Posted in Crafts and Skills

Purpose and Weaving

Above all, serving our heart’s deepest desires is the only true mission of our soul. And if we stay the course, we will realize our true purpose.

Julia Piatt

I was born highly intuitive and highly sensitive. A burdensome duo for a child in school but has created an ever changing and heightening purpose as an adult. My grandmother used her clairvoyance to read palms and was a medical intuitive. She also used it to bet on the horses. My husband laments that I won’t use it to gamble (I’m just certain that I will jinx it!). I have used it to know when the phone is about to ring, when someone is about to die. I have used it as an herbalist- knowing just what to give people- and as a reader- knowing just what is wrong and the path needed to take. I have had spirits talk to me, animals talk to me, and all sorts of unusual happenings that are hard to believe, and even harder to live with sometimes! But, in the end these gifts work their way through my life as the purpose itself.

I learned to weave this year and it is a lovely art form and wonderful for me to be able to sit still (not easy) and meditate as I beat in the rows, warping the loom with gorgeous colors, and creating shawls and scarves and such. A normal past time for me! But alas, that same intuitive gift has woven its way into my new work. I hear just what colors to use for the recipient. Stories are told to me as I weave. Nature comes through in the pattern. Whispers of what the new owner of this shawl needs for their spirit. I am inadvertently weaving prayer shawls. Ceremonial shawls. Healing shawls.

Oh, they are quite nice and warm to wrap around one’s face as they go about farm chores. And they look ever fine over a gown for a night on the town. Keep the chill off the shoulders on a midsummer eve. Or perhaps doll up a jean jacket for a day of shopping.

But their real purpose is that when the wearer wears their new shawl, what they need is given to them. Like medicine. The reds with stitches of green that spoke of healing to help a dear woman undergoing chemo. Starlight and solar system blues and greys speak of wonder. Gorgeous autumnal colors take me on a journey through the woods and gift the wearer with joy. The new one I am working on is a lovely stormy day. The kind suitable for cups of tea and writing books and tells me the recipient needs rest. Oh, it’s great fun listening as the loom tightens and weaves stories and healing to those that have asked me for a shawl.

The spirits do get ahead of themselves and I already know the color scheme of the next shawl I was asked to make! But slowly, slowly, I beat in each row with wishes for what the wearer needs at present.

Enchantment runs through everything I do; I grow medicinal and health giving plants, I take care of animals that shall forever remain friends, I see illnesses and make people medicine, I write, I make magical shawls. I gave up long ago the notion of my ever having a regular occupation. Over the years of wondering, What is my purpose?, I realize it is not what I do, but what comes through when I follow my interests and passions. Healing and inspiration is what I have to offer the world.

(If you are interested in having a shawl or scarf made for you, please email me at Katie@PumpkinHollowFarm.net)

Posted in Homestead

Life on a Colorado Homestead

Colorado can be harsh and it can be breathtakingly glorious. It can be twenty below zero, a hundred and five, with a severe drought, or a wild flood. A month without rain then torrents then clear. A mere few miles to the south and also to the west of me, hail completely destroyed the gardens of friends and family. A few sprinkles hit our corn. In Colorado, you never know what will happen. The weather is as fierce as its beauty.

My grandfather, my father, Doug’s parents are from here. We were born here. Our children were born here. Our children’s children were born here. Despite our dreaming of other places, Colorado is home. It holds the people that hold our hearts.

Because of this, we choose to homestead here. I realize after talking to perspective wwoofers that the perceptions of Colorado range greatly. Denver is not in the mountains. We are in the high desert. We rarely have snow. The mountains are where the snow is. We are often in drought. We have a four month growing season. Cactus and cedar grow best here. The wind blows most of the time. It is cold most of the year, but with the sun shining on your face, even winter days can be wonderful. If you can learn to farm here, you can farm anywhere. The views are staggering, the weather this summer quite pleasant, and the gardens doing well.

In the morning, I rise, let out the chickens, throw them scratch and watch them run free. I let out and feed the ducks and watch them flap their wings madly in the morning light. I throw hay to the goats and a scoop of food to their faithful guard- an oversized Great Pyrenees who watches his fortress with grace and a bit too much tenacity. I feed the cats and give them fresh water. The kittens chase flies and toy mice. Our oldest kitty endearingly watches Dad work. He is so happy that Doug works from home presently.

