The thing about sunshine is that you just wanna be in it. It doesn’t matter what else needs to be done. All the tasks that involve being not in the sunshine very simply become something that can wait, and you go about finding new things to do. Like shoveling goat poop. Yep. Shoveling poo can be the most pleasant check off on your to do list if that poo shoveling is done in the sunshine. Yes, Siree. There is no frown that sunshine cannot fix.
It was a beautiful day through and through. We lingered in bed just long enough to enjoy games of undercover hide and seek, that even the teenager came in for after the beckoning holler from her little sister. We enjoyed French toast for breakfast courtesy of an awesome husband/daddy and homemade cinnamon bread. Soooo good! And then the next several hours saw us hard at work and play in the yard, listening to the bees happy buzzing and watching the goats chomp leaves and explore new territory. The first little shoots of Spring are showing their beautiful faces and I am giddy! After yesterdays Homesteading Fair and talking to folks about the farm, today was a perfect continuation of the love and positive energy of moving forward.
Tonight I meet up with my lovely Circle of sisters to learn something new and celebrate this magic moon. It is a blessed day and I am so happy to be here.
So happy. That’s the thing about sunshine.
Yesterday the sun was shining. The temperatures were glorious. It was a perfect day for working outside and Spring dreaming. Unfortunately I was inside all day on the phone with insurance companies and one medical provider after another dealing with the financial leftovers of the car accident. I understand now why it is so important to have an attorney. Unfortunately (again) I do not. This car accident has caused nothing but pain, stress and grief for my family. The stress of it is truly exhausting. Sigh… And breathe.
This morning we met some new neighbors. A nice young couple that wanted to meet the goats. They kept goats in Hawaii, among other things, and were happy to see urban farming happening just doors down from them. We were happy to meet possible future goat sitters. I hope to go out to the land with Niko come Solstice time. Finding someone to mind the chickens has not been an issue so far, but milking goats comes with a whole new set of difficulties, which is why I haven’t spent a night away in almost a years time.
In typical Colorado fashion, on the heels of a warm, bright and shiny yesterday came a cold and snowy today. We made the best of it with blueberry chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and an afternoon family movie; the latter of which never happens. It was nice.
And now to catch up on some writing with a hot cup of tea, snuggle time with the little one, and dreams of Spring from the inside out. You just gotta roll with it.
It’s a brilliant day. You’d never know that just two days ago we woke up to a winter wonderland. Again. Colorado is a great place to live if you’re working on being present. I am simultaneously crocheting a scarf while writing this post. I write on scrap paper, outside with the chickens. You gotta take advantage of the sunshine at all costs. So I write a paragraph, crochet a row, write a paragraph, etc…
I’m enjoying a solitary moment right now. Niko took the baby on errands, Daisy’s inside doing homework, and I am here in the sunshine, with you. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately. So much is happening so fast. And we have to keep riding that momentum because the next year is going to count for a lot.
My best friend came to visit last week. She of my gypsy days when we lived by the road and the wind. We sat outside in this same spot and talked about life, age, everything we have done, and everything we’ve yet to do. We are both so grateful. We know we have been blessed. Our friendship alone is evidence of that. While she was here I shared with her the dream of our future farm. She of course is behind us 100%. I had a nice little day and a half vaca during her visit and then it was quickly back to the grind of living. It’s a good grind though. Like fresh coffee.
My nose is stuck in gardening books and the library hold shelf is overflowing. I can’t help it. I never get through them all but I always end up inspired by what I do manage to get through. Though our sights are set on that future farm our feet are still planted on this one. There are garden plans to be made. Seeds to be started, and as always, new tips to learn for growing better. Every year we get a better hang of things. I’m really excited about what this season will bring to my kitchen.
Last year was good. This year will be better.
It’s time to find my way back, with more drive and more purpose than I’ve ever shown before. With my workshop behind me it is now time to put my focus into this farm. Our future. There is a great deal of lesson to be found in living in the now. It is a meaningful practice and one that, as a yoga teacher I often employ. It is a path to be respected, but lately I have learned a new way to honor both being present while still looking forward. I heard recently said, “We cannot fully live in the now if we do not know what we are living for.” Right now I am basking in some long awaited sunshine which calls me to express enormous gratitude in the now, but also allows me to sing forth praises to the coming of spring.
