Summer is here.

It still baffles me how people keep up with blogs. Parents especially. How. Do. You. Do. It? Seriously. There are those with more kids than I, more chores, more every day tasks of living that still manage to hold their own in cyberspace.

Obviously I am not one of them.

I’m not giving up, though. I’ve got something to contribute and eventually this little online hub of Folkways will have its rhythm. Until then, I’ll do what I can. Right now, this little check in (while the kids are napping) is what I can.

Summer is in full bloom here and we all find it hard to stay inside and in front of any kind of screen. Nature is too glorious to befriend and the sun on our skin feels like heaven. We’ll soak in what we can until the seasons change once again. Change is a key word around here, as it always seems to be. Change and contentment. Daisy has graduated and will soon move on to grand Daisy things. Leelu is a force to be reckoned with as she grows into daddy’s best sidekick and her own perfect little version of herself (almost 4 now). Clara just hit the 6 month mark and is beyond adorable. This may be my favorite baby stage. All smiles and grabby hands. She’s teething right now though so we’re not sleeping so great. Niko is beautiful and brilliant. As always. He’s spending the summer focused on the dirt ( and away from the computer. That’s good for me because having him outside means things actually happen out there. I’m not so productive these days. I have 15 minutes here 15 minutes there. It’s an amazing thing what that man can accomplish. I’m thankful.

We just took a much needed road trip to my hometown in Florida. We are lucky to have some pretty awesome farmer friends, because when you live the farm life, even the urban style, vacations are few and far between. This wasn’t a vacation per say, as much as a quick visit to love on my grandparents. I love them so. It’s been 5 years + since we’ve been home so it was a first meeting for the little ones. It was a very special trip and I will cherish it.

It’s time to refocus on life now. There’s much to do. We’ll see how well I can touch in here. Thanks for hanging in with me.

{barely} holding it together.

About as far as I get lately.

About as far as I get lately.

There are those that say you are lucky to get one task checked off (outside of baby) in a day when you have a newborn in the house. I am indeed one of those. Thank goodness for the husband because while the house remains mostly chaotic, at least the farm animals are still alive. (Though yesterday he forgot to open one of the chicken coops until dusk ~ Yep. It seems even daddy gets baby brain.)

And when there is a toddler thrown into the mix… oh lawdy. Parents of multiple children, I Salute Thee.

So with the toddler (pretending) to nap and the baby sleeping (on top of me), what shall be my task of choice? To write. I could do the dishes. Sweep the floor. Sort the laundry. So many of the undone piling up. But no, I am choosing to spend time here, with my thoughts on paper to be typed up for you later (which is now). I can mindlessly fold clothes, but when my brain actually calls to be of use to something other than poop, I must respond my picking up the pen.

How’s that for an intro?

We are mid January now, so says my new taproot calendar, and really if it wasn’t for an upcoming workshop I was leading I would only barely know what day it was. Winter. That is what I would tell you. Outside the snow is coming down in droves. It’s beautiful. Last week the snow covered the ground for a whopping 3 days before it began to melt. How very rare for Colorado Springs and especially for the last few weeks where we have been experiencing the most bi-polarist weather yet. I’m over it. Just be winter already.

Oh, Christmas Tree.

Oh, Christmas Tree.

Our tree stares at me from a few feet away, sparkling in its beauty, waiting for the Holiday we have yet to celebrate. Soon, I promise.

And while certain things have been put on hold or left at a stand still, others are moving forward so rapidly we have to hold on because they will surely continue without us.

My workshop is in less than 2 weeks. 15 beautiful women entrusting me with their souls, while presently my own is adrift in the throes of motherhood. I know when the time comes, all will be well.

Niko is pursuing brilliance, as usual. He has a full cobbing schedule for this year and is planning some very exciting mud additions on our own homestead. For so long we’ve put off any remodeling or expansion to our old house because of the “big farm” dream, but now that things have changed again we shall really get back on track with our “Start Where You Are” focus, which of course, yes, we have been doing these many years, but shall revisit with deeper dedication. The dream farm WILL come. But we are here now and we will grow here first.

Baby is waking and toddler is crying. Must go.

As always, it’s been real, y’all. Thanks for listening.

Welcome 2015.

