Ask and Ye Shall Receive ... Eventually!

So many questions, so many answers left unsaid … The Mountain Farmgirl delights in reading all the responses to her blogs from kindred spirits throughout the land. However, there never seemed to be enough time to answer the questions sometimes asked of her. She has habitually set them on the backburner to answer “later” when she can address them properly … (and we all know what can happen to even the best of intentions). Join her as she fires up that back burner, puts some closure to those old and probably long-forgotten questions, and promises more timely responses in the future… in Ask and Ye Shall ReceiveEventually!

Time is often what we make of it, isn’t it gals?  If we think we don’t have enough time, we’re often right. But by simply refocusing our energies and eliminating the ‘clutter’ in life, and doing things “NOW” rather than ‘later’, we can take back that ‘deficit’ and do many more meaningful things in our days if we so choose. A good question to ask of ourselves when we think we don’t have time to do something is, “If not now … WHEN??”  The answer I have found  is usually ‘NEVER!!’  So one of the things your Mountain Farmgirl has determined to do better is to answer her mail in a timely fashion from this point forward! In the meantime, here are some of the questions that have been asked of me over the last couple of years, and my better-late-than-never attempts to answer them … sort of my chance to be Dear-Abby-for-a-Day! I’ve been through hundreds of pages of my blogs and your responses and hope to heavens I haven’t missed any!  I thank you all for your comments and questions.  Please forgive my tardiness and do keep ‘em a-comin’!

Zucchini Moments (July 2010): This was a blog about feeling overwhelmed when everything seems to hit you all at once … whether it be zucchini or a string of bad luck.

From Claudia, (on the Tiny House we had here at the Lodge): “Love the little cabin. Do you have any info on them?”  The Tiny House we had here at our Lodge was from the Tumbleweed Company ( , created by Jay Shafer. I spent many an hour within its walls and fell absolutely head over heels in love with it. There are many other companies following suit, however, with tiny houses and tinier price tags than Tumbleweed. Most have plans available if you are a build-it-yourself sort of person, or ready made homes on wheels if you want to buy one already built. The Texas Tiny House Company ( for example, is one I highly recommend.  They use mostly salvaged materials in their unique designs, and are therefore very environmentally friendly. Vermont Tiny Houses ( ) is another. A website I suggest you go to for information on the small house movement in general is the Tiny House Blog (

From Raynita, who was looking for a paint color for a project (probably long finished. Sorry Raynita!):“What color did you paint the shutters you made for the Tiny House?”: When I made these shutters I wanted a rustic color similar to that found on old barns. The one I chose was a ready mixed paint from our local True Value hardware store, called Barn Red.

From Lisa: “Do you have a website for your place?” Lisa is referring to our Lodge here in Jackson, NH. I look forward to visits from fellow farmgirls, and have had several stop by to say howdy (which always makes my day!). Our website is

From Carol: “Doesn’t it seem that no matter how much we plan, everything still comes all at once?” Of course … that’s where the expression  “It never rains but it pours” comes from!!  Good planning is certainly important to our success, but sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that with it we can always have everything under control. Ha! I have the perfect story to show the fallacy of this. When my three homeschooled children were small, my husband (bless him!) would occasionally take them for a weekend visit to his parents house about 3 hours away, giving me a little break and some much needed  (but seldom found) peace and quiet.  I probably worked harder while they were all gone than ever, but it was pure bliss because there were no interruptions, and I could get everything in order, from home school lesson plans, to laundry, right down to organizing the drawers! I would often stay up all night cleaning and accomplishing things, feeling very much in control and on top of the world! On one of their longer trips, I had everything so perfect that believe it or not, there wasn’t anything else to do except turn up the music, and read a good  book. Was I perfect, or what?! Just when I was feeling all puffed up in the ‘Planning Department’, knowing that I had everything in my life in perfect order, God had a little surprise in store for me to put me in my place. Shortly after they returned  I started feeling a little queasy. This nauseous feeling grew to quite a crescendo, and I realized I must have picked up a touch of the flu from working myself so hard and running down my immune system.  EXCEPT that it didn’t go away. After more than 10 days, I lay in bed feeling awful, wondering why I couldn’t throw it off more quickly. And then out of the blue, a fleeting and very scary thought suddenly flashed through my brain at 3 am as I was lying there feeling sorry for poor sick little me. The thought: ‘What if I wasn’t sick … what if … oh it couldn’t be …could it?’ … Just happening to have a pregnancy test in the cupboard, I discovered minutes later that I wasn’t sick, I was expecting my beloved Joshua!!!  Sometimes the surprises we don’t plan for are the best things in life!  … but it is a sure thing that just when we THINK we are on top of it all, we are, in reality, ripe for a revelation!

