Developing a Farmgirl takes WAY More than adding Apron, Hat and Boots

From ‘The Three Layers of Story Engineering, Architecture, and Art’,  (posted by my favorite writing teacher and mentor, Larry Brooks of

Everything can be broken down.  Plant and animal.  Fact and fallacy.  Art and science.

Sliced, diced, eviscerated, deconstructed, analyzed, charted, graphed, melted, spectra-analyzed and debated.  Sometimes this yields precision, other times a vague generality.

Either way, from this process of breakdown comes illumination.  Visibility.  Clarity of purpose, design and effectiveness.”

Envisioning the entire picture & breaking it down into workable phases or steps, is very hard., but I think this is an important step in any goal/dream. I’ve spoken of this before but not so much on my personal ideal -what goals it takes to get to a place where I’m living a farmgirl life and feel and look the part. This is a new goal this year. It encompasses so many variables, so many levels.

It’s a good fit for the 12-Folders ...  In case you missed it, this is how the “12 Folders” system works:
A monthly  exercise – a process of goal development combining method and brainstorming and transferring steps to a monthly calendar,  to keep moving ahead with targeted purpose the entire year.
Each month has a specific focus. You choose the topics!

 These are my focus topics so it makes more sense (everyone’s will be different- it depends on what’s currently important and a priority in your life – and they are flexible!) :

1) January –WELLNESS: all Health improvement categories ( muscle conditioning and flexibility exercises, etc. Dietary: add to diet/ remove from diet/ foods and recipes to try, etc.)

   IN red, new focus which I will tweak (explained more fully below):
2) February – IMAGE & APPEARANCE – self care & improvement (hair/ style/ clothing & make-up/ colors/ etc.)   FARMGIRL: To gain the knowledge, the skills, and the courage needed to raise animals and food to eat, to make things from scratch, to improve life, home, property, and the prospect of the future, come what may. To look the part and walk the talk. (New focus below....)
3) March –WORK-Business: time management, business direction, customer relations improvements: streamlining office paperwork and general efficiency, incorporating policies and protocols, marketing tools and ideas (personal marketing is very effective)
***Adding: start garden seeds indoors!

4) April --HOMESTEADING: start a new practical self-sustenance  endeavor (canning, sewing, etc.)
5) May-- LEARNING: personal endeavors (not art), like horse training and riding
6) June –MARRIAGE/ RELATIONSHIPS: improvement tactics/problem resolutions, etc. (our anniversary month)
7) July –GETTING OUT: life enrichment and entertainment (expanding quality of life: picnics, camping out/ vacation time/ socializing/town events, etc.)
8) August-- FINANCIAL: deal with bills, budgeting, long-term goals, etc. (it's too hot to do a lot outside)
9) September-- HOME: management & improvement efforts, actual work on the house
10) October –NOTEBOOKS: revamp and reorganize master lists, tune-up household binders, etc. (getting prepared to cocoon for winter)
11) November --ARTS & CREATIVITY: try new techniques and projects, finish up gifts for giving in Dec.
12) December --GIFTING/SOCIAL: be involved, show appreciation and give back

For maintaining my home, I insert a cleaning routine into the 12 Folders – one room of the house,  one month to focus on that room, with tasks broken down for each week:
Week 1 – De-Clutter  (move things out)
Week 2 –Deep Clean  (wipe things down)
Week 3 –Re-Organize/Repair (best use of space, and fix things)
Week 4—Decorate/Re-Arrange (make aesthetically pleasing and in most useful arrangement)

1) Master Bath
NEW:  2) Farmgirl Office
3) Exercise Room
4) Guest Bedroom #1 & #2
5) Main Living Room
6) Master Bedroom (Anniversary month)
7) Storage &; Utility room/Storage shed & other out buildings
8) Back Yard & Hen House
9) Deck &a Porches/Vehicle
10) Kitchen Pantry
11) Closets, Stairs and Hallway/Entry & Front of the house
12) Office (home-based business)

Here’s what a folder looks like when I’m done (here) and (here). I fill it with maybe inspirational or how-to pictures and articles, chore lists or contact #’s for people who can help me accomplish the agenda, things to get/buy, supply lists, etc., etc., etc.)

