Tuesday, September 23, 2008

come in, sit down

So I've been writing about my farm for quite some time. And since I started this site I've come to meet a lot of fine people along the way. People from all over the world who take part in all the little triumphs (and troubles) at Cold Antler. I want you to know I really appreciate that. To say something on my little electronic soapbox and get a reply from the ether is a good feeling. Readers are what turn this blog into a community, and not a self-absorbed newspaper. Thank you. I think you're neat.

Now I want to ask you a favor. If you read my blog regularly, please respond to this post with a comment about yourself. Tell me where you're from, what you do, and what your favorite book is. Let me know if farming is also a future dream of yours? What would you like me to write more about? Is there anything I can explain better? The more I know about the people reading up on me, the better I can write stuff you'll be interested in taking time out of your busy lives to read.

But beyond content and criticism, I'd just really appreciate getting to know more of you, as you've all come to know me. So please come in, sit down, and say hello.

89 Comments:

Anonymous Victoria Odhner said...

Hi Jenna,
I'm Tori - I'm a single mom with four children, from teens to kindergarten. I just bought a 1.3 acre farm-ette in March and am still living and working an hour away from it, in Philadelphia, four days a week right now. I've rented the main house out to a local musician and his family, and together with some friends and relatives, we're turning the barn into a cultural and community center, with all kinds of fun stuff happening (music, art, kids stuff, boat building, etc) We'll be farming the field starting in the spring, we let the alfalfa just grow wild this year to build up the soil. Eventually, I hope to figure out how to pay the bills without my "day" job, and to renovate the downstairs of the barn to live in. Our website is http://www.creeksidecenter.org if you want to hear more about what we're doing.

September 23, 2008 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi, Jenna and the Cold Antler blog community! I started reading the blog about a month ago and love it. It's a daily source of inspiration for my (hopefully not-too-distant) future. Right now, my boyfriend and I raise our two dogs, parrot, and 6 chickens in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, with a view to escaping to a more rural place and continuing to become more self-reliant. (I lived in Essex Junction for 2 years and miss Vermont!) It's great to hear about the joys and pitfalls of your life and your learning experiences, as well as your broader community. Please keep sharing your photos and stories!

September 23, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hey there!

I live in Dallas, TX, right in the heart of the suburban sprawl on 1/10 acre that I am gradually turning into a giant veggie garden.

Someday I would love to have a little farm, nothing too big but enough to keep some chickens and sheep and maybe an alpaca or two. Until then I'm trying to learn as much as I can about growing my own food and preserving it, and stuff like that.

As for a favorite book, there are too many to choose from! I just read "Animal Vegetable Miracle" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and enjoyed them both a lot.

I also just want to say that I find your site really, really inspiring!

September 23, 2008 at 11:08 AM  
OpenID amymarie3 said...

Hi, I am a 30 something who grew up on a poultry farm in Northern Minnesota. Growing up we had hundreds of birds of all kinds including chickens, geese, ducks, pheasants, turkeys and quail. I find that the older I get the more I miss the animals. Reading your site has given me a great insight into the life that I could have. The worst part is that I live with my Man and his Mother who is DEATHLY afraid of birds of every sort. I would love to have some chickens but her fear prevents that. I also feel guilty reading your site because I live on 25 acres of wooded land with a huge pond on it (when there is water). When I imagine what you could do with our property I feel bad because we don't do anything with it. Thank you for this site it helps me remember the things that I used to love.

September 23, 2008 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous AnnaMarie said...

I'm a happily married gal who just moved 2500 miles (from Idaho) to Derby Line, Vermont in search of sustainable living, community and a choice to downsize, simplify, yada, yada, yada.

Farming is more than a future dream, it is finally a today dream for me. Garlic is ordered, broadfork has arrived, seed is ordered and beds are being planned for next spring.

I have 3500 books or so and it's hard to choose but I love my Mrs. Beeton's book of Household Management, Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living and I truly enjoyed reading Sharon Astyk's new Book Depletion and Abundance.

I don't plan to have sheep although I'll gladly pay you for wool to spin and my herding dogs are a lot smaller than yours but at the end of the day, we're Vermonters and it's all good!

September 23, 2008 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger MeadowLark said...

Hi Jen,
I'm still living in suburbia in the high desert of Oregon. Grew up a farm girl though, and still miss it.

I read your blog because you're doing something brave and daring and true to yourself. Something I missed out on years ago, and now must wait my turn before I live my dreams. In the meantime, I have a mini-garden and am learning to can. :)

Favorite book? Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. It makes me sad, but the message has to be heard.

Peace to you.

September 23, 2008 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Mama Pea said...

Hey, Jenna -

I discovered your blog right about the same time I started blogging - early this summer. Inspiring is the word I'd use to describe you, your dreams and your plans for attaining them. I give a hay of a lot of credit to anyone who has a dream and has the gumption to act upon it. Keep at it, girl. Don't let anyone tell you what you want, need and feel in your heart is not right. None of us can change this whacked out world we are living in, but we can change ourselves and our lives. And that is what will save us.

Love all the posts about your homestead and animals and everyday life. Your pictures are great and I'm always eager to see more of them. When you're unable to post of a day, I miss it.

If you care to check it out, my blog will give you an idea of what my husband and I are doing, our homestead, and interests.

Mama Pea
http://ahomegrownjournal.blogspot.com

P.S. Favorite book? "The Land Remembers" by Ben Logan.

September 23, 2008 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

tori, anne, chris, amy, annamarie, lark and opea - hello! and nice to meet you all.

Annmarie, don't feel guilty about your 25 acres, while I would love to have that kind of land it's yours to do what you can with. I'll get mine someday!

September 23, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Morgen said...

Hi, My name is Morgen and I have three kids and a great husband. We will close on our farm in north central Pa in 30 days. We have lived in the PA wilds not far from our farm for 8 years. I have ducks and chickens and 2 dogs and several cats. We hope to expand to goats and sheep and horses in the next year at the new property. I home school the kids. My daughter and I read your blog daily and get very excited about each new post. You inspire us. And we feel like kindred spirits with someone trying to live a life like we are. I bought a Jones Street Brothers CD after you posted about them and my son, who is learning banjo just loves it. So I like it just as it is, the daily challenge of living with and in the country. Thanks for all you write! anxious for the book to come out. The James Herriot books are my favorites ever.

September 23, 2008 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Darx said...

Jenna,

You are just such a cool soul. I found your blog via a link to an article you wrote that was posted on a knitting web site (Ravelry.com). Your writing style is delightful, and the topics you write about interest me, so here I am, a now-devoted reader.

I'm a 39YO woman living in an old inner suburb of Cleveland with my sweetie the college professor. We are doing what we can to green up our lives and did grow some vegetables in our front yard this year, although I left that mostly to my sweetie (I'm scared of bugs). I have a p-t J-O-B and am trying to figure out what form of consulting business will allow me to be both happy and my own boss. I think at various times I've had fantasies about farming, but then I read something about it or have some other experience (picking up at the CSA, driving through some isolated rural area), and I get a good wake-up call that I'm a city girl (did I mention the bug aversion?) and am unlikely to make that transition, esp. since the sweetie's job, which he loves, ties us to the area where we live. How cool would it be if we could get our city to allow us to keep chickens, but I'm not counting on it and haven't made a move in that direction yet. Maybe a few more months of reading will inspire me? I am a big fan of the handmade, though, and I do lots of knitting and sewing and am working up to doing more canning, wanting to try cheesemaking and just got a loom so I can weave my own cloth, dishtowels, blankets, rugs, etc. So I'm maybe more the urban-homestead-wannabe type.

I do love to read about your journey, your bold dreams to transition to a life that is going to fulfill you. People living their dreams is a huge passion of mine. I am eagerly awaiting your book's release. Thanks for the invitation to share. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

September 23, 2008 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna!
I live in Portland, OR on a typical 50X100' city lot. I grow lots of veggies in 5, 4X8' raised beds plus 4 on-the-ground beds, pear, cherry and plum fruit trees, berries, flowers and have eight chickens too. I am busy canning a bumper crop of tomatoes, beans, squashes, etc. Thanks for your posts and photos of your life and travels. I am from Boston originally and miss the East Coast at times! Annie Macmillian

September 23, 2008 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger David Robertson said...

Jenna

David Robertson, Pampa, Texas
61 yrs old, single

I love your blog and have recommended it to 2 others that read it....just purchased 200 acres and trying to get set up like you..started my own blog because of you....La Tierra(de Suenos)

September 23, 2008 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger sally said...

