Spring on the Farm (with surprises, fun, and a great olive recipe!)

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Yesterday was blissfully warm and inviting.  The pastures are turning so green, the flies were out, a late rainstorm hung over the mountains.

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We enjoyed much of the day outdoors.  Shyanne moved back in a month ago, or so, and I must tell you it surprised me when Emily came back the other day…presumably for a long time.  I probably shouldn’t have jumped to find such a small house!  Doug is living with four females in eight hundred square feet!  I remind myself that my grandmother lived in a house like this one, the very same size, with twelve people.  Eight siblings, her mother, and aunt and uncle.  We are blessed to have children that trust us and know they can always stay with us.

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Maryjane and I took the goats and sheep for a walk so that Papa could get the goat pen mucked.  The tall willow beckoned with all its reading nooks, the black birds, finches, and robins sang masterfully with the meadowlark in lead.

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There is nothing like the joy of a child to bring peace to the soul.  The sheep love her and she them.  She loves it out here.  My worries quelled as I took deep spring breaths in and enjoyed the warmth on my bare arms.  The ducks played outdoors and the chickens roamed about.

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The highlight was the Italian lunch I prepared that we enjoyed on the porch.  Shyanne, Doug, I, and the baby (Mama was at work) devoured homemade individual pizzas with a fast crust I put together, last summer’s preserved pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella and topped hot with cold lettuce from the greenhouse that was drizzled with truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt.  A triumph, people.  A glass of great wine from Napa Valley and olives.  Oh, I love olives.  Here is a great recipe for any time.

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Combine in a baking dish a variety of your favorite olives from the deli, green olives stuffed with garlic, kalamatas, Castelvetranos, and salty black ones.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs, parmesan, a bit of orange zest, and a touch of red pepper flakes.  Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes or so.  Perfect with a great red wine on the porch in the sun with family!

Farm Days (goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and trucks)

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Our little snow globe over here is thick with fog and freezing drizzle this morning.  Hopefully it will burn off soon.  We have a very large space of pasture that we are fencing in.  It has five rows of barbed wire around it, it just needs to be sectioned off from the rest of the ten acres but this goat and sheep mama is rather paranoid.  Coyotes!  Lambs and goat kids escaping!  It wouldn’t be hard.  My old greyhound will skirt under the wires if he feels the need to run five miles.  So pasture fencing will surround the space giving the adorable ruminants room to spread out and more grass to eat.

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feeding time

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This is the last week that the babies get bottles.  I am not sure who will be more devastated, the lambs or Maryjane!  She considers it her farm work.  As soon as we pull into the drive, scarcely awake from her groggy nap down fifty minutes of country roads, she jumps down and starts jabbering away about lambs and milk and bottles.  Nothing the untrained ear would understand, but I can see her excitement.  We may have a new baby next week from our friend’s farm, our own goats are due here in a few weeks and there will be plenty more bottle feeding opportunities for our mini-farmgirl!

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We are getting ducklings this week and today we pick up our farm truck.  Good thing since we need fencing!  This fog makes me want to join the cats though.

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Time to throw back another cup of joe and get to my farm chores.  I leave you with a lovely quote and a wish for a joyous day!

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The Enchanting Prairie Visitors

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The sun was shining yesterday and though the air was cool I figured it was a good time to get some laundry done.  The sky was clear and soft, a mirror of light blue stretching far and wide and the mountains stood tall in the distance.  A purple silhouette against the prairie sky.  The grasses swayed just gently.  The cows watched me as I brought my basket out to the line.  I am beginning to get used to the complete silence. It is the most beautiful sound.

I threw a towel over the clothes line and grabbed a pin to affix it when I heard the sound.  My mind ran through various files of what it could be and I realized I didn’t know.  A little panic struck as I worried that one of the goats may have gotten their head stuck or something just took a chicken, it was a sound of desperation, whatever it was.  And so like a flash I left my damp clothing and ran behind the greenhouse to the animal pens to see what was the matter.