With Imbolc just behind us (that day of fire that has been relegated to the groundhog), it becomes easier to set your sights on the sun with the growing light and the waxing year. Seed catalogs are arriving in the mailbox, and although the earth is still too cold to plant, the spark of inspiration has been ignited. You start to dream wistfully for warmer days and dirt in your fingernails. The Sun is a promise. The wheel turns.
For Folkways, the blossoms in our visions are not only from those hard shelled seeds waiting for the earth to ripen, but exist in a not so far off reality we have designated as home. We have found the future of Folkways in an 80 acre parcel of land 6 hours west from where we are now. It is a piece of earth that has found its way deep into our hearts. It is right. We are on a forward path and will work hard everyday to make our dream come true.
It’s a big dream. But life is big. Too big to dream small.
You’re going to be hearing a lot from me these days. I’m going to be working diligently to turn this blog into a presence of its own. I want people to know about us and our dream. I want to inspire helping hands that will help us manifest our vision, and in turn, inspire other big dreams to happen. If your dream is to live in a Manhattan highrise, a villa on the Mediterranean, or to become a sustainable farmer like me, I want us all to know we will do it.
So from here on out, expect big things from Folkways Farm. We are here. And we will grow.
The first item on my agenda is to increase readership of the blog and to fan out the Facebook page. So I will be offering giveaways. I was inspired to do this from one of my favorite authors, Jenna at Cold Antler Farm. She is a force to be reckoned with and continues to inspire me with her joy and perseverance. Thank you, Jenna.
Our first giveaway will be a $30 gift certificate to our Farm Store. Here you’ll find handcrafted items from my bloom daisy shop, homemade goat milk soap or goat milk/cheese shares, books on farming, natural building, and sustainable living, cob workshops, sewing and crocheting lessons, as well as private yoga classes and spiritual programs from One Rhythm, and much more!
All you have to do to enter is this: Sign up to follow this blog (in the upper right corner of this page), “like” us on Facebook and share our story with one other person. Whether that’s through word of mouth, or passing along our link on Facebook, or any other method of your choosing. Then come back here and leave a comment on this post that you’ve done so. That’s it! You’re entered! I’ll announce the winner on the New Moon, March 1st.
Thank you for your love and support and as always, DREAM BIG.
These last couple of months have kept me busy and away from writing here. but I’ll be back in early February on a regular basis again. I am so grateful for the many blessings that my family and I have. I would say we are lucky, and then my wonderful neighbor Dawn would remind me ‘not lucky, blessed.’ So yes, we are blessed, and looking forward to 2014.
We’re in the future now, folks. Wow. 2014 is totally Science Fiction. But then, our lives today are Science Fiction compared to 50 years ago.
We’ve had one good snow so far this winter season, and I hope for land’s sake we get many more. Here are a few recaps in pictures:
Magic is afoot around here lately and I’ve no doubt that this coming year is going to be about hard work and moving forward. Our dreams are in sight. We have the power to make things happen and we’re going to do it. I am so grateful that I was blessed with such a doer for a husband. He balances my flightiness quite well.
My kids are healthy and that is always something to be thankful for. They both get more adorable as each day passes. I don’t know how it happens, but I speak the truth. Here is a happy Christmas time photo of the girls:
Happy new year tidings from Folkways Farm. As Woody says, “Dream good. Stay glad. Wake up and fight.”
Twas the time of Deep Winter when darkness prevails, and all through the homestead we shared olden tales
of lives long ago when times were much harder, to survive the long winter they stocked full their larder.
The seasons harvest put by with much canning and drying, when hard work meant the difference between living and dying.
Those things that today are taken for granted, when barely a thought goes to seeds that are planted.
But there are those of us trying to go back to the ways, when life was simpler and we found meaning in our days.
Modern day farmers and urban homesteaders, we work though mistakes and try to do things better.