HELLOO! i love your blog! my name's sally. fall is my all time favorite time of year and october especially!i currently live in LA but grew up in western washington. i don't have quite the bug for becoming a farmer but i do have a huge desire for a bit of property with a large garden and to just generally be more self supporting. i am reading all about gardening and herbs and sustanable living, and canning, etc. i find your blog very inspiring in the way of you just going after your dream!
i will be in vermont this weekend for a wedding. i am so excited because i have never been to the new england area.
as for content...keep doin what yer doin! i love the pictures of your place and your charges.

September 23, 2008 at 1:41 PM  
OpenID cowsandplows said...

Jenna-

My name is Bob Welch, and I'm a 33 year old grad student living in Ames, Iowa. I grew up on a 117 acre farm in eastern Iowa, a place my family has lived on, loved, and farmed since 1874. I've lived in town for about seven years now since I've gone back to college. I found your blog through Mother Earth News, and I've read all of your entries.

To be honest, I read your blog becuase you're living what I want out of my life. Life in town seems hollow, sealed off from everyone else. Growing up on the farm, I could go anywhere and do just about anything I wanted. Now I feel fenced in, confined. I don't have my own forest to amble through on a cool day, nor do I have a field of grain to watch mature and rustle in the wind. I'm trying to learn through your struggles and triumphs about going back into a world that I want so much to have for myself and my family. They say that farming runs in the blood, and I know that it makes me happier to just drive through a rural area for a while, seeing others enjoy what I once had.

It's not all nostalgia, though. I worry about the quality of life, the quality of food that we as a society have today. I want to ensure a higher quality of food by investing my time and my toil in raising what my wife and I, and some day my children, consume in our home. I want my children to know the joy of animals around them and to have acres to run and play in, the responsibility of decisions and chores. And I want the satisfaction of a warm safe home where I have earned through toil the world around me.

My favorite book is Thoreau's "Walden", followed closely by almost anything that Wendell Berry has written. I study agricultural history, and my favorite academic work is "From Prairie to Cornbelt", a work about the rise of agriculture here in Iowa by Allan Bogue.

Thank you for sharing your successes and your strifes, and know that many follow you in spirit, hoping some day to follow you in life.

Bob

September 23, 2008 at 1:59 PM  
Anonymous gooddogboy.mark said...

Hi Jenna,

My name is mark and I work as an Asst. Public Defender In Chicago, so I do criminal defense work. It is the thankless work that Jesus would do, but gets the victories are never appreciated.

I grow all my own vegetables in about 800 square feet of garden, and freeze or dry what I want to eat over the winter. My backyard is 30 by sixty, and I leave space for my three dogs - two are herders.

I went to grad school in Brattleboro, and grew up in Maine. My dream is to have a patch of land in Maine and grow my own food, or even have a business. I want to have access to the ocean to fish. I had chickens and ducks as a kid, and would like to raise animals eventually. I will probably have top take part of the Maine bar to support myself as an attorney. The city is unsatisfying and cold. I hate lawns and see waste everywhere.

My favorite books are anything by Joel Salatin or Andy Lee/pat Foreman. I also love Michael Oondatje and Steven King. For music, I like Taj Mahal, Rufus Wainwright,Joe Strummer etc ...different books or songs for different moods.

I really got into your blog when you moved to Vermont, which is my second favorite state in the Union. I tell my dog training, fiddler, Idahoan friends about the blog.

I have your book on pre-order. Keep up the good work.

September 23, 2008 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger The Old Man and His Dog said...

I'm Rich- I'm 46, was married almost 20 yrs before getting the official divorce in 2006, got married to my new beautiful wife this July. We have had our house on the market for over two years. As soon as we sell the house our plan is to move to a suburb of Nashville and buy another house there. We are both in the Payroll business so if any of you out there know of a couple of Payroll jobs in the Nashville area, let me know. Would be nice to have a job when we move.

Favorite book is without a doubt "Merle's Door". If you enjoy dogs...Read it, you won't be disappointed!

Jenna, been reading your blogs for about two years and you could write about anything and make it interesting. Keep it up.

September 23, 2008 at 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Frances said...

Hey Jenna!

It's Fran -- you know me. A former New Yorker (and Arizonan), I'm now stationed in rural MA.

Behind the scenes, I watched while my husband, Dan, roped your words into an awesome-looking book -- and then I promptly demanded that he bring it home so I could read it. I loved it, of course. You have a great voice: patient, funny, and wry without being callous. Reading about your adventures gives me hope about the state of things in our sort of messed up world.

The anon commenter up there from Portland, OR has my dream life, pretty much. Urban or rural, we can all learn a lot from your optimism, openness, and good humor.

Cheers!

September 23, 2008 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Greetings, Jenna! I'm a jewelry artist/media freelancer/executive assistant...and would you believe my life is simpler than it was even a year ago? Eventually, my partner and I would like to settle on some wooded land in Western NY (we're in Eastern PA now), and your blog is an inspiration that keeps me on the path toward those dreams.

September 23, 2008 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger MistySeptember said...

HI Jenna,
I started reading your blog a week or so ago.

September 23, 2008 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Misty said...

Hi, Jenna!
I started reading your blog about two weeks ago and have read it from start to finish in that time. I have really enjoyed the stories about your animals, your music and the information about the business aspect of farming (selling, tattooing, and registering animals ect.) I also enjoy the recipes!

I live in rural Northern PA. I am a teacher and my husband is a network engineer. We have two kids ages 4 and 5. We live in a 100-150 year old house originally owned by my husband's great grandmother. We live on a 40-60 head dairy farm run by my father in law (who lives across the road). At night and on weekends DH and I help on the farm. DH also makes biodeisel from WVO. We have run our tractors for three years on bio-d. And we now have a truck of our own that runs on our fuel as well.

I recently started making soap from the glycerin by-product of the fuel making. I would love to own a couple of goats to milk for food and soap making. All of our beef is raised here on the farm, and of course we have fresh farm milk. Our cows are grass fed and spend most of their time outside as cows should.

We enjoy growing and canning our own food. This year's garden was very unsuccessful, so we had to purchase our produce from local growers (mostly family). In addition to the cows we have 2 dogs, 2 indoor cats 1 kitten who is indoor and outdoor, 10-15 "barn" cats that live on my porch during the warmer months, 2 fish, 2 horses, 8 laying chickens, and a guinea pig.

I'd like to move toward a more self sufficient sustainable life, especially as we remodel our very old and crumbling house.

Thanks for the wonderful stories, insight and information!

September 23, 2008 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

shucks guys, this is great. And hello to Morgen, Darx, Annie, David, Sally, Bob, Mark, Rich (who's been reading me forever!), Fran, and Misty!

September 23, 2008 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Linda-T said...

Hi Jenna,
My name is Linda. I'm 57, and I'm a nurse in Ga. I found your blog about a month ago through MotherEarth, and I checked your blog every few days to see how you're doing. I've really enjoyed reading about your experiences. I grew some of my vegetables this year, and I have several fruit trees, suppernongs, and fig bushes. I canned several quarts of fruits and vegetables this year. With all the stories about tainted food, it's really important that we know where our food is coming from. I think you're to be commended for growing the turkey for your family even though you're a vegetarian. I live with my mother and sister and we have about 25 wooded acres and 15 dogs. I love science fiction, mysteries, and action novels. I love gardening and have many kinds of flowers. I also paint Santa gourds and I'm learning how to make beaded jewelry. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experiences.

September 23, 2008 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Hi Jenna,
I found your blog a few months ago through Mother Earth News and you are such an inspiration. I am a 35 year old mother of two boys, 5 and 6, and on my own half of the year because my husband's job takes him out of town. With that and a full time job of my own I thought it would be impossible for me to keep up with a farm. After reading what you have accomplished I decided I could do it too. I mapped out a plan and took the first step.

We have 13 overgrown and poorly taken care of acres in SC that we did not appreciate for many years. After much reading and research I purchased two nigerian dwarf dairy goats (both pregnant does) to help clear the posion ivy, poison oak and honey suckle. We built a large, moveable, goat-proof enclosure that we move around the property as our little bush hogs do their job (they are awesome).

I'll start building a chicken tractor as soon as I have enough receycled wood and we will have chickens in the spring, then cows as the fence is repaired.

My goal is for a farm filled with vegetable gardens, chickens, pigs and cows to go along with the dogs, cats, goats and composting worms we currently have. I know this will take several years but thanks to you I'm on my way.