From Cora Jo who writes that “she lives 8 miles north of me in Gorham”: Wow … Howdy neighbor!! Gorham is just north of me about 25 minutes.  In fact my dentist has an office there. Small world, Cora Jo.  If I had never driven to Gorham, I probably never would have discovered  MaryJane’s Farm! There used to be an awesome little bookstore on Exchange Street near my dentist. Going there ws my reward for being a good girl and not cancelling my appointments! No sooner had I gone in one year about 5 years ago when MaryJane’s ‘Ideasbook, Cookbook, Lifebook’ practically flew off the shelf at me! Thumbing through the pages, I sensed a life-changing moment, and just HAD to have it!  There was such an instant FarmGirl connection, but little did I know that I would one day be the Mountain Farmgirl! True story, so cool!  If you ever drive down to Jackson, please stop in at our Lodge to say hi.

Thoreau Had the Right Idea (August 2010) This was the blog in which I introduced my deep-seated desire to simplify my life.

From Lisa: “I say I don’t want stuff, but there is so much pressure from society as a whole, don’t you think?” Yes, we are bombarded from every angle to buy, buy, buy more and more stuff! But believe me, we don’t need most of it. Don’t be intimidated by advertisements, friends or family members who try to get you to spend money on things you don’t need. Too much stuff will not only make us poor, it is a huge burden to take care of, move around and store. Listen to your heart and be strong.

From ‘UFO’ ( unidentified flying farmgirl?!): “What should we ask ourselves when trying to simplify? Does simplifying only pertain to household and personal items? How does one find the courage to take the first step to let go?" It’s hard to take the first step, just start by DOING IT with something you don’t really use. We have a place at our recycling center called the ‘dump store’ where we can take perfectly good items that other people can use. ( Remember, ‘One man’s trash is another one’s treasure’!). Thrift stores are another good place to take things. Start by getting rid of old things you never wear or have outgrown. Do a little at a time. Sometimes it is easier to start by taking things out of circulation for awhile. Don’t panic yourself by getting rid of it at first if that freaks you out. Put unused or seldom used things in a container in the attic and get used to not having them around. Next year, re-evaluate. Maybe it will be easier to pass the items on; maybe it will be like getting something new that you didn’t have to buy! There are npo hard and fast rules. It is a process.

From Kimberly, who wonders “is my bench in the tiny house photo is made of willow or grapevine?” This one is willow, and I didn’t make it, but I have made others like it. Grapevines are nice to use as well, but they are a bit more gnarly than willow and a bit harder to bend when they get any thickness to them.  We built an Adirondack-style porch on our house once and used grapevines at the top near the roofline for a very rustic look.

A Defining Moment (August 2010) This was the blog about my “Ah-Ha Moment” in which I realized I didn’t want to be part of the ‘rat race’ any more and decided to do something about it.

From Morgan, a mother of three who is feeling overwhelmed and can’t seem to get anything done out in the garden: “Do you have any advice?”  Oh yes … B-R-E-A-T-H-E! and know that it is okay. You know of course that nurturing these little souls is the reason many other things do not get done in the timely manner we would like … For everything there is a season, and you should never forget that you are planting precious seeds for a magnificent harvest!). Sometimes the pansies can wait!

From Tammy: “I would love to hear everything you are doing to simplify”.  Like the response to “UFO” above, the answer to this is: IT IS A PROCESS. Here are some of the things I have started, however I will dedicate a future blog to go into some of the others that are too lengthy to mention here:

·        I gave up my car almost 2 years ago, and find that I can really get along without it. I have a bike; I walk a lot; I share my husband’s car when I need one.  This year our son will be getting married, and I will be driving there a week ahead of my husband, and will need to rent a car. That works for us on the rare occasions we need two cars.

·        I shop at consignment shops and thrift stores; recycling centers, etc. (Shabby Chic is in!!) … I think they call it wabi-sabi these days!

·        I am continually in the process of de-cluttering. Clean spaces make for uncluttered thinking for me. I am excessively sentimental about getting rid of anything that pertains to my kids, however. Photos, things they have made, etc. are stored in chests in the attic with their names on them for the future.

