Posted in Farming

Real Farms are not Picture Perfect (but that’s okay)

The large book I have on natural insect and disease control says that one should plant their pumpkins as far as they can away from last year’s crop to prevent squash bugs. We thought twenty-five miles would do it. Nope. It is rather difficult to have a farm named Pumpkin Hollow Farm whilst battling these invaders.

Two weeks ago we had a great hail storm. Really a doozy.

RIP Scarecrow

Followed by a huge rain storm, flood, and mud slide. It was really something.

And something ate the beans.

Farming. Not for the weak of heart.

Now, I want you to forget all those pretty, glossy pictures in the magazines. They are like social media, carefully staged and edited to look a certain way. A real farm is messy. With a bit of trash blowing around (cause it’s always windy). And squash bugs, weeds, and ducks who eat house plants left on the patio.

It is easy to focus on the negative. Where did all the cabbage seeds I planted go?…for crying out loud. It can get frustrating. Where the heck did I put that wine? It can be scary. What color would you say that cloud is? But through it all, it is miraculous. Always focus on the positive.

A restaurant wants to buy my lettuce. My friends are getting their fill of fresh, delicious eggs. I counted fifty thriving corn stalks in just one row. The birds are taking out grasshoppers. Forty-five tomato plants were found under all the mud and debris after the storm and they are thriving. The amaranth grew an inch overnight. The potatoes are busy underground and the corn will surely be knee high by fourth of July (a saying we hold to dearly around here). We are planning out our greenhouse and vineyard for next year. And best of all, we live on a farm!

I need more help around here to keep this farm going. That is a good thing. That means things are growing. The weeds are pretty high but at least they are green (rain in the desert, woohoo!). I am getting fabulously strong and tan and we are eating the best lettuce and a few peas out of the garden. After our several mile walk around our country town each evening, we water by hand. Doug takes the front gardens, I take the back, and an hour later we meet on the porch to laugh at the ducks and baby chickens and eat ice cream as the sun colorfully sets behind the mountains beyond our little farm.

Posted in Farming

The Little Farm Vehicle That Could

Okay…it’s a Fiat.  But a mini farm deserves a mini farm vehicle!

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There is something deeply satisfying about having enough food for the critters.  We hauled home a hundred and sixty pounds of dog, cat, and chicken feed and scratch in Fernando the Fiat the other day.  Heck, if we had put the top down we could have thrown on a bale of hay!  The back seat has enough Great Pyrenees hair to weave a scarf.  It may look like a city car but the little farm car works as hard as I do.  It does seem fitting that Pumpkin Hollow Farm ought to have a farm car that looks like a pumpkin!

 

Posted in Animals/Chickens

The Motley Crew of Pumpkin Hollow

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I need this sign!

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Gandalf is over a hundred pounds now at seven months old.  He is adorable.  His crazy brother, Merlin is eight months old and thinks he is a jaguar.  Or a dog.  That boy is a little special.  Each morning my husband emails me from work and asks, “How are you and zoo?”

DSC_6169My three old kitties, that we had hand raised almost thirteen years ago, came home after being at the shop for over two years.  Let’s just say they don’t love Merlin.  Gandalf is loud and furry and naughty too.  I didn’t get chicks this year.  I think eight cats, a giant polar bear, and seven chickens will do me just fine for now.  But I tell you what, this zoo makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day.  It’s a motley crew over here on Pumpkin Hollow Farm!

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Posted in Our Family

Death and Laughter

steve and lisaI can see her still, pixie sized, with soft blond hair just brushing her shoulders, and compassionate, smiling eyes swirling her wine glass.  I can see her in the vineyards, on the boat watching the whales, in her home watching inspirational television, in her Fiat driving around dressed smartly.  She was one of the wisest women I have ever had the great honor to be friends with.  She crossed the veil, with grace and hopes of not returning, last week.  She was in her late fifties.  Her husband, Steve, my friend for many years, will be driving through and stopping in to see me.  We shall cry and reminisce and drink wine in her honor.

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If you have followed me for awhile, they were the couple we used to visit in California every few years.  I wrote many notes and added many photographs of our adventures through wine country, the Red Wood forest, to the ocean.

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Our society doesn’t like to speak of death.  We are fearful and clearly do not want to accept it.  But telling your loved ones what you want can help ease the decision making in a bereaved spouse and children.  It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.  Death is the next great transition, the next path, it is all beautiful, and it can be spoken of with humor.

