DIY





MOTHER's Love Match Leads to a Homesteading Adventure

Leni Ashmore Sorensen shares her story of making a love match through MOTHER's "Positions and Situations" column and her homesteading adventure thereafter.

| February/March 2003

  • Kip and Leni Moving the Daisy pig (behind Kip) in South Dakota, circa 1975.
    Kip and Leni Moving the Daisy pig (behind Kip) in South Dakota, circa 1975.
    BJORN SORENSEN/LINDA STARKEY QUEEN
  • Leni and Kip in front of their work-in-progress in Crozet, Virginia.
    Leni and Kip in front of their work-in-progress in Crozet, Virginia.
    PHOTO: BJORN SORENSEN
  • Kip and Leni, circa 2003.
    Kip and Leni, circa 2003.
    BJORN SORENSEN/LINDA STARKEY QUEEN

  • Kip and Leni Moving the Daisy pig (behind Kip) in South Dakota, circa 1975.
  • Leni and Kip in front of their work-in-progress in Crozet, Virginia.
  • Kip and Leni, circa 2003.

The story of a love match made through MOTHER's "Positions and Situations" column and homesteading adventure.

The following letter appeared in MOTHER'S "Positions and Situations" section, March 1974:

I'm a Cancer Lady with two boys, recently immigrated to Canada and working on a farm near Toronto as housekeeper and barn help. I enjoy the work and am learning a lot but am getting lonely . . . . I'm 31, black, tall (5'9") and sorta freaky for around here. Especially lacking is any male companionship. I'm partial to tall men after a lifetime spent looking down at the tops of folks' heads. I'm a hell of a good cook and am skilled at gardening, canning, raising rabbits, sewing and minor carpentry (have also begun to handspin wool) so favor a man with a country lifestyle over a city-minded dude.

— Leni Ashmore
Orangeville, Ontario.

Well, well, well. I certainly asked for it! I received 68 letters in reply, quite a few from Canadians, one from Alaska and the rest from all over the United States. The most important letter that started my homesteading adventure, though, was from the man who would, before the year was over, become my husband, father to my two boys, and eventually the father of our own two children.



Through the spring and summer of 1974, Kip Sorensen and I wrote back and forth and talked on the phone; me from my farm job in Ontario and him from his job on a wheat farm in the northeastern hills of South Dakota. Early in August my 13-year-old son and I took the Canadian National Railway west from Ontario. We stopped in Winnipeg, crossed the border into South Dakota and met Kip. To make a long story short, we met, sparks flew, and on September 24 my boys and I arrived back in South Dakota to stay. I've always been one to make my mind up fast.

When we began our life together we lived on a rented farm. The rent was cheap in exchange for overseeing cattle on several hundred acres of rolling pasture. In exchange for repairs on a sagging front porch, a neighbor gave us a flock of laying hens. For a sack of onions, another farmer gave us two bottle lambs. Sioux Bee Honey gave us 150 pounds of honey for letting them place a flatbed trailer full of hives in the pasture.






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