News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Small Farmer’s Journal big on content

Small Farmer’s Journal on North Cedar Street is another of those surprising businesses tucked away off the beaten path in Sisters, and which has a large following well past our borders. The family-owned business publishes a quarterly, large format, color journal — and has since 1976. They have paid subscribers in 72 foreign countries and all 50 U.S. states and all Canadian provinces.

Editor and Publisher Lynn R. Miller, who founded the operation, describes the Journal as “more like a community odyssey than a periodical.” He and wife, Kristi Gilman-Miller, are sincere when talking about the Journal’s editorial philosophy.

“This is a folksy, feisty publication, a clarion of free speech in the best old sense of the phrase,” the Millers say.

The 10-inch-by-10.75- inch Journal typically runs 100 pages, most all of it in color. Well over 50 photos or illustrations support the host of subjects in each issue that range from livestock, crops, barns, equipment, and recipes, to kids pages, poetry, marketing, and politics.

Their stable of writers reaches from as far away as Ireland and England as well as throughout the U.S. To a non-small farmer, the articles may seem esoteric or not very modern like: “How to Build a Spinning Wheel” or maybe even provocative like: “The Raw Milk Mafia: Just What Makes Something a Federal Offense?”

An author in Naples, New York, tells readers how to avoid six mistakes when planting garlic. Small farmers often use methods that have stood the test of time so it’s not a surprise to read about constructing an inclined-column grain drier authored in 1951. The letters to the editor, in a recent issue, included one from Groningen, Netherlands, and another from Australia.

Reader engagement is a high priority for the Journal.

Many publications of the kind as Small Farmer’s Journal disappeared as the internet came of age. Small Farmer’s Journal was not going to be one of them if Miller had anything to say about it. Their website,, is a robust, content-rich site updated daily.

“The relevance and vitality of the site is such that we have been approached by university archivists wanting to assure that the site is kept alive and online for posterity,” Miller said.

The business with a staff of 10, four in Sisters and the others spread around the globe, also are booksellers with some 30 titles that cover topics such as carriage art and craftsmanship, guides to raising rabbits or keeping honey bees, horse-drawn plowing, plus cookbooks and coloring books among others.

Then there are the 74 manuals they sell, ones that cannot be downloaded from the web nor for which there is a big demand. Looking for directions on operating and adjusting a Frick Steel Thresher? Look no further. Need instructions for a DeLaval Cream Separator? You’re covered.

Beyond the agrarian quarterly, Lynn Miller is a prodigious artist and book author. Two books comprise his Duden Chronicles: “The Glass Horse” (366 pages) and “Brown Dwarf” (296 pages). He has several projects in development.

Miller works in a variety of media — oil, watercolors, even walnut ink. He has produced hundreds of works including those that appear regularly in the Journal.

“Painting for me is the process by which I use fluid pigments to make pictures,” Miller says, elaborating, “The pictures are the result of conversations I have with myself about that which I am looking at.”

As for conversations, when asked to define a small farmer, Miller chuckled and said: “Now that’ll take at least a day; how much time do you have?” He does say however: “… the most important, useful and vital component of all agriculture is the independent family farm, that operation which is held close for comfort, care and fertility…”

The proliferation of family farming, holistic animal raising and farm to table dining in Sisters Country is a bookend to the wisdom and whimsy of Small Farmer’s Journal.


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