Of names, tried and true.

We started out as simply a blog attached to New Dawn Energy, my husbands ‘parent’ business and called it “Our Sustainability Project” which it certainly still is. I then changed the title to “The Woolf Family Farm”, because again, that is what it was. But then we started talking about the future of our farm. Names came up, because at one point when Niko was at the homesteading fair, he was asked if we kept a website or blog. It was tricky to say, “sure, we’re at new dawn energy (slash) sustainability project (slash) blah blah blah.” So we started to think about what we “were” per say, and what we wanted to be identified as.

Original image found on "Vintage Flip" on Etsy. Click on the picture to visit her site.

Original image found on “Vintage Flip” on Etsy. Click on the picture to visit her site.

We considered many before deciding on StoryBrook. We both liked it a lot, and definitely identified with it. We are a fairytale, after all. We were even married in a castle. Niko writes fantasy novels. He builds structures that belong in storybooks. And we thought by playing on the word with brook, it might help to manifest water on our future land. Daisy thought it was funny because I guess there is a Snow White-esqe television series in a land called Storybrook. When we googled, we found that there was a bed and breakfast that shared the name out East. Tennessee, maybe. But otherwise, it seemed to be ours.

So we made the change. And the commitment. Niko did a lot of work switching over the blog and I finally got the email subscription to work.

But true to my nature, there was something else brewing and I just couldn’t let it go. I tried. I really did. You made a decision, Brandi. Now stick to it. But I just couldn’t get Folkways out of my head. I mentioned it to Niko in passing. He liked it too, but again, the commitment was made.

A few days ago I came in from milking, and having turned it over and over in my head, brought it up to Niko again. It turned out he’d been thinking about it too. It just seemed to make sense. It resonated. It is what we love and what we are. Folk tales. Folk medicine. Folk music. Folk magic. Folklore. Folk, folks. And it feels permanent. There is no second guessing at all. There is no thinking on it. It just is.

So, Folkways Farm is born. One more online move. But this one will stick, I promise.

Heat, Cob & The Rally for our Food.

Future farmer folkways farm

Future Farmer

Today was hot. HOT. With so many things calling us outdoors, the heat was overwhelming. But it was nice. Better the sun shining high then clouds and rain on all the events of importance.

This weekend marks Territory Days. A great annual gathering for the town. A headache for Westside residents. Unfortunately there are bad seeds out there that just don’t seem to get that this is a neighborhood (not to mention Planet Earth) and will just throw their trash and gigantic turkey legs all over the sidewalks and yards. It’s a shame. I won’t even talk about the parking problem. It’s absolute madness. Daisy is going tomorrow with her camera though. If anything, it should make for some great photography.

Stop Monsanto Folk ways farm

Colorado Cob

A view of the march in the distance.

The March against Monsanto rally was today too, and I had every intention of being amongst the protestors. Leelu had other plans though. Part of those plans included a sheer determination to skip her nap. So we just tried to go with it, and went for the long walk in the sun the 10+ blocks to get to the meeting place. We only made it 6 before she just couldn’t go anymore. We took a breather at Buckley’s. I was going to just rest, nurse her and continue on my way. But Ed was there and he was heading back to his house where Niko was working so we hitched a ride. We ended up just hanging for awhile, meandering to the street to watch the march, and then going home a couple hours later. I did make Leelu a cute protest shirt though. She’ll be sporting it often.

I was hoping for hoards. I wanted to look down the street and see a mob walking for the injustice of it all. But maybe there were many mothers like me who’s children were hot and ornery from missing their naps. You know, Life. But I did see later the many photos of the marches and gatherings all over the world. It gives me hope for humanity.

Folkways farm

Niko had a nice handful helping him stomp in the mud. I applaud those that were there in that heat. It was intense. I look forward to getting my toes dirty soon. The sun and heat are a bit much for the Bug just yet. This is the first actual Barrel Oven project. Maybe one of these days Niko will pop on here and tell you about it. Until then, here are some pictures of the progress.

Folk Ways Farm


Colorado Cob

Death, Life and Soul Friends

Take a Peak Chicken Coop TourThe Take a Peak Chicken Coop Tour this weekend was a success. It’s such a joy talking to people about this life. That said from someone that much prefers solitude and quiet time, I thoroughly enjoyed the bustle of the event. We probably had close to 250 visitors pass through in 2 days. Wow.

It was a little disconcerting that the events were preceded by a dead chicken.

Niko was talking to Gail over the fence, cleaning out the gifts her grand kids had thrown to the girls. Gail was asking him how long a chicken can live, when they both looked down to find our sweet little Araucana, “Little Bird” dead on the ground. She had been fine moments earlier and then, just like that, gone. It was unexpected and sad. Our best guess is that perhaps she was egg-bound. None of our girls have shown any sign of ill health.

God speed, Little Bird.

