The Enchanting Prairie Visitors

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The sun was shining yesterday and though the air was cool I figured it was a good time to get some laundry done.  The sky was clear and soft, a mirror of light blue stretching far and wide and the mountains stood tall in the distance.  A purple silhouette against the prairie sky.  The grasses swayed just gently.  The cows watched me as I brought my basket out to the line.  I am beginning to get used to the complete silence. It is the most beautiful sound.

I threw a towel over the clothes line and grabbed a pin to affix it when I heard the sound.  My mind ran through various files of what it could be and I realized I didn’t know.  A little panic struck as I worried that one of the goats may have gotten their head stuck or something just took a chicken, it was a sound of desperation, whatever it was.  And so like a flash I left my damp clothing and ran behind the greenhouse to the animal pens to see what was the matter.

And there along the fence line stood the most magical sight.  Over a dozen horses, donkeys, babies, and mules stood regally against the open space and greeted me.  My heart felt fuller, my breath exhaled, my smile got bigger, and I am sure I had the magic of a child in my eyes as I took in this majestic sight.  I walked over to the large mule and scratched his neck, felt his soft winter fur across his nose.  I chattered to and patted the surrounding horses and wooed the baby donkey nearer (who was the source of the unusual sound).  Another dozen horses on rest from cattle roundups and enjoying the miles and miles of prairie grasses began walking towards me as well. I found myself wishing for a camera but knew I could never capture the beauty and just enjoyed the moment and secured it to memory.

It was like an enchanting holiday movie or a commercial, it was so surreal and magical.  And beautiful.  And even when the day comes that I have my own horses and mules and donkeys, I shall not lose that wonder of seeing them there to greet me.  It felt like an early Christmas gift.  This prairie and all its beauty and quiet is a gift indeed.

Guess Who Came Home for Christmas!

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This farm just hasn’t seemed like a farm lately.  The chickens are still running amok and always hungry, the farm dog is sleeping, the cats are mousing, but something was missing.  We sure missed our goats!  About a month and a half ago they went to see about some men.  We hadn’t a clue what we were looking for regarding heat cycles so Isabelle’s original owner agreed to let the girls stay there and she would make sure they were bred.

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Goats have a twenty day heat cycle and on the eighteenth day of being at boarding school, Isabelle and Larry hooked up like long lost lovers and a few more Elsas may be born the end of April.  Elsa was not as easy to detect when she was in heat.  She is rather shy and wasn’t entirely impressed with the strutting boys.  I agreed to let the girls stay another twenty days.  We were already in for hay and Larry fees, may as well see if we couldn’t get Elsa knocked up too.  And around the 18th day she and a real shrimpy, but very good looking, Alpine got it on.  Not the original boy I had planned.  He is one of Larry’s sons, which I guess would make them half siblings….wait a ticket, didn’t think that one out….hmm.  He is a teenager himself and neither of them had any idea what they were doing, as can be true of any species at that age, but the owner of this fine barn and brothel had high hopes that she took.  So, in five months time, at the beginning of May for Miss Elsa, a baby or three may be born.

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My favorite part of Spring is finally getting my hands back in the soil and the ever enchanting miracle of baby animals everywhere we look and go, and on our own farmstead too.  Raise your glass of eggnog for my girlies and let’s wish them a healthy pregnancy and easy births!

Starting a Homesteading School

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Several times this year I had us (meaning myself and you readers) all write down dreams, goals, things we want to change in our lives, things that we are holding onto, things that we need to start in order to get our dreams to unfold before us.  For anything you desire or wish for will come to fruition.  Once you put it out there and start planning, it is a done deal.  For us, we longed for a place with more land.  We had truly run out of space at our adorable rental house in town on two-thirds of an acre.  We even dug up the driveway last year to plant more corn and herbs!  Our goats yelling at people walking by and the veritable farm right there in the middle of town was definitely a show-stopper and amazingly fun but we were ready for the next step of our journey.  We prayed and planned though we had no idea how it would even be possible.  We had no money and no credit but we needed a bigger farm and a smaller, quaint homestead with more off grid possibility, and a place where we could use the homesteading skills we had acquired over the years on our practice farms.

