Monday, October 20, 2014

Antlerstock was WONDERFUL!

Another Antlerstock has come and gone and it seems like we just beat the true chill of late fall. This morning the farm is 26 degrees! Luckily this past weekend wasn't so cold, but instead just a little soggy. That didn't stop the teachers and attendees who made the event as wonderful as it was though. Saturday folks worked outside between the raindrops as they learned traditional woodsman skills, cut down trees, learned about draft horses and harnessing and watched a ton of horse move a 25-foot log up a country road. We cut wool off a sheep's back and learned to wash, card, and hand spin it (And all that before lunch on the first day!). Over the course of the next two days three authors, seven teachers, and a pile of excited folks tackled everything from learning to tend sourdough bread starter to chainsaw safety. There was small livestock butchering demonstrations, herbalism for beginners (which made an amazing cut and scrape salve) and beekeeping naturally under the tents while the rain came and went.  Greg of Living Iron Forge set up a blacksmithing demonstration and showed us how he made a knife with nothing but hammer, anvil, and fire! Some folks shot arrows for the first time on a hillside.  Folks spread out items for barter on quilts and traded everything from homemade quilts to herbal teas and chicken feeders. This might have been the most informative, put-together, and fun Antlerstock so far! People did things that surprised them and myself, including getting their hands between the skin and fur of a rabbit, throwing axes over their head at a target in the forest, and considering a backyard pig for the first time in their lives. I thank all who attended, taught, and gave their time, spirit, and smiles to my favorite festival of the year. Antlerstock is small, but mighty, and a club worth being a part of! I will certainly do it next year, and if you were one of the folks who attended this year and want to reserse a spot for next fall (Columbus Day Weekend, this time) you may do so for half price if you email me about it soon! My thank you for traveling from Canada, Ohio, Jersey, Vermont, Tennessee, and beyond.

Well, folks. Right now I am inside with a hot cup of coffee and a fire roaring. I am tired, very much so, but so pleased. For two days the farm, roads, forest, and fields around Cold Antler were full of a grand scene. And that little wool demonstration I did in a hour inspired a new wool to yarn Vlog I'll post this week and has me all excited for the workshop in a  few weeks where folks will really get to talk in detail about handspinning, sheep, and the amazing world of fiber arts that can live in your own backyard (while mowing your lawn, to boot).

So that was this weekend. I'm back to writing about a monster, updating The Birchthorn Project, planning new workshops (dates are set for Spring Fiddle Camp! March 28-29 2015) and some folks are already signing up!

I'll leave you with the best cake ever to grace this farm! Homemade by Tara Mattison, a barter for a few pounds of honey and worth every drop. A custom Merlin cake! Shared with friends by the wood stove in my little home on the mountain!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jasper for Sale!

Jasper, my POA (Pony of the Americas) is for sale, and only because I am not using him to his full potential. Through Merlin I have learned that draft ponies and horses will be my equine future, so I would like to find a good home for this splendid little guy. He is 11.3 hand pony, and has as work harness (collar is Amish made, nylon and metal harness, and collar pad). If you are looking for a great first equine to actually earn his keep, Jasper is it. He is wonderful being lead by a halter and lead rope in harness and hitched to a cart or stone boat can carry firewood, light logging, and drive carts. Speaking of carts: I have a small red cart for sale as well that needs a shaft repaired but fits him!

So this guy. He rides and drives. He stands for the farrier, trailers, and is also a great companion pony. He is 12-13 years old, gelded, and barefoot. I am asking $750 for the pony and $1200 for the pony, cart, harness and assorted tack. If you are interested in buying him but not ready to take him to your farm, you can buy him now and I will board him here for you through winter and into spring for a very low price (cost of his hay and 2 farrier visits). Please let me know!

NOTE: just because he is a pony does not mean he is for little kids! He is a working horse, Amish trained, and needs an experienced and confident rider. The rider in these photos is 5'4" and 111lbs. I say experienced not because he has any interest in bucking you off, or is in any way dangerous or mean spirited. Jasper is a lamb, but ponies are stubborn and sometimes need riders more stubborn than they are! If you just want a pasture pal or horse-powered ATV for yard work lead on halter, he is fine in any beginner home. But if you want to ride him you need to have some horse sense because Jasper is always happy to do what is asked once he understands you are leader. An understanding of natural horsemanship, a flag, and five minutes is all he needs to be in your pocket.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Send a Card for Samhain!

It's almost Samhain, and this farm will be celebrating the way it always does, a special dinner here at the farmhouse with close friends. I know some of you also celebrate Samhain, others adore Halloween, and some have banned both festivals from their homesteads. Well, this farm looks forward to October 31st all year, and this month is a celebration of love, light, life and gratitude. I urge you to send a loved one (especially those who have lost someone this year) a card telling them how grateful you are they are in your life, and to maybe even light a Jackolantern with the memory of someone you no longer share your life with. It's a day of reflection, repose, and memories for myself and many others.

