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!

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


 

homestead how-to {laundry soap}

It happened. I finally ran out of my Allen’s laundry soap, 2 years after buying it. Seriously. And it was only the 32 oz. size! I bought it for the sole purpose of washing cloth diapers but seeing how economical it was it only made sense to use it for everything. So I did. And here we are 2 years later. Now sure, I could go and buy another bottle but seeing how I’m on this whole path towards a more self sufficient life I thought I’d try my hand at making my own. My friend Sam had done it awhile back, though she wasn’t washing her diapers with it, and then recently my friend Codi posted about it on FB, so I figured now was as good a time as any to try. Codi posted a recipe that she’d found and I did some research. I wasn’t comfortable using the Fels Naptha brand of bar soap that was recommended, though it’s been around for ever and is very well known. Fels Naptha is a very strong laundry specific bar but is a skin irritant. I looked around the net and found some alternatives. There were actually quite a few choices out there, even something as easily found as Dial. I liked the idea of using Bronner’s Castile bar, but then discovered that certain ingredients weren’t compatible with grey-water. And now that grey-water laws are changing for Colorado, I wanted to take that into consideration. Enter Kirk’s Original Cocoa Bar! So, after all that lead up, let’s do the wash!

homemade laundry soap folkways farm1.) Gather the goods. Borax, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda and Kirk’s Original Castile Bar. Everything except the Borax I found at King Soopers, which I happened to have on hand from Buckley’s Homestead Supply. You can also find them at Ace Hardware. We’re making a powdered laundry soap because it’s easier and requires less storage space. 2.) Grate your bar of soap using a common cheese grater. If you have a spare that you can designate for this type of thing, awesome. But it’s no big deal. It’s just soap. If you like, chop it down further using a sharp knife and cutting board, or pulse it a few times in the blender. 3.) Measure out 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda and add it to the soap shavings. Mix them together well. If you’re using your blender, great. If you’re using a regular mixing bowl just make sure to give it a good even distribution. 4.) Pour into a storage container with a lid. Find an old coffee scoop or tablespoon to keep with it.

That’s it! Yep. That easy. If you have a top loader add the soap and let the washer fill up about half way before adding your clothes. For a front loader, mix your powder in a cup of warm water to dissolve it a bit and pour as usual. Use about 1-2 tablespoons per load, depending on how soiled your wash is. If you want fragrance, try adding a few drops of pure essential oils to the powder while you’re mixing, or better yet, just keep different scents in your laundry room to use when the mood strikes. You can add 1 to 2 drops in the water and agitate it a little before adding your clothes.

This single batch washes between 32 and 64 loads, depending whether you use 1-2 tablespoons. So far I am loving the effect it’s having on my own laundry!

we are farmers.

folkwaysWe are goat keepers. We may live on a smallish suburban lot and can not yet call ourselves full time farmers. We may only have 2 smallish goats. But by that, we are goat keepers. As much as you are responsible for the care and well being of your beloved pup; just as you must feed, water, clean and clean up after, just as you play with them and nurture them and tend to them when they are sick, as do we. We have pets. We know. But we have livestock, too. They live outside. They require hands on constant maintenance and mild supervision. And though they give us back joy, just as our pets do, it is more. They provide a service. We do not keep them just for pleasurable companionship. Milk, cashmere, kids; these are our rewards. Our compensation, if you will. We keep chickens for eggs, and perhaps one day, meat. We keep bees for honey, among other amazing things. We tend our gardens for the food and medicine they bring into our home. We work hard. And our work is not done when the clock strikes 5. Yes, we may only live on a smallish suburban lot, but we are farmers.

 

 

why i bake bread.

There are few scents as captivating in this world as freshly baked bread. Nor a matched excitement of the steam rising from the moist tenderness when you tear it apart with your bare hands, because it’s just too tempting to walk the four extra feet for a knife. The first bite is divine, always enjoyed in the simplicity of breads true form. The rest is lathered with sweet butter or honey and consumed hungrily.

That loaf of bread may not last the hour.

