Ten Secrets to Living a Simple and Enchanted Life

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1. Notice Something New in Nature Every Day. 

This could be while walking down a city sidewalk to work or in your own field of hay.  Take a moment to smell the air, see the different colors that nature has painted that moment, listen for birds, see butterflies flitting by, spy nests, and laugh at squirrels.

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2. Do More of What Makes You Happy.

I have a large coffee mug that I picked up in California with this saying on it.  It pleases me and reminds me of a fundamental right, we can do what makes us happy.  I spent too many years doing what I was “supposed” to do.  Make people happy, do the proper thing, work hard, stay married (second times a charm), go to funerals, weddings, parties, events, stay friends with the same draining people.  Slowly the creative, enchanted side of me started to leave.  Stuck in the world of what I should do, left little room for what I wanted to do.  Even though folks say you should do everything you have to do now to do what you want later, I have seen too many times that later doesn’t always come.  No telling how long my lifespan is and I intend to do what I want now.  If I am not incredibly close with the person I have no desire to go to funerals, or other hooplas.  I will work for myself even if that means less luxuries.  My luxury is my garden and baby goats and my warm bed at night.

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3. Do Not Turn Down Opportunities or Invitations.

Not the same thing as #2!  When I was at a market last Saturday a young woman asked quietly if I might like to come over for tea sometime.  She lives in the trailer park across the street and is rather enchanted by my gardens.  The hermit side of me would immediately dash such a notion.  I am very busy!  But, to meet someone new, to learn something new, to share your life for a moment with another spirit walking the same journey, one never knows what positive spin on one’s life this could take.  Invitations for wine and tea, walks, and new friends add glints of happiness and layers of memories upon our lives.

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4. Adopt an Animal.

Whether it be a kitten or a chicken, a dog or a goat, animals of all kinds add a certain pleasure to our lives that cannot be replicated with anything else.  To run your fingers through a warm cat’s fur, or laugh at a chicken running by with a worm, to hug a crying baby goat who needs attention, or to take a tremendously happy dog on a walk, to stroke the neck of a beautiful steed, or hold a baby duckling in your hand.  These are exhalation moments.  Ones that bring the swirling world to a brief stop and time revolves around the animals that rely on you for care.  My house may sometimes smell of cat boxes or worse, the dog may have gas, chicken poop may stick to our shoes, and there may be hay in my apron pockets, but I do not ever foresee Doug and I not having furry kids.  They enhance our life far too much.

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5. Do Not Worry About What Other Folks Think.

Particularly family and friends.  Sometimes peer pressure can be hurtful and cause worry.  I do not care that we live in a little run down, cute house on rented property with all these animals.  Years ago I had to stop caring what folks thought about us taking our kids out of the public school system and teaching them ourselves.  They are intelligent, well educated, eloquent grown children.  I do not care what people say about Maryjane not having vaccinations.  She is the smartest fifteen month old I have ever met.  I do not care if people snicker and think I sell pot.  I prefer St. John’s Wort, myself.  I do not care that my skirts are old and kind of ripped.  That I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily.  What happens is when you decide this is your life and this is how you want it or this is how it is, old friends and family back off and new friends and family step forward and your entire inner circle changes to like minded people or just people that really love you for who you are.  I adore my inner circle.

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6. Plant a Seed.

A pot on the balcony will do.  Or a large garden if you wish.  But plant a seed or bring home an already planted strawberry plant or basil plant.  Do something so that you can taste a bit of fresh food each day.  Fresh food energizes the body and spirit and keeps us healthy and enthralled with unique flavors and textures.  A garden or potted balcony is a lovely place to contemplate one’s life and days.  To be thankful and to enjoy a cup of coffee.

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7. Pen a Letter.

I write to my pen pals while Doug is shooting pool.  In a darkened hundred year old building that has been a saloon for perhaps all of that time, I am surrounded by old ranchers and Vietnam vets who wonder out loud (and loudly), “What are you doing?”  No matter how many times I tell them I am writing a letter, they reply, “No one writes letters anymore.”  How enjoyable to open the mailbox to find a letter.  A real one.  Folded crisp paper, carefully scripted beginning turned illegible near the end as we try to write everything on our minds and happenings before our hands tire too much.  A stamp and a carefully addressed envelopes heading to destinations that I have not yet seen.  Write to an old friend or aunt that would enjoy the antiquated pleasure of a letter.

