Welcome to Our New Shop (a video tour)

My friends, I would like to show you around my new shop that opened Saturday!  My daughter and I (and a beautiful array of angelic friends) have been scrubbing, painting, creating, preparing, and decorating this glorious 1800’s store front.  Welcome to Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading Supplies and Classes.  If you are ever in Pueblo, Colorado, do come by!  687 S. Union Ave.  Facebook.com/pumpkinhollowfarm

Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading Supplies and Classes (a shop is born)

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Wednesday: The idea came swift and clear as a starry night.  Or perhaps it resurfaced.  Or perhaps it was whispered in my ear by the homesteading spirits before me.  Either way, it has been seven days since then and we are already planning our grand opening.

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Thursday: I ran the idea by my youngest daughter to see if she wanted to be a part of it.  She was in.  We went for a long hike and discussed why we wanted to start a farmgirl store.  I did not want to start something rashly with just money in mind.  It needed to be meaningful and enjoyable.  We came up with a list of why the homesteading lifestyle is important to us.

  • Helps environment
  • Healthier
  • Creates better mental health
  • Satisfying
  • Affordable
  • Homesteading creates more family time
  • Great for children
  • Creates community

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It was five and a half years ago that we stood in Nancy’s kitchen making goat’s milk soap, creating label ideas, going through seed catalogs and beginning “The Five Farmgirls.”  Emily held a few-month old Maryjane on her hip as she and Nancy’s daughter, Faleena came up with product names.  We laughed as we sarcastically came up with our own catch phrase, “It’s Farmgirl Good!” as we shook the cold milk trying to turn it into butter for two hours.  Our friend, Lisa came over to help make soap and we sat outside on an early spring day and had a picnic lunch.  A year later Nancy would suddenly and quietly cross over the veil.

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Saturday: Doug and I had lunch with Lisa and Lance Saturday and I told her my idea.  They raise humane meat on their ranch and we could have a pick up point at our shop.  We could do the same for milk.  We laughed and talked for three hours and discussed ideas.  Still, with not a lot of dollars and no idea where to get an affordable retail space, it still felt far off.

So certain that this was going to take off, Emily and I started picking up usable antiques (that are sturdier and still work better than modern versions!) and items for our store.  I bought material to make aprons and farmgirl style pillows.  We came up with a name, Pumpkin Hollow Farm (of course); Homesteading Supplies and Classes.

Sunday: Doug and I drove around and gathered phone numbers for retail spaces.  None of them were quite right.  They also were way out of our price range.  I wanted an old space that looked like a general store.  And it had to be ridiculously affordable.  (They are cleaning it up…I’m keeping the piano for the shop!)

Monday: I call on a shop that people had said would be hard to get.  Many people had inquired on this space and had either been turned down or never called back.  The manager picks up, says she will call the owner and call me back.  Five minutes later she calls me back, the owner loves my idea.  She will rent to me.  For a ridiculously affordable price.  Ten minutes later I am at the shop to see it.  The building is over a hundred years old and it sure looks like a general store.  It is in a great location.

Tuesday: Dad brings a box to my apothecary that says my name on it.  “Mom wanted you to have these,” he says wistfully as he hands me a large bag along with the box.  My friends Kat and Rod are like parents to me and Kat died almost exactly two years ago.  I have a collection of her grandmother’s things.  Hilda is alive and well in my home.  A box and bag of homesteading items and china were the new gifts to me to carry on.  A whisper from above that there are many friends helping this come together.

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Wednesday: Yesterday morning we signed a lease and shook hands.  A private loan came through.  I registered my name.  We have held on to our beloved name since our early farm.  Our farm and homesteading school took a devastating turn a little over three years ago when we had to suddenly leave our rented farm and all of my beautiful homesteading items and our lifestyle was lost.  In a twist of irony, as I searched for my name in the Secretary of State, the name expired three years ago to the day that I re-registered it.

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Mission Statement: To increase happiness, health, and well being for people and Mother Earth by offering quality, second hand, homemade or sustainable objects that bring back the charm of an old fashioned, simple life.

Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading Supplies and Classes coming in early September!

“It’s Farmgirl Good!”

 

 

Sunrises, Gratitude, and Magic Coffee

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Today I unpack our books and photos, writings and my aprons.  I will make this downstairs area emanate life and our love for each other and home.  Tomorrow we will pick up all my plants from the greenhouse at Margie’s and will be officially moved out of her home.