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A brief, out of nowhere call from our landlords telling us they needed to sell the house (it looks to be going into foreclosure though) and a trip down Craigslist way and bam we were staring at our dream home.  A tiny hundred-plus year old homestead filled with memories and history on ten acres for rent complete with goat pens and chicken coop, fenced garden, clothes line, wood cook stove, and views for miles.  Nothing is impossible with God indeed!  All for half the price we were paying in bills at the old place.

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There is one more piece to this dream we have concocted.  A school.  I have taught Certified Herbalist Courses for about five years now.  For two years I have taught sporadic homesteading classes in our cramped kitchen.  Soap making, cheese making, fun skills like that.  I enjoy making medicines, but the retail side of it needs to stay small and intimate, helping people directly, so it’s not enough to get us through financially.  That, and teachers must teach.  We go crazy if we don’t!

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Before now I have just offered homesteading classes here and there and have not really promoted them properly but I am now in my place where I can really make this dream come true.  So, I looked at the coming year’s calendar and made a  schedule.  I had already written down sometime this year all of the classes and event we could offer.  I proceeded to take a leap of faith and make this dream come to life.  I guess you will see along with me what transpires!

There is a tab on the menu above that reads “Homesteading School”, all classes and events are posted there.  They are also posted on my website http://gardenfairyapothecary.com and there is a place to pay for and sign up for classes.  I am really excited about this!  Perhaps I will be able to meet some of my readers at a farm event or class.

What dreams are you working on this year?

A Powerful Tool (for homesteading and beyond)

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What would you say is the most powerful thing on earth?  Water?  Money?  Love?  I would say prayer.  I am deeply spiritual/religious, whatever you want to call it, but I cringe when people start talking to me about their religion, their opinions, what the Bible says by their interpretation, how many people are converting…blah, blah, blah.  I kind of tune them out.  This is about something much more important, powerful, and life changing and something we could all incorporate more into our lives in the new year.  You read about my healings and I am a firm believer in God.  I have no choice.  And I wish that everyone could experience the types of miracles I have seen.  Perhaps everyone has, they just can’t see them.  But, prayer can lift our spirits, give us a sense of community, well being, security, and can produce miracles.

My son asked why he can’t just pray that his wife would come back.  Because she has free will, I explained.  But God can help heal his heart, give him strength, and comfort.  Prayer is not about feeling more powerful or more superior to other people, it’s about life.

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My mother taught me when I was young how to pray.  Don’t start with gimme this and gimme that, she said.  Start with thanksgiving.  Be grateful and thank God for all of your blessings.  Then ask for forgiveness for the things that have inevitably been done since we are, after all, human.  This is not to avoid hell, this is to help be aware of what we may be doing that hurts others or ourselves.  Then humbly ask your intentions.

God can and will help anything come into being that you wish.  So, be careful what you ask for.  This homestead is cold but it is what I asked for!  We cannot make someone love us or make someone stay on earth if their journey here is over.  But we can receive comfort, strength, guidance, guardian angels, friends, teachers, and a companion if we trust God and not ourselves.  Notice that you have always been provided for.  I love how my friend, Lisa, put it; He’s a 11:59 God!  We get the money to pay bills and the wisdom to handle things at the last minute!  But it always comes!

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I love in the movie, “Taladega Nights”, where they keep praying to the baby Jesus.  It cracks me up.  But we all view the Creator in a different way.  I know my soul is connected to everyone else’s and everything, from trees to owls, and we are all one with the Source of Life and that we all go right back to that powerful Source when we are done here.  We have all had experiences with the supernatural so we know that spirits of the deceased are still around.

