The Farm Sanctuary

20171019_132845I can’t find anything written about it but word from the farmgirls in town is that we can now have two goats or sheep and up to twelve chickens.  Being such a farming community I was surprised that the town was so behind Colorado Springs and Denver when it came to legalizing farm animals in town.

Now this new news may not mean anything to our immediate future.  First and foremost we must pay off our debt.  I have a pretty lofty goal of paying off everything but the house this year.  Fifty grand is not easy to come by but I am determined to scrape and save and send farewell payments to our student loans.  Debt is most certainly a jailor and it is keeping us from our dreams.

And that dream might just be a farm sanctuary.  Years ago, huddled in the cold basement of a friend’s house who was letting us live there until we could get back on our feet, we drew out an elaborate plan one cool autumn night.  A farm.  The only thing we have ever wanted.  Rented farms were fun and disastrous.  Not having money made it difficult as well.  We imagined and created a farm that was a non-profit.  Something folks could get behind.  Our family-run farm would be complete with large vegetable, herb, and perennial gardens.  There would be a building to teach classes like homesteading arts, gardening, art, writing, cooking, herbalism, and preserving.  A place to serve meals and a place to house interns.   A general store would sell preserves and tinctures and produce.

The animals we accumulated on our past farms were never to eat.  At the end we had twenty-four chickens, two sheep for wool and entertainment, two goats for milking, and four ducks for eggs and laughs.  This time around we wouldn’t have the milking goats.  Cashew milk tastes pretty good.  But there are plenty of little boy goats that may need rescuing.  A wethered (neutered) goat is just like a puppy.  I eat the eggs of my beautiful chickens because, honest to god, they don’t care.  Eggs from the store-even organic, free range- come from horrid, cruel environments.  But my hens are named, snuggled, and live out their whole life with me.

If the animals are in a safe, happy environment and people can come to a farm and have a great vegan meal and play with farm animals and see the souls, personalities, and life behind each individual, that could make a profound difference.  To show folks that one person can make a tremendous impact on the environment, saving endangered species, save the lives of thousands of animals over their lifetime, and completely restore their own health would be the best possible work for me.

I know this is a big dream.  (Add to it that we want it in a warmer climate like southern California) I don’t usually dream quite this big.  It probably will not start this complete but will manifest and grow into itself.  We have been learning and preparing for this dream for the past ten years.  Here on this little urban sanctuary I have room for a few more rescued chickens.  Perhaps some ducks.  Maybe a wether.  Really, not much more if even that.

But first things first.  Create a written plan.  Learn how to start a non-profit.  Pay off debt.  Dream big.  Enjoy the present.

Homeschooling Adventures Continue (my daughter’s new blog)

20171110_065324I will never forget the moment we decided to homeschool. The teacher that rummaged nervously through her notes looking to see who my son was.  At the end of the year.  We raised strong willed children and encouraged them to dress how they like, read what they like, and do what they like so they could learn at their own pace and really enjoy what they were doing.  Schools just weren’t keeping up.  Classes were too big.  Curriculums too restricted.  Those homeschooling years were the best years for us.  We went on vacations in the middle of the week.  Ate ethnic food in areas of Denver that we were unaware of for geography.  Visited museums.  Created.  Read in trees. We have three very intelligent, compassionate children who think for themselves.

20171110_065341My youngest daughter will be twenty-one years old in a few months.  (How that is possible, I will never know!)  She has a four year old whom you all know well as she is often the highlight of this Grammie’s blog!  Maryjane Rose.

Maryjane assists us at our shop.  She gathers plants to be used in medicine.  Helps to measure the dried herbs into jars.  Chooses teas for people based on their ailments.  Talks to fairies and squirrels and trees.  That magic begins to leave when they enter school.

schoolI am thrilled that Emily Lynn is homeschooling her beautiful, strong willed daughter.  I am even more glad that I get to help.  Emily’s long-time, serious beau, Reed came from a family of six homeschooled children.  Emily has a lot of support.  We still get the question from well-meaning family and friends about when she’s going to go to school.  But she is in school!  Every day we all wake up to a new day of school.  Maryjane will read what she wishes, write when she wants, learn the real history of the world (not the edited version available in text books), and will pursue what she is interested in.  This makes her a well rounded, delightful, social child.

My daughter started a blog yesterday.  I am so proud of her and I am glad my children are writers.  Please check it out and send a young mama some encouragement!  She has a million great ideas.  https://homeschool341.wordpress.com/

A Spring Herb Walk with Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine

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Sunday was bright and just the right amount of warm.  We were like school girls tripping down the trail stopping every few minutes to look at new growth, smelling and tasting plants, and looking for snakes.  Laughter and stories fell around the group as we made our way down the meandering and winding path.

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Scrub oak is used in place of witch hazel for its astringency.