When my daughters were young I remember them clearly arguing in the back seat as we drove somewhere about my remains.

I will put her ashes in the compost pile so that she can grow into flowers and trees! The other retorted, No, I am putting her ashes in the lion cage at the zoo.  You know she always wanted to be near a lion!

“Excuse me, I am right here!” I said, all of us laughing.

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Saturday as Doug and I were driving, we thought of Lisa.  I told him when I die call Lauren!  She is a friend of mine who specializes in green funerals.  The last thing I need is to be filled up with chemicals and shoved into Mother Earth with a final “screw you” inside of my veins.  No, just put me in there as is so I can feed a tree and microorganisms without killing everything.  Or cremate me and put me in the lion cage.  That could be fun.

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Doug chimed in,

A deceased woman was seen floating on Minnequa lake on fire this morning in a Viking funeral.  Two men in kilts were arrested for disturbing the peace and public drunkenness.  The bagpipes were confiscated.  Three police officers- friends of the deceased- were arrested for drunkenness and attacking a police officer with a sword.  The deceased’s children were seen fleeing the scene. 

We laughed at this vibrant scene in our imaginations as we made our way to my brother’s St. Patrick’s day party.

My friend, Nancy, who was a great part of this blog as well, died at fifty-four years old and in her final decisions wanted a green burial.  She was buried on her land in a beautiful ceremony right in the path of the easement where the oil companies were going to come through.  She had the last laugh!

I turned to Doug and asked him seriously since he doesn’t speak too much of it, “What do you want?”  He was silent for a moment and then replied thoughtfully,

I have just one request.  I want you to prop me up in the first row and see how many people notice!

Well, that sent us into another round of laughter.

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We may not have written down exact plans, but we have the gist of it.  Death is not scary.  It is just another journey.  Save a little money for your burial, write down what you want, and then maybe plan a great reception in your honor complete with Mariachi and margaritas or your flaming corpse on the nearby lake.  Send yourself off proper.  And love those around you fiercely while they are alive.  I will sure miss Lisa.

 

Posted in Poetry

The Great Novelist

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My first attempts at writing fiction were as a pre-teen, huddled in my room with a spiral notebook and pen, scribbling away.  Two chapters of strained dialogue and always two girls in southern belle dresses and absolutely no plot, I would grow bored and go outside to play.

Freshmen year in high school I was writing a book about a girl who finds a baby.  The baby’s name is Emily (all my characters were named Emily) and the mother was of course in a southern belle gown and the first two chapters were only dialogue of some sort and my dear teacher said, “Why don’t you write about something you know.”  Something clicked and for twenty eight years hence that is what I write.  And write it well, I believe.  But in my heart I wish I could write a stunning, beautifully choreographed novel.

I am not entirely sure that I could write fiction.  A novel seems preposterous in the creation of worlds and dialogue and characters.  For just in life, I am chained to the truth.  The characters would end up being exact replicas of those in my real life and so at the beginning of said novel I would have to say “all characters are the imagination of the author and any resemblance is purely coincidental (sorry mom)” and the whole plot would read strangely like my blog, and somehow everyone would be wearing southern belle gowns.  I do believe I may be a firm non-fiction writer.  Fabulous, but oh I do wish I could dream up a scape of world complete with whimsy and easy dialogue and characters to remember.  I shall wait patiently for the idea to land upon me.  In the meantime I am dreaming up my next non-fiction farm book…complete with everyone wearing aprons.

Posted in Farming

A Letter to Mother Nature

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Dear Mother Nature,

I am a farmer.  There’s not a whole lot of us left, you know, especially women farmers.  This is why I am writing you.

For god’s sake, Woman, can you help a farm girl out?!

It feels like April here, so wet and cold.  As soon as I transplanted the cold crops you laughed and sent a pile of hail.  Seriously, Ma, farmers have to grow produce and homesteaders have to grow food to eat!

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I am a great admirer of your work though.

Love,

Katie

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Apparently ducks love hail.  Gives new meaning to "Happy as a Duck on Water!"
Apparently ducks love hail. Gives new meaning to “Happy as a Duck on Water!”

