National Poetry Month (poetry contest and win one of my books!)

books

April is National Poetry Month.  I have always been pulled in by rhyming sounds, expressions in A-B-A-B form, and with eloquent words.  How a Maya Angelo poem can break your heart or a Robert Frost can transport you to another time.  Into Emily Dickinson’s world and nod knowingly at one of Mary Oliver’s beautiful notes.  The prose, the cadence, the way that poetry takes on emotion and vivid imagery in just a few lines or in a drawn out sonnet.  I love that it doesn’t have to rhyme.  It can be a sentence.  It is a piece of one’s heart transferred to paper in a whim of bravery.

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I am holding a poetry contest.  No pressure, as of course like art, poetry creates itself and there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write poetry.  Just write a sentence, or a rhyme, or a sonnet.  Respond here, or on facebook (facebook.com/pumpkinhollowfarm) or by email (katie@pumpkinhollowfarm.net).  Homeschooling mamas, have your children enter, you enter, if you have never written poetry, enter, let the expression free!  I am offering a free book of your choice that I have written to the winner.  The winner is the one that stirs my soul.  Open March 31st-April 15th.

Here are two of mine I would like to share…

The first one is a tale of many young women.  I am friends with a great many amazing young people and sometimes their struggles can overtake.

starry night

A child in the dark lets out a shrill cry

she is lost within her spirit

but she doesn’t know why.

Growing up too fast

lovers that don’t last

        a piece of her gone

ending life’s song.

Now as she connects with herself

    with her Source

and lays in a hospital bed

through this course

and as she gathers strength

and refills her lamp for light

perhaps she will see the dawn

through the starry night.

And a more happy one…

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Maryjane, the beautiful child that came to be.

I knew her immediate and she had a piece of me.

Our hearts were connected and I love her more and more.

My life awakens as she walks through the door.

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Now, it’s your turn!

 

 

The Interim Room (and a recipe for a luxurious oil bath)

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I am sitting in the waiting room between the first part of my life and the second.  A space with cream colored walls and carpet and a fireplace run by a light switch.  It’s quiet here in this respite room as I wait for the universe to throw open the next door.  I breathe and listen to my own heart beat.  My lesson here is rest.  Learning to balance rest, work, and play. I am plenty good at the work and play part, not so much with the rest.  I am forced to learn rest before I can move on.  It is imperative to the creation and success of our next ventures.

farmers market

I will be forty-two next week.  I am thankful for each and every birthday as I know how precious they are no matter the age.  Perhaps I will be sitting on a beach or running about the San Diego zoo or strolling a really fresh farmer’s market.  I know not, open to adventure, we fly out Tuesday to stay with our friends, Lisa and Steve, who graciously opened their home to us.  We are taking the opportunity to travel some this year before we have to find farm sitters again!

yoga

I am really listening to myself in the silence.  I am highly sensitive person.  I have to be careful what I watch or read as it can completely change my heart rate, ignite fear, create chaos.  I close my eyes and meditate on nothing, or love, or acceptance, or peace as I look out beyond the crows to the snow bound mountains and the low lying clouds that embrace.  I stretch into yoga poses, more flexible and getting stronger than I have been in a long time.  I have written poetry and gratitude every day since the beginning of the year and my poetry collection is growing into an anthology of my life.  I recognize myself more, I embrace change, I look forward to the future, but I embrace today.  Even the dishwasher and dryer (which I still could do without).

meditation

The highlight of this beautiful apartment is the garden tub.  The first I have fit in at nearly six feet tall.  It is wide in girth and long and luxurious as I rest my neck against its back and meld into the warm water in the warm bathroom with candles lit.  My spirit resetting at each wave of water and each meditation prompt, and each yoga move, and each delicious clean dish served from my kitchen.  A lovely interim.

The Luxury Bath

As the bath is filling, light candles.  Let there be silence, it is mesmerizing.

To water add a good drizzle of oil, such as olive, apricot kernel, avocado, sunflower, et cetera.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to balance the PH of the body.

Add 1/2 cup of fine sea salt.

