Embracing One’s True Gifts (and the bloodline medicine girl)

And in all the world enchantment remains as our true gifts flow through our veins.

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I suppose I really did think that everyone could do what I do.  I assumed that I could also do what others could do.  Surely I could learn to play the guitar well and walk around sounding like Joni Mitchell.  I played the piano for twenty years and cannot remember a single tune.  No Carol King career for me.  I love my art work until I am next to other artists.  Then mine looks a little fifth grade.  I can do a lot of things if I work terribly hard and then I will grow bored of them and wander off, for they are not my true gift.

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Plants are my passion.  I live, breathe, dream, create, and work around plants, specifically in medicine.  I have a green thumb after never giving up and I can grow anything in a pot or in the soil of the prairie.  But my real magic is in making plants into medicine.  This is very humbling, very honoring, and I am a little awestruck at the magic of it all.

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Over the years I have seen people working so hard, trying to learn herbalism, and it doesn’t quite work out, and then they wander off to pursue their true gifts.

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It changes everything when you know that you have a true gift for something.  A responsibility even.  The idea of multiple stores or hiring employees goes out the window if I am the vessel that makes the medicine work.  I would never sell it wholesale.  The importance of working one on one with people is so important to the craft.  I so respect the plants and their medicine, as well as the people and animals I care for.  Out of all the gifts I could have been given, I am deeply honored and slightly insanely passionate about being a plant healer.

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There are lots of gifts flowing through both sides of my family line, the blood line of varying types of healers, and they can all garden like it is second nature.  I am the first plant healer in awhile.

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In every culture there was a medicine person.  Many households knew minor remedies but there was one person who knew the plants and their medicines intimately, who could handle the bigger issues.  Not everyone could do it.  The odds of having it in one’s bloodline and as their gift was really quite rare.  Just as all gifts are.

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Shyanne Mae has really grown up since this blog first started.  She has become an amazing young woman.  She read my entire text book, did all of the assignments, passed the test, made an effective medicine for her father, and learned to work the shop in twenty-four hours.  She said she had an epiphany.  She was in love with the plants too.  Granted she grew up with this lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean she would fall into the enchantment of its gifts and lessons.  You can imagine my excitement that my daughter is working with me side by side to develop medicines for our community and beyond.

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So, I may not ever become a Rockette, or a folk musician, or even a proper artist, but I am embracing my gift and all the emotions that go with it, and am so happy to share the gift with my child.

What is your true gift?

Growing Popcorn

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The popping stopped and I split the hot corn into two bowls.  A drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and nutritional yeast turned ordinary popcorn into a treat to watch in front of a movie.  Actually,  it is not ordinary popcorn.  That so called “ornamental corn” that we will see around stands come October?  Popcorn.  Now a lot of times they get shellacked to sell as ornaments so best to grow your own!

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Two years ago we lived in a little old house in Kiowa.  It backed to the fair grounds, sat on two-thirds of an acre, and faced a busy road.  We turned three sides of the house into beautiful gardens complete with pumpkin patches and corn fields.  We grew plenty of heirloom sweet corn but we grew an entire rows of Indian corn too.

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Calico is my favorite with each kernel being a different color, the patchwork of colors makes it whimsical and beautiful.  Strawberry Indian corn is another great heirloom variety.  At the end of the season, after the corn is shucked, dry the corn in paper bags until they are well dried, three months even (do hide them from mice!).  After, use a knife and fingernails to pull off the dry kernels.  Store in a canning jar.  Pop in an air popper or old fashioned-like over the stove.

We were delighted to find a half pint jar filled with our corn from two years ago amongst the canned goods.  The flavor is much nuttier and more filling than traditional popcorn.  The taste is outstanding, a wonderful treat.

I am growing some in this year’s community garden.  One mustn’t run out of popcorn!

 

Geraniums on the Porch (memoirs and present)

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We sit on the balcony each evening watching the clouds.  The Creator paints and creates as we watch and laugh and point out different animals and characters.  We see the same things in the clouds, and the illustrations dancing across the sky above the mountains from this third floor view helps us wind down.

The balcony is my respite.  No doubt done with the city and missing my feet on the earth but this little abode in the sky makes a lovely garden and peaceful place of thought and memory and gift.  The bare root roses bought for dollars create a lovely garden in their brightly colored pots.  The lavender flows over its spot and the Christmas poinsettia happily flaunts green.  The transplanted comfrey and horseradish root strongly and the gooseberry, mini roses from the grocery store, the rosemary that barely made it though the homeless trek, the mint, curry, catnip, Jerusalem artichokes, and chives all spread out, face the sun, and thrive.  The gay petunias beckon the hummingbird.