My friends and family think I am insane and take great enjoyment in poking fun at the fact that I actually want a farm and livestock and rain barrels and dairy goats and worms in my basement that compost my leftovers. It will be a wonderful day when I present them with the first eggs from my chickens, cheese from my goats and beef from the cows and knowing that I am giving them gifts from the most loved and best cared for animals on the planet will be the icing on the cake.

As far as books, they are like music, I like many different kinds and read many authors but Drowning Ruth is at the top of my favorites list.

September 23, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger BrandtFarm Inc. said...

Hello Jenna,
This is a great idea... getting to know everyone that feels like they know you already :)
My name is Carissa. I'm 26 yrs old, live on a small patch of earth in Salt Lake City, Utah. I share my home with my partner in crime (Josh), 2 cats, 2 mutts and 5 chickens. My passion for plants has always drawn me to gardening but I have never had a place of my own to play in the dirt…until now! This summer all of our meals have had some sort of vegetable, fruit or herb straight from the garden and can I say it has been AMAZING! I love it. Seriously after you have had homemade, organic marinara sauce you just can’t go back. It ruined me I think.
I ordered pullets awhile back (from mypetchicken.com) and I now realize that there is no other way that I will live. Watching a chicken scratch around in the yard just makes the place seem like home. It’s been a great adventure so far. My dreams of having an organic farm are becoming larger by the day and hopefully sometime in the near future it will come true. I think my life would be jam packed with bliss if my full-time, real-life job was to feed and tend the animals and the garden. No more of this cubichell without windows nonsense.
My favorite book hands down, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman. I encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to check it out. There is hope. I am really looking forward to reading your book as well... can’t wait!
I would love to learn how to make soap… so if you want to blog about that some more that would be cool. Also, where do you get the awesome molds (elk, bear and raven)??
Keep up the good work! Thanks so much for sharing everything; you really do make the work day go faster!!
Adios.

P.S- I want a strumstick for my birthday and Josh thinks I’m nuts.

September 23, 2008 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Keeper of Little Sweetie said...

Hi Jenna,
I've been reading your stuff for a several weeks now; I first read you on either Mother Earth News or Huffington Post. It's now part of my daily computer time to see what you're doing next.

I'm a married 47YO mom of 3 (one also named Jenna), grandmother of 4. I work as a naturalist for Indiana DNR, have a weekly "column" in a small, small, did I say very small, regional newspaper (16k circ), am a part-time non-traditional student with a major in English with a concentration in writing. :) I'm about 6 classes out from finishing and decided to take the year out to breathe. Problem is, I took last year out to breathe too, and decided I like this breathing thing (I'll go back next fall, I suppose).

We currently live on 2 acres, none of it farmed, but partially wooded. It is the woods I love, with my husband being the former farmer. We are looking to move to a place that is more accepting of animals and larger gardens, etc. I did grow up with chickens, horses, goats and a large garden, so I'm not foreign to the idea, but will admit to have taken on the lazy end of life these days. I did, however, just buy some yeast to make some bread!

You're a breath of fresh air, with your well-tuned voice and topics. It's neat to see someone your age already tuned in to who they are and what they want from life--when in fact I'm still searching. But I'm getting close!! Keep up the good work. :)

Lynnanne

P.S. I have too many "favorite" books to narrow it down to one. There's a first edition of Charlotte's Web on my shelf; I suppose that is one of my all-time favorites. I like creative non-fiction (to read and write), biography, and fiction...

September 23, 2008 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger sara amber said...

Hey there. My name is Sara and I started reading your blog because I work with a friend of yours - her name is also Sara and she teaches Art here in Pennsylvania. I myself teach Music - Strings and Orchestra, specifically. (I actually just got so excited by one of your most recent posts when you mentioned taking our your fiddle and playing on your trip back from Boston!)

I don't have a farm or really know much about growing things, but I finally live in a place where I have at least a little outdoor space to play with and Sara said she's going to help me learn to grow things. And I am very much into sustainability and leaving as little of an impact on the earth as I can.

One of my many favorite books is The Prince of Tides (I've blocked out the movie). I initially read it because my high school had put it on a list of "banned books" to be used for reports and such. but then I ended up falling in love with the language and the way he described the places in it.

September 23, 2008 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger orfeo256 said...

Hi All,
It's been extremely neat to read about other people who are SO much like me in our desires. I feel like we're becoming a movement! I've enjoyed reading about the tension between wanting a farm and having a full-time job, and making the dream happen one tiny bit at a time.

I'm a 42 yo divorced woman and I've lived in suburbs or cities my entire life. While in between jobs this summer I discovered the concept of using goats to clear weeds and spent time with 3 people/companies who do this for a living sleeping under the stars and setting up and moving fences for them. It tagged onto my desire to sleep under the stars and work outside permanently, and snowballed into a really strong urge to own land.

So, fingers crossed, I'll close on my own 25 acres and 200 y/o house in between Albany, NY and Massachusetts in a few weeks. Next year I want to get a few Angora goats and start them clearing the property and learn how to do stuff with their hair. And....get chickens!

I'm doing all this by myself - it gives me strength to read your stories. If you can do all this on your own, that means that I can do it too!

September 23, 2008 at 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jenna,

Like most of the people here I supposed, I came across your blog throw Mother Earth News. You are part of the small number of blog that I read (it includes : one straw : be the change, future farm house and Tiny farm blog) as you'll probably already find out they are all related to homesteading and small farm.

Concerning me, I am a french guy (Xavier) lost some where in Minnesota, after a few year of fun rat race in France (I was living in Downtown Paris) and a bad accident while coming back from work, I decide to change my life. After a year in my home town (a small village of Lower Normandie on the sea) where I found out that it will be pretty hard to live my life other there, I decide to used my second passport and "emigrate" to the USA (my father was a US citizen). After a year of traveling across the country, I decide to settle down in a semi rural area and start to work as a PT bank teller for the local Credit union only to get some health insurance.

On the other PT (or likely double FT) I am a homesteader, I grew all the veggie and meat that I eat and I also sell at the local Farmers Market. After a few years of "conventional" organic (non certified), I finally start this year to use only non tilling practice and oh boy I love it (my back too). I am known in town as the donkey dude as I always run my errands with my mule (I do not drive any car since 2000). I am lucky enough to be in touch with some awesome people here and I use a converted garage as a stall for my mule when I work (the garage belong to one of my customer an awesome 80 years old lady who happened to have the dual citizenship as she was married with a french teacher).

So to resume, I grow half an acre of veggies (only heirloom non traditional veggie as I was not looking to compete with the other farmers when I start), I board five horses plus my own mule, I have ten meat goats and 2 milk goat in the pastures (I do not own nor rent them, I just clear the brush for some neighbors, a dozen chicken some duck and geese and of course some rabbit. I do manage to feed some pig every year to fill the freezer too.

I almost forget, I live in a cabin too ...

September 23, 2008 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Hi Jenna,
I live in southern Lancaster County, PA. on a little over 3.5 acres. I have 3 dogs, a cat, 5 chickens, 4 sheep, 2 pigs, and 6 geese. I also have a garden and a small woodland that I love. I earn a living as a freelance graphic designer and in my spare time, I make mixed media sculptures. I read anything by Dean Koontz, and one of my favorite books by him is "The Watchers" followed closely by "The Reaping". Having lived here for just 3 years, I am exploring more options in terms of how much I can do with the land I have. I plan to add a small orchard and am considering bees.
I enjoy pretty much everything you write, but especially your experiences on Cold Antler farm.
I've been reading your blog since I learned about it from Mother Earth News, and it inspired me to start one too. Feel free to stop in at http://tuliptreehill.blogspot.com
Kathleen

September 23, 2008 at 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Hello Jenna and fellow CAF readers. I discovered your blog just before your move and have been hooked ever since. My husband and I live on 2.5 acres in Colorado. We've got 2 children, 3 roommates (and another possibility), 2 cats and some fish. I garden organically and hope to have a greenhouse within the next few years to extend our extra short growing season. I'd also like to raise chickens and alpaca. (However, it's all been placed on hold due to my little girl being diagnosed with Leukemia last month. Her blog is linked through my name.) Thank you for letting me live vicariously through your sheep/sheepdog dreams. =)

September 23, 2008 at 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Hi, Jenna.

That's a tall assignment, but I'll do my best.

I'm Chad, a single band and orchestra director at a boarding school in Indiana. I have similar hopes to you - not really drawn to sheep, but I'd like to buy my little homestead, grow my food (to include fruits and veggies, chickens, maybe a house cow - depends on the land available, really), start a little market garden, and build my own house (a rather unorthodox design and strawbale construction). Perhaps some alpacas or llamas as well. But I'm not as far along as you are.

