Posted in Homestead

The Busy, Busy Summer

It has been an incredibly busy summer and here autumn is in full swing. Homesteading here is a pleasure and our first farming season was wonderful. In June, I was terribly discouraged, even considering giving up. I had started gardens six times bigger than any of our previous homesteads and was upset that I wasn’t able to keep up by myself.

Enter angels in cars and vans with backpacks and stories and ideas and joy and youth. Becoming a WWOOF host has been great fun. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an amazing program; “The new backpacking across Europe,” according to my husband. A woman in her thirties with a master’s degree and a desire for a new career, new life, searching for herself (and a liberal cowboy). A young woman fresh out of college, feeling the peer pressure of starting a career, but really wanting more freedom and a homestead, fulling embracing her apron strings. A young man straight out of the military with some serious soul searching to do. A nineteen year old with ambition and wisdom beyond her years, with a great desire to change food deserts and start a farm. My last woofer is here now, a 6’7″, hungry, twenty year old basketball player. He is here for two weeks helping me put the gardens to bed and to prepare the homestead for the colder months. We will then have our house to ourselves again, and then will welcome more young, future homesteaders here in the spring. We have a greenhouse now, are adding extensive raised beds, and are putting in a vineyard with fifty-five vines. The help will be most welcome! I am eternally grateful to all of them. http://wwoofusa.com

These shelves are now much more full than when we took this picture!

I remembered exactly why we put up food! After a few years of slacking, the empty grocery store shelves of early spring reminded me. This year we put up over four hundred jars of food, have a full freezer, and root cellar vegetables. Our garden is still filled with root crops. Medicinal plants fill the front garden. All of these gardens were prairie and shale. I am enjoying teaching my techniques to create prolific gardens. A book is in the works.

So many projects planned! Rain barrels, greenhouse beds, raised beds, and a modern root cellar addition to the house.

Baby lambs will be born any day now at our friend’s farm. The same gal we got two from all those years ago before we lost everything. Here, everything is restored. All things that are taken from us will always be restored. I have started weaving and will be selling my work. I work at a local winery on Saturdays as their in-house sommelier, and I just love it. I have visions of making our own wine from our own vineyard and using the pressed off wine grapes to dye our own wool from our own sheep and then spinning it into lush yarn to weave my own creations. Homesteading allows so many opportunities for creativity and peace.

Coming upon my eight year anniversary writing this Farmgirl School blog, I contemplate our journey. From farm to rented farm to apartment to urban farm to here- this beautiful spot on earth, and realize that in the craziness of the world, and elections, and pretend pandemics, and social media…there is no place like home. And may that home always be a homestead.

We found this street sign while out on vacation. How perfect if we lived on this road!
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

Life on a Colorado Homestead

Colorado can be harsh and it can be breathtakingly glorious. It can be twenty below zero, a hundred and five, with a severe drought, or a wild flood. A month without rain then torrents then clear. A mere few miles to the south and also to the west of me, hail completely destroyed the gardens of friends and family. A few sprinkles hit our corn. In Colorado, you never know what will happen. The weather is as fierce as its beauty.

My grandfather, my father, Doug’s parents are from here. We were born here. Our children were born here. Our children’s children were born here. Despite our dreaming of other places, Colorado is home. It holds the people that hold our hearts.

Because of this, we choose to homestead here. I realize after talking to perspective wwoofers that the perceptions of Colorado range greatly. Denver is not in the mountains. We are in the high desert. We rarely have snow. The mountains are where the snow is. We are often in drought. We have a four month growing season. Cactus and cedar grow best here. The wind blows most of the time. It is cold most of the year, but with the sun shining on your face, even winter days can be wonderful. If you can learn to farm here, you can farm anywhere. The views are staggering, the weather this summer quite pleasant, and the gardens doing well.

