Farmsteading Scenes and Living Life Well

When we first began this journey, we went into it wholeheartedly and completely naive. We learned, we cried, we laughed. A homesteading/farmsteading lifestyle makes life amplified. The good is really amazing, healing, and life-giving; babies being born, fresh food from the garden, baby goats prancing sideways, a lamb’s comical yell, gathering fresh eggs from the coop, watching the sun set, waving at friendly neighbors, gathering wood to bring inside before an approaching storm, hanging clothes on the line while watching wildlife.

Crop losses, predators, freak accidents, money worries; there are a lot of things to worry about while being a homesteader. The neighbor’s wolf/husky got into my coop last night and killed my favorite chicken, Bubba. I was mad at myself for not closing the coop sooner. I was mad that I purposely chose this lifestyle! Where there is life- and farms are teeming with life- there is death. And it is much more in your face than apartment living. When we lived in an apartment, on our way to our next homestead, we had plenty of stresses and things to worry about then too. So, it really is a matter of how you want to live. This lifestyle gets ingrained in you, so that you have no other choice but to live like this. And we do love it.

Being a homesteader and farmer comes with a great sense of accomplishment. I tend to point out everything on a guest’s plate that I grew or handmade. I love the methodical motions of traditional domestic work. We appreciate the intense rush of love that comes over us when we see a baby being born. We appreciate seeing the horizon and knowing how to judge the weather by watching nature. Homesteading and farming is all about family, and living life to the fullest. If life is short, then I want to spend time bottle feeding precious infant goats, and being followed around by lambs and chickens. I want to laugh at duck antics while sipping homemade wine. I want to watch the fire swell up as it fills the wood stove. I love tying off the final piece of yarn to finish a project or snipping the last thread on a dress I have made.

If you are considering adopting this lifestyle- Do It! You won’t regret it. It costs some to get started but it pays itself back quickly. We save money, eat well, live healthier, have a happier marriage, a closer family, and a sense that we are really living. Start somewhere. Get chickens, or cheese making equipment, or get out yarn to make holiday presents. This is a very good life.

Life On An Urban Homestead

20180813_071437The air is cool this morning.  Autumn just whispers.  A  little early, it seems to me.  A lovely few weeks of monsoon broke us out of our months of triple digit drought.  The farms are half fallow for lack of water.  On my little urban farm, the rain has brought forth abundance and we are just nearly tired of zucchini.  Still, fried zucchini and early pumpkin beer sounds good today.  I am grateful we do not rely solely on ourselves for food as I thumb through my depression era cookbook.  We are eating well from our gardens.  The herbs are lovely and fragrant, and though the produce is all slow to mature this year, we are now eating peppers and tomatoes and calabacitas.

The chicken’s yard is filled with birds of all kinds, apparently enjoying the new chicken feed.  The egg eater was discovered and went to a chicken swap where she is going to live in a lovely coop with three other roommates.  We now have eggs again.

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Many years ago I wrote a post about the pros of urban farming.  I think of that post now as I sit on my front porch watching the early morning world go by.  The morning glories have run wild and made the porch art.  Though I do want goats- many cities do allow them, perhaps eventually Pueblo will too- I see the many pros to living here in town.  I have abundant space to garden.  My garden on ten acres was smaller than the space I have here.  I can go up and out and raised and potted and there is much more land to make into gardens and orchards.  One does not need as much space as one might think.  I have the benefit of not having crop dusters flying over my little organic homestead.

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I have chickens and their hilarious antics and fresh eggs.  I have local farmers for milk should I choose.

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Today I am making soap for our new shop and for ourselves.  I canned seven pints of fresh, organic peaches from the farmer’s market and seven jars of spicy pickles from my own garden.  Little by little the root cellar fills.  Soon Doug will be chopping wood for the wood stove.  My favorite reading spot has oil lamps and candles and the power could go out and I would go on reading.

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Homesteading, I have learned over a decade of experience, is not about self sufficiency, but rather it is a village ideal.  One cannot possibly do everything themselves.  I need sweet corn from the local farmer, organic meat from my friends’ ranch if I choose.  They might get medicine or take a canning class from me.

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Here in town, I can ride my bike to the newest coffee shop to pick up fair trade coffee and hit the library for a homesteading book.  I can grow food and have chickens and even a farm dog.  Old arts like quilting and sewing and crocheting are making a comeback.  Homesteading is not insistent on the country, but rather a space in one’s heart for simplicity and old ways.

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Ten Secrets to Living a Simple and Enchanted Life

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1. Notice Something New in Nature Every Day. 

This could be while walking down a city sidewalk to work or in your own field of hay.  Take a moment to smell the air, see the different colors that nature has painted that moment, listen for birds, see butterflies flitting by, spy nests, and laugh at squirrels.