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I owe Margie and Pat a great amount of gratitude for taking us in while in the depths of despair holding nine cats.  We made such beautiful memories over there this summer, flying in Pat’s airplane, feeding the raccoon on the porch while watching bats, enjoying drinks together as the moon rose over the horizon of trees.  Their graciousness held no bounds and I am truly thankful.

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The shop continues to change and form each day.  Each day it looks more and more like how I envisioned it.  And in mad rushes it will be done and ready to open Tuesday with cups of tea and glowing medicines ready to pour.

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But now I sit here as the dawn stretches and rises quietly over the earth illuminating all the autumn splendor and old trees as the cool breeze awakes the upper branches.  My spirit is tired and my back is sore but I sit in peace with my cup of coffee.  These things we hold onto to bring us joy.  A sip of this coffee brings me back to years of holidays, and years of happiness.  Each sip holds magic.  We call it Christmas coffee but I start it in October.  A sweet reminder of all the fun to come, of trick-or-treating, sharing Thanksgiving meals, of the childlike wonder of Christmas and Hanukkah, and the new beginnings of the New Year.

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This year (and last) may have been a wild ride, but all I feel at this moment is peace and intense gratitude.  For the memories with my children and family and friends that are family, for sunrises so beautiful they erase the previous day, and for sips of magic coffee.

In a coffee pot, or preferably a French press, add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil to regular scoops of coffee ( I do like a nice strong roast myself, 7 heaping scoops to an 8 cup press) and brew as you would.

Magic.

Keys to our Shop

We got the keys to our new store yesterday afternoon.

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A new apartment in the country, a new shop in town, family and friends close by.

Emily, Maryjane, and their friend, Becca put together shelving.
Emily, Maryjane, and their friend, Becca put together shelving.

Happy Autumn!  Time for pumpkins and Halloween costumes.  And new shops to open.  New beginnings and lots of good memories!

White Wolf Medicine (a new apothecary coming to Elizabeth)

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I could say that I wish that I hadn’t closed my shop on Main Street.  The Garden Fairy Apothecary was a quaint and charming shop that stood proud for three years before I decided to move the whole thing to the mini-farm we had seven miles away.  At the same time a gal in Elbert who had a large antique shop found herself praying for a new place due to needing to move immediately.  Her shop could not look cuter inside our old store. And I cannot regret because that was all part of the journey.

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Folks continued to find me alright and I happily farmed and grew herbs and made medicines.  The landlords couldn’t afford the house anymore and it belongs to the bank now.  We had to move and that was when we made the dreadful error of moving to the last place.  People couldn’t find me anymore and I grew weary of just sending mail ordered medicines.  I sold the company to my friend, whom I live with presently, and she and her friend love mail order and those that want their old medicines that are the same all of the time order regularly.

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When we lost everything and had to leave that place I wondered if I was done.  Done farming, done teaching, done with herbs.  I gave the stack of my notes that I have kept for the past seven years, recipes, ideas, formulations, to a friend of mine. (She recently gave them back!) Left with re-piecing one’s life there is only room to think of what is very most important.  It is interesting to see what comes forth.

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I figured I wasn’t needed anymore.  I had students opening apothecaries all over the state and many still ordered from Garden Fairy.  When in the dark, the glimmers of reality are bright.  Not everyone can do what I do.  In fact, herbalism is not just something I do, it is a part of who I am.  I AM an herbalist, a medicine keeper, and I needed that reality to reignite what I do.

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People were/are still asking for medicines and I wanted to create a new apothecary that reflected knowledge that I didn’t have when I first started.  I wanted medicines that could be taken by most anyone.  Something that could be blended for each individual that walks in the door.  Something potent and effective and safe and beautiful.  Apple cider vinegar and honey extracts brew jovially in the sun.  Dozens of herbs waiting to be placed in jars for teas and fomentations.  Salve ideas, creams, decorations dance through my mind.

It would have been nice to have a shop on the same property as the home but perhaps a shop among other shops works better for people to find it.  A place where people know where they can come, even if I have to move, the shop itself will stay put.

So, I have some calls out and am looking for the place.  My mom and dad are going to help out.  My daughter’s boyfriend’s dog is a natural model for the logo.  Doug will complete the logo this week on photoshop but his sweet face works great for now.  The name chosen and confirmed.

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I woke up at dawn of the new moon, met the sun, prayed, did ceremony, and began to create.