In the morning, I rise, let out the chickens, throw them scratch and watch them run free. I let out and feed the ducks and watch them flap their wings madly in the morning light. I throw hay to the goats and a scoop of food to their faithful guard- an oversized Great Pyrenees who watches his fortress with grace and a bit too much tenacity. I feed the cats and give them fresh water. The kittens chase flies and toy mice. Our oldest kitty endearingly watches Dad work. He is so happy that Doug works from home presently.

Coffee on a homestead is next, of course. If it is winter, the wood stove would be stoked. In summer, I stay outdoors as long as I can, writing, reading, putting the hot, dark liquid to my lips.

Weeding, watering, killing squash bugs, harvesting, replanting, making sure the resident toad has water, admiring the foliage, the colors, with gratitude for the sustenance contained within a mere seed that will fill our bodies and pantry with food. I watch the hummingbirds and listen to the song birds. The ducks swim in their pool, the dog sleeps in the shade of the barn, the chickens bathe in the dirt. The heat comes quickly so I work faster.

Canning, housework, cooking, laundry all fill the summer days of a farm wife who is also the farmer. The busyness feels good and I stretch to relieve my tired muscles. When my farm interns arrive this week, we will tackle the larger projects of painting the large chicken coop, mucking the coop and mini-barn, and starting keyhole gardens. Making sure we still have time to sit on the porch and admire the view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and watch as a hawk lazily glides overhead. The breeze through the trees and the fresh air of country caress as we enjoy sweet tea.

I work on my weaving in the late afternoons. Or maybe read a magazine before I realize another task undone. Winter is for resting. Summer is for doing and my mind and body love it.

I love homesteading. Up with the sun. Working with my hands. Doing things from scratch. Dedicating my life to hard work, family, animals, and creating beauty and sustenance. To be grounded with hands in the soil, my eyes on the horizon, my heart at peace.

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Grain Mills and Homemade Bread

The yeasty, earthy smell of bread wafts through the house. The sourdough rye will be perfect to sop up the soup I am making. A little butter on the still-warm bread is worth every step of breadmaking. A small glass of cold wine pulls it all together. We eat outdoors while watching the swallows swoop and call. The mountains in the distance are beautiful in the summer light. Our homestead is safe and comforting and filled with many balms for the soul- homemade bread being one of them.

On our first homestead, we bartered for a hand grinder. It was equipped to attach to a bicycle, which certainly would have been easier than the seemingly endless cranking, but I do like things that are non-electric in every instance I can. Off grid is the goal here. I do wish we still had it, but there are other great choices out there.

A Vitamix is a must-have on any homestead. This small car engine of a blender makes delicious smoothies, purees soups, makes non-dairy queso, and pulverizes tomatoes for canning sauce so that I don’t have to peel them! There is a separate container that I have under-utilized thus far. It is for grains and nuts. It makes nut butters and grinds grains in an instant. Our Vitamix is a dozen years old and is rather tired, the engine puttering along. We will probably invest in another one next year. It is a great way to have one machine that does many things.

My friend recently gifted me with a Whisper Mill grain grinder. It sounds like a jet engine, but in seconds gave me the most velvety soft and fine flour for my bread. I really like this mill. You can choose how fine you want the grain ground and it works very fast. I highly recommend this one.

Bread is easy enough to make once you have the feel for it and there are many ways to make bread faster. Jim Lahey revolutionized the bread making world with his techniques in his book, My Bread. And from there, you just make your way. Always use 2 parts white flour (organic, unbleached please) and 1 part whole grain. Any whole grain can be used. Try oats, or corn, rye, barley, or whole wheat. They are very inexpensive in bulk at the health food store or online. A vendor at the farmer’s market gave me a bit of his sourdough starter and that is making our bread all the more wonderful.

Grains have always been a part of homesteading. They are a source of valuable nutrients that fight cancer, provide fiber, and carbs for energy. Protein isn’t energy, carbs are! You need a balance of foods to keep up on a homestead, y’all. There are escaped goats to catch, a chicken coop and barn to muck, gardens to weed, straw to haul, and hours at the stove canning. That warm bread is just one of a million things that make it all worth it and wonderful.

