About Polka Dot Farmer

Farm life

Sorting. Packing. Moving.

We just moved – for the ninth time in our married life. No, we aren’t military. No we don’t work for the government, apparently we are just vagabonds, as my brother in law put it.

I know people who HATE moving, won’t move, are afraid to move. And in the middle of sorting and packing up our shit, er personal belongings, I totally get it. Moving is hard. And the longer you have been in one place, the more “personal belongings” you have to deal with.

But in a strange, hurts so good kind of way, I kind of like the result of moving. There is something in the sorting that is nearly spiritual for me. Back breaking? Mind bending? Soul sucking? Yes, all of that, but it can also be a physical and emotional cathartic exercise for me Whoaaaa.. freak show alarms just went off. Stick with me, that’s as weird as it’s getting, promise.

Somewhere between sorting through the “must keeps” in my 50 coffee mug collection and going through bins and bins of old photos that were destined to be scrapbooked in the 90s, I find myself getting really aggressive about unnecessary baggage. I become a ruthless machine. No, we will not move these frickin 15 pound yearbooks one more time. No, I do not need a bin of decorations for every holiday. No, no, no!

I find myself choosing to drop things from the past that seemed necessary, seemed defining at some point, that are no longer useful or the right things for me now. They aren’t all bad, but they aren’t right for us now. So physically, bit by bit, we intentionally sort our lives. We evaluate every piece, every book, every influence and begin to drop the baggage of the past. I had a friend tell me that when they move, they walk the edges of every property with a sage smudge and just intentionally leave their past and the past that comes with the property behind. They invite a new beginning. I know some who march the property lines and pray, others who just bless the home or arrive with an intentional expectation of something new. In all of this, we are simply sorting – declaring that the old struggle, the past challenges and labels, the time to leave it memories, the 20 extra coffee mugs we simply don’t need are not coming with us to this new start.

In the process, I am sorting internally. Realizing this gift, photo or way of thinking about things is no longer going to have a place in my life. Old photos, letters, papers, books that remind of times that don’t belong in today, I’m not hauling it forward any more. Not in boxes. Not in my heart. So, as we lighten our “things” we begin to lighten our souls and we are set free in ways we never imagined, in ways we may not even see.

So here I am on the other side, celebrating the goodness of God and the few things that are very special to us in our new space. I’m really excited at the new things that are part of this new journey! I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. The sorting takes time friends, it’s hard and sometimes you are going to pack it up and move it anyway. But, when you’re ready, you will realize on the other side, it shouldn’t have come at all. It’s ok, no shame, just get those 20 coffee mugs in a box and drop it at the nearest donation center. XO friends.


Be Gentle.

This sweet little image was when my niece visited the farm recently. Our days old chicks were too adorable to just look at, but when her two year old hands would squeeze a little too tightly, her sweet mama would say kindly, “be gentle”.

Be gentle.

It’s a message we all need to remember when dealing with others, with life, with creatures, with our earth. Be gentle.

It’s a simple call to consider – are the words, the actions, the choices I’m making squeezing a little too hard for the fragile, delicate life in our grasp? Let’s be a little kinder, a little softer, a little more conscious of our impact, shall we?


The Richness of Non-doing

“I’ve basically forgotten how to tap into the richness of ‘non-doing.'” – Josh Radnor. 

When people visit my home, they will often remark, “it’s so peaceful”. It somehow feels clean to them, like a retreat. I have always assumed it was simply because it wasn’t their mess and joke it off. But, my home IS peaceful and I think it’s as much a result of what I DO, as what I “undo” on a regular basis.

Roses, peace, take time to smell the rosesWith all the Marie Kondo craze and organizing hacks on social media, I know we are all seeking control, peace, joy in our homes….even if it means cleaning out the closet or office to try and find it. Side note, not to brag here, but I think I was Kondo before there was one. I have nailed the concept of editing what does not bring joy or is not useful anymore. It’s part of why my home feels peaceful. It’s a good rule of thumb, but not the whole solution.

My mantra at home has always been to reduce “quiet noise”. What is that? It’s stuff that visually clutters my life so that I can’t think straight. It is the piles of papers on and under the desk, the 24 pairs of shoes I trip over at the front door. There is no voice, but believe me when I say, it screams! You know what I’m talking about.

You might say I take a graphic design approach to my home – I seek the white space, the less is more version. I don’t have appliances on every square inch of my kitchen counter top. I rotate my special “things” seasonally so I can use them and see them, but not have everything out at once. In this way – by the “undoing” of something on every surface, the refrigerator, the desk, the walls…I have created a space to breath. To allow a moment without noise. That’s my way, it doesn’t mean it’s your way. But there is something more to this striving.