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8. Turn off the Television.

For heaven’s sake.  Turn off the television.  Do not use it as a babysitter.  Do not let the kids play video games.  Awake your husband.  Get un-addicted from television shows.  So much nonsense out there taking root in our psyches.  If you need to relax, a drink and a book on the porch is lovely.  A walk is even better.  A walk with your spouse is time to talk and hold hands.  A knitting project awaits.  So do homemade cookies.  A spot in the garden with drawing paper.  A telephone call to an old friend, or sister.  Time is elusive.  Invite the neighbor over for laughs.  Be present.

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9. Get Outside.

Can you walk to work, or the mailbox?  Can you get outside on your lunch hour?  Can you sit outside and have lunch?  Dinner?  The outdoors is where our spirits can breathe.  The stresses of life melt away.  Enchantment begins.  Watch a sunrise…or sunset.  Smell a flower.  Feel earth between your toes.  Sit in the grass.  Or just take a walk.  Every moment outdoors fuels creativity and stress reduction.  We were never meant to be cooped up indoors.

My grandma and I when my grandparents came out to see the new place.

10. Notice and Memorize Moments.

We had our annual party Saturday night.  Rodney came over with the karaoke system.  Tents and twinkly lights were erected and the cocktails and great potluck food were enjoyed to the sound of singing and the rodeo going on in the fairgrounds.  Fireworks lit up the night later.  Every time I am in a place with people, whether it be at my brother’s wedding last week or at the party Saturday, I take a moment to look around, take it all in.  Who knows how much longer I will have my grandparents, or more surprisingly, how long my friends may be here.  Losing Nancy so suddenly this last spring left a hole in my heart and I am more apt to notice and enjoy the moment.  The first annual party without her.  I did not worry if everyone had a drink or a plate of food.  Or if everyone was having fun or if I was being a good hostess. I just sat back and noticed people laughing, caught up with everyone, appreciated everyone there.  Gave hugs, sang, watched the sunset, was thankful for all these good friends.

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Enchantment and creativity are found all around us and in our hearts we want to be carefree.  I hope you will find freedom and more glints of happiness and life moments with each passing day.  See you on the porch!

 

 

A Few Books For Summer Reading

I have a few books to recommend that really inspired me.  So grab a big glass of lemonade and a porch swing and enjoy.

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The first one is “Off On Our Own; Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence” by Ted Carns.  He details how he and his wife have lived in an off-grid house and off the land for over thirty years.  The imagery of frogs hopping through the house, a lagoon in the living room, a living compost floor, outbuildings holding odds and ends of things he can use in his buildings.  He has thrown away one small load of trash in thirty years and even regrets that.  Everything is put back to work.  He builds filters to capture rain water and creates electricity.  Not being mechanically minded, I sure wish I could have understood his explanations on how to build all these things but I know many people that would.  A mixture of spiritual and how-to makes this book an interesting read.  His model of living is inspirational and gave me many ideas for our homestead.

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I just finished “A Bushel’s Worth; An Ecobiography” by Kayann Short.  I was delighted to see that it takes place here in Colorado.  Her farm is in Boulder and she and her husband were professors at Colorado University at the same time that Doug went there.  She even mentioned one of my favorite farmers, the Millers.  Learning from a farmer via print that is in a similar climate as I am was fun and inspirational.  I love her CSA model that she runs her farm on.  She doesn’t do markets but instead has many members that help with everything from pressing apples to painting barns in exchange for their share.  Some pay for their shares.  All come together for pancake breakfasts and concerts at the end of the season.

She talks about the sobering fact that our subdivisions are named after the farm they now stand on.  The ranches that were taken over.  A sad tribute to once was.  She says that preserving farmland may even be more important than preserving public lands.  Miles and miles of it out here in my county for sale waiting to be bland homes on tiny plots.

The other day a sweet family came to visit our farm.  The children helped me pull garlic and planted radishes.  They oohed and ahhed over the gardens.  They visited with the animals.  A four year old boy told me to use fish to make the corn grow.  He, himself, grows a two foot square plot in a greenhouse at his home two towns over.  So pleased they were with their visit.  As they were leaving I mentioned that hopefully this time next year we’ll be on a bigger farm and stopped myself as I realized how rather ungrateful I sounded.

