Posted in Holidays

The Reason for the Season

There are four holidays celebrated during the month of December. They are all culturally important, and in the end, they represent the very same concepts, and give rise for celebration and unity.

Kwanzaa begins December 26th and is the newest holiday, created in 1966 to unite African Americans. Having a small amount of Sudan descent, I am intrigued by this holiday. Being fascinated by the world makes me interested in all celebrations. Kwanzaa focuses on seven principals, each being thought of each day as a candle is lit. Unity, Self Determination (self strength), Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics (supporting each other’s businesses), Purpose, Creativity, and Faith in each other. Candles, food, family, community, gift giving (generosity), and hope is the basis of Kwanzaa.

Beloved Christmas was created to overshadow the pagan holiday, Yule. Who doesn’t love the twinkly lights, the music, gift giving, family, candles, greenery, and the childlike wonder that comes with the season? It is my favorite time of year. Kindness, hope, and faith fill the moments of the season.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Hanukkah is a celebration of light and hope. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the eternal light within only had enough oil for one day. People were sent out to retrieve more oil. It took them eight days to get back, but the light had stayed lit. For this miracle, Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights. It is actually a minor holiday but was given more focus because of Christmas. Gift giving and lighting the menorah are a part of this holiday. Family and togetherness are the focus.

Yule is the original celebration- the Solstice- and is celebrated from December 21st until January 1st. The festival came about because the holly king (who looks a lot like Santa) is defeated by the Oak King, and the sun is born. In times of old, the cold and darkest time of the year was one of concern, and it looked like the sun stayed the same for twelve days. The Yule log was burned for twelve days in hopes of pleasing the sun god so that it would return. The oak king is also known as the green man, the face of crops, greenery, and life.

All of the celebrations this month have some very important aspects to them, and that is what we can focus on this time of year. There is no need to “try to get in the spirit”, the spirit is within you.

  • Family
  • Community
  • Generosity
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Nature
  • Light
  • The promise of a bright new year.
Posted in inspiration

A Different View of Feminism

I filled out my ballot. Signed the envelope. Voting is a right I do not take for granted. It is one my foremothers fought for. I am thankful that I have equal rights as my husband and am not his property, but rather his partner. I am a feminist as far as equal rights and partnerships go but I have a very old fashioned view of what feminism should look like and what many of us have forgotten.

I am a housewife. I do not have children at home. I am expected by society to obtain work. Even mothers with children are expected to work. The doors were opened by marketing campaigns for frozen dinners and cigarettes to alight the way for women back to work. No longer are we attached to our apron strings! What really happened is that women left the kitchen en masse for careers and the workplace, leaving their children to fend for themselves. And yet still, as we leave work at dusk, we are still expected to clean the house, run the errands, and feed the family. Fast food and restaurants, food services, house cleaners, and daycares fill the spaces that we left behind on our way to the office.

When Doug and I started a homestead, it was made very clear why women and men have specific roles. They are very natural and work well together. It would take me three days to chop and stack wood that a man could do in a few hours. Men have a natural inclination to provide for their families, to be the hunter-gatherer, and their self esteem is often linked to that. We as women are natural nurturers, holding any child to our bosom who is in need, providing cooked sustenance and taking care of most needs over our own. A homestead depends on gender roles, as does our society.

I have had as many young male farm interns as female, and even in our modern day, these young people excel at what their gender dictates. The men are terrible at cleaning house and doing dishes, scarcely lifting a finger to fix supper, not detailed orientated, but excel at large jobs, stacking wood, heavy lifting, building. While the women flit around seamlessly, canning tomatoes, fixing supper, laughing, and gardening. There are always exceptions to the rule and many things are fun do together with partners, but for the most part, we are different in beautiful ways.

We women are powerful creatures, fighting for good and fairness. If women put half the energy they do into fighting for the right to have an abortion any time they like into the good and well being of our communities, how powerful that would be. If we put that kind of energy into nurturing our families, how much stronger our society would be. We are incredible leaders and passionate advocates- we are just fighting for the wrong things!

We live in Colorado, the third highest cost of living state to live in. We are proof that two incomes are not necessary. We do not have streaming services, cable, expensive phones or data plans, we despise debt, we are thrifty when needed but still indulge in what we love. We save money by my being home. Feminism also is the right to stay at home and be providers at the hearth. Women of all centuries have always had a side hustle that allowed them to have pocket money without giving up their responsibilities to the family and home. Work one day a week, arts and crafts, selling eggs, teaching classes, profiting off of hobbies- all these things can bring in income. Being at home is more environmentally friendly, more economical, and creates positive outcomes in the home. If you want to be a lawyer, go be a lawyer. If you want to be a homemaker, you have that right as well!

