Winter’s Song

I love springtime and the return of the birds.  The warm sun on my face, my hands in the soil.  I do love seed packets and promises of gardens galore.  I love tree blossoms and flowers and bees and more.

I love summer and all the fun to be had.  The gardens and watering.  Fresh peas off the vine and corn growing high.  I love the long days and al fresco meals.  I love the way the hot sun feels.

I love autumn and its flurry of work.  Harvesting, preserving, the fatigue that comes.  The colors, the holidays the promises of rest.  The smell of wood smoke and coffee and warm blankets ’round the fire.

In my hurry to get back to spring, I was stopped in my tracks.  I checked on the chickens all warm in their house.  Big flakes of snow were falling suddenly from the sky.  The smell was so fresh.  The coolness livened my skin after the warm house within.  Such quiet descended as the flurries went on.  Just birds in the trees trying to keep warm.  Chirping and singing, they had quite a time.  As the flurries of fluffy snow came tumbling down, resting on trees and the sleeping ground.

Winter songs are of rest and peace.  Of cleansing and warmth.  Of cold and restoration.  This time I treasure for its ability to calm.  I am enjoying my hibernation.  Ready to be out in the garden beds in no time.  But in the meantime, the house is warm, the coffee’s hot, the snow is falling, and all is still.  Winter whispers, “Take a breath.”

The Medicine Woman Memoirs

wild 23“I had the best day today,” I told my husband when he called me on his way home from work yesterday.

“Oh yea, what did you do?”

“I went to see Maryjane’s dance class and then had lunch with our girls.  And I wrote most of the day.”

I am writing my memoir.  I am my own worst critic.  Aren’t you a little young to be writing your memoirs?  What makes you so special that you should write a book about your life?  They might be voices from my past that just keep following me around.

I am writing my memoir.  I realize that most people have not experienced many of the things I have like working and learning from Native American elders and seeing miracles and healings and dozens of eagles circling my house.  Most people don’t look at others and see tumors and broken hearts and see where the break in the bone is.  I am a medical intuitive and am very psychic.

On the other hand, there are a fair amount of people like me that feel alone or do not understand their situations.  There are folks who were not nurtured as children, or who are stuck in abusive relationships, or who are highly sensitive to everything and those that are clairvoyant, and those young people that are desperately trying to be “normal” and society has labeled them mentally ill or ADD.  There are people that need to know they are important and special and need to know how to embrace, understand, and move forward with their great gifts.

There are a million reasons why I need to write my memoir.  And I am.  It is flowing out of my fingertips faster than I can write and I am fascinated by what is coming out.  I feel like a bystander transcribing a medicine woman’s journals.  We are going to talk about that?  Oh yea, I remember when that happened.  Oh, those were good times.  Yes, talk about that, that was scary…amazing…beautiful…devastating…real.

I want to blog about planting potatoes and spring crops and spring herbal remedies and changes but I cannot.  I am writing my memoir and it is fascinating and the Universe is quite insistent that it get done.  I cannot wait to share it with you.  Right now I need another cup of coffee and I will begin my new day’s work, writing.

The Great Novelist

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My first attempts at writing fiction were as a pre-teen, huddled in my room with a spiral notebook and pen, scribbling away.  Two chapters of strained dialogue and always two girls in southern belle dresses and absolutely no plot, I would grow bored and go outside to play.

Freshmen year in high school I was writing a book about a girl who finds a baby.  The baby’s name is Emily (all my characters were named Emily) and the mother was of course in a southern belle gown and the first two chapters were only dialogue of some sort and my dear teacher said, “Why don’t you write about something you know.”  Something clicked and for twenty eight years hence that is what I write.  And write it well, I believe.  But in my heart I wish I could write a stunning, beautifully choreographed novel.

I am not entirely sure that I could write fiction.  A novel seems preposterous in the creation of worlds and dialogue and characters.  For just in life, I am chained to the truth.  The characters would end up being exact replicas of those in my real life and so at the beginning of said novel I would have to say “all characters are the imagination of the author and any resemblance is purely coincidental (sorry mom)” and the whole plot would read strangely like my blog, and somehow everyone would be wearing southern belle gowns.  I do believe I may be a firm non-fiction writer.  Fabulous, but oh I do wish I could dream up a scape of world complete with whimsy and easy dialogue and characters to remember.  I shall wait patiently for the idea to land upon me.  In the meantime I am dreaming up my next non-fiction farm book…complete with everyone wearing aprons.

The Writer

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I know how the memoir will read, it will be filled with humorous stories that make the reader laugh out loud, and ones that make the reader’s breath catch and tears well, and ones that make the reader cheer, and want to visit our new farm.  It cannot be written yet.  Next year with full intention and intense motivation we will purchase our forever farm.  It will likely be in town, in the small town we have lived in and loved and have our shop in.  Then the circle for this writer will be complete.  I will use my favorite writing techniques, foreshadowing, flashback, and will provide the reader through plenty of laughs and can’t set the book down moments, a true vision of farming and homesteading and will be an entertaining text book of novel-like prose, from our first farm to our present.

Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favorite authors, wrote that she is a writer and she must write or she will die.  I nearly jumped off the couch upon reading it, “YES!”  That is how I feel.  In my darkest moments I considered never writing again, quitting this blog, living a private life, but no, I am a writer.

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There is no privacy here, folks.  One on one I speak openly and embracingly.  More than two people and I am introverted and Doug does all the talking.  But on paper and with keys I am an outgoing and open friend, farmer, homesteader, mother, lover, grandmother, ex-model, future farmsteader, chef, hard worker, plant healer, coffee loving teacher of all things I know.

Writing, the very thing I threatened to quit, is the very thing that got me through.  I write so that I will not die.

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I encourage you, my dear readers, that if you even love to write a little bit, start a blog.  It will increase your life and how you live it.  WordPress has free blogsites.  I can’t wait to read what you write.

National Poetry Month (poetry contest and win one of my books!)

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April is National Poetry Month.  I have always been pulled in by rhyming sounds, expressions in A-B-A-B form, and with eloquent words.  How a Maya Angelo poem can break your heart or a Robert Frost can transport you to another time.  Into Emily Dickinson’s world and nod knowingly at one of Mary Oliver’s beautiful notes.  The prose, the cadence, the way that poetry takes on emotion and vivid imagery in just a few lines or in a drawn out sonnet.  I love that it doesn’t have to rhyme.  It can be a sentence.  It is a piece of one’s heart transferred to paper in a whim of bravery.

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I am holding a poetry contest.  No pressure, as of course like art, poetry creates itself and there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write poetry.  Just write a sentence, or a rhyme, or a sonnet.  Respond here, or on facebook (facebook.com/pumpkinhollowfarm) or by email (katie@pumpkinhollowfarm.net).  Homeschooling mamas, have your children enter, you enter, if you have never written poetry, enter, let the expression free!  I am offering a free book of your choice that I have written to the winner.  The winner is the one that stirs my soul.  Open March 31st-April 15th.

Here are two of mine I would like to share…

The first one is a tale of many young women.  I am friends with a great many amazing young people and sometimes their struggles can overtake.

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A child in the dark lets out a shrill cry

she is lost within her spirit

but she doesn’t know why.

Growing up too fast

lovers that don’t last

        a piece of her gone

ending life’s song.

Now as she connects with herself

    with her Source

and lays in a hospital bed

through this course

and as she gathers strength

and refills her lamp for light

perhaps she will see the dawn

through the starry night.

And a more happy one…

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Maryjane, the beautiful child that came to be.

I knew her immediate and she had a piece of me.

Our hearts were connected and I love her more and more.

My life awakens as she walks through the door.

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Now, it’s your turn!

 

 

As the Owls Looked On (and teas to help heal the spirit)

 

Spirit Journal CoverThe five owls perched overhead near me each morning as I wrote, prayed, cried, and did yoga.  The temporary farm we were on last summer was a beautiful place.  I knew we were about to lose everything and the dread of what was going to happen next and the scrambling for some semblance of sanity and organized planning to move forward tangled with each other in that open field as I sat cross legged in the early morning sun peering across the acres of unscathed plains, my eyes taking in the sight of watercolor mountain tops still touched by snow across the horizon.  The owls looked on.  Directly at me.  Their messages clear and soothing.  Change was coming, but it would be for the best.

During that time I jotted down each little message that came to me.  Different plants came to mind to be made into teas.  I knew the spiritual use for some of them like roses-love, hawthorn-heals a broken heart, but some of the herbs that came to mind I did not know the meaning of and looked them up to find that they had a perfect place in each tea blend.  After I wrote, meditated, and listened, I went into the old farm kitchen and made a large mug of tea using those herbs for the day.  I would feel my strength return.  I did this for twelve days.

Eight months later the pieces fell together in one seamless layout.  In one day the book was completed.  A twelve day journal that discusses spirit animals and chakras, highlights a word to meditate on, a quote, a writing prompt, a gratitude section, a place to jot down other healthful habits, places to write and dream, and a spiritual tea blend.  I carefully hand blended each tea in each tea bag and placed them all in a pretty cellophane bag, one for each book that was printed.  It took days but I knew that this journal and the healing teas with them would help others just as it had me.

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The cover of the book is a photograph of one of the owls that stayed near me during my time on that farm while this book was creating itself.  This was one of the infant horned owls that looked on.  My daughter, Emily, stayed up in a tree for some time waiting to capture this shot.  It serves as a reminder that we are not alone and that everything in the universe works together to help us on our journey.