God speed, Little Bird.

The Grapevine.

The Grapevine.

So as with previous passings, we bought a tree, (in this case, a Grapevine) and buried Little Bird beneath it. She was a good girl and I hope we were able to give her some contentment in her days as a chicken. God speed to her next journey. I hope it’s a good one.

Despite the ill beginning, the Tour was fabulous. We met such amazing people and Niko made some great cob connections. I think some Soul Friendships began. I really like being a stop on the tour. I think next year I’d like to take part in the actual wandering though. I’d like to see what others are doing with their coops.

So thank you to Jon, for putting together such a great network and bringing the community together in such a wholesome and simple way. That is a goodness to be admired and respected. I think you’re awesome.

Thanks to all the folks who opened their chicken coop doors. You are paving the way to more intelligent and mindful food choices.

And thanks to all the families and individuals who chose to spend a part of their weekend with us. I hope you were inspired to go and start your own flock!

Saturday in the Mud.

colorado cobSaturday’s workshop brought out a nice handful of folks. One family drove from Nebraska just to be here, which I thought was really amazing. They were working with natural plasters and Niko’s friend, Adrian, came by to show everyone a new technique she learned in Oregon. Adrian is not only a skilled cobber but an amazing artist as well. She adds a touch of unique to every piece she touches. The interior of the greenhouse thanks her.

I was caught a bit off guard because at one point there were 4 woman in my kitchen requiring its use. I was in the middle of cleaning at the time, and also in the process of making pizza dough for their lunch later. It was a mess. But what can you do besides exhale and give it up to the greater good? My mess was just something they had to work around, and they did so graciously.

The workshops are really neat. We’ve made some great connections through the process and just had fun meeting new people and developing these new relationships. Cob is hard work; but fun, hard work. There is a whole different satisfaction with seeing your project take form in this way, and the fact that your body aches is a sweet discomfort. Not quite the lower back pain of an office chair slaving away over that spreadsheet.

colorado cob

colorado cob

I am incredibly proud of Niko. He is managing these workshops on top of his very full time computer job and maintaining our farm. I am seriously one lucky woman.

colorado cob

My pizza was a hit by the way. I would have taken a picture but it was gone too fast. (A good sign.) We had to cook it on the grill because our oven broke (if it’s not one thing, it’s another.) I used fresh goat’s milk mozzarella. Go me.


The New Girls.

So excited to see these sweet little faces! Even Daisy (who is so adamantly anti farm) cannot help herself. Their tiny chirps are music in the background and Leelu loves them. They’re hanging out in the office presently and soon will go to meet the old gals outside. We got 2 new breeds, but I’m terrible at remembering. I’ll have to have Niko write them down for me. So girls, welcome to Story Brook!west side chickens

It’s February

That time of year when Spring is on the mind.

Though you could hardly call what we’ve had so far Winter. Poor wilting Colorado. We pray for snow around here. Don’t want to drive in it, but desperately want to see it on the ground.

But yes, seedlings are the topic of conversation (when there is time for conversation) and we have a few starting. There is basil and cilantro on the kitchen windowsill, snuggling away under their warm patch of soil, hopefully to push their little green heads up towards the sunshine soon. Niko has other starts in the greenhouse, onions for sure, and some others that I’m not exactly sure of. We are about to embark on yet another growing season. Wish us luck.

I promise to try harder at updating the blog. There is much I would like to report here, but not often do I have the time at my fingertips. But exciting things are happening around here, folks. And I’ll be excited to share them with you when they do!

But until then, is your green thumb starting to tingle with anticipation at the coming season?

ode to pot pie

Enveloped in your flaky crust and steaming fresh from the oven,
your scent melts my taste buds open…

Oh, yes, y’all. I am under the decision of late that this scrumptious wonder may indeed be the perfect meal. I mean, you can make a Pot Pie out of anything! I am reminded at this moment of the scene from The Cat in the Hat movie where they’re in the kitchen making cupcakes. If you’ve seen it, the words are playing over in your mind (anything? anything!).

Anyway, :) the key to an awesome pie, is an awesome pie crust. Am I right, or am I right? I’ll toss in my recipe at the bottom of this post, in case you’re interested. Once you have your crust, let the fun begin. It’s the perfect opportunity to use up those veggies that are almost chicken food, or that leftover chicken and rice from dinner a few nights ago. Oh, yeah! Throw it all in. Of course, you’re welcome to start from scratch with an idea or a recipe and buy fresh ingredients to suit your needs. But let’s face it, we’re all looking for ways to use the produce that we forgot about in the crisper.

Once you have your veggies (and meat if desired) in your pie dish, pour in a can of cream soup mixed up with a cup of broth. Anything will do. I like to use cream of mushroom or celery because I’m a vegetarian. If you don’t have a can of soup on hand, you can always mix up some creamy gravy with milk, flour, butter and maybe some onions and herbs for flavoring.

