We Manifested a Farm (how to make your dreams come true)

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I have lots of stories about how when you dream up something, write it down, share it with the world, you will manifest it.  You will get it.  Guaranteed.  Isn’t that amazing?!  But a lot of times when I am inspiring folks to do this, to let the universe collide to bring forth your greatest desires, I am avidly dreaming and praying and begging, and waiting for the proper time to see our dreams come to fruition.  It never ceases to amaze me when it all happens…again!  Be careful what you wish for, but if you dream it, it will come true and I find great comfort in that.  I also like to look back and see how things aligned, how things peaked our interest (sharing a home with friends…interns…) then taken back out of the equation, tweaked, changed, but still have a place in the future plan, in a different way.  How we found our way to this homestead, which seemed impossible to get, is just fascinating.  How could the homestead I dreamed up ever actually come true when we have zero credit, little money, and crazy requests like a wood cook stove?  Who the heck has a wood cook stove in a rental?

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You can read just a few of these posts by clicking on the title, Preparing for Dreams to Come True and Self Fulfilled Prophesies just to get a gist of how amazing this dream-come-true homestead is!

Peach trees

Peach trees

Our landlords at the last house called out of the blue (remember, we hadn’t heard from these folks in a looong time) to see if we wanted to buy the house.  We can’t buy a house.  I liked the house there and was really going back and forth whether we should renew our lease.  The bills were pretty high for us, but we loved the neighbors and the house.  When Maryjane started running out into the busy street, I knew I better get out of town.  But where?  The landlords wanted to sell the house so we had our choice made for us.  We thought we had until spring.

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In our price range were run down trailers out in the middle of nowhere.  Potential?  Always.  Something we felt compelled to jump on?…uh, no.  Now, this will sound a bit hocus pocusy and I, myself, am a bit of skeptic but a friend of mine and past student is a respected palm reader.  She took one look at my hand and said that I was preventing the homestead to manifest because I was sure I wouldn’t have enough money.  Let the money in!  I am not a material girl and I hate even charging for my medicines.  Little did I know that that meant that the bills would be so cheap, I could afford it.  She said we’d be moved by October 1st.  By the skin of our knuckles, by golly, we were moved in by that prophesized date.  Hallelujah.

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I was wandering by the computer and checked Craigslist for the umpteenth time.  There was a brief notice.  Not many details.  The sound of the prose sounded like they were a bit fed up of renters.  I called anyway.  In fifteen minutes we were on our way to a town 43 minutes from where we were presiding to see said house.  The wood cook stove, the pantry, the size (850 square feet, just what I requested), the land (10 acres surrounded by prairie), the cohabitants of the land to make it possible but with our own space, the price including utilities exactly what my absurd number was.  Goat pens, chicken pens, large fenced garden.  Twenty five minutes from my very favorite city, Colorado Springs.  My head is swimming with gratitude and awe.

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Get those dreams written down now, people!  Everything is coming together!  I’d love to hear what your dreams entail.  It helps to share them with the world.  Enjoy the photo tour of our new Pumpkin Hollow Farm and look for all the Homesteading and Herbalist classes that will be offered here in the next year.

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Henry Higgin's replacement.  Meet Christopher Robin.  Let's hope he's nicer than Henry!

Henry Higgin’s replacement. Meet Christopher Robin. Let’s hope he’s nicer than Henry!

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Our new cold frame, bartered for with a class.  Veggies in January?  I do hope so!

Our new cold frame, bartered for with a class. Veggies in January? I do hope so!

Potential, potential, potential...

Potential, potential, potential…

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Drying Off Isabelle (no more milk till spring and chica has a new boyfriend)

I am a tad envious of those raised on a farm.  They don’t have to text random people that have goats to ask stupid questions.  Like, how the heck do we stop her milk?  I know this should seem like an obvious one but there is an art to all this dairy farming.  Goodness, we don’t want to send our goat into pain, discomfort, mastitis, and who knows what else!  Our dear Isabelle trusts us.

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I first started by looking up on the internet how to dry off a goat.  Easy.  Just start milking once a day, then every other day, then every third day, et cetera.  We easily got her down to once a day.  That was great for weeks but we don’t have any CSA’s anymore and I stopped making cheese for the season so five cups of milk a day is a little overkill.  It certainly fills the fridge up quickly.  I have been avidly making eggnog, but even then, I still have a lot of milk in there.  The freezer is full of milk and neither of us want to go out in the freezing cold to milk so even though we could wait until her third month of pregnancy to dry her off, we have opted to give us all a much needed respite.

