Everything in its Season

I long to get this show on the road. To get this new farm set up! Get the rototiller! Get the goats! Get the fencing done! Let’s get planting!

But, alas, it is October 2nd. I can plant hopeful bulbs of dancing tulips and sunshine yellow daffodils that will surprise me with delight come spring. That is all.

The wood stove is coming next week and the goat shed is coming too and we are slowly getting fencing done. I can see it all! I can see the corn in rows interspersed with pumpkins zooming along the front yard on green tendrils and vines. I can see the vineyard I have always wanted stretching out to the western sky. I can see the bright red tomatoes, the crisp lettuces dancing in the cool breeze, the baby goats and sheep jumping around the pasture in the sunlight. My polar bear dog with a job, finally.

I can see myself moving the dutch oven to make room for the kettle for a cup of tea and checking the fire. I can hear the vibrant shaking of the pressure canners putting away summer’s gifts. Wiping my hands on my apron and taking my granddaughters outside to play. Watching the sun set behind the wild pasture with rabbits shooting to and fro and turkey vultures swaying gently on the breeze overhead.

This is our fourth farm. Our fourth homestead. The second home of our own since beginning homesteading. This one on land. In the country. Our own. My heart soars with gratitude and excitement to get this farm set up! But alas, it is October 2nd.

The dark smoke billowed densely and ferociously off the mountain sides. The smell of it all filled the air. The wildfire was scarcely contained and my heart broke for the animals and trees and the wildness being consumed. Death and ending before our eyes as we drove to our mini-vacation spot. Next spring, there on the mountain, life will unfold. Everything in its season.

The aspens and oaks danced in brilliant colors of gold and red, creating patchworks across the mountainsides. That specific shade of bold autumn blue sans clouds stretched above everything and the west was in its ultimate splendor.

Our youngest daughter, her husband, and their new baby joined us for a few days at a beautiful place. A private spot where one can hike to various hot spring pools nestled along the mountain. Walking along the path we stopped to eat hawthorn berries and wild plums. Deer wandered past the pools, a fawn catching up with her mother. Birds flitted from thick tree to tree and life buzzed all around. It is a clothing optional resort and the feeling of air on one’s skin while passing thickets of herbs and trees and the feeling of the water from warm waterfalls is grounding and restorative.

A crow cawed and flapped its wings loudly as it flew close by. The warmth of the water followed by the cool breeze was enlivening. Amongst plans of future and to-do’s and day-to-day life, it is good to rest and restore, to ground in a new place, to spend time with loved ones, and to look out over thickets of oaks and pines and into valleys. To pull a blanket closer around, sip coffee, and hear the earth speak, as breezes lightly blow fog up the road. Everything in its season.

Saving Money with Free Activities

Maybe you would like a cheese press, or a new hoe.  Maybe a few goats or maybe you realize that every hour of your life is valuable and perhaps you would like a few of them to not be working a job, but rather enjoying your homestead.  In everything, we save money so we can spend on something else, whether it be a new tree or time in a lawn chair with a good book.

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For us, our budget buster is entertaining ourselves.  In a weekend we can easily blow through a few hundred dollars just by visiting a fun strip of antique shops, a few restaurants- it goes fast!  So we try to entertain ourselves with as many free things to do as possible, so we can maybe save for a down payment on a farm in the country or pay the caterer for our child’s wedding!

We had a habit for a long time of meeting our growing family for a meal.  The kids live in all directions and it was just easier to find a central spot and enjoy dinner.  A few hundred dollars, a loud restaurant, and a bit of chaos later, we knew there had to be a better way.  Due to the screwy weather around here, we celebrated Father’s Day yesterday instead of last week.  We still donned winter hats and coats but the sky stayed clear and only a few rain drops threatened our merry band.

We all brought something to eat to share.  Andy and Bree brought chips and prickly pear soda.   Shyanne baked triple berry hand pies and poppy seed muffins.  Emily and Reed brought homemade mini quiches.  I made a mulberry coffee cake and brought along a few thermoses of coffee.  Andy also brought along his ukulele.  What a treat!

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We met at a glorious hidden park in the middle of Colorado Springs filled with hiking trails and trees, rock formations, and wildlife.  Acres and acres of breathtaking beauty, as only Colorado can dole out.

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Cost?  Free.  Priceless time together.

 

Some other ideas for free entertainment:

We have an antenna on our television set instead of cable.  We can see basic channels so we can watch The Voice and most Bronco games.  The rest of the time it stays unplugged behind a painting.

We get free movies from the library.  If it looks interesting, we grab it.  We have seen a lot of wonderful films this way.  We jot down movies from the previews of the films we like and the list goes on.  We particularly love clever British films, especially with Maggie Smith.  New movies are at the library as well.

We utilize the library for our reading.  Reading is free and perhaps the most wonderful entertainment of all, as you can travel the world, see sights, eat foods, meet characters, live different lives, laugh, cry, get inspired!  I do buy books that are not available at the library, but the vast majority of my reading is from the library shelves.  For free.

