Backyard Chicken Tips and Homesteading School

20180605_085348Gandalf the Great Pyrenees had a new toy.  The story goes (according to him anyway) that Buttercup the chicken got out of the pen and he was simply attempting to corral her back in.  Three quarters of her was stuck in his mouth as I screamed at him.

Forget hawks, eagles, raccoons, skunks, bears, coyotes, or any other predator you may have heard about.  Dogs are the most common predator chickens face.

20180710_161045My friend, Addie- aka Superwoman…if war breaks out, we are heading to her house- brought us three chickens to make up for Buttercup.  Buttercup, was of course, our best layer.  These three have some work to do.  They were in a large coop hanging out in the front yard when we got home.  A lovely surprise!  We quietly put them in the coop in the night so that the chickens would all be fooled and think that they were always there come morning and there would be no blood baths.  It always works.  Except when it doesn’t.

We used the portable coop she loaned us that the chickens had been delivered in to lock up the chickens.  “Should I put the three new girls in the pen?”

“No,” she replied, “you lock up the bullies!”

20180710_160947
This is Hei hei because she acts like the leghorn in the movie Moana.

She further explained (if y’all knew how many homesteading lessons I have had from this gal over the years you would think she should have written a book!) that if you put the new girls in the pen it only tells the old girls that they are indeed below them.  If you lock up the mean girls then they come to understand that they are not the bosses.  It worked like a charm.

20180710_160935

Then the egg eating started.  Oh, those three rascals.  One of them was eating eggs like she was sitting in an IHOP.  Addie suggested we raise their protein intake in their food because they were all molting and they needed more nutrients to get through it.  We also laid golf balls around the coop so the culprit would peck those once and would stop pecking eggs.  That worked but no one is laying eggs right now!

20180710_161022

I have been a subscriber since I was twelve years old to a magazine about country living.  I am afraid its gotten a little high falutin and ridiculous.  Very pretty pictures but really geared for rich people who have no idea what farming is about.  Photographs of chicken coops with pea gravel and curtains with lush, landscaped yards and chickens crossing the kitchen without any poo in sight.  I love it, but it is a little deceiving.

20180710_161218

We have a noxious tree that I love called Tree of Heaven here, or Chinese Sumac.  It’s poisonous so the chickens don’t eat it.  It has popped up all over the chicken yard creating a jungle atmosphere and shade.  When they first moved in they had two foot high grasses to jump through.  They will eat any plant that is edible, y’all.  Do not landscape your chicken yard!

20180710_161231

We looked around this place and saw the chickens, the infant orchard, the vegetables growing tall, and the pumpkins jumping out of their beds, and we have realized that we live on a perfect urban farm.  A lot of people cannot afford to live out in the country and I have decided to reopen my Homesteading School.  I will be teaching canning, preserving, baking, cooking, gardening, and much more as our little-farm-that-could gets more organized and utilized.

pumpkin hollow

Check out my Facebook page for events here! I will also be putting a link on this blog.  Happy Homesteading!

Can Cats Be on a Board of Directors?

chicken paint

“So what is your plan?” the advisor asked.  She had a bit of dizziness so I handed her a tincture of something to help her that I had made.  She took it and inquired upon my school.  There I sat in her school trying to think of what my plan was.

“English because I think that will be the easiest way to get a teaching degree for me.  I want to help homeschool parents and be an evaluator.”  She handed me two more sheets of requirements that I would need to take.

“I want to take Native studies, and botany, and…”  None of these are on the required classes so they would be electives.

“What is your plan?”  she says again.

“I want a farm that has programs for youth and holistic healing and organic vegetables, and internships, and animals, and supports the homesteading and homeschooling community, and…I know this isn’t making any sense,” I mention.  “I think I need a teacher’s license to make it all work together or to afford it.”

She wondered, too.  She also wondered if my own customized degree would work.

sunflower paint

Doug and I spent the rest of the day wandering around our grand downtown.  We took in the lights and had a meal, some coffee, perused a book store, held hands, wandered.

At home in bed we wrote down exactly what our plan would be.  And do you know what our plan would be?  The same dang thing we wrote down in detail this time last year!  A piece of land, a small house, a barn, greenhouse, hoop houses, an acre garden, a homesteading school, our herbal school, a holistic retreat, a spiritual retreat, an artist and writer’s retreat, youth programs and internships, farm animals, self reliance, food for the community, education, a place to do weddings and events.  Both of us have the exact same ideas and dream.

I ran through the classes offered at Metro while I waited for my password to be fixed and there on the screen was a very interesting idea.  Grant writing.  Non-profit.  And our world and conversation just got livelier.

 

Store Fronts and Upside Down Paintings

322

Right now is a waiting game (ugh, my favorite…) while we wait to see about the auction on our old house in Kiowa, the second interview for Doug, and what the universe has in store for us.  This morning we go see a house in Elizabeth that is zoned commercial.  If we can get it rezoned to mixed use (another waiting game!) it could be full of possibility.  It is a darling home from 1883.  The front of the house is set up like a store and the back has a kitchen and two other rooms and upstairs there are two quaint bedrooms under the eaves.  No shower and I do not know how hard it would be to convince the town to change the zoning but my imagination goes wild upon entering the grounds.  There is a large yard.  I mean large, Friends.  We could have a heck of an urban garden right on highway 86 in town!

