Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 (now available on Amazon!)

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I never guessed back in 2012 what this would become.  I set out to chronicle our adventures in homesteading.  To create a template and how-to that we wish we had.  We weren’t able to find information on how to farm high altitude, or how to bottle feed a goat, or how to do any of the hundreds of things we did by trial and error on Pumpkin Hollow Farm.

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Those years on the homestead were some of the best times of our lives.  Re-reading the manuscript was like reading about an old friend.  I laughed and recollected.  I finished the book with a smile.  As if I had read it for the first time.

Our Lady of the Goats

This book is priceless, I tell you, it has everything a new homesteader could possibly need to get started on their journey.  Organic gardening, high altitude farming, canning, dehydrating, root cellaring, freezing produce, back yard chickens, bottle feeding goats, taking care of ducks, candle making, soap making, herbal remedies, recipes, homemade gifts….goodness, the list goes on.  The textbook we needed, but in a humorous storytelling method.

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I am so excited to see this book in print!  It is now available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/152077494X?ref_=pe_870760_150889320

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Wishing you many blessings on your homesteading journey.  See you ’round the farm!

Friday Farmgirl Gardening Series Week 4 (summer seeds and the four sisters)

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Four sisters?  All these years I have talked to you about beneficial and interplanting   The three sisters is my favorite way to bring it to life.  Many Native tribes planted corn with beans and squash.  The pumpkin (iya) leaves suppress weeds and deter nighttime corn marauders, beans (duya) grow quickly and happily up the stalks of the corn, and corn (selu) is an absolute staple, corn meal, boiled corn, and don’t forget popcorn!  (That colorful corn one buys every year for decoration at Halloween if not treated is actually popcorn…)

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The Cherokee have another plant that joins the group.  The sacred plant, agaliha, or sunflower.  The sunflower follows the sun, her head tilted towards it, just as the farmer.  It’s leaves when young are delicious in salads, the seeds are a great source of protein, and the flowers encourage beneficial insects.  The north and east edges would be planted with the three sisters and the fourth sister, sunflower, which is just what I did.

I planted four different types of pumpkin, because after all, I am still Pumpkin Hollow Farm even in a community garden, showy white Lumina, mini, small blue, and princess pumpkins will bring whimsy to the garden and sustenance to the root cellar…or apartment corner, whatever.  I planted early sweet corn, a 90 day sweet corn, and Calico, an heirloom Indian corn which will make cornmeal and popcorn for my kitchen.  Yellow Indian woman, Bolito, Cannellini, and Bird’s Egg beans, all heirloom, all grew in a garden of a pioneer woman or a Cherokee woman.  I hold the brave spirits of both.  And they will grow in my garden too.

The easiest way to plant long rows quickly is to lay the seeds out in a somewhat straight line then follow up with a covering of organic garden soil.  Bean, 3 inches, corn, three inches, bean, 12 inches, pumpkin, 6 inches, bean….

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I also planted okra, green beans, white string beans, zucchini, butternut squash, and soybeans.  It is not time to plant tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant yet.  I did place tomato cages where they would go for staging purposes.  The nights are too cold yet.  But, summer seeds are most welcome and will love the rain/sun mix we have right now.

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The peas are just beginning to show their sleepy heads, unfurling just so.  The mustard and radishes are filled with wonder, and other seeds are just germinating and showing their tiny heads above the soil to look about.

I hope you are joining me in the garden this year.  There is just nothing more therapeutic.

Heading Home (moving back to our favorite place)

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There are things we have really missed since moving out to this homestead in Calhan.  We miss the people of Elbert County.  We are there quite often for this or that, our bank is there, our daughters work there, but we are also far away.  I love going to the grocery store and it taking two hours because I know someone in every aisle and stop and visit with them.  I love knowing everyone in a restaurant.  The ladies at the bank ask how the kids are.  I miss the smiling faces of the girls at the library.  I love Elbert, Kiowa, and Elizabeth and their shared camaraderie and all the people they hold.

Our wonderful, long-time friends are letting us move into their guest room this week.  We will be two blocks from our friend who has sweet Isabelle the goat.  Back in a small town where we can walk to the convenience store and the library, take in the sunrises, and wave to folks walking by at dusk.  A place to garden and a place to paint.  Friends to laugh with.

We are heading home.

Homestead Hysteria

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“Tell God your plans and hear him laugh.”  I know, this has happened to me so many times.  God saying, “You go ahead and think that, I’ll get back to you!”  And of course the end result is always lovlier and more than I could have wished for.  So, when does planning your homestead border on hysteria?  When is dreaming crossing the line of not being happy with what you have?  When contentment gets thrown out the window in lieu of penny pinching to make five more dollars towards an impossible dream?  How does one get a homestead?

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In my mind is this piece of land ( read my post https://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-hundred-acre-farm/ ) that is elusive to me.  I am being pulled in every direction but perhaps all in the same direction!  We said, “We need to live where it is very cheap, buy outright, live somewhere with a smidge of humidity so that we can actually grow stuff, and we’ll live happily ever after.  Maybe in Kansas.”  “How about the kids?” Doug says.  I say, “They will follow us!”  Uh, yeah.  Ok, so now we have a daughter living down the street, a daughter and sweet boyfriend twenty minutes away with the most adorable baby ever, and a son running around here somewhere who pops in regularly.  I love my town.  I love going into the bank and everyone so excited over Maryjane’s arrival.  The librarian made her a little sweater.  Everyone knows everything and it is comforting because everyone knows if you need help, or will celebrate with you, or will support you in your endeavors.  Screw it, I’ll get a greenhouse, I want to stay here.

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We own a business that almost in its very design has to be charitable.  Therefore, in these times, we give away a lot of medicine.  One cannot hold back medicine from those who need it.  We are not out to make a million bucks.  We do not sell wholesale for fear of lessening the quality of our products.  Basically, we ain’t buying land!  But we live simply and we can pay our bills.  So, we could rent.  We have a lovely house here.  Just darling.  Chicken coop, backs to the fairgrounds, old beautiful house.  Really nice.  It holds me at length.  Taunts me.  The water here is exhorbant.  I cannot have goats or alpacas or sheep!  The house continues to fall apart and I have to find the money to fix it as hard times have hit our landlords too.  I am at that very point of hysteria!

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Need a house.  Preferably a house that can be cordoned off into two; a walk out basement, something!  So that Bret and Emily, and Bret’s severe allergic reaction to my very lovey kitties can be prevented.  Land.  Irrigated.  Barn.  Please.  Someone has to have this for rent!  Affordable to herbalists.  In Elbert county.  In Kiowa.

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Or, do I bite my lip, trust all works out, keep on with this house here and use the land my friend offered me to plant my farm?  It is a drive but it is irrigated land so that my water bill won’t be $300 and in a great location.  Hold off on animals.  Wait.

I do wish patience were a virtue of mine.