Our new website: http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com

Our new facebook: http://Facebook.com/WhiteWolfMedicine

The Things that Form Us (and weaving them into life)

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The Holly Hobby lunch box stood behind the vendor whispering.  She whispered of kindergarten, and my old Holly Hobby book, and my favorite quilt pattern.  Of coloring books and the bonnet I still have that my grandmother sewed for me on my fifth birthday.

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“Will you take $10?” I asked meekly.  With a silent question to her partner and a nod she smiled and handed me the lunch box.  I began to cry, which surprised me, but the rush of childhood and innocence and fresh beginnings so moved me at that moment.

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Looking at her dress and apron and her early influence on my life, is she the reason I have such a love for pioneers and the old fashioned?

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Up until my twenties I had never heard that I was possibly Native American.  It wasn’t until I became an herbalist that I started searching for that link. Where does my odd clairvoyance come from?  Where does my innate knowledge of plant medicines come from?  I know now it comes from both sides.  I need to find help to break my genealogy addiction!  I was excited to see that I am the granddaughter of a Cherokee chief but I am not sure what role that plays in my present life!  Is the knowledge and personalities, just as DNA, passed through our grandmothers and grandfathers into us?  That would seem as probable as getting blond hair from a relative through DNA.  Everything that goes into forming us is so complex and fascinating.  Through this journey we became involved in a wonderful Native community and place where both of us can worship.  We have made great friends and I have been honored with their trust of my plant medicines.

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Now standing looking out on the next chapter of our life, literally building each piece from scratch, it is easy to see what parts of us we want to use to create the next step of our life.  Choosing a job, Doug made the decision to not pursue the IT field and go for something different.  He has his third interview with Starbucks as a shift supervisor tomorrow.  If you know Doug, he is very talented in the computer field but he really thrives around coffee and customers.  He is happy and easy going and with benefits and a steady paycheck he will do great and create a fun environment for others working there too.

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I know my calling and I cannot wait to get a little shop open so that folks can find me.  A lot of people thought we disappeared when we left for Calhan and a lot of people have expressed excitement that I will be making medicines and being in one place where people can easily come for help.  We had our second showing on the house yesterday.  Everything is moving forward and as we build our life, we will incorporate gardens, and herbs, and art, simple living, and community.  For community has formed us too.

Farmgirl Herbal Remedies (my new Apothecary)

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I know I always tell y’all to take a risk and jump off high cliffs to catch dreams and I do live that.  Why exactly I thought it wise to give up my main source of income and life calling, I know not, but we all have those moments of burn out or boredom and I had both.  My herbal medicine business didn’t look like I wanted it to and it was too late to change much about it.  You may think I am crazy, but it was going too well.  I became an herbalist in order to use my medical intuitive abilities, play with plants, and help educate and offer other folk alternative ways to effectively care for their family armed with the knowledge of thousands of years of practical Native medicine.  I don’t play doctor or diagnose, but I know my stuff when it comes to herbal medicine.  But, I ended up just shipping products all over the world and it lost its personal touch.  If I could pinpoint a place where I got off track, trying to put herbalism behind farming was my wrong path.  Herbalism is my calling.  We detoured back onto the main road now and are heading somewhere.

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Our investors/friends/clients really want us to reopen an apothecary.  I want to as well.  This time I am designing it differently.  Margie will have the Garden Fairy products in there and I’ll get commission.  My part will be seventy glowing single extracts where I can pour what people need at the moment or they could build their own tincture.  I will have over seventy herbs for teas, many that I have harvested.  I think we need some green teas and chai blends as well.  We will sell my books and art as well as a wide variety of herbal medicines in a small, airy shop attached to the house.  Can you picture it?

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I have been thinking about how to create my new extracts.  I have always done straight alcohol because it pulls the most medicine out of the herbs.  However, the taste is repulsive and sharp.

I would love to make honey tinctures but then I leave out any client under the age of one and how many bees would be killed in order to get that much honey?

So, I tried to imagine the perfect medicine.  If I wanted to give someone a gift of medicine what would it look like.  It would be slightly sweet, filled with antioxidants and health, and thoroughly infused medicine.  I think one part maple syrup (nutrient rich and anti-tumor), one part vodka (to infuse the herbs properly), one part live medicinal herbs, and one part homemade red wine vinegar (antioxidant and good for digestive system) would be wonderful.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  I will try a batch and see how it is.

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It is fun dreaming up my new Apothecary.  Farmgirl Herbal Remedies will hopefully be open this autumn.