All the Animals (the peaceful farm sanctuary)

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She was three days old.  Bouncy, adorable, and everything one would imagine a baby goat to be.  She nibbled on the geraniums, went to inner city schools with me when I went to speak, played the piano, and loved her bottles.  She stayed next to me as I read and thought herself a cat.  She rather enjoyed rides in the truck and loved everyone.

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We often have to learn things the hard way to realize what our true beliefs are.  I had been vegetarian for twenty-five years and then vegan for an additional two years when we entered the farming scene head on and fell into line with all the other small farms around us.  We started a small dairy.  We increased our chicken family.  We had many animals who all had to “earn their keep.”

Elsa got pregnant too early.  When she gave birth, we took the baby away. (That is how people get the milk and not the infant) (and we were so thankful it was a girl because boys get killed in the dairy industry.  Period.)  She got mastitis and scabs on her udders.  Instead of letting her heal and giving her another year, I quickly sold her to a family who ushered her into their minivan and were gone.  For $250.  It was only then that I realized in my farming fervor that I just sold our baby girl.  Roosters I couldn’t get myself to eat came home plucked and beheaded for little reason.  I have too many recipes out there that need to come down.

Many folks deter squirrels with cruel spinning feeders and squirrel proof this or that.  We had a squirrel years ago that would throw his food bowl if it was empty after getting our attention!  They are quite fascinating and sweet animals.  Our life is certainly richer watching them play.  They come quite near to receive their goodies.

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Birds of all sorts gather around our third of an acre in the middle of the city.  Scores of blackbirds, owls, hawks, eagles, sparrows, finches, and silly blue jays.  Hummingbirds drink the nectar from the geraniums on the porch.

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The chickens are named and are actually included in our holiday cards.  They all have very different personalities, just like cats and dogs.  My friend’s young turkey was killed.  A few weeks later, the mother of the turkey died.  She was depressed and had stopped eating.  There is no difference (and it is only humans that have determined who is more worthy, who is food, who is equal) between the dog, the cats, the chickens, the squirrels, the blue jays, even the mice that steal a nibble here and there from the birds’ food bowl. They all have a right to live and be and I have no more right to be here than they.  We are all walking upon mother earth.

At this time that we wish for peace on earth, let us remember these things.  Not only will your health drastically improve, but your emotional state will be happier,  anxiety disappears, your impact on the earth’s resources will lessen, and the very number of lives you will save and improve by not eating animals and by putting out some bird seed will be significant.  That is how we get peace on earth.  One life at a time.  This mini-farm is a sanctuary, for me as much as them.

 

Recommended Reading:

The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

Happily Ever Esther by Steve Jenkins

Living the Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur

 

 

 

The Restorative Red Bedroom (a new room with just a can of paint!)

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I don’t know who thought of the color combination of dingy dorm room white with pukey grey trim but ever since I moved in I have wanted to change it.  I just didn’t know what colors to paint our bedroom.  I painted the living room yellow with brown trim, and the guest room the lightest hint of pink with brown trim.  I wanted my room to have a particular feel.

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Romantic, not bright, but not too dark, just warm and comfortable.

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I decided on Autumn Red which is a dark red but has hints of rose pink in it.  The same brown trim that I used throughout the house unifies the spaces.

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The gorgeous red, of course, ended up matching my chili ristra in the corner, and highlighted my painting of our dream house in New Mexico.

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The same trim color was used to paint the door, dresser and mirror to give them a vintage appeal and they just match the cheeky buffalo head.  I painted the edge of the dresser red.  I simplified the wall hangings.

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The cats were climbing up the back of the headboard to see out the window while we were sleeping so by taking the mirror off of the dresser, I was able to give them a place to bird watch and let me sleep in peace!  Moving furniture around can make the space more functional.

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Geraniums brighten the space.

The room is beautiful.  It feels like we are inside of a heart.  It is beautifully restorative, like a cave.  And again, a simple can of paint can completely renovate, restore, and change the feel of any room.

The Motley Crew of Pumpkin Hollow

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I need this sign!

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Gandalf is over a hundred pounds now at seven months old.  He is adorable.  His crazy brother, Merlin is eight months old and thinks he is a jaguar.  Or a dog.  That boy is a little special.  Each morning my husband emails me from work and asks, “How are you and zoo?”

DSC_6169My three old kitties, that we had hand raised almost thirteen years ago, came home after being at the shop for over two years.  Let’s just say they don’t love Merlin.  Gandalf is loud and furry and naughty too.  I didn’t get chicks this year.  I think eight cats, a giant polar bear, and seven chickens will do me just fine for now.  But I tell you what, this zoo makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day.  It’s a motley crew over here on Pumpkin Hollow Farm!