Rest in bath and pour a bit of your favorite (not volatile or hot) essential oil under the pouring water.  I particularly love rose, lavender, jasmine, and/or orange depending on my mood.

Breathe and rest completely.

san diego beach

Rest, I am learning, is as important as work and play.

(You can type “A Walk in the Vineyards” in the Search and find our week of adventures in Napa Valley and San Francisco with Steve and Lisa from a few years ago.)

Farm City

farm city

Novella Carpenter has captured me.  I am having trouble leaving the book alone long enough to get my work done!  I am busy dreaming up crazy ideas, nodding and crying with her, smiling at her triumphs, comparing them to my own.  “Farm City; The Education of an Urban Farmer” is a great book.

city

It makes us think of an option we have long looked at.  Would we enjoy an urban farm?  The cons we always looked at were the finite amount of garden space, the limited farm animals, the close neighbors, the noise, pollution, city water, and limited wood burning.  But this book brings to light the marvelous perks that appeal to us.  My great friend, Ethan, who was my farm intern a few years ago, texted me something to the gist of, “Read Farm City!  It will make you want to take over empty lots and garden.”

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Yesterday, my truck wouldn’t start.  It seems to be on strike.  I lasted about four hours in my apartment then jumped on my bike and ran errands around town stopping in between to sit on random benches and soak up the sun, answer business calls, and eventually ended up at Purgatory Winery where I devoured a few more chapters and a cool glass of Chardonnay.

city 4

Even out on our little homestead on the prairie surrounded by peace and quiet and astounding natural beauty, we would be tending the fire, finishing chores, then would suddenly drive forty-five minutes to town to pick up one thing from the store.  Call it stir-crazy, attention deficit disorder, or cabin fever, Doug and I don’t stay put.  We also love the freedom of jumping on a bus, a bike trail, or walking to wherever we need.  Perhaps that comes from our long string of unreliable vehicles.

city 2

We love restaurants.  For fifteen years we keep saying we are going to give them up!  Expensive, unhealthy, waste of time…ooh look, a new Indian place.  Our friends that never go out to eat, frequenting restaurants for special occasions only are amazing to us.  But, we know we aren’t giving up eating out a few times a week and that is that.

Where neighbors are a con to city living, they can also be a pro.  Good neighbors are family.  Local music, karaoke, coffee shops, book stores, we want it all.  So, a farm in the city makes quite a bit of sense to us.

city 3

My passion is farming, sharing farming, food security, children knowing where their food and medicine can come from.  If I have a magnificent large country farm, who will see it?  Only school groups and locals will be inspired.  It is easy to grow on a large plot in the country, the real inspiration is given to those rounding the corner on a city street and coming across a veritable Eden in the middle of town.

Still a year away, but the ideas are swirling.  Pick up “Farm City” by Novella Carpenter.  See what crazy ideas you come up with!

 

A Pot of Chai (how to make your own chai tea)

Delicious, hot chai.  Nothing better.  Since I can’t hang out at the Indian restaurant every day slurping down chugs of spicy, sweet sustenance, I figured I better learn how to make it myself.  All recipes are meant to be improved on but this one is pretty darn good.  Mix it with fresh goat’s milk or milk of choice and enjoy it warm.  Add what you like, take out what you like, create, inspire, enjoy.  Chai is perfect for early spring mornings.

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Combine in a pot:

6 cinnamon sticks

2 Tablespoons of cardamom seeds

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar

2 Tablespoons of honey

2 whole nutmeg

2 Tablespoons of coconut

1 bay leaf

1 vanilla bean

1 inch piece of ginger plus 8 pieces of candied ginger

1/2 Tablespoon of whole cloves

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

3 teabags of black tea

8 cups of water

Simmer for one hour

Strain tea into a 2 quart jar.  To serve, combine half chai with half warm milk or to taste.

 

Meeting the Easter Bunny

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I am one to get the photograph no matter what it looks like because these moments of innocence and childhood are just too precious to try to make “perfect”.  Lord, look at that smile!  This was one happy girl as she has requested bubbles from the Easter Bunny.  The really big smiles with the lower teeth protruding are just too much.  How lucky I am that we get to do this all a second time next to Emily.  Being grandparents is the best.