Coffee on a homestead is next, of course. If it is winter, the wood stove would be stoked. In summer, I stay outdoors as long as I can, writing, reading, putting the hot, dark liquid to my lips.

Weeding, watering, killing squash bugs, harvesting, replanting, making sure the resident toad has water, admiring the foliage, the colors, with gratitude for the sustenance contained within a mere seed that will fill our bodies and pantry with food. I watch the hummingbirds and listen to the song birds. The ducks swim in their pool, the dog sleeps in the shade of the barn, the chickens bathe in the dirt. The heat comes quickly so I work faster.

Canning, housework, cooking, laundry all fill the summer days of a farm wife who is also the farmer. The busyness feels good and I stretch to relieve my tired muscles. When my farm interns arrive this week, we will tackle the larger projects of painting the large chicken coop, mucking the coop and mini-barn, and starting keyhole gardens. Making sure we still have time to sit on the porch and admire the view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and watch as a hawk lazily glides overhead. The breeze through the trees and the fresh air of country caress as we enjoy sweet tea.

I work on my weaving in the late afternoons. Or maybe read a magazine before I realize another task undone. Winter is for resting. Summer is for doing and my mind and body love it.

I love homesteading. Up with the sun. Working with my hands. Doing things from scratch. Dedicating my life to hard work, family, animals, and creating beauty and sustenance. To be grounded with hands in the soil, my eyes on the horizon, my heart at peace.

Posted in Homestead, Uncategorized

Farmgirl Inspiration

Hello March, it’s nice to see you.  January and February can be the very hardest time of the year for farmgirls.  We have our gardens, our farms, our animals, our preserving, our home making, our crafting in the fall in anticipation for the holidays, we have our cooking, and our entertaining, and our pleasant fatigue.  Then there is January and February…hello March, it’s nice to see you!  Thank the Lord you’re back!

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Even though it is still cold and there is ice on the car and tomorrow it is going to snow, it is March and all things can come anew now, in my mind and in nature.  I have plans!  Oh glorious plans, and guess what?  I figured out a way to make them manifest.  My son texted me yesterday and said he would come help with the fencing.  I found an affordable way to get the outbuildings I wanted.  Yes, my gardens are about to take on some marvelous expansion and changes.

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Field fencing is a farmgirl’s friend because it is easy to put up and can be taken down if needed.  I am expanding the chicken yard.  I am fencing off another part of the backyard for a greenhouse, raised beds, and space for a rooster.  Doug isn’t thrilled we have a rooster.  But I think one in seven wasn’t bad!  I also have ducklings on order to pick up in April.  They are honest-to-god worthless (few eggs, eat ten times more than the chickens, are noisy, splash water everywhere), but dang, they are so cute!  The greenhouse will double as night quarters for the trouble makers and Captain the Rooster.  None of them can jump or fly up on things, so plants will be safe and the added humidity from the ducks’ water antics will create a nice space.  (Did I mention my husband doesn’t like ducks either?  I just look at him like I don’t speak English.)

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A shed is going up to fit all the yard tools in, which will make room for some outdoor furniture and hanging plants around the back porch.  Listen, y’all, I will do before and after pictures when all this is said and done, but right now it looks like a hundred and fifty pound puppy dug holes to China, ate all the outdoor pillows, destroyed a huge dog bed, and threw some trash around.  (Actually, that is what happened.)

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In the front yard, a large archway will have pumpkins and other climbers growing up it.  Add in a few twinkly lights and I will have an enchanted garden for sure.  I have added a couple hundred feet of gardens.  The stalks of the roses are all turning green.

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There is a loom downstairs.  I have friends that can show me how to use it.  I have always wanted to learn how to weave.  I painted a box with a lid for my son’s long time girlfriend for Christmas.  It has a dear clasp and longs to be filled with secret treasures.  I painted a scene from a vacation they took on the lid.  I would like to do more of those.  Maybe set up my sewing machine.  Craft ideas come to mind.

Inspiration to farmgirls is like medicine.  Maybe even breath, if I am not being too dramatic here.  What are you inspired to achieve this spring?