The last day of 2014. I look back upon this year and know exactly where it went. Though time seemed to travel at warp speed, I know that it was just the same as any other year, just lived differently.

If I was to sum up the year passing in one word I would use “Strength”. It started out with strength as I was empowered as a woman and a teacher through other amazing women and truly saw into the power of sisterhood. I experienced the most difficult pregnancy of my 3 and witnessed a new strength in my husband, and grew stronger through the support of friends and family. I brought forth a strength that grew from release both due to the child I carried and the expectation of a dream that Niko and I mourned when that particular vision of it fell away, and strength of trust that all was as it should be for our future. And finally the strength in motherhood, as I delivered this sweet little girl into the hands of her father and aunt, while witnessing their own as they had full trust in receiving her.

I am excited about the turn of this calendar year as we have beautiful yet simple adventures on our horizon. I am grateful for the passing of one chapter to the next and grateful for the opportunities that this past year has brought me to learn from and grow.

I’ve never been one for resolutions at the new year. Perhaps because I recognize it passing with the end of the Harvest Season and the Solstice, and those bring with them their own traditions. But this year my sister Carrie Jo inspired me by her intention to leave things behind. She said instead of going into 2015 with expectations of goals, she would choose things not to take with her. I found this brilliant and very symbolic of the Solstice season we just past. And I thought I would do something similar that combined a bit of both.

What I’m leaving behind:

Fear. Anger. Expectations.

What I will bring in more of:

Love. Compassion. Trust. Courage. Patience. Joy.

I will welcome each day with this question:

“What will I do with this opportunity to love, trust, etc….?”

I will respond to challenges in the same way:

“What will I do with this opportunity for compassion, patience, etc…?”

I also saw an idea on Facebook (of course) that I shared with Daisy, and I think I’ll try for this because it stirs up gobs of gratitude, of which I’m a big fan. Throughout the new year, write down little things that happen that make you happy and put them in a jar. At the end of the 2015, take them out and review them to remind yourself of the beauty that unfolded in your year, no matter how simple… Things like your husband scraping your windshield, your neighbor bringing you food when your family was sick, your child’s first step, the turning of the leaves… sweet and simple things can remind us of the joys of being human and alive.


Happy 2015, Friends. There is so much love.

Another year gone by.

It’s hard to believe on days like today, that the Solstice is barely a week away. Though I suppose in Colorado we have more Winter days like this than many, which is one of the reasons I manage here. Having experienced many winters all over this country, and being originally a Southern bred Florida girl, Colorado seasons are preferred. I do love living with the seasons and though I can survive harsh winters, I much prefer mild ones such as these.

The Winter Solstice is my favorite Holy-day. Not just for the promise of light that it brings, but for the time of reflection that it offers. An opportunity to soak in the deep dark pool of darkness that is nurturing, healing, and transformational.

This year I need all 3.

The birth of our newest baby is any day now. It’s been a very challenging 9 months. Many changes have occurred and we’ve had to adapt and change with it. Dreams have been thrown asunder, leaving us with torn emotions and much contemplation. We’re still not exactly sure where we stand as the ground beneath our feet has been so shaken. But we are ok. Again, we are adapting. And relying on faith and trust to know that things are as they should be.

Right now we are enjoying each others company and preparing for this baby. Adding another human being to our tiny home, transforming our space as best we can to accommodate. After the baby comes, we’ll have Leelu and Daisy decorate a tree, something fun and exciting for the Little to look forward to when it might get difficult for her emotionally. New baby and all, sharing mommy. Though it will be a mild celebration this year, I am looking forward to it.

In other news Niko is looking forward to delving deeper into his cob work come Spring and I’ll be leading another session of Women’s Empowerment Workshops in February. It will be an emotional movement for me with a newborn, but all is well.

2015 is going to be a Live Big kinda year. I can feel it.

A blessed holiday season to you and yours.

goat tales.