I wake up, pour myself coffee, start a fire in the woodstove if needed, work in the gardens, take care of the animals, clean the house, prepare meals, preserve food, work on crafts, am available if my children and grandchildren need me or if the neighbors need help. I am able to have peace of mind, have a busy, enjoyable life in the company of my family, provide healthy meals and a warm house, and proudly wear my apron. Now is the time to rethink what feminism is supposed to mean and use it for the health and security of our families, our communities, and our society at large.

Posted in Farming

A Greenhouse Raising

We have been here a year. I can hardly believe how time flies! My granddaughter and I found an earth worm in the potato patch, a sure sign that our sand and shale desert soil farmed in a sustainable, no-till fashion- in just one season- is becoming an oasis. Now this land needs a greenhouse.

Doug removed all the cactus from the area we decided on.

A greenhouse could extend the season a few weeks. I am working on a system to naturally heat it so that we can start spring crops earlier. In all my houses before, there has been a nice sunny south window to start seedlings in, but the overhang is such here that sun rarely cascades in one place for very long. Then late in autumn, the tomatoes will have a few more weeks to ripen. Oh yes, a greenhouse is needed.

Choosing a place for the greenhouse. We needed a place that was easily accessible by the hose, level ground, and a place that wouldn’t block our view of the mountains.

We talked about building one from scratch, and we probably could have despite not being particularly handy or with excess funds…but we didn’t need to. Our neighbor has a friend, who has a partially put together greenhouse, do we want it?

Look on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace for greenhouses. A lot of people get them and then just don’t use them. Look for materials on those same sites. I am sure there are other sites that are good as well. You can put together a greenhouse for cheap. In some cases, free!

Put in a few phone calls and see if you can’t get a crew together to help you. Much like an Amish barn raising, I put out the word, and we got help. Then, of course, we will be available in their time of need down the road. Community is the best part of homesteading.

We walked the property looking for the best place to put it. Somewhere close to water, a place that is level ground, and a place that wouldn’t block my magnificent view of the mountains. (I regretted my placement of the little barn.)

Our neighbors, Carolyn and Rod, hooked up their trailer. My cousins met us there, along with our farm interns, Annie and Rex, and Annie’s boyfriend, Cole. We had a lively crew, happily moving the 10×12 greenhouse.

The young people quickly took the initiative and had the greenhouse finished and put together. The inside of the greenhouse is bolted to railroad ties so that the greenhouse won’t end up in Carolyn’s yard come first wind storm.

I am so grateful to my family and friends for helping this greenhouse manifest here. It is beautiful next to the kitchen gardens. I can just see the raised beds now, maybe a tea table, its warmth creating seedlings and life and food.

Posted in Homestead

The Wisdom of Simple Living

A fascinating book dropped into my home library by way of a student who thought I would enjoy it. It is the second in the series, and by god, I am enjoying it! Foxfire 2 has delighted me this past week with recipes, anecdotes, and interviews with homesteaders that were born in the late 1800’s. What began as a journalism class at a high school in Georgia in 1970 turned into twelve-plus books in the Foxfire series. The students interviewed and photographed elders in the Appalachian communities and surrounding areas about life during a time that most of us have never seen and most of us will never read or hear about. Without these books, a hundred years of homesteading wisdom, history, and life would have vanished. I saved up enough money to buy the whole set and I can’t wait to keep reading.

I think the folks that were interviewed in the Foxfire books would be most surprised by our lack of neighborliness and community these days. Back then, midwives delivered babies, neighbors dug graves and built caskets, elders took in the homeless, black and white folks were family to each other- the community was strong because that is how it survived. It seems a close community would have made life a whole lot less lonely and a lot more fulfilling. Wouldn’t they be surprised that we don’t know most of our neighbors’ names? That is something we just have to get back.

A long time client and friend of mine passed on last week. Death is a part of life but it always makes you sit up a little straighter and look around. Are we living the life we want to live?

You know over the years we have gone back and forth, forwards and backwards, from suburb living to hand washing clothes with a plunger and a two sided tin tub to fancy coffee machines and new clothes back to aprons and simple living. I tell you what, nothing beats simple living.

I can give you lots of reasons ranging from less bills, less stress, more security, healthier food, less hurry, more satisfaction, and more time with family. We still work hard, but that’s alright. Working hard keeps you young and makes your heart feel good. Simple living and homesteading is about choosing one’s priorities in life. Looking at one’s footprint on the earth. How much time one has for relationships that are important. And taking time to build community and help each other out. Everything has become about money. It’s not all about money. It is about community. Those around you. Your life! Sometimes it’s nice to sit with a glass of homemade wine next to your spouse and just watch the corn grow.