I currently rent a small house on just under an acre from my employer, and am treating it as sort of a "practice homestead." I'm developing various skills I'll need, within the limits of what I'm able/willing to invest in work and money in something I don't own.

A favorite book is impossible to list. I read. A lot. However, a very influential book would be Paulo Coehlo's "The Alchemist." It's a short little parable that really helped re-direct my life out of a high-paying but soul-destroying career.

I have a bit of a bloglet at The Green House, a Ning social network site centered around a pair of video podcasts. You can see that here:
http://green-house.tv/profile/Chad

September 23, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hi Jenna, like a lot of other people I found your site through mother earth news. I am aspiring to be an urban farmer because my chosen profession is taking care of people (emergency room RN)and I could not give that up. I live on a 1/4 acre city lot in the mountains of western north carolina and currently garden organicaly in three 8x4 raised beds with plans for expansion. Our chicken coop will be built by spring and ready for some city chickens. I firmly believe in knowing where my food comes from and subscribe to a csa to supplement our gardens and dehydrate and freeze surplus for winter. I really enjoy reading about all of your animal adventures since chickens are about as far as we could go, although I dream of a dwarf dairy goat. Thanks for the inspiration! P.S We are huge bluegrass fans down here, like your music posts too!

September 23, 2008 at 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Tracie said...

Hi Jenna,

I also found your blog through Mother Earth and put you on my blog reader after reading only one post.

I am a 45 year old wife, mother and artist from Alabama. My family and I live in a funky stone house on 5 acres that we bought a couple of years ago. My daughters are 3 and 5 and we spend a lot of time poking around in our woods and meadows and spend a lot of time bird, bug and plant watching. We have fruit, nuts and berries growing on our land and hope to plant more. We had our first veggie garden this year (we tried last year but the drought got the best of us). Mostly I have spent a lot of time since moving here getting to know the plants that are already here and planted by the previous owners. The man that built my house was a tree surgeon and lived in his chicken coop while building this place from indigenous materials. He left behind some wonderful gifts. I am learning how to care for them.

I dream of having a goat one day but we are not zoned for livestock so for now I have my sights set on raising chickens and bees until the city council sees fit to change the zoning--or we move again. Ha! I have 4 dogs and 2 cats, a banjo and I paint when they let me. I have a long list of favorite books too but am reading a lot of the quartet from COncord right now. They suit my mood as the season shifts.

Thanks for writing about your dreams and adventures. You inspire me.

I am still perusing your archives. Since finding your blog I have added books, music and a strumstick to my wish list.

September 23, 2008 at 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Hi Jenna,

I'm Steve, a thirty-something living in Brunswick, Maine, with my wife and two young boys. I'm a professional cabinetmaker by trade and I focus on building environmentally sustainable cabinetry. I graduated from Middlebury College in 1993 and still love the State of Vermont, so it's always nice to hear what you're doing there and see your photos!

This spring we started growing and sharing 11 laying chickens with another family and have watched them grow from few-day-old chicks to big cluckers and we're eagerly awaiting our first eggs very soon. We shop almost exclusively at the local farmers' markets and just bought a winter CSA share at a local farm. Local and organic food are very important to us. As you might guess, my favorite books right now are Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

We live in a cohousing community (Two Echo) and co-own 90 acres of forest and open fields with 26 other families. A bunch of us are looking into growing cows, pigs, and broiler chickens on the open fields as described by Michael Pollan in Omnivore's Dilemma.

Finally, I'm a fiddler and love New England contradance music, so I love reading your posts about music. I've also started playing octave mandolin lately -- it's a beautiful sounding instrument that no one knows about. Since it's tuned like a fiddle (just like a mandolin), it's an easy switch. Give it a try!

I love reading your blog for many reasons. I look forward to buying your book when it comes out. Keep up the good work!

Steve
mainemusings.blogspot.com
Fiddlehead Designs

September 23, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger bwilson1979 said...

hello jenna,
my name is ben and i live in independence mo, 10 miles from downtown kansas city. I have been reading your blog for about 2 months and love it. I have am in the process of turning our backyard into a urban farm. right now just a garden but as soon as the pool is filled in we are getting chickens,ducks ,and a goat.
i work 45+hours a week and was really touched by your post about the "real" world being hard to get into when all you really want to do is spend time with your critters being self sufficent. Don't worry we will all get there someday. in the meantime keep bloging,your posts vocalize what alot of us feel.
Ben

September 23, 2008 at 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi, I'm Sarah. I live outside St Louis, MO on about an acre and a half. My mom and I have two cats and two dogs but I would love to get chickens, some goats and sheep eventually. My parents and I are originally from Virginia and I really want to get back there soon but with the economy so bad they're afraid to put this house on the market. We had a small garden this year and I am getting the majority of my meat, eggs and vegetables from the farmer's market every saturday. I'm still working on my "plan" for being more self sufficient and a work from home job that I love.

I have an art degree, two dogs (although mine are small compared to yours) and I really want to get to where you are. I think that's most what I would like to hear about. How did you get started? How grand are your dreams of where you plan to go? What are your mornings and what has to be done every day to take care of the animals you have now? That may be mundane details for some of your readers but I'm new to all this still. :) Maybe your book will answer all these questions?

I love your writing, your sense of humor and how you refer to everyone as "son". It cracks me up.

September 23, 2008 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Hi Jenna and fellow readers!

I live just south of Dallas on 12 acres with my husband, dogs and cat. We just moved here in July after wanting this for years. We have a dozen chickens, a bee colony and some Muscovy ducks coming in a couple of weeks. We're working on gardens here and plan to take on some larger livestock next year, but we haven't yet decided what it will be. I'm 37 and a bookkeeper by day. I get to work three days a week from home, which makes this lifestyle possible for me.

I grew up in rural Illinois, and your blog reminds me of those days. I've been reading for about a month, and have enjoyed the content so far. I, for one, want to keep up with how you're faring. It's encouraging for all of us with similar dreams to share how we're making out, I think. Particularly when so many of our contemporaries see us as "eccentric" at best or "batsh*t crazy" at worst! :)

My favorite book? I mostly read non-fiction anymore, but my favorite book of all time will always be The Little Prince. I also adore The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and pretty much anything by Jose Saramago.

It's wonderful to meet everyone here!

September 23, 2008 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

Hi Jenna,

My name is John- I am married for 17 years and have three beautiful girls ages 11, 10, and 7. I currently am a Facility Manager for an Insurance Company in AZ, but looking to move to VA and buy 5-10 acres place to call our farm. I am very interested in gardening and have grown my own vegetables. I would love to have animals other than my dogs. Some chickens, Turkeys, goats, pigs and ducks to start. We are hoping to move to VA this spring. I love your blog and check it daily. You are an inspiration. I would love to know how you make your soaps and where did you get your cool molds especially the bears head. Keep up the great work! You really do inspire our family and my girls think you really cool!

John

September 23, 2008 at 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Hey Jenna,
You pretty much know my story by now, but here's the list, just in case:
The Wisconsin, Illinois state line.

I would love a log cabin, in the mountains, on a enough land to support myself, my hobbies, a truck garden, a barn size workshop, some small livestock, and maybe even a farm dog of some sort, maybe.

My favorite book is a constantly revolving list of any number of books, on several subjects. Right now, "Meet Me in a Hundred Years" is sitting high on the list. Also, I found a copy of Readers Digest, "Back to Basics", that I have found to be handy.

I enjoy your writing as it is. It has a personal feeling to it. It reads like a your talking to the reader, more then writing for them. It goes great with my morning coffee. Keep it up.

September 24, 2008 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger TheMusingMommy said...

Hey Jenna ~
You already know who I am, but I did want to say that my favorite book is "Into the Forest" by Jean Hegland.

Also, I read your blog everyday. Your writing is beautiful, and it resonates deep within me, though I'm no farmer, or herder, or countrygirl. But I still love reading all the adventures you have, and reading your viewpoint on the simple things in life. Thanks for sharing all of this with us!

September 24, 2008 at 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna, I found you thru Mother earth news a couple of weeks ago; have read all the past postings. I'm a 60something living in Alaska. I have three grown childrea and 11 grandchildren. In the past I have lived on a dairy farm and have put up my own food. Living in an apartment I don't have a garden, or animals, but have been getting veggies from the local farmers markets and have been doing some freezing and just bought, and started using a dehydrater. Emjoy you blog, and your writing; have pre-ordered your book from Amazon. Can't wait to read it.