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Trusting Intuition and Plant Medicines

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My kitten was very sick.  Five months ago I picked Merlin and his brother up at the feed mill where they had been found the eve before.  They were not even a day old yet and their mother was gone.  Merlin survived on dropper-fulls of milk delivered every two hours.  He spent his first six weeks, first in my bra, then in my apron top.  He went everywhere with us because of his feedings.  He is a feisty, furry, sweet little boy and I naturally have a very strong attachment to him.

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Last week I noticed that when he ran (which he seems to always be doing) streams of diarrhea were following him.  It wouldn’t stop.  He also has chronic allergies.  I had cancelled his appointment to get neutered at the “in-and-out-neuter clinic because they wouldn’t listen to me that they would have to be alert to his breathing.

I haven’t been to a vet in over a decade.  Same with the doctor.  I make my own medicines with 100% success and my full faith is in these plants.  If they don’t need to be spayed/neutered or humanely euthanized at the end of life, I don’t take them.  I know as well as I know my name what herbs do what.  I had been faithfully giving Merlin the antibiotic and the super immunity allergy medicine and these keep his sniffles in check.  He had two days worth of tummy trouble medicine that I make specifically for cats (chamomile, mint, mullein, lemon balm).  But fear makes us doubt.  It makes us panic.  And I made an appointment with the vet.

Doug recalled his trip with Merlin and as I read the line by line charges I realized the vet is no different than it was twenty years ago when I was a vet tech.  God love them but most vets (and doctors) are trained on a script, a pharmaceutical drug, and a bill.  She did a fecal sample.  I knew he didn’t have parasites because he had already taken my anti-parasite.  He didn’t but she de-wormed him anyway.  With a chemical.  That made him so bad that night that diarrhea was flying everywhere in large puddles as he screamed and literally climbed the walls.  Then they sold him some “special” food (I cannot believe after all this time they are still pushing that Science Diet stuff as healthy).  Tried to push vaccinations on him (even though he was clearly not feeling well).  Over a hundred dollars later we had a diagnoses.  Diarrhea.

I was furious that my Merlin was worse.  I was furious that I had not trusted my instincts, my intuition, my plants.  The next day, his third day of tummy medicine that I make, he was a hundred percent well.  One more dose and we would have had it.

How many times did I panic when the kids were little (before I was an herbalist) and rush Andy to the emergency room for pink eye (in 2 hours it is better with my recipe), or Shyanne with a headache (feverfew and willow), or Emily with seborrhea dermatitis (she was allergic to her earrings)?

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In our household and with thousands of clients over the years and students’ medicines made and the people they help and so forth, I have seen plants heal everything.  I beseech you to learn herbal medicines for your homestead.  I have saved my own flock of chickens, helped relieve pain in goats, de-wormed sheep, healed cats, saved dogs, and kept our family healthy and well.  The plants were made for this!

They are burying one of my son’s friends this week.  Oxycodone.

I have classes, I have an online store and shop, others across the world have the same.  Seek out wisdom in library books, with teachers, or if you have no desire to turn your basement into a full apothecary, find a real herbalist.  Not a health food store.  A working, breathing, passionate herbalist.

http://whitewolfherbs.com

Maybe 2018 is the year we all go back to the plants.

(By the way, Merlin is doing great!)

 

 

Update on Merlin and How Cats Protect Us

20171009_130249The tiny palm-sized kitten that we brought home not even a day after being born is doing wonderful.  He is three months old now, feisty as can be, and ridiculously cuddly.  We dropper fed him every two hours and he was a little slower to figure out how to eat, drink out of a saucer, or to use litter, but the other cats have different roles in his care and he’s figuring it all out.  The two younger have become his playmates, and the older two are there to cuddle him and smack him if he starts getting out of hand.  Merlin is very social after traipsing around everywhere in my shirt for six weeks.  These days he is just home with the other cats keeping it safe and happy.

20170925_114402It’s almost Halloween.  At the shelter that I worked at many moons ago we did not adopt out black cats during the month of October for their own safety.  In both shelters I worked at, black cats were adopted much less than other colors.  Many people are still wary of black cats.

20171012_215258All cats throughout history have been known to be powerful protection.  I have a lot of students and clients come to my house and shop.  I always watch my three cats at the shop and my five cats at home to see if I can trust someone.

The cats tell me if someone is outside as they stare in unison intently out the window.  If there is a storm coming, cats will tell you.  When someone broke into our car, my large black cat kept pawing me awake.  When I wouldn’t budge he went in to the kitchen and disturbed dishes to make a racket then returned to my side in bed meowing and nudging me.  In the middle ages cats almost became extinct.  The mass killings of cats created an epidemic of infected mice and rats and the Plague ravaged the country.  Cats could have saved them a lot sooner.