We have conveniences that our forefathers did not, we try to find balance so our children are taught
that life can hold meaning under a deep winter sky, that we can learn much from our forebears gone by.
On our small city lots we plant veggies and grains, we raise chickens and bees and are never quite the same
because we start to see what matters the most, when we raise the bird that becomes the roast,
to feed the bellies so close to our hearts, food healthy and happy is a good place to start.
We are blessed to find balance when things aren’t as hard. We have Google at our fingertips and goats in our yard.
We have heat in our homes, refrigerators and cars, but still we can find joy in looking at the stars.
In this season of dark in the 6 degree chill, we light up our trees and sing out good will.
I’m happy we have our little town charm, but still keep the dream of our hundred acre farm.
But for now the chickens are nestled in their coop built of clay, the goats in the barn have clean straw and fresh hay.
The bees are wrapped tight in their top bar hive home, settled in for the long run with their shared honeycomb.
You start where you are and you do what you can. Teach your children well by nurturing the land.
Winter is here on our small little farm. The animals are tended, our toes are all warm.
The children are snuggled in our warm family bed as we huddle for space moving tiny limbs from our heads.
We wait for the Solstice and the return of the light. But for now from the darkness we bid you a goodnight.
Happy Holy-Days, from Folkways Farm.
It’s times like these (when this cold rolls in) that I always step into a deeper part of my gratitude. I remember all of the forces that came together to provide my home with heat. 2 years ago, we did not have any. Our windows froze up effectively creating an ice box out of our house. Our outside winter wardrobe was worn inside these walls. But because of the love and generosity of good friends, I write to you warmly, holding my baby that refuses to wear socks (I try, she pulls them off. Over and over again.) They are calling for lows of – 6. Winter is upon us. Snuggle up your loved ones, folks. Warm blessings, to you all.
This little bit of land, this first incarnation of Folkways Farm, has been an experiment for us in so many different ways. When we first bought the house, we had visions of doing much renovation to the now 104 year old structure. We managed to get the living room done before realizing doing much more than that while living in the house would cause a perceived inconvenience far greater than the idealized reward. So we went on living in the house and started to work the land.
A few things happened at the same time that sent us into the whirlwind that often happens when folks get bit by the farming bug. I left my stable job of six years, sent my construction energies into an exploration of alternative building methods, and we ordered our first batch of chicks.
Chickens, we have learned, are a gateway farm animal. And building with Earth easily becomes an insatiable obsession.
(This is Niko writing, for our regular Blog visitors seeking Brandi’s inspiring prose.)
Cob and chickens arriving in our lives together turned out to be a good pairing, for it saved us nearly seven hundred dollars on the stick-frame coop I had sketched out. Building their coop out of cob, an old dead apple tree, and other people’s leftovers was a challenge indeed and consumed plenty of my time. Luckily, that was a time when I had plenty of time. I’ve seen plenty of fine coops built from good ole dimensional lumber, and lots of creativity in those but I just love seeing our little hobbit house coop every time I step out back and am so very grateful we chose to tread down that muddy path.
Wheels started turning, we had so much to learn to fulfill our need for more farm in our life. By then I had already started dabbling with this strange idea of compost and managed one fantastic failure of attempting to compost within the shell of an old incinerator by the back fence. With the addition of that magical and ubiquitous substance commonly known as chicken poop, those compost piles caught fire – in the internal sense. Before we knew it, we had a factory for making good food for the garden beds.
We’ve spent a lot of time failing at growing a decent garden. I experimented with building a Hugelkultur, which was with much disapproval from my beloved. Though many experiments failed, we were moving toward the real goal of building good soil. This year we gave a shot at straw bale gardening – and failed yet again. However, that failure provided and auxiliary success, for the bales protected the plants in the ground, and we had a beautiful garden. Unfortunately, we neglected to develop decent harvesting habits and so lost plenty. Some to freezing, some to over-ripeness, some to neglect. My batch of cucumbers saved from the frost was set aside too long and rotted before it could ferment into a fine batch of pickles. The chickens, however, were grateful for the bounty thrown their way. We now have a passable solar thermal mass greenhouse where seedlings happily flourish, we have a number of growing beds all around the property that have begun to show their worth, we’ve developed discipline in watering and weeding and worked with the rain to send it where it’s most needed. Next year, I tell myself, we’ll work with all that still, yet my goal shall be to better reap the fruits of our labor. (Oh, and I don’t imagine I’ll ever again plant amaranth as a food crop. Harvesting is a hassle and I discovered I don’t much care for eating those quasi-grains beyond the form of flour.)