Some of my bread recipes: Grain Mills and Rye Bread, Basic Quick Bread Formula (and Cranberry Walnut Bread), Maple Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

Posted in Animals/Chickens

Ducks on the Homestead

I love walking out onto the back porch and being greeted by the ducks. Sitting with my cup of coffee in the mornings watching them splash in their swimming pools and quacking at the goats and wagging their tail feathers (they love the goats!) just makes me happy.

It looks like we may have one female and two males. Sandia is a little louder and smaller. The boys, Serrano and Big Jim (all named after New Mexican chili peppers) are quieter, bigger, and less agile.

We chose Pekin ducks this time around. We always had Runner ducks and they are hilarious to watch as they run by, a herd of bowling pins quacking along. We never did have ducks past five months of age because inevitably, we would have to move and circumstances would require us to re-home them. We chose Pekin ducks because they are suppose to be friendlier and more pet-like. Ours are very sweet but they have no desire to be snuggled. Pity. They are so dang cute!

Farm ducks lay anywhere from 60-200 eggs a year. The eggs are larger, and I hear quite good for pastry making. I suppose you could eat the ducks themselves, but we aren’t really into eating our animals around here. The boys are pretty docile. My runner males were a little nippy with the chickens but were excellent companions to the female ducks (hens).

They sleep in a large dog kennel with an old Mexican blanket over it to keep wind and rain out of the holes. They go in on their own at night and we close it to protect them from marauding predators in the night. My past ducks did not go in on their own and had to be herded into the chicken coop at night. I am this group likes their shelter.

We buy an All Flock feed that the chickens and the ducks eat. Ducks love fresh veggies chopped up and put in their swimming pool. Lettuce is among their favorites. They don’t have teeth, so smaller pieces are best. They eat by nibbling then drinking, so leave their food near their water. They will chomp on weeds, sometimes dragging them to the swimming pool.

Homestead ducks don’t typically fly, but certainly research duck breeds before choosing one. Some are dual purpose (meat and eggs), some are better egg layers than others, some are better at flying over fences than others, some breeds are more docile than others. Our Pekin ducks are considered dual breed. They were readily available at the feed store in the spring. Ducks are sold straight run, which means not sexed. Pekin ducks lay 150 eggs per year.

In the Appalachians, homesteaders would pluck the ducks of their down feathers once a month or so for pillows and mattresses. Just grab them and pluck ’em. I very much doubt we will be doing that here though.

Ducks are excellent insect control. They dig into the mulch and will eradicate eggs and bugs. They can clear a field of grasshoppers. I will employ them in the fall since they ate my tomatoes this week and were promptly evicted from the garden.

Ducks are very easy to care for. Eggs, entertainment, and bug control are all great reasons to get ducks for your homestead.

Posted in Non-Electric

Garden Sickle (the homesteader’s weed wacker)

My husband would get really frustrated pulling and replenishing all that bright orange plastic cord in the weed wacker every so many feet. “Where is all that plastic going?” I wondered aloud. There was shredded plastic all over the farm, basically. Not to mention the gasoline or the really long cord and electricity it required and that they were too unwieldy for me to use.

Enter the garden sickle. It is such an easy off grid device. I got mine from Territorial Seeds for twenty dollars. It is basically a mini-scythe.

Before

I don’t hoe the paths between the garden rows because Mother Earth likes some covering, and it’s just as easy to grow what she wants there. But I do give it a sleek haircut weekly.

After

You can stand or kneel. You can use the sickle in any direction. Hold it sideways and without too much pressure you just wack smoothly, like you’re giving the weeds a haircut.

The goats and ducks get excited when they see the sickle because they love the weeds that I chop up. It’s free food for the farm animals. The chickens prefer bindweed, but I just pull that up by hand.