One of the classes from my school, Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine, went on a herb walk to Castlewood Canyon.  There weren’t a lot of things popping up this early but the spring tonics were showy and beautiful.  Some things that we tried to identify were small in their early spring infancy and we scoured the pages of the guide I brought.  A lot we couldn’t be sure, but promises of coming again later in the season, the fresh air, and the cold drinks and herb truffles the students had made, and resting at the end of the path made for a lovely day out of the classroom.

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Young yarrow leaves promise lots of beautiful white yarrow for circulatory, heart, and wound use.
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Dandelion may seem ordinary, or even obnoxious, but it is one of the best liver cleansers available.
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Currants, along with all berries, are very good for the kidneys, and the leaves are demulcent making them great for tummies, and uteruses!
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Dock (curly, burdock, or yellow) are all amazing medicines for cancer use, blood cleansing, and immunity.

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I highly recommend getting a nice, colorful guide for plants for your area and heading out onto a hiking trail.  That is medicine in itself!

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Class of Spring 2016!

For more information on my Master Herbalism program and my school, check out www.SacredOwlSchool.com

 

New Year’s Resolutions (writing them down to manifest)

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Did you spend some time yesterday deciding what you want in the new year?  We must be specific, you know.  Write down a few things that you really would like to manifest and create this coming year.

Now why do you want that?  Really think about that.

I wanted to go back to school.  Teaching license, free school, four years, guaranteed job.  I could homeschool Maryjane and make a difference in children’s lives.  Great, but why?  Out of fear.  I read an article (click here to read) about a young woman who chose to plant corn over going to Harvard.  The simple ways of life have gone away with the idea that the corporate and socialized world is the only the way to survive.  When really taking care of the Earth and those around us is a far more valiant task.  I wanted to school because I am afraid of remaining poor.  I do not want to work in a common core setting or even for someone else.  As my shop gathers speed I look around and see that my place in among my herbs, my plants, my community, my garden, and encouraging everyone I encounter.

What I really want to manifest is  a farm.  If my shop could manifest itself out of nothing in a just a few weeks, couldn’t a farm do the same thing?

Do you want to manifest something because your peers expect you to?  because someone wants you to?  Do you have a passion for what you are manifesting?  If you can talk about it with a smile on your face and a can’t wait attitude then write it on the resolutions sheet.  We’re going to make some great things happen this year.  I want to plant corn.

The Greatest Quotes

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When you think back on your life of quotes, those given to you, those read, which ones stand out to you?  Which ones offer direction for how you live?  Or simply whisper wisdom?  When I think on this question two quotes come to mind as the ones that ring loudest and most often.

I was caring for an elderly lady some years ago and told her that I wanted to be a veterinarian.  I later changed my mind and started an herbal line of medicines for animals instead but her advice is still relevant today.  I said something about being thirty-eight years old by the time I finished.

“You will be that age before you know it so you may as well be doing what you want.” she advised.

I started school but did not finish due to family responsibilities, costs, and life went on.  But now I would like to finish my teaching degree.  I would love to work with “spirited” kids.  Older teens to early twenties.  College maybe, high school likely.  Maybe a director of somewhere that encourages youth.  Or history.  Or culture.  By the time I get my master’s degree I will be forty-six years old at the very least.  Then Marsha’s words ring in my mind and I may as well see.  Why not?  I’ll be there soon enough.

Fast forward and I am sitting in the living room of a respected Native elder who has entrusted me with the words he wishes to share with his children.  I listen.  I want to be a bigger part of the Native community.  I want folks to know I make powerful medicine.  I want to have a sense of belonging.  What if I am not accepted?  I didn’t know if I needed invitations to places.  I didn’t know how to get involved.

“Just show up.” he said soundly.  “Just show up.”

So Doug and I took Maryjane to a Cherokee Circle meeting in Denver even though it was over an hour drive.  My best friend from middle and high school came with her family.  Her granddaughter is the very same age as Maryjane.  We showed up and were welcomed.  If we don’t embrace our culture it will be gone.  We have missed too many generations of traditions and community.  If not us, the grandmothers, then who?  So we showed up.  And it was wonderful.

What quotes have stayed with you?

Grammie School

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It used to be referred to as “Mommy School”.  That is what Andy used to call it.  He loved workbooks and extra reading.  We loved to visit museums, art galleries, and book stores.  This was when he was five or six.  He would tell his teacher all about Mommy School.

But time found us getting busier and I with three little ones and Mommy School was limited.  When after a year of high school and Andy struggling out of lack of interest I decided to homeschool all three of them.  We visited the teacher supply store and went crazy buying workbooks and educational toys and various items like stickers. (Gosh, who doesn’t like stickers?)

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Andy was fifteen, Shyanne was twelve, and Emily was eleven so their interests and levels were different so as we made our way through we became more of “unschoolers”.  Unschooling is when each kid devours every topic they love, whether it be cooking or pirates.  In each topic they learn valuable skills such as reading, writing, spelling, history, science, and math.  They also have time to indulge in arts and music.  Because they were home with us they also learned what we deemed important, not the slanted school system’s ideas.  They learned about herbalism, animals, agriculture, our ideas on spirituality and they were left to fill in the blanks for themselves.  They were able to make their own paths with a well rounded base.

