Farmgirl School

The Good Life On Pumpkin Hollow Farm

Pictured here are irises, Aunt Donna’s Jerusalem artichokes, yerba mansa, and stinging nettles in a pot. I want invasive plants, but not stinging nettles everywhere! A lid of water for the birds and toads is used often.

This is the driest terrain I have ever gardened upon. It is straight high desert, cactus loving, rattlesnake calling, no-rain-in-sight, sand and limestone. Luckily, I like a good challenge and I believe that if I work with the land instead of against it I will have great results. Putting grass everywhere is not a sustainable option. So, how does one turn a pasture (or yard of dirt) into an oasis and meandering garden? Let me show you how.

Each dark round of dirt and straw holds a medicinal plant. Cardboard and wood chips will fill the spaces between. The plants will grow up and fill out, taking over more space.

You don’t need a rototiller or tractor. We are barely disturbing the earth here. First decide what you want to plant. The area in the front of our house has been designated the Perennial Garden. Doug fenced it off from the chickens. It has dozens of medicinal herbs, fruit trees and bushes, and perennial foods, like asparagus, spread out across the area. Maybe you want lots of the same flowers. Maybe an herb garden.

Angelica and Ashwagandha mingle with annual flowers.

For each plant, dig a hole, put a handful of garden soil in the hole. Put plant in the hole. Cover with garden soil. Water for fifteen to twenty seconds. Every 10 seconds= 1 inch of water. Plants need at least two inches of water per day.

Walk a few feet away and plant the next one. You can also dig a hole, plant seeds, cover with garden soil, water. I planted pumpkins among the herbs and trees. This is Pumpkin Hollow Farm, after all.

A few feet from that, perhaps plant a tree or a bush. In the case of a meandering garden, invasive is a good word! I want the plants to fill the space. One giant butterfly and bird garden that provides perennial, sustaining foods, and medicine.

In between the plants, you can lay down cardboard and cover with thick mulch. Wood chips are especially good. Do know that some wild plants, like bind weed, can and will permeate all cardboard and mulch but the mulch keeps things tidy and makes it easier to pull up weeds, and looks rather nice. I would never use weed barrier. Oy, all that plastic. Mama Earth sure doesn’t love that. Bind weed gets through that stuff too, anyway.

We added a large rectangle of thick cardboard ringed with bricks and rocks. We topped with cardboard with 3 inches of straw, and 3 inches of garden soil and planted green beans, soybeans, collard greens, pumpkins, Hopi amaranth, and other beautiful annuals.

A garden can thrive in absolutely any soil and in any climate without the use of machinery and chemicals. We hand water each night so that we can see how each plant is doing. They get plenty of sun. (Maybe too much, all forty of my tomato starts in the kitchen garden fried!) And the plants will reseed and spread themselves, creating an enchanting meandering garden.

There is no doubt that this has been a very stressful time for most of us for many different reasons. Now, we can only handle so much stress and attempts to control things out of our hands. It’s time we leave the craziness and get back to farming. I have lots of things to show you and farming and gardening techniques to teach you, and such, but on this lovely spring day, I thought I would show you some images of my farm. We have been busy around here the past few weeks.

Brom Bones (inside doorway) and Ichabod Crane enjoy the sunshine this morning.
When we bought this farm late last summer, I made note of the lilac bushes on the property. Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers. This week there have been a multitude of butterflies flitting around the gardens bringing with them signs of hope.
Good morning Ladies!
Hopefully soon these innocent looking chicks and ducklings can move outdoors! The white chicks (leghorns) keep flying all over the bathroom. There is chicken poop all over and the ducklings actually got poop near the ceiling. That is farm life for ya! Beware using the guest bathroom!
I planted dozens of medicinal herbs. Here, Bear Root hangs out with the new rose bush my friend gave me for my birthday.
The spring gardens look good. This week I will replant the spaces that didn’t germinate. The new rows coming in are being planted with summer crops over the next few weeks. My cousin came over and looked out the window and exclaimed, “Did Doug do all that by himself?!” People are still surprised that women can be farmers! Ha!
Socorro at eight months old is the self appointed queen.
Linus and Booboo- Cats are best left indoors. Between cars, coyotes, foxes, dogs, people, disease, and poisons, cats don’t live long lives outside. When cats are outdoors, neither do song bird populations. Mine prefer the couch anyway.
This is a tiny nest above the door in the mini-barn. An American Pipit couple guards these tiny eggs. Life goes on, nature goes on, all will be well.

The sun illuminates the plants suspended in their vats of remedy. Good medicine loves the sun. No need to hide behind dark bottles. The sun and the moonlight stir the contents and make them stronger.