This kind of rental is incredibly rare.  An adorable old house, two lots, no rules against livestock or digging up one’s front yard.  A darling town and fabulous neighbors.  Really, what more could I ask for?

I am so grateful for the opportunity to farm here and if the doors close on anything else I will be happy as a sunflower staying here.  I do hope though that my request is somehow, miraculously, granted.  I do not wish for a bigger house.  I do not wish for more land out of greed.  I do not wish to be tucked away from society on our massive land.  I would love to help preserve a patch of God’s gorgeous earth, to nurture it, to feed people, to help folks learn to feed themselves and learn old time arts.  I am limited here because I cannot do business out of our home.  My classes are actually outlawed and having people over to buy eggs is a against the law as well.  I am certain there is an old homestead out there that needs tending and a plot of land that wants to feed people and bring smiles to many faces, where a blue grass band plays at a pumpkin festival….

In the meantime I will keep reading and learning and being inspired until that door opens and work with what I have!

Have you read any good farm books lately?  Do share!

Making and Cooking with Vanilla Salt

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Perhaps it’s from our visits to fine restaurants, or my lacking sense of smell that makes me desire everything to be uniquely and strongly flavored, or perhaps it is the overflowing creativity that I cannot seem to satisfy, or perhaps I am a natural born chef, who knows, anyway,  I must have fabulous oils, vinegars, and seasonings in my kitchen to cook with.  I have rarely to never repeated recipes in the twenty something years I have been cooking for myself, and there are no run of the mill meals here.

For instance, I used to make spaghetti.  Now I make pasta (sometimes homemade) with homemade spaghetti sauce made with thick tomatoes and colorful vegetables that are cooked down with wine and garlic until thick and fragrant.  Herbs from the garden in handfuls and smoked salt.  Then added to the pasta and baked with goat cheese and mozzarella.  Divine.

I used to grill trout.  Now I stuff it with lemon, sage, and rosemary.  Fry it in truffle oil after dredging it in cornmeal.  A white wine sauce to pour over after deboning.  Well, you get the picture.

In baking if a recipe calls for vanilla extract, I use three times more than it says and I use extract that I made.  I may substitute required oil in a recipe with an orange infused oil or perhaps a walnut infused oil.  If a recipe calls for salt in baking, I reach for the vanilla salt.  These slight variations elevate food from sustenance to gourmet with sensational flavors.  A basic recipe for pumpkin bread becomes amazing with vanilla and cinnamon extracts, and vanilla salt.

My friend Rodney and I hit the oil stores whenever we pass them.  There are not a lot so it is a treat to find one.  One day when we were in the Springs purchasing our oils for the next few months we came across the flavored salts.  I picked up a small container of black flecked sea salt, fragrant with vanilla beans and took it home.  It was on my grocery list to purchase more when I had an aha moment.  I had just emptied a quart of vanilla extract to sell at the market. (Read post here to see how to make your own vanilla extract.  You will never buy from the store again!)  There sat the beautiful vanilla beans.  In the past I would have cut them open and used them in baking then discarded them.  I cannot grow them and they are not cheap so I had to do something with them.  Eye to the list, eye to the vanilla bean, big bag of sea salt in the cupboard.  I simply placed the whole vanilla beans, sliced in half into the salt that I had poured into a canning jar shaking occasionally.  A few weeks later when removing the lid the smell of fresh, spicy vanilla came wafting up from the eight ounces of salt.  It cost me very little and I have plenty to add to baking dishes and a myriad of other meals (such as oatmeal, or goat cheese, or caramel to make salted caramel, or in jams, or salad dressing, or….)

Make your farmhouse kitchen a deliciously gourmet kitchen.  It’s easy and a fun way to eat after a long day of weeding rows of vegetables.

 

Easy Homemade Goat Cheese

I love the tangy, delicious flavor of soft goat cheese, often called Chevre, which is French for “goat”.  It is so easy to make and yields a lot more than one would get from the store.  It is versatile enough that it can virtually match any dish.  Herbs can be added, thick ribbons of basil, clips of chives, oregano, and green onion, a dash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt makes an amazing cheese to spread on crackers or fresh baked bread.

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Adding a little more of the whey to create a creamier cheese allows it to be dressed up in Italian seasonings, a splash of lemon juice, and salt, and used in place of ricotta which creates an amazing flavor profile when added to pasta and rich tomato sauce.  I added red wine, Italian seasonings, and garlic to my creamy cheese and baked it with ziti and spaghetti sauce.  Amazing.