Now, you don’t need all that fancy equipment on the farm. This simple tool will last you many years and does the job in a fraction of the time since you don’t have to stop and adjust it every ten minutes. After every few uses, clean and dry the sickle and sharpen. It has a serrated edge so be careful. Hold the sickle at a sharp 45 degree angle and smoothly drag the sharpener along the teeth a few times. You don’t want to grind down the teeth.

Sometimes I wonder if all our modern inventions didn’t just make our life harder! Try out a garden sickle and see how lovely off grid tools can be!

Posted in Animals/Chickens

Spring Babies and Spring Fever

Summer is filled with gardening, preserving, get togethers, coffee on the porch at sunrise, and blessed warmth. Autumn brings with it the first fire in the hearth, flannels, and skies filled with stars, majestic colors splayed upon the trees. Winter brings holidays and rest, crafts by the fire, and a bit of cabin fever. Spring is the loudest season. It bursts forth with wild temperatures, hints of summer, reminders of winter, plants expand and burst with new life. Ready to shake off the winter doldrums, spring teases with ideas of planting and sunshine. She can be finicky, but she does bring us one of the greatest gifts, baby season.

From my bathroom I hear the gentle chirping of cotton ball sized chicks and the splashing of half pint ducklings.

Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones

Baby goats on their last week of bottles yell incessantly from their pasture to remind me. Their calls suspiciously sounding like a loud, “MOM!” They hop on their dog and play Jackie Chan off the chicken coop.

Taos

My eight month old Siamese gets cuter and louder each day. She can play fetch with a milk jug ring for hours. Seems like I got a Border Collie instead of a kitten. Her sister delights us as well.

Socorro

I am always a bit crazy in the spring. Spring fever is a real thing, folks! It is always the time that my mind races with ideas and dreams and future plans. Usually once the garden is in full swing I calm down, but this year with the lockdown, Lord, I am even worse! Let’s see, I am registered for full time classes at the local college to start in the fall (though the debt certainly is freaking me out), I have devised a business plan for a whole new apothecary set to open down in my neck of the woods, and of course, the quarter acre garden and all the land’s inhabitants I have brought home!

I do wonder if anyone else is like this in the springtime. My husband is so beautifully steadfast all year. It is easier to take a breath and live one day at a time with so many darling babies here. Blessed Spring.

Posted in Crafts and Skills

Five Homestead Projects for Spring

It figures that three different neighbors wanted to come out and talk to me yesterday as I was painting. I had chosen items of clothing that a little paint wouldn’t bother. So I brushed pumpkin orange paint onto the chicken coop whilst wearing red and green Christmas pajama bottoms, purple galoshes, a tie-dye shirt, a Mexican woven hoodie (until it got too hot), and a big, floppy yellow sun hat.

Farm fashion at its best.

1- Paint Outbuildings and Trim

If it is going to be over 45 degrees for most of the day, go on out and paint. Sheds, chicken coops, window sills, and barns all need a little touch up or full paint job and this time of year is a perfect time to do it as we gear up for farming season.

I only had enough paint to do three sides of my chicken coop so I will finish it next week. It will be quite a transformation!

2- Create trellises

Darned if I could find the twine, so I grabbed leftover yarn from a Christmas project. It will work just fine. Peas are light so they don’t need a heavy frame to grow on. Dowels and twine (or yarn) work well to create a trellis for peas. Ideally, trellises will be put into the garden before the seeds are planted, or if you forgot (like me), then before the plants begin to sprout.

Dowels will go every four to six feet along rows of peas. Two or three rows of string are knotted on. Dowels and string can be reused year after year or disassembled and used for something altogether different.

3- Keep planting cold crops

A great friend of mine read my post about planting spring crops and she went out to plant but decided against it in case of frost. We have all been so ingrained that planting before the last frost date shall bring devastation and dead plants, but some plants aren’t bothered in the least by a little frost or a bit of snow. They prefer it to hot temperatures. Hot temps make them bolt (go to seed), so y’all get out there and plant your spring crops! Click here to see the list of plants to plant now.

