Farmgirl School began while looking out the French doors onto a barren back yard in a small town. Two dogs slept behind me as I set up the WordPress site. What to name it? It seemed perfect. I needed a school! Things that we were not taught growing up in the city were difficult to learn, we often did it the hard way, and the adventures were funny and informative to write about. Our first garden there was short and compact. We didn’t water enough. By the third summer there we were quite a spectacle when folks drove down the main road in front of our house. There we were among honey bees, watering the expansive pumpkin patches along with all the other vegetables that had taken over the yard. The corn field in the driveway, the raised beds, the chicken in the front yard that wasn’t supposed to be there, the goats in the back yard. The ducks playing in their pool. It was quite a blissful place there in town.
Last fall we moved to a homestead without heat, without any luxuries, and made our way chopping wood, hauling water, taking care of sheep, goats, and chickens. We worked and toiled through hail and cold to put in a half an acre garden, and donned our accomplishments with peace and pride. So the delusional insinuations and the suddenly suburb-same rent was a blessing, it turns out. (As these things always do.) The most we lost was all of our money and a tiny piece of our sanity. As I write a looming picture comes to view, a futuresque, Tim Burton style Holland appears all across the horizon, and amazingly close to this property, a windmill farm threatens my beautiful owls and the equilibrium of the occupants in this area. Well, the lessons we learned here were great. We realize that nature provides. A willow tree can provide food at its base, water nearby, medicine in its branches, and shelter from storms. And it turns out we didn’t need so much stuff! The owners of this property will be gifted with the lovely wood stove we put in and a half an acre of food. I hope it blesses them and that they will find happiness.
And now we are off to Part 3 of Farmgirl school. I felt suddenly saddened that I may not have anything else to write about, that our farming, homesteading, living sustainably, poetical outlet was finished. This blog seems to be a bit of a life force for me. I so look forward to waking with the sun to write about our adventures, to teach, to learn from readers, to ignite friendships around the world. And I am so pleased to announce our next step of this adventure.
Remember in January when the house was forty-five degrees and we could see our breath because the wood cook stove in the kitchen didn’t actually heat the house? We escaped to the Indian Hot Springs that day in the mountains and soaked in the warm pool. There were two girls there that just seemed like light filled spirits and I had to go tell them how lovely they were. One of the ladies, Jillian, contacted me a few months later and signed up for the herbalism course. Each week I see her and when it was apparent we had to leave here she had a brilliant idea that she and her husband, Chris, pitched to me and Doug over drinks on a patio of a historic hotel at the base of Pikes Peak. A co-homestead.
They close on a bed and breakfast in Manitou Springs in three weeks. The beautiful old inn is a smiling Victorian in town with a wee cottage in back. One room will be available through Air B&B on weekends. They will inhabit the upstairs and most of the downstairs. A large area with a classroom is being set up for our respective classes. We can see a large blackboard with that week’s specials on it that Jillian and I lovingly prepare en masse once a week in the larger kitchen. She is a baker and a great cook. You all already know my obsessions with great food and cooking techniques. Perhaps I will finish that Sommelier Certification. We have great plans for feeding our families. A large root cellar and pantry downstairs will hold our hundreds of preserved foods and root cellared items. We will don our aprons and create sustenance for winter.
The men are heading to a cobb making workshop Thursday to learn to build an outdoor kitchen, bread oven, and hobbit style chicken coop. They are planning the infrastructure of the new urban farm. Chris is planning a party where the local experts on Permaculture and sustainable gardening come and mingle and note where things might work well in the new garden to be. The large u-shaped driveway will become a meandering, lush oasis of food and teaching. We can glean knowledge from these folks that have done this before and then take our own ideas and create this garden complete with a greenhouse (and possibly a solar heated hot tub within!). The three of us have taken Permaculture classes but need to just put it into place with our hands. They have learned more than I and I am excited to have new teachers all around me.
The cottage is three hundred square feet. It is, um, quaint. And enchanting, and challenging, and cozy. A Snow White cottage in the middle of town surrounded by trees and lilacs. It’s pink, and has shutters, and window boxes. It is the playhouse I always wanted!
Half a block away is the main strip of shops and restaurants in this historic town that nestles at the base of our favorite mountain. My great, great, great uncle was Zebulon Pike and my adventurous spirit comes from the lines of pioneers before me!
We will be warm this winter. We will be visiting farmer’s markets, preserving food, getting honey bees, creating a Permaculture garden, ponds, and a greenhouse. We’ll have an outdoor kitchen, a traditional horno, chickens, ducks, and herb gardens galore. We will be co-homesteading, proving that it can work, sharing the load, and creating an oasis here that will inspire and sustain. Their sweet daughter, Ahna, can enjoy the security and serenity of this place, and Maryjane will be with me two or three days a week where she will be doted on and taught by a whole new family of people.
I changed the name of my herbal school to Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine and will teach classes there. I’ll tell you more about that later. We are brimming with ideas and excitement for this new venture. Even though this place is incredibly breathtakingly beautiful, it seems to always be in a fog, always windy, colder than town, and not really our home after all.
I raise my coffee cup to you, here’s to new adventures on the journey ahead. Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to see what we will all learn next in Farmgirl School!