·        I started a personal campaign about a year ago not to buy new stuff until I finish up all my old projects. I have lots of yarn, and am making sweaters.  I own boxes of lovely fabrics to make into quilts and rag rugs, etc.  Instead of buying presents, I am recycling old things into handcrafted new ones for the special people in my life.

October Antics (September 2010) in which I describe some of the fun our town partakes in during what is probably my favorite month of the year.

From Claudia:”How do you attach the pumpkin head to the body of your Pumpkin People”?  The neck of the pumpkin is a 2x3 that has been carved town to a point, which goes up into the pumpkin itself.  Carve a little hole in the bottom of the pumpkin to fit the stake, but before you attach it, fill the pumpkin cavity with that expandable foam insulation in a can. When you’ve pumped in as much as it can hold, insert the stake (with the rest of the ‘body’ attached, and when the foam hardens, it acts like crazy glue, holding the head in place.  It also acts like embalming fluid, and keeps the pumpkin intact and unspoiled for the month of October, some days of which can be downright hot and balmy.

From O’Dell: “Do you think honey crisps would make good pies?” Honey crisps have become my absolute favorite apple, even though I still love a good Mutsu when I can find one here in NH. Yes, honey crisps do make good pies; I used them to make a pie for my in-laws over Thanksgiving, as they were the only apples I had in the house at the time.  It was scrumptious!

Bleakness and Blessings (November 2010) was a blog about how to find blessings during what may well be one of the ‘bleakest months’ here in New England.

From Gail:”Is the woodstove picture your own stove or just a photo? Where can I find one?”  Alas, that photo is not of my stove. I found it somewhere, printed it out and worship it from afar!  As you may have read in some of my other blogs, I have a heavy metal fetish that over the course of my 40+ years of marriage has manifested itself  as an obsession for collecting woodstoves. My poor husband has moved literally TONS of cast iron woodstoves for me over the years. I can’t help myself when I see a kitchen cookstove … I just want to take the poor orphan home and nurture it! At the present time, I am going through woodstove withdrawal … I sold all my stoves when we moved to our inn, a decision I regret deeply. I am ‘fueled’ with hope, however, by the words my husband told me when we moved here: “Leave your stoves with the house.  When the time is right for us to get another one, you can get whatever wood cookstove you want”. (I haven’t forgotten, Dear!).  In the meantime, if the time is right for you, check the classifieds of your newspaper, or ad magazines like Uncle Henrys. You could even advertise under the “Wanted” section of the classifieds. People often have unwanted or forgotten stoves taking up space in their barns and would be happy to get rid of them, especially to a farmgirl who would appreciate it!  One of my all-time favorite stoves was a gas stove from the 1930s that was given to me by the guy who used to fill my gas tank.  There was a barn on the property next to his that was being razed and in it was this little peach of a stove.  He saved it from a fate worse than death, cleaned it up and gave it to me for FREE because he knew how much I loved them. (Incidentally, I just saw one exactly like it for sale for $4800!!! Rats … I knew I should have brought it with me!).  I don’t know where you live, but if you are in New England, there are a few places I check out on the web quite frequently: The Good Time Stove Company (Mass.);  Antique Stove Hospital (RI); The Love Barn (ME)

From Carla: “Would you share your stocking patterns and where you found it?” I got the patterns and the wool in the form of kits from Annie’s Woolens ( however, I have since found similar kits at my local knitting store, which I very much like to patronize.

From Debbi: “Thanks for meeting us in July.”  It was such a pleasure to meet you and your husband at our Lodge!  I bought the little pewter pineapple pendant like the one you were wearing(pineapples signify ‘hospitality’) and have given them as gifts to my employees, too.  SO nice to meet you Debbi!

From Peg: “RE: Janice Holt Giles: Have you read her whole line of books?” Just about … I LOVE them! You can get them through the library (or interlibrary loan) or used on Amazon.  She was extremely prolific, but by far my favorite was “Shady Grove”. I laughed out loud till I cried (or woke up my husband!) at some of the passages.

From Marilyn, who writes that her husband of 41 years passed away in November of ’08, making one of her favorite holidays difficult: Blessings to you, Marilyn …the bittersweetness of the holidays under such circumstances can be difficult, but time does help us focus more on the happy memories rather than the sad.  I was thinking of you over the holidays, and hope that you are well.