Based on the recommendations on the back of the package, I will plant every two weeks. If the seed packet says to plant as soon as the soil can be worked, then plant early. Otherwise it will say mid-spring or late spring.

4- Take care of your plant starts

If you haven’t started your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants indoors, better hop to it! Mine have sprouted already. Mist well with a water bottle every few days if they are covered. Once they outgrow their cover, take it off and check moisture regularly. They should be lightly damp, but certainly not soaked.

5- Prepare garden beds for summer

But, it’s only April 1st, you say? Y’all know how fast time goes and in six sweet weeks all of the summer crops are going in at practically the same time, and six weeks goes by pretty fast. It sure is nice to have beds ready to go.

I love Spring and if it is a nice day out, I just want to be outside soaking up lost Vitamin D from my winter indoors. Spring is filled with hope and joy…and sore muscles and projects! What are you working on right now?

Posted in Homestead

This is Why We Homestead (and how we will prep better this year)

Five pounds of smoky, rich local coffee beans are a comfort to have. We still have 3/4 of a fifty pound bag of organic, unbleached flour. We have lots of wheat gluten and jars upon jars of pulses, like barley, rice, and pinto beans. Did we know that there would be a worldwide pandemic? Yes and no. We knew there would be something, and it is just a smart way to live. To be prepared. It is as comforting as a big cup of hot coffee on a cool spring morning.

We homestead for many reasons. Everyone knows that the power can go out at any time. Job losses and lay offs happen. Natural disasters happen. People get sick. But we don’t just homestead for disaster preparedness; there are other reasons too.

We homestead to save money. A five pound bag of organic coffee is $60, recently roasted locally and the beans are sourced sustainably and fair trade. A fifty pound bag of flour is about fifty bucks. That is a stellar price for organic, unbleached flour. Organic is very important to us and we would like items that we can’t produce ourselves to be fairly and sustainably grown and sold.

We also save money by preserving our own food. I save scraps from vegetables, the ends of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, veggies that are just turning, and make them into savory jars of broth. I make fourteen jars at a time for free, basically. I guess the lids cost a couple of bucks. A quart of organic vegetable broth in the store is a minimum of five dollars. I have jars of broth at the ready for cheaper than a Walmart special.

By having pulses and foods on hand, we eat out a lot less because we have food here. It is all displayed in beautiful canning jars and is easy to see and be inspired by.

We homestead for better food. By growing our own food, we control what is used to produce it, how it is handled, when it is harvested, and its freshness. And to have food. I suppose a lot of y’all are going to have a garden this year after seeing so many empty grocery store shelves! We have fresh eggs (we are vegan outside of that), plenty of grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables canned and frozen.

We have candles, lamp fuel, water in jugs, cleaning products, a bag of homemade soap, and craft projects for days. But here is what I have learned from this quarantine.

We need to save more money. Well, we need to save money period. All our bills are paid and we have everything we need but in these situations, an emergency fund would be more of a comfort than a cup of coffee.

We need to preserve more food. Last year we moved before harvest time. The year before I started a shop that promptly closed, but took up all my time during harvest season. Luckily I had canned a lot before that, but geez, no more slacking! I usually put up a couple hundred jars of food a year. This year I have a lofty goal of over five hundred jars of food and several gallon bags of frozen vegetables. I am also growing and/or buying a lot of things to dry and dehydrate.

We need to figure out how to save more water. We will look into rain barrels and ways to save drinking water this year in case of emergency. Right now, with our animals, we have maybe two day’s worth saved. Not enough!