It occurs to me that the “fads” of organizing and living in our homes from Hygge to Kondo, Container Store to Ikea, and the seeking of perfect spaces, is really a symptom. We are stressed, our lives are filled with messages, news, sound bytes, something hanging on every surface of our thoughts and heart. We are overrun by quiet noise. Our souls don’t have an ounce of “white space” to just rest, day dream, imagine….let alone read, learn, experience. When I am restless or stuck or have a moment pause between things, that mindless reach for the phone to check my feed or texts, is part of the problem. (I know, here I am a marketing gal, writing a blog and sharing it on social, talking about it.. don’t look at me like that.😎.)

We have to be honest though. We don’t have peace because we are seeking it in things, accomplishments, organized spaces, affirmation, projects, bins and lists. Think about it – peace is often depicted with images like a green pasture, like a lamb…gentle, sweet, soft, with bird song, flowers, quiet lapping ripples on water. We long for this peace and look for it by “doing” something. What we need to relearn is the art of “non-doing”.

I’m not talking about zoning out in front of the television (noise!). I’m talking about walking the dog, taking time to drive in quiet and just think, sit and read a book, write in a journal, look at the view from your windows, sit on the good furniture…in your front room. Non-doing is ok but we just aren’t allowing ourselves to stop long enough to realize that your dreams, ideas, imagination can’t be heard over the quiet noise in our souls.

We need to take control and allow space. Space to literally smell the roses…leave the head phones off and take a walk, listen to your favorite album, sip the special wine, turn the TV off, rest.

Maybe this is why the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God”. But being still is hard. It requires “non-doing”. We can not possibly hear, see or taste how sweet true peace is without sitting still.

After all, we can’t really hear anything, when everything is screaming.


Grandmas Molasses Cookies

Great grandma with the cow’s molasses cookies

There is no molasses cookie that tastes better than grandma’s. It’s nearly a thing of legend in the family…and what more fall feeling is there when these fill the house with cinnamon and clove scents?

The thing that makes these perfect is the slight crust on the outside and the chewy inside, amazing spices and they keep really well (if you can save any). These are different than any other cookie recipe I use but they are perfect everytime, so why change it?

Here is the holy grail of recipes. Great grandma with the cow’s molasses cookie recipe. (Note, when my kids were little they needed a way to sort the grandmas….this is grandma from Montana. Their farm was a place of renewal, acceptance, cows and lots of food.)

Molasses Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. shortening melted (we use Crisco)
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c dark molasses (Grandma’s brand is my favorite)

Mix all together until combined. Add 2 eggs and mix well. Careful it’s not too hot from melted shortening, it will cook the eggs.

Mix together:

  • 1 T. + 1 t. baking soda
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 t. cloves
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt

Mix all dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined and then chill for an hour.

Roll into balls and place on a cooking sheet, do not smash the balls, they will flatten as they bake. Bake at 350 for ten minutes, transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

Farm life, Life

Farm Lesson #5: Life Lessons from Chickens

chickens, backyard chickens, raising chickens

When we moved to the farm, my first goal was to get chickens. And let me tell you, I didn’t wait long. The first full weekend after moving to the farm (yes, after 8 days) we marched off to the feed store and picked up our girls and necessary supplies. Seven baby chicks, all laying hens, came home with us, deeming our plot of land a true farm.

Truth is, I had no idea how to raise chickens, so I employed my “fake it, til I make it” approach and with the help of Google and a Backyard Chicken Facebook group, I marched on like a boss. Six months later, we are getting eggs every day and the girls are loving their free range days on the farm. We have curbed the puppy’s tendency to chase chickens and have settled into a happy rhythm. I knew I wanted chickens, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I love having chickens.

Chickens are funny – endlessly entertaining to me. They run to me everytime I come outside, they follow me around like a little pack of fans and they just want to be close. They are loyal and forgiving. Relational and stick together. They are hard working and explorers. They get scared, fuss and flap for a second and then move on without memory. They can be counted on. Seems we have a lot to learn from a chicken.

backyard chickens

I am so blessed to have a band of girls on our farm. ❤❤❤ If you are ever feeling low, come visit, the girls will be happy to cheer you up.


Maybe I’m the problem with the church?

Bob Goff, Everybody Always

Our world feels like a mess. Media, social media and news feeds are full of negativity, hatred, disasters, political attacks, violations, biting and hateful sarcasm, angry reactions, of argument after argument. There are so many arguments.

