The pink leather notebook, fresh and empty of ideas, lay open upon the wooden breakfast table near the wood stove. Ideas flourished and manifested across the pages. The intensely planted garden of organic produce, the small dairy, the ducks, the chickens, the sheep, the goats, the bees, the homesteading school, the farmgirl classes, the herbal classes, […]
Well we barely kept it watered this week, didn’t thin the carrots, and the weeds are moving in, but just like housework, the garden work will wait for us!
The plants are now getting big enough that we can wield a hoe to combat blankets of overnight weeds. There is still some hand weeding involved too. Try to do one area each day. Some weeds will try to look like a vegetable. Take care not to weed out your corn! Crab grass looks like corn when it’s coming up. Corn has more rounded leaves. If in doubt, leave it, you can figure it out in a few days!
We hand water. 20 seconds in a four foot span is 2 inches of water. Ideal for proper growth. It will be nearly dry tomorrow! While hand watering you can also see which seeds didn’t germinate (I don’t think I will buy that brand of seeds that I got from the garden center again, none of them came up) and see what weeds are sneaking in, how many rabbits visited, what bugs are there (hello cricket! goodbye red ants!), and how everything is coming along. We have found that this is the most economical and environmentally friendly way to water. You use far less. Drip systems, just like sprinkler systems break, get holes in them, and waste water. Hand watering puts you in control and only things get watered that need it and how much they need it.
We did receive a pleasant surprise! Lisa sprouted a sweet potato in her kitchen. She gave me the orb with its lovely shoots cascading everywhere. I very nearly kept it in the shop as a house plant, it was so beautiful! I separated the shoots and planted them along the trellis. Sweet potatoes are not easy and not commonly grown in Colorado but it was worth a shot! The beautiful leaves and stems shriveled as the roots took hold. Low and behold, there are the leaves coming back!
This week Maryjane and I just enjoyed the garden. That is what is it there for. Sit and relax. Right now we have radishes coming out of our ears because I get to missing them so much that I get crazy planting and every single seed germinates, I swear, and then after a few dozen radishes, we are done. That is when they really start growing!
Here is our favorite way to eat them: Butter crackers, place sliced radishes on top, sprinkle with smoked salt. Delicious!
Our garden is doing pretty fine this year. This week we will thin plants and cheer the corn on. They need to be knee high by 4th of July!
Wanted: a cheese press
“You got the bug again?” Lisa asked over text when I inquired whether our friend still has Nancy’s old one.
“No. It never left.”
I have friends with small dairies producing delicious milk for a great price. Why shouldn’t I still make cheese? Oh, because I don’t have a cheese press!! Easily remedied, hopefully.
Doug and I enjoyed a cheese flight along with an amazing California red blend yesterday. A slightly tangy semi-soft cheese, a creamy brie from France, a sharp and heavenly cheese with truffles nestled in its layers, a mild gouda. All exceptional. I loved creating cheeses and I believe we can still do that here in our humble apartment with the same success or even more so for the constant environment and beautifully laid out kitchen.
I will still be canning this year. I have plans for the wall behind the dining room table. By autumn’s end it will be a wall of shelving filled with colorful spectacles of jeweled canning jars filled with winter sustenance.
Pots of vegetables and herbs will line my west facing balcony. I am just homesteading on a smaller scale.
Someone asked at the sustainability fair if I teach homesteading classes. I said I used to but why can’t I still? I am just homesteading on a smaller level, the same as many folks. Let’s start classes again! What do you want to learn? How to make cheese? How to can produce? How do dehydrate? How to freeze? How to garden in pots on the balcony? How to….the sky’s the limit. Your place or mine. Let’s do it.
The Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading School is back.
The Southern Colorado Outdoor Living and Sustainability Fair was outstanding. We caught up with some of the folks we knew in the sustainability world and met many new ones, farmers and young beginners alike.