And the ones that have been with me the longest, the geraniums.  They are large and lush and have survived everything along side us, from house to house, and shop to balcony, their colors rich in the summer heat.  My great grandma would be impressed.  She always had geraniums on the porch.  I would pass them as I walked up the steps and to the door where I never knocked.  And there she would be in her chair in the corner.  Smiling, excited to see me, always wanting a kiss, her love for me so evident, her small frame hugging mine.

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We would walk along her row of roses, always taller than me, their fragrance rich with summer and future memories of past.  Her yard seemed so big.  Her house quaint and tidy filled with relics and memory and life.

I went to a friend’s house for dinner last week.  She lives in Washington park, one of the places I grew up.  I rode my bike past her house a million times with my best friend, Susan, I bet.  The beautiful old cottages and bungalows all similar in their individual layouts.  I walked up the steps and noted the imaginary porch swing, knocked.  And through the door I entered and did face the fireplace and mantle, the two small windows above it with beveled glass, the couch, the corner where Great grandma’s chair stood.  The same floor plan as hers, situated just blocks away, and my breath was taken as my eyes moistened and there I stood eleven years old, gangly and tall in my all encompassing grandma’s house.  I saw her stand and squeal that I was there.  I saw us at the dining room table, plants behind us lining the south window, drinking sweet iced tea and enjoying hours of rummy, where I obtained my title of rummy queen.

How she would be thrilled with my roses and geraniums.  Now we sit watching a bear emerge from the depths of the sky and an old eagle flying by, our sights set on getting to a homestead respite of our own.  Soon.  Our feet firmly on the soil of earth and our spirits restored to freedom and homestead.  We breathe in the fumes of the city streets and post rain scent.  And look upon the roses and geraniums and flowers that Mother Earth has lent.

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Friday Farmgirl Gardening Series Week 10 (erosion, hail, hoppers, and hope)

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And this, my dear friends, is one reason we do not rototill!  With the crazy summer storms we have been getting an inch of sandy thick topsoil from the neighboring gardens slid onto my plants and pathways.

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My novel takes place in the 1930’s and through my grandparents’ stories and books I am learning about the dust bowl.  Something we were never taught in school and something that could so easily happen again as we deliberately and repeatedly deplete our soils of nutrients instead of building on top of the soil.  Soil does not like to be barren!

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“Oh hail” is my new cuss word.  Grasshoppers are my nemesis.

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Yet, each day the soil and my plants call to me.  I find my respite and peace with fingernails caked with dirt, birds flitting by, and despite everything, the harvest.  Plants want to grow.  Spinach, baby kale, baby collards, arugula, lettuce, and nearing the end of radish days fills my basket.

I thin a few carrots and beets each day.  It is the most loathsome job in the garden I know.  I think that I will just put two fingers down for two inches, pick everything in between, but goodness, those seedlings are everywhere.  Which direction do I go?  Two inches this way?  Then I take out that nice tall one…It is rather stressful but it must be done, for carrots one or two inches in girth feed folks a lot better than two millimeters in girth.  The kids need room to grow.

Next year, I think, you shall find me at the end of the winter months at a table with a glass of wine and opera blaring carefully dotting each seed with glue and placing them strategically two inches apart on long strips of toilet paper.  Though that sounds dreadful to my “do six things at a time” mind, listening to Andrea Bocelli and dotting seeds with glue sounds a lot more fun than the mass killings I am attempting to complete in my garden.

This week I will be laying more mulch and making everything tidy.  We’ll see what there is to harvest.  We’ll start planning our fall crops.  We’ll listen to birds, get a sun tan, and plan up new recipes inspired by the garden.

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My balcony garden is doing amazing, may I add.  Just goes to show that the best gardens have a roof!

The Sun and Moon Meet (so what does a full moon on solstice mean?)

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The moon was full a few hours ago.  The first time that the moon has been full on the summer solstice since 1948.  The large moon meets the strongest day for the sun.  This is more significant than one would think.

At my shop the tops of the canning jars holding hundreds of jars of medicine are popping.  The herbs move.  The fluid they are suspended in changes colors.  The medicine will be ready.  The medicines that go out into the full moon of June are always the most brilliantly colored and generally the strongest medicine I will make all year.  The full moon changes the frequency of the medicine (remember everything is energy) making it match our bodies unique energy level.  The moon cycles control the ocean, women’s cycles, and have a great influence on farming, and on medicine making.