Check out the Foxfire book series on Amazon. It’s like gathering wisdom from the elders that have passed on.

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

Supporting Local Farms (So You Want to Be a Homesteader Day 7)

It is a good idea to try and be self sufficient enough that you feel secure.  You have water in empty jars in case the water gets turned off.  You have candles, oil lamps, and matches.  You have food preserved and a bustling garden.  You have firewood.  You have some cash in a coffee can.  Going further, it is really satisfying to raise your own food, preserve all of your own food and drinks, and make steps to be more eco-friendly and simple.  We can get pretty darn self sufficient, but really it not likely to be completely self sufficient.  Mainly because we need people.  We also cannot possibly do everything ourselves.  Supporting small, local farms in your state- as close to you as possible- is a great way to build each other up, create community, eat well, ensure humane treatment of animals, and support a more environmentally friendly path.

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We don’t have too many flour mills here in Colorado (do we have any?), and I know no one is growing coffee and sugar, so I do need to buy those.  I can choose organic or small operations to purchase from.  I grow most of our vegetables for the summer and fall here on my urban farm, but it is always nice to head to the farmer’s market and buy some fruit or unique vegetables from the organic farmers there.  We talk about bugs, weather, family, recipes.  I can also get extra produce to preserve if I didn’t grow enough. The money stays in the community, amongst friends.

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Most of the homestead authors I enjoy reading started out as vegetarians.  Many of us have felt strongly about vegetarianism before.  Many of my farmer friends were vegetarians.  We care about the environment.  We care about animals.  So, once we see that tofu and bananas wreck the ozone as much as anything with all the fuel and deforestation required, and that GMO crops (the basis of many a veggie burger), and factory farming are what are destroying our health and our beautiful planet, it makes a farmgirl step back and reassess.

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There are lovely, caring farms and ranches, many around you, that lovingly grow animals for meat and gently send them off into the night.  A world away from the pain and stench of factory farming.  My meat chickens got lots of kisses and lots of sunshine and were dead in less time than it takes to blink.  No pain.

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The key to curing many of our environmental, social, and health problems can be found in our food choices.  By purchasing as much local as possible, from real people in your community, who don’t use pesticides and herbicides, who have bills to pay, and a smile to offer you, and authentic conversation, we can reverse disease, destruction, and separation.  Local is where our food should come from.  As close as possible.  Your back yard is even better.  It is possible to eat primarily local, it just takes some planning and networking on social media and at farmer’s markets to find everything you need.

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I despise the dairy industry and do not want to support them.  Yesterday I visited a small farm thirty minutes from mine where a gorgeous, tanned farmgirl showed me around.  She loves each and every one of the newly hatched chicks that ran by chirping, the bucks who got out and created a lot of babies this year, the old goats, the babies frolicking with their mothers, the pigs, the dogs, the land, that life.  I packed three gallons of delicious, fresh milk into my car.  Today I am making cheese and ice cream.

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Local is not more expensive.  Creating a good network of fellow farmers and ranchers is imperative to becoming a successful homesteader.

Posted in inspiration

Hygge Lifestyle (simple pleasures and joyful living)

As the season begins to change, and the light appears more golden, as do the leaves, I find myself responding as well.  A natural response to the cool nights, I suppose.  Autumn welcomes in the New Year in many cultures so perhaps that would explain the nesting instinct.  My ancestors of old would be busily putting up food (as I am) and preparing the garden beds to sleep for winter.  Firewood will be cut and stacked soon and soups are on the menu for the first cool day.

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Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Nordic principal of all things cozy and good.  Of cable knit sweaters and wool socks.  Of blazing fires and drinks with friends.  Of self care with baths and saunas and good creams.  Of gifts and community and laughter and warmth.

Perhaps it is because of my Scandinavian ancestry or perhaps it is from living in a four-season climate, that I so love the hygge concepts.  It is one thing to prepare for winter and be ready to survive, it is quite another to prepare for winter beautifully.  It draws in the sensations of warmth and soft textures, and good books by the fire, and romantic evenings in, and game nights with friends, and rose scented baths, and hot chocolate in the snow.

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But outside of the seasonal aspects, the Hygge lifestyle is for all year.  Its focus is on friends and family and self love, and good food and good drinks, and noticing the beauty in every moment, in every season, in every facet of life.  Of embracing bliss and goodness and waking up to these lovely days we have.

