Something New for Your Bookshelf (my two new books!)

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I have been missing.  What could keep me from writing my blog?  What could make my house look like a tornado hit it?  Dishes piled up in the sink, papers strewn everywhere?  My back has been my enemy.  The enemy of a writer who types too much.  That is not why I haven’t been writing here though, it’s because I have been putting the finishing touches on my two new books.

The first came out Saturday.  The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; The Recipes of Garden Fairy Apothecary made its debut.  All of my life’s work in herbalism thus far.  Every hour of research, every medicine made, every plant wild crafted, every body product recipe, every medicine recipe all combined in a book easily understandable now that I am closing my company.  Secrets I kept from my own students.  Every tried and true recipe recorded and ready to share.

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The second book will be out by the thirteenth of March.  Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 will lead new homesteaders on their journey without quite as many trials and errors as we had!  Sections include achieving goals, farming, chickens, ducks, goats, skills, preserving, recipes, and much more!  Excerpts from the blog and additional notes make up the book.

So, now, if you will excuse me, I have a hot water bottle and a sore back to attend to.  And a house to clean!

If you are interested in the Homestead’s Pharmacy simply send a check to Katie Sanders, 7080 Calhan Road South, house 2, Calhan, CO 80808 for $40 plus $7 shipping and handling.  I am excited to share this information with you.  Thanks for reading my works.  I could not be a writer without readers.  Here’s to your health and empowerment!

A Field Trip to the Hot Springs

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The mountains were alight with the glow that only comes from thick blankets of snow.  An illuminant feel to the air, light and free, while whipping through the valleys of highways to get to our destination.  We had escaped.

We didn’t get as much snow as everyone else and we figured if we could get through the drift on the driveway and if the dirt road had been plowed it would smooth sailing up the roads to the mountains.  The two hour drive was beautiful, the glistening snow fresh and the roads were not treacherous as we had feared.  We were on our way to the Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

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So often folks think of Glenwood Springs as the hot springs of the mountains but this beautiful respite is often overlooked.  The priest at my parish when I was a child, Father Weibel, would take my siblings and I to the hot springs for fun.  It was always exciting and we would end the outings with a stop at the A&W, now a Barbeque joint.  We have taken our children to the hot springs since they were small and have enjoyed many a stay here for birthdays and anniversaries.

You would have to live in an old homestead to think it the Ritz, but the quaintness and the rusticity of the place is endearing and a lovely, peaceful getaway.  We stayed in a room in the main building.  The ones across the street are complete with full baths and such but they remind me of a motel and I rather enjoy the idea of staying in ancient rooms with push lights, windows with views up the mountains and wood paneling.  Presidents likely stayed in these rooms.  They have half baths but if you are swimming in the lovely hot springs the whole time, who needs their own shower?

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Thanks to the snow storm, many guests had cancelled so we had the pool to ourselves twice during our visit.  The temperature was so cold outdoors that under the greenhouse canopy of tropical plants steam rose up from the lagoon-like pool creating a feel of stranded island and romance.  It was heavenly and warm, the hot mineral springs loosening my aching shoulders from too many hours of typing.  In passionate embrace we took in the smells of soil, the large palm trees tucked under the corrugated roof with condensation dripping lightly into the warm water.  The only sound was from the gush of searing hot water coming from one end and the light wading of water from our fingertips.

After nearly thirty years of going to this beautiful holiday spot, I recommend that you go on weekdays and avoid weekends and holidays as it gets very crowded.  A random Tuesday or snowy Sunday night will find you mostly alone.  There are caves and clothing optional, gender specific areas, which we haven’t ventured to yet only because we like swimming together.  They have a package for $109 for the night Sundays through Thursdays which includes unlimited access to the pool and caves, an overnight room, and a $25 gift certificate to a choice of four restaurants for dinner.  A wonderful price for a wonderful place for escape!

http://indianhotsprings.com

A Shed of One’s Own

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This has been the year of inspiration for me.  I am passionately fired up and fueled by inspiration and sheer joy right now.  This beautiful homestead and all its capabilities, a new place to call home, meeting new people, closing one side of our business and building the other, I am dreaming, and notebooks are filling up with ideas to incorporate this year.  I am writing two books, my classes are filling up, and my seeds are arriving in the mail.  And I am looking at sheds.