NEW February focus– “Farmgirl”- To gain the knowledge, the skills, and the courage needed to raise animals and food to eat, to make things from scratch, to improve life, home, property, and the prospect of the future, come what may. To look the part and walk the talk.
The Focus on the one room for the month will NOW be: the “Farmgirl Office”

I’ll post comparative pictures of the Farmgirl Office - before and afters like this:

The 12 months method works for you however you want it to.
 It could be dedicated to ONE specific outcome- refined in scope.
It could all be all just “Farmgirl” related- one month (for a year) dedicated to one facet of that ideal. One month for each chore or skill, knowledge or change you desire to take on.
It’s as evolving, flexible, general, or specific, as you want to make it!

For instance:
-one month to focus on a workable wardrobe (and the ideal farmgirl image)
- one month focused on entrepreneurship/cottage industry (learning what they are, what’s applicable and do-able, what’s needed for the endeavors chosen, etc)
- one on gaining contacts and a network of likeminded friends
- one on homemade/crafting
- one on creating a space for the endeavors
- one on animal keeping
- one on raising and storing foods...
whatever you want to focus on for a year. Or each month dedicated to “Farming” or “Livestock” in general, so that your strategy is in step with your longterm farm/livestock management goals.

In this way you spend one year evaluating and starting things, gaining speed- whatever it is, wherever you are in the process. If focusing on the produce of or starting of crops/orchards or focusing on one type of animal on the farm each week/month(chickens, ducks,(poultry), a cow...), you decide what maintenance and improvements are desired, related to that specific animal or crop. From fencing to breeding, to adding homegrown feeds, to improving pasture, to improving the flock by hatching chicks... or just simply keeping track of saving $5. a week for fruit trees next year, what trees from where, etc...

IF that’s too convoluted to make sense, this would be broken down for instance. into weekly or monthly goals to hit all the aspects.
Lets say, raising meat animals and processing your own livestock:
-one week to find a processor or learn to butcher DIY (specifically the best month to do it, and how and costs/supplies needed)
-another to secure the help and supplies needed, and to determine meat storage and use/sales/recipes
-another  to determine household needs vs selling – how much/many lbs, or what kinds of meat (sausage, roasts, ground, or whole birds, etc – so you know how many animals to raise for your purposes), and setting up a system for records (costs/receipts, sales, # of eggs gathered vs what’s needed, getting legalities taken care of, etc.)
-another to actually doing it
However long- a month or a year, at the end you've accomplished the goal of self-sufficiency in raising and processing meat for your purposes (sales, freezer). 

So, what exactly IS a farmgirl? Many, many things...and open to interpretation!!

Some have found much to admire and wish to emulate from MaryJane Butters. Me too! But she is soooooo far along in their journeys it’s a little much to expect from myself in a year or even
Parts and pieces... that’s the trick! Take parts and pieces. Then finding ways to produce product from produce!

I like MaryJanes Farm style and work environment,  and the way she involves those around her in her lifestyle and it kind of spreads out organically among all the farmgirls. (I can do that on my own scale, through blog hops and my blog. That’s enough for me. )

*If you haven’t yet, check out the Farmgirl Forum – topics range from:
 “A Farm of My Own” to “Entrepreneurship” to “Farmgirl Fashion”!

It came to my attention earlier this week that the agrarian lifestyle of the industrious woman spoken of over 2000 years ago in Proverbs 31 was in fact, not just good stewardship, but entrepreneurial

"She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night."
(Prov. 31:18)
"She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."
 "She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard."
(Prov. 31:16)

Wow. I’m certain she had servants to take care of the children and household duties... right?

(Thanks for the enlightened observation,  Mrs. Susie Shock!) Susie does some awesome things, and she’s got the cutest video trailer for making goatsmilk soap. She does a thing called “Making Money Mondays” in the entrepreneurial spirit. I really admire her spirit and farmgirl heart

So, what is my vision/ideal of a farmgirl that I would want and be able to emulate? My path leans in this productive, agrarian direction in order to make the best of a difficult situation. For me, it’s less about choice than necessity, but I’m dressing it up and pulling everything I can from others who have gone this path before me.

Here are some words I associate with the farmgirl lifestyle:

-busy, productive, industrious, creative, hardworking, sweaty, dirt under nails, ponytail hair. entrepreneurial, able, giving/generous, happy, energetic, fearless, courageous, studious, thoughtful, attuned to nature the weather, seamstress,  in good physical shape, a good cook, thrifty, dressed up, organized and dressed for the role.
And possibly cute (depending upon how they dress for the role). I KNOW I’m missing some're welcome to fill me in!