We then waited a day before milking her.  Her udder was hard as a rock and Doug’s hands were getting tired getting all the milk out.  You think I am sappy and sensitive?  My husband is worse.  He loves these creatures and wants them to experience zero discomfort.  So we were back to once a day again.

I finally asked a random goat person how to dry off a goat.  She told me the same thing we had already learned so we just went for it.  Every other day.  Check, less milk.  Every third day.  The next time we milk will be Friday which is the fourth day.  She has not been engorged since that first time.  All it took was that first bit of pressure to send the message to her body to ease up on the milk production.

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On Sunday, Isabelle has a hot date.  We ought to put a nice red flower in her hair or something.  You know, distract from the beard.  She is going to his house because we are having trouble figuring out when she is in heat and the hour and a half drive the second we find out she is in heat would be difficult.  So instead she is having a slumber party until she gets pregnant.  Don’t judge.  She makes really cute babies.  Her own baby, Elsa, could be bred this year but we have heard enough folks recommend that we wait a year to give her a chance to fully grow.  Since goats are pack animals, Elsa will chaperone her mother.  A few weeks without goats, that will be strange!  We’ll miss them.

Lots of exciting gossip over here in the goat sector.  We’ll keep you posted!

Samhain (remembering and new traditions)

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I am intrigued by history.  Fascinated by it.  I learn from it and am entertained by it and live by it.  So many modernized things were not for the best, in my humble opinion.  Of course with my long flowing skirts and aprons I, myself, look as if I skipped out of another time period.  There is so much to be learned from the history of our people and so many lovely things that if added to our life would make it all the more sweet, meaningful, magical.  Samhain is one of them.

Now I do not consider myself wiccan or pagan.  If I were to put my spirituality in a box, I am Catholic.  A Catholic married to a Jew.  We raised our children in a Christian church and they are now oddly Atheist.  One of my best friends is Catholic married to a Buddhist who used to be, along with his parents (also our dear friends) Mormon.  Our family and friends are all different races and religions and in the end we are all connected to one source.  I am fascinated by the similarities in religions and histories across the world.

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If you are like me and had most of your family come over to America in the 1700’s you will find that you are missing customs that would have been brought over.  I am a bit saddened that we have zero cultural ties left.  Most of my DNA will lead back to a strong Celtic heritage mixed in with some Dutch, Yeopim and Cherokee Indian, and Black French, but what they used to celebrate has been lost.  So we create our own customs.

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Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) dates back long before the Christian festivities (and the Hollywood made festivities too) and was an agrarian holiday.  Now that we are homesteaders we understand these holidays so much more.  Homesteading has become our lifestyle, our day in day out, our entire life is marked by nature and the seasonal shifts all around us.  Instead of a smart phone, the changes in the natural world around us make our schedules.

Samhain is the end of the calendar season.  The beginning of rest.  The livestock were humanely butchered, the pantries were full, the fields were empty and the weather kept farmers indoors more.  The folks that died over the past year were now mourned.  Agrarians kept so busy during the late spring and summer that once things slowed down things really started to sink in.  That is the case with us as well.  And if we were all honest it is not just losing folks to death that bothers us, it’s any regrets we feel too.  My friends and animals are in a better place, I know this.  I am heading their same direction.  It is the natural cycle of things.  Not a new phenomenon for things to die.  But I feel bad that I didn’t return Rollie’s phone call.  That I nitpicked everything with Nancy so much during our time together pursuing our Farmgirl business, that we didn’t achieve her dream of a large farm to table dinner, partially because of my attitude.  I feel bad that there are two more young widows out there who lost husbands.  That I didn’t hold Loretta when she was dying.  That I was so frustrated with my old dog.  That I chose to put to sleep (so feel as if I murdered) my beloved cat.  These things start to settle in as I spend more time on the homestead with less to do.  If I knew they were going to die….or that I was responsible….these things set heavy on the soul.

Samhain was a time to light the bonfires as protection from evil spirits, the veil was thin between October 31st and November 1st and you could talk to your lost loved ones and perhaps they could communicate with you as well.  It was a time of contemplation and respect.

In our modern world we do not take time to contemplate anything.  The crafts and chores that were done that created a methodic rhythm have been replaced with fast shortcuts, things that do it for us, and no time to actually think.  If we could take some time to work out our sorrows and talk to those that left, we could free up our hearts and minds and allow more joyful living to take place.