Homesteading is an adventure. One can do it from anywhere. Joining a community garden, buying produce from a farmer’s market, canning in an apartment, saving jugs of water under the bed, learning to sew, getting a few oil lamps, buying second hand; the ways are endless. We gradually improve our ways of homesteading by experience. This year will be our most ambitious farm yet and this quarantined time has showed us what we need to focus on. I hope something good will come out of this time for all of you out there. How are you homesteading? What skills will you learn this year?

Posted in Homestead

How an Old Fashioned Life Benefits HSPs

What is an HSP? I first heard the term Highly Sensitive Person some dozen years ago. It is used to describe someone who is very sensitive and emotional. Words such as empath have come forth, but there are differences. An empath is someone who feels others’ emotions and feels empathy for them. My husband is an empath, but he is not an HSP.

I wish that more parents knew the traits of a highly sensitive person. They might recognize their own child and know better how to raise them. The HSP is generally the black sheep of the family because they are not easy to live with. They are emotional, anxious, and not like other kids.

HSPs are highly sensitive to artificial lights. Fluorescents can nearly take us out! (Or so it feels.) HSP’s are sensitive to sound. They are generally born with heightened sensory. So very loud voices, yelling, loud music, and crowds can leave an HSP in tears. School is usually very difficult for an HSP, as they would rather be anywhere but sitting still. They are also usually the targets for bullying. And not just as children. It is hard to be an HSP in the world today.

There are many great traits of highly sensitive people. HSP’s are wonderfully mesmerized by beauty and that rubs off on the people around them. They notice every bird, every color, every sound, the tastes of food, the moment in which they live. They are loyal friends and sensitive family members. Their empathy is beyond an average empath, because they physically feel what they see or what they are around. For instance, I cannot watch the news, because I physically will feel what someone who was beaten or raped or lost felt. That can be exhausting. An HSP has to be wary of what they see and what they read and who they are around. Highly Sensitive People are often psychic, because all of their senses are heightened. It isn’t far fetched to believe that hermits are all highly sensitive people! Maybe we don’t want to become hermits, but that is where living an old fashioned life comes in.

Last night, my husband and I sat in our rocking chairs listening to records by the light of oil lamps and candles. The calm of evening resets my senses and helps me to breathe. My friends and I joke that I become a pumpkin after nine. A kind way of saying I straight fall apart and end up crying after ten! I honor my circadian rhythms and that helps me to stay happy and relaxed.

To incorporate old fashioned living for a HSP is simple, here are some ideas:

Highly sensitive people need softer light. Oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights all fit the bill.

I am overjoyed that I inherited my Great Aunt Donna’s record player the other day! Soft music is better than blasting music.

Highly sensitive people cannot deal with anger problems and fighting. Soft voices, sweet words, this is more important than I can describe.

Turn off electronics. The television overstimulates highly sensitive people. (We won’t get into video games.) The sound, the light, (the fact that there is nothing good on except The Voice…) it is often too much. Books and creative outlets are better. LED lights can be switched off. Unplug anything with a light shining from it.

Highly Sensitive People are better homeschooled and as entrepreneurs. Home should be a respite so decorate with comforting pieces, like quilts, musical instruments, books, soft lighting, and old fashioned items from a relatives’ house. My house is filled with memories since I use things that were once my grandma’s, my chosen mama’s, my aunt’s, etc.

Spend lots of time outdoors! HSP’s do better outdoors. Grow a garden, have chickens, and chairs that face the sun. Animals are important.

From scratch cooking and herbal remedies are important for health. HSP’s don’t do well with conventional medicines or vaccines. You will find that many HSP’s are vegetarian.

Highly Sensitive People do not have a disease or a disability and it is not something they can just get over or toughen up. All of the HSP’s I have met have been truly loving, extraordinary people. I think the lifestyle that we can create to accommodate an HSP is one that could benefit everyone! Being present, being positive, avoiding hysteria in the news and on social media, filling time with creative pursuits and great books, spending time with ones we love, honoring our circadian rhythm, improving health, slowing down, being easy on our senses; all these things make life a million times more meaningful.