“White Wolf’s Spirit Journal; Twelve Days of Balancing, Healing, and Energizing the Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical Self” is only $25 plus shipping.  Call to order-(303)617-3370 or send a check to White Wolf Medicine, P.O.Box 2012, Elizabeth, CO 80107 for $35 to order.  Better yet, come into my shop, have a cup of tea, and pick one up!

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Letter Writing

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I am a huge proponent of letter writing.  To see script fine and scribbled across sheets of paper at an angle with words of hope, wisdom, fear, joy, loss, success, and friendship enclosed within its realm from far away is a delight to behold, to retrieve from the mailbox, to read with a cup of tea, to savor and respond.

We were able to get our old post office box back.  It was oddly comforting.  To know we have returned to our place in the world, our community, our town, and are starting over with our old address is strangely affirming.

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I first wrote about pen pals a few years back and still have a strong pen pal from that post (click here to read).  I wrote again last year about customizing Christmas cards (here) and how a few personal words can transform the card into a real gift of the season.  I invited folks to send me a card and I would reciprocate.  Again, I have received beautiful letters and correspondence from around the world and some of my favorite friends I have not met in person but behind script.

So, I again write you looking for pen pals and Christmas cards and I will be ever so happy to write back.  Here is my new/old address.

Mrs. Katie Sanders

P.O. Box 2012

Elizabeth, CO 80107

 

Farmgirl School Turns Two

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Time does scurry along, doesn’t it?  My second anniversary starting this blog came and went this week.  This blog has become a seamless beginning to my morning, an outlet to the world and new friends, and a way to share our crazy farm happenings.

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But a blog is nothing if it doesn’t have readers and I am always so humbled and grateful that I have readers.  Thank you from the bottom of my spiral scribbling, chicken hoarding, pumpkin growing heart.  It is always fun to look at the stats this time of year and see what numbers Farmgirl School has obtained.  495 followers (up 200+ from last year), 51,552 hits to my blog (up over 30,000!) and the three most popular blog posts of the year were Ten Things to Know Before Moving to a Small town, How Much is it to Have a Farm Animal, and A Visit to an Amish Home. 

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This last year was particularly eventful and you were with us every second with support and cheers of encouragement.  You learned about our journey to our first farm, dreamed with me about our invisible homestead, cried with me when my farm girl in crime and dear friend, Nancy died.  Then when our goat and other animals died too.  You were there when Maryjane turned one, when Shyanne graduated, when my son, Andy, got married, when the interns came, through the planning and skill learning of getting ready for God to grant our greatest prayer of a homestead, and the day we learned we had found one to rent, you cheered us on and sent congratulations!

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The world got smaller as I started writing to a fellow blogger and met her last week for the first time.  I have met some of my readers at farmer’s markets.  I have found a whole new set of friends and family as the spance of time and space shortened, friends around the world and the country, all from writing.

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I am so happy when I learn that I have inspired people to move to the country, pursue their dreams, become herbalists, get chickens, or that I am brightening the days of those that just want to laugh at our antics and remain where they are at!

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All these things have been a great gift to me.  I read an interview with the author of “The Alchemist” who talked about finding one’s true calling in life.  One true passion.  Not becoming a mommy, or a job necessarily, but what your one true purpose is.  It is the one thing that you do not have to fight, or think about, that comes completely naturally, that is a part of your very being.  Mine is to write.  I am a writer.  Every thought process and happening in my life floats across the screen in my mind as a blog post or poem, as a letter, in words.  A writer can write but is much more fulfilled when there are readers.

Thank you for sharing our life with us.  For following in our adventures and for letting me pursue my one true purpose.

40 Days (renew, reinspire, recalculate)

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I am truly an optimist.  I love new beginnings and always believe in them.  Comparing photos from our time with friends in November to recent ones (above and below), I see that a tremendous sadness and weight descended on us and was evident through the camera lens.  Downturned faces and hunched shoulders reveal a burdening time.  On March 31st we spent all our money on a lemon of a car off of Craigslist that is still in the shop.  That was the last of our bad luck and April 1st was the beginning of a time of renewal, inspiration, and strength.

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40 Days.  Forty days would be more apt to have started at Lent, but I am a bit behind.  40 days of renewal, a sense of wonder, doing nice things for myself, not caring about rules, and noticing the beautiful things in my life that subtly whisper through the winds of each day.  Why 40 days?  One could pick any number, really.  The beginning of April to Mother’s Day, which represents my most honored description seemed right.  I turn forty on Monday.  New things are surely on the horizon for us.  The last forty years I grew up, raised children, came to this place.  The next forty years will be so delightful, I am sure.  Our own homestead surely awaits us, more grandchildren are surely in our future, our children are getting married, our marriage is getting stronger, we have so much to look forward to.

