Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Vlog for a Rainy Day

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Visit the Farm, Leave a Fiddler!

Want to give a very special gift this Holiday Season? How about the gift of music? I am offering a package lesson/farm tour/instrument for the holiday gifting season ahead! This package includes:

1. A brand new fiddle (with case, bow, rosin) 
2. Music book with audio CD and lesson plan
3. A four-hour block of lessons to get started and playing your first song here at the farm.

You pick the date of the lesson anytime I have available in 2016 and I'll put you on the calendar. If you like I can also email you the gift certificate for the event/instrument if you want something to put in a card or wrap! It's a wonderful gift, a trip to a farm, and a special gift that can last a lifetime. Start becoming the musician you always wished to be! Price $250 - Email me to sign up!

An Oldie, But Goodie: Applejack Cake!

I’ve been baking my father’s apple cake recipe and adding my own little experiments with it. I think this one takes the prize, try it this weekend, you won’t regret it.

Jackapple cake

3 large farm eggs
2 ¾ cup flour
3 large apples (go with braeburn or gala, if you get fuji use 4)
No red delicious apples, bake like garbage
¼ cup fresh press cider
2 cups sugar
¼ cup honey, heated
1 stick butter (half melted)
1 ¾ cup vegetable oil
Tablespoon vanilla extract
Tablespoon baking powder

Peel and dice apples and place in a large bowl with 1 ½ cups sugar (set aside other half cup for topping), sprinkle over them a light coating of cinnamon, and mix into a cobbler, then dribble warm honey over and mix that in as well. Set in fridge for 2 hours to let cure. Do not skip this step. When apples are cured, add all wet ingredients (half melted stick off butter, eggs, oil, extract) and mix with large wooden spoon.

Next, add in tablespoon of baking powder. Add flour half a cup at a time and stir batter more than you think you need too. Batter will seem wet and yellow. Good. Pour into greased cake pan. Now melt other half stick of butter, add to it the sugar and some cinnamon and mix them into a wet paste. Use a pastry brush to lather it over the batter, making a sugar crust to bake into the cake. Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. Check after 27, when knife comes out clean it’s done. Serve warm with stove-top cider. Add bourbon to it if your nasty.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


When people meet Gibson for the first time they often comment on how calm he is, and how they never met a Border Collie so gentle and reserved. Gibson has plenty of rocket power but around people (and when he is with me, in general) he is a mushy, lovable, calm dog. He is the only dog that is allowed to come to our Tae Kwon Do Dojang anytime he wants. Why? Because all he does is sleep in the waiting room and greet the UPS guy. He listens to me like a roommate, keeps me warm at night, hugs, adores, obeys, works his rump off. I couldn't ask for more in a farm dog. To wake up and know that the dog by your side is already watching the flock from the upstairs window, is at your hip as you greet the day, and if a ewe breaks through the electric fence and takes off for the chicken feeder - he is at her like a bolt of lightning. Just this morning Gibson got the new black Romney ewe back with the flock after her rogue antics. Then he came inside, and fell asleep at my feet while I wrote an essay for a magazine. He was silent and calm for hours while I earned some money for a winter issue of an upstate New York quarterly and only when I asked him to look out the window to check on the sheep did he stir. He is canine perfection. He even smells good. And every night he is curled beside me and lets me fall asleep holding him.

Friday, however...

Friday is heading towards six months old and is NOTHING like Gibson. She is faster, more violent, more erractic. She is constant energy. She is the total opposite of Gibson. If he is a rock she is the ocean. In a week she starts learning sheepwork under the mentorship of the wonderful Jim McCrae of Vermont. I am curious to see how she does with some gentle ewes because for all her brazen ways she is a total coward once anything gets slightly uncomfortable. Think of a trash talking softball player who doesn't actually want to fight because she is 5'2" and 90lbs... that is Friday. She's small and feisty but once something gets her nervous the tail goes between the legs. I found this out by doing everyday things like dragging the garbage cans to the road for the waste company. The rattle and fuss made her run to the front door. Same if I use the hand-pulled farm cart to move hay bales or feed sacks... she hightails it away from the noise. Yet if a car pulls into the drive she barks bloody murder...

Dogs, like us, are all different. Right now I have two opposites and I am learning to share my life with them. I share all this just in observation, as I don't want a second Gibson out of Friday. I want her to be her and teach me more about this breed and their crazy dance.