If you wish to send this farm a card, please do! I'll try to send some back in return! Send it to this simple address and it will most likely find me.

Jenna Woginrich
Cold Antler Farm
Cambridge, NY 12816

New Vlog: Money, Family, Fear

I filmed this vlog yesterday to address a question I asked on Facebook. I asked which of the following things are holding back your farm dream the most? Money, Family, or Fear? A few people admitted to fear, others admitted to unsupportive souses, but the overwhelming response was money. I can certainly relate to that! SO I wanted to post this to encourage people to start small, start where they are, reach out to local farmers, volunteer, workshop, and basically move from a passive day dreamer to an active seeker towards the life you want.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Come in, sit down.

Welcome new readers and old friends, I often post this: Come in, and Sit Down, which means introduce yourself here on the blog by your name and location, and maybe share a little more about yourself as far as homesteading dreams or goals are? If you don't feel comfortable giving your name online, you could always just leave your location and perhaps a suggestion for the blog. It's a way for me to see who I am writing to and say hello. It makes the place a little more friendly on this side, as you know so much about me, but I know so little about you. A simple introduction makes it feel like I'm talking with a group rather than writing to the sky. If you never comment this post is an exception worth making. You might even make a friend or two...

It's also a way for you guys out there to connect with other folks with like interests. If you're sitting in your Sausalito apartment dreaming of mini angus bloodlines and rototillers you might just see another name from Sausalito a few comments down dreaming about coop plans and explaining his container gardens.... and before you know if you've made a farming friend. The internet is great—you'll never hear me say otherwise—but it keeps us inside a little too much. It should be a tool to network and learn from, not a replacement for three dimensional conversations and relationships. (I am talking for myself right now as much as anyone) and by saying hello here you might just spark book clubs and dinner potlucks, meetups and work parties, farm visits and advice, or just someone to grab coffee with in the Philadelphia Barnes & Noble and pour over the new issue of Hobby Farms together while chatting about why your husbands think chickens are ridiculous.

So come on inside, pull up a chair, and say hello.

Arrows Risen!

This weekend was the autumnal event Arrows Rising! Ladies from Canada and New Jersey traveled to learn the basics of traditional archery, and by the end of the weekend were shooting a timed round through the woods (three forest targets over 200 combined yards of varied terrain in under 30seconds!) and one even chose to mount up on Merlin and shoot horseback! We covered the basics of stance, safety, instinctive shooting, and mixed up the practice time in the field with small contests, timed rounds, and such. Basically: it is a weekend where a beginner lives, breathes, and sings archery for two days. You get sore, you get frustrated, but you go home knowing your bow well. You can string and unstring it at a moments notice. You have a bit of lanolin or beeswax in your pocket now, to care for the wood and tension. You understand distance, direction, and your own body better. For two days this is all we did, and it was wonderful.

Come Saturday night I invited everyone back (it was a smaller group) for dinner at the farmhouse and a Game Night. Oh my goodness, what a great decision that was! We ate slow-cooked pork that spent ten hours in a bath of hard cider, honey, and barbecue sauce over rice. We drank cider (tis the season!) and played two games of Forbidden Island. We even won the first game, and since FI is a co-op game (we all play as a team to win, not against each other) I bet it even made our shooting as a group better! One of the folks who came was a fellow falconer and I got to meet her new jack Merlin, which was a treat. I am so used to Italics and his big feet and fierce ways, that the little falcon was like someone shrunk a monster. Pokemon made so much more sense after that.

The weekend flew by for me, and I hope it did for the attendees as well. Sunday afternoon we stopped by the Bedlam Farm Open House at Jon Katz's farm. It was great to see him and meet some of the readers who also check in with me from time to time. By 4PM on Sunday everyone was packing up. Two days on our feet in the woods, out in the weather, and shooting hundreds of arrows - all of us were due for a good rest. Sara, one of the guests, was staying in the area an extra evening and decide to stick around after the workshop to help with chores, and I think she may have regretted that choice. I'll come back and explain why after I get back from picking up a load of hay, but let's just say this as a teaser:

It doesn't matter how tired you are when the sheep AND a goat decide to escape!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pigs for Sale!