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Merlin helping a student with his homework.

People can get ridiculous when they are fearful.  In the 1500’s if cats were congregating in an area it was thought that they were having a meeting whilst plotting more killings of humans through their magic.  Meanwhile women who were healers- herbalists and midwives and wise women- were being killed as witches.  The cats that they kept for companionship (being a healer is lonely work) and to keep mice out of the dried herbs and ingredients were used to prove the woman was a witch.  The color black is used for protection.  So black cats and black clothing are/were common among magical folks.

20171012_193847But cats don’t just protect us against rats and strangers, they sense energies, spirits, and changes that we may not be attuned to.  They protect against negative energies/entities.  That is why they make such a fine Familiar for modern witches.  Witches are probably not what you think, they are men and women who spend their lives trying to raise positivity and light in this world by lighting candles to pray for good, by setting intentions and manifesting, by helping guide others through uncertainties, and by using the traditional healing arts to make real changes.  A cat will stand by while one lights candles and raises positive energy.  A cat will dispel negative energy and will always be a loyal companion.

SnugglesDuring this time of Samhain, when the veil is thinnest, you may think you hear laughter or talking from someone who has passed over.  Odd happenings are common right now, and deceased grandmas and old friends are just popping by to say hello.  Your cat will make sure everyone is on the up and up.

I have had a cat my entire life.  From my first beloved cat of my own, Serina, who slept above the heads of my children in their cribs, her arms around their heads to keep them safe, to the wild kitten stalking my feet right now, my life is all the richer from having cats.

 

Sunrises, Gratitude, and Magic Coffee

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Today I unpack our books and photos, writings and my aprons.  I will make this downstairs area emanate life and our love for each other and home.  Tomorrow we will pick up all my plants from the greenhouse at Margie’s and will be officially moved out of her home.

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I owe Margie and Pat a great amount of gratitude for taking us in while in the depths of despair holding nine cats.  We made such beautiful memories over there this summer, flying in Pat’s airplane, feeding the raccoon on the porch while watching bats, enjoying drinks together as the moon rose over the horizon of trees.  Their graciousness held no bounds and I am truly thankful.

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The shop continues to change and form each day.  Each day it looks more and more like how I envisioned it.  And in mad rushes it will be done and ready to open Tuesday with cups of tea and glowing medicines ready to pour.

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But now I sit here as the dawn stretches and rises quietly over the earth illuminating all the autumn splendor and old trees as the cool breeze awakes the upper branches.  My spirit is tired and my back is sore but I sit in peace with my cup of coffee.  These things we hold onto to bring us joy.  A sip of this coffee brings me back to years of holidays, and years of happiness.  Each sip holds magic.  We call it Christmas coffee but I start it in October.  A sweet reminder of all the fun to come, of trick-or-treating, sharing Thanksgiving meals, of the childlike wonder of Christmas and Hanukkah, and the new beginnings of the New Year.

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This year (and last) may have been a wild ride, but all I feel at this moment is peace and intense gratitude.  For the memories with my children and family and friends that are family, for sunrises so beautiful they erase the previous day, and for sips of magic coffee.

In a coffee pot, or preferably a French press, add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil to regular scoops of coffee ( I do like a nice strong roast myself, 7 heaping scoops to an 8 cup press) and brew as you would.

Magic.

Making and Canning Juice (and moving box fun)

We were gifted three boxes of apples, a windfall from our friends’ tree.  After putting up eight jars of sliced apples, nine jars of applesauce, and drying a load of apples, I still had a box and a half.  Doug and I go through a fair amount of juice and organic juice is not cheap y’all.  Here’s how to make delicious juices from windfalls, purchased boxes of fruit, and/or frozen fruit to keep all winter.  It’s ridiculously easy.

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Load up a large pot 2/3 full of fruit.  I sliced apples in half (I did not even bother to core them, I just made sure they didn’t have bugs in them!) and did one batch of just apple.  The second batch I threw in the contents of the partial bags of frozen fruit in the freezer.  Cranberries, raspberries, and a few strawberries joined the mix, adding their own festive color.  A couple of cinnamon sticks and a cup of brown sugar for fun went in as well.  Fill the pot to a few inches from the top with water and boil lightly for two hours.  Pour into clean quart jars, wipe the rims off, replace the lids and place in a large pot with water covering the jars.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Add 1 minute per 1000 feet above sea level.  I boiled for 17 minutes.