I’ve been enjoying technology lately, more so than usual and am even taking advantage of my new-ish smart phone while milking the goats in the morning. Since my IPod went kaput, and having been on milking hiatus for months due to sickness, it was taking me a little while to get back into the rhythm of things. Especially milking Heidi, my sweet lil Toggenburg with the teeniest finger teats. Milking her can be exasperating. So I turned to pulling my mind away from the task at hand and just letting my hands do what they know to do~ by watching You Tube videos on my phone. And I’m loving it because I get to learn (which I’m a fiend of) mostly uninterrupted. And you know You Tube~ you watch one video and it automatically filters out others like it. I started out with a Susun Weed interview and have since stumbled onto other fun herbal stuff, which are both helpful and inspiring. I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate video into Folkways, but being that I’m really not one for talking to a camera… I gotta work on that. Either way, I’m enjoying the lesson time, and the girls don’t seem to mind at all.


coon wars and dead chickens.

About a month ago we got a phone call asking if we could take in a couple of wandering chickens. Wandering~ literally into someone’s yard on a busy street. No owner or caretaker could be claimed. Sure. Why not? What’s 2 more chickens? Well, 2 more chickens.

Monday one of our milk customers called with a tale of a middle of the night raccoon woe; lost 2 of their birds with the possibility of a wounded 3rd going soon. We offered her the 2 new girls (I dubbed them Thelma and Louise) which turned into just 1 new girl as we believe the other is a he not a she. Time will tell with that one. Having had our share of raccoon trouble, Niko was immediately sentimental and since the two new birds were not adapting well into the pecking order, we thought to do all a service with the exception of said rooster. Which who knows, if he turns out to be quiet-ish with his crow he may be serviced (*wink wink) and of service after all.

Last night we had our own 4am coon alarm, though couldn’t at first figure out why. With the moon so full we barely needed a flashlight, but all seemed secure. Confused, I went back to bed and Niko told me later they had gotten one of our Jerseys. I still can’t figure out why she wasn’t in the coop. She was never one to fly over the fence or stay out after dusk. When I closed up last night it was already past dark and I had no inclination that anyone was out. Very strange happenings. Poor chicken. The coons at least had the decency to drop her in the compost pile when they were done with her. Niko has been perfecting his bow hunting skills so 3 raccoons may be 2 soon. I would not be opposed. These 3 have plagued us for over a year now and I’m tired of it. I’m considering calling a trapper, but Niko wants a go. If this seems inhumane to any of you, dear readers, then you’ve never seen what a raccoon can do to a flock of chickens.

Losing the Jersey follows the loss of 2 of our older girls as well. One last week, one about 2 months ago. Both unknown causes. Being a farmer and keeping livestock teaches you many lessons of death, and the circle of life that must carry on.

date nights and the new moon.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

I’ve been awake, easily since 4 am. It’s 5oclock now and I finally decided just to get out of bed. It’s Sunday morning and I can already hear the stirrings of others awake outside my window and I cannot help but wonder what brings them to be about before dawn has even whispered her first breath.

So many things have gone through my mind lately. It has been a difficult season and I’ve allowed a lot of frustration and doubt to fill my empty spaces. Instead of just remembering to let go and trust that life unfolds as it should most of the time, whether we actively intervene or not.

For the last 4 months (the entire first half of the growing season) I have been practically incapacitated. The first trimester of this pregnancy was my most difficult yet and I have been useless to the goings on of the farm. Our gardens have been through hell, unfortunately not to return: our seeds greedily attacked by squirrels before they could even try to discover their roots, young seedlings that we took such care to early start brutally hammered by one freak hailstorm after another, and our established plants that had promise of thriving have for the most part been desecrated by skunks. And I, laid up with horrendous nausea followed by a wicked month long sinus infection and near pneumonia could do nothing to thwart the disaster. My immune system seems to crash with these babies no matter what I do to encourage function.

Niko and I had a date night last night. A much overdue event. I think an occasional date night is very important in a marriage, especially one with children. It reminds you that you are still husband and wife, man and woman, human beings with clear thought and brain power, not to mention a little bit of sensuality. You know, those things that can often be overshadowed by the everyday facets of work to pay the bills and parenthood. The latter being so consuming that not much exists outside of it. Which is, of course, how it should be. For those of us that choose to be parents, it’s the most important job there is. We’re growing and shaping a piece of the future.

Anyway, it was a lovely evening with good food and wine (I only had 1 glass), and nice mellow conversation. Niko is excited about a new venture he is about to undertake (I’ll let him explore that with you) and we talked about the farm.

