The Storytelling Tree

Ornaments are special.  They tell stories and relive memories on the glistening tree.


This year when we went on our family vacation and visited the North Pole I picked up an ornament that held nine names.  It helped seal the moment.  We will look back at that ornament and relive the fun we had riding the train and petting the reindeer.


A glass doll named Sarah that my grandmother gave me when I was very young.  Ornaments from my other grandmother’s tree.  Doug’s first ornament (he grew up Jewish) and our granddaughter’s first ornament mingle on evergreen limbs.  Decades of tales whisper among branches.


From our trip to Las Vegas with the children in 2004.


Ornaments that were given to me by my students in the dance company I had brighten my day. That was a special time.


A gift from Rodney and Pat some years back. We all dream of getting our own adobes.

The tree is filled with memories of our trip to Las Vegas.  Of our honeymoon cruise.  It tells of Bronco fever and the children in elementary school.  Ornaments that were given as gifts.  Quite a few from New Mexico.  Next weekend we will pick up another.  Everywhere we go, we get an ornament.


My Andrew at seven years old.


Shyanne at seven years old and Maryjane’s hand print Santa.


A very sweet five year old Emily.

When we look at our tree, it clears its throat and begins its sweet reminisce and dreams up ideas for the future.  Future names written on the tree, travels yet to be, but the comfort of home and hearth will always be the theme of our humble Yule tree.

What are your favorite ornaments?

Four Years Being a Farmgirl…and our new home

November 25, 2012- I had just learned what a blog was and was excited to try it.  Pages that would normally fill journals filled spaces on this web sized book.  To write stories that teach and inspire and make folks laugh while learning to farm and homestead was my idea.  A compilation of tales that I wish I could have found at the beginning of my journey.  I could have never imagined the amazing pieces of life we would be recording.

Indeed over the past year and a half you have put up with me pouting when we lost all that, started two more blogs, always return to this one.  I use my own blog so often to find recipes that I might be one of my best followers!  Over 110,000 times Farmgirl School has been read over the last four years.  I am honored.

When I found out that we were actually buying a house, my inspiration came flooding back.  Months of blog posts already half written in my mind.  Home.


Our new abode come December 30th.

November 25, 2016- I can now use the skills I have learned about chickens and ducks, gardening, and decorating, cooking, and preserving, cooking on a wood stove, and intertwine them with new memories with my beautiful family, and all the things I want to learn, like Hugelkulter beds, and canning cranberry sauce to create many more years of Farmgirl School.  And all the things along the way that I will learn and share and our world-wide community continues.  We all share so may beautiful desires and wishes.  To return to homesteading life was certainly ours.  So here we go…

“You Got to Learn Them To Eat.”


He adjusted his cowboy hat as he entered the shop.  Beautifully dark skin and an easy smile shone from his slight frame.  He had come in to see the medicines.  A bit reminiscent, he was.  His grandmother was half Cherokee and she knew all the remedies and how to doctor up everyone on her place in Oklahoma.

I am not sure how we got from plants to homesteading but it was a seamless jump and his stories filled me with wonder.  He is about the same age as my friend, Rod, who was there making his jewelry and he came over to join the conversation.  Soon, I was quiet, a child, listening to tales and bits of wisdom I had yet to learn.

They grew a lot of food.  They grew corn for the pigs.  Good corn.  The cowboy talked of catching ‘coons and how good of eating they were.  A bit like bear.  Rod talked of hunting rabbits.  Nothing was wasted.  “You got to learn them to eat,” the cowboy’s grandmother said.  “They might look at you and wonder how you eat that but they are sitting there not eating.”  He told this as he explained how to use a sling shot to kill pigeons.  They are little but you just take the feathers off, and cook ’em.  They are good with dumplings.  They taste like chicken.  “Everything tastes like chicken!” Rod joked and added to the recollections.

Growing up in the seventies and eighties in the city there wasn’t much chance to “learn to eat”.  Sure, I learned to cook.  I learned thrift and such but everything we had came from the store.  Who knows what folks would have thought of us if we were out getting birds.  Or raccoons.  And I am pretty sure my mother would have avoided that like the plague.  She may never have learned to eat either!

But I think of that.  I have been writing a “how to homestead” blog for over three years now.  Almost a reenactment though.  This is how to homestead, as I eat a piece of veggie chick’n (which is quite good actually).  We had a hard time putting a hit on our roosters.  But, Doug and I were not brought up to hunt or feed our families.  Not many of the kids I know were.  I suppose if we were in dire straits, we may learn real quick, but as of right now the thought of my sheep from last summer in someone’s freezer brings me great sadness.

But I listened intently.  I am fascinated with all of the wisdom that was lost in such a short time.  The things I never learned, but I pay attention.  Doug and I hope to buy a place to homestead next year and even if we never use a sling shot to kill pigeons or if we end up with a pet raccoon instead of dinner, at least I will know how things were.  And one day we may need to learn our grandchildren to eat.


Breaking Writing Rules (and a poetry contest)

e.e. cummings changed the way I write. You are allowed to do that? I thought.  It was my first time seeing a rule breaking writer.  He wrote everything in lower case letters.  Being a bit of a rule breaker myself, I loved him instantly.

“let’s live suddenly without thinking…” e e cummings


I started writing when I was nine years old as I described to you before (click here to read) and had steadily been taking in the knowledge of my teachers.  Paragraphs, spelling, diagraming sentences, proper pronouns and tense.  I spent my time at the park on the weekends feeding the squirrels and writing poetry.  I never had a tremendous amount of friends so I had plenty of time to write and dream and befriend the squirrels.  I was able to take the ABAC format of a poem and discard it.  Some poems all rhymed, some not at all.  Wisps of thoughts and dreams, and especially symbolism, which is my favorite literary tool, came to life on paper.  I used symbolism heavily in the poem I wrote for yesterday’s blog post.  A direct parallel.

Later in high school I learned I could get away with making up words and no one was the wiser.  Written just right, it appeared to be a proper word and the meaning was evident so it was overlooked.  Still today, in this blog you may find made up words that really ought to be real words.

Then college came later.  An English major with too much imagination doesn’t do as well as one would think.  You must wright like THIS.  No emotional connection to one’s writing.  No clichés.  No….I dropped out and became a writing, teaching herbalist.  After twenty years of writing, I didn’t need a professor to tell me that I was writing all wrong.


There is no wrong way to write.  It is art.  A few people have told me they wish they could write a blog.  It is free.  Do it!  Writing helps to clarify our thoughts, helps us learn, helps us see things in new lights, helps us reach out to other people.  Not just squirrels.  Write about things you know.  That is one of the best pieces of advice I received from a teacher.  Mrs. Ling was ever patient with us freshmen.  We learned sign language and passed notes and talked in class the entire time.  But even with all the distractions, I learned a great deal on how to write successfully from her.

Don’t want to use capital letters?  Fine.  Don’t want to speak in proper tense, want to make up words, want to use clichés?  Fine.  Just write.  It is one of the freest activities for the mind and spirit one can find.

In honor of this, I invite you to write a poem in the comments.  We’ll call it a contest, but it is an expression.  And everyone is a winner.  I will create a basket of goodies from my farm as the prize for the one that speaks to me personally the most.  Write away!