I pep talked myself the whole way there, “I will not be sad. I will not be sad.” Seeing the homesteading and farming folks, chickens being demonstrated, chicks in troughs (Doug and I snuck over there early and gave the chicks kisses), a goat running by after being milked, I was afraid the whole scene would make me very sad. But it didn’t. In fact, it just served to fire us up again. “Anything we have talked about is back on the table,” Doug said. Do we want to move to Old Colorado City and have a funky urban farm? We can. Do we want to buy land in Elizabeth and go all out? Then we can do it. We have a year to get our act together financially and then go for it. And there we will stay!
We are so sure of this venture (put your dreams in motion and watch them start manifesting) that we struck a deal with the Expo for next year. We will return and with us will be a few farm animals. I will be promoted as the Farmgirl and will be on their seminar lists and advertising. I know my stuff about homesteading, farming, and herbs. So does Doug, and we love sharing it with the world.
Last week Farmgirl School celebrated its third birthday. I have been writing this blog for over three years. It is amazing to think how much has happened in that span of time. Doug and I became farmers. We learned how to milk goats, care for chickens, watched Maryjane ride the sheep, chased ducks, grew veggies like crazy, chopped wood, canned, preserved, and made a good go at homesteading.
I have never been what you would call a private person. Can a writer actually be? So you also followed along as we raised three teenagers and became grandparents, our greatest honor to date. We became homeless. You cried with us and supported us. You cheered as we opened a new shop and got our verve back.
Today I register for school. I will continue learning. I do not know where that path will lead me. I do not know what path we are on. I am praying it is leading us to some land where we can build a little house. Maryjane wants sheep for Christmas. I sure hope Santa sends me a place to have them!
This next year in Farmgirl School ought to be really interesting! I look forward to seeing it unfold!
Here are some of the stats. They make a writer’s heart very grateful.
90,714 people have viewed this blog from over 100 countries. Y’all were most interested in “10 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Country” and “How Much Does it Cost to Have a Farm Animal.” Closely followed by “How to Make Choke Cherry Wine” and “A Visit to an Amish Home.” We all seem to be on the same page. Thanks for sticking around!
The sun is shining brightly on this lovely New Year’s morn as a feeling of hope and aspiration overcomes us. We release the last year, accept its many lessons, rejoice that we are here this morning to breathe and revel in unstoppable dreams and goals.
What is in store for Farmgirl School this year? My lists are brimming.
This year we will completely immerse ourselves in permaculture (Doug and I are already busy reading books and listening to lectures on the subject…such a foreign concept to us as we have been gardening the same way for so long but are excited to completely change for the better our way of farming.) and create an oasis here on our new homestead with fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennials, annuals, container gardening, cold frames, green house?…lots of big ideas. Join us as we grow mushrooms this year and more herbs too. Let’s learn to hunt wild foods and eat weeds.
Let me show you how to make medicines with wild herbs and many ways to administer them. There is lots of wacky information out there on herbal medicine, let me just teach you how easy and effective it is. We’ll make our homesteading and herbalist school a great success and meet lots of folks from all over on the way.
Let’s get some more farm animals maybe, and learn many more skills. I will teach you how to make hard cheeses. Let’s eat our way around the world and learn more ethnic cooking. Who knows what else we will learn in our journey this year!
I love the idea of the proverbial clean slate ahead of me. Unwritten days and new attitudes, memories, and experiences at hand. As always, thank you for following us on this journey. Last year we found the homestead that we dreamed of and learned many valuable lessons that will be pivotal to our experiences this year. I love receiving your letters. Should you like to correspond please drop me a line via snail mail. Mrs. Katie Sanders, 7080 Calhan Rd So, #2, Calhan, CO, 80808 or if you are in Elizabeth on Mondays, come by Grumpy’s coffee shop and sit a spell with me. I love seeing who is reading my writings and learning from each other.
So, here we come 2015, we embrace you with open arms. Who’s with me?
