The air has a slightly different feel to it. A different scent. The cold is still there. I bundle up as I go out to do chores. But there is a tinge of something else upon the morning breath. Life. Spring. By all indications, it is still the dead of winter, but I sense it. I sense the pulse of the earth strengthening and the awakening of the plant world beneath it all. Spring is coming.
My home is still in the dead of winter. Warm blankets caress chairs and the furnace is on. The sun shines like a spotlight through the closed windows, still low in the sky. My spirit falls more easily into stress and I long to be in the garden. To be outside with a book without wind chill. What to do? The only thing I can do is to introduce notes of spring into the house.
Plants always infuse spring and life into a place. These are the babies from my very large aloe. Last week I transplanted them into a new pot. Its wide berth lets them spill out and catch the sun, giving a warm desert feel to this corner. The cheap pots at Walmart are usually my go-to. I love their cheery celadon, rouge, and artist blue colors, but sometimes it is nice to get a special pot that reminds you of something you love. In this case, the land of the southwest where my heart and inspiration dance.
It still gets dark out early so candles are still throughout the house. These Catholic prayer candles sans saints are perfect and long lasting. I used an old Coca-Cola crate to hold them.
Found bird nests and unique pieces of wood and stone are set carefully around the house to bring nature in.
My Farmhouse sign (bought at Cracker Barrel of all places!) doesn’t have a place on the wall right now because I have all my own bright paintings up but it seems cheery on the floor against the wall amongst the geraniums and other plants.
I seem to collect things with bicycles on them. Bicycles with baskets. I love the idea of them. I love the freedom of them. The perk of being in the city. The promise of warm breezes and exercise and French bread in the basket picked up from the bakery or fresh flowers. I have coffee cups with bicycles with baskets that say things like “Do More of What Makes You Happy.” My daughter, Shyanne, gave me a small bicycle statue. So Doug gave me a bike for my birthday last year. With a basket. I only rode it a few times before the tires were inundated with goat heads. But a kind friend came over three different times to fix my tires, fill them with fix a flat, put on my basket and other accouterments (a bell included!) and I am ready to take off on the first nice day without Nordic winds. The bike had a place on the porch but I brought it in. It adds notes of spring and whimsy to my living room.
Lastly, I picked up a snazzy pair of bright galoshes. Oh, spring, I hope to see you soon!
November 25, 2012- I had just learned what a blog was and was excited to try it. Pages that would normally fill journals filled spaces on this web sized book. To write stories that teach and inspire and make folks laugh while learning to farm and homestead was my idea. A compilation of tales that I wish I could have found at the beginning of my journey. I could have never imagined the amazing pieces of life we would be recording.
Indeed over the past year and a half you have put up with me pouting when we lost all that, started two more blogs, always return to this one. I use my own blog so often to find recipes that I might be one of my best followers! Over 110,000 times Farmgirl School has been read over the last four years. I am honored.
When I found out that we were actually buying a house, my inspiration came flooding back. Months of blog posts already half written in my mind. Home.
November 25, 2016- I can now use the skills I have learned about chickens and ducks, gardening, and decorating, cooking, and preserving, cooking on a wood stove, and intertwine them with new memories with my beautiful family, and all the things I want to learn, like Hugelkulter beds, and canning cranberry sauce to create many more years of Farmgirl School. And all the things along the way that I will learn and share and our world-wide community continues. We all share so may beautiful desires and wishes. To return to homesteading life was certainly ours. So here we go…
My grandparents lived in their house for forty years. They have lived in their current one for twenty. My in-laws lived in theirs for thirty. I wonder what it would be like to settle into a place that is home. Where every corner holds memories, each piece of furniture remembers laughter and family gatherings, where each knickknack had a reason, has a story. Where the gardens grow in beautiful tandem each year, naturally knowing their place, the roses reaching up over the heads of grandchildren. Where neighbors wave and remember the day (“Where did the time go?” we’ll laugh) when we…. Neighbors and children and life in a home without worrying about moving when the rent goes up. My goodness, this is exciting. We have owned homes before but none will ever be so received with as much gratitude as this one.
We walked through the house (which looks remarkably from the outside like our Kiowa house) and felt the presence of family. The house was tended to with such love for the past sixty plus years. A grandmother certainly lived here. The house sings of the perfect grandparents’ house. Lines inside the hall closet note growth of children. The kitchen waits for sizzling pans and glasses of wine with friends. Or coffee at the kitchen table. The wood stove boasts proudly in the living room. Each room with original wood floors. The roots cellar stands ready with rows and rows of shelving for canned goods. A busy woman lived here. The front yard has great grandma and grandma’s roses. The ones that towered over me as a child and created large orbs of romantic flowers. They are by the front porch. A chicken coop and large run waits for spring babies. A big front yard, a big back yard waiting for little feet to run across it. Maryjane tries out the tree. The plot is on a corner and is an impressive quarter acre right in the quiet neighborhood. One block from a lake and playground.