Eggs & Goat Sex

The eggs are back! I am so glad to report that after a few months of very little egg production the girls at this farm are laying like gangbusters! I have a mixture of "homebrewed" chickens from jungle fowl stock based out of Common Sense Farm, as well as some traditional hatchery chicks like Buff Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, Barred Rocks, and Wyandottes. About a half dozen eggs a day have been discovered in a nest behind the hay bales in the barn. There are of course nesting boxes on the walls and a whole chicken coop they are failing to lay eggs in, but this isn't about my druthers, this is about omelets!

In other news, this farm needs a buck. For years I have either borrowed a buck from Common Sense Farm (where my goats hail from) or brought my girls to their gents when breeding season came around. But that farm sold all their stock because they are getting into Nubians instead of Alpines and so far have no goats besides one very little buckling. So I am on the hunt to buy, borrow, rent, or adopt a buck that can do the job of kids and milk pails for next summer. If anyone in the Veryork area has a buck for hire (Alpines are my preference) please let me know? I could keep milking the girls through the winter but both they and I prefer to go a few months without. Plus, there is nothing cuter than goat kids!

The Washington County Fiber Festival is going on now and I wish I could attend but it's just too much temptation. That much yarn for sale on a chilly morning means total lack of self control. I will buy yarn. I will knit by the woodstove. Two things I love to do but when you got article, logo, and writing deadlines a woman has to draw some lines in the sand. I wish all the local producers well and hope sales are huge! And speaking of sheep, I want to congratulate Patty and Mark Wesner who just had six lambs butchered at their place and have six gorgeous fleeces drying in their barn to be tanned! This is her second year raising sheep over the summer (feeder lambs) and they have doubled their production from year one! She sells the lamb and the fleeces, and friends and locals will be feasting on some very special meals this year from Livingston Brook Farm.

Right now my sheep are starting to breed, or rather, Monday is starting to try. Merlin tolerates all this going on around him with style. (At least a lot more style than I would if you dropped me in the middle of a field during an orgy.) But I have been riding him more than I had in August and every time I sit in that saddle it is impossible to worry about mortgages or bills. Something about horses takes all that away for me. I am grateful for it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Upcoming Events at Cold Antler Farm!

Here is a list of workshops planned for the weeks and months ahead. Workshops are a fun, comfortable, and beginner-friendly environment to learn new skills, meet like-minded people, and support my work here as a writer/blogger/small farmer. You can pay per event or if you live relatively close you can buy a season pass, which costs the price of two and a half workshops paid up front for a whole year! Email me at to sign up for a season pass or any workshop at all!

Most workshops cost $100. Special events like weekend-long camps or other events with instruments or gear cost more ($350). They are nonrefundable, however you can always use a missed workshop credit towards any other farm event, forever.

Indie Days!
These are personal workshops, private and full of one-on-one skill teaching time in everything from setting up a sheep fence to learning the fiddle. They are twice the price of a normal workshop but ten times the focus and attention.

Columbus Day Weekend 
Friday Night, Saturday, and Sunday!

This is the biggest event of the year! A small two-day homesteading festival with speakers, authors, demonstrations, workshops, talks and events such as beginner's archery and soap making as well as traditional woodsman skills and primitive crafts. In the past trees have been felled, draft horses had moved logs, axes thrown at targets, herbalism tinctured, sourdough bred started, bees and beer and more discussed! It's a great way to meet people and learn a lot!

All Hallow's Eve Farm Writers Workshop
October 31st 2015
10AM - 4PM

Come to Cold Antler Farm on Halloween for a very special workshop dedicated to talking about writing. Have you toyed with the idea of writing as a profession? Do you want to learn more about getting your work in print or how I went about publishing my own books? (I have gone through traditional publishers and am currently writing a book to be self-published.) Do you have writing you want to share with others, dreams of working from home on your own farm and making an income from writing at home? This is a workshop that will cover the freelance life as a small farmer. It will cover my personal experiences, successes, break downs, low points, high points, books, and what goes into a life this feral on a mountainside.

Meat Rabbit 101
Nov. 14th 2015
10AM - 4PM

Taught here at Cold Antler as well as the lovely Livingston Brook Farm. This is a beginner's guide to what goes into raising safe and happy meat right at home in the form of meat rabbits! It's a whole day to learn all there is to know about raising, breeding, housing and butchering (and cooking) rabbit from your own backyard. Price is $100, or use your season pass! Season passes are still on sale, by the way and include big events like Antlerstock 2015! Consider one!