A wonderful new job came along that lets me work at home and allowed me to retire from the knee-busting work of a tile contractor. With the need for half a garage worth of tool and material storage gone from my life, the notion of transforming the garage into a goat barn seemed a natural and logical thing to do.
Now, three and a half years after bringing home a box full of fluffy egg-sized gateway farm animals, we have lost all sense of being city dwellers and became what folks might call urban farmers, or urban homesteaders.
I, for one, have no regrets. I adore what we have created here. I love coming out and milking goats at the frigid crack of dawn. I love all the growing things. I even love this old house. But my soul hungers for more. More land to work, more space to grow, more animals, more useful structures built from the Earth herself. More farm. All we’ve created here, we’ve created so we can walk away from it, pass it on to another aspiring urban farmer, and go out to the “Big Farm” where we can start the whole process all over again. I’ll be a few years from forty when we go, but the thought of taking it all to the next level invigorates my soul and gives me new life. We welcome the opportunity with open arms.
We’ve failed plenty here, but the experiments have taught us much, reconnected us with the natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and given us hope and longing to experiment more and fail again on a grander scale. It seems to me that a life without failure indicates a failure to take a chance at life. Let us fail, let us live, for all the while, things are growing.
I love me some homemade bread. Mmmm, warm and soft, fresh from the oven… just try not to eat the whole loaf. No, seriously. I don’t know what it is about homemade bread, but the guilt factor goes away. I will eat the Whole Thing. Because it’s just that good. Oooops, didn’t get to share with the family. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make another loaf tomorrow!
Join the yum factor! When making your own bread you have full control. So take it. If you want a sweet bread, add sugar to the mix. If you want seeds and nuts, get to it! This particular posting is about good ol’ yeasty gluteny dough. So if you have any intolerances, folks, we’ll have to wait for the next round to address those. Until then, get out your favorite apron and let’s get baking!
Supplies: A large bowl, a liquid measuring jar, a small 1/2 cup measuring cup, measuring spoons, a whisk or fork.
3+ cups of Flour (your choice, but make sure at least half of it is some sort of wheat or else it won’t rise as well), 1 tsp yeast (I buy mine at Mtn. Mamas. They keep it in the fridge.) 1 tbsp honey or sugar. 1 cup hot water (hot to your touch but not so hot that it burns you), butter, any seeds or herbs or spices you want.
1. Place 1 tsp of yeast in your bowl, cover it with your 1 tbsp honey or sugar and then cover that with your 1 cup of hot water. Whisk it well and leave it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it forms a “head”, which is just a sort of bubbly mass on the surface.
2. If you’re adding herbs and spices to your bread, go ahead and mix that into your flour before you add it to your starter. Then add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until your whisk can’t get though the mix anymore. Using your hands now, continue to add flour 1/2 cup at a time until your dough sticks together more than it sticks to your fingers. Then really get in there and knead it. Kneading is not scary. Just mix it up. It’s quite fun, actually. After about 5 minutes give or take, set your bowl aside and cover it with a warm wet dishtowel. Let sit for about 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Do your laundry. Read a favorite book. Take the kids to the park. Whatever.
3. This time, cover your hands in butter. Yum! About a tbsp should do it. Knead your bread again until it’s back down to the original size, getting into all the little hidden places with your buttery hands. Place it into a buttered bread pan or a small baking dish and cover again with the warm wet towel for another hour or 2. Finish your laundry. Take a walk. Go get the kids from school…
4. Preheat your oven to 360 degrees and put your loaf in the center rack. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until your bread is golden. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool, then invert it onto a wire rack.