Ending an Era to Make Dreams Come True (full time farmer and The Homesteading School at Pumpkin Hollow Farm)

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I write a lot about following dreams, taking chances, and working to bring goals to fruition.  It never fails to amaze me how when you start walking toward your dream, the doors naturally open and some close.  The universe conspires to bring everything into alignment, or “Everything works together for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28.  I am sure there are passages and sayings such as these in every culture and in many circles.  It is a fact that if you so desire something and start putting it out there that you want that goal, you will achieve it.  Passions are put in our hearts for a reason and I view them as a guide map of where my journey ought to go.

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Five years ago when Doug left his city job with the comfy pay and benefits and I closed my dance company so that we could go peddle Echinacea at markets with three children at home, it was scary.  How many bottles of medicine would we have to sell to survive?  But we took that leap of faith.  A shop came available.  The money appeared.  The customers came.  The shop closed.  The customers doubled.  For six total years we have had the great pleasure of meeting and helping literally thousands of people.  We have learned and dreamed and succeeded.  And now the few we have whispered to our crazy idea wonder why we would close a perfectly good business that brings in a good amount of income.

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I teach.  It’s what I do.  I stayed in at recess in second grade to teach younger kids how to read.  I taught modeling while I was a model.  I taught acting classes.  I taught dance classes.  I teach herbal classes.  I teach homesteading classes.  I want to teach and farm full time.  Well, with this lifestyle when I say full time I mean enough to get the bills paid and then spend some time in a hammock or writing!

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I have a strong passion for teaching people how to empower themselves with plant medicines.  To not be fearful of diseases in the news.  To not be afraid of broken wrists or high fevers.  Knowledge that was lost must be found and redistributed!  I want to teach all about herbalism.  If there is an underlying worry that the student will become my competition then I cannot be a proper teacher.  If I have to keep all of my tried and true recipes top secret then what good am I doing?  By closing my Apothecary I will be a far more effective teacher.  I also lowered the price of my classes.  I combined the additional Master’s class into the Certified Class for the price of the latter.  A much more comprehensive course at a reasonable price.  Our school is superior to many of the others.  I know this because I have had interns from other schools who knew nothing about practical uses of herbalism.  But I lowered my price to make it more accessible.

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I have a strong passion for homesteading.  I love the freedom of it.  I love having the option to go watch the sunset, then come in and make supper, after I play with the goats, and plant a few more kale seeds.  I love that we can live on a small enough number that it is somewhat easy to get the bills paid and still have plenty of time to be together and play and enjoy our farm.  I love teaching homesteading classes.  Because the second you teach someone how to can, you open up a whole new world of affordable, healthy eating.  If someone can make their own soap, they eliminate the need to purchase expensive soaps and do not need to worry about skin conditions and irritation.  Teach someone how to farm, and they don’t need to depend on the grocery store so much.  Teach someone how to do any of the skills I offer classes for and they save money and are more easily able to attain their goals.

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I have a strong passion for farming.  The soil on my fingers, caterpillars slinking by, birds singing, bees on the flowers near, providing food for myself and others.  I love the animals.  I love this life.

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In the summer I am often too busy to really enjoy any of it.  We do farmer’s markets all week, we make a year’s worth of medicines, we answer phone calls and emails, we fill product, we ship, we wild craft and harvest enough for the year, we preserve all of our own food.  Now we will be getting most of our own wood.  We have a larger space to farm.  We have more animals.  When do I have time to really pursue farming and teaching when I am so busy with the Apothecary and basic homesteading?

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Something had to go and it wasn’t the chickens!  So, June 1st I am closing my Apothecary.  I’ll still be around to help people in a pinch.  I can still work on a sprained ankle or have some salve on hand.  But the retail side will be gone.  I am going to really promote my classes, which will be the make or break of this crazy idea, and I will farm with all my heart and spirit and physical ability.  Doug by my side.

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And when you put something out there, listen.  As the wheels of the goal start turning and coming into being you will be able to feel if you are on the right path by how much resistance comes your way.  Yesterday, a gal that runs a market in Elizabeth asked me to come each week and teach a small class or demonstration and promote my school.  For free.  I had the best talk with my intern from last year who resides in New York.  He’s coming out for two months this summer to help us get this thing in full swing.  I’m on fire, folks!  I am so excited.

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One always thinks of the worst case scenarios which hardly ever come up.  What if we need to make more money? (get a part time job or sell something else)  What if a storm wipes out the gardens?  After any storm in life we get up and start over knowing that only good can come out of difficulty.  But life is short and dreams are big, so we may as well start following them now.  I have no doubt that come summer this blog will be reflecting that dream come true.

Now, it’s your turn, dear reader.  Write out that dream or goal, no matter how big or small.  Details, people!  Get it all out.  Now, are you really ready for it to come true?  You wouldn’t want to block your own goal!  Now, place it in the responses so that the wheel can start turning.  It’s going to be an exciting year!

Mid-summer Farming (bees, dreams, and permaculture)

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It looks like we live in a different state.  We have had rain every day, so unusual for July, and the grasses are green.  No fires, no drought, no hundred degree weather.  It has been glorious.  Other places in the state are dealing with too much water but here in our little oasis of Kiowa we are basking in perfect weather.  The gardens and trees are drinking deeply and everything is serene.

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We were able to grab a moment of warm sunshine to put our bee suits on and peek in the hive.  The bees are working on their eighth frame in the top bar hive.  The frames stretch across the entire frame now reaching the sides of the hive.  The bees were very busy and completely covered the outer frame.  I tried to pull a middle frame up to see if I could tell what was going on (Is there new brood?  Is there honey capped? What else am I supposed to be looking for?) but couldn’t pull it all the way up.  I was afraid of smashing bees or pulling apart the combs.  I need my mentor to come over next time and show me what the heck we are supposed to be doing.  But for the moment it was like looking into a magical world.  The bees were calm and I have fallen in love with these gentle creatures.

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We have two interns here that are just lovely people.  They have been helping me immensely.  The gardens were all weeded and mulched by yesterday afternoon and new seeds planted.  We enjoy meals with them and talk about our ideas and dreams.  We have been looking for a place to move that has a small house but more land.  Renting has a definite downfall for me, I worry.  I worry that I can’t renew my lease, or that I have to stay but for how long?  Can I plant trees?  Should I get attached to this quaint little house, my neighbors, this town?  What if I miss my opportunity for a homestead?  Dang, I wish I could buy a place.  Turns out we have a choice to make.  The homesteads we can afford to rent are way out in the prairie or far away towns.  Or we can stay near our children and granddaughter.  Not a hard decision to make.  My friend, Lisa, came over one day and asked if we were going to farm the back part of the yard because we had fenced it off (for the goats).  Suddenly while talking with Stephanie and Ethan, our interns, I realized that we could, with their help, transform that space.  We could build a greenhouse.  We could use permaculture techniques to up our food production.  Hopefully we can stay on for a few more years here since nothing seems to be coming up in the form of larger place.

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I have been reading a lot about permaculture and came across a film that fascinated me and a technique we will definitely try.  It is a free documentary.  Worth the watch!  http://backtoedenfilm.com

I do hope your mid-summer farming is going well and you get a perfect mix of sun and rain!