Posted in Poetry

The Inspired Writer/Farmer’s Farmhouse (perhaps it’s time to do the dishes)

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This is an excusive look inside a farmhouse whose occupants have been busy with shows promoting their farm, fluffy farm animals, and writing books.  I warn you, these written images are not for the meek.

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There are cat boogies in my hair

the lamb just peed under the chair

the dining table is filled with business and such

the dishes in the sink are too scary to touch.

I have lost the dog, I must confess

He’s probably under all this mess

Scary spiders have moved into the cobwebs, you see

Something under the couch is lurking at me (oh wait, that’s a kitten)

Spring clean I must!

Scrub, and sweep, and certainly dust.

Been writing books, and my mind’s elsewhere with all this fluff

I hope to find my sanity under all this stuff!

Posted in Farming

Finding New Cuss Words (on the farm)

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When our cute little munchkin (adorably, I might add) dropped something and said, “Oh, sh#t,” all our eyes got big and we started pointing fingers.  Which other grandma has she seen?  It was probably her aunt, her mom, the neighbor…..but of course then we caught ourselves saying it as well.  Hey, we live in the country and I know that’s not an excuse, but there is a fair amount of cussing out here.  If you had to deal with grasshoppers, freak winter storms, voles, and dropped items, you would understand!

We decided to clean up our act.  In the process, Doug and I have come up with some clever farm related cuss words to add to our repertoire.

1. There is the obvious to replace Maryjane’s new word- Shitakes.

She is so full of shitakes, there is no way her chicken does tricks…

2. Holy Crispy Kale!

Holy crispy kale, batman, the potatoes are coming up!

3. Kumquat

He is such a kumquat.  He wants everything for cheap!

4. Sweet Potatoes!

Sweet Potatoes!  Ethel laid an egg!

Now, when my kids were little I told them that they could only cuss in an emergency. Broken toe, that kind of thing.  So here is our replacement for that kind of hollering.  Kindly use it sparingly.

Oh Shuck the Flipping Fingerlings, I broke my toe!!

I am certain I have forgotten some great farm cuss words.  Add yours to the comments below!  Keep it clean, folks, there are one year olds listening!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Farming

Seed Catalogue Addiction (a very serious thing)

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Seed catalogues in the mail

they come now every day.

I sit with a pot of tea,

four more months till May!

 

I pore over every page

and circle everything.

I make lists of what I need,

I cannot wait till Spring!

 

Pretty purple cauliflower

I must have some of them.

Yellow, speckled melons,

oh my, what a gem!

 

Warty, orange pumpkins,

a delight for the eye.

Giant purple peppers,

those I have to try!

 

I’m up to eight hundred dollars,

a problem, that’s for sure.

I need every type of lettuce,

an addiction I cannot cure.

 

Ten foot high colored corn,

tiny dried beans with blue spots,

Raspberry bushes that bloom all year,

or mini-cabbages, I need lots!

 

I’m out of room, I think, to farm.

Now this certainly can be hard.

I could start a farm on the roof,

or in my neighbor’s yard!

 

I have a list, I’ll make it do.

I have a lot to grow this year.

Early varieties, tried and true,

Oh look, another catalogue is here!

Posted in Animals/Chickens

The Unlikely Guard Animal

Pop quiz!  Who is the best guard animal here at Pumpkin Hollow Farm?

a. Bumble the greyhound

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b. Henry Higgins the rooster

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c. Aretha the slightly off chicken?

This is Aretha's identical twin. I don't have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.
This is Aretha’s identical twin. I don’t have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.

Our new neighbors were a little worried when the alpacas came to live in the back yard.  They were concerned that their dogs would never stop barking.  They have an Akita mix and a Pomeranian.  Sooo, probably a good guess.  They aren’t out all that much, so it doesn’t seem to bother anyone when they are out barking.  Their parents always stand out there with them to make sure they don’t find their way out of the yard.

Doug went out to talk to them yesterday and show their daughter, who was visiting, the farm animals.  The dogs weren’t making a peep.  Our neighbor explained that last week the Pomeranian was barking her little head off at the fence when along came Aretha.  She came running full speed to the fence barking herself!  Her full eight inches of stature topped with the crazy mop of white feathers flying everywhere must have been terrifying for the pup.  A barking chicken.  The Pomeranian ran behind her dad’s legs and hasn’t said a word since.  You tell ’em, Aretha.

To read more about our confused and slightly crazy, but pretty darn cute chicken click here or here.