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2. Do More of What Makes You Happy.

I have a large coffee mug that I picked up in California with this saying on it.  It pleases me and reminds me of a fundamental right, we can do what makes us happy.  I spent too many years doing what I was “supposed” to do.  Make people happy, do the proper thing, work hard, stay married (second times a charm), go to funerals, weddings, parties, events, stay friends with the same draining people.  Slowly the creative, enchanted side of me started to leave.  Stuck in the world of what I should do, left little room for what I wanted to do.  Even though folks say you should do everything you have to do now to do what you want later, I have seen too many times that later doesn’t always come.  No telling how long my lifespan is and I intend to do what I want now.  If I am not incredibly close with the person I have no desire to go to funerals, or other hooplas.  I will work for myself even if that means less luxuries.  My luxury is my garden and baby goats and my warm bed at night.

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3. Do Not Turn Down Opportunities or Invitations.

Not the same thing as #2!  When I was at a market last Saturday a young woman asked quietly if I might like to come over for tea sometime.  She lives in the trailer park across the street and is rather enchanted by my gardens.  The hermit side of me would immediately dash such a notion.  I am very busy!  But, to meet someone new, to learn something new, to share your life for a moment with another spirit walking the same journey, one never knows what positive spin on one’s life this could take.  Invitations for wine and tea, walks, and new friends add glints of happiness and layers of memories upon our lives.

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4. Adopt an Animal.

Whether it be a kitten or a chicken, a dog or a goat, animals of all kinds add a certain pleasure to our lives that cannot be replicated with anything else.  To run your fingers through a warm cat’s fur, or laugh at a chicken running by with a worm, to hug a crying baby goat who needs attention, or to take a tremendously happy dog on a walk, to stroke the neck of a beautiful steed, or hold a baby duckling in your hand.  These are exhalation moments.  Ones that bring the swirling world to a brief stop and time revolves around the animals that rely on you for care.  My house may sometimes smell of cat boxes or worse, the dog may have gas, chicken poop may stick to our shoes, and there may be hay in my apron pockets, but I do not ever foresee Doug and I not having furry kids.  They enhance our life far too much.

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5. Do Not Worry About What Other Folks Think.

Particularly family and friends.  Sometimes peer pressure can be hurtful and cause worry.  I do not care that we live in a little run down, cute house on rented property with all these animals.  Years ago I had to stop caring what folks thought about us taking our kids out of the public school system and teaching them ourselves.  They are intelligent, well educated, eloquent grown children.  I do not care what people say about Maryjane not having vaccinations.  She is the smartest fifteen month old I have ever met.  I do not care if people snicker and think I sell pot.  I prefer St. John’s Wort, myself.  I do not care that my skirts are old and kind of ripped.  That I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily.  What happens is when you decide this is your life and this is how you want it or this is how it is, old friends and family back off and new friends and family step forward and your entire inner circle changes to like minded people or just people that really love you for who you are.  I adore my inner circle.

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6. Plant a Seed.

A pot on the balcony will do.  Or a large garden if you wish.  But plant a seed or bring home an already planted strawberry plant or basil plant.  Do something so that you can taste a bit of fresh food each day.  Fresh food energizes the body and spirit and keeps us healthy and enthralled with unique flavors and textures.  A garden or potted balcony is a lovely place to contemplate one’s life and days.  To be thankful and to enjoy a cup of coffee.

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7. Pen a Letter.

I write to my pen pals while Doug is shooting pool.  In a darkened hundred year old building that has been a saloon for perhaps all of that time, I am surrounded by old ranchers and Vietnam vets who wonder out loud (and loudly), “What are you doing?”  No matter how many times I tell them I am writing a letter, they reply, “No one writes letters anymore.”  How enjoyable to open the mailbox to find a letter.  A real one.  Folded crisp paper, carefully scripted beginning turned illegible near the end as we try to write everything on our minds and happenings before our hands tire too much.  A stamp and a carefully addressed envelopes heading to destinations that I have not yet seen.  Write to an old friend or aunt that would enjoy the antiquated pleasure of a letter.

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8. Turn off the Television.

For heaven’s sake.  Turn off the television.  Do not use it as a babysitter.  Do not let the kids play video games.  Awake your husband.  Get un-addicted from television shows.  So much nonsense out there taking root in our psyches.  If you need to relax, a drink and a book on the porch is lovely.  A walk is even better.  A walk with your spouse is time to talk and hold hands.  A knitting project awaits.  So do homemade cookies.  A spot in the garden with drawing paper.  A telephone call to an old friend, or sister.  Time is elusive.  Invite the neighbor over for laughs.  Be present.