All that’s left is to cover it with a top layer of crust, pinch the edges, and throw it in the oven! Presto! Awesome homemade goodness that your family will salivate over. Heck, I just made one 2 nights ago, and I already want another!

My Favorite Pie Crust Recipe (adapted from Mother Earth News):
(Cold is key! The colder the better so put your flour, water, mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer about 15-30 minutes prior to mixing.)

2 cups COLD flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp crushed rosemary (optional, but SO worth it)
6 oz COLD chopped butter (a stick and a half)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup ICE water, as needed

*Whisk flour, rosemary and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, begin to cut in butter until your mixture begins to look like coarse sand or at least until there are no butter pieces larger than peas left.
*Sprinkle in vinegar and 1/2 the water. Form the dough into a thick ball that barely holds together. Add a tbsp of water at a time just enough for it to stick together and then press into a circle flattened to about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour.
*Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. You may need to let it thaw for 5-10 minutes first. Ease pressure as you come to the edges. Butter the pie pan and line with the dough. Trim off the excess and roll out again to use as the pie cover.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

the road to home.

Our trip west was liberating in many ways. Everything seemed to come together to make it the perfect time to leave. Niko didn’t have work lined up for the week. I only work Sundays, and Daisy doesn’t start school until the end of August. What really seemed lucky was that my friend Christine just happened to be in town that week and is house/farm sitter extraordinaire. As all of you backyard farmers are aware~ it’s not so easy to pack up and leave when you have livestock to care for and gardens to tend.

The first few nights away were tricky. We were all getting used to close(r) proximity and false notions of what the trip was actually about. Daisy thought we were going camping. I knew we were looking at property but thought we were also having a bit of leisure time. So… I brought my banjo, my yoga mats, yarn. Funny. Like I’d have time anyway with the baby. But it turned out it was all business. And my extra baggage was SO in the way in our already tight space. (Sorry, honey!)

After mild frustration about many of these things, we all seemed to release our own emotional baggage and rally begin to settle into the flow of each other, the space, and the majesty¬† of the environment. Besides the onslaught of a billion man-eating mosquitoes in one spot, it was hard not to be swept up in the beauty of it all. We fell in love with the land again. Which is not to say we every actually fell out of love for it. But when you live in the city it’s hard not to let a thick outer skin collect. You have to slough off many layers to remember how to breathe fresh air again.

There is a great wild magic out there and you are God standing in the thick of it.

I did get to play my banjo once, and I laid out my mat a few times, but the trip was about finding our place. And I do believe we found it.

In Delta County there are no building codes. So we can build a sustainable and functional earth-ship or cob house without having to convince the powers that be that is in fact structurally sound. The surrounding areas are full of organic farming and a community that gives a damn. No longer would we be the eccentric neighbors with the cob greenhouse and the backyard chickens, but instead just another family milking their own goats. It’s exciting. The possibilities we found. This trip reminded us to dream again. We didn’t realize we’d ever stopped. But it’s easier then you think to get lost in the fog of bills and dirty dishes.

This trip did more for me than just letting me slough off some city dust. I came home lighter, I freed so much space in my heart. Everything is brighter and more beautiful. I smile more, and complain less. I have more love to give.

We bought a For Sale by Owner sign for the yard.

To move forward, you must begin.

coop tours and egg eating chickens

We decided to participate this year in the Take a Peek Chicken Coop Tour. I wasn’t super sure at first about people wandering in and out of my yard, but it was actually pretty fun. The weekend was rainy and overcast, but still folks came out. It was exciting to talk to people that were excited about chickens. And for added bonus, Niko sparked some interest in Cob. He was doing some plastering on Saturday so when people showed up to his muddy hands, it was a good conversation starter. Here’s a link to The Gazette article that talks a bit about the tour, plus if you click on the photo to the right, you can see a few pictures of our coop featured in the article.

Leelu was pretty funny during the whole thing. After getting used to the comings and goings of people in her yard, she decided they must be alright, I guess. Because she started reaching out to most everyone. Young and old alike. Punk.

And Harry. Oh, Harry. She’s gonna have to go, I’m afraid. I’m thinking the whole dog incident from way back when was really the universe trying to tell me something. She just won’t stop eating eggs. I know there are things you can do (that may or may not work), but honestly, I’m just tired of cleaning up the gunk and really starting to get pissed off at her.

I’ll post an update soon on our yard progress and the menus I promised, and I’ll leave you with an excerpt I found in my we’moon. Happy new moon.

Hold me, blessed everyday tasks,

give structure to my days.

Bring me steadiness in my art,

steadiness in my heart.

~Karen Ethelsdattar

plant seeds. sing songs.

With not much time to write lately, I thought I’d at least share some photos of what we’ve been up to. This by no means covers it, so stay tuned. Happy Spring.