San Miguel

My paintings are hanging at Grumpy’s coffee shop and I notice they are getting a little slim.  One sold before I could get it hung up!  I would like to paint and I have always wanted an art gallery.  I have a new idea for an apothecary.  Not one that has perfectly labeled bottles and exact ingredients and an online store but jars and spigots of single extracts where I can mix things for folks as they come in and offer teas and blends plus some fun creams and salves.  Folks know me in town well enough now that I don’t have to have the perfect store front for herbal remedies; they can just come on in and get a custom blend for the ailment they have.  I could also resume my homesteading classes, my herbal classes, and any other idea I come up with!  I can sell my books as well.  All while not leaving my home and farm.  Makes the mind wander with possibility, doesn’t it?

warm welcome

Well before I start dreaming too much before my third cup of coffee, we better go see the inside first.  I have been in there before visiting prior businesses but not with an eye for staying there.  Who knows what is planned for us but in the meantime I wish I had a place to paint.

I have a fun tip for all of you to try your hand at drawing or painting that I learned in middle school.  Turn a page out of a magazine or a photograph or anything you want to paint upside down and draw it.  You will be amazed at how it turns out!  When your mind stops telling you how it should look and you draw it how it actually looks your work will turn out brilliantly.  This works great for photographs of people where your mind really wants to step in and boss your paint brushes around but once you flip that photo your hand has to draw it exactly as it is.

Well, my world is certainly upside down and my mind is still trying to tell me how it should look!  Let’s see what the universe paints for me….

The hanging sign in front might read-

Farmgirl

School-Art-Farm-Books-Herbal Remedies

On Pumpkin Hollow Farm….

Choosing Farm Animals (no alpacas this time…)

IMG_1715

We went over to Sylvia’s farm Sunday afternoon.  The day was warm and sunny and her alpacas were wandering happily about their pens.  Sylvia was a gracious host and went over again everything we would need to know after taking the two alpacas home that she had generously offered us.

They are very cute boys.  Buddy is small and fluffy and his friend, Carmello, looks like a camel.  Their fleece is lovely and they didn’t kick me or spit at me.  They did immediately head away from anywhere we were.  That is how alpacas are.  I don’t know if I thought these alpacas would be different.  They would run up to me and want their noses rubbed and a hug around the neck.  They aren’t mean but they aren’t really friendly either.  A little newborn kept nibbling at my shirt and was absolutely adorable but would skitter away as I turned around.

We thought it through, we planned.  We decided.  Not this year.

Our Lady of the Goats

When I write something on this blog and set it out into the universe it starts spiraling.  It starts manifesting.  And my dream for this year is Doug’s as well and we are going to make it happen.  (Look for the full scoop later this week!) but for now, our entire income will hinge on the success of our Homesteading School including the Certified Herbalist arm.  Farm tours and interns, vegetables, milk shares, eggs, lots of folks coming to the farm.  The aura of the farm needs to match our intention.  Having families come tour our homestead is always a delight for me.  I love how excited the kids get when they hold a docile chicken or play with Elsa, the uber friendly goat.  When they talk non-stop about bottle feeding goat kids or kitty “hunting” (can you find all nine in our house?).  If we had terrified animals in the back corner…well that doesn’t really fit in.

I am getting two lambs next month that will be bottle babies to make them tame and I will try my fiber fun with them and if I love it, I can always get an alpaca next year to add to the fiber animals but in the meantime, we need more of a petting zoo environment, I think.  A good experience for kids (and adults) to hold onto when dreaming of their future farms.

A January Weekend

woodland park

Saturday shone bright and warm, full of tall snow capped mountains and warm, piercing sun that filled us with light.  We headed to Woodland Park for a winter market.  We haven’t been there since Nancy passed away and since we were the 5 Farmgirls.  I was surprised by the outpouring of support and joy in seeing us again.  We went as Pumpkin Hollow Farm and Garden Fairy Apothecary.  Each market worker hugged me as I came in.  Folks stopped by the table and recognized me.

woodland

“You’re the goat lady!” one gal said.

I wasn’t sure if she was remembering me or Nancy.

She said, “You used to come with your sister!”  Sister, yes, just not biological.

Farmgirls Color cropped

It was me that she meant because her son came over to the table and when she asked if he remembered me he replied enthusiastically, “Yes, she’s the goat lady!”  He remembered when I would bring the baby goats on a leash and let kids bottle feed them.  It left an impression and he was excited for this year’s goats to come to the market.

IMG_0679

It was good to be back and we look forward to the remaining winter markets and this summer Emily and Maryjane will be joining me once again at the Woodland Park farmer’s market.

IMG_0658
Sunday was a lovely day as well.  We taught a soap making class and friends came to visit.  Our Broncos did not win their game but Maryjane filled the disappointment with laughter.  She is full of fun and hugs and surprises.  Dressed in her Bronco best, she makes the most darling cheerleader.  She sat on the couch hooping and hollering next to Papa with a kitten on her lap.

IMG_0659

The snow began to fall thick and blanketing as we came home last night from dropping Maryjane off with her mother.  This morning a foot of snow lay glittering and peaceful across the expanse of space.  Doug was insistent that we could make it to Elizabeth for him to work at the coffee shop so we did our best to get out of the driveway only to get stuck in a snowdrift a mile down the road.  Our neighbor’s son came along and helped us out and we toddled back to the house ready to embrace the snow day at hand (which means housework and taxes but maybe a bit of reading and relaxing will take place too!).

IMG_0660

I am warmly humbled by old friends and acquaintances, reliable, friendly neighbors, and wintery weekends mixed with sun and snow.  Back in my snow globe away from the world I am warm and comforted by winter’s encompassing embrace.  Back to the garden books with a cup of hot chocolate I go.

 

What’s Next? (welcoming the new year)

maryjane tree

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?

Starting a Homesteading School

welcome

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.

IMG_0462

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.

IMG_2825

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!

soap 14

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?