September 24, 2008 at 2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna,

My name is Eric and I am a bartender living in Reno, Nevada. After reading the many comments to your post, I must say I feel like the very odd duck. I am a complete city boy. The closest I’ve ever come to farming is the parsley garnish served to me this evening with my dinner. I discovered the idea of modern homesteading several months ago and discovered you while researching the subject. My family now thinks I have gone off the deep end. Instead of saving for a condo downtown, I am saving for a down payment on a couple of acres in Northern Idaho. I am too new to this idea to know the questions I should ask, but I would love to know more about how you came to decide on this lifestyle. Do you happen to have any old posts that are not in your archives that deal with you starting out, both the mistakes and the home runs?

Sincerely,

Eric Newfelt
ericnewfelt@yahoo.com

September 24, 2008 at 4:28 AM  
Blogger Sojourner Design said...

Wow Jenna, lots of reading here for you. I live in Northampton MA and we met at the David Sykes herding clinic at Denise Leonard's this summer.

I'm a RN but am sort of between jobs and am shifting gears at present. I've worked part time for years.

I do have a farm, using the land of a neighbor adjacent to our own. I have 24 sheep, 3 meat goats (they keep the shrubby vegetation in various areas), a donkey, a dozen or so chickens, a border collie and a terrier.

I'm a little curious about what you do for a living, the nature of your job, and how you're able (or not able!) to integrate it in with the rest of your life.

Diane

September 24, 2008 at 6:21 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I've already posted about myself, but I have to just say that reading everyone's comments here has been so interesting! I had no idea there were so many like us. Thanks Jenna, for asking, and thanks everyone for chiming in!

September 24, 2008 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

tara, I know! I mean french mule drivers, Idaho dreamers, old friends, fellow border collolics. I loved reading all of these, and i'll be posting a little bio about myself in response to some of your questions. thanks guys, really.

September 24, 2008 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Jennifer and Steve said...

Hi there. You've received lots of comments from many folks doing cool stuff and we find that so encouraging! Anyways - we live just outside of Fort Wayne, IN on two acres. Our property is wild in many ways with a planted prairie, small woodland, wooded creek, butterfly gardens and an organic vegetable garden. We both enjoy handcrafting, cooking, hiking, and so much more. You can see some of what we are up to at: http://thecommonmilkweed.blogspot.com. We have many many books and love to read. Picking one is so hard...some that come to mind quickly are Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), The Vision (Tom Brown Jr.), all Wendell Berry, Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver), Red (Terry Tempest Williams), The Snow Leopard (Peter Matthiesen), ETC! We enjoy reading the blog of another soul living close to the land. Thanks for sharing and good luck to you!

September 24, 2008 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger m. heart said...

hi jenna,
i've only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks but immediately added it to my google reader. i live on 3.5 acres in western mass with my boyfriend, dog, and 2 cats. i'm debating whether or not to add some chickens to the mix. we have a good-sized veggie and herb garden and tons of perennial beds surrounding the house.

i must admit to being continuously torn between rural life and city life, and your blog reminds me of all the positive aspects of country living. i've already recommended it to several like-minded friends.

keep up the good work!
m.

September 24, 2008 at 9:51 AM  
OpenID moesewco said...

Hi Jenna,

You know me a bit by now, but the basics again are that I used to live in the wilderness in northern Minnesota and now live in the middle of Chicago. My husband and I escape north whenever possible to make music and be with friends and nature, but the city has given us a very good life. I am a full time piano teacher and part time milliner.

I love to read your blog because it reminds me of home. I was a disaster of a gardener, but my total failures at it have given me a great appreciation for others efforts.

September 24, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Geeka said...

Hey there:
I am monica. I am a post-doctoral fellow in pittsburgh. I do research on herpesviruses.

I don't know if I would be a farmer, but I do have animals (2 cats, a dog, a guinea pig) fake ponds in the backyard, a compost pile etc. I also am really into food and cooking, so I guess it was the sustainability aspect of you and your farm style that I liked.

I read your entire back catalogue about 3 weeks ago on a sunday morning.

My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged. I also have the worlds dumbest brittany spaniel, so I am jealous of your dogs.

September 24, 2008 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Thomas Dermako said...

Hi Jenna-
My name's Thomas. I run a group home for the disabled in NY which happens to be the first and only one in the state that runs off solar panels. I dream of moving to VT one day and farming as you are doing. I'll be taking a vacation up there next week to backpack and generally bum around. Hope to find some fall festivals and music, too. Oh yeah, beer also.

September 24, 2008 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Hi Jenna,
I'm Alicia, originally from Boston, but currently living overseas, planning my repatriation. I did the whole 20's in New York City thing after college and now realize the value of a life surrounded by green, green, green. I have long dreamed of a quite life with a bit of land of my own watching my animals and plants grow and flourish. I think you are AMAZING for doing this on your own. You have inspired me so much. Keep up the good work and keep posting. Your blog is truly one of my cyber-highlights.

I read a lot and have too many favorites to list, but I love "A Prayer for Owen Meany". I just finished Thomas Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded" and can't recommend it enough. 478pages of reasons to homestead!

September 24, 2008 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger nefaeria said...

Hi there Jenna,

Love your blog! As far as suggestions go, I have a real interest livestock from the 'good old days' that are now unfortunately rare; so if have anything to share out anything in the way of sheep or cluckers, that would be an interesting read for myself.

I am a 30-year-old living in Northern Ontario (Canada) with an awesome partner and 5 cats. We unfortunately live in an apartment right now. We grow some veggies and herbs, but I am sure many are aware how limiting a balcony can be.

I am an 'artist', activist, and an aspiring Permaculturalist. There is a group of us here in my town that is working towards getting a Permaculture centre/urban farm up and running. The main goals of this project is to provide local food security (with a focus on people with low/fixed incomes; to promote the ethics behind Permaculture; as well as education about better farming/gardening practices, and local food.

Keep up the great work and I look forward to future entries!

Slàinte!

Laurel

September 24, 2008 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous ScottP said...

Hi Jenna,
My name is Scott and I am a school teacher in Oklahoma. I LOVE your blog! We raise boys, chickens, and a garden on the edge of town and dream of and work toward self-suffenciency in all areas of our lives. Thank you for letting us collectivly share your experiences and enjoy your writting.

September 24, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger kd said...

jenna!
obviously you know me, but i wanted to let you know i'm always reading the blog, and i think everything you've accomplished so far is amazing and inspiring.

someday i'll own some land with a few dogs and horses- once i get the city out of my system. for now i live on the "greenest block in brooklyn", that has to count for something,right?

September 24, 2008 at 9:26 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

I came across dogcoffin and noticed you lived in Knoxville. Anticipating my move to that area, I followed your blog to get an insider's view and maybe find a few interesting places to visit during my time there. I continue to read your blog because of your extremely engaging stories. Your experiences with Jazz and Annie, and now all the new members of your farm are intriguing, to say the least.

It's hard to pick my favorite book, but I like anything Vonnegut wrote, and my favorite directors are Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick. I just can't get enough of black and white samurai movies and almost silent science fiction movies.

I can't say living on a farm is a high priority for me, but I do believe in self-sufficiency, to whatever degree possible, so your blog has become a self-reliant manual of sorts for me. I haven't given farm life much thought, but you seem to be having the time of your life.

Thanks for sharing all of your stories.

September 24, 2008 at 11:02 PM  
Anonymous RC said...

You certainly have very high quality readers Jenna. I'm real tired and it's late, so I'll give the very terse version. I live on a tropical island, have a fruit tree nursery, do about ten other things, have three acres I am trying to permaculture. Times up. I've been reading you for a short time and enjoying the blog immensely. It was very nice to realize so many interesting people read here too.

September 25, 2008 at 1:32 AM  
OpenID lazytoadfarm said...

Hi Jenna
You probably already know a little about me but I live in central NH on 3.5 acres at the end of a quiet road that is off of a very busy street. My husband and I dream of living a more sustainable life on our own little farm. We currently have three awesome chickens, one poodle and two indoor cats and are looking forward to more animals in our future. I love angora rabbits and sheep and border collies. I am not sure we can have them where we currently live but I hope to someday find a place where we can. It is just getting there from here that is the tricky part. I really enjoy reading your stories about your new little farm. You always put a smile on my face (my husband too) with your posts. I also enjoy hearing about life in a special little town- so different from the city I live in! Thanks for entertaining us!

