Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading School Returns

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

A Peek at the Typical Week of a Farmsteader

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Some folks envy us.  Some folks think we are crazy.  Some of our relatives wonder if we work.  Some people come from all over to learn what we do.  If you ever wondered what life on a farmstead looks like, particularly for an entrepreneur, here is a small peek into a typical week.  If you are interested in farmsteading, we will teach you everything you need to know to make small steps towards basic self sufficiency and regaining your freedom by making your own schedule.  Just check out the Homesteading School link on the menu.  We also have a Certified Herbalist and Master’s Herbalist program to help you learn everything you need to know to care for yourself, your family, and the animals that will share your farmstead.

Monday: Farm day

Up just before 7:00.  Doug goes outside to tend to the animals.  It could be a heavenly sixty five degrees or a miserable twenty below, it makes no difference.  Isabelle must be milked!   I make coffee and when Doug comes in after milking the goat I strain the warm milk from the bucket and prepare him a cup of coffee with fresh goat’s milk and a bit of sugar while he feeds and lets out the chickens and ducks.  We then spend some time writing, reading, paying bills, relaxing, and planning the day.

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After breakfast we begin our work.  Farm day is also canning day.  Any harvesting that needs to be done is completed in the morning before the plants go limp from the heat.  If I needed a boost in produce I would have bought a box of tomatoes or something from my friends at Miller Farms Sunday at the market.  We have to be diligent with canning.  Our winter food source is our root cellar/basement and freezer.  Yesterday a flat of tomatoes became six quarts of ruby colored pasta sauce.  We have been out of sauce since March to my utmost dismay and I will be canning a lot more this year.  We will double the eighteen jars we put up last year.

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A large pot of chicken broth was also in the works.  I saved in a freezer bag all chicken bones and odds and ends of carrots, onions, and celery over the past month and threw them all in the pot covered with water.  I added large handfuls of herbs and a bit of salt and pepper and let it simmer for an hour and a half.  This was pressure canned to make easy quarts of ready made broth.  This is a chore we do all year.

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Large bowls of green beans have been coming out of our garden and as quickly as we can process them, there are a bunch more ready.  It has been such a gift to be able to eat and preserve produce from my own gardens.

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Farm day includes any and all planting, weeding, mulching, harvesting, bee hive checking, fence fixing, coop and goat pen cleaning, lawn mowing,  and transplanting.

We fall in bed exhausted.

Tuesday: Class and Cooking Day

Anyone who wanted to learn to can would come on Monday to help.  Folks that want to learn specific skills like soap making out of fresh goat’s milk, candle making in containers with handles so that you can use it as guiding light at night, cheese making with delicious goat’s milk and fresh herbs, etc. come on Tuesday.  Each week I teach something new and also stock up for our own family.

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Tuesday is when I bake bread for the week and make a batch of hard cheese to start aging to enjoy in the winter.  I also plan the menus for the week and start preparing what I am packing (breakfast and lunch) to take to the markets.

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Doug works on miscellaneous things pertaining to business.  Paperwork, filling orders, errands, and anything else I give him in the form of a to-do list is on Doug’s agenda.  Every other Tuesday evening he shoots pool and I quilt in the evening or we might opt to take a walk or watch a funny show.

We fall in bed exhausted.

Wednesday: Apothecary Day

This is the day we get all of our product filled for the farmer’s markets that week.  We make lotion, fill bottles, combine teas, and get the car packed for Thursday’s market.  People seek me out all week for help and call at all hours of the day.  We work with them immediately but the farmer’s markets not only help us bring in more income, but also helps us meet infinitely more folks than we would from our farm.  We are able to help many more people and interest people in classes.

I also teach a Master’s class in herbalism on Wednesdays.

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Wednesday is also the day that I make extracts.  I harvest herbs that are ready to be cut and place them in jars.  All of my new recipes are made with fresh herbs straight from the gardens and prepared on the spot where they will brew until this fall.

Thursday: Market Day

Doug milks early and we head off to Colorado Springs (a 45 minute drive) at 6:30.  We set up our tent, our tables, our wares, and talk, help, and promote until 3:00.  We then break down and reload the car and sleepily drive home, arriving back at the farm at 4:30.  A quick dinner is all I can come up and the rest of the day is slower.

Grammie and Baby at Parker

We watch our granddaughter, Maryjane, the light of our life, four days a week while her mother is at work.  We are the only grandparents that do not have a nine to five job and dad is still in school so we get the great opportunity of playing with our baby most days.  Even though she wears us out, she adds a light and an energy to this place that I never take for granted.  She is a great gift to us.

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In the evenings, every single day, at around 7:00, Doug heads back in to milk Isabelle.  Twice a day, no matter the weather or our plans, Isabelle must be milked.  It is nice to have a set schedule.  It also saves us money.  Every time we make plans to gallivant about, we remember that we need to be home at seven!

Friday: House Day and Prepare for Markets

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Friday we deep clean our house.  All laundry should be done by this day.  We fill product that we sold the day before in preparation for the markets and get the meals packed for the next few days.  We even may have the opportunity to go out to eat with friends or just sit under the elm tree with a book.

Saturday: Market Day and Class

We head to the local farmer’s market on Saturdays.  It is close to home and ends early so it is obviously my favorite one!  We see lots of folks that used to visit our store and friends from around town come by to say hello.

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Our herbalist classes are on Saturdays.  People drive from all over to take my course and learn how to turn weeds into medicine that can heal up broken ankles or get rid of a nasty infection.  The classes are always eclectic, filled with interesting and fascinating students.  The coming semester promises to be full and two of the students came all the way from New York.  Ethan and Stephanie drove an RV here to Colorado to stay and work with me on everything from homesteading, to farming, to being my apprentices in herbalism.  They are a tremendous help and lovely company.