Happy Easter!

The Easiest Easter Eggs Ever

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I wrote about how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs a year ago around Easter and Passover but it deserves a second writing for all you new folks because this is the very, very best way to make hard boiled eggs!  One could use a super fresh egg straight from the coop or one that has been in the fridge for three weeks, it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that we live so ridiculously high above sea level.  The egg peels perfectly, every single time.  Of course, we aren’t boiling them at all.

I learned this trick in one of those hard core homesteading magazines that are so full of beautiful glints of information.  Place eggs in a steamer basket above boiling water, put the lid on and let the water boil under those delicious farm eggs for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool a smidge so you can handle them and then put them in the fridge.

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Maryjane Rose will be at her dad’s Sunday and the Easter Bunny will be hopping by his house but tonight is Grammie and Papa’s night!  There is a charming Easter basket above the fridge (hiding from the cats) with a monkey, some chocolate, and Easter bunny ears.  I am steaming eggs this morning and we will play with color tonight in her first Easter egg dying extravaganza and we are going to pay a visit to the Bunny himself.  I will share a picture with y’all when I get it.

I hope some of my tips make your farm (or city) life a bit easier.  Wishing you a very happy Easter!

Choosing a Community Garden

garden 2

We love strolling by community gardens that we happen across in Denver.  I never put too much thought into getting a community garden plot.  Just find one near you and rent it, right?  They are brilliant models to assist with the cultivation of the local food system, and lower the need for therapy.

We checked out the plots by our apartment.  Just a half mile up the road, a whirring bicycle ride away, is the closest one.  They are $200 for a 5×10 space.  I thought this was really high but wanted to check around to make sure.  I also didn’t want to choose a plot just because it was cheap.  What a blessing that we have choice in community garden plots!  Now, this is the only one in walking distance.  That is a huge perk.  Convenience really is worth something.  I just wasn’t sure if it was worth $200 times however many plots I needed.  (I simply cannot go from a two-thirds of an acre plot to a 5×10.)

garden

I heard from folks at the sustainability fair that another garden plot, a big one at a park, is $100.  They thought it was pretty expensive for a 10×20.  Then comes along an angel in the form of Quentin, my fellow farmer at the local farmer’s markets.  In his hands was the application to the community garden in Elizabeth.  That is a 25 minute drive from my home but my shop is there.  $30 for an entire year (as opposed to May-September) for a 10×20.  Holy smokes.  But there is more to consider.

When choosing a garden plot write out the pros and cons-

How close is it to home or work?  How convenient is it?

Do they amend the soil for you?

Do they provide the water?  City water or well water?

Do all participants have to garden organically?

Well, so far the local, expensive gardens were winning the pros and cons war.

But Elizabeth offers some tools to use.  There is a bonus, I don’t have my tools anymore.

They also have a compost pile.  Which pleases me since I am loathing throwing out vegetable scraps!

What are the months of operation for the community garden?  If it is only May through September one can’t very well plant many root crops or pumpkins.

Then it came down to the simple question, “What do I want?”  Space to garden.  I want to plant everything I did before just on a slightly smaller scale.  I could have a 20×20 plot for $60 for the entire year.  So, I could also incorporate medicinal herbs without having to yank them out in the fall.  This could be my plot until we find our farm.

In the end, it was an obvious choice.  I did not realize how much there was to look at in a community garden.  So, write down your pros and cons, consider what you want, and then choose a community garden.  Now we start seed shopping!

 

 

As the Owls Looked On (and teas to help heal the spirit)

 

Spirit Journal CoverThe five owls perched overhead near me each morning as I wrote, prayed, cried, and did yoga.  The temporary farm we were on last summer was a beautiful place.  I knew we were about to lose everything and the dread of what was going to happen next and the scrambling for some semblance of sanity and organized planning to move forward tangled with each other in that open field as I sat cross legged in the early morning sun peering across the acres of unscathed plains, my eyes taking in the sight of watercolor mountain tops still touched by snow across the horizon.  The owls looked on.  Directly at me.  Their messages clear and soothing.  Change was coming, but it would be for the best.