September 26, 2008 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna. I am from Connecticut, but I lived in French Polynesia teaching the natives about goats and dairy products for 3 years. I would like to see you write more about things related to the home creamery.. you know, troubleshooting yogurt and how to make butter. I have a great recipe for sour cream raisin pie that I could share with you.

September 26, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

hey Jenna, I am a senior college student attending a small Christian school called Houghton in a small town in the middle of Western New York. I'm actually from central MA, near Worcester and Sturbridge. When I was little, we had chickens and a garden, but then we stopped. I have it in my heart to farm for myself. I'm not sure where that comes from because I don't know ANYTHING about farming.
My favorite book is Hundred Dollar Holiday: The case for a more Joyful Christmas by Bill McKibben. It's all about making Christmas less commercial and more family oriented. I think you might enjoy it.

Thank you for posting your thoughts and adventures...I look to them often for inspiration.

September 27, 2008 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I can't respond to everyone on here, but I want you all to know I am amazed I got this many comments! Thanks for this all you CAF friends.

And thank you all for checking in on the farm. Two comments above is a note about dairy - but I'm not there yet! No milking on a one-person farm. I couldn't go anywhere unless I had back up lmilkers. But I wish I could, and don't think I'm not considering it. I am starting to make my own cheese and butter. And that's a start!

September 28, 2008 at 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Carmen said...

Hello Jenna. I have been reading your blog for a few months and really enjoy it. I am a retired attorney who always wanted a few acres. I almost bought them but the house had too many things that needed fixing. I bought my 70 year old house sight unseen and am I glad. It's only 1/3 acre but I have been pulling out the grass and planting vegetables and fruits of all kinds. I spent this last week canning and finally just freezing my huge tomato harvest. The potatoes are drying in my basement and everything else is still growing during a very warm September (for Minnesota). I love it. I have my food budget down to $40.00 a month. It would be less if I could get the zoning guy to let me have a few chickens. I am planting native plants and have been certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the Wildlife Federation. This is my little piece of heaven.

September 28, 2008 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Christa said...

Hi Jenna,
I live in the Hudson Valley in NY. I just got married this past weekend and my new husband had an abandoned farm so to speak dropped in his lap two weeks before our wedding. In fact, two days before the wedding, my family and our officiant joined us to help harvest veggies for our CSA shares this week. Its a long story of how he came to be in charge of this farm, but let's just say that its a long term dream coming true faster then we could have ever imagined. They have been keeping bees on the farm, but next season we hope to start keeping some chickens for eats and meat and who knows, there may even be some dairy cattle in the future. Personally I really enjoy reading your blog because of the many ways I can identify with it. I love your posts about fall and Halloween and pumpkins. I love the voice you write with. I'm also fairly close to you in age, so I like reading about what you're going through in learning all this stuff for the first time and that you are a younger person struggling to make all this happen too, like my husband and I.
Also, I started knitting last fall, so I have a side interest in anything sheep & wool!

September 29, 2008 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna,
I am Wendy a wife & mother of three daughters. We live in the middle of a small town about 45 mins. from KU! My family & I dream of homesteading right in town right now & have made some progress on that path - composting, rain barrels, garden, hanging out wash, etc. We dream of solar panels, wood stoves and chickens! For the far off future, we will either stay here, buy the other half of our twin home & open a bed & breakfast that is 100% organic or we will move to Lancaster & homestead out there. We are undecided on that yet & figure we have plenty of time to decide about that later!

I don't even know how I stumbled across your blog but I LOVE reading it. It inspires us to keep going in our small ways.

My favorite reads right now (I could never pick just one) are my many cookbooks that celebrate cooking the "old fashioned" way; Animal, Vegetable Miracle is a favorite reference book as well; and really any of the many reference books helping us to learn as much as we can about homesteading.

So keep on inspiring us all! You are doing a great job with this blog!
Take care,
Wendy

September 30, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Heavy Petal said...

Hi Jenna,

I discovered your blog through a column you write in Mother Earth News. A lot of what you write about isn't directly applicable to my situation (I'm an urban dweller with little land; my cat is my only 'livestock') but I keep reading because I love your writing style and your spirit.

I live in Vancouver, BC, with my husband and our 5-month old baby girl, Lila. I'm 32. We live in a townhouse with a balcony veggie patch. I also have an allotment garden, so I grow a fair bit of my own food. I'm also a guerrilla gardener and community gardening activist. Like you, I'm fairly new to the food gardening thing, so it's a lot of trial and error, but I love it.

I don't aspire to have a farm, but I love reading about your adventures. I'd like to see you write more about food gardening.

Keep it up!

September 30, 2008 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jenna-

I love your blog and read it daily. I'm a geologist 9-to-5'er, wife, mom to two, trying to prove: everyone can live a more sustainable lifestyle. I buy less, buy local, support organizations that protect health and the environment, plant things other than grass (organic garden), reduce-reuse-recycle, all that.

What you're doing is fascinating, and I like how tuned in to nature you seem to be. Maybe it's like you pull me outside every day.

Book: Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery. (Also, aspiring to try more from Eliot Coleman, ex. Four Season Harvest.)

From you, more on: gardening, going from garden to table in spite of a 40-hour work week, and anything about how to "get started" (taking that initial leap is so hard!) with homestead staples - poultry, bees, rabbits, etc. Maybe that kind of stuff is in your older posts and I just need to look!

Keep up the great work!

September 30, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
OpenID hemoglobin-baby said...

Jenna, I just today found your blog but immediately liked your tone & subject matter! I'm a 32 year old single mom of a 3 year old daughter. We live in NC, and I have a garden in our back yard (veg & flowers). It is my fondest wish to get out of the city somewhere big and quiet and spend my time growing plants, tending a few animals, and using what they give me to sustain myself & my daughter. I also like to do theatre, crochet, sew, make stuff out of beads, read, write, listen to music, learn about biochemistry, promise myself that *this* will be the year I teach myself ancient Greek, and I am kind of obsessed with the TV show "Lost." The poster above me mentioned Carla Emery; I also think her Encyclopedia of Country Living is awesome! A gardening book I constantly consult is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith. A favorite fiction book of mine is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. My next homestead-type goal is to plant flax and figure out how to get linen. I might be able to make my own napkin next summer. (Yes, napkin, singular. Baby steps.) Keep up the good work at your home & on your blog and thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

October 1, 2008 at 4:04 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Flood said...

Hey hey-
I'm Aaron. I'm currently working as an Engineer at Boeing in Seattle. My favorite novel is probably Timeline by M. Crichton and fave non-fiction is...Collapse by Jared Diamond or Legacy of Conquest by Patricia Limmerick. Hard to pick favorites though ; )

Farming/agrarianism/"back to the land" is a dream of mine but I have a long ways to go; woods, fruit, veggies, dogs, chickens and maybe horses. I mostly read to see how things are going and to live vicariously through you. I also think about writing someday. Been working on the outline of a novel for a couple years now but haven't gotten serious about it. Lots of other distractions/ideas...

Don't really have any suggestions for writing prompts. I just like to follow along. I do like the writings that let me slip into a day-dream to life on the farm. Something that lets me picture a "simpler life" out of and away from my cubicle haha. Early, cold mornings and nights by the crackling fire kind of stuff.

October 1, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Rae and found your blog through Mother Earth News. I love your style of writing and am impressed with your verve. I'm in my early 30s, also went to college in SE PA, then moved to Boston which resulted in A LOT of time spent in VT. My partner and I explored moving to VT with some like-minded friends to set up an intentional community, sort of homestead and run a B&B. It didn't work out, and now we're in the mid-atlantic where I garden full time--and get paid for it. And yeah, always trying to find time to write that novel. I still dream of VT and homesteading, but frankly the weather scares me. Brr. So I guess I'd like to hear how you deal with the homesteading aspect in the winter when the hens aren't laying and the coldframe is covered in 2 feet of snow. And other technical aspects of how to survive or make money, per se, in atypical ways (e.g., is selling wool a mysterious process?). Thanks for sharing your world with us!

October 3, 2008 at 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Thistledog said...

Hi Jenna,

Somehow I missed this “come on in and introduce yourself” post, but better late than never, as they say… and what a great idea this is, to have us go around the room and introduce ourselves to you.

My name is Kay, I’m a Naval Officer stationed in San Diego (and currently deployed to Djibouti Africa). I am three years away from retiring from the war machine and heading out to Kentucky to get my farm started. I’ve been blessed with steady income and a husband who supports all my dreams, so a couple of years back when my mother passed on, I did some serious soul-searching which led me to put my/our money were my mouth was and go find my farm; which I did, good lord willing, and we bought it. Have been dreaming about farming my whole life, and got a good start at homesteading up in Colorado w-a-a-a-y back when I was in my twenties, but lacked the resources and ended up signing up with Uncle Sam for the steady job. Well, it’s been an interesting 20-some years, but the best part is I know what I want to be when I grow up, and now I have the means to do it.

