welcome, fall.

What a beautiful weekend to celebrate the return of the Autumn season. We welcomed guests for the 3rd annual Urban Homestead Tour sponsored by Buckley’s Homestead Supply and Colorado Springs Urban Homesteading. There was an obvious change in this year’s conversation compared to the first tour. Whether it be chickens or gardens or goats, almost everyone that came through already had a piece of something or other going on in their neck of the woods. Urban homesteading and backyard farming are no longer anomalies. What a beautiful thing! I didn’t get any pictures from the tour this year but I’d like to thank everyone that came out. It was a joy and we can’t wait to see what you’re up to next year!

Meanwhile, another season is upon us and though the sun still shines down brightly, I am loving the cooler mornings and the signs of fall at my door. Though our food harvest is not large this year, we’ve gratefully lived and learned through yet another Colorado gardening season. We produced the most beautiful and tasty carrots I’ve ever experienced and eaten enough mustard greens to make even the toughest palette weep. Our hives are strong and I have good faith that they’ll make it through Winter and our goats and chicken are happy and healthy. Mostly in this time of harvest I am grateful for the community of family and friends that have been gathered. We are truly and beautifully coming together to create the Village. I love you. Thank you for your awesomeness.

Who knows where we’ll be this time next year. You might see us on the 4th annual Homestead Tour or visit us for a cob workshop on a bit more land. But what I do know is this: We’ll be working harder. We’ll be growing wiser. We will be waking everyday with gratitude and loving each other the best we can.

Happy Fall, Y’all.

Dig Deep. Share Joy. Live Inspired.

 

honey-do lists

My husband and I are makers of things. Give me a sewing machine and some fabric and I can make you anything you want. Pretty much :) My husband is the same with a pile of wood and a jigsaw. Or a pile of clay and sand for that matter. (www.coloradocob.org) Even granite and a tile saw. You get the point. :)

He can do anything.

This works out quite well for me.

We have a list of tasks that are underway in this teeny home of ours. Many projects lie in our future, for even when we move on to the big farm, this little homestead will serve someone else quite well. We are constantly trying to make it better and more liveable for our growing family. The kitchen is ALWAYS undergoing some change. My next kitchen will be the heart of my home. I will sleep in it. No, really.

This is our most recent undertaking:

folkways farmThese shelves have gone through many incarnations. They used to be this bulky hutch type thing that we tore apart when we gutted the living room. This new phase is my favorite yet, and I believe will make a huge difference in our food storage system. This was their destiny, in fact. I’m sure of it. They so perfectly fit 1/2 gallon, quart, and pint mason jars. From the living room side I can see the contents of all of our grains, beans, herbs, flours, etc. I can see how full things are and when I need to refill. From the kitchen side I plan on chalkboard painting all of the lids so I can switch them up when I need to. I’ll label them all and organize them just so, easy peasy grab and go. I am crazy excited to get going on this.

It will take awhile to empty out the drawers and cabinets of dried food and herbs that will fill the shelves, but eventually it will happen. That will open up those spaces for dishes and such. Sigh, I can almost breathe again. This is all a part of the decluttering process. It’s a welcome addition to this little place.

A big fat thank you to my awesome hubby. Bulk storage shelves~ Check.

On to the next item on the honey-do list!

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 (www.coloradocob.org) 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.

of sunshine and snowdays.

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.

folkways chickens

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.

colorado folkways farmIn 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. :)

Pancake time

Blueberries! Yum!

saturday.

folkways farmIt’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.

folkways farmMy 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.

dream big.

farmlandIt’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.

Love <3

the tale thus far…

Folkways FarmThis 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.

Folkways Farm

Chickens, we have learned, are a gateway farm animal. And building with Earth easily becomes an insatiable obsession.

Colorado Cob Folkways Farm

(This is Niko writing, for our regular Blog visitors seeking Brandi’s inspiring prose.)

Colorado Cob chicken coopCob 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.)

Folkways Farm

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.

folkways farm

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.

folkwaysWe’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.