During that time I jotted down each little message that came to me.  Different plants came to mind to be made into teas.  I knew the spiritual use for some of them like roses-love, hawthorn-heals a broken heart, but some of the herbs that came to mind I did not know the meaning of and looked them up to find that they had a perfect place in each tea blend.  After I wrote, meditated, and listened, I went into the old farm kitchen and made a large mug of tea using those herbs for the day.  I would feel my strength return.  I did this for twelve days.

Eight months later the pieces fell together in one seamless layout.  In one day the book was completed.  A twelve day journal that discusses spirit animals and chakras, highlights a word to meditate on, a quote, a writing prompt, a gratitude section, a place to jot down other healthful habits, places to write and dream, and a spiritual tea blend.  I carefully hand blended each tea in each tea bag and placed them all in a pretty cellophane bag, one for each book that was printed.  It took days but I knew that this journal and the healing teas with them would help others just as it had me.

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The cover of the book is a photograph of one of the owls that stayed near me during my time on that farm while this book was creating itself.  This was one of the infant horned owls that looked on.  My daughter, Emily, stayed up in a tree for some time waiting to capture this shot.  It serves as a reminder that we are not alone and that everything in the universe works together to help us on our journey.

“White Wolf’s Spirit Journal; Twelve Days of Balancing, Healing, and Energizing the Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical Self” is only $25 plus shipping.  Call to order-(303)617-3370 or send a check to White Wolf Medicine, P.O.Box 2012, Elizabeth, CO 80107 for $35 to order.  Better yet, come into my shop, have a cup of tea, and pick one up!

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading School Returns

Wanted: a cheese press

“You got the bug again?” Lisa asked over text when I inquired whether our friend still has Nancy’s old one.

“No.  It never left.”

I have friends with small dairies producing delicious milk for a great price.  Why shouldn’t I still make cheese?  Oh, because I don’t have a cheese press!!  Easily remedied, hopefully.

Doug and I enjoyed a cheese flight along with an amazing California red blend yesterday.  A slightly tangy semi-soft cheese, a creamy brie from France, a sharp and heavenly cheese with truffles nestled in its layers, a mild gouda.  All exceptional.  I loved creating cheeses and I believe we can still do that here in our humble apartment with the same success or even more so for the constant environment and beautifully laid out kitchen.

canning

I will still be canning this year.  I have plans for the wall behind the dining room table.  By autumn’s end it will be a wall of shelving filled with colorful spectacles of jeweled canning jars filled with winter sustenance.

Pots of vegetables and herbs will line my west facing balcony.  I am just homesteading on a smaller scale.

Someone asked at the sustainability fair if I teach homesteading classes.  I said I used to but why can’t I still?  I am just homesteading on a smaller level, the same as many folks.  Let’s start classes again!  What do you want to learn?  How to make cheese?  How to can produce?  How do dehydrate?  How to freeze?  How to garden in pots on the balcony?  How to….the sky’s the limit.  Your place or mine.  Let’s do it.

The Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading School is back.

 

 

 

 

Farmgirl

The Southern Colorado Outdoor Living and Sustainability Fair was outstanding.  We caught up with some of the folks we knew in the sustainability world and met many new ones, farmers and young beginners alike.

I pep talked myself the whole way there, “I will not be sad.  I will not be sad.”  Seeing the homesteading and farming folks, chickens being demonstrated, chicks in troughs (Doug and I snuck over there early and gave the chicks kisses), a goat running by after being milked, I was afraid the whole scene would make me very sad.  But it didn’t.  In fact, it just served to fire us up again.  “Anything we have talked about is back on the table,” Doug said.  Do we want to move to Old Colorado City and have a funky urban farm?  We can.  Do we want to buy land in Elizabeth and go all out?  Then we can do it.  We have a year to get our act together financially and then go for it.  And there we will stay!

We are so sure of this venture (put your dreams in motion and watch them start manifesting) that we struck a deal with the Expo for next year.  We will return and with us will be a few farm animals.  I will be promoted as the Farmgirl and will be on their seminar lists and advertising.  I know my stuff about homesteading, farming, and herbs.  So does Doug, and we love sharing it with the world.