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In the book I told you about called “Off on our Own,” by Ted Carns, he had built several sheds over the years on his property to hold tools, one that acted as a library, even a chapel.

The tiny house craze has certainly been an inspiration as well.

On one of our trips to New Mexico we toured a very old hacienda that was the blueprint of our dream home.  Each room stood side by side in a square all facing an inner courtyard.  Each room led outside to the courtyard.  The rooms consisted of bedrooms, a rough kitchen, a fiber room, and a chapel.

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Doug came up with the idea.  We could use sheds to create our little hacienda.  We will have one that is a bedroom, either for ourselves or as a guest room for friends, children, or interns.  We will have one that is an art studio so that I have a place to stretch out and not worry about kitties running across wet paint.  We will have one that is a sitting room, maybe complete with a small wood stove for sitting and dreaming quietly, with a wall of books nearby.  We will have one with a chapel.  A place to pray, reflect, light a candle, a place where visitors can say their graces and feel healed upon this magical land that we have encountered.  We could even put up a shed with a composting toilet.  These sheds would be in a U shape with the courtyard in front complete with a high enough fence that an owl won’t take off with the kitties should they want to take a field trip to the hacienda.  The view would look out across the mountain range.  The combination of city lights and stellar stars would be a magical place in the summer.  We could be close to the chickens, goats, and lambs to ward off predators, and we would have a place for visitors or give the visitors the house and we’ll stay in our shed hacienda seasonally.

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There are no zoning laws or permits required for a shed.  A shed could be built with found materials with friends for little money or one could purchase one of the darling ready made sheds complete with windows and a front porch.  We will probably seek assistance and build our own, unless we come into a bit of money, then we’ll go shopping!  We will face our shed hacienda to the west so we have this view.

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What are you inspired to do this year?

Excerpts From My Honeymoon Memoirs (and never ending adventures)

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2003…It’s seventy degrees, slight breeze.  I look out and see nothing but navy blue with white foam spreading sporadically.  Glorious!  I did not, for the first time in my life, wake up last night. The rocking of the boat knocked me into restful bliss!  The sky, right now, is cloudy with patches of blue, the air is sweet, and salty, and clean…

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We went to a beautiful theater, large with lush red sofas and small tables set in front with art work of Renoir pasted upon them.  Large windmills two stories high perched on the sides of the stage, millions of lights.  A big band played and we danced up a storm in front of a partially filled theater on stage.  I have married my soul mate!…

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Jamaica…exuberant, vibrant floral trees, one hundred foot high bamboo, everything tropical and lush.  The mountain was scattered with mansions and cinderblock homes in no particular order.  Children bathing in the stream.  The sound of birdsong, the smell of rain and earth, hot sun, tropical flowers, dark skinned beauties (with no dental care), and another world…Doug was offered drugs four times…

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We are quite famous on this ship.  We are stopped several times a day and complimented on our dancing and singing.  We are sweetly referred to as the Honeymooners though it wasn’t really announced that we are.  We were told we have stars in our eyes…

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Cayman is the opposite of Jamaica, sparkling clean, English influence, professional souvenir shops, more expensive, but still breathtakingly beautiful…a lot of tame stingrays swept briskly and familiarly along our sides and legs.  We fed them squid, and with a strong suction, they slurped it out of our fist.  They are incredibly soft, four feet across, magnificent animals…

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We went to the top of the ship, to the top deck, under the stars looking out across the water, and danced to Doug singing “When I’m Sixty-Four” without another soul around…

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We rode horseback in Cozumel in the sweltering heat through Mayan ruins which were rather fascinating.  My horse had a mind of her own and didn’t like Doug’s horse.  The foliage was very much like ours.  The difference was the hundreds of iguanas freely crossing the streets, trails, running about as frequently as squirrels!…

Overall, the places we have visited are beautiful and colorful, different and exciting.  But nothing beats Colorado’s charming mountain towns, swimming in the hot springs, and the houses down sixth avenue are still the prettiest I have seen.