 

homestead how-to {bread-a-licious}

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!

folkways farmSupplies: 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.

folkways farm5. Eat it! And then do it all over again!

homestead how-to {quilt making}

I don’t know why, but I’ve always been totally intimidated by quilters. I mean, I’m a mad sewer and seamstress extraordinaire if I do say so myself, but there is something about the little intricacies of bits and pieces of quilting fabric. This goes here, this goes there, wait, what do I do with this piece? And how do I make it match up with that one?! I signed up for a quilting class with my awesome neighbor (Leelu’s bff) that I am super excited to take. But in the meantime…

One of my best friends is having a baby. I really wanted to make her new little addition a special baby blanket. One that was almost Charlie Brown-ish. (think Linus’ security blanket that he takes everywhere) I wanted it to be that special. I knew I didn’t want to crochet it, and I knew that I wanted it to be warm and cushiony so that she could lay him on it on the floor if she wanted to. I had some great leftover linen from making her a baby sling, so I looked around for other complementary fabric that I could match with it. I found some great stuff. As not to make myself super overwhelmed, I figured, how hard could a bunch of squares be? Also, with it only being a baby blanket, the size wouldn’t be overwhelming either. Here’s what went down:

quiltmaking folkways farmI used a c.d. case as a template for my squares, which are actually more rectangular, because of the c.d. case shape, but it worked perfect. I cut out 36 total, from 4 different fabrics. My quilt would be 6×6 blocks. I then laid them on the living room floor so I could arrange them the way I wanted to. Keeping aware of the seam lines, I knew I would lose quite a bit of fabric, so make sure when you estimate a good size for yourself, you remember that you will lose inches when sewing. Arrange your blocks in whatever pattern appeals to you.

Start with the first line and sew all the pieces together, the way they’re set up on the floor. I laid each one back down on the ground after sewing so that I wouldn’t get backwards with my pattern. It’s easy to do, trust me. Better being overly cautious than having to grab your seam ripper. Once you finish that row, lay it back on the ground in the right pattern and move on to the next row. Finish each row the same. Now moving back to the first line, iron the seams down in one direction. This will make it easier to sew together. Make sure that each rows’ seams all lie in the same direction. Now it’s time to join the rows together. Start with rows 1 and 2. Sew together in the direction that your ironed seams will lay flat. Continue with the rest of your rows. At this point, I like to iron down the new longer seams and stitch them flat. It will make it easier to stitch in the ditch later on. It does for me anyway. But remember, this is my first quilt, and I’m only relaying what works best for me.

Have a piece of fleece or cotton batting handy that is slightly larger than your sewn quilt blocks. Lay your quilt on the fleece right side up and pin each square in the center to the material. This helps hold your cloth in place so that it doesn’t shift or stretch too much, though it still might do so. That’s why you want your fleece to be bigger than your quilt blocks. It doesn’t matter what you use for batting, as long as it’s breathable, washable, and thick enough to give you the cushion you want. You won’t be able to see it in your finished quilt. Take the whole thing back to your machine, or if you’re hand sewing, work where you’re comfortable, and start sewing in the ditch. Just follow each seam line with your needle, creating the raised quilt affect. I’m sure this has a technical name, but I don’t know what it is. I make up my own words anyway. :) Stitch around the whole outside of the quilt as well, with about 1/4 inch of allowance, attaching the edges to the fleece.

Take the time now to clip any loose strings so that you are not overwhelmed in the end. Lay your quilt down (right side up) on a larger solid piece of fabric, preferably similar to that of your top for washing convenience. The edges of your bottom piece should extend 2 inches from your quilt blocks. I used a solid dark brown to match my quilt. I’ll just use the word brown to talk about that piece of fabric. Using your pins, fold the edge of the brown fabric inward to match the edge of the quilt. Do this all the way around. Coming back to the beginning, remove your pins one at a time, and fold the brown fabric inward again, this time overlapping your quilt. Pin it down again. Repeat this step all the way around, turning in the corners if you like before folding in. Sew down your edging in whatever way you like. You can use any fancy stitch that appeals to you, or just straight stitch it all the way around. I used a double straight stitch close to the inner edges.

If you like, you can stitch in the ditch again, or you can do what I did, which is just to thread a needle with embroidery thread and stitch down from the top and up through the bottom in a few corner blocks and then tie the edges of the thread together in a double knot. This helps to hold the quilt together to keep it from bunching. If you’re really crafty, you can embroider something bigger in the quilt as a whole, or use your machine to freehand stitch it in curves and angles or other fun shapes.

All done! This makes a great new baby gift. It could also be a great seasonal gift if you used fabrics to match holidays and such. Or even a family heirloom using special garments that mean something to those you love! Be creative and use your heart and imagination! Happy sewing!

Quiltmaking colorado springs