Seven Years in Farmgirl School

Seven years ago today, I began to design a blog and was giddy with the possibilities. Dozens of journals and manila envelopes filled with typed short stories and magazine articles that I had written filled shelves in closets. I had just read about blogs and was excited to try my hand at one. Farmgirl School came to mind and I laughed out loud as I typed it out.

We were city people, reborn in the country, trying to access knowledge from generations past and from books and experiences. We worked the soil, the gardens, and they grew each year. We longed for goats, and we fell in love, and we cried when one died, and we bottle fed newborns, and we longed for goats again once they were gone. We had sheep who thought they were puppies and followed me around the farm and enjoyed singing shows in the living room wearing diapers. We laughed at ducks in swimming pools and snuggled friendly hens.

We fretted about renting that farm in that small town that we loved. We knew at some point the owners would lose it to the bank. That day came and we ushered over to a different rented farm with dreams and aspirations as big as any. Nine months later we had lost everything- scammed out of every penny- lost each beloved farm animal, and antiques and heirlooms and silverware and part of our spirits, and moved quietly and brokenly into friends’ houses until we could get back on our feet.

We moved into an apartment, worked harder than ever, saved and bought an urban farm. One of our own! We’ll be here forever, we chanted! Ah, but the country called.

And here we are, dreams come true, three months now on our own farm in the country. Our chickens love it here, as does the farm dog. The views can steal your breath away, the air is crisp. Our fourth farm is slowly coming together. Why, by next August, you will not even recognize it, for the gardens and the animals and the life here will expand along with our hearts.

Seven years. A million years ago and a breath ago, it seems. It has been quite a road.

This blog has become a beautiful, exponentially important journal of how-to do just about anything. I, myself, refer back to it constantly for recipes and reminders of how to do things. Thousands of people have followed my Chokecherry Wine recipe- the ongoing number one blog post of mine, with How to Make Your Own Witchhazel on its heels.

164, 850 times people have read my blog. That is really something. The reach we can have with our words. Oh, I occasionally quit the blog when I don’t think I will be farming anymore, or when I think I want to do something else, and two weeks later, here I am posting again, because it has become entwined with my being. Farmgirl School has become as much a part of me as my name.

Here’s to seven more years in Farmgirl School. I oughta really know my stuff by then! Thanks for hanging around.

Célébration de L’Automne en Famille (celebration of fall with family)

Creating La Belle Vie

It is the beginning of autumn harvest season! This is our family’s favorite time of year. Our farm is aptly named Pumpkin Hollow Farm (we will have this new place looking like a farm in no time). So, when our children came for the weekend we wanted to do something really fun. We looked up local attractions but ended up at two nearby farms to pick apples, blackberries, and choose early pumpkins. Everyone had a wonderful time and it was the highlight of our weekend together.

Doug and I went around our village the night before the children arrived to scout out which farms we should go to. We ended up talking to one of the farmers for quite some time. The couple retired, they bought land here with apple trees on it, and a U-Pick farm was born.

The first farm we all ventured to looks to be a…

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The Farmgirl School Milestone

Over a thousand blog followers.  I could not believe it as I lifted my coffee cup to my lips, the steam rising in the cooler morning air, and saw that number.  136,555 hits to my writings.  My most popular blog by far (by thousands) was How to Make Chokecherry Wine!  I want to share that with you again along with a few of my favorite blog posts.

What a chronicle this has become!  I use it nearly daily.  How do you can beans?  I look up my blog!  I am teaching a canning class today and I couldn’t remember how long to can pickled beets and eggs.  It’s right here.

We had a lovely visit with our friends, Lisa and Lance yesterday at Bristol brewery that resides inside a hundred year old school.  They have been on the same journey as we have all these years.  We have watched our children grow up and grandchildren come.  They have worked hard and own a ranch with their family out east. ( https://rafterwranch.net/) We talk about her cows, my chickens, our plans, our kids, this lifestyle.  We have some very big changes and great plans coming up so I bounce ideas off of Lisa and we talk about ways to make my new business idea work (oh, the suspense, I can’t tell you yet!) and how to use our house to buy a farm in the future.  In almost six years so much has changed for both of us, yet there sipping a macchiato on a summer day we may as well have been in her kitchen years ago plotting our next farming move.  Like minded friends are gold, folks.