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In this one I made it a bit sweeter than I typically do.  It is fantastic with its sweet and slightly sour flavor.  It is wonderful spread on breakfast toast or sprinkled on fresh salad greens.  I added a teaspoon of vanilla salt and poured ginger peach syrup (a failed jam attempt) over the top.  Very good.

You can make this with store bought goat’s milk, or indeed substitute cow’s milk, but we prefer fresh from the goat, raw milk.  Nothing tastes so good as really fresh cheese.

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Pour one gallon of milk into a stainless steel pot.  Heat, stirring often, to 86 degrees.

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Sprinkle on a packet of cultures.  These are the ready made cultures that we need to make a variety of cheeses.  They are available at cheese supply websites but I get ours from the local homesteading store (Buckley’s in Colorado Springs) or the local brew hut (Dry Dock in Aurora) that sells beer and wine making supplies.  Graciously, they sell cheese making supplies as well.

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Let sit for 2 minutes to rehydrate then stir into milk.

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Place a cover on the pot and let it set for 12 hours.  I do this so that it can sit overnight.

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In the morning line a colander with cheesecloth.  To help keep me from cussing I use clothes pins to secure it to the sides of the colander as I pour.  I have a pot beneath the colander to catch the whey.  This will be used in bread baking or to add a bit more liquid to my finished cheese if desired.

Pour the contents of the pot through the cheesecloth and catch all that fabulous cheese.  Tie the cheesecloth (I use clothespins to secure) and either attach it to the side of the pot to drain (as shown here) or tie it and hang it from somewhere to drain for 4-8 hours depending on how dry you want your cheese.  I like 4 hours.

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At that point, I refrigerate the whey, place the cheese in a container and start seasoning.  Enjoy!  There are beneficial enzymes in goat cheese that are important to our digestive health.  Goat cheese spread on crackers or fresh bread, a glass of wine, and a book beneath a tree.  One of the great pleasures of summer!

The Making of a Future Farmgirl

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Her smile widened as she shoved weeds through the holes in the chain link.  Little giggles filled the air as the goats took the greens from her and chomped appreciatively.

Our neighbor is getting married this weekend and some of her guests came over last night after arriving from southern California.  The smallest guest is probably seven years old, her long red hair perfectly in place with a headband, smartly dressed, with little freckles on her smiling face.  She stood mesmerized by the farm animals wandering our back yard.

We had just come home from a long farmers market and were lounging on the lawn chairs slightly hidden by the lilac bush.  Anti-social at the moment as we were so very exhausted.  After a bit though, my passion for sharing this lifestyle with others, especially children, got the better of me and I wandered over to her with a baby chicken.

“Would you like to see one of our chicks?” I asked her.  Her eyes lit up as she ran her petite hands over the soft plume of feathers.  I introduced her to the goats and called them by name.  She laughed at Isabelle standing off by herself yelling towards the back door.  She was summoning Doug to come milk her.

The little girl’s parents each took a turn coming over and talking to me, ever watchful of their young charge.  Doug came out with the milk bucket and the little girl got excited.  We invited her over to watch Doug milk.  We had the dad just lift her over the fence.  She followed me, practically dancing, petting chickens along the way.  As we approached the garage, the dad looked worried and in about twenty seconds appeared at the garage door.  We taught the little girl how to milk and we all laughed out loud each time the milk went flying in a different direction from her tiny fingers.  I then offered her a glass of chocolate milk from the kitchen.

“We’ll wait out here,” declared her dad.

“Suit yourself, but we have eight cats in here!”  I could tell the little girl wanted to come in but was content watching the ducklings until I returned.  She gulped down the chocolate milk, tried to pet the ducks, and decided she might become a farmer.

The two went back to their party.  When I went out to close up the chickens at dusk, she was still at the fence feeding the goats strands of weeds through the chain link, a million miles from home.

 

Water, Mulch, and Reseeding (ways to assure a good crop)

I suppose a drip system would be the most effective way to adequately water without wasting and would save time.  Doug and the neighbor laid out their respective plans over the winter for an elaborate drip system for our gardens.  However, come spring we have enough budgeted for a new hose and maybe a sprayer.  A drip system didn’t fit into our meager farmstead funds!