Things are moving forward with the farm. Though difficult and nerve wracking and scary, they continue to move forward. Our fundraising efforts have almost become non-existent. When I got so sick neither of us had the time (Niko) or energy (me) to push on. Now that I’m better and there is not so much pressure on him to keep us afloat, we can focus again on that intention. It seems appropriate, as the New Moon is rising today and it is once again time to focus on actively pursuing your dreams.

The light is coming now and I hear the birds singing their morning chorus. There is much to do today. We have company coming and the house needs cleaning, the animals and farm tending to… There are dreams to manifest and life to reclaim. It’s a very full day.

Remember what it is you want from this life and go get it. Happy Sunday and Blessed New Moon.

Homebrew Cheese Press v.2.0

You may have seen last year’s photo of our first homebrew cheese press. As awkward as it appeared, it was actually doing a fine job of squeezing that leftover whey out of the cheese. It was gouda. And it did taste good. There was just this small problem that a pregnant fly had made her way through the protective colander as the cheese sat drying and laid her plethora of eggs right there in our first homemade aged cheese. I sliced off a sliver of the side that was not so maggot-ridden just to have a taste. It was going to be good. But it ended up going to the chickens, since they actually enjoy eating maggots, unlike us so-civilized human creatures.

Brandi had recently checked out a cheese making book from the library and I found it lying around one day when the fridge was overflowing with milk. Within it’s bountiful pages sat a recipe for “White Goat Cheddar” and it sounded like a good thing to try to mess up.

The recipe was quite simple: 1 gallon of pasteurized goat milk, 2 tablespoons of mesophilic starter culture, 3/4 teaspoon of rennet, a bunch of time spent stirring and watching a pot of simmering milk and the resulting curds, and a cheese press.

While the recipe was simple and seemed near at hand, we had none of the prescribed ingredients. Our goat milk is raw, we had only packages of “direct set” mesophilic bacteria and extra concentrated vegetable-based rennet, and nothing resembling a classical cheese press. We did have the time to do it, since time really does count as an ingredient. Confident that we could do just fine with what we had on hand, I dumped a gallon of raw goat milk into a makeshift double boiler and put the process in motion.

cheese-curdsThe book went so far as to give time figures for how long it should take for the milk to heat up, the culture to ripen the milk, the rennet to set the curds, and the curds to drip away the rest of the whey. It was kind of the author to provide these guidelines, but reality didn’t quite unfold in the same timeline. Even so, raw goat milk turned into a very rubbery cheese-like substance throughout the course of the day, and before long, the time came to figure out just how we were going to apply 40 pounds of pressure to this lump of fermented sludge in order to send it on its way to becoming cheddar cheese.

I enlisted Leelu to help me figure it out. After exploring the options of placing ancient dirty bricks or a 5 gallon bucket of sand atop the cheese-to-be, Leelu found a bungie cord in the van. That discovery sped through my mindspace and led me directly to consider the multitude of ratchet straps that are generally hiding in every vehicle we own. We found one there in the van and joyfully trodded back to the kitchen, intent on victory.

A quick assessment of possible accomplices in our daring mission provided a pair of pot-shaped colanders to hold the cheese and let the whey drain away. The next missing piece was a way for that ratchet strap to apply the needed pressure (that we would never measure to assure it was providing 40 pounds worth…). A log? No, too dirty. A bit of dimensional lumber? Alas, the clean ones laying about were too short and/or skinny to get the job done. What about that flour crock that’s not holding flour? Eureka. And we found our cheese press.


It may not be quite as pretty as those professionally built presses one may purchase from your local homestead supply store, but it is a bit of an improvement over our first attempt of home-pressing cheese. The major flaw in the current design is that there is no lateral limit to the squashing of the cheese. We end up with a fat pancake of cheese, rather than a finely formed wheel. Homebrew Cheese Press v.3.0 will attend to this situation, but for the moment, we continue to squash the cheese with this crock and look forward to enjoying the consumption of said squashed cheese in a month or so, after it has aged its way into a semblance of cheddar.


one year later.

Last year at this time, my children and I were driving through an intersection when a speeding car ran a red light and crashed into us, changing my life in ways that I still haven’t recovered from. Last year at this time, or rather minutes before, I was driving and laughing with my daughter, taking for granted our safety and well being just because I was an attentive and responsive driver. Because at that moment, someone else was not.