I am sitting on the veranda once more waiting for Doug to take me on more adventures…

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My, what adventures we’ve had!  I look forward to many, many more….

We were to go on a trip to the mountains this weekend for our anniversary but it looks like we will be snowed in.  As long as I am with him, I will be happy. 

Emily at Eighteen (Happy Birthday!)

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“Oh Emily, so sweet and true

Oh Emily, my love for you extends beyond a thousand miles

Will see us through a thousand trials

All I see and know to be right,

disappear from my sight,

as my adoration for you surrounds us like light.”

March 1997

a long time ago

1997

I think Maryjane looks a lot like her mother!

I think Maryjane looks a lot like her mother!

2015

Emily at Eighteen, a beautiful sight

sweet and kind, a joyous light

a stubborn streak, a knowing grin

a good friend to seek, a great passion within.

And now another from your womb

brings even more light to this room

And the world spins and I have won

with my girls life gets lots more fun.

 

I am honored to be the mother of one so dear

Emily, you grow more beautiful with each passing year.

 

Happy Birthday!

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Tuesday Night Supper Club (invite someone to dinner!)

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When our children were young and we lived in the city, we enjoyed entertaining and having folks over for supper.  We’d have twenty people at a time for parties and dinners.  It was fun but exhausting.  When we moved to the country, it was dwindled down to the friends willing to drive out, then when we moved even further, we just met people at restaurants half the time.  Now that we are really out there, it’s a mite quiet.  I love my little home here and the area is so beautiful that I could stay here each day, bustling around my little homestead, my own mind my companion but that is not really how we are made.  We all desire community and friends.  I have very good friends.  We all see each other as much as we can but we knew we had to develop some ties out here.

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We raise a slight wave as we pass folks on the dirt roads.  Cowboy jeans are the norm (my y’all, my husband looks good in his!) and a hat is pretty common as well.  The careers range from retired to rancher, but everyone is out here for the lifestyle.

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Our nearest neighbor is a good mile away and sadly I haven’t made it up there yet to introduce myself.  But wait!  I stand corrected, my nearest neighbor is 80 feet away.  Our landlords live on the property and are kind enough to rent this place to us and let us have our menageries of farm species.  They are also very kind people.  We clicked immediately and it’s like having your good friend next door.

Isn't that an Eddie Haskell grin?!  I like this kid a lot.

Isn’t that an Eddie Haskell grin?! I like this kid a lot.

Last week I invited them here for dinner and we had a great time laughing and enjoying some of Bill’s homemade wine.  Dianna and I chatted chirpily in the kitchen as Will played with the animals that I leave him in charge of if we are away for more than eight hours (Bumble the Greyhound’s bladder limit).  Bill has grown up here.  His grandparents owned this property.  His grandmother slept on the covered porch that is now our living room.  He has hilarious stories of his youth out here.  The story of how they met at a wedding was even funnier.  Dianna and her friends were in Calhan for a wedding.  She lived in Colorado Springs, and here was this rambunctious young man scaring someone with a large snake.  At which point, dressed in her best, she grabbed the snake from him!  That was over thirty years ago.

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We went to their house last night.  (My, it is nice to just sleepily walk eighty feet home after supper.)  I brought my homemade chokecherry wine that I made a few months ago.  Yikes, it was dreadful!  They kept the bottle saying they will fix it.  They will filter it a few times then properly bottle it with a cork and leave it on its side.  I will need to do that with the other ones as well.  And next year, a bit more sugar would be welcomed.  Choke cherries are a smidge bitter!

Thankfully they had another bottle.

Thankfully they had another bottle.

She made a pork roast that just melted in your mouth (I know, I went back to vegetarian, but I seriously had thirds.  Don’t want to be rude, you know!) with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

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We played a lively version of Rummy that was new to me and Doug.  It was a bit riotous and extremely fun.

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The evening ended with a luscious angel food cake and more laughter.

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Every prayer we said when seeking our new homestead and move was answered including the unuttered; new friends, great landlords and neighbors.  I’ll admit I had done my worry wort thing, What if they don’t like roosters?  What if they don’t want us to have any more animals?  What if they don’t like us?  All is well though and I am thankful.

