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!

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

dream good, stay glad, and wake up and fight.

Woody Guthrie's 1942 New Year's Resolutions.

Woody Guthrie’s 1942 New Year’s Resolutions.

These last couple of months have kept me busy and away from writing here. but I’ll be back in early February on a regular basis again. I am so grateful for the many blessings that my family and I have. I would say we are lucky, and then my wonderful neighbor Dawn would remind me ‘not lucky, blessed.’ So yes, we are blessed, and looking forward to 2014.

We’re in the future now, folks. Wow. 2014 is totally Science Fiction. But then, our lives today are Science Fiction compared to 50 years ago.

We’ve had one good snow so far this winter season, and I hope for land’s sake we get many more. Here are a few recaps in pictures:

Leelu loves the snow.

Leelu loves the snow.

Sara thinks snow is awesome. Heidi on the other hand...

Sara thinks snow is awesome. Heidi on the other hand…

Magic is afoot around here lately and I’ve no doubt that this coming year is going to be about hard work and moving forward. Our dreams are in sight. We have the power to make things happen and we’re going to do it. I am so grateful that I was blessed with such a doer for a husband. He balances my flightiness quite well.

My kids are healthy and that is always something to be thankful for. They both get more adorable as each day passes. I don’t know how it happens, but I speak the truth. Here is a happy Christmas time photo of the girls:

My cuties.

My cuties.

Happy new year tidings from Folkways Farm. As Woody says, “Dream good. Stay glad. Wake up and fight.”

 

 

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.

 

i need this.

themerrythought.com


themerrythought.com

No, really. I do. I mean, don’t YOU?

I was looking for a simple rope swing tutorial and this image popped up. I SO have a date with this pallet hammock porch swing thingy (as soon as my hubby helps me build it, that is).

Visit the Creatrix of this small piece of heaven right here. Good grief, I really, really want one.

sewing tutorials.

 a tutorial sample from bloom daisy.


a tutorial sample from bloom daisy.

Occasionally I write up a tutorial for a local mama website, My719moms. When it’s food, I inevitably share it here. But when it’s sewing, they tend to be pretty lengthy so I haven’t posted any of them on Folkways. At first, it was because I told myself it didn’t belong; but I’ve thought better of it. This is a story about my journey into farming, self reliant living, etc., and making your own clothing and such is definitely an act of self sufficiency. So with that conclusion, I decided that I would share the shorter, more relevant tutorials here, and the others I would post to bloom daisy with a short excerpt and link, that way you could check them out if you so desire.

Here’s one I did awhile back on making a homemade gift for baby. And here’s a more recent one, on making a pair of little girls pants. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’re not already, you should totally become a fan of bloom daisy on facebook. Just sayin’!

the pity party.

Ruts happen, and when they do, they are hard to get out of. Things do not have to be going bad necessarily, but when they are, because of whatever rut I’m in seems to amplify their magnitude. I have much to be grateful for. Everyday. We are continuing to move forward towards our dreams. We’re learning. We’re mostly healthy. But little mundane life things can sure get the better of me. My oven, for example, has been broken since May. Our roof needs to be replaced and our insurance doesn’t cover it, even though the majority of the leaks started after the nasty hailstorm. And now our refrigerator is going. Which means I can’t freeze anything and it’s not keeping my milk cold. It is 21 years old, so I suppose it has served its time. Now it’s our time to scroll Craigslist ads.

I’ve been sporting a mean headache for the last couple days. I never had headaches before the accident, therefore never understood fully the pain described when others did. I napped with Leelu yesterday and did a whole lot of nothing. I tried to work in the camper a little bit, until Leelu fell out of the door and almost busted her head on the brick step. I swear that child has angels surrounding her all the time. She always just misses the worst. And speaking of Leelu, we took a field trip to the fire station on Sunday. My friend, Kim (Leelu’s BFF) had an idea that it might help her with her fear of sirens because of the accident, you know, just to see the firemen and trucks in a non threatening way. I thought it was a great idea. So Kim made cookies and she and I and the girls went to our 2 local stations (which were both closed) before going to the main station downtown. They were really nice and tried to talk to Leelu about the trucks, but of course, she’s only 2. She was sweet in the first couple minutes. She said “Wow.” a lot. Aunt Kimmie climbed up in the front seat of the fire engine and tried to get Leelu to sit with her. She did, for about 5 seconds, so I climbed up there with them. By that time though, she was done and said she wanted to go home. I managed to get her to walk around a little bit more, and we tried to divert her anxiety by talking about the colors of things and such, but she was overwhelmed and ready to go. We were there probably a total of 10 minutes. But it is a beginning and we’ll try again. My thanks and appreciation to Kimmie for the willingness and effort she continuously makes for my families well being.

Exhale. Well thanks for attending my pity party. And as should be with all pity parties, I will leave off with a small list of gratitudes. For balance, you know.

I am grateful for Niko, whose ceaseless love and devotion to me far surpasses even the greatest of husbands. It has to. Because I am hard to handle.

I am grateful for Daisy, who continues to try to become a better person. And at 16, and a girl, we women know that level of difficulty.

I am grateful for Leelu, whose ever blossoming personality reminds me why I am a mother.

I am grateful for dentists. For filling my cavities today, before they became nasty root canals. One of the few routes of modern medicine I proclaim necessary. Take care of your teeth, y’all.

That is all. Once again, thanks for listening.