Museums and zoos all have free days.  Museums and zoos in small towns are a lot more affordable and often less crowded and more fun.

We take long, meandering walks.  It gives us time to talk without distractions and we get exercise.

Play an instrument.  Have fun with the piano, guitar, or ukulele!  The chickens love good music.

I wouldn’t venture to say hobbies are free but there are ways to make them affordable and are a wonderful use of time.  Crocheting, cooking, sewing, painting, wood working, and so many more activities are actually homesteading activities that sweeten life and lead to a simpler, more peaceful lifestyle,

Pull up a lawn chair and grab a drink and set up in the chicken yard.  There’s nothing better on cable television than that!

 

What activities do you do that are free to entertain yourselves?

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A Daily Meditation

 

img_5801A daily meditation is a lovely way to begin or end a day.  A time to reflect, think, dream, pray, be.  An idea floated upon me yesterday.  An idea to listen and record a daily message from nature.  We all know that we go too fast in this society.  We have isolated ourselves from the things that enchant and feed our life force.  We desperately try to connect but get a busy signal.

I am among the most guilty of this.  I despise sitting for a long period of time though I do dream of great books and cups of tea and long walks.  But from sun up to sun down I busy myself to the point of frenzy.  My body yells for rest now.  It used to whisper, now it demands.  Fatigue hits me with a powerful force mid-afternoon.  I get the subtle and not-so-subtle messages my body and weary spirit are telling me.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Listen.  There is much to learn still.

So each day I will be out in nature, even if that means walking along the pavement, and will listen and record what I am being told.  Plenty of photographs and symbolism will intertwine with the daily meditations I write.  These will all be recorded on my other blog, Medicine Wolf.  I will still be writing this blog daily with all of the fun, recipes, homesteading, farming, herbal remedies, and stories you have grown to love.  But, then maybe hop over to Medicine Wolf and sign up for a daily email with insights and wisdom from nature.  Let’s all become students of nature and Spirit.  (Click on the name Medicine Wolf to be taken over to the other page.)

Summer List and Sunshine

Summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite seasons.  Sometimes in Colorado it seems like we have seven and a half months of winter a few weeks of spring, a few months of summer, a few weeks of autumn, then right back to winter.  Yesterday felt so good at seventy four degrees.

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Summer does have a wicked tendency to come and go before you can get your tan lines straightened out.  Along with our shop we do farmer’s markets and now Doug has a 9-5 job too.  We watch the baby, I am writing a novel, and we have three garden plots, and…well, we need to make a list of what we really want to do.

I am a notorious list maker.  If I don’t make a list of the things we want to do this summer then we shall miss it.

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So far we have seen a bluegrass concert at Red Rocks.  I have read a good book, The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton.  I have a beautiful garden started.

  1. Go to pool one morning a week.
  2. Take Maryjane to the carnival next week.
  3. Take Maryjane to rodeo next week.
  4. Go hiking on a trail we have never been on.
  5. Ride bike as far down the trail as I can go.
  6. Read three great books.
  7. Dance under the full moon of the summer solstice.
  8. Order lemonade at the county fair.
  9. Drink coffee on the balcony every morning.
  10. Go to the mountains and picnic by a stream at least once this summer.

I would like to add road trips and vacations and time in hammocks and bonfires but time, especially summertime, is elusive.  But we will do all we can to soak up each beautiful warm moment.

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Tell me,   what do you want to do this summer?

A Spring Herb Walk with Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine

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Sunday was bright and just the right amount of warm.  We were like school girls tripping down the trail stopping every few minutes to look at new growth, smelling and tasting plants, and looking for snakes.  Laughter and stories fell around the group as we made our way down the meandering and winding path.

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Scrub oak is used in place of witch hazel for its astringency.

One of the classes from my school, Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine, went on a herb walk to Castlewood Canyon.  There weren’t a lot of things popping up this early but the spring tonics were showy and beautiful.  Some things that we tried to identify were small in their early spring infancy and we scoured the pages of the guide I brought.  A lot we couldn’t be sure, but promises of coming again later in the season, the fresh air, and the cold drinks and herb truffles the students had made, and resting at the end of the path made for a lovely day out of the classroom.

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Young yarrow leaves promise lots of beautiful white yarrow for circulatory, heart, and wound use.

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Dandelion may seem ordinary, or even obnoxious, but it is one of the best liver cleansers available.

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Currants, along with all berries, are very good for the kidneys, and the leaves are demulcent making them great for tummies, and uteruses!

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Dock (curly, burdock, or yellow) are all amazing medicines for cancer use, blood cleansing, and immunity.

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I highly recommend getting a nice, colorful guide for plants for your area and heading out onto a hiking trail.  That is medicine in itself!

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Class of Spring 2016!

For more information on my Master Herbalism program and my school, check out www.SacredOwlSchool.com

 

Curry Chickpea Sandwiches on the Hiking Trail

This idea was in not one, but two of my favorite magazines last month.  Though I do not particularly care for the squeaky dryness of garbanzo beans out of a can, the idea looked great to me.  Fiber, vegetables, protein, vegetarian, and something new?  So, I took the idea and ran with it.  I ended up with curry chickpea salad.  I also do not care for sandwiches, but I cannot get enough of this one.  Delicious.