In the winter and spring we trade off dinner at our house, Kat and Rod’s, or Rodney and Pat’s.  We call it family dinner even though Doug and I are not related but rather adopted into their family.  We miss them in the summer!  We do not see much of our families either and try to find times to call.  Summers here on a farmstead are very busy!  In the winter we are less busy.  We just keep up with all the housework and cooking, the filling orders and classes.  But we stay fairly close to home in order to take care of our animals.

Sunday: Big Market Day

This is our biggest market day and we pack more medicines and products in the car to cover what we sold Saturday.  We get up at 4:45 to milk and head out by 5:30 to secure our spot at the market.  The markets are non-stop talking on hot pavement and really wear us out but they are imperative to our survival as herbalists and homesteaders.

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We run our errands in town after the market on our way home.  The library or health food store might be visits we need to make.  We then go home and relax before dinner needs to be made and the animals cared for.

We again fall in bed exhausted.  There is no need for sleep medicine in this house.

Making Our Own Schedule

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We make our own schedule.  It is freeing and satisfying.  We work very, very hard but we also have the option to say, “You know what?  The floors aren’t getting swept today.  Let’s go hiking.”  Yesterday was one such day.  While Doug and Ethan ran errands in Denver, Stephanie, Emily, Maryjane and I took a beautiful hike.  I still got the canning done (finishing early this morning).  Last night Ethan and Stephanie came in from their RV and we all enjoyed dinner in front of a recorded “Last Comic Standing”.  Wine and laughter poured freely and we ended the night later than usual under the stars admiring the Milky Way and shooting stars.

This is why we farmstead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Homesteading Store Field Trip

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It’s housed in an old building with large sunny windows.  The young woman that greets us is always there, I believe her to be the owner.  She is always smiling, never overwhelmed. You may have a store like this one near you.  I could order everything online but if there is a store somewhere within an hour’s drive, I would rather support a family, an entrepreneurial adventure, a fellow shop owner.  Buckley’s Homestead Supply is also cheaper than what you can buy online.  That really seals the deal, and Doug and I have a half day field trip of homestead supply shopping and lunch at the Tapateria in Old Colorado City!  Tough day in the life of a homesteader, I tell you.

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I needed a bee keeping suit.  And a smoker.  And a hive tool.  And I did not want to wait until the bees came to get them!  Remember what happened last year?  Fiasco.  I didn’t have anything ready.  I chickened out and sold the bees right before they came to my young mentor.  This year I want new farm animals.  10,000 of them.  Buzzing around.  I ordered them a few weeks ago and they will be arriving to Pumpkin Hollow Farm in April.  Doug and I tried on bee keeping jackets with the head piece and veil attached and each bought one.  Along with a smoker we don’t know how to use and a hive tool.  Doug decided he is going to be a Scottish bee keeper this year for Halloween.  He will wear the jacket and veil with a kilt.  He spent the next half hour speaking in a brogue accent making jokes about bees and nethers that had me in fits of laughter.

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We picked up soap making supplies for a class that I was teaching.  A lid for our canning jar that makes it a water bottle also went on our growing pile.  A small book on making cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products since I will soon be in milk.  And one on how to make wine.  And a strainer for our herbal medicines that is finer than the present one.

cheese pressWe priced out the cheese press, and drooled over all the other items there while putting several on our wish list.  We finished the trip by signing up for a beekeeping class at the beginning of April.

We walked out $270 lighter including paying for the class.  A steal, I tell you!  If you live in Colorado, head down to Colorado Springs and see the nice, young woman that owns Buckley’s.  It is worth the trip.  She can help you accomplish all your homesteading goals this year.

One stop shop.

Buckley’s Homestead Supply

http://buckleyshomesteadsupply.com

1501 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
(719) 358-8510

Farm Dreams Unfolding

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Pumpkin Hollow Farm is really coming together.  Thank you, Rod for making this beautiful hand carved sign for the farm.  Thanks to my friend, Deb, for helping me get past my twenty year plateau in farming. (Water more, for crying out loud!)  Nancy for praising my garden every time she sees it and for being my partner in crime at farmer’s markets.  Doug for watering in the evenings when I can’t get to it.  And for those enjoying my onions and greens right now, thanks.  The peas will be ready to harvest today.  I cannot guarantee there will be any left to sell.  I sure have been craving English peas!

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Farming has been good for me.  I have become more in tune with the seasons, what foods are specific to our bodies and what nutrients we need according to the time of year and how all of those things are wrapped up in what food is in season.  It is fabulous eating a strawberry in the garden after a long winter of no strawberries or those rubbery things in the store.  It is so satisfying biting into a swiss chard, cherry tomato, goat cheese, and fresh egg omelet.  It is a blessing to sit out with my husband in the back yard with the new goats and watch the sunset, beer in hand, and see all that we have accomplished and all we have been entrusted with.

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We are moving our shop to our home at the end of this month.  Order forms on the porch for those that need to place an order and we aren’t home.  When we are home (which I imagine will be a lot this fall and winter!), come on in and have a cup of tea while I refill your sleep extract.  The community is welcome to come up to the door and ask for two onions, a bag of lettuce, and a medicine for thyroid.  My dream come true.  To work from home on my own farm.  This place instantly, overnight, became a real live farm in my mind when the rooster starting crowing and the goats came home.  We are taking a leap of faith and it is fabulous watching it come together.  People signing up for homesteading and herb classes.  People already knocking at the door for a refill of lotion (alas, it won’t be at my house until the end of July!).

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Community, in season food, fresh, organic medicines, family, farm animals.  We are lucky indeed.  Walk onto our farm today via this post to see the before and after of what we have done since Emily, Doug, and I (and Maryjane) dug up the entire yard to start Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  And it’s only the beginning of July!

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