Most farmgirls can probably dance too. I won’t add that to my list. (They say, “You can’t fix stupid”  - I say you can’t put rhythm into someone’s ‘groove bones’ either.)

What do farmgirls DO. They farm. They garden. They experience the outdoors. They smell hay in the barn and notice the dust motes floating in the sunrays that come through the barn siding. Maybe they go fishing. Maybe they go to church. They raise things: bunnies, horses, and goats and flowers.... some of them are raising kids too.

Photography— Farmgirls also like to take pictures of the things that delight, awe, and inspire them.
LOTS of farmgirls take photography to heart for the purpose of inspiring and teaching.  
Wonderful stuff to appreciate and consider tweaking to suit your own uses!

They display wonderful how-to posts with photos of each step – from recipes to how they do things, to virtual visits of their farm/homestead. They post videos of themselves extracting honey from the comb, making soap, growing edible sprouts, milking goats... sharing Henhouse cams and goat yard cams....
I wish I could remember who had posted “a year on the farm” video of her farms’ before and afters, what she built, and her farmy experiences (first chickens, first eggs, garden bounty, her prolific jars of canned harvest, a coldframe, chicken coop, etc.)

***I think everyone should plan to do a slide-show of their one year on the farm/as a farmgirl/homesteader... whatever it is you’re aiming for or dreaming of.***
Because when you know you’re going to be featured on film (or you life/farm/projects/garden, etc.) it creates a deadline with motivation!!
Don’t want to look a lazy fool with messy yard and unkempt hair... right? 

They also just post pictures to share what affected, excited, awed, challenged or surprised them – like the arrival of newborn animals, wildlife, the weather.

“Wordless Wednesday” has been going around for years in many circles – a picture is worth 1000 words, right?
I like the concept because it has a built-in deadline (Wednesdays) which is good, it’s easy, and is also wide open to what to photograph, therefore it keeps the subject fresh (anything goes).

Then there are TWO other kinds of very similar ongoing photo projects by Nancy @ A Rural Journal
“Your Sunday Best”  - it’s a HOP! Post your best photo of the week (hers are stunning!)  Plus she’s giving away a cute coffee mug, so enter your Sunday Best
 Here’s mine:

Sunrise/Sunset is another photo project documenting sunrises and sunsets from her Nebraska farm. There’s the latest, featured on the page- and a slideshow of all– and link to a flickr acct. to share your own photos too.   

I have too many photos of these myself. But that’s not the worst of it- I also constantly take pictures of sky all the time.
The color, the clouds, the light reflection in/on the clouds, sun rays, snow falling... I think it’s because I was in California for so long (in the middle of city sprawl), under smoggy skies with very few clouds, and a little rain in Nov, again in Feb, and again in July if we were lucky. Every day was almost identical to the one before. Here, the weather changes every day sometimes multiple times a day, so the sky can change every 10 minutes! And it’s a beautiful sky, full of hues and contrasts in each passing hour.

There's my latest 'best' sunset. 
One day this past summer I took a photo of the blue afternoon sky with a full white moon and a swirly cloud and captured a UFO in it. It would’ve been much more creepy but the UFO looks like a flying car out of the cartoon “The Jetson’s” - with a bubble top. I never would’ve seen it with my eyes alone- the camera was on zoom when I took the photo. Once uploaded to the PC I then saw a spot on the photo and thought it was something on the lense (dirt) or on the monitor. Zooming in exposed it for what it was, but it was of course, pixilated so a bit out of focus! As all UFO photos are! LOL
*I’m not going to post that photo since the idea disturbs so many people – and it takes away from the purpose of this blog. Unless everyone begs.

Sewing---this is definitely one area a farmgirl could expand on in unlimited ways!

I haven’t found yet someone who’s sewing their own wardrobe in a way that I can or would emulate, but sewing is high on my list of attributes of a farmgirl.

A great start would be kitchen items like crafting aprons and egg-gathering aprons... or matching mom-daughter aprons and then really cute aprons for the grandkids (even the boys), or even BBQ-ing aprons. 
Hot pads / pot holders (made of triangular quilting scraps – that look like colorful pieces of PIE)! Love, love, love those... 
And other really innovative crafts using scraps  like little stuffed animals (simple birds) or mittens made from thrift-store sweaters, etc. (Somewhere on my blog there are pictures...) 
And then remember the cutest handsewn, homemade underwear –like boyshorts but more feminine - see “BLOOMERS”. 

