much fluff. God led me to an angel, and Maggie was the REAL deal.
She imparted extensive wisdom about milk, explaining the distinctions between pasteurized, homogenized, and authentic, unadulterated REAL milk. Her teachings went beyond dairy, emphasizing the vital lesson that our genuine strength and character manifest, unwavering, in the midst of life’s trials. Her words resonated especially when it came to REAL milk – a metaphor for life – affirming that when you discover authentic qualities, like that of real milk, “the cream always rises to the top.” Maggie, you were the crème de la crème.
Maggie, you were not just a neighbor or a mentor – you were a true angel in our lives. Though you may no longer be with us in person, I know your spirit lives on in the memories we shared, the lessons you imparted, and the positive impact you had on each of our lives.