Meanwhile our little scrap of paradise in San Diego is what I call my Urban Homestead – I raise vegetables in the back yard and completely renovated the little front yard with a landscape design that is anchored by 7 semi-dwarf fruit trees. It was the best microclimate and sun exposure for growing, so there they are! I feed the neighborhood and put up all kinds of jams and pie fillings and dried fruit to boot. I’m a long-time composter so instead of leaving my “yard waste” (what a silly phrase!) for the trash collectors, I’ve made on the order of 15 tons of new topsoil in my side yards, since we moved there in 1999. Rather a permaculture concept, limiting inputs and outputs and wasting nothing.

Well the Kentucky farm will be heaven, when I finally get there. 20 acres of hilltop pastures surrounded by hardwood forests, crowned with two small farm ponds and just waiting for my little herd of American Milking Devon cows and some pastured chickens to add their fertility to the soil. Sheep too, of course – and bees, and ducks and turkeys, and probably a pig or two – and the whole shebang will be powered by a team of Suffolk horses, lord willing. Lots of work, cuz there’ll be barns to build and fences to put up and tons of forestry work, but it’s the kind of work I love and it will all add to the structure and quality of the place. So, there’s where I’m headed. And hearing about your passion for such things, such simple, honest, basic value things, is so heartening. Makes me think we’re all on to something.

October 5, 2008 at 6:58 AM  
OpenID Jaspenelle said...

I actually just recently found your blog. While reading back in the entries, I ran across this one so I thought I would introduce myself. I am 22, married and have a 4 month old son (named Damian.) We live in a townhouse in Spokane, WA with a 6x14 concert patio outback. This doesn't stop me from canning, freezing and drying my own food (mostly grown in the gardens I helped my friends plant and harvest), grinding my own wheat for bread, sewing my clothes (trying to learn to knit) and dreaming with my husband of having my own yard and garden and chickens. Next summer we will be buying our first home. I am certain my dreams are bigger then the yard we will have, but you have to start somewhere!

Your blog is an inspiration to me, it reminds me on my less then glorious days that anything is possible.

October 6, 2008 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Lorri said...

I'm reading this post late - but I'm reading all your back posts today. I'm from Mass, live in Virginia, am planning on moving to New Hampshire in a year or two w/ DH & DD. We want to homestead as well - he knows we will get chickens, sheep, dogs, and a garden as soon as we have space :) I crochet, spin, cook, and am learning to knit and sew.

We want a simpler life. My hobbies are part of working towards it, as we save for the land & for the move.

Favorite book is Lord of the Rings, and I'm reading homesteading books and the like as best as I can get my hands on them.

Merry Yule, Happy Solstice!

December 23, 2008 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Judy J said...

Hey Jenna,

I didn't know about you until two days ago. I work the circulation desk at our local library and your book came through (returned) and caught my attention...I immediately checked it out to myself and read it in one day. You remind me of myself when I was younger and, also, made me slap myself upside the head for not going with my heart and doing what you've done.

Good news! It's not too late...I spent 33 years in corporate America (communications) and raised two wonderful children in an urban area, but constantly dreaming of 'that little farm that I always wanted'. 5 years before I retired from CA (Corp. Am.), my husband and I bought 7 acres of land, including a pond and located on a river and having a house, garage and pole barn. We don't live there full-time...yet. We need to finish up business here in Chicago...our house is up for sale and when it's gone, we're in N. Wisconsin at our house on the river, full-time. I'm only 52 YO and like to think I still have enough Umph to run a small-scale farm.

I've always wanted chickens and the chicken portion of your book is what really caught my eye. I don't want the chickens for meat, I just want them for the eggs and the experience. Most of the people in the area in which we plan to re-locate (and where we already own a house and 7 acres), slaughter their chickens in the fall and start anew in the spring. I don't want to do that and I was so happy to see that you don't do that as well...that there IS a way to keep your chickens through the winter in a harsh winter area. I plan to start small with 3-4 hens and see how it goes. We have coyotes, eagles, wolves, bears and, of course, the raccoons and skunks, to deal with up there and I'd love to hear how people deal with those critters. My worst fear is going out to the coop in the morning to find it decimated.

Thanks so much for your blog (I spent the whole afternoon reading from beginning to end) and your book, which I'm thankful my small library saw fit to purchase and make available to the citizens of Morton Grove, Illinois.

PS: boy, you got me thinking about angora rabbits now...I love to crochet! plus, I think a couple of those geese could really clean up our pond!

February 24, 2009 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger PDXCourtney said...

Hello Jenna!
Boy am I late on the uptake...
My name is Courtney and I read your book a few days ago. I really got sucked in by the blog! I'm starting at the beginning and working up to the present.

I love the blog, mostly because it gives my corporate drudgery a reason. I am living vicariously through you! Moments in the sun, fresh produce and dog fur are my raisons d'etre. I also want the little farm, huge garden and livestock. Right now I'm in Portland, Oregon- a wonderful city that has large price tags on land. My man and I have our eyes on some real estate in Northern Michigan though.

For now, I start small- gardening as much as possible, cheesemaking, knitting, sewing and the like. I also get into making my own laundry detergents and shampoos. For later- chickens, a cow, gardens as far as the eye can see... :)

My ultimate goal is also to find a way to make this lifestyle into an income. I'll keep my eyes open and I'll definitely keep reading!

September 22, 2009 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Lightly said...

Hey Jenna,
I'm a year late, but here goes... married 5 years, am 49 yrs of age, we moved back to Texas, to look for acres to raise a couple cattle, many chickens, and more.. I have studied permaculture for 15 years now, and now, we finally have the chance to begin... Maybe by the first of the year we'll have a bit of dirt. I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago, and I am struck by how similar our feelings, yours and mine, seem to me. The need for that space, to grow things, sustainance.
It will be good to settle, put in yet another large lovely garden, but this one, this one, I will not have to leave behind.
Thank you! Good luck (LOL! I have only read halfway thru so, I have no idea where you are at right now!) Best; Lightly

October 4, 2009 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I'm a 29 year old mom to 5 home schooled kids ages 7yrs to 9 months. We're Unitarians, bibliophiles, music enthusiasts and your ordinary futuristic hippies. We have 5+ acres in Northern Florida. Where citrus is fresh, mosquitoes are merciless and you CAN find gators in your backyard. In the city. We're working towards getting out there building a house, barn and workshop mortgage free. I can't wait to get my hands on my very own baby goat. Oh, and my favorite book is Anna Karenina.

October 15, 2009 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Eveland said...

Hi Jenna,

A year and a month late, I wonder if you will read this. I'm a single 43 year old woman that lives in Brooklyn. Never though of myself as a farmer, nonetheless this year I attempted at growing corn. Among other things.

I know the squirrels really liked it because it was war. They left the empty husks by the door thanking me for the organic corn.

Producing TV commercials pays for the house and the squirrels backyard farm.

October 24, 2009 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Eveland said...

Hi Jenna,

A year and a month late, I wonder if you will read this. I'm a single 43 year old woman that lives in Brooklyn. Never though of myself as a farmer, nonetheless this year I attempted at growing corn. Among other things.

I know the squirrels really liked it because it was war. They left the empty husks by the door thanking me for the organic corn.

Producing TV commercials pays for the house and the squirrels backyard farm.

October 24, 2009 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger cascade_gardner said...

Another late reader. I just happened upon your blog about a month ago, and am just starting to catch up!

I live in the Western Cascades--trying like hell to have chickens, a acceptable garden that isn't destroyed by deer and raccoons and love on my three amazing dogs (and one amazing husband). Your blog strikes a cord with me because you are pursing many of the same goals and aspirations I have. I know it's possible and you prove it to me every day. Thank you.

November 16, 2009 at 1:06 AM  
Blogger Lil said...