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The book, The Hygge Life; Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes, Decorating, Entertaining, Simple Rituals, and Family Traditions is a lovely book to curl up with and incorporate into your home and lifestyle.

Wishing you heart warming and simple joys!

Posted in Holidays

Before You Give to a Charity (really helping those in need)

homeless

‘Tis the time of year for charities.  To give to those less fortunate.  To share some of our blessings.

We often gave money to organizations that helped the homeless.  Then we became homeless ourselves after losing our rented farm.  We opted not to go on welfare, but rather to work very hard to get jobs and get back on our feet.  About this time two years ago we were out of money and hungry.  You can only eat so many dollar burritos from Taco Bell with found change.  We looked into getting a food basket from a local charity that distributed them.  I didn’t have a coat, I was freezing.  We were really struggling and not a single organization could or would help us.  They gave everything to the “poorest” in the county.  Well, you couldn’t have been poorer than us at that moment.  You have to work pretty dang hard to be the poorest in the county.  You have to get on welfare and food stamps, and you can’t try to find work or you would lose your pay out every month.  No thanks.

Then we have the homeless organizations that we gave to.  Those are intended to serve the perfectly able folks with signs-who make more money than anyone I know- on the corners of busy streets.  We did a farmer’s market for years in a park that was popular with the homeless.  They stole, took drugs in the park, excitedly went and got free food from the food kitchen, and had no desire to change their lives.  Or they wouldn’t be homeless anymore.  It was a lifestyle they chose.  They were the first to admit it.  And that really surprised us.

Now, this all sounds a little harsh, but let me be clear, there are people out there that need your help.  They just don’t have cardboard signs and are working hard to try and make it.  They are the elderly on your block who would love company and a meal with someone.  It’s the single mom who can’t afford new coats for her swiftly growing children.  It’s the friend at work whose wife is sick and they need help with meals and cleaning the house but would never ask.  There are people all around you who could use a bit of charity and mercy and help.

Only a few cents goes to the people large charities serve.  If you were to just look around you could have a much more powerful impact, make a personal connection, and strengthen the community you are in.  I will forever be grateful to my old neighbors who showed up at my shop with a box of home canned food, squash, a winter coat, and a hug.

Before you write a check to a big charity, look around and see if anyone near you could use a little holiday help.  We all need a little help here and there.

(Thank you to all of our friends that pitched in back then with money, a place to stay, a dinner, and hugs.  We never imagined we would have been in that situation.  Amazing how much can change in such a short time. We are really grateful for all we have now.)

 

Posted in Holidays

All the Small Kindnesses

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We have a very long driveway.  In the city it would be the length of one long block.  It had one to two feet of snow in any given place so our cars just couldn’t get up the dirt path the last few snowstorms.  Our car along with our housemate, David’s, stayed parked along the road until we could get back in.  Yesterday we came home late, ready to bundle up the baby and load all of our things on our backs to hike up the driveway.  But lo, there was an amazing sight.  The driveway had been plowed.  I could not believe my eyes.  There under the twinkling stars and icy air sat a perfectly plowed block long stretch.

No one knows where we live.  And David is very private so it wasn’t anyone any of us knew.  Just a random act of kindness.  It meant so much yet there is no one to thank.  The only way to show gratitude is to pass it on.

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I write about ways to spontaneously add joy to others’ lives.  I think it is so important that we stay strong in our support for others, even if we do not know them.  Perhaps today compliment five people.  Say a prayer for a family.  Buy the person’s coffee in front of you.  Don’t tailgate.  Smile and greet folks.

A few days ago we pulled into a parking space at a shopping center.  We got out at the same time as the girl next to us.  Her hair was lovely.  I always liked the pixie cut and lamented that I could never pull it off.  It was streaked red and grey in soft curls.  I told her that I LOVE her hair!  She sighed, then beamed a brilliant smile and said that I have no idea how much that means to her.  She is going through chemotherapy and just recently had to cut off all of her beautiful long hair.  She said again how much that meant to her and how we just don’t realize how much our words mean.

Use your heart out there today and don’t be afraid to say nice things to people that you meet.  The smallest kindness can mean so much.  Spread the love and cheer of this time of year!

 

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

The Encouragers

We all want to help those in need this time of year, but who are those folks?  And how can we, as a community, Elbert county, Colorado, and worldwide, help our fellow people?