And so, here’s to a 1000 more readers and a great many more tales to tell.

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How to Make Chokecherry Wine

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A Visit to an Amish Home

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And a Child Was Born

 

 

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.

Four Years Being a Farmgirl…and our new home

November 25, 2012- I had just learned what a blog was and was excited to try it.  Pages that would normally fill journals filled spaces on this web sized book.  To write stories that teach and inspire and make folks laugh while learning to farm and homestead was my idea.  A compilation of tales that I wish I could have found at the beginning of my journey.  I could have never imagined the amazing pieces of life we would be recording.

Indeed over the past year and a half you have put up with me pouting when we lost all that, started two more blogs, always return to this one.  I use my own blog so often to find recipes that I might be one of my best followers!  Over 110,000 times Farmgirl School has been read over the last four years.  I am honored.

When I found out that we were actually buying a house, my inspiration came flooding back.  Months of blog posts already half written in my mind.  Home.

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Our new abode come December 30th.

November 25, 2016- I can now use the skills I have learned about chickens and ducks, gardening, and decorating, cooking, and preserving, cooking on a wood stove, and intertwine them with new memories with my beautiful family, and all the things I want to learn, like Hugelkulter beds, and canning cranberry sauce to create many more years of Farmgirl School.  And all the things along the way that I will learn and share and our world-wide community continues.  We all share so may beautiful desires and wishes.  To return to homesteading life was certainly ours.  So here we go…

The Writer

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I know how the memoir will read, it will be filled with humorous stories that make the reader laugh out loud, and ones that make the reader’s breath catch and tears well, and ones that make the reader cheer, and want to visit our new farm.  It cannot be written yet.  Next year with full intention and intense motivation we will purchase our forever farm.  It will likely be in town, in the small town we have lived in and loved and have our shop in.  Then the circle for this writer will be complete.  I will use my favorite writing techniques, foreshadowing, flashback, and will provide the reader through plenty of laughs and can’t set the book down moments, a true vision of farming and homesteading and will be an entertaining text book of novel-like prose, from our first farm to our present.

Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favorite authors, wrote that she is a writer and she must write or she will die.  I nearly jumped off the couch upon reading it, “YES!”  That is how I feel.  In my darkest moments I considered never writing again, quitting this blog, living a private life, but no, I am a writer.

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There is no privacy here, folks.  One on one I speak openly and embracingly.  More than two people and I am introverted and Doug does all the talking.  But on paper and with keys I am an outgoing and open friend, farmer, homesteader, mother, lover, grandmother, ex-model, future farmsteader, chef, hard worker, plant healer, coffee loving teacher of all things I know.

Writing, the very thing I threatened to quit, is the very thing that got me through.  I write so that I will not die.

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I encourage you, my dear readers, that if you even love to write a little bit, start a blog.  It will increase your life and how you live it.  WordPress has free blogsites.  I can’t wait to read what you write.

Citygirl School

 

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My long, layered skirts, aprons, and prairie style do not even invoke a second glance in Elizabeth.  The country knows me, as well as its occupants.  In the city, here in Parker, Lord, I am provoking full on gawks and stares!  I feel a bit like a fish out of water.

Yet, I sit near the large window looking out across rooftops and mountain ranges, a cup of coffee and a cat on the sill, and write.  I am also in my element here.  How odd how many versions of ourselves coexist.  Maybe not reinventing, but finding a way for all of the various selves to combine.

I am tired of my prairie dresses.  I am not on the prairie.  Nancy and I are no longer farmgirls.  There is no farm.  I sit in a coffee shop using the wifi and sipping tea.  The sun creeps from behind the building and splays across the pavement.  It will be a beautiful day.

I am not homesteading.  I am living the city life.  We booked our trip to see friends in San Diego for my birthday.  We have no charges to find a farm sitter for.  We walk here and there and listen to song birds and stop in for sushi.