There are often misunderstandings regarding the saints in the Catholic Church and in praying to spirits in nature.  These are not gods, and no one thinks they are!  They are helpers who will pray for us and the more prayers the better!  The reason we light candles during prayer is to keep the prayer going.  Doug and I have experienced that the candle goes out when the prayer is answered.  Just look around and take note of your life and surroundings and you too will be astounded and mystified.

I don’t just pray before meals or before bed or just when I need something.  I chatter with God all day.  Try it, it will change your life.  We should pray for each other as well.  There is great power in that.  Let’s start a prayer circle.  Write in the comments what you would like to be prayed for (or email me personally at Katie@gardenfairyherbal.com) and let’s all pray for each other.  You will see amazing things happen in your life.

Will you pray for my son, Andrew, as his wife left after only five months of marriage and left him broken hearted?

Will you pray for my cousin, Linda, as she mourns her husband who just ended his journey here on earth quite suddenly?

Will you also pray for guidance and protection over my family?

What can I pray for you?

Wishing you all peace and great joy during this beautiful season and into the new year.

A Perfectly Marvelous Salad

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A perfectly marvelous salad should be extremely simple to make, quite inexpensive if you have to purchase the ingredients because of the snow in the garden, and nutritious with lots of unique flavors.  This one fits the bill.  It meets every possible diet, I think, and is so tasty, I could practically eat it every day.  It is our main course lunch salad quite often but with a side of salmon or egg drop soup it would make a nice supper.

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For two people chop one head of romaine and split it between two bowls.

Slice open an avocado and discard the pit.  Place one half on each bowl.

Fill cavity of avocado with pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds.

Drizzle very lightly rice wine vinegar, a bit more sesame oil, and good splashes of soy sauce.

Enjoy with green tea or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

To your health!

5 Ways to Make the New Year Better (write down yours!)

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I really enjoy my time with other homesteaders.  I find comfort in how much we have in common.  We don’t get to see our country friends too much because we are all so darn busy but now that things are settling down we’ll possibly have time for impromptu visits.  Yesterday our friend and neighbor from ten miles down the road came by to visit.  He didn’t call (country friends rarely do) and I was frazzled that the house was in such disarray.  We had the baby all day and I could either do dishes and clean or play with the baby.  I spent too many years cleaning and doing dishes while my children grew up without me playing with them so I opted to play.  She had just fallen asleep when Jim came by.  We had a nice chat in the sunny living room in front of the Christmas tree and talked about the snow coming, work slowing down for both of us, the holidays, he lost his dad and how sad he was, what medicines we were making (he was one of my students), and laundry.  Yes, laundry.  You can tell the weather out here by the clothes lines.  The day before a cold front comes in we all do our laundry so it will be dry by time the cold hits.  He had a load in the washer so couldn’t stay long.  I did too.  We had a pleasant chat and agreed to get together for cards soon.

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I am very content.  Despite the cold (which we can handle and are hoping to put in another stove) we have just the life we want out here.  As the new year approaches though I find myself pondering what I could do better, what more I want in my life, and how I want to improve as a person.  Maybe you are too.  Instead of calling these things resolutions, let’s just call them new additions (or subtractions!) from our life and make a personalized plan for success!  I have started them now.  No reason to wait.  Write these five things down on a piece of paper and start pondering them now.  They can be easily implemented throughout the next year and help you become your best self.

1. Learn Something New

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What would you like to learn in the new year?  Let’s not forget that learning goes on our whole lives and that learning new things is great for the brain, the body, and spirit.  I wanted to learn how to learn how to ride horses.  Now, I have rode dozens of horses on trails that the horse knew by heart and they were already saddled up and ready to go for fifty dollars an hour.  Or friend and family’s horses that were in a ring, and again, already to go.  I put out on social media that I would like to learn how to ride horses and was willing to barter for lessons.  I expected to learn western riding.  I would love to get a horse or two in the future (the sooner the better!) and expect to be riding western style.  But when one of my friends and past students offered me English riding lessons, I took it.  She already knows how to make medicines so I bartered for my husband.  His expertise anyway.  I let him know he was helping her design a facebook and website for her upcoming business.  He is a good sport.