Several times this year I had us (meaning myself and you readers) all write down dreams, goals, things we want to change in our lives, things that we are holding onto, things that we need to start in order to get our dreams to unfold before us. For anything you desire or wish for will come to fruition. Once you put it out there and start planning, it is a done deal. For us, we longed for a place with more land. We had truly run out of space at our adorable rental house in town on two-thirds of an acre. We even dug up the driveway last year to plant more corn and herbs! Our goats yelling at people walking by and the veritable farm right there in the middle of town was definitely a show-stopper and amazingly fun but we were ready for the next step of our journey. We prayed and planned though we had no idea how it would even be possible. We had no money and no credit but we needed a bigger farm and a smaller, quaint homestead with more off grid possibility, and a place where we could use the homesteading skills we had acquired over the years on our practice farms.
A brief, out of nowhere call from our landlords telling us they needed to sell the house (it looks to be going into foreclosure though) and a trip down Craigslist way and bam we were staring at our dream home. A tiny hundred-plus year old homestead filled with memories and history on ten acres for rent complete with goat pens and chicken coop, fenced garden, clothes line, wood cook stove, and views for miles. Nothing is impossible with God indeed! All for half the price we were paying in bills at the old place.
There is one more piece to this dream we have concocted. A school. I have taught Certified Herbalist Courses for about five years now. For two years I have taught sporadic homesteading classes in our cramped kitchen. Soap making, cheese making, fun skills like that. I enjoy making medicines, but the retail side of it needs to stay small and intimate, helping people directly, so it’s not enough to get us through financially. That, and teachers must teach. We go crazy if we don’t!
Before now I have just offered homesteading classes here and there and have not really promoted them properly but I am now in my place where I can really make this dream come true. So, I looked at the coming year’s calendar and made a schedule. I had already written down sometime this year all of the classes and event we could offer. I proceeded to take a leap of faith and make this dream come to life. I guess you will see along with me what transpires!
There is a tab on the menu above that reads “Homesteading School”, all classes and events are posted there. They are also posted on my website http://gardenfairyapothecary.com and there is a place to pay for and sign up for classes. I am really excited about this! Perhaps I will be able to meet some of my readers at a farm event or class.
What dreams are you working on this year?
Time does scurry along, doesn’t it? My second anniversary starting this blog came and went this week. This blog has become a seamless beginning to my morning, an outlet to the world and new friends, and a way to share our crazy farm happenings.
But a blog is nothing if it doesn’t have readers and I am always so humbled and grateful that I have readers. Thank you from the bottom of my spiral scribbling, chicken hoarding, pumpkin growing heart. It is always fun to look at the stats this time of year and see what numbers Farmgirl School has obtained. 495 followers (up 200+ from last year), 51,552 hits to my blog (up over 30,000!) and the three most popular blog posts of the year were Ten Things to Know Before Moving to a Small town, How Much is it to Have a Farm Animal, and A Visit to an Amish Home.
This last year was particularly eventful and you were with us every second with support and cheers of encouragement. You learned about our journey to our first farm, dreamed with me about our invisible homestead, cried with me when my farm girl in crime and dear friend, Nancy died. Then when our goat and other animals died too. You were there when Maryjane turned one, when Shyanne graduated, when my son, Andy, got married, when the interns came, through the planning and skill learning of getting ready for God to grant our greatest prayer of a homestead, and the day we learned we had found one to rent, you cheered us on and sent congratulations!
The world got smaller as I started writing to a fellow blogger and met her last week for the first time. I have met some of my readers at farmer’s markets. I have found a whole new set of friends and family as the spance of time and space shortened, friends around the world and the country, all from writing.
I am so happy when I learn that I have inspired people to move to the country, pursue their dreams, become herbalists, get chickens, or that I am brightening the days of those that just want to laugh at our antics and remain where they are at!
All these things have been a great gift to me. I read an interview with the author of “The Alchemist” who talked about finding one’s true calling in life. One true passion. Not becoming a mommy, or a job necessarily, but what your one true purpose is. It is the one thing that you do not have to fight, or think about, that comes completely naturally, that is a part of your very being. Mine is to write. I am a writer. Every thought process and happening in my life floats across the screen in my mind as a blog post or poem, as a letter, in words. A writer can write but is much more fulfilled when there are readers.
Thank you for sharing our life with us. For following in our adventures and for letting me pursue my one true purpose.