All my medicines go through the sun as well.  This often surprises people since the little dark bottles at the health food store take such good care to not show their faces to the great sun.  Think sun tea.  It infuses the herbs.  The sun is our ally.  It detoxifies the skin, creates natural vitamin D, controls our moods, and sets our internal clocks.  The sun is as powerful as the moon for my medicines.  (I do not cut my medicines like common tinctures so I never worry about loss of energy or mold.)

So here today we have the longest day for the sun, the change of season is upon us, and the moon is there to greet the sun.  This will have a powerful influence not just on medicines and plants, but on us as well.

This is a time to become your strongest self.  The frequency is right, the season is new, it is time to be renewed.  Change is swirling all around us and it is time to really look inward and focus on our utmost important intentions.  Not your intentions for anyone else, just you.  Time to release all that is past.  Release anything not adding to your life.  Release any habits, jobs, relationships, old ideas, anything that may have been there for too long keeping you stagnant.

Focus intently on new ideas, jobs, relationships, place of living, creative ideas, and passions.  It is time to manifest the place we want to be.  To be the person we want to be.

I know I have allowed myself to become too busy.  The things I have done over the years were done with Doug but without his help I have taken on too much.  Too much time working in the shop, teaching others, volunteering for things, trying to do everything at home, at work, and for others.  I need to scale back a smidge.  My medicines and my peace of mind will suffer.  I will think today on how I can make changes to make my work and my personal life lead to the most balance.  What are my priorities?  What are yours?

I really need a bonfire to be dancing around in the moonlight tonight to bring it all to being but I guess my oil lamp and a journal will do.  Happy Solstice!  Summer is here!

Farmgirl Gardening Series Week 9 (weeds, water, and radishes galore!)

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Well we barely kept it watered this week, didn’t thin the carrots, and the weeds are moving in, but just like housework, the garden work will wait for us!

The plants are now getting big enough that we can wield a hoe to combat blankets of overnight weeds.  There is still some hand weeding involved too.  Try to do one area each day.  Some weeds will try to look like a vegetable.  Take care not to weed out your corn!  Crab grass looks like corn when it’s coming up.  Corn has more rounded leaves.  If in doubt, leave it, you can figure it out in a few days!

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Some of the wild roses had to come out to make room for the green beans!

We hand water.  20 seconds in a four foot span is 2 inches of water.  Ideal for proper growth.  It will be nearly dry tomorrow!  While hand watering you can also see which seeds didn’t germinate (I don’t think I will buy that brand of seeds that I got from the garden center again, none of them came up) and see what weeds are sneaking in, how many rabbits visited, what bugs are there (hello cricket!  goodbye red ants!), and how everything is coming along.  We have found that this is the most economical and environmentally friendly way to water.  You use far less.  Drip systems, just like sprinkler systems break, get holes in them, and waste water.  Hand watering puts you in control and only things get watered that need it and how much they need it.

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We did receive a pleasant surprise!  Lisa sprouted a sweet potato in her kitchen.  She gave me the orb with its lovely shoots cascading everywhere.  I very nearly kept it in the shop as a house plant, it was so beautiful!  I separated the shoots and planted them along the trellis.  Sweet potatoes are not easy and not commonly grown in Colorado but it was worth a shot!  The beautiful leaves and stems shriveled as the roots took hold.  Low and behold, there are the leaves coming back!

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This week Maryjane and I just enjoyed the garden.  That is what is it there for.  Sit and relax.  Right now we have radishes coming out of our ears because I get to missing them so much that I get crazy planting and every single seed germinates, I swear, and then after a few dozen radishes, we are done.  That is when they really start growing!

Here is our favorite way to eat them: Butter crackers, place sliced radishes on top, sprinkle with smoked salt.  Delicious!

Our garden is doing pretty fine this year.  This week we will thin plants and cheer the corn on.  They need to be knee high by 4th of July!

The Entertaining Farmgirls take on Spring

The password to get into the dinner party was “Strawberry Wine” and the guests did hope that there would be a glass waiting.  We did not disappoint!  The guests at Wildflower and Fawn’s popup dinner party were greeted with cold glasses of strawberry rhubarb wine from a vineyard in the Palisades.