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The group that I had inquired about getting a basket of food from recommended that I go to the welfare office.  We are getting back on our feet, we have never had a desire to take government money and are working diligently to get caught up.  There are many out there in the same situation.  I needed a coat but where do all the coats go in these coat drives?  My beautiful neighbors from Kiowa brought me a wool coat.  But, what if I didn’t have the network that I do?  If one isn’t a meth addict in Acacia park or on welfare, how does one get the encouragement and help one needs?  And not just financially, there are those who have suffered tremendous loss, who are grieving, who need things that there aren’t agencies for.  It is hard to say what one needs.  A gentleman I just adored that we did farmer’s markets and craft shows with killed himself in September.  We must not let folks in our own community feel alone.

Because of this blog, my farm on my old street, the business we have have in town, and because of my outgoing husband, we are more known than the average person.  When I felt like our world had ended this year and that jumping off a cliff wouldn’t even send a ripple through the world (very brief, fleeting thought) dozens and dozens of people came forth.  Friends, and friends, and friends of friends, and blog readers, and pen pals, and old customers, and the list still goes on and I am truly blessed and STRONGER because of it.  I needed encouragement and I received it.

But what about those folks we see at the grocery store and say hello to or the couple that walks into my store.  People that lost a child this year, people that cannot afford vegetables, or people that need a hug.  Can we reach out to these people?  We are one with all people.

I am starting something out of my shop.  It is called “The Encouragers.”

It’s easy.  Become an Encourager.  It doesn’t have to cost anything.  Offer to do it one time or once a month.

Choose a situation you want to help with.  You can make an afghan and write a note encouraging someone who lost someone or something this year.  You can pack up home canned goods with a note that encourages someone who needs fresh farm food.  You can write a note encouraging someone who is financially down right now and include a gas and food gift card or a gift card to Target.  The ideas are endless.

The important part of this is the note.  Please write a note encouraging someone.  Speak from the heart.  Send love and hope.  (Spiritual words are okay but since everyone is different religions please leave out specific religious doctrine.)  Maybe include your phone number or an offer for tea.  Wherever your heart leads.

Include your note with your gift and drop off at my shop, White Wolf Medicine, 796 East Kiowa Ave, H-3, by the post office, in Elizabeth.  Or send it to P.O. Box 2012, Elizabeth, CO 80107.  Or, start an Encouragers group in your community.

IF YOU NEED ENCOURAGING: I know it is not something we are raised to talk about and no one wants pity or unwanted words of advice, but if you need encouragement, a hug, a gift card, a note, a cup of tea, or whatever, please contact me.  Let’s get you some encouragement.

Katie- 303-617-3370

wildflower@sacredowlschool.com or message me on facebook at

http://facebook.com/whitewolfmedicine or http://facebook.com/pumpkinhollowfarm (Farmgirl School)

May encouragement be the best gift we give and receive this season and into the coming year.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

Thankfulness and Determination

 

familyThanksgiving.  I am thankful.  I am thankful for the soft, plush fur of my purring kitten that greets me each morning at dawn.  The pink glow of day through the trees as I awake.  The hot coffee, its earthy aroma and taste, filling me with life.  I am thankful and say “wado” do the Creator each day.

“It’s just material stuff.  You can’t take it with you!” folks say, then go to their warm homes and kitchens.  Easy for them to say.

I know friends and family that have lost children, spouses, their health.  They would rather have our lot.  I know.  We have so much to be thankful for.

My beautiful baby granddaughter is with me four days a week filling my spirit with light.  My children are healthy.  Beautiful.  Pursuing their dreams.  What more could I ask for?

I asked an organization in my county how one can be gifted with a basket of fresh vegetables.  They said they were distributing them to the people in the county in need.  Where do all these things get distributed?  They erased my request from the page.  I shiver without a coat.  Wear the same four outfits mismatched so they look like a new outfit.  We have lived on the kindness and loans from friends for five months.  What Doug makes from his new job goes to support the shop and gas to get to work.  He brings home expired pastries for our breakfast.

“I didn’t realize you were still struggling so much,” a friend says.  How do you talk about that kind of thing?  You don’t.

I am thankful that we have shelter.  When I used to say that it meant I was thankful for my house.  Now I am thankful not to be out of doors.  I am thankful for food.  I am thankful for friends.  And hugs and gifts and smiles and visitors and that I could hang on to my cats.  I am thankful for my husband.  I would not trade our marriage for anything in the world.

“We are definitely not living our life,” he says as I tell him about a video I saw of a woman who has lived off-grid for thirty years.

I started to doubt my own words that I write and speak about.  The manifesting your own destiny and dreams seem a little full of it now.  My roommate agrees.  There is great danger in making people feel like they can achieve anything.

I am thankful.  I am blessed.  I have everything I need.  This I know.  I need to get out there and help and inspire as many people as I can.  And mark my words, readers, this time next year I will be writing you from my farm on how to create a homemade Thanksgiving.