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9. Get Outside.

Can you walk to work, or the mailbox?  Can you get outside on your lunch hour?  Can you sit outside and have lunch?  Dinner?  The outdoors is where our spirits can breathe.  The stresses of life melt away.  Enchantment begins.  Watch a sunrise…or sunset.  Smell a flower.  Feel earth between your toes.  Sit in the grass.  Or just take a walk.  Every moment outdoors fuels creativity and stress reduction.  We were never meant to be cooped up indoors.

My grandma and I when my grandparents came out to see the new place.

10. Notice and Memorize Moments.

We had our annual party Saturday night.  Rodney came over with the karaoke system.  Tents and twinkly lights were erected and the cocktails and great potluck food were enjoyed to the sound of singing and the rodeo going on in the fairgrounds.  Fireworks lit up the night later.  Every time I am in a place with people, whether it be at my brother’s wedding last week or at the party Saturday, I take a moment to look around, take it all in.  Who knows how much longer I will have my grandparents, or more surprisingly, how long my friends may be here.  Losing Nancy so suddenly this last spring left a hole in my heart and I am more apt to notice and enjoy the moment.  The first annual party without her.  I did not worry if everyone had a drink or a plate of food.  Or if everyone was having fun or if I was being a good hostess. I just sat back and noticed people laughing, caught up with everyone, appreciated everyone there.  Gave hugs, sang, watched the sunset, was thankful for all these good friends.

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Enchantment and creativity are found all around us and in our hearts we want to be carefree.  I hope you will find freedom and more glints of happiness and life moments with each passing day.  See you on the porch!

 

 

Simple Pleasures and Tragic Fires

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The fires rage on.  The town seven miles south of us is evacuated.  So many of our friends have evacuated.  My friend pulled up to the shop to get a bottle of Furry Friends Anxiety from us, her car filled with two exchange students and nine cats on their way to a hotel.  Hundreds of animals; llamas, alpacas, cows, horses, unclaimed dogs, goats; along with human evacuees are crowded into the fairgrounds just beyond our back yard.  Doug and I took our daily walk through there so that Maryjane could see the animals.  One man, worried look on his face, resembling a sad Santa Claus scratched a yak behind a temporary fence.  All of his animals there, no home to go to, the Sheriff told us.

I shutter to think how many fellow farms will be not be at the farmers market tomorrow.  How many people will be missing.  We did not go to the market today as it is a mere mile from the evacuation site on the other side.  The smoke here hangs like fog.  Our eyes are dry, our hearts are sad for those around us.  We are safe here.  But it doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to decide otherwise for any of us.  So we focus our efforts on helping those we can, being thankful for what is here and now, and not worrying about all the small stuff that plagues our days.  We focus on the simple pleasures in life.

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Holding a child’s hand.

The sweet taste of real honey. (Not the packaged stuff at the fast food joint!)

The hummingbird that visits each morning.

For Maryjane’s smile.

For all the jars of pickles and tomatoes in the kitchen waiting to be moved to the root cellar.

For baby chicks and their antics.

For the sound of Grandma and Grandpa’s voices.

For the first lilac.

For light rain on a sweltering day.

For time with friends.

For good wine.

For good folk music, mandolins, guitars, fiddle….

I told Emily as we walked home, “We have to stop worrying about everything in our lives.  We can’t be attached to material items.  Today, we are okay, and that is all we need to know.”

What are simple pleasures for you?

Taking a Day of Rest

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Time to stop and smell the flowers.  Doug snapped these beautiful photos yesterday.  Beautiful evening.

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In our hectic society we are taught to go, go, go!  The more one can get done, the better.

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But the whole reason behind taking a day of rest is to recuperate so that we are more efficient and healthier during the week.  Taking a break and a day off should be as simple as breathing.  We only get to live a few minutes in the whole scheme of things…

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A day of rest doesn’t have to be on Saturday or Sunday….one doesn’t have to go to church to make it a day of rest (God is everywhere.)….

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We just need to take deep breaths, enjoy food and drink and friends, and look around at the astounding beauty of nature and all the gifts and blessings and simple pleasures that encompass us, surround us with joy.

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Maryjane’s first swimming day was yesterday at my grandma and grandpa’s house (her great, great grandparents’ house!) and we intend to take Mondays off every week.  Between the shop being open during the week and four farmer’s markets a week, plus keeping up around here, we would be wise not to get burnt out before July!  So every Monday we will alternate between Grandma’s pool and Doug’s parents’ pool.  Every week we go see Grandmas and Papas.  Sun, rest, fun.  A day of rest for everyone! What will you do on your day of rest?