Shyanne had the idea of writing the menu on the glass pane of the old door in the dining area with chalkboard pens.  It looked whimsical and illustrated the evening’s fare.  Lots of herbs would be showcased in our late spring supper.

Shyanne and I had a vision for this supper club that would incorporate local, organic produce, preferably from my garden.  Fresh, seasonal food prepared in a unique fashion to give party goers something different, something exciting, and a treat to the senses.

The first course was a cool, refreshing strawberry soup to go with the wine.  In a good blender combine a package of frozen strawberries, or other fruit, with a few cups of milk of choice (we used the last of our local goat’s milk), and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Process than place in fridge until ready to serve.  Pulse one more time before pouring out frothy, creamy soup.

The second course was an easy salad with fresh greens, pickled eggs and beets (click for recipe), and drizzled with the malt vinegar the eggs were in, toasted pecans, and walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I had a loaf of homemade bread on the table too.  This course was enjoyed with housemade strawberry kombucha.

The next course was a duck egg frittata, eggs compliments of my good friend, Alli (who taught me how to make kombucha!).  The frittata was filled with eggs and fresh herbs from my garden, and grape tomatoes.  Eight eggs, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tablespoons of herbs (we used thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, chives, chive flowers, clover flowers, cilantro, rosemary, and sage), and 1/2 cup of tomatoes.  Whisk together, pour into heated oiled pan and cook over medium heat until sides and top are almost set, without disturbing, then place under broiler for five minutes.  This was served with couscous and dried cherries with preserved chokecherry sauce.

This course was served with my homemade chokecherry wine.  How to Make Chokecherry Wine was my number one post last year so those of you who made it may want to know that after sitting on its side for twenty months, oh my gosh, it is sooo good.  Semi-sweet, dry, really good wine.

And lastly, the course we were all waiting for was Shyanne’s cake.  Shyanne took a recipe from the vegan cookbook I wrote some years ago (which is coming back into print) and added minced herbs and lemon.  She deftly minced lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.  There was a pile of herbs on the counter for garnish.  I asked her if she had put them in the cake.  She replied that she had put a little in.  “It’s mint, right?”

“Catnip.”

“What?!” she said in horror.  With her yummy lemon frosting and a cup of cardamom coffee, it made for a delightful dessert.

We so enjoy having various folks over to treat them.  Our next supper club is in August and will preview many fresh ideas from our garden.  Sign up early so you can be at the next supper club!  We’d love to entertain you.

Fear and the Map to Your Destiny

The scariest emotion is fear.  Fear drives many religions, fear of loss keeps one trapped, fears can dominate and change our lives, can make us ugly or can keep us from doing what we dream of.  And that is a travesty.

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Dreams are put in our hearts by no accident.  Each thing we find passion for leads us to an outlet.  An outlet to live our life true and fulfilled.  The only thing really keeping us from those dreams and true life is fear.

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I stood before a great many people last year at the Sustainability Fair speaking about manifesting one’s dreams.  How to have no fear and jump ship.  I have written about how to manifest one’s dreams on this blog for years.  I, myself, have manifested many a vision.  I have also lost.

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So, I will admit that for a time I felt like everything I ever spoke about or wrote about or said was complete hog wash.  Indeed, I regret selling Garden Fairy Apothecary for $500 to my friend on a whim.  But I don’t miss the company, I needed a break to come up with better and different formulas, to spend some time learning from others, to spend some time developing, creating, figuring out my path and that allowed me to do so.  I am in love with White Wolf Medicine, and walking away from my last business allowed it to manifest.  But I do regret selling Garden Fairy to a friend.  Because even though she and her friend aren’t promoting it and haven’t done anything with it, they feel betrayed, and that makes me feel bad.  But, I don’t regret moving forward with my vision because it illuminated this new apothecary that I love.

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Every time one loses something, blessings and rebuilding ensue.  Losing so many possessions only served to lighten our load for the journey.  Taking away our farm dream only protected us from the obnoxious, larger than life, windmills that came up across the street and the fearful, unfriendly landlords.  All these experiences only narrow down exactly what we desire.  A light filled small home of our own.  A bit of land.  Towns to do farmers markets in and perhaps open another shop in the future.  A dream we had a long time ago and again and again.  We are busy painting our canvas what colors and whimsy we wish so that our dream will unfold as such.  The flip side of it is that we help and help heal and we have a great gift to offer no matter where we roam.  Our dreams are leading us somewhere where we are needed.  Perhaps right where we are, perhaps down the road a bit.