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Once the lids seal, mark them and place them in the pantry.  They are good for at least two years and you didn’t waste a single fruit!

On another note, we are busy packing and getting ready to move to our new homestead.  I had to share a few pictures Doug snapped of the moving box fun going on at our house.  There is either a baby or a cat or both in various boxes.  I guess they want to make sure we take them!

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A Tour of Our Farm in Photos

The old garage and chicken coop have character.  The sunset that evening was spectacular. Can you see the ducks in front of the coop?
The old garage and chicken coop have character. The sunset that evening was spectacular. Can you see the ducks in front of the coop?
The inside of our beehive.  The ladies have been very busy and have six rows filled with beautiful wax.
The inside of our beehive. The ladies have been very busy and have six rows filled with beautiful honeycomb.

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Four of our eight cats, Louie, Booboo, Frankie, and Clara create a lovely pattern on the bedspread. They are our least productive farm workers.
Four of our eight cats, Louie, Booboo, Frankie, and Clara create a lovely pattern on the bedspread. They are our least productive farm workers.
Twila giving Isabelle ideas of things they probably oughtn't be doing.
Twila giving Isabelle ideas of things they probably oughtn’t be doing.
Farmgirl in training. Maryjane rides Isabelle in hopes of convincing Papa to get her a pony.
Farmgirl in training. Maryjane rides Isabelle in hopes of convincing Papa to get her a pony.
The littlest farmgirl helping water.
The littlest farmgirl helping water.

She uses a screw driver and makes sound effects like rushing water to pretend like she is watering plants.  She is so fun to watch!

Maryjane's first radish.
Maryjane’s first radish.
Come on over and visit!
Come on over and visit!
Looking out over the fairgrounds as we say goodnight to the farm animals.
Looking out over the fairgrounds as we say goodnight to the farm animals.

The Great Corn Experiment Results (and enemies of the root cellar)

Drum roll, please!  The results are in for the Great Corn Experiment! (click title to see original post)

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About a month after drying the corn, I pulled off the kernels with the side of a knife from one of the cobs and placed them in the air popper.  It took a long time but some of the kernels turned into tiny popcorn.  Most of the kernels had too much moisture content and after awhile I decided not to set the popcorn maker on fire.  The popcorn that did pop was nutty, satisfying, delicious.  I was excited to see what would happen when all the corn was sufficiently dried.

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I began to notice lines of corn kernels missing.  I was worried that the kernels were be so dry they are falling off the cob through the slats of the open container that held them and into the oblivion of the root cellar.  I moved the crate on top of the box of onions so that the kernels could fall into the box.

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Remember the cartoons where, I believe it was Mickey Mouse, would eat corn like a typewriter?  One row. Ding!  Next row.  Ding!  It looked like Mickey Mouse was in the root cellar.  I did not think that mice would eat such perfect rows before moving to the next row.  Then Eliza Doolittle caught a mouse.

This year the mouse population has exploded.  We have (surprisingly) not had many mice before now here.  First I noticed they had taken up residence in the garage and the chicken coop.  Then the front porch near the bird feeders.

At least one out of the eight cats considers herself a mouser.  Eliza is a beautiful lynx point Siamese, calico mix.  She is the youngest (5 years old) and quite lithe.  She went running by with a mouse and Shyanne hot on her heels.  It really doesn’t help me to have even one mouser when I have St. Francis living over here.  Shyanne rescued the mouse from Eliza’s grasp.  “It’s a baby!” she cooed.  She walked it around the house in her hands comforting and loving it.  Then put it outside.  Where I have no doubts it found it’s way back towards the root cellar!

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We didn’t see any mouse droppings so we brought the corn into the kitchen and decided last night test it out.  The mice had only eaten the heirloom sweet(ish) corn and had left the old varieties of Indian corn alone.  I used a lightly wet paper towel and wiped down one of the cobs and tried a knife to release the kernels.  They began to fly everywhere upon release.  Emily came and twisted one of the cobs.  Tons of beautiful multi-colored kernels showered down.  Then we smelled it.

If you have ever lived in a house that mice love, you will know just what I am talking about.  Mouse urine.  Pungent.  Doug couldn’t smell it.  But it was enough for Emily and I to abandon our project.  The chickens will love their new treat.

I know that the kernels would have made fulfilling, nutty morsels of popcorn and delicious hand ground cornmeal, but we will have to test this theory at the end of this year.

Let’s see $9 for the heirloom seeds.  Approximately four and a half months of daily watering, tending, weeding, and harvesting.  Shucking, drying, waiting.  All gone.

Being a farmer guarantees a certain amount of crop loss, however.  Sometimes while in storage!