From Janeen: “What is the name of the book you are reading by Janice Holt Giles?”  I read almost all of them! Here is a list:

The Act of Contrition; The Believers; Damned Engineers; The Enduring Hills; Forty Acres and No Mule; The Great Adventure; Hannah Fowler; Johnny Osage; Harbin’s Ridge; Hill Man; The Kentuckians; The Kinta Years; The Land Beyond the Mountains; Miss Willie; The Plum Thicket; Run Me a River; Savannah; Shady Grove; Six Horse Hitch; Tara’s Healing; Voyage to Santa Fe; The Wellspring.

Waste Not, Want Not (November 2010) In this blog I wrote about creative ways to use leftovers, because I hate to waste food!

From Debbie: “What granola do you serve at your inn?”  Our granola is a combination of 3 actually, that I mix together (Mainely Maple; Classic Granola and Cinnamon Raisin Crunch). The company that makes it is called Grandy Oats, and was actually started by our college roommate about 100 years ago (or so it seems)! She sold the company about 10 or more years ago, but it is going strong! Their website is

From Dolly: “I cannot seem to make the artisan breads that are appearing everywhere. It looks easy, but they will not rise. Any suggestions?”  Hmmm … hard to know what might be wrong in your individual case, but the obvious things to check are that your yeast is fresh; that you are letting it rise long enough in a warm spot; and that there is enough flour. Wet, sticky dough is heavy and resistant to light airy rising.  Keep trying and don’t give up!  My own bread baking is a trial and error process!

New Year’s Revolution (January 2011) in which I revolt over making resolutions I never keep, and just look at each new year (as each new day), as a clean slate, a chance to begin anew and be the best me that I can be.

From Julie, who has a new blog: “Do you have any comments for me on my blog at”?  Looks great Julie! And how nice to be doing it along with your daughter.

From Life Giving Waters (January 2011) on the importance of staying hydrated.

From Julie, who was commenting on my great-aunt Cha-Cha, and was wondering: “Did your great-aunt pronounce it ‘wa-ter’ with a short a, or ‘war-ter’ like so many people do?"  Cha-Cha always pronounced it the first way, with a little special emphasis on the ‘t”.

Prepare, Don’t Panic (February 2011) , in which I was lamenting the quantity of  bad news that bombards us daily, and wondering how best to deal with it all.

From Joyce: “You mention sprouts, and I love them, but I have no idea how or what to sprout or where to buy them.”  Joyce, I have owned every sprouting contraption known to man at one time or other, and I still prefer a standard old canning jar with a screen lid to any of the store-bought sprouters. Alfalfa sprouts are the easiest to sprout, so I would start there. You can also get mixes that include radish, broccoli, clover and cabbage along with alfalfa.  They are all very small seeds that sprout easily.  When you get a little more daring, mung beans are a good next step, and I love a mix called Pro-Vita Mix that contains adzuki, peas, lentils, mung, triticale, wheat and fenugreek. Yum!  For the smaller seeds, soak about 1 T. in water overnight in a quart canning jar covered with a screen or cheesecloth. Drain the seeds the next morning, rinse well and drain again. Lay jar on its side in repeat morning and night. In 2-3 days your sprouts will be ready to eat. Keep dry and refrigerated. I get mine from the Bulk Herb Store:

From Pam: “I would like to hear more of what you have to teach us on family preparedness … and From Annie,who wants more information on preparedness and self-sufficiency:  Gals, I promise to make this a topic for one or more of my blogs this year, as it is a voluminous subject that deserves a lot of attention. Thanks!

Getting Back to our Roots: (March 2011), an article I wrote about how to fortify our systems after a long winter.

From BobbiLynn:I love sprouts but have been afraid to use them due to occasional salmonella scares. What tips do you have to keep them safe?” This is a very good question, and I checked with a website, , to get some answers. Unfortunately, they didn’t have many! Sprouted seeds need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow, but these conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. According to the article, the seeds are usually the source of the bacteria, which tells me that we should be careful about the sources we buy from. I trust the Bulk Herb Store, and get mine there by ordering online.  The government website suggests cooking sprouts, but I don’t particularly like warm sprouts, and I think this defeats the purpose of all those delicious raw vitamins.  It also suggests that women and children don’t eat them. Hmmm. You have to assess the risk, I guess.  I ate them while pregnant all the time and also gave them to my kids.

From Sasha, who lives in Chicago, dreams of living like a pioneer woman. She wants to know “how to make a leap into a whole new way of life?”: One step at a time!  “Taking the Leap” will be the title of one of my Blogs this coming year!