One year later and Leelu still cries at the sound of sirens. Daisy still has pain and trauma from severe whiplash. And their mother cannot get behind the wheel without first actively attempting to release the tension in her knuckles on the steering wheel. I cannot drive on the interstate, or in any other overly stressful situation because it sends me into a nervous wreck and I end up a blubbering, crying fool… so I avoid it for the safety of my own and the other drivers out there. One year later and I still battle insurance companies and credit agencies for thousands of dollars in unpaid hospital fees, adding to the stress and anxiety that I still hold from the severe PTSD caused from that accident.

One year later and I turned 35, and I am so damn grateful to be alive. Leelu is sick and I spent my birthday taking care of her and I am so incredibly thankful to have the privilege to do that. One year later and there is another child growing inside me, blessing my family once more with the gift of new life, new milestones, and new joys. One year later and Daisy prepares to enter her last year of high school with a world of possibilities set before her.

One year later where we still get to pursue our dreams. Together.

It’s one year later. I am so grateful to be here.

still moving forward.

Folkways FarmIt’s 6a.m. and I wake to the birds calling and the sound of a mid June creek rushing through the trees just yards away. The air is still this morning, almost waiting for me to exhale. We are at the Farm. That wild land that holds the visions of our future. This has been my first physical experience of this land. I fell in love with it through Niko’s eyes but had not yet claimed my own first hand feel of it. We arrived late Friday night, Leelu exhausted after the 6 hour drive. My first sight in the light of the morning was not love, I must admit, but to be fair, my first feelings on most things lately are not what they could be. More on that later. We spent the whole day walking, exploring, and dreaming. Niko showed us his favorite rock by the creek. We met the horses. Leelu discovered the joy of throwing rocks in water. Again and again.

Folkways FarmWhile she napped I took a stroll alone and tried to identify some of the wildflowers and trees on the property. I’m still learning but there is an abundance of wild roses that will provide bright red hips come fall. I look forward to that. I met some neighbors and the caretaker of this land. He made me laugh and I’m grateful we have such a knowledgeable steward to learn from. I sat on a rock overlooking one of the pastures while Niko and Leelu were out exploring and it was then that the moment I’d been waiting for came. I felt home. I saw the future sheep in the pasture, the future aspen grove to my left dancing in the evening breeze (the way aspens do), and then I felt myself as an old woman… my dark brown hair having turned silver, sitting on that same rock, watching the sheep in the pasture and the leaves dancing to my left.

Folkways Farm

This is it. This is home. We just need to find the means and the courage to see it through.

This is my first writing in months, of any kind. You may recall a word or two from me in one of the last few posts that said you’d be hearing from me often. Yeah…, well shortly after making that commitment my brain shut down as well as most of my body in what is commonly known as early pregnancy. It rendered me useless. We are expecting in early December. The nausea has been very difficult this time around and so many efforts were put on hold. Niko had to take over 100% of farm duties on top of his other work. I am just now finding some semblance of normalcy and while the nausea has subsided it has not left. I am functioning better, but still not at full capacity. I do hope it returns soon because when the baby comes that function gets topsy turvy all over again.

So that is why I have been absent these last two and a half months. And while I plan on trying my best to check in, at this point I should realistically say it’ll be once or twice every couple of weeks.

Spring has come and gone and I wish I’d been well enough to take pictures for you. The lilacs, quince, and honeysuckle were breathtaking. We lost one of our old layers recently but also have 6 new chickens and 2 turkeys to occupy space and eventually fill our egg basket. The turkeys will be dinner. Our gardens have had a difficult start this year. Me being mostly out of commission hasn’t helped, but the ridiculous hail storms destroying the work we have done has been devastating. I’m almost weary of putting things out, for fear of more rogue weather.

Two new things I will catch you up on in a later post:

1. Goats are legal!!! City council passed the ordinance allowing two small goats for backyards.

2. After 20+ years, I am no longer a vegetarian.

I’m happy to be (sorta) back. Here are a few happy pictures from the Farm that make me smile.

Folkways Farm

 Folkways Farm

Folkways farm