Fresh bread is a meal in itself. Free from the useless guilt of calories that we might assume had we ingested a purchased loaf from the grocery store. Why is this? Perhaps because we know the effort that went into every bite. Rising early to work the dough before children begin to buzz at your feet. Watching it rise and smelling the yeast as it permeates the whole house. Kneading for the second time, maybe the third and knowing that the muscles in your arms and the movement of your fingers are working together to produce a loaf of pure joy. And finally, when the process itself serves as its own few moments of meditation in an oftentimes overwhelming day. It is calm. It is contentment. It is love. And what more could we ask to fill the bellies of our children?

This is why I bake bread.

 

 

 

on raw milk.

rawmilkI found this article (facebook I think) and may have discovered some new blog love. If I had the time to actually read all of the awesomeness I find out there in the WORLD wide web, I tell you what, y’all, I’d be one smartly informed chica. However, I do not. (Part of the mothering/wifing/farming life I suppose) So I take tidbits where I can find them. This is a great one.

raising goats folkways farmDiving full force into the raw milk world has been a ride. It was exciting yet still semi-frightening in the beginning. I was very careful about cleanliness, contamination, refrigeration and whatnot. I was semi-paranoid about giving it to Leelu at first. Yes, I was confident about my goats, the quality of my product, yadda yadda. But I admit to being a sometimes freakish mother and I was a little timid about the introduction. Why? Because I was born and raised in a society that is more comfortable being afraid than informed. And sometimes small strings of those ties (that I thought had completely disintegrated) show up when I least expect them.

Well, just shy of 3 months later, I’m so over it. I realize that the $60 milking pail (though handy) was probably not necessary and that our perfectly acceptable stainless steel cooking pot would have been just fine. Washing my hands just once is OK. No, really. And only one ice tray in the cooling water does the job just fine. I embrace the ever loving shite out of my raw milk and thank the brilliance of the goats who provide it. I give over lovingly our raw milk to friends and family and we all smile, rejoicing with one another for this manna from heaven.

There is a negative stigma attached to raw milk. It’s unfortunate. An earlier statement that bears repeating: Most of us were born and raised in a society that is more comfortable being afraid than informed. So let’s get informed.

An excerpt on raw milk from the blog, Empowered Sustenance:

“What makes raw milk so special?

Perhaps you’ve heard me or other bloggers profess our love for raw milk. “What’s the big deal with raw milk? What makes it so special?” you may wonder. Well, when it comes to comparing raw milk and regular (a.k.a. pasteurized milk), they are two entirely different substances. Raw milk is a living food, full of digestion-enhancing enzymes. Pasteurized milk, on the other hand, is a dead food that is highly allergenic and difficult to tolerate.

Here are 6 reasons why raw milk beats pasteurized milk:”

To read more, here’s a link to the article that inspired this post: http://empoweredsustenance.com/raw-milk-is-special/.  She’s got some other great info on her site, too. Check it out.

 

Life in (a LOT of) pictures.

I thought that I’d just share the last month gone by in photos, instead of trying to put everything into words. A lot happened, and I think the pictures speak fairly well. Now that I’m getting back on my feet things will take on a regularity again. But for now, I hope you enjoy these images from the farm. Romanticized with some sepia toned lovin’. :)

Bees

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Goats

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Farm & Family

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Good morning.

folkways farmDo you know those moments when something touches you so deeply that you cry? It’s usually the silent kind. Head above watery eyes that never quite spill over. A tightness in the belly that moves its way up, up, filling your heart with emotion. Making its way into the muscles of your throat. Tiptoeing into the recesses of pathways where mind meets body. That’s happened to me twice already today and it’s only 11:30.

The causes of the tears are simple things. An energy that wouldn’t necessarily measure on the Richter Scale of emotion. But that’s the beautiful thing about us humans, right? It’s the simple things that keep us. Grounded. Real. Humble. Loved.