Medicine people from all walks of life have warned about emerging disasters. The two leggeds consume poisons and leave destruction in their wake. The earth breathes and tries to recover from the drilling of her breast, recapture the lost species, reseeds her plants. Great Spirit, in Its infinite empathy, holds space and is within everything, but there are still consequences for mindless actions.

We left the medicine people and called them crazy. Said they were dead. The two leggeds turned away from their brothers and sisters, the plants, and put their trust in chemicals that masquerade as medicine and destroy the spirit and flesh. The two leggeds turned away from their brothers and sisters, the animals, and began to kill ruthlessly and daily and ate of them. The two leggeds turned away from the earth and her ability to pour forth good food and plants and handed their money to faceless entities to bring them chemical food as they sat slovenly watching brainwashing screens.

The owl flew over and the wolf howled and the bees rejoiced. Change is coming! they cried.

The two leggeds hoarded and feared and spewed hate. Then they sat and cried and worried. For they did not know medicine people.

Since the beginning of time, there have been chosen ones. They are no more special than the next two legged, but they have been given certain gifts. Gifts that are looked upon as strange or even foreboding. The church made them illegal, their power too great. The people said they heard voices and sent them away. But they are still here amongst us, you know. The medicine people are rising. For the medicine people are needed more than ever.

They are needed for hope, for change, for peace, for their medicine, and for their connection with Great Spirit and all the elements and spirits that help. For their ability to listen to the plant people, the rock people, and the four leggeds. For their empathy and their wisdom that were passed on to them from medicine people before.

It has been very quiet for medicine people for some time now. Many months ago I whispered to my mentor that I don’t think I have the gift anymore. He replied, “Once you are chosen, they won’t leave you alone.” He explained that we are to rest so that we are ready. He told me to get my medicines ready. Plan my garden. For once they start coming, they will not stop.

Dreams have filled the minds of medicine people the past few years. We get stronger in the silence. We take to the trees and listen. The earth is quiet. The trees are quiet. They are listening too. A change is upon us and the people will be looking for their medicine people once again.

The sun gently stirs the contents of my jars and rain kisses the plants I am growing. My land is filled with cedar and sage. I listen to the turkey vultures overhead and send smoke to them. Wado Unegwa.

Summer is filled with gardening, preserving, get togethers, coffee on the porch at sunrise, and blessed warmth. Autumn brings with it the first fire in the hearth, flannels, and skies filled with stars, majestic colors splayed upon the trees. Winter brings holidays and rest, crafts by the fire, and a bit of cabin fever. Spring is the loudest season. It bursts forth with wild temperatures, hints of summer, reminders of winter, plants expand and burst with new life. Ready to shake off the winter doldrums, spring teases with ideas of planting and sunshine. She can be finicky, but she does bring us one of the greatest gifts, baby season.

From my bathroom I hear the gentle chirping of cotton ball sized chicks and the splashing of half pint ducklings.

Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones

Baby goats on their last week of bottles yell incessantly from their pasture to remind me. Their calls suspiciously sounding like a loud, “MOM!” They hop on their dog and play Jackie Chan off the chicken coop.

Taos

My eight month old Siamese gets cuter and louder each day. She can play fetch with a milk jug ring for hours. Seems like I got a Border Collie instead of a kitten. Her sister delights us as well.

Socorro

I am always a bit crazy in the spring. Spring fever is a real thing, folks! It is always the time that my mind races with ideas and dreams and future plans. Usually once the garden is in full swing I calm down, but this year with the lockdown, Lord, I am even worse! Let’s see, I am registered for full time classes at the local college to start in the fall (though the debt certainly is freaking me out), I have devised a business plan for a whole new apothecary set to open down in my neck of the woods, and of course, the quarter acre garden and all the land’s inhabitants I have brought home!

I do wonder if anyone else is like this in the springtime. My husband is so beautifully steadfast all year. It is easier to take a breath and live one day at a time with so many darling babies here. Blessed Spring.

I try not to write about it. I try not to speak about it. I try not to argue about it. I try to ignore it. Writing helps me process information and emotions and learning each other’s perspectives helps us to heal and become less divisive. So I write.

There is much speculation but the facts are pointing to deception, lies, and troubling security. A lab created virus gets out. Gets covered up. Gets widespread. Gets amplified to create exciting news and chaos. A worldwide vaccination is already ready. Big business usually doesn’t have a face to us. The pharmaceutical companies don’t usually have a face. But this time it does. And Bill Gates seems a little shifty right now, along with everyone invested. I am thankful for a president that isn’t in the pockets of big Pharma or big Ag. Who has enough money to think for himself and whose focus is on wellness and the attempt to keep us all from becoming homeless, jobless, and starving- much like the Great Depression- as a result of this virus and all the deceptions in its shadows.