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I will spend Halloween day with Emily and Maryjane trick-or-treating at a local mall then in the evening I will light candles.  I will commemorate and talk to and say goodbye to those I have lost.  My animals are our roommates, farm mates here.  They are my people.  Their loss, even the farm animals, is just as sorrowful to me as losing an old friend.  They are included in my festivities.  I will set some extra plates and invite them all to dinner along with Doug (who is thankfully still with the living) and give thanks for my life and ask that my friends and animals that left say a prayer for me, forgive me, and that they be at peace.  I will be thankful for the harvest, all those still here, my own life, and for the year ahead.

Who will you light a candle for?

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

A friend from middle school high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

A friend from middle school and high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

 

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

My favorite chicken who used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My favorite chicken that used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.

 

Prairie at Dawn (and you can rest in January!)

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I stepped outside before the sun’s colorful hands glided over the edge of the prairie.  The lighting was surreal and looked as if I lived in a Renaissance pastel that might hang in the museum.  A painted landscape so beautiful my mind could hardly fathom.  The owls called to each other from tree to tree and the city lights in the distance shone against the silhouette of the mountain.

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Our year starts in spring when the baby goats are born and we start our early planting.  Spring is filled with preparing beds, planting at the right times, bottle feeding goat kids, cooing over baby chicks, and praying for warm weather.  We are also madly getting ready for farmer’s markets.  Preparing, bottling, labeling, farmer’s market checklist; tent, tables, chairs, displays, application fees, products made…ready, set, go!

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And we catapult into summer where for the next four months family and friends have troubles getting a hold of us.  Those close to us understand.  We live a whirlwind of sunrises, farm animals, farmer’s markets, farming, herbal business, preserving, holding classes, getting ready for winter.  Always getting ready for winter.

Grammie and Baby at Parker

Sporting my new fashion look.

September seems like it will be slower as some markets draw to a close and we see our pantry filling up but for the next three months we will still be actively preparing, just as the ants and bees do, to settle in for winter.  Always wondering if we have enough stored.  Enough food…enough water…enough wood.

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Moving was a wonderful thing since it marked the end of our years of pining for a homestead.  It is exactly what we prayed for.  Low enough rent and no utilities that we can afford to be healers.  The landlords share the property which is not something we would have ever considered before until we started being intrigued by the idea of cohabitating homesteads where we started to think that we should not share property with friends.  Too complicated.  But, the idea is sound.  The owners here are quiet and leave us to ourselves but we are all here if the other needs us.  Best of both worlds.  We are near my favorite city.  In twenty five minutes I am at a library, coffee shop, or restaurant if I want to be.  Then back to the confines of the vast prairie, large stars, and serene silence.  I am humbled to be here.  But moving was exhausting and we find ourselves longing for rest.  But there is something about Autumn that makes me want to keep working.  An innate desire to get things done and prepared.  The longer I homestead the closer to nature and natural seasons and intuition I get.

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Our friend, Jim, was one of my students; he is a Vietnam Vet, commander for a veteran’s organization, lover of plants and herbs, a survivalist, loyal friend, and in the tree business.  He gave me a great deal on three cords of wood.  Even though it is a lot of money for us, a winter without utilities will even things out.  He dropped off the cords one by one while Doug and I spent the afternoon stacking wood.  Doug kept stopping to pull up his jeans.  Forget a gym membership.  We work hard, our muscles are defined, we eat healthy, homemade food, and though we’ll be a little soft by the end of winter, we’ll be right back in the swing of things for the remainder of the year.  Homesteading looks good on folks.

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We have a pantry full, two freezers full, now a total of four cords of wood, and we are getting closer.  Time is ticking because we are still doing farmer’s markets through the end of the month and craft shows through the middle of December.  In between we get ready for our winter rest.  We are drying off the goat; we have plenty of cheese made and milk frozen.  We are getting ready to breed Isabelle again.  Today the gutters will be cleaned, homestead area mowed, garden worked on, chimney cleaned, and orders filled, even though we are under the weather.  The seasons don’t stop for sick days.  Soon we will only have craft shows on the weekends and the holidays to look forward to.  Then for three months we will rest and grow restless and be ever ready for the seasons to start over.  We are thankful to live this lifestyle.  This is truly the good life.

The Apple Harvest (and the sweetness of family)

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Aunt Donna invited us over to pick up firewood and to pick apples.  She could have invited a hundred people over for apples.  Her tree was so heavy laden with gloriously delicious apples that I rather fear a good many up high will go to waste.  After biting into the scrumptious orb I realized that the wonderful three boxes gifted to us from friends almost two months ago were not ripe.  I spent hours and hours in the kitchen prepping and canning and making apple sauce all to realize that they came out rather sour.  Healthy and still good, but I should have been patient.  Apples are to be picked in the latter part of September and into October.

