About me

me photographed by Crystal (2)Hi, my name is Susan Dabney. I live with my husband on a farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, on the Miles River. I taught French at Gunston Day School for 12 years, until the subject got phased out. I love the school and the kids, and I even loved tutoring, but I also had the opportunity to travel part-time with my husband in his work with special populations in Virginia, and stay part time on the farm, growing our food. I’m good with languages, and we are both violinists, so sometimes we travel to cool places and play music, which I am glad to be free to do.

Growing up I was always interested in food; not so much the eating, but the finding, the growing, the preparing, the putting by. I remember my father gleaning pre-gmo soybeans from the field, and eating them cooked with a hambone. I remember my grandmother feeding me poke greens. Foraging for edible mushrooms was like hunting for Easter eggs.

I’ve always been a plant person. My mother says it runs in the family, and it’s true that her six times great grandfather was Johann Georg Gmelin, check that out…. but we also have a pirate named Black Peter in the family, so what does that mean? When I was seven my grandmother gave me an illustrated book of medicinal herbs. A nerd, I was obsessed with it and roamed the woods looking for plants to give my enemies diarrhea. Today I tincture medicines for my family and friends, some of which I grow and others I gather.

As I grew older I also began to follow the man who cut the grass, planted my grandmother’s vegetable garden, did everything she couldn’t on the farm. Steve Moaney was a wise and gentle person with a quiet merriness; years later I found out he was a church elder. He always had gospel music playing on his truck radio while he was working. He was a man who was not afraid of work. He would weed half an acre by hand. From him I learned to farm. I still have the framework of his tiller, although we replaced the engine. He also planted a seed in my heart for God.

When I moved back to the farm in 1999 I got a chainsaw so I could cut wood for the woodstove in my house; as a teacher electric heat was expensive, but my father had done the same thing when I was young. He taught me about cutting wood, and about cleaning fish, wildfowl, and deer, although he was an English professor, and recited Keats’s Ode to Autumn while we pressed cider.

As times get stranger and scarier in this country, I find myself drawn more and more to self-sufficiency; growing as much of our own food and medicine as I can, not buying unless I really need something, and appreciating community. That means helping your neighbor, sharing, bartering cider for eggs, drawing closer together with the people you love. We are blessed to have wonderful neighbors who also play music, who have saved our bacon many a time in so many ways. We also have been blessed to have met other musical married couples who love God, who help us to live and grow in faith. People like this, as well as former students and other young folk, have asked me to write this blog.1970 chevy pickup







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15 thoughts on “About me

    • Thanks! The photo is a bit over the top- my daughter took it and I think it makes me look a bit like an aged Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but it is a “recognizable headshot.”

  1. thanks for asking about olives – yes, I have about 20 trees in pots. Ask at Piazza Italian Market for Emily, who can tell you the whole story.

  2. Susan Dabney! How cool to see your face after all these years. I love what I’ve read here so far, but how about posting some of your music? “Who did you say it was, brother….?”

  3. Oops, I sent you a bad email address. This is the right one.

    And…I can’t figure out how to post a coherent comment. Anyway, I played fiddle with you at Princeton. Lovely to see your face again after all these years. Post some music!

    • Hey Tom! You sure did! Sorry I have been neglecting my blog because I was on dad duty while my mom was getting a knee replacement and now it is the thick of farming. There is one youtube of me and my buddy terry think doing a buddy and julie miller song- could be under Sob Sisters, although I think there is another band by that name that is two cellists. I married my honey from before Princeton and we are working on making our recording studio record. Then we’ll have skeet shooting with CDs….Great to hear from you! I will need to search and see if in fact your e-mail came through.

  4. Hi,
    I am looking for permission to use your photo of the woman filling the chainsaw with oil for a presentation I’m putting together on Chainsaw Safety. Could you email me so I can give you more information.

    Thank you.

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