Winter Finding Wool Day
Dec 5th 2015
10AM - 4PM

This is a workshop dedicated to the basics of working wool. The class starts with a sheep in the field, learning the basics of wool breeds vs meat sheep (both are here on the farm) and what goes into raising a homestead flock for wool. We will sheer a little wool off a sheep bring it inside to process and talk all things fiber! Learn how to wash and prepare wool for spinning by hand using traditional tools like carders and a drop spindle. Try a spinning wheel out and see how it feels to move the roving through your hands and turn it into the beginnings of a hat or sweater. There will also be knitting lessons if you have never learned, and everyone who attends gets a set of needles as a thank you to take home with some hand spun CAF wool from a sheep you just pat on the head hours before!

NOTICE: Workshops are non-refundable for any reason. However, if weather or illness prevents you from attending, your credit is good as long as I am hosting workshops here so no money goes to waste!

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Vlog: I Got a Pig Drunk.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Roasts & Wool Hats!

Wanted to share some photos from today at the farm. It's early fall and the trees are starting to change and the light is growing tired. The garden has sent forth quite the nice butternut harvest and the pigs are out in the woods enjoying new "pasture" in the woodlot and snooting through the dirt. The two ewes are new additions to the farm! They are here to be bred for the spring, and have some lovely romney/merino cross wool to hopefully be turned into yarn. It's encouraging to see this little piece of land hosting these future roasted squashes, pork feasts, and wool hats while they are on the vine and hoof. To some people, this looks like a lot of work. To me it looks like a lot of safe.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lantern Morning

It's been cool enough at night to not need the fan in my bedroom window, and that fact only matters because this morning there was nothing to drone out the sound of a chicken in distress. Myself and the two border collies all shot up in bed at the screech of a bird being hassled (Annie the husky could care less, and kept sleeping) and within moments Gibson and I were outside with a lantern. We got to the chicken tractors in time and saw them all fussed and huddled but saw no signs of injury and counted no losses. Looks like the raccoons are back...

Good morning! It's 5:30 and I've been up for about an hour. Coffee is on and I am waiting for daylight before taking on the morning chores. The sun is just coming over the mountain, just slightly, and if I time things right I will be able to watch that gorgeous scene with a mug of hot mud and my heroes by my side, the farm dogs of Cold Antler Farm. I'll raise the mug to them. (And make a mental note to set the trap with some wet cat food for Rocket).

A few nights ago I was up at Midnight, and had stayed up on purpose in case the Northern Lights touched down. I have never seen them and a friend who is a little more up and up on celestial goings on explained to me that that night around midnight, there was a chance of seeing them in New York. I stood out there under the stars, searching up for a long while, but they never arrived. I headed back inside to my warm bed and house and felt lucky anyway. I didn't see the Big Show but I did just spend the evening with two close friends at the new straw bale home she had just finished building, a house whose beams I helped raise myself. We had a feast of bacon-coated meat loaf, veggies, and local beer and talked for hours. Then we sat in her wood-fired hot tub and watched falling stars. That is one hell of a night for me and the fact it didn't end with a light show did not diminish it.

In a few moments another light show is about to start, the sunrise. And not only will I have hot coffee I have the satisfaction of a flock of birds safe and whole, a day of good work ahead, and a horse who I think I'll tack up and take for a ride before heading off farm to help some friends out for a few hours with their project. There's a lot of good here, and a lot to look forward to with Antlerstock just around the corner! I can't believe it is Almost October...

The important part isn't to see the Northern Lights. That's just icing on the cake. The important part is keep looking up.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Hey locals and readers, alike! Want to learn new skills, grow your community, meet cool people, and get a great looking logo for your farm, future farm, or small business? I am offering a combination deal of a Season Pass to ALL Cold Antler Farm Events for 2 YEARS! AND a graphic design for the package deal of $275. That includes Antlerstocks, weekend events, and a professional logo. If I am able to sell four of these packages I can make a mortgage payment this week, which is VERY important to the farm's ability to stay put! And if you already have a season pass, you can buy this as an extension to your current pass!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

When Sheep Escape!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lost Souls and Reverie

Friday, September 18, 2015

Early to Rise (Usually!)

My regular wake up time is around 5:45 AM. That gives me enough time right now before daylight (the start of morning chores with the animals) to let out the dogs, feed the cats, stretch, make coffee, and sit down to emails, writing and graphic design work for an hour or so before full light and the animals are ready for their breakfasts (usually around 7AM). This morning I did just that, like usual, and have had a pretty productive morning. I'm working on a logo for a fiber farm, send a food truck final design files, and sent updates to two other clients as well as the delightful balance that is moving chicken tractors to fresh grass, having Gibson move the sheep from the horse paddock to their own pen, and the usual pig sloppin' and water haulin' that is my morning workout. Here I am with coffee at 7:30 and the farm is quiet. It's that special quiet that people who raise livestock come to savor like a sip of good brandy. Right now, all is well.

