For the Love of Farmgirl School (your one stop resource for everything homesteading DIY)

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Even when I wasn’t actively writing this blog for the short time that we weren’t homesteading (I was pouting), I kept pulling up Farmgirl School on my computer.  I used it to find recipes.  How do I make eggnog again?  I need a good recipe for dinner.  How do I make…

IMG_0741I love my blog.  I always have.  I am so happy to be actively writing again here.  Want to make something new for dinner?  How about Margarita Chicken?  Want to crochet some fingerless gloves for someone for Christmas?  Do you want to make soap?  How about cheese?  Interested in getting farm animals?  Maybe you just want to can some broth.  Maybe you want to read some funny, heartwarming stories about a real family and their life.  You are in the right place.  This is your blog too.

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If you love this blog as much as I do, perhaps you will consider sharing it on social media.  Or email it to a friend.  Or share a post on your own blog.  We sure have done a lot and been through a lot in those five years!  And now settled into our forever home, a small homestead in the city with chickens, a root cellar, and the love and experience to enjoy every second of it, I would like to invite you to come around more often, too.  Let’s celebrate all the great things about homesteading and the joys of a simple life.

Planning the Perfect Mini-Vacation

 

20171007_175451We started doing mini-vacations years ago while on a farm because it was easier to find someone to watch animals for one or two nights than for a week or more.  Longer vacations require time off of work, loss of pay, and are often quite exhausting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I will take a week long vacation if it’s offered!  A weekend away is often perfect to refresh the spirit, spend time with loved ones, and to relax.  It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive either to get the crew together.

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1) First, choose who you want to share your mini-vacation with.  We could have spent a weekend at Ojo Caliente, a lovely hot springs spa in New Mexico.  We could have jumped on a plane and visited one of our friends out of state.  But what I really wanted was a family vacation.

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2)  Look at schedules.  We typically like to go on trips during the week.  The prices are often cheaper and there are less crowds.  But, Doug’s job is an hourly paying one these days and we can’t afford to miss that much.  Don’t wait too long though.  Just book the time and everyone will figure out what they can do.

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3) Book a place using Air B&B or a place similar if you need multiple rooms.  Go to a Dude Ranch.  There are many fun things you can do.  I booked a four bedroom house in the mountains only a few minutes out of town.  It was pretty central for all of us.  We were able to bring one of our granddogs.  There was a stocked kitchen and plenty of towels and comfy seating.  It had amazing views, porches, and was a beautiful respite.  Everyone came when they could Friday.

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4) Drop all expectations.  Some folks won’t be able to make it.  I know I tend to micromanage everything but this time I was going to let everything unfold!  Have a basic plan.  Looking at the weather we decided that visiting the North Pole in Cascade would be best on Saturday.  We all brought up different games, books, and things to do.  My son, Andy, and his girlfriend couldn’t get off work and then had a wedding to go to Saturday.  In the end the only thing they could do was meet us for lunch in Manitou Sunday.  And it was great.  It was fun having all nine of us.

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5) Prepare meals.  Each couple chose a meal they would prepare.  This saves a lot of money and time not having to find restaurants three times a day.  Doug and I made breakfasts.  Shyanne and Jacob made a mouthwatering linguine alfredo with breadsticks.  Emily and Reed made a comforting cheesy broccoli soup and croissants.  We all brought up plenty of drinks.  Shyanne surprised us all with caramel apple fixings.

20171007_17300120171007_2047356) Be in the moment.  We laughed while we played games.  We took turns snuggling the puppy.  Took little walks.  Drank coffee together on the balcony.  Did some yoga.  Listened to music.  Talked.  Caught up.  Walked the row of stores.  Played together.

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The key word here is “together”.  It was a perfect vacation.  I hope you will plan one for your own people soon.

Pull Up a Chair and Introduce Yourself

Come in, come in, so glad to see y’all.  Better set awhile.

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You know a lot about me after all these years.  Blogs make the world just a little smaller.  They connect us in commonality and friendship.

If you read Farmgirl School every day, or maybe just coming back to it, peek in once in awhile, or are new ’round these parts, welcome.  I want to hear about you!

Introduce yourself in the comments.  Where you from?  What are your goals?  What brings you ’round this way?  Let’s make this world a little smaller!

I’ll put on another pot of coffee.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 (now available on Amazon!)

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I never guessed back in 2012 what this would become.  I set out to chronicle our adventures in homesteading.  To create a template and how-to that we wish we had.  We weren’t able to find information on how to farm high altitude, or how to bottle feed a goat, or how to do any of the hundreds of things we did by trial and error on Pumpkin Hollow Farm.

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Those years on the homestead were some of the best times of our lives.  Re-reading the manuscript was like reading about an old friend.  I laughed and recollected.  I finished the book with a smile.  As if I had read it for the first time.