Leelu will be 2 years old next month, and we’re working through the weaning process. She is very attached to nursing, and honestly so am I. It is a bond like no other, as I’m sure every mama could tell you. On top of recent traumatic events I’ve no doubt that this is making me a little extra sensitive. She’s with her daddy today. They took a drive to Grandma’s house, which Leelu was very excited about. She had barely opened her eyes this morning, and with just a mention of their destination, she whispered, “Shoes… on.” No telling her twice.

folkways farm

With my deadlines over for the festival, this “free” day will mostly be spent catching up here. I’ve got Daisy working on an editing project for bloom daisy, and we have some house cleaning and farming to do, of course. But mostly, this is where my time will be focused. If you are subscribed to this blog and your inbox is filled with Folkways this week and next, just know that things will mellow down soon. But hopefully, if you are subscribed, it means you actually enjoy reading what I write, so thanks. I appreciate you.

I’ll be catching up on some back story. There is the last half of June to record as well as the first week-ish of July. This blog serves as somewhat of a journal for our family’s story, so I need to keep up with it. In today’s ever progressing world of technology I’m sure this is where Leelu will be able to look back and see what we were doing when she was two.

I am ever happy to be here.

The Festival.

bloom daisy mountain of the sunConsidering I was a bit hindered, and therefore my production level was down, I think we succeeded in having a decent show. Passersby seemed to smile with bright eyes and I had a good time talking to mamas and their sweet little ones. Niko kept Leelu so Daisy, my sister Carrie Jo and I had the show to ourselves. Besides the rain causing minor unrest it was the most relaxed I’d been in awhile. The music was really good and it was fun feeling like a vagabond gypsy again. I was proud of what I’d created and I had such a great time spending some one on one time with my Daze.

Saturday (non)Market & Sheep Shearing

Folkways FarmI was SO excited about the 1st Farmer’s Market of the season. The girls and I had a nice lingering morning, collected our library books for return, and set off to enjoy the literal fruit of the season. Daisy brought her camera upon my request to snap some pictures for the blog. So there we were, crossing the street where we had a good view of the park, where lo and behold… No Market.

I got the date wrong. I believe that I did the same exact thing last year, except I could’ve sworn that the Lippis FB page said they were starting on the 1st. Ah, well. It always makes for a nice walk. We walked into our local coffee shop, Jives, and Lindsey (the owners’ daughter) said that she had a few customers that made the same mistake, and that she thought that it usually started on the 1st, too. Due to the late freezes though, there was a produce shortage. So, we’ll try again next week.

After Leelu’s nap we went to Rock Ledge Ranch for their opening day. For Leelu all I have to do is say ‘sheep’ and she’s in. Daisy on the other hand, while not kicking and screaming, is still not easily persuaded. It helped that I held the cards for a swimming trip the next day. She is 16. And SO roll your eyes at the urban farming parents. Still though, she was pleasant, and got to take pictures of cute baby geese. We are not members, so we had to pay full admissions. I knew we would only be there a half hour at most, but I was ok with the fee because Rock Ledge is awesome and they deserve it. It’s a working farm with historic reenactments and really cool demonstrations, as well as annual music festivals and much more. And it’s only a 6 minute drive from my house.

Opening day was all about Sheep. Herding, shearing, carding, dyeing and spinning wool. Watching the dogs was amazing. Their discipline and determination is awe-inspiring. Really, it is. I wonder if it’s just in that breed of sheep dog, or if it could be taught in any dog with a dedicated owner. SO. COOL. We wandered the grounds and visited with the massive Clydesdale horses and beautiful Mustang. We walked the pond after watching a bit of the shearing demonstration. I hope to have my own someday. It was crazy to see how white the wool was on the underside in contrast to the dirty topcoat. The shearer was so adept though. The sheep made not a sound and was calm as can be. The others in the pen though, that was another story. It was comical. For some reason, I assumed that I’d heard a sheep ‘baa’. And for some reason, I thought it would be similar to a goat. It’s not. It’s loud. It’s LOUD. It has a vibrational resonance. And it’s really funny. I think I could handle hearing it among all the other calls outside my farm window. Not in our city farm, of course. But on our land. Which is coming…

It was an enjoyable day with my girls. Leelu is growing up with this. And my Daisy is tolerating it. But she’s a good girl. And I will miss her desperately when she’s gone.

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