And there along the fence line stood the most magical sight.  Over a dozen horses, donkeys, babies, and mules stood regally against the open space and greeted me.  My heart felt fuller, my breath exhaled, my smile got bigger, and I am sure I had the magic of a child in my eyes as I took in this majestic sight.  I walked over to the large mule and scratched his neck, felt his soft winter fur across his nose.  I chattered to and patted the surrounding horses and wooed the baby donkey nearer (who was the source of the unusual sound).  Another dozen horses on rest from cattle roundups and enjoying the miles and miles of prairie grasses began walking towards me as well. I found myself wishing for a camera but knew I could never capture the beauty and just enjoyed the moment and secured it to memory.

It was like an enchanting holiday movie or a commercial, it was so surreal and magical.  And beautiful.  And even when the day comes that I have my own horses and mules and donkeys, I shall not lose that wonder of seeing them there to greet me.  It felt like an early Christmas gift.  This prairie and all its beauty and quiet is a gift indeed.

Homestead for Rent

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“Oh by the way, I was wrong.”

“Sorry?”

“About the rent, I was wrong.  Our place is for rent for….”

The ground moves a little beneath my feet while that childish giddiness and unreasonable excitement wells up in my gut.  It is five hundred dollars less than he had previously quoted.  The perfect homestead was now in my grasp.  My friend will rent me the perfect homestead.

We drive over there (fifteen minutes from our house, ten miles from our shop, and in Elbert county) and pull into the large gate and up a little hill past the garage and to the house.  The view of Pikes Peak and the mountain range stretches out before us like a long lost oasis.  Its beauty is breathtaking, as is the land.  The topography of the place is different in each area.  Forty acres of play land.  Twenty of rocks, thick forests filled with birds, and hiking, twenty of farmland and pasture.  A nine-thousand square foot barn begs for Farm to Table dinners and animals, a goat shed, an old riding arena slash huge garden (think of all that old composted horse manure!).

The house itself is not the prettiest thing we ever saw.  A circa 1980’s tri-level….enough said?  The kitchen cabinets are dark wood, depressing and…..dark, the bathroom fixtures are bluebird blue.  Blue.  Blue toilet, sink, bathtub that won’t fit me.  The blue kind of intrigues me.  Four bedrooms.  Two and a half baths.  A view of Pikes Peak and the mountains from every large window.  And here is the beauty; a separate area, the lowest level has a door keeping the cats out of it, and contains a bedroom big enough for a small family, a toilet, a living area, and a separate entrance.  A place for Bret and Emily and Maryjane sans allergies.  I am certain I can make it look like a sprawling adobe.  It just needs several ristras, rugs, and paintings.  My own touch of New Mexico.  Heck, I am going to Santa Fe in two weeks for my birthday.  By the time I am done, this house will think it is in New Mexico!

I start to worry.  Oh, worry is a farmgirl’s nemesis.  What if the electric bill is too high?  (only electric heat)  What if the kids don’t come out there?  What if we get snowed in the dirt roads?  What if I hate the old appliances?  What if Bumble falls down the hill and hurts himself?…..Yeah, and that’s when it starts to get ridiculous with the what if’s.

Perhaps facing my utmost dream of being self sufficient, a farmer, and having animals is daunting.  Maybe it is easy to sit here in town and sigh and wish I had a goat and a larger garden patch and a well.  Now, folks, I’m gonna have to work!  I have a farm to create, and animals to care for, and a farmgirl oath to carry.  This is the big time!

I want this blog to become a book.  My stories and experiences transferred into paper pages to entertain and make life easier for new homesteaders.  To transport city folk to the country if even for a chapter.  This is the next chapter, a real farm.  I still need Doug to give the final yes.  It’s a pain moving.

I picture a long table with red tablecloths, glasses of wine clinking, fresh food being shuttled in, friends around the table in the barn.  Chickens pecking for crumbs dropped.  The day is sweet with pine.  The old cow that comes with the property that likes to be scritched gets visited as guests mull around the grounds.  The stars are so bright you can reach out and grab one, just like this dream possibly coming true.

Emily points over by the barn, “And that’s where we can put Maryjane’s miniature pony.”  This is going to be fun!