Over a year later and you're still getting comments on this entry - pretty impressive. :-)

My name's Lillian, I'm 40 (just turned a little over a week ago & it's weird typing that - "40") and I live in Orange County, CA. I'm not a farmer, don't have a garden, don't have or want chickens and I work in an office as an administrative assistant. My gift is typing and working magic with Word and strangely enough, I like it. I enjoy living in the city-ish and am basically the antithesis of most of your readers, it would appear. However, there's this little part of me that loved reading Little House on the Prairie and wondered what that life would have been like. A friend of mine e-mailed me your post about your hands and after that, I was hooked. I've been working my way through your posts the past few days and will continue to do so until I'm done. You're a testament to going after what makes you happy and I admire that. Good luck to you and I look forward to reading the rest of your blog. :-)

November 24, 2009 at 3:07 PM  
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January 15, 2010 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Hey Jenna
I've already introduced myself informally through a couple of comments.

I wasn't going to introduce myself until I'd caught up on the blog and I'm only just up to sep 08!

Still as you asked thought I would pop by and say hello.

I'm loving the story so far. My girlfriend and I are trying to do the same thing in England but it's so hard over here as land is nowhere near as easily comeby and very pricey.

We intend to jump of the good ship Capitalism as soon as possible. I am actually making my first batch of cheese right now! I'm blogging my exploits as well. May do an anglophile book thing in the future so it's nice to have a record.

Looking forward to the rest of it and here's holding a good beer to you.

Cheers

January 19, 2010 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger April Barreiro said...

Jenna, I know it's been awhile since you posted this but I have refused to start at the end and read backwards so I started from the beginning of your blog and am reading it through. Anyway I'm April, I live in Albuquerque NM and can't remember how I stumbled across your blog but you have become one of my heros. I have a house in a suburban area and am working on building up a little urban homestead but have had to hold off on any livestock as we hope to be moving to Louisville, KY and starting over. I love music and you also have reminded me how simple and fun it should be:) I really enjoy following your furry feathered family and it lets me know I am the only one who appreciates a simpler life. Anyway congrats on finally getting your puppy! ( I peeked) I will catch up to you in a few weeks.

May 6, 2010 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger EAG said...

Hi Jenna,

I'm in the same boat as the previous commenter. Picked up your book on a whim last week and read it within a few days. I've been enjoying your blog ever since I finished the book, but haven't quite caught up to the current posts yet! I'm 26 years old and living on the south shore in MA. There's no way at this point in time I could live the life you live, but I do daydream about it probably more than I should. Your story is so inspiring to me. Keep up the good work!

Emily

May 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger anniebeez said...

Hi Jenna,
I have the same story as the last 2 commenters, I picked up your book and couldn't put it down! I am an artist and stay at home mom from Illinois, with a giant garden and a desire to feed my family food that is healthy and natural. My husband and I are planning a hive next year, and my future includes chickens, but I don't know when that will be, as our town has a no-poultry ordinance. So we are looking around the area and considering a move to the country in the future. I love the blog, have been reading from the beginning and enjoying every post.

May 25, 2010 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Misha said...

Hi Jenna,
I'm Michelle - I'm a claim adjuster in Denver and live in suburbia with my husband and our 4 children (2 mine, 2 his). I dream of my own farm. I don't care how big it is as long as I can have chicken, grow things and play in the dirt.
I appreciate the simple things. A fine cup of coffee (tried an old grinder out per your recommendation and have never gone back to the plug-in), pathetic efforts at sewing and baking (it's really hard to bake in Colorado!). Anyhow, that my scoop.

June 21, 2010 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Tatiana said...

Howdy! I know i'm a little late in filling all this out, but better late than never!
I too have the farmer's dream, I'm Tatiana Sanders, I live in Smithfield, Virginia, with my husband and my own Siberian Husky, she's not a retired sled dog, but her parents ran the Iditarod twice, never finished but hey, they participated. I bought her from a breeder in Eastern, MA where I used to live. I live here on an acre & a quarter but i'm saving my pennies for as much as I land as I can get, So far I have (3) 22 x 15 ft garden plots, and 3 4x4 raised square foot gardens. Plus a whole bunch of other roses & flowers. I'm setting up shop this spring for my own chickens, and goats. I hope to raise sheep eventually, but I want to wait until I can get a collie myself. (my girl right now is too old to bring in another dog right now). Since loosing my own job last March I don't think I could have given this farm thing a chance, too afraid mostly. Now I have nothin' to loose with my hubby's support.
The things i'd love to know if how you acquire all the your animals, how you came to pick those specific breeds, the trial and errors that are made. What eventually works. How to get into each and every thing. Where I live, all the farms that surround me are maintained by good ol boys and their families, they don't want outsiders or women for that matter meddling in their lively hood. It's a real downer actually, so I'd love to hear how you've managed it. How you've triumphed. Gives me inspiration.
Thanks!

January 5, 2011 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Hi Jenna,
I stumbled onto your blog via mother earth news two days ago, started in your very first archived post, and am working my way towards the present day as we speak.

I am 21 years old, and still a student, so I'm living in a rented room in a downtown toronto house. The closest I get to livestock are a pair of bearded dragons, and every day I lament the lack of a good dog draped across the foot of my bed, or padding along beside me as I explore this great city.

As much as I love toronto, I know I want to own more than a postage stamp of land, and I know I couldn't deal with the smog, and noise and light pollution. I'm most at home in blue jeans around a camp fire. With a good dog underfoot.

My soul source of sanity at the moment is visiting my parents. Last May they moved to a property that boasts 3/4 of an acre. Last summer we grew tomatoes (or tried to anyways...) and I carefully transplanted my herb garden from their old house. We were pleased to find that the old owners had grown lavender, and there was a rhubarb bush tucked away under a buckthorn tree. We also have two apple trees, which gave of buckets of fruit last year. We really knew nothing about maintaining them though, and might have cut them back too hard in the fall. This spring we plan on putting in corn and sunflowers, tomatoes and snap peas, maybe more depending how ambitious we feel. It always feels good to go home and recieve a warm welcome from the family dog, who despite distance remembers how much I love her, and get some dirt on my hands.

One of these days when I own some dirt of my own, or at least have more forgiving landlords, quail will be high on my list. As will rabbits and easter-egger chickens.

I love hearing about life at CAF. I've got a serious case of barnheart at the moment, and living the life vicariously though you is helping to fill a small part of that void.

I also love strong coffee and halloween. Autumn is the greatest season we can be given, and I'm glad to be able to spend them in ontario, which has the prettiest autumns in the world. Judging by your pictures, I'd have to call vermont a close second though.

I can't play a damn thing on any kind of instrument I pick up, but I love listening to others who can. Especially around a campfire. There's just something magical about it.

What am I hoping to see more of? Everything! lol, I love it all, and you've got it all in just the right amounts. wouldn't mind a few more recipes if you've got some to share :D

As for my favorite book... I always find that a very hard question to answer. I like whimsical fantasies set back in time a ways, usually involving a wolf, or horse, or dog that is the main character's constant companion. Magic and mythical creatures often feature prominently.

March 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Dee Anne Anderson said...

Hi Jenna, I don't know if you are still reading comments on a post from 2008, but I just started reading your blog today. I've made it to Winter 2008, and it's almost 1:00AM. (I really need to go to bed!) I feel like my journey over the past two years has been the opposite of yours. I grew up in Kansas with a corn field down the street and in a house that backed up to an Audubon Bird Preserve. A little less than two years ago I moved to New York City to work on a PhD in English Education at New York University. I live in an apartment in Queens and long for my garden at home in Kansas. I put my house on the market this week because it's just become too much to deal with from so far away. Even though I know it's the right decision, it's hard to let go of the small plot of land that I own. My heart longs for dirt and plants and chickens and bees. A place of my own is several years (and a dissertation) in the future, but reading your book this morning and your blog this evening has been a joy. Thank you for sharing your journey. It gives me hope.

April 15, 2011 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger FernCreations said...

Hey there Jenna,
I just finished reading your book "chick days" and instantly became hooked on the stories from Cold Antler..Im waiting for "barnheart" and "made from scratch" to come in at my local bookstore!!.I am a stay at home mom/housekeeper/chicken raiser/boo boo kisser/cook/gardner/all around domestic engineer LOL!! Right now my husband and I are looking for our own little piece of heaven here in the pacific northwest, about 100 miles north of seattle to be exact. We are renting right now, so my organic garden and chickens are all we can do. I long to wake up to the sounds of livestock on my own piece of land. Deep in my soul I crave a much simpler life, where the only noise i can hear from my front porch is a babbling brook and the sound of farm animals, content in their barns....Our goal is by 6 months from now we will be moving to our farm, i hope and pray that becomes reality! For now though I will live vicariously through your adventures on CAF, with only a slight pang of jealousy, because I know before long, I too, will have my own little piece of heaven!!! Thank you for all the stories and inspiration!!

March 18, 2013 at 3:52 AM  

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