Does anyone read this blog anymore?  The term Farmgirl School seems a bit deceiving.  Oh, there are plenty of years of articles to aid the newbie farmer here.  Indeed.  Yet, I seek myself among cars and shops.  Near community gardens and coffee shops.  Across windowsills and in more normal attire.  A clairvoyant healer walks into the city in flowing dresses and a desire for sheep and ends up in a jean jacket sipping tea in a crowded coffee shop.  Unidentifiable?

No, I am still noticeable and I have a great many adventures ahead of me.  A writer still must have an outlet even if the readers stop reading.  Or perhaps new ones will join.  Or perhaps many are still here.  Sit down and have a cup of tea with me.  It is almost spring.

 

 

Farmgirl School Turns Three

Last week Farmgirl School celebrated its third birthday.  I have been writing this blog for over three years.  It is amazing to think how much has happened in that span of time.  Doug and I became farmers.  We learned how to milk goats, care for chickens, watched Maryjane ride the sheep, chased ducks, grew veggies like crazy, chopped wood, canned, preserved, and made a good go at homesteading.

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I have never been what you would call a private person.  Can a writer actually be?  So you also followed along as we raised three teenagers and became grandparents, our greatest honor to date.  We became homeless.  You cried with us and supported us.  You cheered as we opened a new shop and got our verve back.

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Today I register for school.  I will continue learning.  I do not know where that path will lead me.  I do not know what path we are on.  I am praying it is leading us to some land where we can build a little house.  Maryjane wants sheep for Christmas.  I sure hope Santa sends me a place to have them!

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This next year in Farmgirl School ought to be really interesting!  I look forward to seeing it unfold!

Here are some of the stats.  They make a writer’s heart very grateful.

90,714 people have viewed this blog from over 100 countries.  Y’all were most interested in “10 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Country” and “How Much Does it Cost to Have a Farm Animal.”  Closely followed by “How to Make Choke Cherry Wine” and “A Visit to an Amish Home.”  We all seem to be on the same page.  Thanks for sticking around!

The Homestead Pinafore (Mennonite treasures)

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Over two years ago a fellow blogger, Eileen, and I sewed aprons for one another and sent them across the country to each other.  I made her a half apron with beautiful fabric with a chicken towel sewed on as pockets.  She sent me a Mennonite style apron since she lives near a large community.  She wanted to make me something that I wouldn’t have and indeed this apron was a great gift to me and one that I have never seen replicated.

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It reminds me of the pinafore on the front of Raggedy Ann’s dress and pinafores were always a pretty accessory to the occasional dress I had growing up.  I wondered what the difference was between a pinafore and an apron.  A pinafore comes from “pin a fore” or pin the apron to the front of the dress such as the Amish do.  Then it came to be understood as an apron that had two arm holes and covered a large part of the dress.  It turns out a pinafore is another form of an apron.  So, I naturally love it.

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I’ve touted it before, aprons are an important accessory for any farmgirl.  They can make an ordinary outfit look different every time one wears it.  They keep one’s dress clean so one doesn’t have to do laundry as often (yea!).  There are pockets so that one can find their keys, pocket knife, tissue, phone, gardening trowel, small toys, clothes pins, and eggs from the coop.  (Just remember to take the eggs out when you get in to the house!)

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I probably strike folks as a bit different with my long skirts and aprons but fashion should hint at one’s personality and passions, not on what companies want to sell that season.  I get many compliments about my aprons from adults and I overhear young people whispering to their friends that they love the way I dress.  Yesterday at the farmer’s market a vendor said that she had seen more people with aprons on.  Fabulous!

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My beautiful apron that Eileen had given me had seen child’s tears, gardening dirt, held a dying chicken, was stained with goat placenta, had been covered in flour, had been worn around our homestead, then to our new temporary one, to now.  I asked Eileen if she would sew me a few more.  Apparently Eileen hates to sew.  She had a solution though!  I sent an extremely fair price to her to give her Mennonite neighbor who had loaned her the pattern in the first place and her daughters made me five of the most beautiful aprons/pinafores I have ever seen.

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A gift beyond measure.  I cannot wait to wear them on my next homestead! (and today….I’ll wear one today!)