And then there are mornings like yesterday...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Vlog: What Should I Do?

I'm coming out of my cage

Yesterday I was out on a seven-mile run. That's the farthest I have ran this summer, and have never felt the need to run farther. Honestly, I just don't have the time. I run slow and steady and to handle the twists, turns, hills and heat it takes me nearly an hour and 45 minutes to run that much. It's still a hell of an accomplishment for me. Back in June I remember thinking three miles was a long run. Three miles today doesn't even break a sweat.

I play this game with the falling leaves when I am out there pumping away. The leaves are just starting to fall here and everyone that does is a reminder to get myself and the farm safe going into winter. When one falls I try to race it. If I can run past it before it hits the ground I consider it a little prayer and luck earned. Praying for what, exactly? Well, for luck in making sales, for securing firewood, for catching up on the mortgage so that creepy red SUV from the bank stops driving by to take pictures...

So far I have secured hay in several locations and have two cords of firewood on order for delivery by October 1. I got the plumbing fixed here and made a mortgage payment last week. I hope to make another one by Friday. In a perfect world I'd have a big book deal and go into fall with everything settled by now, and maybe I will score one. My agent is on it!

So I was out on my run, racing leaves, and planning to head home. I hit the 3.5 mile mark and was going to turn back when the opening guitar riff to Mr. Brightside came on the ol' ipod nano. I defy you to not keep running to a song like that. So I kept going and it wasn't long before I arrived at the Shushan Bridge. It's one of those old bridges that is all metal with big grates and you can see directly under you, 50+ feet below, to a now very shallow Battenkill river. I'm terrified of heights (well,  not really, but I do dread falling to my death) and so I was thinking of turning back and not running into the heart of town where the traintracks would make it a solid 4 mile outrun. I stood before the big open grates and realized I couldn't run because I might get my foot stuck in them. It amazes me how many excuses I make up to not do something scary. But the chorus was coming on so I sacked up and went for it. If you were in Shushan yesterday you would have seen a chubby gal with hands out like she was on a tightrope singing at the top of her lungs:

Jealousy, turning saints into the sea! 
Swimming through sick lullabies! 
Choking on your alibis! 
But it's just the price I pay....!

I got across that bridge thanks to a kickass bridge and felt a couple inches taller on the other side. Do something every day that scares you, right? And so I ended up breaking a new distance record. Considering when I first ran up my mountain I threw up, that's pretty awesome.

So that's what this post is about: keeping on. Keeping up the running and the diet. Keep getting healthier. Keep the farm in my name. Keep pushing. Keep singing. Keep being scared. I'm spending today working on logos and editing/rewriting the ending of Birchthorn and hopefully the gang at Common Sense will deliver hay so I have a small stash started.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tell me

What do you want to know about me?

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Vlog! 5 Products I Depend On!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Best Way to Roast Pork!

Too many of us think of bacon, ham, boneless chops, or sausage when we think of eating pigs. I love all those cuts and smokings but my FAVORITE way to eat pork is so simple and so delicious its ridiculous food this good can literally take 5 minutes to prepare in advance. So here is my recipe for the perfect BQ Boston Butt and all you need are the following:

2-3lb Boston Butt Roast
(It will taste better if pastured/local pork)

1/2 cup of honey

1 bottle of hard cider

1 bottle of any BBQ sauce

3-4 apples

All you need to do is defrost the roast in the sink or fridge, and when the meat is thawed just set it in any crock pot or baking dish. Pour a standard 12oz bottle of hard cider over the meat. Then drizzle honey over it. Last, glob on half a bottle of bbq sauce. That's it. You can either set the crock pot on low heat all day while you go to work or you can set it in the oven at 275 for a long, slow, low cook.

I let my 2.5 lb roast sit there from 1pm until 6pm. Every once in a while I would flip it so the fats would cook and drip over the meat evenly but this isn't a concern in a standard 4-to-6-quart slow cooker. An hour before I want to serve it I pull it out of the oven and repeat the cider/honey/sauce treatment at about half the amount of the first dose. Then I cut up the apples into chunks and cover the meat and side juices with the slices and set it in the over to bake at the slightly higher 325. This turns those apples into such a soft sauce that perfectly melds with the pork and honey and goo.

Once apples are soft all you need to do is cut and serve. The apples should be a gooey sauce and the meat falling off the bone and dyed a slight red from the BBQ sauce. Eat each bite of meat with the cooked apple and enjoy each bite! This is how pork was meant to be served in the fall!