You can find someone to teach you virtually anything and folks are happy to share what they know.  You will easily be able to barter or find inexpensive classes.  Or splurge and take up tap lessons or go to drawing school.  Just learn something new.

What skill would you like to learn?

2. Take Care of Your Body

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We can all do the things we love a lot easier if we feel good.  Identifying and implementing what we need to feel our best is very important and shouldn’t be put off!  We all have different needs and cannot just blindly follow the latest fad or phase.  For me, I need to change the way I eat.  A year ago, after twenty plus years of being a vegetarian, I decided to start eating meat again.  The prairie lifestyle and the organic farms around me, not to mention being out of things to cook, inspired me to try it.  It would be a more self sufficient way to eat as well since I could easily pack my freezers with friends’ harvests.  In one year, I became depressed, my face showed more wear and tear, my stomach always hurt, I had heartburn every night for the first time in my life, and I was lethargic and tired all the time.  My husband wasn’t faring much better.  His acid reflux came back, chronic congestion, and breathing issues ensued.  He gained weight and was also tired all the time.  Enough was enough.  I sold every bit of meat in the refrigerator.  We are starting our mornings with a quart of green smoothies filled with spinach, aloe vera, frozen berries and rhubarb packed away earlier in the season.  Apples, also from Aunt Donna’s, and bananas, pumpkin, spices, anything else I can find filled with antioxidants goes into the fabulous Vitamix and is already infusing our bodies with more nutrients than we have had for a long time.  The hole in my stomach is healing and I can sleep now.  All digestive ailments have gone away.  Doug is detoxing pretty harshly but will feel better soon.

Instead of buying veggie meats (I was trying to get away from them because they have so many GMO’s in them and are owned by the big companies) I am experimenting with more ethnic foods.  Dal, Curries, Mexican food, all different cuisines from other countries that don’t eat a lot of meat or have a wide variety of beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices.  We are still eating and enjoying fish.  Not only will be getting healthier again but I have opened up a whole other world of delicious recipes and foods.  I will start checking out a different cookbook each week from the library.  I can also grow most of these foods.  I will increase my bean and lentil crops this year and pack in as many vegetables into my new garden as possible!

How will you make your body work better?

3. Take Care of Emotions

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Our bodies are made up of emotions, spirit, and physical and they all need to be working well because they effect the rest of the systems.  I avoid the news like the plague.  No news is good news.  But social media bothers me as well.  I enjoy getting onto Facebook and seeing what my friends are up to or seeing pictures of my kids and granddaughter, but then there comes a point where I have to stop.  Folks posting pictures of abused and neglected animals out in the snow, and posts of what Monsanto is doing, and what our government is doing, or complaints about various ailments, and this and that, I just can’t take it all in and process it without feeling saddened.  Check it in the mornings while I am writing and returning emails then leave it.

How will you seek emotional health?

4. Take Care of Spirit

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I love church, I really do.  I find myself making it way too difficult.  I do not like legalistic and superior feeling folks.  I love the Catholic church, but stupid as it sounds, I cannot get down the new prayers and sayings and need to get the new booklet on the changes.  I yell out the wrong thing.  I also would need to meet all new people.  I just want to go, sit in the back, and pray.  I don’t want to be a part of a community.  I am always disappointed in church communities when I do.  I know I am expecting too much.  I love the gathering every other Sunday downtown with my American Indian friends called Talking Circle.  It is two hours from my house though.  We pick up the baby at 11.  So I don’t have time (so I say) to go to any of them!  Excuses, excuses.  What do I want?  Go to Saturday evening mass, pick up the baby early and drive to Denver and go to Talking Circle and make a day in the city of it, or just go for a long walk and pray.  There are many ways to connect to the Creator.  Put it on my schedule and do it.

