“One day, I am going to have a shop. My shop will have antiques from around the world. Simple ones. Useful ones. It will have honey from my hives. And soaps, made from said honey. Candles dipped in pairs in a big cauldron on crisp autumn days, with cider, friends and wood smoke. It will have walls full of flower pots and plates that I designed. Antique silver utensils. Piles of handwoven blankets. Only the best cookbooks. Handmade furniture from local artisans, and old ladderbacks and windsors in various states of decay. Pretty chicken feeders next to ticking pillows, next to petticoats, for me and fellow gals taking back our tough lady roles. Heirloom seeds with my name on them, ones that I harvested from an old daisy or potato that just doesn’t grow anymore; something I can save for my daughters daughter. I will have classes on the long table that runs down the center of the store, on pickling, on thoughtful gardening, on pies, and community suppers at the end of each season. A creaky wood floor, or maybe a painted green Mexican tile. Orkney chairs and a dressmakers table for the check-out area. A book rack with books that I have written, about how we used to live. There, it’s on paper. I have to do it now.”
So, what is Thankful Sage Farm School? Who the heck am I? My name is Nichole Gillies. I am the owner and proprietress of this beautiful heartsong. I am a mother, beekeeper, chicken wrangler, dandelion picker, kettle collector, and wife. The winter I started dreaming up my true joy, it was so snowy, and because of the location of my drafty farmhouse, I was stuck. Like, walk a mile with my daughter on a sled to get picked up at the main road to get groceries stuck. I wish I was exaggerating. Anyway, it was cold, but I had lots of firewood, and no television, and I filled that stove and cooked and hung with my then tiny love, Thankful. I would get these little flashes of my perfect future: suntanned shoulders, my vintage frye boots, walking out into my open yard, to my workshop where I talked about and trained people about heritage skills. I manifested my future. That’s a thing you know. I tried the shop thing: I loved seeing my heart’s vision in person, but ultimately, it wasn’t the right time. But I still tried it. My life has changed so much from the very humble beginnings of my Thankful Farm School. My forever family has doubled- Thankful and I picked up a wonderful companion and I gave birth to another sunbeam with tiny red curls named Prudence. We moved our studio to the lively Philadelphia scene, the contrast from our little farm to our workshop is sharp and inspiring. Running a company with children in tow is not for that faint hearted, so we moved our workshop back to our little homestead. With this change, our work is even more deliberate and filled with good intentions. When I look back at what was written in this old blog post from 2010, I smile. I smile because, I’ve been consistent. I have just a couple of things that I haven’t done on this list, but I am still working on it.
This week we are starting with our program, “Folklyfe”, where we have decided to document our personal journey of integrating early American skills and practices into our own lives and homestead. We are going to work seasonally, and together, as a family to live our best life, with some handsome historic underpinnings. We hope you will join us on our journey, take a class or two, or purchase something old and good or handmade from our shop.