Then add knitting (after raising sheep for wool, cording, spinning, dying the wool, working a loom, etc.), embroidery, and quilting...I beg to stop, that’s more than a full plate right there!

Made-from-scratch cooking, food storage, canning/preserving, designing and keeping a pantry, and gardening... all those could be improved on for most everybody.

Looking the part..... hmmm. I don’t know much about this other than hat and boots are mandatory if you’re out in the muck, mud, and sun. Might as well make them cute! Have you ever seen the pretty Bog muck boots featured on some fashionista farmgirl blogs ($60. to $160)?
OR these unaffordable adorables?

Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. Maybe not good for barnyard chores though.
What about the more practical yet affordable and totally do-able prettied up black boots from “Aunt Ruthie” at SugarPie Farmhouse?
(I never considered myself a ‘shoe’ girl, but when I start looking at boots like these... well it’s all over! Gahhhhhh!)

I think that Tiffany, “the fancy farmgirl” is the cutest farmgirl ever. But I can’t pull that complete femininity off. For one thing, I get too dirty! I just BET she can dance though!

Sometimes I imagine myself ironing to music. I never iron, but it’s a nice image. Hey, I look like Tiffany in that daydream! LOL

Now, I don’t want to mislead anyone about my particular idea in developing a ‘farmgirl’ mentality. This is serious business to me. I don’t think the term “farmgirl” is sufficient to describe what I’m about – it may be something closer to homesteading/homesteader”. 

But that is really not cute at all. It cannot be romanticized like farmgirl can. And farmgirl is a definition that lightens things up a bit- and I NEED that these days. I need the energy and motivation that “homestead lite” just doesn’t provide.

I think it’s important to go beyond raising chickens in the backyard. Nothing wrong with that- it’s just not adequate security if you go on to be dependent on a feed store! You’ve got to have options, workable, practical, options. To go beyond stocking the pantry and cooking from scratch. These are great places to start though. 
And speaking for myself, making yourself feel good about the process is important in order not to reach burnout, or lose the whimsy that can go along with decorating your world as you go.
Why can’t a survival garden be surrounded by flowers? 

The people, places, and things that add up to the ingredients of what makes a farmgirl – and there are at least 1000 others out there - to learn how from, glean ideas from, be inspired by, and to ask questions of.
 It’s a journey we can take together by sharing!

Here’s a good method I use to create goals:
To develop your plan, list the following:
*What outcome do you want?
*Your priorities in daily life 
*Any obstacles to overcome (and perhaps how you plan to)
*Major, realistic steps - A project is easier when it is built in stages;
*Detailed steps (like an outline you learned in school for English papers)
*How much time each step will take 1 hour? 2 hours a day for 6 weeks?
*A schedule helps you keep a progress chart and reinforce that there are way-stations on your path. (If 2 hrs a day for 6 weeks you can check off each 2 hours/day.) What time of day, week, etc. you dedicate yourself to work. 
*Rewards you will have at each station (each achievement in the process) and also what you will deny yourself until you arrive at each station (what progress reward you would like).
*Time for review  - what has changed, what isn’t working...Monitor your progress (If progress isn’t as far along, then perhaps change to 3 hours a day for the remaining time).

+ an INTERACTIVE to determine how you spend a "typical" 24-hour day. As you enter the hours or parts of hours for each activity, the total is 24 hours. Know how you spend your time, so you can best manage it! On the left bar are some other helpful pages, on:
Time Management
Avoiding Procrastination
Motivating Yourself
Self Discipline
Prioritizing Tasks
My to-do List
Problem Solving

Please come back and share you goal lists and the steps you define to getting there!
We’ll learn from each other, and help motivate each other too.

Next step on the list (after finishing the new Farmgirl folder)- is the office before & after pics...
I would LOVE to see your space!

PS - I candled the 7 eggs (at 10 days under the hen) and none of them appear to be developing! I left the one green underneath the hen - there was an airsack - it's a bit hard to discern things through a green mottled egg, but it didn't look at all promising, as the yolk seemed to be floating at the top. Luckily, it's still early in the season!

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