People are fearful. In all animal populations throughout time, the weak are who pass on. We just don’t want it to be anyone we know. We think hiding will stop it. Statistically, this virus is far less dangerous than other viruses we’ve seen in the past dozen years and that is with the numbers being highly inaccurate. Here in Colorado, the virus is thought to have been here since November. My friends, family, and clients have all had a mysterious illness that effected them quickly and then moved on. Coronavirus has been here, most of us have been exposed, and the truth is, most people were fine and were thought to have had some type of flu. So, the death rate is much smaller than the news likes to announce. Hospitals did not start filling up until three months later when the news announced that the virus was here and killing people! We will be alright. Death is part of life. And those that are going to pass on will, no matter what virus comes their way.

I know of people that have died this week. None of them from coronavirus. A young person in an accident. Older people at the end of their given days. I am also watching someone close to me fall into a depression that is scarier than any virus.

What causes all of this fear and anger are things that we cannot control. We all feel so helpless. So we stay home and wear flimsy masks, and pretend that we have any control over it at all.

So, what do we have control over? We know that anything we focus on magnifies and grows in energy. Fear comes from love. Love for those around us and ourselves. If we could just change our focus to that original love. Every time we get fearful or angry, could we say a prayer instead? A prayer for the world. For those who have lost someone dear. For those that have recovered. For those who are scared. For those that are depressed. For those that lost their jobs. How can we send love out from us instead of anger? Can we sit quietly and breathe peace and calm into our spirits? Can we hold each person that we love in our minds and wrap them in love? Can we dwell on hope and courage? Can we speak of love and life and the power to overcome? Instead of fearing the unknown, let us bring faith back into our hearts and know that everything will be alright and that this too shall pass.

Let us remember that the politicians work for us. The news is designed to create panic and intense emotion. And LOVE conquers all fears.

Reach out to those that you love. Send a little text of encouragement or get on the phone. Forget facebook, reach out to people in person and really let them know that you love them, you are thinking of them, and that they are not alone.

I hope the positive results from this will be us walking softer on the earth and being more ecologically friendly. All of us in our gardens. I hope that this makes us more economically smart, and that we will all get an emergency fund put up. I hope that this makes us turn to herbs as medicine and learn the basics so we feel empowered, rather than fearful. I hope that we see the value in small businesses and support them first and foremost. I hope we stop buying cheap items from overseas and start building up the people and businesses in our country. I hope we learn the value of social interaction and that we will put our phones down and really be present with those near us once we are all able to be together.

We will learn lessons from this monumental world event and we will move forward a better and more compassionate people. A more self sufficient and less reliant on government people. We will be more loving and more peaceful and will really appreciate our freedom and our loved ones. Let us send out peace and love every thought we can; this will create peace and love in our own minds as well. And may this be over soon. Blessings to you all.

The more you eat homemade food, the less you like store-bought, and that’s the truth! The hard stuff doesn’t even come close to the delicious, chewy texture of homemade pasta and it just couldn’t be any easier to make.

In a bowl combine:

3 stirred up farm fresh eggs from happy chickens (now, folks, that part is important!)

2 teaspoons of sea salt

2.5 cups of flour

4 Tablespoons of water

Use your intuition to get the dough right, not too dry, not too wet.

Knead 4 minutes or so.

Use a knife and cut the dough into quarters.

Sprinkle each quarter with flour and crush it with your palm.

From here you can use a long, wooden rolling pin or a hand cranked pasta machine. If using a rolling pin, roll out as thin as possible, dusting with flour as needed,and use a knife to cut thin strips.

I like to use my pasta maker. Push the dough through at #7, then #4, then #2. Sprinkle with flour and cut in half. Run the dough through the linguine side.

Sprinkle with flour again on a cutting board, separate pieces if needed, and continue with other 3 pieces.

Bring water to boil with a little oil in it and boil for 4 minutes. Drain and serve with a great sauce like the one I posted last week! Ten Minute Pasta Sauce

I am over on my other blog right now, come check it out! I created a huge extra garden in the pasture in just a few hours.

Creating La Belle Vie

My husband and I live on a lovely small farm in the high desert of southern Colorado. The soil here is river bottom sand set in thick limestone and thousand year old weeds that have no desire to leave.

I have a glorious fenced-in kitchen garden that is over two-thousand square feet but I wanted more space to grow. I headed to the pasture just south of the house. I attempted to dig my shovel into the soil. The shovel clinked off a large stone and I couldn’t budge the spear grass. Enter plan B.

