Searching for Home

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It is just an ordinary old building from the outside.  It was a feed store and a liquor store among other things.  Its basement is flooded and water rushes around the old, old boiler standing proudly, its ankles wading in the rainwater misplaced.  The large main floor is open with high ceilings, windows, wood floors, and my eyes gaze around in wonder as if I were designing a loft for a popular television show.  The upstairs is a rounded loft that would make a lovely bedroom.  The back room is really the gem.  A rustic blank slate of old brick and cement, a kitchen it must be.  I dream as the owner shows me around.  Lord, I could decorate anything.  Unfortunately we have to rent a year before we can buy and she could not afford to allow us that being too far behind.  The bank will likely have this unspoken masterpiece, unappreciated in its barrenness but too expensive in its needs.  I wished her luck.  I could have had supper clubs there and art openings and karaoke nights!  But alas, it is not for us though if could buy we could get it for a song.  I could even turn the outside strip into a garden oasis with chickens.

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So, Doug and I decided to head out to the building that holds the company that he is interviewing with tomorrow.  We are confident and hopeful.  We backtracked from the building to various neighborhoods, many with pristine grass and home owner’s associations written all over them as well as mighty confident price tags.  Because his work, should he get the job, is on the far north side of Colorado Springs we would be a mere ten minutes from the first bit of country.  A life Doug would like to hold onto.  Truth be told, so do I.  We still want the large gardens and chickens.  The views, the stars, the quiet, that life.

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We drove past the trees that were scarred by the fire I wrote about a few years ago.  The area is regrowing and beautiful.  To live in the trees would be magical even though the fire risk is always a possibility.  A few minutes further we get into the prairielands we know and adore.

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Oh where will our new home be?  And can it be somewhere we can stay?  To put down roots and apple trees without fear of being forced to move?  Can we find someone to help us get the house then buy it from them?  Or a place that we can rent then purchase later?  A place that we can call our own?  Dreaming of home is a bittersweet ordeal when you know not where home is.

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Home is by a hearth and fire, surrounded by our cats, and visited by our beloved ones.  It is where we find each other at the end of the day and at early dawn.  Where the rooster will crow and the pumpkins will grow.  We are searching.

Option 6 (the good and the bad)

Watching owls take flight.

We just had dinner with two of our dear friends.  I met one at the coffee shop in Elizabeth some years ago and she and I connected immediately.  The other one of them is a shaman, a well respected man in the Native community, and a man I greatly respect.  He leads a Talking Circle.  We had them in our home for Thanksgiving.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We help people in different ways.  I am speaking to the kids at his summer program about herbs, the physical and emotional uses.  I have been working with herbs much more lately for myself for spiritual uses.  I am working on a devotional that focuses on words to meditate on and the spiritual blend of herbs to drink as tea and what they do.  My whole identity as an herbalist has been changing.  I have been growing stronger.  And life around me is changing.  It has been changing.  I saw the signs.

I lamented that we are moving back to the city.  “Maybe the Creator wants you closer to the community to help.”  There are many, many more people that I could help that cannot get to the middle of nowhere south of Calhan.

We still need to sell most everything we own.  And we are still going out on the road, albeit a shorter trip.  We have no one that can watch all of our cats while we are gone.  And the girls cannot afford an apartment on their own right now.  I am Maryjane’s babysitter.  We are still needed here.  So we will travel a bit in the next few months then move back to the city where Doug will get a computer job.  The dreaded option #4.  I will still work with herbs and teach and write and see where this journey is taking us.

A lot of people I know, actually, are going through tremendous changes right now.  As if the universe fell sideways and back up for a second!  So, this could change tomorrow.  San Diego or Illinois to New York?  For how long?  To visit whom?  To write.  To rest.  We won’t have goats to milk, chickens to feed, a dog to let out, or for the first time in a long time, no garden to tend.  Then we start over.  Is there anything even out there for rent?

What will this blog become if I am not a farmgirl?  Only time will tell, and in the meantime, I am still writing.  Thanks for following.

Our New Homestead

I have been stalking Craigslist.  It is exhausting.  The rents in our county have nearly doubled.  Mention eight cats (let alone a dog, chickens, ducks, and goats…and self employment and bad credit) and it’s amazing how quickly someone else gets the house!  Doug and I talked about what we wanted.  Do we want to give up our farm animals and move closer to town?  No.  Do we want to pick up extra work so we can afford something more?  No.  So we started looking at towns 30-45 minutes away from where we are now.  Really just a shot down a dirt road from here but they are not familiar to us so they felt very far.  Even there, dilapidated trailers or houses in town that didn’t allow animals was all we could find.

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I walked by the desk and quickly typed in the computer-memorized web address for Craigslist to take a quick look to see if there was anything new.  A brief post had been listed an hour prior.  It didn’t give very much information, nor did it mention animals, but I did not dilly dally by emailing, I called straight away.  We hopped in the car and went to see it fifteen minutes later.

Even though I had not given the landlords a clear answer yet, they had turned down potential seekers after we came to see the place.  The couple used to run cattle and there are pens and chicken coops on the property.  They like honey bees.  There is a large garden already fenced.  There is a clothes line.  There is a well.  Hold onto your hats folks, there is a wood cook stove attached to a propane one in the kitchen!  There is everything we could desire.

It is  few miles due south of the sleepy town of Calhan.  Not very far, about forty minutes from where we are now.  I can still pick up the baby to watch her.  I can afford the extra gas money because the rent is cheaper than the townhome I rented some sixteen years ago.  Blessingly low rent.  This could be a place that could stand out in the minds of our children and grandchildren as “Grammie and Papa’s house”.  A fun retreat in the country.  A place we can stay for a long time.  I am so relieved (as Doug is) to set ourselves into a place and stay.