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The system we came up with wouldn’t work in clay soil or in humid environments but here in the high plains of arid Colorado, it works really well.  It also saves us a lot of money on the water bill.  Last year I wrote a post about trench planting during the fires (see post here) and wondered if that would work.  This year when Doug rototilled the front yard rows, I left all the dirt on the sides creating a long trench.  I planted the seeds directly in the trench which is about six inches deep in some spots.  We can water quickly by filling the trenches with a few inches of water which happens in ten seconds per area.  It seeps in quickly and keeps two inches of soil wet for the next twenty hours or so.  The plants are protected from the wind and the moisture doesn’t get whisked away so quickly.

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In the garlic, onion, and potato rows I used the hoe to create small trenches along the sides of the rows.  I can quickly fill them with an inch of water and they will seep in right to the roots.

Once the plants are established a thick layer of old straw cushions the plants.  (See last year’s post on mulching here) I leave a little space around the stems so they won’t rot, but the entire area gets a nice blanket of weed squashing straw.  This is a far easier way to keep up with the straggly and strangling crab grass and other fun weeds here.  It really does slow down the weed growth and keeps the moisture in so that on some days we do not even have to water.

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My biggest failures for the first twenty years of gardening came from these factors.  Not enough water.  Not enough weed control.  And not enough diligence planting seeds.  If seeds didn’t come up, I felt that that particular bed was a failure.  I never heard of the saying, “Plant Three; one for God, one for the birds, one for me.”  Boy, is this true!  Every third seed seems to come up.  The birds help, no doubt, and apparently there is a tithe involved with planting.  So, if some seeds don’t come up, I am now out there planting another seed where I want it.  All along the pumpkin patch there were spaces of missing plants.  I just reseeded them.  Same with the corn.  Same with the brassicas.  Through the middle of June one can keep planting seeds that will be ready for harvest and mid-July for the fall crops.

Three ways to assure good basic crops.  Now we just hope for great weather and that Mother Nature looks kindly on our gardens!

The New Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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The three R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has sadly been overused and overlooked.  Folks think about the big green tub that their trash company may or may not pick up on any given Thursday to send their recyclables off somewhere.  Hopefully the rumors aren’t true and they really are being recycled.  Many people don’t have recycling services available to their homes so don’t even bother.  We tried, sorry, we’ll wait for recycling to come to our town.

Alright, now we need to slightly tweak our way of thinking so that we are not dismissing these three R’s.  We don’t want to view them as an inconvenience and we don’t have to wait for someone else to offer us a service.  It would be wise for us to start considering these R’s.  I know that we all have heard over and over again about our finite resources, islands of plastic in the ocean killing animals and fish, oil spills tainting our water and who knows what floating in our drinking springs.  We have heard of landfills the size of states and the problem isn’t decreasing.  But, when we can’t see the detriment with our own eyes, it is hard to fathom and is often easier to just go about our day and hope all that remedies itself.

Here are some easy ways to bring back the three R’s into our day to day routine, save money, and keep things out of the landfills and oceans.

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Reduce

This is one of the harder ones.  “I need this!”  I do attempt to stay out of stores all together now.  It doesn’t always work.  I try to see Walmart and department stores in a new light.  Shelf upon shelf upon shelf of cheaply made items shipped from overseas that may or may not be bought that will ALL end up in a land fill.  Boxes and packaging and cheap petroleum based items.  Tons and tons of it.  Scary.  Set it under fluorescent lights and you have the makings of a horror movie.

Do you really need it?  Probably not.

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Reuse

Things like twist ties and rubber bands can be reused in a myriad of ways.  I use the twist ties to fasten plants to trellises and cages.  I use the rubber bands to bundle produce, extra silverware, pencils, etc.

Paper bags can be reused to hold vegetables in the fridge or be used to pack a lunch.  Or to dry herbs.  Likewise, the plastic produce bags can be reused to hold homemade bread or potato chips for a picnic.

Sandwich bags and freezer bags can be washed and used several times.

Glass jars can serve as leftover containers or drink receptacles.

The obvious scratch paper can be used to make lists or write down reminders.  They can be shredded and added to compost.

Cardboard can be used to suppress weeds or make a playhouse.

Try to give everything a second life.

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Recycle

Now at some point we have to throw some things out or we get a little cluttered.  There are recycling services out there, whether the trash service that will take marked bags or a place you can drop off.  Try to recycle what can be recycled!