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Choose a number.  I chose 40.  In a book at night, record what you did or what happened that day, what you see your life as.  It is never too late to make small or big life changes.

April 1st- Bought an expensive (for me) bottle of Borolo and opened it for lunch.  Instead of complaining at the bar while Doug played pool, I tried to be present, even played, and had a good time.

April 2nd- Spent time with Maryjane, rocked her to sleep.  Painted two letters at the coffee shop at the spur of the moment.

April 3rd- Played Andrea Bocceli and served lunch while teaching a class.  Prayed for a long time before bed.

Because life is so blaringly short, I want to enjoy people more.  Spend more time with friends and celebrating.  My four day birthday weekend starts today.  A night out with Monte and Erik.  Tomorrow Doug is throwing me a birthday barbeque.  Tomorrow night the Melting Pot with Steve, Nancy’s husband who’s brain tumor may not allow him many more dinners out with us.  Sunday, a bee keeping class, Tapas lunch, and an outing with two new homesteading couples we met.  Monday, my actual birthday, a national newspaper is interviewing me thanks to this blog.  My life is beautiful, and complicated, and full of mystery and joy.  I am blessed beyond belief.

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My mother mentioned that I lead a charmed life.  Any of us can have a charmed life.  All you have to do is put out there what you want and you will get it, like it or not.  Work for it, desire it, pray for it, do everything you can to get it.  Our life looks like what we wanted it to.  We now dream of our own homestead that we can stay at.  We dream of so many things.  Though they feel like a desperation now, they will come to being.  They have to.

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The key to our life is instead of making more money, make less.  Every time we think we need more money, we try to sell something, or get rid of a bill, or make do.  My ultimate goal in the next 40 years, or 40 months, or 40 weeks would be better, is to find a place that is even cheaper than what we are paying now so that we can lower the prices of our medicines and our classes so that other folks can make less money and enjoy their lives more too.  When you don’t have to work so hard for what you have, you can enjoy each day more.  You have more freedom.

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Break rules.  My own rules.  I can only eat this and that.  I cannot buy a lotion that smells SO good that my daughters bought because I make my own lotion, and it is fantastic, one of my best sellers.  I went and bought the other lotion.  Gasp.  I eat what I want, and drink when I want, and go to the coffee shop when I want, and still get all my work done.  The only thing that was keeping me imprisoned was myself.

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Today is a new day, y’all.  Be inspired today.

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Painted Letters

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It’s too cold still to be gardening here and most of my projects are completed for the winter.  This is the time of year that I recoup, reinspire, rediscover.  I hope you have followed along and completed your lists of things you love, things you are okay with, things you dislike, and things you want to try.  If not, click here!  We have written poetry, and broken writing rules, and today we paint.

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I finished the book “Paris Letters” by Janice Macleod, a lovely tale about a young woman that sold everything she had, and took the leap to Paris.  Where, incidentally, she meets a romantic and not bad looking fellow.  She began to carry watercolors around with her and painted scenes that became stationary for her Paris Letters.

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After completing my list of what I love to do, what I am okay doing, what I dislike doing, what I want to try, I was surprised to see painting on my okay with, not what I can’t wait to do list.  I think by the time I find all the paints, the canvas, the easel, and drag everything where I want it, I am too tired to paint.  Presently, my paintings are being displayed at the local coffee shop.  I did expect to have all new paintings there, but alas I have not painted in a year!

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I decided to go get a two dollar pack of watercolors and watercolor paper.  It fits in my ginormous bag that I carry with me everywhere (filled with books, tinctures, salves, day timer, phone, and Maryjane’s toys).  I put water into a small canning jar and put that in my bag too.  I can easily sit and paint at the spur of the moment.  In two weeks, I have completed five paintings.  None that should win awards, but perhaps delight the recipient.

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I painted an elementary picture of Elsa, the baby goat, beneath an elm tree for my pen pal, Holly.  (Want to be my pen pal?  Click on the pen pal post!)  I painted a rosemary plant and wrote a heartfelt letter to Nancy before she died.  I painted a simple tea cup while at the coffee shop and sent it to my other pen pal, Debbie.  I painted a duck yesterday at the coffee shop and wrote a letter to my great aunt Lila.  Then last night I painted a cast iron skillet for my great aunt Donna.

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Aunt Donna called me a week and a half ago after reading the Homesteading Oven post and said, “Now I know you don’t like electronics, but you need an oven!  How can Shyanne bake without an oven?”  And so, my dear aunt graciously and generously bought us a stove.  So, the skillet will go out in the mail today to serve as a thank you note.

All of a sudden I am painting again and connecting with people.  I encourage you to pick up a two dollar watercolor kit and fool around painting in the coffee shop.  We have time.  It’s not time to garden yet.