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The owners of the property have their house on the land as well.  His grandfather bought the old house we will be renting many years ago and the house itself whispers stories of its past and of joyous events.  It sits on ten acres where on a clear day one can see from New Mexico to Denver.  The mountains majestically framing the view.  Mature trees surround the homestead.  It is a peaceful place.

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We are putting a bit of work into the house before we move in as the last tenants did not love it like I already do.  Yesterday our interns, Ethan and Stephanie, went and helped us remove the carpet.  Beneath it we found two layers of linoleum and beneath that lay in secret the original wood floor.  I  nearly cried.  I will be painting the main rooms a creamy antique white with a slight gold undertone.  This house longs for bright colors and exposed windows.  There are seventeen feet of windows in the living room alone!  I will share before and after photos as we go, but come along with me as I give you the initial tour!

The house was built in 1905.

The house was built in 1905.

This is the living room looking out the front door.  The houses faces east to embrace the sunrise each morning.

This is the living room looking out the front door. The house faces east to embrace the sunrise each morning.

The rest of the living room. The house itself is tiny, 850 sq ft, but it is well laid out.

The rest of the living room. The house itself is tiny, 850 sq ft, but it is well laid out.

The "dining room" is a part of the living room.  The sixties era linoleum didn't want to come up so it will lend its own charm!

The “dining room” is connected to the living room. The sixties era linoleum didn’t want to come up so it will lend its own charm!

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Our bedroom faces east with lovely windows and two closets!

Our bedroom faces east with lovely windows and two closets!

There is a second bedroom but it is so dark with the wood paneling and the small window I could not get a good shot of it.  It will be brightened up and turned into a guest bedroom and will hold all of our apothecary items.

Now come into the warmest part of the house…

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The wood cookstove

The wood cookstove

A long shelved pantry off the kitchen to store canned goods.

A long shelved pantry off the kitchen to store canned goods.

The small laundry/utility room and back door.

The small laundry/utility room and back door.

Now come see the yard…

Water from the well (no more water bill)

Water from the well (no more water bill)

The clothesline (I am taking out the dryer)

The clothesline (I am taking out the dryer)

A dusk view of the garden.  It is about 600 sq ft.

A dusk view of the garden. It is about 600 sq ft.

One view of the ten acres

One view of the ten acres

The sign we saw on our way back home.  A positive sign indeed.

The sign we saw on our way back home. A positive sign indeed.

The Making of a Country Girl

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Twice a day I sit on the milking stanchion next to our milking goat, Isabella Noni, with my head resting on her side.  I am not a particularly helpful milker.  I milk from one side for awhile then Doug finishes milking her.  My hands aren’t big enough to get around her utters when they are full and I am slow, but I like helping and leaning my head on her.  I don’t hear her heartbeat, just her stomach gurgling.  I feel her course fur and strong form.  Being next to a sentient being as sweet as our goat carries with it a peace that I cannot describe.  A peace we did not know while living in suburbia on a sixteenth of an acre with city rules.  An audible exhale, if you will.

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I wish I could have captured the moment the other day when I looked out in the goat yard and saw Shyanne and her boyfriend, Dillon, laughing while being toppled by baby goats.  It was the most endearing sight.  Two kids that want to move to the mountains this summer and away from the country I still find in the goat yard, or feeding the babies a bottle, or taking care of chickens.  This country life gets into every fiber of our being.  There is no going back to the city without farming permeating every cell.

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My friend, Lauren, who purchased my Dwarf goat, Katrina, is a powerhouse young homesteader.  She, and her neighborhood of homesteading friends are changing the world out there in Old Colorado City.  The vote is tomorrow on whether to allow goats and chickens.  I lounged in her back yard for awhile on her porch watching the men putting up a yurt.  The view of the mountains so close it felt like one could hike to it.  Her little old house and modest yard brimming with life.  Three goats, chickens, dogs, children, friends and laughter made it a place of enchantment and inspiration.  Country girls take the country with them wherever they go!

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When Emily and I went to Nancy’s house for the first time years ago, Emily was just coming out of a rough stage and it was new that she would even go places with me.  As we got out of the car and were greeted by Faleena and Nancy’s bright smiles and contagious country enthusiasm, I saw Emily brighten and open up.  Faleena handed her a newborn goat and I saw her exterior melt.  Farm animals, fresh air, and homesteading friends can do that, they can change you, make your heart bigger, make you happier and more in tune with life.

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Maryjane ran around the back  yard at my birthday party Saturday through leftover snow in her white tights without shoes on.  She had thrown her sweater off somewhere too.  Her mouth showed remnants of dirt sampling, and a wide smile crossed her face.  A baby goat head butted her and ran her over which did not make her happy in the least as she screamed her protest.  But a few minutes later she was distracted with a chicken that ran by and Isabella Noni, who she loves.  I hold her as she rides the large goat.  Isabella is bigger than our greyhound, with the patience of a nanny dog.  She is helping make a country girl.  Maryjane will hold the love of farm animals, dirt and the vegetables in it, and chicken eggs in her heart and in every fiber of her being.  Anywhere she goes she will have the spirit of a farmer within her.

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Farmgirls are compassionate, in tune with their surroundings, strong, vibrant folks. We’ve had rough gos and have been knocked down.  We have stood back up, planted another row, wrestled a sheep, and come out stronger and in time to make supper.  We like a good glass of wine on the porch and can tell the weather before the news.  We can get it all done, and have time to sit and talk to the neighbors.  Farmgirls are loyal friends, don’t take crap, and are confident, sexy and funny.  Being a farmgirl is not for the faint of heart.  Farmgirls help keep the farming communities alive.

Proud.

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