It is so much fun having folks over for supper.  It is more relaxed and much less expensive than going to a restaurant and you are making time for people you care about and also making time for fun and laughs.  Next week, who will you invite over for a casual supper?

 

Attend a Festival or Event at Pumpkin Hollow Farm

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I can hear it now.  The sound of music surrounding the prairie as the owls look on from the south pasture.  The warm summer evening is cooled with a passing breeze, the smell of roses upon it.  The mountains across the horizon are bright with summer color and the prairie is its variegated taupe patinas.  A refreshing drink in hand, folks on blankets laughing and enjoying the summer sounds of fiddle make for a great end of season day.

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Oh I know there is snow still sifting into the ground and the fire is crackling merrily in the wood stove but I wanted to share the farm events that will be occurring in the late summer and fall so that you, my friends, can plan ahead to visit our farm during one of these summer festivities that we will have on Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  It would be so great to meet some of you in person, see old friends, and share in a celebration of harvest and good fun.  There are motels and great camping facilities just seven miles down the road in the little town of Calhan.  We are just thirty minutes from Colorado Springs and there you will find many great historical sites, museums, hotels, and fine dining should you want to make Colorado your destination for a  summer vacation this year.  For all of you local readers, I hope you’ll make the brief drive and join us on our new farm.  Here is the line up for events…

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Sunday, August 30th- Homesteading Boot Camp

Start the day early on the farm and choose between learning to milk a goat or going on a wild herb walk in the pasture.  Meet back at the farm kitchen for breakfast and hot coffee.  You will choose from a myriad of homesteading classes upon sign up taught by five different instructors, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  A picnic lunch will break up the day.  There will farm tours and a Question and Answer forum for the instructors.  Our day will end a potluck dinner and live music.  $100

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Saturday, September 12th at noon- Pumpkin Hollow Farm Harvest Party

Bring a dish to share and come enjoy a meal with community and new friends.  A professional karaoke host will be there to make all the guests the stars (start planning your songs!) and will play some great dance music as well (have you ever danced among pumpkins?).  Our pumpkin patch will open that day and guests will have first harvest of the festive orbs.  Choose your perfect pumpkin to take home (nominal fee).  Visit with the animals.  Take a tour of the gardens.  Relax and meet new folks.  We’ll eat, drink, and be merry and celebrate the harvest while singing our hearts out.  Free!  Kindly RSVP

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Saturday, October 10th at 3:00- 1st Annual Food Swap

Bring a dish to share and preserved items to barter with.  Meat, cheeses, home canned goods, wine, whatever would keep well in the winter works!  Enjoy an afternoon of comradery among other homesteaders and have more selection in your pantry at the end of it!  We’ll dine alfresco with new friends and enjoy the farm in Autumn.

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Saturday, November 1st at 6:00- Samhain Dinner

Pronounced Sow-in, this holiday is most identified with pagans but it is actually an ancient Celtic holiday that marked the end of the agricultural year.  The end of the harvest and the beginning of winter was a time for reflection and rest.  The fires would begin to burn in the hearths of the homes of farmers and there was less to do.  After the busyness of summer the farmers would start to think of loved ones that had passed on that year.  Samhain is a time of remembrance and the mark of the new year.  Join us for a silent dinner.  Bring a dish to share that reminds you of the person that is in your heart that has left this world.  We will set a plate for the people that have left a hole in our lives and sit among our new friends and have a meal by candlelight and music in silence.  At the end of dinner we will share stories and reverie, enjoy a glass of wine and dessert, and celebrate the beginning of winter’s rest.  Free!  RSVP  Space is limited.

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I am proud to be adding to the 14% of women owned farms.  This is a such a big dream for me.  But I don’t want to just feed people and introduce them to fabulous new foods, I want to feed people with community and friendship.  So many are lonely, so many kids don’t get outside, so many don’t know a goat from a dog!  I want to build a rich foundation here on this farm to encourage, inspire, and bring folks together.  Won’t you join us for one of our events?  We’d love to have you!