Homeschooling: It’s Not For Everyone (March 2011) This was my crash course, a sort of  “Homeschooling 101” introduction to the subject. And while it isn’t for everyone (hence the title of this blog), it is proving an excellent choice for some.  (BTW,Farmgirls who are interested should look for a new section on MaryJanes website soon, in which veteran homeschool moms Beach Farmgirl Deb Bosworth  and I will be posting information and discussions about  home education. Stay tuned!).

The Sweet Taste of Springtime ( April 2011) an article about maple syruping in the spring, and various other tidbits!

From Luanna, whose honeymoon was in the White Mountains was wondering what classes I give for women? Congratulations on honeymooning in what I think is one of the most beautiful spots on earth!  As for women’s classes: Ahhh, a subject near and dear to my heart! It’s one of the ways I plan to spend my ‘retirement’ someday! I LOVE sharing knowledge and skills, especially with women. Some of my class subjects include: Getting Organized; A Room of One’s Own; Changing the World Right Where You Are; Exploring our Passions … and about 100 others!

Body Image: You’re Not Just a Number on a Scale (May 2011)

From Carla: “What type of products can we develop that make our very own body image and personality valuable and reflect that to the world?” A good question that many farmgirls could explore, all with uniquely different results! One of my friends in New York is a Farmgirl who makes exquisite organic soaps; in fact she has elevated her soaps to an art form ... absolutely top shelf!  They are as gorgeous as they are delightful and useful. Jean Chappell owns GinkGo Wild Soapworks Through her ‘art’ she makes cleanliness next to Godliness, with a bit of spunk thrown in for good measure. Let’s hear how other farmgirls are addressing their creativity in this way….

Let’s Talk Prairie (October 2011) My obsession with prairie and pioneer life continues in this little blog!

From June, who was wondering about the samplers my daughter and I made when she was younger and home schooling. “Where can I find the kits?”  The kits, sadly, are no longer made, but the beauty of them was that they were something that you could do with your children that were multi-sensory and very educational.  First, they contained a sampler that focused on a particular letter.  Yes, they included the whole alphabet too, and some old fashioned decorations, but the bible verse that was on each sampler started with the letter of the kit (A-Z).  There were recipes that you could make that were somehow related, a story to read, a craft to make.  They were just delightful! I found them at a homeschool conference, and picked up the letter kit that started with my daughter’s first name.  It was so great that we bought kits for each of our family members, and were so disappointed when we finished, that we ended up buying a kit for each letter of the alphabet, and then sewed all the samplers together into a fantastic quilt. The company (actually a home school mom) somehow stopped making them years ago, and I cannot locate her name as of this writing.  So sorry… Would make a good project for a home entrepreneur …

From Sandi, who writes that we were practically neighbors growing up.  She loved the same little log cabin at Museum Village that changed my life in the 2nd grade, went to Herb Day at the Bull Stone House, etc.!  Wow, Sandi, small world! I am a member of the Bull Family who built the stone house, and Herb Day was always one of my favorite events. I visgo back when I return home for a visit once in a while.  Do you still live in the area?

And that, dear friends, pretty much catches me up with my long overdue correspondence (I hope!). If I have overlooked any questions, I am so sorry;  please try me again! We Farmgirl bloggers absolutely LOVE to get mail, and love to read your comments, questions and suggestions.  We learn as much from you as we share with others in our writings, and it makes it so rewarding for us. Please don’t stop. I was totally overwhelmed /blown out of the farmgirl waters  with gratitude for the response to that very first blog I wrote (Let’s Trade Howdys). 125 Comments!! Thank you all so much for writing. And as I said above,  please Keep ‘em comin … and so will I!

Until next time,

Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi,

The Mountain Farmgirl





By: Raynita
On: 01/10/2012 14:32:52

Cathi, Thanks for your reply on the paint color. I actually found paint at my local lumberyard called *Ranch Red* and I think it is very close to yours as I was looking for that true, old Barn Red color for the windows and doors of our log home. No matter that I finished my project, my nine year old thought it was so cool seeing mom's name in your blog, well, so did for making our day:) Love what you do, Raynita

My pleasure, Raynita!  Glad you got your paint.  Have a wonderful day, and thanks so much for stopping by! -- cathi

By: Natalie
On: 02/21/2012 03:22:13
Love the blog

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir