#HomeGrownStories – Debbie Robbins
The Miami County Barn Quilt Project began in 2007 when residents were asked to host quilt paintings on their barns. Debbie Robbins, who owns Robinhood Farms with her husband, Mike, is one of our local barn quilt owners. Their quilt, “Woodbox,” is ten years old and still looks great on their barn in Fletcher. The Miami County Barn Quilts are part of the Ohio quilt trail. The Adams County Quilt Sampler started the trend in 2001. Miami County has 67 barn quilts, all painted by hand by Mexican folk artist, Rafael Santoyo.
On her connection to Miami County:
We moved to Miami County when I was in first grade. I was born in Dayton and lived in a subdivision down there. Then my mom and my step dad found a farm in Covington and we moved there. Covington was my home. I think of it as home now even though I only lived there for eighteen years and I’ve been here thirty-nine years [laughs]. My brother still lives on our home farm. We grew up on the farm. There were five of us, four brothers and me. We had all kinds of animals from chickens all the way to cattle.
My husband Mike’s family bought this farm in 1954 and this is his home farm, so he’s never left either [laughs]. They ran the whole gamut here too with four kids in their family. Mike and I actually met through 4H. We got married and had two children, a boy, and a girl.
About their horses and Robinhood Farm:
We live on a farm so that’s what we do. We have Belgian draft horses and cattle. We decided since we had the horses that we’d try to earn a profit with them. We got into the carriage business. We did wagon rides at the Heritage Festival for about ten years. We also worked with Mainstreet Piqua for Christmas on the Green. We did that with our sleighs and wagons for years. We’ve done a lot of weddings, a lot of company picnics, and parades.
It got to the point where our kids graduated and moved on. What we took on as a hobby went on to be a profession for our kids. Both of them are still active with horses. Our son and his wife have horses and they show them at the county fairs. Our daughter and her husband have a carriage business. They have a white carriage with black horses. They do a lot of weddings in Virginia and a lot of parades like we did.
How they became involved with the Barn Quilt Project:
I saw the notice come through from the Farm Bureau. I called Diana and they were kind of wrapping it up. She hooked me up with who I needed to talk to, Judy Rose from El Sombrero. She was involved with the project and she had a couple of different quilts I could look at. We burn wood — we always have — and the pattern we chose is the Woodbox. And it’s appropriate because Mike’s mother was a seamstress and this was her barn. It’s a wonderful tribute to her; she passed in 2007. She was a wonderful lady and we love it immensely. It’s been up there 10 years now and it looks great. We’ve been blessed.
I wish I would have had a guest book for people to sign when they came to visit. We’ve had mothers and daughters that have traveled here – some from Michigan, some from Virginia. Husbands bring their wives. We’ll tell them what way to go to see some of the other quilts near us. It’s been neat. I’ve enjoyed it so much!
Her favorite things about Miami County:
I love the people of Miami County – we’re people people. It seems like wherever you go, people will say “hello” or “how’s your day?” Mike will see someone and be talking and talking for twenty minutes. We’ll walk away and he’ll ask me “who was that?” [laughs]. I’ll say “I don’t know – I thought you knew them!” That’s our county. People are friendly. It’s so hometown and laid back.
The county fair is really big with us. Now that our kids are out of 4H, it’s a social event for us. I’m a 4H advisor and I was at the fair every day and loved it. We catch up with friends and family.
We’re close to Dayton and Cincinnati, but far enough away that we have that small town feeling. We’re away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities.
Her Miami County recommendations for residents and out of town visitors:
There’s so much to do. WACO Field and the Johnston Farm are great for history. All the trails that we have, you can go biking or hiking. There are so many great restaurants. We have very high-class restaurants and establishments. We also have restaurants for a low-key family get-together or hanging out with a friend and having a beer. You don’t have to go very far and you’ve got the whole gamut. That’s the real blessing of it.
“Woodbox” may be seen in person at 9145 North Casstown-Sidney Road, just north of Snyder Road. Visitors are welcome to pull up the farm lane and park to view the quilt pattern.
Visit the Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau website for more information on the barn quilts.
Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.