A million things could go wrong the fearful part of me proclaims (she is new since last year) but Doug and I look at each other and we know. This is our house. We put an offer on it last night. Is this the house?
We rambled up the long driveway in our old truck and took in the view of the alpaca farm down the hill and the glorious eastern horizon where the sunrises will glint down upon the plants and through the numerous trees that reside on his property.
“I really feel that the sage is here to welcome you,” he said. I was struck and honored at his words. The sage is prolific there. It grows rampant this year among the many Cherokee roses. The prickly pear and the mullein are all there. Pines so tall they can recall when the Kiowa Indians roamed these hills and called them home.
The owner of this property is well respected, a friend of mine, who works in an emotionally challenging job helping the ill and passing. He lives in this large home alone. He needs help here. It is a glorious home that holds the spirits of his parents that built it. Sparkling ceilings and medicine bags in the foundations. The property has a retreat-like property and vortexes abound. It is a special place. We will live here for a year. We will help him sort and get ready to let this beautiful house go as he moves on to his next journey next autumn.
In the meantime we will have acres of medicinal herbs and trees to use and protect. Sunrises that greet us through the walk out basement doors. Three more cats to add to our menagerie. One of his chickens approached me in greeting. A wood cook stove and wood stove to help supplement heat. A kitchen upstairs for me to make sure everyone has sustenance. I feel quite well received here among his mother’s things and the spirit of the house and land. I found Doug in a recliner with one of the house cats on his lap. I think we’ll be real happy here.
It is two miles from my shop so a brisk morning walk will take place each day but that, perhaps, is a part of the hidden blessings. Since becoming homeless and losing everything three months ago we have been swimming several times with our granddaughter and friends, to Utah, to a winery, in an airplane, sang on our son’s album, have visited, and made friends. We have dreamed, comforted, and become fiercely grateful for everything. We are more flexible and need less. We will be content with a bed and two chairs before a roaring fire as the snow drops silently outside the window upon the world of peace and quiet. Cats curled up near us. A table. A bookshelf. Cups of hot coffee. That is all. That is all we really need anyway. Each other and an enjoyment of this life right here and now is what we’ll thrive on.
My friends, I appreciate every single person that takes the time to read my words, to cheer us on, to cry with us, to talk to me outside of this blog, who cares about our family, who lets me write and allows me to have readers. Thank you.
One of my problems, that I think might be cured now, is that I speak too soon. I cannot keep a secret to save my life and I love to share news and get excited about possibilities and I speak too soon and send everyone on a wild goose chase of emotional rollercoasters and bottles of wine.
This seemed so promising but sometimes things are not as they seem. At the last minute the whole house dream was over. So many things I cannot discuss in order to respect others’ thoughts and ideas and this time it just didn’t work out. Again.
Where are we supposed to be? I wish I knew. I will work on getting this shop open. I will not have a nervous breakdown. I will not even have a glass of wine. I will just go get my book and go to bed.
Once upon a time there was a little house. The house was stout and sturdy. He took great pride in protecting his little family from the elements and was a peaceful haven with low ceilings and a piping hot wood stove. He kept things cozy as the mother crocheted beautiful blankets and worked on her treadle sewing machine. The father repaired saddles and all sorts of leatherwork. Some in town remember getting their shoes resoled before school; some remember getting their tack repaired.
The house was sad when they passed on to the next world. He held tightly to their things and never let a drop from the elements come inside to ruin Mother and Father’s precious things. House began to grow tired. His welcoming porch began to weather and windows were broken and cracked. He went to sleep for a long winter’s nap.
Six winters and six moons passed when the house heard sounds from outside. It was laughter and dreaming coming from a younger Mother and Father. She wanted to do her crocheting in front of the warming wood stove and Father wanted to get plenty of wood chopped for it. Mother would make medicines from the plants that struggled to grown on the dry ground. The trees that had given up stood up straighter with strength and hope and listened.
The grand Cedar knew the new mother was coming and the trees and plants and the old house discussed. A child would be coming to play in their branches. Chickens would be roaming the yard. Folks from town would be coming to the old leather shop to seek help from the plants, and the house would be filled with laughter and family again. Oh, the house was so happy and opened its arms and waited.
