Posted in Holidays

Christmas Cards and Gift Tags

If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to get back to basics! In my mind, this doesn’t just include stocking up on toilet paper and canned goods, but old fashioned ways of communicating and focusing on a stronger familial community. Social media doesn’t cut it for keeping people close. We don’t need 552 friends. Technology is changing our lives. It makes me sad that so many things may go by the wayside. That my granddaughters may not know the fun of a date to a movie theater, the smells of popcorn filling the air when they walk in. The joy of walking down an old main street shopping in small mom-and-pop stores. The sweetness of receiving a Christmas card! It is not too late for us to save many things that make life nicer.

A Christmas card is such a lovely gesture. One reserved for those we are thinking of, those we want to send a hello and a blessing to. Well, you know me, I joke that I came straight from 1882. I am an old fashioned gal and I do love to receive letters and Christmas cards and get and make phone calls. Sometimes I get too busy, and I am going to do differently and be more proactive at telephoning and writing those I care about.

When I was little, we would receive a lot of Christmas cards, my grandparents did too, and they had a clever way of recycling them. The cards were packed up with all the Christmas bobbles and memories and then brought out the next year. I do the same. Tear off the front of the card and use it as a tag on a beautifully wrapped present. The added bonus is re-reading the cards from last year! The cards get a second life and bring joy twice.

Taos Mouse, my Siamese, loves Christmas and finds any excuse to chatter, help wrap presents or jump in the Christmas tree!

Cards received here get fewer and fewer but I love to read them, re-read them, then affix them to gifts for loved ones. I still send out lots of cards and I will continue to do so. Christmas is special in that it allows us to make people feel important. Gifts and cards, phone calls and hugs all let folks know they have been seen and they are loved.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Should you like to drop me a card or a New Year’s missive, I would love to write you back!

Mrs. Katie Sanders

790 9th Street

Penrose, CO 81240

Posted in Farming

Let’s Get Back to Farming

There is no doubt that this has been a very stressful time for most of us for many different reasons. Now, we can only handle so much stress and attempts to control things out of our hands. It’s time we leave the craziness and get back to farming. I have lots of things to show you and farming and gardening techniques to teach you, and such, but on this lovely spring day, I thought I would show you some images of my farm. We have been busy around here the past few weeks.

Brom Bones (inside doorway) and Ichabod Crane enjoy the sunshine this morning.
When we bought this farm late last summer, I made note of the lilac bushes on the property. Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers. This week there have been a multitude of butterflies flitting around the gardens bringing with them signs of hope.
Good morning Ladies!
Hopefully soon these innocent looking chicks and ducklings can move outdoors! The white chicks (leghorns) keep flying all over the bathroom. There is chicken poop all over and the ducklings actually got poop near the ceiling. That is farm life for ya! Beware using the guest bathroom!
I planted dozens of medicinal herbs. Here, Bear Root hangs out with the new rose bush my friend gave me for my birthday.
The spring gardens look good. This week I will replant the spaces that didn’t germinate. The new rows coming in are being planted with summer crops over the next few weeks. My cousin came over and looked out the window and exclaimed, “Did Doug do all that by himself?!” People are still surprised that women can be farmers! Ha!
Socorro at eight months old is the self appointed queen.
Linus and Booboo- Cats are best left indoors. Between cars, coyotes, foxes, dogs, people, disease, and poisons, cats don’t live long lives outside. When cats are outdoors, neither do song bird populations. Mine prefer the couch anyway.
This is a tiny nest above the door in the mini-barn. An American Pipit couple guards these tiny eggs. Life goes on, nature goes on, all will be well.
Posted in Animals/Chickens

Life With Animals

The last two homesteading books that I have read were great to read because they outlined clear and practical guides to subsistence farming and homesteading without the use of animals. In the books, Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self Reliant Gardening and Helen and Scott Nearing’s The Good Life, the authors are/were all vegan and I appreciated reading books where the authors were successful and offered approaches that I have, and will continue, to utilize on my own homestead. To continue taking the cruelty out of agriculture.

There was only one thing missing from the books. Because the authors did not use animals on their homestead and were vegan themselves, they saw no reason to keep animals at all, not even dogs and cats. Valuable resources wasted on animals and keeping animals just to do so seemed unnecessary. Have you ever walked into someone’s home and it’s really eerily quiet and clean? And then you notice what’s missing? No dogs, no cats, not even a parakeet? To us, animals make a homestead a home as much as each other’s company. Animals add so much joy to our lives.

Each year that we tick off as another that we have homesteaded, we make our own way. We learn from others, we experiment, we make lots of mistakes, we make heartbreaking decisions, and we move forward creating the life that is best for us. I considered starting a non-profit animal sanctuary but I decided against it for a few reasons. I have many friends that have sanctuaries. 1) They have a lot more land than I do and I would be very limited as to whom I could take. 2) My friends have to hustle for donations constantly. 3) People are really cruel. They call these sanctuaries and make threats about what will happen to the animals if the sanctuary doesn’t take them. No thanks. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And 4) These are pets to us. Our past goats and sheep followed us around our farm just like little puppies. We enjoyed them so much and will not be giving up ones to come. We want to adopt a few bottle babies. Raise a few chicks and ducklings from birth. Just as we go to the shelter and choose kittens that need us most. We bring in animals young and slowly so that everyone adapts well. And then they live here their whole life and are loved ridiculously well. That is our sanctuary.

The farm animals might contribute by donating their wool (they are getting sheared anyway), their eggs (they just walk away from them anyway), and their antics. We make sure we make enough money to take care of them, just like our indoor animals. But there is no cruelty here, no using animals for meat or dairy. Some people watch cable television, some people like fancy cars, we like to watch animals play. It is worth the money.

The other animals that we welcome are of the wild sort. I have a good bird guide near the office window and provide bird seed for the many wild birds that visit. We see traces of deer that came through in the night. Foxes live over the hill. Hawks float above the trees. Our Great Pyrenees keeps everyone safe on the ground from behind his fences. I enjoy the world so much better surrounded with animals.

A homestead does not have to use animals for food. A homestead is more of a home with animals as family. There is more than one way to homestead and farm successfully. Find your path and find your joy.

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

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.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

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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Posted in Animals/Chickens, Herbal Remedies

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!)

 

 

Posted in Animals/Chickens

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.

 

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving), Holidays

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.

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

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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