If you are within a drive of Cold Antler and would like to buy a quarter or half share of a pig, please email me at These shares are for the live pig, which you co-own, and I raise, feed, and care for until slaughter time. Your money covers their purchase, feed, and butchering costs and are presented with the frozen and smoked pig weight (not hanging with bones weight) upon pickup. These shares are for pigs raised in early spring through next fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raising Meat Rabbits

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Brew Season

Homebrewing is something I always get excited about in the fall, and this year has not dissapointed. What you see there is my first ever all-grain pale ale. I made it with organic ingredients, a small batch, and it turned out just the right blend of bitter and refreshing. It carbonated beautifully, and every time I took a sip I tried to think of a reason anyone who drinks beer wouldn't want to make their own? Brewing is like making music, some folks need to create and not just listen. Even a basic or simple song brings such joy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Annie's Adventure

Tonight my pigs dined on the insides of freshly scooped jack-o-lanterns, some too bitter home-brew, sliced turnips and cracked corn. They are all falling asleep on beds of fresh straw, and I hope they appreciate it. Tonight the temperatures will drop into the low thirties and I am grateful for a warm fire here inside with the dogs and cats. It is rare that all five of us are in the house together. The main pack of three, Annie, Gibson and I are always together but the cats come and go as they please, spending most nights outside hunting and returning at daybreak for their cat chow and a nap indoors. But the chill brought everyone in and I am happy about that. Because one of us was nearly lost.

Annie, the eldest, ran away today. She literally ran off. She used her nose to pry open a sliding glass door and made a run for it. She headed into the woods in a pure Call-of-the-Wild bliss only Siberian huskies know (even 15-year-olds). It took an hour to find her, me and Gibson in the pickup truck driving up and down the mountain. I finally found her at the chicken feeders eating chicken feed, covered in mud, looking blissful and tired. I called to her and she ran to the truck and jumped inside. I was never so happy to hug an old bad dog...

So now we are indoors, looking forward to a movie night with good friends and then tomorrow is two days of Archery for the fall event: Arrows Rising! I have folks from Canada, New Jersey, NY and PA coming and I look forward to two chilly days of archery and woodland shooting. It's going to be a sunny (but cold) spell of days and look forward to it! And since Annie has already scared away all the deer and critters on her adventure, I don't expect any casualties of that sort. Just the usual fat and happy pigs, turkey gangs, and chilly mornings with hot coffee. Here Here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall Foliage by Horseback!

This is the tenth vlog, and all I have to share is a little postcard of today in Washington County, New York. See the places I get to ride Merlin whenever I wish, across the road from my own little farmhouse. The views of the Taconic Mountains and Vermont, a good black pony, and the colors and spirit of the season. I hope you enjoy this short video, as it was a joy to make and film. Merlin didn't even mind carrying the macbook in his saddlebags.

P.S. If you like these videos, please let me know! So far the feedback has been positive, but sparse, so if you watch these and enjoy them let me know (and let me know if you don't like them, as well) and any suggestions for future topics?

P.P.S. Check the Birchthorn Webpage for updates and a new chapter (updated every Tuesday, or more) and if you live within driving distance of CAF, shares of live pigs are now on sale for next spring! Reserve your 1/4 or 1/2 today, just email me for details.

Season Pass Sale Through Sunday!

Season Passes are now on sale, just through to the end of the weekend! If you would like to buy a season pass for a FULL YEAR of workshops and classes (or renew your old passes) They are on sale until Sunday Night for $275. If you buy one of the remaining passes it will INCLUDE ANTLERSTOCK in two weeks, and gives you the ability to return for ANY events (save the cost of instruments or bows, etc) for a full year. So buy a pass and come to Antlerstock, then return in November to learn about wool and sheep! Or come for the Wheel of the Year talk near Yuletide. March Fiddle Camp will be announced soon (always sells out) and plans for new workshops are in the works, with author and guest speakers coming to promote new books and events! So Support CAF, expand your homesteading horizons, and be a part of the family of friends and neighbors that make this place as magical as it is.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Five Reasons Women Should Start Hunting!

Cannons & Guns

The last few days I have been fairly quiet on the blogging and video fronts: but for good reason, my parents drove up from PA for a visit! They came up Sunday night and joined me and a small army of friends and neighbors for a Game Night and homemade pizza celebration. They got to meet a pile of farmers, falconers, and friends and we drank cider and home-brew and laughed around the table while playing a game of The Resistance.  My father ended up being one of the spies! The cad!

The next day we traveled to Fort Ticonderoga. We are all history buffs (my father is a war veteran and my mother a history teacher) and to see 200-year-old cannons (close up of one of those beautiful monsters above), uniforms worn by British officers, and the same sabers wielded by Scottish horsemen....amazing! I was so close to the red wool jacket I could have tried it on. The view of Lake Champlain and all the forests around was breathtaking, the weather perfect, and I don't think anyone could have painted a better vision of Autumn than Mother Nature did with her leaves for them. It was a great time and I tried to spend as much of it as I could with them. I miss them a lot and try to be a decent daughter (and tour guide) when they are guests of my county.