Posted in Homestead

A Looming Adventure

 

loomY’all know I am always up for a new hobby.  My friend, Lisa (our California vacation host), came to Colorado to clear out her daughter’s storage unit.  Her daughter is in Asia teaching English.  She doesn’t want to give up the loom, Lisa doesn’t want to ship it to China, so guess who is going to hold onto it?

yarn

I have always been interested in looms.  I love the large, elaborate one at Los Golondrinas in New Mexico.  I had sheep, Sven and Olaf, to try my hand at sheering and wool though we lost our rented farm when they were only six months old and had to give them up.  We had two ornery alpacas that kicked.  They are now lawn mowers in Limon.  I bought and sold two spinning wheels that went to friends for between nothing and cheap.  Just the wrong timing for me in the world of fiber arts.  Heck, I can’t even knit.  I can crochet a bit though.  And I have studied the herbs to grow to use as natural dyes.  And I love yarn.  And once I get into our new homestead next Thursday I will try to figure out this lovely loom.

Posted in Field Trips, Homestead, Non-Electric

The Original Homestead Checklist

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First gather your friends and build a fabulous structure out of mud.  The small windows on the outside are so that intruders cannot easily get in.  It keeps children from sneaking in past curfew as well.  The small door is opened so that people can come in and out.  If you open both gates you can let in people with their horses and all their stuff.  Being hospitable is always important when homesteading.

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The front room is where business would be conducted.  You could come and get herbs or herbal medicines from us.  Get your broken arm set, or we could fix a wound, send you home with something for your sick child.  It would also serve as a guest room if anyone doesn’t want to travel home after dinner. (It’s a long horseback ride to Colorado.)

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A watch tower to see how your animals are doing, see the whole compound, see if you are about to be attacked by Indians, or more relevant, by traveling salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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The original kitchen.  The fireplace (kiva) is in the corner.  It serves as a cookstove by placing hot embers beneath pots.  The heat rises to the shepherd’s bed above.  We would put grandpa there, a sick child, or a new lamb to keep warm above the fireplace.

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I did barter for a hand grinder for grains so that will make my life a little easier, but one could always get a couple of flat rocks and grind the corn and grains into flour.  It wouldn’t kill me to work out a little anyway.

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This is Maryjane’s swing for when I am watching her while working in the kitchen.  It is covered in sheepskin to keep her nice and toasty.  Here is something I learned, see that black vase in the background?  I can still order olive oil and have it come up from Mexico on the Camino Real.  Or, if I am a little strapped for cash I can always use lard.  It might be hard to be a vegetarian on this homestead!

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These good looking men are standing in front of the hornos, the outdoor ovens.  Simply start a fire in them and close it up.  When it is down to embers, sweep the embers out and put a small piece of wool in there.  If it burns, it is too hot.  When the wool becomes a light cinnamon color it is ready to place bread into.  No heating up the kitchen!  I wonder if Doug will build me one.

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Coming out of my refrigerator.  I am afraid it was rather empty.  I won’t even ask if Doug will build me one of these.

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These are Churro sheep.  They have great, thick wool that makes wonderful blankets, and I will take their word for it, good meat.

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They were exceptionally friendly and Mark had a great time petting them through the fence and speaking softly to them.  It was nice to see him taking a break from video games and out seeing animals and history.

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How fitting that the weavers, carders, and spinners were there.  I learned how to card my future wool and turn it into roving.

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Imagine all the beautiful, natural plant dyes out there at my fingertips!  Many plants we use for medicine can also be used to turn yarn into lively colors.

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Welcome to my future homestead. (or a variation of it.) A gentleman that tagged along with our group was baffled with my absolute awe of everything.  He said, “You wanting to live like this would last one day.”  I answered a bit too quickly, “You don’t know me!”

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Pat and I taking a break from our many chores on the homestead.

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The weather here is so beautiful and the vacation is most appreciated!  If you are in Santa Fe, I recommend that you visit Las Golondrinas.  It is a wonderful place to see how things were a few hundred years ago.  There are many things that we could implement now.  Sometimes I suspect technology has actually made our lives more difficult instead of easier.  We are losing time, are frazzled, and it seems to take longer to do simple tasks.  Getting back to a simpler path is my goal for this year.  To find that homestead.  To live healthier and more free.  To find what I want and live it.  My birthday is tomorrow so this makes me think harder on what I want to do the next year.  I feel like life is short and if we want to live a particular way, we ought to get going on it!

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This is my new favorite saint, San Ysidro.  The patron saint of farmers.  May this year be the year that we get a farm!  Chase your dreams, friends!

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