Welcome to my blog! I hope you’re having a beautiful day! I’m glad you stopped by.
Dharmish Farms has been my family’s home for the past three years. Our first goal for the farm was to raise heritage breed chickens (basically chickens that are endangered due to the rise of factory farms, which focus solely on one or two chicken breeds.)
Right around the time we began building coops from reclaimed materials I began having major health problems. My husband, a disabled Army Veteran also began suffering from daily, blinding migraines. As such our farm has many chickens, but instead of focusing on a couple breeds, we now have mostly what we refer to lovingly as our barnyard breeds. Many of our hens are a specific breed- Cornish, Naked Neck, Silkies, Polish, but when they hatch chicks from our super sweet rooster – an Auburn Java, the results are always unique!
My family has spent these last years in unexpected poverty since my husband had to quit his job to stay home with me and care for our two girls. Now we are looking into turning the farm into a non-profit. We’ve already been heading in this direction over the past year. Our small, rural town is severely economically depressed. It was once a town full of ranchers and cotton growing farmers, but in the last decade or so subdivisions have taken over farm land to create new gated communities, with high walls all around to block out the view of the shanty homes and trailers. Instead of breeding endangered chickens we now try to breed the best chickens suited to this area, and then we donate laying hens to families that need to supplement their meager food stamp allotment. It’s one small way we can help our community, because we are all too familiar with raising a family with little money.
So, the direction of our farm has changed, but the one thing that has remained constant is that we are dedicated to living from scratch, as much as possible. For me this means raising chickens for eggs, building coops out of materials that would be dumped, such as leftover election signs, pallets and free lumber. Even while I fight the battle against Geniculate Neuralgia (more on this in another post) my husband and I cook meals for our family from scratch. This is the first year we’re making an effort to grow some of our own vegetables and herbs, which is an amazing feat I’ve not yet conquered due to the extremely high temperatures here in Southern Arizona. What we can’t grow we try to buy from neighboring farmers and the farmer’s market. This isn’t to say we’re successful all the time- trying to pay for all the bills that come with life and having both my husband and I frequently at doctor’s appointments makes it hard to always have the energy to avoid all processed foods. We do, however keep up to date on the fight to label GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms-banned in many other countries, but not here in the U.S.) and we try our best to keep it and pesticides out of what we feed our family.
The other reason I focus on living from scratch is that we are not a wealthy family. We fall well below the poverty level, but we are able to create a good life for our family by working odd jobs (this will be a fun post- we’ve has a lifetime of strange jobs!), making products instead of buying them (such as deodorant, toothpaste, lotions, my version of Owie Cream) and only buying items from thrift stores unless it has to be something. We donate what we no longer need on Freecycle and Craig’s List, and we scan these pages for items we need. I am a strong believer in the value of bartering- be it with your neighbors, family or entire town. This may sound idealistic, but in the wonderful book, “The Good Life Lab” by Jehanna Treymaine, she and her partner escape NYC and move to Truth or Consequences, NM. They take a vow to avoid creating more waste, so they learn to make what they need- food, shelter in the form of a renovated trailer and papercrete buildings. They take items that can be used out of dumpsters and turn the items into usable goods- furniture, a solar food dehydrator, and when they’re done they return the items to the side of the trash where another resident will pick it up to reuse it. They also have a barter system set up with many residents of Truth or Consequences, who share the same mindset. One person works on others’ electric and used vegetable oil converted vehicles in exchange for fresh baked bread and homegrown vegetables. Each person in the town who wants to participate does so to offer their skills in exchange for something they cannot provide, fix or make themselves. I think this is a perfect, wonderful idea for dealing with the ever-widening gap between those that have and those that do not. Instead of cash, why don’t we exchange our time and knowledge? I realize this only works well on a small level, such as in a relatively small town, but I think it is a practical consideration for meeting the needs of ourselves, families and neighbors, especially when all live in a poor area with few available jobs.
Back on track! Those of you that follow along on Gypsy Rue will soon notice I have a hard time writing a short reply or answer to anything!
I’d like to share a bit about myself, for those of you that have found my blog, but are not yet a friend! I’m a tattooed mama, wife, Buddhist, feminist, chicken farmer, writer, library lover, bookworm, wide range of music lover, cook, aromatherapy student and advocate of equality and love for all, with the heart of a gypsy who is dedicated to providing my family the healthiest, simple and happy life possible! I have mild cerebral palsy from being born four months premature. I’ve had Geniculate Neuralgia for the past three years. It is a very rare disorder that feels as though an ice pick or sharpened knitting needles are being shoved into your ear- my right ear- all day long. Unfortunately there is not a cure for this. There are two possible surgeries to relive the constant pain- both are brain surgeries. I had my first brain surgery one year ago, and it was a complete failure. The surgery not working was said to be because my neuralgia was a difficult- it’s actually come forth that more likely the neurosurgeon did not know what he was doing. I am completely adverse to conflict of any kind, but I also want some of this pain to go away. It is an awful thing to be in pain every moment of every day. For now I am researching what can be done, and reaching out to the top neurosurgeons who study this disorder to see if they can confirm the diagnosis and perform a successful surgery.
Due to the daily pain my husband and I deal with we do not go out much or get an opportunity to socialize with peers. However, through interactions made possible by the internet we have made many friends that I am lucky to have, who share their lives, offer advice and compassion and are simply present when needed. Sometimes it would be nice to have friends that are neighbors as well, but due to the daily pain we’re in it’s impossible for us to promise to be up to attending events or gatherings at any set times. This is hard- we miss many family birthday parties, or visits to see grandparents at their nursing homes. For now we try to make a living, heal as best as we can, love our children with all our hearts and give one another naps and breaks when the other is about to collapse. I’m a lucky gal to have my husband be my best friend. The situation we are in now is not one anyone would wish for, but we do our best to make it through painful moments, endless rounds of doctor appointments and missing out on a lot of live outside our own little homestead. At some point the pain we both suffer will be remedied, and then the future will hold as much promise as it did when we were newlyweds over a decade ago!
Somehow, the lure of this beautiful desert can turn a girl with the heart and blood of a gypsy to return, time and time again. I hope you’ll return to my blog many times as well! I’d love to share more about homesteading, freelance work, natural healing (especially through the use of essential oils) and more!