Lydia Ratcliff: Vermont Farmer, Stubborn Survivor

I’ve decided to re-post this ThoughtCast program from July 1, 2009 because my friend Lydia Ratcliff died yesterday, February 13th, 2018. She fought COPD for over a decade, so she could remain involved in the life of her Andover farm, her friends, and the ideas and preoccupations which sustained her.

Note: this audio program was broadcast on WAMC and WGBH radio in Boston, and the audio program and slideshow were featured on

Milking TimeAbout 40 years ago, farms were thick on the ground in Andover, a rural town in southern Vermont. Today, 75-year-old Lydia Ratcliff’s Lovejoy Brook Farm is the last working farm still in operation. But can it survive much longer? ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh grew up visiting Lydia each summer, listening to her tales, eating fresh corn and carrots from her garden, and watching the animals give birth, and grow old. On a recent visit to see Lydia, Jenny brought along her microphone …

Lydia Ratcliff is a survivor. She’s farmed her 90 acre plot of land in Andover Vermont for 43 years, and though she’s now come down with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, she still climbs on top of that tractor in hay season.
Does she offer a lesson for the rest of us? Does she represent the future of farming in Vermont, or is she one of the last of a dying breed?
Click here to listen (9 minutes.)

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6 Responses to Lydia Ratcliff: Vermont Farmer, Stubborn Survivor

  1. Felicity & Chris December 25, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Hello, Jenny! Thanks for profiling our neighbor, Lydia…she’s a local legend. 🙂 We loved meeting you as well and and hope to see you in February.

  2. Dan September 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    I had the pleasure of meeting Lydia today and have to say, she is extremely firm but polite. The perfect balance for a person with so much responsibility. You are a strong and amazing woman and I wish you nothing but the best.

  3. Bob December 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    Kudos to you Jenny for yet another superb interview. I happen to know Lydia Ratcliff, and the two of you managed in only nine minutes to capture important elements in her rich and generous life. May other farmers find encouragement in her words, and may she inspire many to follow in her footsteps. A great job, both of you!


  4. Charles Brewer October 11, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    Jenny Attiyeh is an accomplished interviewer, always well prepared she has a firm and pleasant voice and never uses it to bludgeon her guest or hanangue her topic. she always finds something special.

  5. alberta October 10, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Jenny, I appreciate the insights gained through your piece on Lydia. She offers some great wisdom that applies to much more than just farming. As a neighbor I have been interested to learn more about this local legend. Thank you.

  6. Cornelia Brewer October 9, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    Thanks Jenny for the peek at Lydia. I’ve passed by the farm for about 46 years. Now I feel I can stop the car, pull off the road, knock on the door and sit down and tell Lydia how much I admire her. For years I’ve seen her on a tractor haying the large fields on the North side of route 11, long white hair staying put somehow.

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