There are other ways to recycle.  When we need wood for a project we immediately go to the hardware store.  We have never thought twice.  Our friend, Rob, showed us another way.  He drives to building sites after hours and hauls off the wood that has been placed in dumpsters.  Perfectly good, wrong sized, wood thrown in a dumpster to haul off.  He has collected enough wood to build a goat barn and a chicken coop.

He came to our house (we are boarding his goats) and built a feeder out of wood strewn about the yard that has been here longer than we have lived here.  Now, mind you the goat kids flipped it over and are using it as a playground, but a recycled wood playground nonetheless!

Thrift stores have a ton of usable fabric instead of buying new.  They also have quite nice clothes that can be reused.  And dishes, and pretty much anything else one would need to set up house.

Craigslist is a great way to find what one needs without buying new.  I did end up buying a new cheese press yesterday because I had exhausted every avenue finding a used one, but in most cases, from furniture to cars, this service helps folks save money and reuse something instead of buying new.

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Analyzing the Trash

What is in your trash?  For me, most of the trash is paper towel (could I use clean towels that don’t attract cat hair?), plastic coverings (overused sandwich bags or bread bags…maybe I can sew some?), used cat litter (is there a litter that breaks down and can be put in the compost?), torn plastic bags (can I remember my reusable bags maybe??), and empty coffee bags (would they fill a different container?).  My business is trickier.  Wax and oils are really messy to work with and we almost have to  use paper towels and end up throwing away really gross jars and old bottles.  I wish I could find a more eco-friendly way to do business.  Could folks come over with their own bottle and fill it up?  If I could do business out of my house, maybe.  There will not be a perfect solution, we cannot go back to our great-grandparents’ time when things weren’t so over processed and packaged.

How about the recycle bin?  Beer bottles and wine bottles, organic soda cans, paper, and cardboard are the main things in there.  I noticed that if I do not buy packaged cereals, crackers, and other processed foods, I have a lot less waste.  Homemade food is not only better for us, but saves us money and creates less waste.

We could go on and on with ideas…compost, don’t buy it in the first place, make things into planters….but one day at a time.  We just need to bring the three R’s back into the forefront of our day to day and make better choices so that we can take care of ourselves and our planet.

Self Fulfilled Prophesy (homestead dreams)

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This time next year we will be on our next homestead.

I do not know where.

I do not know how.

We have enjoyed our practice farm and are very grateful.  We are ready for a more complete homestead now.

Not a bigger house.

A bigger homestead.

A well for water.

More off grid.

A greenhouse.

A larger plot of beautiful earth to grow all our own food in.

A chicken coop.  A barn.

An orchard.

Trees.

Places to walk the goats, their bells ringing in a cacophony of chimes through the pine scented air.

A front porch for settin’.

Somewhere near the children.  Hidden away a bit.  Friends come a callin’.

Affordable.  A long term lease.

An old house with character and stories.

A wood stove to heat and cook.

Peaceful.  Birds singing.  Air sweet.

This time next year we will be on our next homestead.

I do not know where.

I do not know how.

But it will be.

 

Easy Fresh Ginger Ale

My fever broke at 2:30.  I woke in the dark, the shades drawn, melting under a wool sweater and layers of quilts, the heat hiked to 72 degrees, Doug still asleep.  Brutal.  We hadn’t had the flu in over a decade.  It hit us swiftly and fiercely.

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Doug went to the store to get us crackers and ginger ale.  “Don’t get ginger ale!” I said.  All it is is corn syrup at this point.  Gone is the ginger ale of my youth.  He brought home nubby roots of brown ginger instead, the smell slightly sweet and calming.  A bottle of seltzer water and one of honey.  He chopped the ginger into one inch pieces and placed them in a small saucepan.  4 slices to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly.  He boiled it for about a half an hour adding a bit more water if needed if too much boiled off.  He placed a good dollop of honey in a pint jar, poured an inch or two of ginger water over it.  Then he added an ice cube and topped it with water.  I cannot tell you how many I drank.  Medicine.  The only medicine I could take.

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My tinctures are fabulous and if I could have caught it early I would have possibly prevented its onset.  I had the droppers of tincture in a shot glass when the flu hit and the glass stood for another day and a half.  It was too late.  I would have never gotten them down.