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Andy went off to college and the girls felt amiss.  They wanted to try the small high school in town.  Shyanne, my socialite, loved it, thrived in it, and graduated.  Emily went back briefly but found herself unhappy in the school system and then learned she was with child so she reverted back to homeschooling pretty quickly.  I enjoyed homeschooling my children and I believe they are intelligent adults that were more realistic about the world out there then children just graduating from traditional high school.

Now, I have my first grandchild here four days a week while mom and dad work.  It is my greatest honor and profound joy.  In many cultures the grandmother is put in charge of the children’s well being, growth, and education.  These grandmothers hold the wisdom of half a life or more and tend to have more patience.  Maryjane is a special child.  When she was six months old we attended the funeral of Shyanne’s best friend who had committed suicide and the depth of sorrow was intense.  As I would approach people Maryjane would put her hand on their face as if she were trying to comfort.

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She is a bit of a wild child, the child that usually comes last, the one that has so much life bubbling forth that her parents want a nap!  She is also highly intuitive.  She has the same healing gifts that run through my family.  It is obvious even though she is only two years old.  She eats wild herbs and helps me make medicine.  She comforts those that are upset.  But she “knows” things too.  We were to meet Emily and Maryjane at the coffee shop the other day.  Maryjane started to yell, “Pa! Pa!”

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“Grammie and Pa aren’t here yet,” Emily replied.  About a minute later we pulled into the turning lane to get into the parking lot.  Emily was a little shocked.

“If you send her to school they will squash this little girl’s spirit,”  I lamented.

“I wasn’t planning on sending her to school.”

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Oh, happy day.  Emily and I will be homeschooling that amazing child.  Four days a week (depending on the kids’ schedules) we will be having the raucous event called “Grammie School”.

Daydreams of workbooks and drawing pads and finely sharpened pencils danced in my head then I realized that I am already homeschooling.  Learning doesn’t begin at age four and end at eighteen or twenty-two.  We have already begun.

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Here are five ways to teach a little one:

  1. Count- everything I hand the baby I count.  Here are some mullein flowers to put in the pot.  One, two, three, four, five…She now tells people she is five.  She can’t put them in order, but she can randomly sing, “one, five, nine, three, six…”
  2. Spell- Dad, d-a-d, is on his way!  I don’t spell everything we say, I would annoy myself, but she is really in tune to simple words.  Pa, p-a, Mom, m-o-m.  She has no idea what we are talking about yet but the letters stick in her little head.  She sure surprised her mom by writing D-A-D on her arm!
  3. Point out everything.  Birds, trees, flowers, dogs, coffee, books, people, cars, rain, everything.  These babies are sponges and they will remember all of these things in detail.  It is terribly sad to me that so many parents I see just set their kids in a corner and ignore them.  They just “get through” until the next stage.  Babies being lugged around in car seats instead of being held.  Perhaps it is a grandmother’s perspective to see that children grow quickly and time is so precious.  These little ones cannot be all they aspire to without nearly constant attention and guidance.
  4. Teach them about animals.  Teach them not to be afraid of animals.  The kids used to have friends come over to the house that were terrified of our cats!  A child that knows animals, speaks to animals, is gentle with animals, and who is well versed in the various kinds of animals naturally grows to be a more compassionate and gentle child and adult.
  5. Read- read, read, read!  Read labels, books, magazines, signs, and fill the child’s head full of adventures and stories.  Give them a love for reading early.  Visit the library, read to them on your lap, just read.  This is special time for the child and for you and the libraries will forever hold a place in that child’s heart.

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There are many more things, manners, cooking, chores, things that we have Maryjane do as well, but the above five are easy and effective ways to homeschool whether one chooses to send their child to school or not.  There is always the opportunity to reach out to a child and make a difference in their self-esteem and in their learning.

Becoming an Herbalist

Congratulations Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine class of 2015!  Thirteen more herbalists have entered the world to help people.

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What happens when a woman gets the nerve to learn something new outside of her already hectic roles of motherhood, job force, home maker, and/or business owner, and spends three months in class?  You get a lot of crying and laughing and learning from each other, the teacher being no exception.  Should this be my last in-person class then I went out on a high note.  This was such a spectacular meeting of thirteen plus me and I count myself blessed to have learned so much from this group of eclectic ladies.

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I make no illusion to the fact that we have no idea where we will be anytime soon.  But what I do have to offer still is my correspondence course.  A compilation of chapters covering each body system, the herbs that are specific to that area, ten ways to turn them into medicine, aromatherapy, animal medicine, wild crafting, starting a business, and my time via phone or email to help the student succeed from anywhere in the world.  The student would have a full year to complete the course.  I have a gift to those of you that have wanted to take my Certified Herbalist Course through my school the Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine, class registration is from now until the end of July and the course has gone from $250 to now $100 and includes a free copy of my book “The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; the recipes of Garden Fairy Apothecary”.  Call or text 303-617-3370 to sign up.

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Keep learning, Folks!