There are also a lot of good things, cries for help, positive support, expressions of compassion, fundraising for others, prayers offered, cute goat photos ❤. There is so much good going on…and I like to believe I am part of that.

I am compassionate by nature. Pretty nice most of the time. I am the first to say I hope, wish, want and will ______. Yes, God, that’s good…oh amen, we should feed the hungry, minister to the broken hearted, take care of the orphans. But you meant, sweet, clean little Martha from church, right? What about when it’s the homeless guy, or drug addict, or down and out, or the jerk behind us, the person we don’t like the smell of? Or when your elderly relative needs a ride, their bathroom cleaned or makes up excuses to see someone because they are lonely?

But here’s the thing, often I do go clean the bathroom (and oh by the way, I’m a germ phobe), but grumble about it and then say, “no, it’s not a hassle,” when they pick up on my spirit or see me washing my hands for the 10th time, making them feel ashamed. Just a guess, but that probably isn’t what God meant. I know people who hate christians, the church and maybe God himself because so many of us (like how I included you all?) have lived agreeing with, but not really doing God’s work. Oh I’ll be the first to say I don’t like inauthenticity, even hold my pastors and church leaders to task over this (inside voice of course), but somehow I have a kinder scale for myself. I mean, they should love everyone, right? That is their job. But, guess what? It’s my job too and people see right through that kind of hypocrisy. I’m why they hate christians and the church, like it or not. I just threw up in my mouth (TUIMM).

I can send a check, share a fundraiser or post, make a heartfelt comment, give away stuff I didn’t want anyway, throw a 10 second prayer at it, even serve or say I wish something was different and allow self-righteous pride to make me feel good about it. Ha! I have even had the thought, God my part is to support those who do that work. And lucky for me, I have a daughter who is a missionary, so it’s real easy to agree. So glad, I’m not part of the problem. TUIMM again.

Whether my doing something about it is taking time to listen to someone, research and vote, care or become part of a solution for the very thing I am complaining about, I have so much good to give. I can share, give, support, connect, fund, serve, help or march. I can be available, not get easily offended, believe and love others, demonstrate love through service, create, build, honor and respect. I can be a force of true goodness and grace, acceptance and of practical love when needing a coat or food or the bathroom cleaned.

I know there is so much need in our world, neighborhood and in our families. I have to believe if we truly begin to DO what God has said and not just smugly agree from our pew or armchair, oh what a beautiful world this can be. I am so grateful for grace that forgives our shame and sin and helps us become who we are supposed to be.

Have grace dear ones. Be grace. Let’s DO this work…let’s change the world!

Farm life, Recipes

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

recipe for sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Sweet potatoes have basically been relegated to a Thanksgiving cameo once a year….and I never am the one who makes them or puts them on my plate. Convinced I didn’t like them, or maybe it was the marshmallow smother (gag), I have lived a happy, sweet potatoe free life. Until now.

My daughter, who lived in Mexico for a couple of years, taught me redemptive grace for the oh-so-good-for-you-vegetable. Packed with vitamin A, potassium and fiber, they are a great, low-fat partner in health. In fact, I’m going to plant them in my garden next year – now that is full vegetable salvation!

This recipe is simple (10 mins to prep), delicious as a side dish to chicken or pork, or as a meal in itself. It is gluten-free, sugar-free, can be made vegan, and would also be great for toddlers and kids. Let’s hear it for a vegetable win … and a little swagger on the GF/vegan status too!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

This recipe makes about 4 medium servings but can be scaled up or down easily.

  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled) and 2 apples (not peeled) cut into cubes (I do about 1/2 inch bites). Firm varieties of apples work best like honeycrisp or pinks, but any kind can work. The softer apples will just be a bit mushy, but still taste amazing. Also, on apples, the sour types like granny smiths might be a little tart since there is no sugar, but make it your way, you can always add a little honey to sweeten if that is the apples you have.
  • Mix in 1/2 c of dried cranberries
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon (about 1 T) and mix
  • Place all in a greased casserole pan or a lined baking sheet. I use a little butter to grease, but coconut oil works too for you vegans or really conscientious – extra points for less fat! I’m not all Paula Deen level, but I do love me some butter.
  • Dot the mixture with 2 T butter* cut into small cubes. *See note above about butter and swap out with coconut oil if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup nuts. I like pistachios or pumpkin seeds, but use what you have on hand. It adds a nice texture and crunch, plus some bonus protein.

Bake at 375 until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.

You can make a big batch and use the extras for leftovers. They are great for lunch, transport well, reheat well and last a week or so in the refrigerator. I cook it year round but it has all the fall feels for sure. A Thanksgiving party in your mouth, minus the marshmallows!