Emily, Maryjane, Grandma, Me, and Grandma's sister, Donna last year at the grape harvest.

Emily, Maryjane, Grandma, Me, and Grandma’s sister, Donna last year at the grape harvest.

You have been to Aunt Donna’s with me before.  We went last year to join in the harvest of her bountiful grapes which we made jugs of delicious juice from. This year the vines hold little and the little apple tree that was average last year has outdone itself with bounty.  Next year we shouldn’t expect apples.  There is an ebb and flow to everything, I realize.  Droughts, rains, snows….heat, cool….last year the tomatoes were plentiful, this year the cold crops did exceptionally well.  It is a good representation of life.  Our lives are a constant ebb and flow of births, deaths, good times, sad times, memories, and moments.  Each day precious.  And what a glorious day to be at my beautiful aunt’s house, the one who helped inspire my farming and has answered questions over the years.

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Maryjane is an excellent harvester.  She at times surprises me with how intelligent she is.  She is so tiny but if you give her instructions she will follow them.  She is also the cutest forager I have ever seen!  Her mother is pretty cute too.

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Emily and I split a box of apples.  She was turning hers into caramel apples.  I may try to store mine.  We feel blessed to have access to fresh, nutritious food that didn’t cost us anything and for generations of fabulous men and women to teach and love us.  Such a sweet life.

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Margarita Chicken (easy to make, quick dinner, great with a margarita! Ole!)

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Sometimes coming up with three meal ideas a day can be tiring, even daunting.  I needed inspiration and a margarita and that is how this recipe came about.  The next time you want an easy dinner that is festive and delicious, try this one.  For the complete experience play salsa music while cooking, sip on your margarita, and dance around the kitchen.  Olé!

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In a zip lock bag (I just used the one the thighs were defrosting in) pour a real good splash of margarita mix and tequila over two good sized pieces of chicken.  We get hungry over here.

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Put back in fridge until ready to use.  I kept them in there a few hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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In your first bowl add 1/2 cup of flour.  This is the key to good, crisp chicken.  Dredge the chicken in flour thoroughly first.

In the second bowl break a large egg and beat with a fork.  Dip the flour covered chicken pieces in egg.

In the third bowl combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning, 1 teaspoons of lime salt (or regular sea salt), 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper.  Chicken makes its last stop in this bowl.  Completely cover with flour/seasoning mixture and place pieces in a cast iron pan or baking dish.

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Bake for one hour.

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Corn and a crisp salad with chipotle ranch would be delicious with this.  ¡Buen provecho!

Now where’s Mama’s margarita?

 

A Family Pumpkin Party

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Holidays have always been important in our family.  It has been the catalyst for a million good memories, for rounding up the kids as they got older to bring us all together, to allow creativity, and to enjoy good food.

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We brought over all of the pumpkins from our garden (leaving a few for the resident buck) when we moved so our house is positively overflowing with a bountiful crop.  First dibs went to the kids that could venture out to our new house.  Andy and Megan had to work but Shyanne and Dillon, Emily, Bret, and Bret’s sister Becky drove over the river and through the woods to Grammie and Papa’s new homestead to take part in a pumpkin party reminiscent of their childhood.  We were babysitting Maryjane so she was already there to help me greet her parents, aunts, and Shyanne’s boyfriend.

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We served a simple meal of Jack O’Lantern hamburgers and veggie burgers (click for recipe), chips, pickles, and salad.  Cookies and homemade eggnog for dessert.  I was able to enjoy our festivities since everything came together so quickly.

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Becky, Maryjane, and her dad, Bret

Becky, Maryjane, and her dad, Bret

Shyanne and Dillon

Shyanne and Dillon

Maryjane with her parents, Bret and Emily.  Papa is in the back watching the Bronco game!

Maryjane with her parents, Bret and Emily. Papa is in the back watching the Bronco game!

Maryjane then stole Papa's hat and mugged for the camera.  Papa is the real paparazzi!

Maryjane then stole Papa’s hat and mugged for the camera. Papa is the real paparazzi!

Zuzu watches over in her Halloween decoration guise.

Zuzu watches over in her Halloween decoration guise.

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My hostess gift, the children writing on my chalkboard wall.

Parties don’t have to be difficult to pull off.  A few special touches and folks you love help create lifelong holiday memories.