When they did say their goodbyes and head south I headed into the state game lands for some bird hunting. I didn't see any pheasants or grouse but I did get inspired for the next vlog: Five Reasons Women Should Hunt! It'll be uploaded later today. I hope it gets some of you out there already willing to raise a broiler or pork chop to consider taking on the wildness and wonder of the hunt! I'm a passionate (if, unlucky) hunter and think more women should take on their local whitetails, turkeys, boars, and birds! So check back for that later tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunset Ride

On Friday afternoon, Patty and I tacked up our mounts and headed to the Merck Forest and Farmland center for a ride at peak foliage. It was stunning! And the 3 mile ride scaled up and down trails, past ponds and fields, and gorgeous gravel and grassy paths. I caught this shot of Patty and Steele taking in the sunset, and it captures the beauty of the entire day and this entire season of a world on fire.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Scary Stories

Today was constant rain. It never thundered or grew too windy. It was not too cold or too harsh, either. It was just a good rain. The kind that makes the whole day feel like a tired 3PM, from post-morning chores all the way through till dark. I wanted to do a video about meat rabbits but didn't want to film outside in the rain, so I set up the camera indoors and decided to do the best thing I could think of for a gray and soggy day: tell a scary story.

I love a good ghost story. I really do. No part of me can watch slasher films and enjoy them. I don't care for reckless murder as entertainment, but a good piece of mythology gets me all excited. It can be campy or pop art, it doesn't matter. I'll get just as excited watching the Paranormal Activity movie as I will reading Lovecraft. It's that spooky fun that gets your eyes wider and makes you curl up in a sweater under a covers and quiver a little.

The paranormal has always been pretty normal for me, meaning my interest in it - not my experiences. I have had one truly horrifying experience and that is talked about more in the vlog post below, but first I want to talk about the scary stories you think of when October turns rainy and the mind wanders.

So, I don't have any creepy stories of growing up, I just always remember a love for folklore and mythology. Both my elementary school and public school libraries had decent occult sections and I remember a book called "How to find a ghost" a children's guide to paranormal investigation that fascinated and terrified me. It had cartoons and charts in it for drawing chalk lines around chair legs and such, but what intrigued me was the authors frankness for what I considered extraordinary. So I remember that book, and the infamous "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series. Watching "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" on Snick and memorizing the first segment of Poe's The Raven. This makes me sound like Wednesday Adams but I was more of a little hobbit, always in the woods. Always going on small adventures. Always around dogs.

It's late and I'm not sure what the point of this post is besides the observation that rainy days heading towards colder weather make me crave a good tale, and they remind me how much I always craved it. I feel lucky to have grown up in my own version of Sunnydale, with great reference and just enough small town superstition to make this month a little magic. In the video I say I don't celebrate Halloween, but that doesn't mean I don't savor the 31st. Samhain is a big deal and matters very much. There's a special dinner here with friends, and it is beautiful. It's an important day for sure but you won't find rubber masks, fake blood, slutty costumes or tombstone-shaped cookies on a platter while The Monster Mash plays. Samhain is a different vibe, more of a harvest festival mixed with a wake, but special. And while I don't expect ghosts to show (nor will I be tracing chair legs), there's a little spark of my childhood reading habits that makes me believe they could. I'm okay with some whimsy in my life, even if I'm hiding under the covers when it happens.

So here is a story about ghosts on this farm. And I hope you enjoyed your rainy days, wherever they take you!

P.S. If you like stories of the unusual, there are some great podcasts out there. My favorite of all time is the now debunked, Hometown Tales. That podcast is still available to download and tells urban legends and folklore from all over the world. Gene and Bryan, of New Jersey, do an amazing job and I can't recommend them enough. The new Jessica Chobot show (of Nerdist News) is called Bizarre States and I enjoy it a lot as well.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Lights Up Everything

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to Make Hard Cider!

This vlog is all about home brewing, hard cider in particular! I want to encourage anyone interested in small batch brewing to give this a shot. It's not expensive, hard, or troublesome - but it does involve some minor purchases and gear. The fine folks over at Mountain Feed have everything you need to brew online. Tell them I said hello!

This video is entirely for small batch brewing, only one gallon at a time. A gallon jug costs around 5 bucks, a stopper and aerator, a few dollars. Yeast is a couple of quarters. It's an inexpensive way to start a new hobby and a great barter item for the homestead! For this video you also need to get a gallon of soft, fresh-pressed, cider and a  pound of honey. It will ferment around a dozen standard beer bottles worth of cider, which you can bottle at home.

Some essential tips:

Set your cider on a countertop the night before, so it isn't cold for brew day.

Keep yeast in your fridge when not in use!

Once in fermentation jug, set your cider aside in a place around 60-70 degrees.

Start collecting beer bottles with pry (not twist) tops, you can wash and reuse these!

Buy new bottle caps and bottle capper. You will use these in a month to bottle!