Start with a can of organic garbanzo beans.  Strain and pour into bowl.  Crush it with a fork.  We don’t want to puree it or we have hummus, just crush it so you have a nice chunky base.

This base can be changed and improved upon depending on taste.

I added a good dollop of mayonnaise (and a bit of chipotle mayo too).

Add a chopped celery stick and half a shredded carrot.

Sprinkle on garlic powder, dried minced onions, a little salt, lemon pepper, and a tablespoon of curry powder.

Blend well.  Smear on seeded whole grain sandwich bread.

Other ideas:  Use grapes and almonds for “chicken” salad. Or add relish and a bit of mustard, and a good sprinkling of fresh dill.  Be creative!

Some days now are perfect to pack a basket of sandwiches, fruit, and drinks and head to the hiking trails.  We did this just this last weekend and it was beautiful.  Good to know spring always comes. (Doug took some great photos.)

 

Setting Yourself Free (Part 5- Letting Go and Dreaming New)

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I have written many times about how to manifest your dreams.  Write them down, set a goal list, talk about them, and watch them turn into reality!  It is a science.  It works.  What I haven’t written about is what happens when that dream comes true then gets taken away?  How do you restart?  How do you manifest a new existence when the circumstances are being laid out for you.

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Someone responded on my blog post Sunday that they hope I find what I am looking for.  That bothered me all day because I did find what I was looking for!  I am living on my homestead!  I had trouble putting the hand clothes washer for sale.  What if I need it?  Folks, I haven’t used it in two years!  BUT, what if I get my off grid homestead and don’t have a washer?!  Things to think about, people.  I put it up for sale anyway.  I know we have nesting instincts and want to be prepared and all, but I am starting to look around and realize I am prepared to have a dinner party for seventy-five people! I have three tables, cupboards of dishes, closets of clothes when we only wear a few outfits, and things we just do not use.

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We went walking in Castlewood Canyon yesterday.  A miraculously beautiful and peaceful place, it balms the soul and brings calm with its breathtaking features.

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Doug and I talked and then fell into silence.  We would bring up ideas, then fall into silence.  For an hour we walked, sat, dreamed, talked.  This homestead isn’t really what we wanted after all.  If we are going to live thirty feet from someone on a homestead they need to be likeminded folks.  We also talked about how the most devastating part is behind us.  The loss of our animals was difficult and the death of our dream was too.  But now as each thing leaves the house, as we sell off one more piece of furniture, fill one more bag for charity, sell one more pile of things, we are beginning to feel something we really have never felt, liberated.  We are daring to dream of another existence.

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Perhaps I can speak at herb conferences.  Perhaps we can be so light on possessions that it is nothing to pick up and head around the country writing about farms.  Or visiting friends.  We are free.  We need to get a backpack.

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For the next 18 months or so I am going to step back from my ego.  Seek out teachers for herbalism and Permaculture and whatever else the wide world thinks I ought to learn.  Guitar lessons, continue my wine classes, who knows?  Improve my art and maybe get my things in a gallery?  Or just enjoy homesteading with my co-homesteading compatriots.  I want to be more quiet, more helpful, more creative.  There are wine bars, and restaurants, and ice cream shops all down the strip near our new home that beckons to be tried out.  Each and every one.

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I will be with my husband.  My closest friend.  I could walk with him forever.  What do we need with all these possessions?

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A lot of folks right now have had major transitions or on the brink of them.  Maybe take a little time today to write down what you would like to do (or not do) in the next year.  Then gather up a bag for charity and let some things go.  Let us let ourselves go.

A Field Trip to the Paint Mines

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We walked along the dusty paths, the only sound from our shuffling feet.  Cottontail rabbits with their winter fur occasionally crossing our path.  Hawks swooped overhead.  A beautiful silence and solace lay across the land.  Not another soul out hiking today.  Just the two of us.

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The valleys used to be filled with Buffalo and antelopes.  This was a hunting ground for various tribes and a place that must have awed immigrants travelling across the prairie.

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The land used to be a tropical rainforest, most of it underwater.  The ghosts of dinosaurs swimming by.  But what you really feel is the spirit of the old west here.  One feels as if they could be on a horse at the top of the cliff looking over into the caverns and rocks and hoping for a good hunt.  Looking out for other tribes.

Our National Geographic take.  The Sand People.

Our National Geographic take. The Sand People.

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A hawk circles overhead then glides down near the long grasses.

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The colors here look like an artist’s palette.  God’s own canvas.  These clays were used in ancient pottery as well as paints in more recent times.  It is all protected now.

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We found this place just a few miles down from our new homestead.  It is called the Paint Mines and it is located in Calhan, Colorado.  The signs say no dogs but the footprints through the sand willows tell me a few snuck in.  This is a free park and has two nice sized loops with plenty of places to decide how far one wants to walk and pretend to be from a different time.

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It is amazing how complete quiet and time in the natural world can rejuvenate and relax.