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Waiting until the “right time” only serves to delay the dream.  Jobs end, money is never guaranteed, paths change, people pass.  Grandma said you have to put a deadline on dreams.  Otherwise it might be too late.

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This life is so beautiful.  Do not let fear keep you from manifesting your dreams.  You are needed in this world and your dreams are your map to fulfilling your greatest endeavors and helping the world.

Vegan Road Update (first week)

 

IMG_0705We were vegan when we got chickens. Their eggs tasted so amazing, pasture raised chickens, organic feed from our own spoiled girls. We hadn’t consumed eggs in over two years. Even now, I don’t know if those eggs affected us all that adversely. The problem was that once you open that door, you allow yourself to eat eggs at restaurants and at places. All or nothing.

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Then we got goats. Oh my, they were cute. We believed and touted and taught that raw milk was not nearly as bad as pasteurized milk. Never mind the fact that we knew, of course, that we are the only mammals that will kick the babies off (and send them off to slaughter) so that we can have milk from another animals’ boobies. But cheese, though…mmm…did you know that cheese has the same effect on the brain as heroin? Indeed, it is that addictive. A chemical reaction takes place that makes it quite difficult to stop eating cheese.

And then we’ll only eat chickens that a local farmer produced, only….pretty soon we are just eating everything because that is how humans work. All or nothing. We didn’t want to just go vegetarian, because the dairy industry IS the meat industry. We prayed diligently that we wouldn’t have boy goats. Their fate is not great. In larger goat milk dairies there is not a large community wanting young goat. You can imagine what happens to the babies. They just get disposed of. The girls become lucky, until they stop producing well in a few years. Milk cows rarely sit or lay down. Their babies are taken and become veal. Being a righteous vegetarian is incredibly hypocritical. We’ve been there. We were the spouting vegetarians unknowingly causing so much harm.

Well, that is all well and good but if you can’t see the animals suffering it is easy to convince ourselves that maybe the research on animal products causing the majority of disease is wrong! Maybe the animals aren’t suffering that much. Maybe….it’s easy to not “see”. So, we needed health to be our guide.

After we started drinking our righteous raw milk Doug got a serious sinus issue. Post nasal drip, choking, bloating, he seems sick. It got worse at night. Seemed to be linked to eating. Or sitting.  Or whatever we blamed it on. After one week vegan he didn’t have it yesterday. We’ll see what happens as we stay dairy free.

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Shyanne’s vegan lemon mint cake

Doug lost three pounds this week. I lost two. I have a pretty good figure so I won’t lose much more but I do want to get rid of the inflammation and circulatory issues in my body.

We walked each day. We need to incorporate a little more exercise into our routine. It’s funny, the healthy eating triggers more healthy habits. I don’t want to wear makeup or color my hair. I am more mindful. I feel better when I see wildlife. More compassionate. A deeper connection. I can’t explain it really. But I feel closer to the natural world. I haven’t needed as much herbal antidepressant this week. We just feel better.

It’s only been a week. We can expect to detox still. That can scare folks if they aren’t used to it but we know what to expect. You know, we are actually looking forward to it?

We had our fun, ate everything in sight, and are now seeing how just eating meat and dairy for a few years could so profoundly affect our health.

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Next week I’ll preview a few cookbooks and I may put mine back into print. We have started every morning with a smoothie with any of the following combination:

Frozen fruit, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens, carrots, oatmeal (grinds up, adds sustenance), honey, almond butter, peanut butter, ice, honey.

This morning we had a smoothie for two.

Add to blender, 2 bananas, ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of cold coffee, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 3 Tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 ½ cups of cashew milk. Roughly, I just eyeballed it all. Just throw in what you love.

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Last night we dined on miso soup and fried asparagus with drinks as we talked about our days.

This is good eating.  This is a good life.

The Littlest Farmgirl and the Petting Zoo

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“What’s this, Grammie?” (except she doesn’t say r’s yet) Maryjane asked me as she stood before the sweetest cria we had ever seen.

“An alpaca,” I replied.

“Oh, hi!” she said to the baby as she gave her a kiss on the neck.

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Children would come near the animals then scream and jump back. Meanwhile, Maryjane Rose greeted and kissed each and every animal.  She was in heaven among all of the farm animals, especially the sheep.

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She rode the horses in the endless circle and each time she came around I heard her little voice singing, “Yee haw!…Yee haw!…”

It’s so sweet to see things through the eyes of a little Farmgirl.