Plan B!

Two layers of thick cardboard ringed with found rocks and bricks.

Four inch thick sheaves of straw topped the cardboard. Then a layer of compost and a layer of organic gardening soil, and it is ready to plant!

Creating a garden is fun and easy and can be made any size, any where…

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My friends and readers, I am hopping over to my other blog for awhile. It has quite a different vibe and I hope you will join me on my blog, CreatingLaBelleVie.com. If you enjoy my writings, please sign up by email or follow in Reader. I hope you enjoy this story written by our little goat kid…

Creating La Belle Vie

It was a cold blustery night when our mum said we had to be out by morn, as she’d had enough of our kicking and carrying on. So, reluctantly we left her warm womb. She gave us milk from her warm tits and kept us close. The people came to check on us and two young lads were oft reprimanded for picking us up and lugging us about. They’d put us down and we’d scamper back to our mum’s soft fur. There were other babes around the barn as well. We were all quite content.

Three days later my brothers and cousins and I were brought indoors and put into a kennel. The house was warm as we all piled into a heap and fell asleep. We heard murmurs from afar; something about us being boys and that we must go. I wondered where we were going.

The two lads…

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The shelves are still empty. Yes, at the store, but I am talking about my own pantry. I slacked the last two years canning and it shows! Not a tomato jar in sight. The pasta sauces at the store are sub-par, in my opinion, and my own are gone. This pasta sauce is fast and delicious. So much so that I think I will stop canning spaghetti sauce and start canning crushed tomatoes!

Just Like You Been Cookin’ All Day Pasta Sauce

Pour a few tablespoons of great olive into a pan.

Saute two or three cloves of minced garlic for a few minutes.

Pour in a 28 ounce jar of crushed tomatoes (I typically love Muir Glen tomatoes plain, but this is all that was on the shelf and it works just fine.)

Pour in a splash of good red wine.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Let simmer while the pasta cooks, stirring often.

This sauce is delicious topped with Violife “Parmesan.” If you haven’t tried it, it’s a game changer. Never a better time to go vegan.

Hurray pasta!

It figures that three different neighbors wanted to come out and talk to me yesterday as I was painting. I had chosen items of clothing that a little paint wouldn’t bother. So I brushed pumpkin orange paint onto the chicken coop whilst wearing red and green Christmas pajama bottoms, purple galoshes, a tie-dye shirt, a Mexican woven hoodie (until it got too hot), and a big, floppy yellow sun hat.

Farm fashion at its best.

1- Paint Outbuildings and Trim

If it is going to be over 45 degrees for most of the day, go on out and paint. Sheds, chicken coops, window sills, and barns all need a little touch up or full paint job and this time of year is a perfect time to do it as we gear up for farming season.

I only had enough paint to do three sides of my chicken coop so I will finish it next week. It will be quite a transformation!

2- Create trellises

Darned if I could find the twine, so I grabbed leftover yarn from a Christmas project. It will work just fine. Peas are light so they don’t need a heavy frame to grow on. Dowels and twine (or yarn) work well to create a trellis for peas. Ideally, trellises will be put into the garden before the seeds are planted, or if you forgot (like me), then before the plants begin to sprout.

Dowels will go every four to six feet along rows of peas. Two or three rows of string are knotted on. Dowels and string can be reused year after year or disassembled and used for something altogether different.

3- Keep planting cold crops

A great friend of mine read my post about planting spring crops and she went out to plant but decided against it in case of frost. We have all been so ingrained that planting before the last frost date shall bring devastation and dead plants, but some plants aren’t bothered in the least by a little frost or a bit of snow. They prefer it to hot temperatures. Hot temps make them bolt (go to seed), so y’all get out there and plant your spring crops! Click here to see the list of plants to plant now.

Based on the recommendations on the back of the package, I will plant every two weeks. If the seed packet says to plant as soon as the soil can be worked, then plant early. Otherwise it will say mid-spring or late spring.

4- Take care of your plant starts

If you haven’t started your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants indoors, better hop to it! Mine have sprouted already. Mist well with a water bottle every few days if they are covered. Once they outgrow their cover, take it off and check moisture regularly. They should be lightly damp, but certainly not soaked.

5- Prepare garden beds for summer

But, it’s only April 1st, you say? Y’all know how fast time goes and in six sweet weeks all of the summer crops are going in at practically the same time, and six weeks goes by pretty fast. It sure is nice to have beds ready to go.

I love Spring and if it is a nice day out, I just want to be outside soaking up lost Vitamin D from my winter indoors. Spring is filled with hope and joy…and sore muscles and projects! What are you working on right now?