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Ginger is a sneaky medicine.  Besides being delicious, it is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and specific to digestive disorders (just to start).  Such a delicious and refreshing glass of ginger ale was just the medicine we needed and incredibly easy to make too!

CSA or Farmers Market? (a small farm dilemma)

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We live in a little yellow house.  We rent from folks that don’t care that we started a farm.  This property envelopes two lots, two thirds of an acre total.  It backs to the fairgrounds, and I have lovely, like minded neighbors.  We love our little farm, it is a dream come true.  We call it our practice farm because we intend to move to more space next year.  We have successfully intensively planted a quarter acre, take care of six adorable goats, a plethora of entertaining chickens, and the cutest ducks I have ever seen.  We have a wonderful little homestead here.

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We intended, reasonably, to have the farm help pay for itself.  I sold two goats this year and I have milk share holders.  I cannot bring enough eggs to the farmers market.  They are gone in minutes.  The vegetables are coming up now and there are amazing nutrients to be had after a winter of preserved food.

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Crisp, peppery radishes line up in rows, nearly ready to harvest.  Waves of green butter lettuce tempt the palate.  Green onions, and small bulbs of garlic, herbs of every sort, oregano, basil, chives, ready to season the salads.  Collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard ready to be simply sautéed with olive oil and garlic, a touch of sea salt.  Delicious meals at the ready.  I have a bit to share.

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The farmers markets are not inexpensive to participate in.  The main one we do is quite pricey, actually.  We had two tents proudly held and filled them with our Apothecary items as well as canned goods, cooking extracts and homemade vinegar, eggs, and a table of produce.  I am the only farmer there with produce that did not get shipped in.  The larger farms have to bring vegetables in from California and Mexico in order to make a living in these early months.  A separation of knowledge.  Folks don’t know what is in season.  They demand fresh corn in May and peas in September.

My main industry is Herbology.  Farming is my passion and one I want to share.  To be able to assure chemical free vegetables picked at dawn and driven only two cities over is an amazing gift. However, without the large table of overflowing produce, I get little notice.  Bags of fresh salad go home to be eaten by us for supper.  Onions line my produce drawer.  I cannot sell all the produce I bring and that is a terrible waste.  I would rather harvest for those who will enjoy it and eat it.

Grammie and Baby at Parker

I love the idea of the overflowing tables of produce.  I may have that by mid-season.  I want to stand there in my overalls and serve up heirloom tomatoes, and brightly colored corn.  I want to be known as a farmer.  But am I a farmer?  Or am I a farmsteader?  Farms have to grow a lot to survive as a farm.  I would have to sell everything I grow in order to keep up at the market leaving nothing for my own family.

A farmstead is a place where a family tries to be as self sufficient as possible.  One tries to make, grow, and create what is needed to live.  And that is where we lie.  We have enough to share, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, but most of it has to go to us in order to have enough for the entire year.  We are a farmstead.

Last week we only did one tent (so half the price) at the farmers market.  The market manager was not happy.  I suppose though, if it were so important for them to have small farms present, they wouldn’t charge so much.  He really wants us to bring produce next week.

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CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  A co-op of sorts, a club.  One pays an upfront fee at the beginning of the season (which is now, here in Colorado) and every week the recipient receives a basket of fresh produce of what is in season, freshly harvested at dawn.  Mine would include a milk share and a dozen eggs.  All for less than $22 a week.  This helps me confront the exorbitant water bill, as well as getting more seeds, and helps me keep my farmstead running.  I offered two.  Half a bushel of really fresh produce, half a gallon of creamy milk, and a dozen pastured eggs.  One has dinner.  It truly is a great deal and it helps me immensely.  The CSA holder is a part of the farm at this point.  They own a share of the goats, the gardens.  If a hail storm or coyote attack occurs, we are all at a loss.  We pray for good weather.  We pray for a wonderful harvest.  We pray for an invisibility shield from predators.  The families can visit the farm, see what actually is in season at any given time, help out if they like, let their children see what a farmstead looks, smells, feels like.  What warm soil feels like, a chicken’s feathers against the skin feels like, what the ducks sound like as they march across the yard, what a fresh raspberry tastes like.  Enchantment thirty minutes from the city.  Priceless.

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The answer seems obvious. Offering families CSA’s helps share the extra harvest, assures that I have enough to preserve and enjoy, and makes two families a part of our farm family.