5. List What Makes You Happy

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These are the things we need to do more of.  We so often say at the beginning of the year, no more of this!  No more of that!  Change this!  Change that!  How about add this and that?  It will make all the difference.  For me, I love being home more.  I do not like running errands and driving all over all the time.  We have one more week of craft shows.  I love just staying at home and working on my homestead.  I love taking walks and being in nature.  I love writing.  I love reading magazines on the porch.  I love being around my kids and around sweet Maryjane Rose.  These are the types of things I should do more of.

Now write down yours!

From our farm to yours…wishing you a beautiful and prosperous year to come filled with good health and joy and many, many great memories!  Feel free to respond with your goals for the new year.  Let’s not wait until the 1st to feel great!

 

 

A Very Prairie Christmas

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The bees were out yesterday.  I could hear their sweet buzzing all around me as they took advantage of the beautifully tepid day.  Just a hint of coolness swept the air to remind me that it was December but the sun shone bright and warm and I decided to take a walk across the prairie.  The barn owl swept in front of me, round and solid, his steel colored wings glinting slight across the air in front of me, gracefully sweeping across the prairie.  The mountains rested majestically across the horizon, their shadowy masses holding the sky.  A group of horses gathered in the distance grazing softly.

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The ancient willow holds masses of singing blackbirds and large owls.  A century or more of memories do my favorite trees hold.  Signs of cattle that grazed here long ago, and of antelopes not so long.  The Buffalo grasses with their curvy heads and the colorful prairie grasses defied the supposed snowy landscape that is so often envisioned with Christmas.  This is what a Colorado Christmas often looks like.  I find myself wishing for a bit of snow.  Sunday we are to get a little and the feeling of Christmas will shine all the brighter.

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I gather kindling with my companion. (The neighbor’s dog, Serina, who is ridiculously cute.)

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Inside the house, all is bright.  Simple decorations best show the spirit of Christmas in this hundred plus year old homestead.  This year we got our first real Christmas tree and it feels simple and beautiful.

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Real greenery, candles, pine cones, feathers…cats…all decorate the scene.  The birds play outside in their feeder entertaining the felines.  Our new rescues add quite a lot of Christmas cheer to this place!

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A vintage sled sets boldly on the dining room table with fresh greens and candles.  This helps create a feeling of fun and winter magic.

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Outdoors the woodland creatures welcome visitors.

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Everyone has one sadness or another at Christmas time.  Remembering and missing loved ones, financial woes, relationship troubles, irritation with our consumerism society.  But the spirit of Christmas is there all the same.  Beautiful and glowing, we remember that God ever loves us and takes care of us and that our prayers are always answered.  Sometimes the puzzle comes together later and we can see why things occurred but they are always answered.  We will celebrate Hanukkah with Doug’s parents and remember the miracles that God made and we will remember the child born, the reason for the season.  Not in a legalistic, all must believe everything I believe way, but in a spirit of humility and humbleness.  Prayers for those deceased, prayers for the living.  Acts of kindness without folks expecting it.  Simple things like paying for someone else’s coffee or sending an unexpected letter.

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This year we haven’t much money.  All the lists I love to make throughout the year of things I would like to get people I cannot.  It makes me sad because even though I talk about simple this and simple that, I want to spoil my children and give Doug all the things he won’t buy for himself.  I want my friends to have beautiful gifts and I want…well, this year is a handmade Christmas.  Quilts, aprons, scarves, canned foods, and baskets of goodies, gifts tailored for the recipient and wrapped with love, but not store bought and I wonder how folks will take to these but I shall give them with the spirit of Christmas, with love and with a giving heart.  I will remember that our blessings are many.  For I had material and food to can and I have people to make things for.  My heart overflows with joy.

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A handmade, simple Christmas on the prairie is a blessing for sure.  Time to put on my favorite Christmas album by Andy Williams (my son’s namesake) and do a little sewing!  May you have a simple season filled with love and fond memories of past and present.

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And may your heart be filled with the childlike wonder of Christmas…

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