“It’s a rock in the rough,” Dennis said while we were looking at it. Not diamond, rock. It’s special, folks, and so long as one can look past the piles of belongings, the thick, dark drapes, and if one has watched Martha Stewart for decades and if one has been a subscriber of Country Living Magazine since one was twelve, then that one just may have the imagination and the thrill of the decorator ready to turn this place into a gem!
As I followed our friends and Doug while we tried not to trip over the neon blue shag carpet that has bunched up in places I continually cooed, “Oh look, if we did this…oh look, if we did that, oh look, a sewing room!…” They were smitten too and the house holds onto her good bones, block and stucco walls, and built for nuclear disaster frame of the nineteen fifties. She just needs some paint and wood floors and a pretty dress and that girl will be ready to host her first farm party.
The house I told you about the other day was great and ready for a storefront right away but it was also not zoned to live in, not designed for living spaces, and the taxes were four times higher than the above fifties girl who needs a party dress. We drove down the street that same day and peeked through her darkened windows and torn curtains and walked the third of an acre, looked at the distance from the main road and went to town to ask questions. And for the first time, they all came back positive!
We can live there. The outside porch can be rebuilt and made into an apothecary. There is an art studio and a chicken coop. Even though I can have a small storefront, the property is zoned residential and so are the taxes. Everything is aesthetic and can be easily beautified and secured to make this our new farm.
Last night I thumbed through fifteen years of magazine clippings that I have cut out showing rooms and design ideas that I love. And I was amazed at how many of them were very similar and how many fit this house.
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!
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?
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….
This house speaks in whispers telling of past families and memories. It so fills me with inspiration every time we pass it. I want to live there, to make a fire in the hearth, to grow something in the solarium. I want to hang clothes on the line and tend to the chickens. This 1907 house is supposedly inhabited by six people according to the internet but it looks abandoned. Short stories and poems flow from its bones and I long to start a garden and trim the weeds so that one can see the wrought iron gate as they pass the statuesque frame of home.
Ahh, I wish.
The house we are staying at is enchanted. A raccoon visits each evening. Margie has dubbed her “Miko”. She won’t come too close, just to the end of a pizza crust.
I wasn’t too pleased with her this morning though! We left our windows down in the truck. Doug called me down to take a look at my seat this morning. The vandal had opened a grocery bag of rotten leftovers and soup. We wondered who would have done such a thing. She had rifled through everything in the truck and left her telling, adorable hand prints on everything! I knew immediately who the culprit was.
Thus far, we have run into some dead ends regarding jobs but we won’t give up. I imagine we will end up in Denver, Doug hopes to stay out here. We’ll see. Today we have food, clothes, shelter, transportation, health, family, friends, and a little change. And though we have little else, we have the stuff that makes us rich.
It is just an ordinary old building from the outside. It was a feed store and a liquor store among other things. Its basement is flooded and water rushes around the old, old boiler standing proudly, its ankles wading in the rainwater misplaced. The large main floor is open with high ceilings, windows, wood floors, and my eyes gaze around in wonder as if I were designing a loft for a popular television show. The upstairs is a rounded loft that would make a lovely bedroom. The back room is really the gem. A rustic blank slate of old brick and cement, a kitchen it must be. I dream as the owner shows me around. Lord, I could decorate anything. Unfortunately we have to rent a year before we can buy and she could not afford to allow us that being too far behind. The bank will likely have this unspoken masterpiece, unappreciated in its barrenness but too expensive in its needs. I wished her luck. I could have had supper clubs there and art openings and karaoke nights! But alas, it is not for us though if could buy we could get it for a song. I could even turn the outside strip into a garden oasis with chickens.
So, Doug and I decided to head out to the building that holds the company that he is interviewing with tomorrow. We are confident and hopeful. We backtracked from the building to various neighborhoods, many with pristine grass and home owner’s associations written all over them as well as mighty confident price tags. Because his work, should he get the job, is on the far north side of Colorado Springs we would be a mere ten minutes from the first bit of country. A life Doug would like to hold onto. Truth be told, so do I. We still want the large gardens and chickens. The views, the stars, the quiet, that life.
We drove past the trees that were scarred by the fire I wrote about a few years ago. The area is regrowing and beautiful. To live in the trees would be magical even though the fire risk is always a possibility. A few minutes further we get into the prairielands we know and adore.
Oh where will our new home be? And can it be somewhere we can stay? To put down roots and apple trees without fear of being forced to move? Can we find someone to help us get the house then buy it from them? Or a place that we can rent then purchase later? A place that we can call our own? Dreaming of home is a bittersweet ordeal when you know not where home is.
Home is by a hearth and fire, surrounded by our cats, and visited by our beloved ones. It is where we find each other at the end of the day and at early dawn. Where the rooster will crow and the pumpkins will grow. We are searching.