Our Lady of the Goats

This book is priceless, I tell you, it has everything a new homesteader could possibly need to get started on their journey.  Organic gardening, high altitude farming, canning, dehydrating, root cellaring, freezing produce, back yard chickens, bottle feeding goats, taking care of ducks, candle making, soap making, herbal remedies, recipes, homemade gifts….goodness, the list goes on.  The textbook we needed, but in a humorous storytelling method.

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I am so excited to see this book in print!  It is now available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/152077494X?ref_=pe_870760_150889320

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Wishing you many blessings on your homesteading journey.  See you ’round the farm!

Emily Lynn at Twenty

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This little girl will forever be our little girl.  She is often mistaken as her sister’s twin, she adores her brother and sister, she is a loyal and generous friend, and an inspiring mother, and forever our baby.

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Today our quiet and enchanting youngest child turns twenty.  Hard to believe all of our children are in their twenties now!  (Seems truly that Doug and I were in our twenties but a minute ago.)  I am proud of how this amazing, feisty, fun child has become an amazing, feisty, fun, and elegant young woman.  We are so lucky that we were chosen to be her parents.  That we got to raise this smiley red head.  That she is our baby.  Our life has been so much better because of it.

I have learned so much from this young woman with her wit and strength, her independence and her grace, she is a fine example.  Today I wish my Emily Lynn peace in the chaos of life.  The ability to see past bills, and work, and people, and modern life and see the enchantment and joy of the every day.  To see that everything passes (rather quickly) and to take a moment to breathe in youth, and stars, and flowers, and hiking trails, and that she sees all of her dreams come true.

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Happy Birthday Baby Girl.  Dad and I love you soooo much!  I am proud to call you my daughter and friend.

Happy Birthday HotRod!

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For those that are long time readers, the people that are mentioned in my blog are almost characters in a book.  It’s fun to see folks that read the blog meet my friends for the first time.  It’s almost as if they know them!  Rodney is one of those characters.  He and his wife, Pat, have been our best friends for twelve years now.  I have never had friends for that long.  We have traveled together, celebrated together, watched our kids grow up, mourned together (especially when Rodney’s mom, Kat, died last July.  I called her my mom too), and laughed together.  When we were losing everything and about to lose our minds, they threw us in their backseat and took us to Utah for four days to play.  We go to New Mexico together and plan our respective homesteads.  They are moving to Pueblo this year along with Rodney’s dad, Rod.  These are my people.

Today Rodney turns fifty.  I think that is a monumental success and reason to celebrate.  We have all lost friends that did not make it to fifty.  This is a gift, a blessing, and I am blessed to still call this man my friend.  We have a lot in common spiritually, and our families have really melded into one.  My granddaughter, Maryjane, calls them Aunt and Uncle, and their son is her best friend (he is 16…that is the sweetest kid) and cousin.  We are their grandchildren’s godparents.

So today I just wanted to share this celebration with all of you out there.  Happy Birthday to my best friend, travel partner, confidant, and trouble maker.  May you get every wish come true!  Wishing you health, happiness, love, and peace.  And a home by us!

Here’s to friends (clink!) and here’s to Rodney (double clink!)….Raise your coffee cups!  Cheers.  Happy Birthday, HotRod!

Mama’s House

We took the long way ’round.  Through hillsides and pastures, leaving city behind and all the modern life we knew.  We opened a shop, we raised our children, we rented farms, we lost everything, we were heartbroken, Doug went back to work, we opened a shop, we grew, we met mentors, we taught, we loved, we persevered, we searched, we prayed, we sang, we are on our way right now to Pueblo to close on our house.  Thank you for all the prayers and good wishes and hugs and life you’ve shared with us.  Here’s to many, many more years writing from our own Mama’s House.

Shyanne Turns 21

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For the first year of her life not a human on earth could take that baby off of my hip.  We were inextricably bonded, that little girl and I.  She entered the world with dark curly hair and big blue eyes.  She looked like one of grandma’s antique dolls, all porcelain skin and small.

Shyanne Mae and I never had a fight, she was a really, really good girl.  Always more mature than her age and always sweet and kind.  She brought home nearly dead (and sometimes dead) animals to rehabilitate. She loved her friends and her family with all of her heart.  She asked her third grade teacher out for lunch and shopping.  Fun and spunky, she loved gymnastics and dance and was great at both.  We would take her to bars to sing and she would blow people away.  She was a fun, light hearted girl.  I always called her Pumpkin.  Her dad always called her Cupcake.  Baking up a storm and creating amazing confections (she is starting her own bakery on the side this year) made her nicknames perfect.  Her Indian name is Little Deer which sums up her personality beautifully.

As she became a teenager with her two siblings she began to pull away.  Broke the apron strings, went into the world to become herself.  To find herself.  It broke my heart that she was no longer my little girl so attached to my hip.  But I knew she had to grow up sometime.

One of the most extraordinary things that happened to us this year was Shyanne deciding she wanted to pursue herbalism.  She is not attached to my hip any longer, but our bond is still there, and now we stand side by side working together to help animals and people.  She had grown up into a fine young woman.  One I am very proud of.

Happy 21st Birthday, Shyanne!  May all your wishes come true.

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?

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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