Friday, September 5, 2008

farm fundraiser coming soon

There will be a farm fundraiser coming up! The purpose is to help pay for feed, fencing, and save for my own real piece of non-rented dirt. All the items will be either handmade crafts by me, in my personal antique collection, or original works of art. I'll post them soon. If I can do this without using an auction site I will. Whoever comments first under the post for a certain item, gets it. The "winner" will then send a payment that includes shipping and I'll mail you whatever it is you won. 25% of all items will go to the charity Heifer.org. So you'll be helping your girl Jenna out with her farm dreams, as well as people all over the world with theirs.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

media updates

So big news folks. I'll be featured in the upcoming issue of BUST magazine, which will be out in newsstands mid September. The issue I'll be in will have Sarah Silverman on the cover, which I am thrilled about. I don't think it's a huge article, but there should be a write up on my journey from suburbia to farmburbia. If you've been enjoying the blog, it'll be worth picking up the issue.

Since I'm talking about media, I might as well plug my Huffpo and Mother Earth News archives, which can be found on the right sidebar of this blog. (By the way, if you need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the blog to see the links, your screen resolution is set to low.) Huffington's bits are usually a little more about green living and sustainable farming in modern culture. Mother Earth News articles are more about farming and farmlife. I think the most recent ones are about the future of farming in America, and sheep, of course.

I am also considering having a farm fundraiser on the site. I have some homemade crafts and paintings that I might sell to make some extra money for the farm. Things like hand-painted signs, a real-antlered wolf mask (our farm mascot), and water color paintings and original drawings. The cash would go right into feed and hay and paying off bills I need to wipe clean before I can buy my own farm. So if anyone would be interested in owning a piece of Cold Antler, and helping me get a few steps closer to my farm, let me know and I'll post some items!

Also, if this whole post was obnoxious let me know and I won't do anything like this again. I'm not sure if outside-the-farm news should even be on here?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the animals we chose

Whenever people ask me what kinds of animals I have, I shoot off the list (sheep, chickens, geese, rabbits, bees etc.) When I finish they always seem confused and say something like "Oh, but you seem like such a dog person? I'm surprised you don't have a dog?" and I am taken aback. Of course I have dogs! Why didn't I mention them? Then I remember the initial question. They asked me what kinds of animals I have. My dogs aren't animals. They're roommates.

Of course that's not true. Dogs are animals. Happy, blissful, dependant animals I couldn't live without. But my own dogs are so removed from farmlife I forget about them when I rattle off livestock in my keep. Probably because they aren't sheepdogs or free-ranging farm mutts. They are housedogs, hiking dogs, car dogs, sled dogs. They are either with me on the couch, riding next to me in the car, or out in the middle of the wilderness hiking under pack or pulling me on a sled. Ever since I adopted them from Tennessee Sleddog Rescue in 2005 - Jazz and Annie have been with me for three states, two cross country road trips, and one book. They've tolerated Tennessee summers and Idaho winters. They've walked on crowded southern city streets and endless New England dirt roads. They've eaten chickens, broke into National Parks, and ran away at weddings. They've kept me warm on cold nights, gave me an excuse to flirt with guys at dog parks, and helped me meet so many interesting people in the mushing world. I am humbled by all they give me.

A home without a dog is a dead cell to me. A place you sleep and eat inbetween work and little trips you think are more important than they are. But having dogs changes your address (and life) in a way cats and goldfish can't. I'm sure cats and goldfish are perfectly fine pets, but let's be honest, anyone can feed your cat and goldfish. Those animals really could care less where their food comes from.

Dogs however, need us. I once questioned this, assuming most dogs would happily shack up with other owners that treated them well and fed them on time. That is until the dark day I saw a Siberian Husky waste away and die in a rescue volunteer's arms. It had been perfectly healthy a few weeks ago, but when it's owner died in a car accident it stopped eating and drinking. It committed suicide out of misery. As the withered girl's head dropped, all the other sleddogs howled together in one mournful song. It shakes me up to remember it. I can still hear the 40 other malamutes and Siberians in their runs, all wailing in unison at the death of the little girl. Never again would I see these amazing dogs, certainly not Siberians, as pets. They are the animals we choose to wander through life together. We created them to live with us, bred out their wildness, made their ears floppy, and now they need us.

And I need them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

david bowie covers and escaping sheep

The weekend delivered on its promises. All three evenings had me in front of campfires playing music well into the night. Saturday night being the greatest night of all. At a Hebron bonfire there was a full string band assembled by random participants from all over the Northeast. I had my fiddle, another gal had an upright bass, and other folks had brought a mandolin, guitar and banjo. We played for hours till the kids went to bed and embers burned in the grass. My favorite musical moments were bluegrass renditions of Leroy Brown and Bowie's Under Pressure. I laughed and laughed.

Sean was also there, the friend from Illinois I had mentioned in an earlier post. He seemed to have a fine time Saturday night, and had a front row seat for all the music and festivities. Sunday morning we had a giant brunch feast of farm omelets (thank you chickens and garden), pancakes with Vermont maple syrup, and copious amounts of coffee in large mugs. The morning was far from ideal though, the B&B style breakfast was interrupted when we realized I was out of milk (yay me). So we jumped into the station wagon to pick up some at the Wayside store. Upon returning into my driveway, I was instantly greeted by an unsettling site. A giant wooly body entered into frame and trotted across the lawn to the cabin. Oh shit. All three sheep had escaped.

Sean and I reacted quickly, like a decent brace of border collies. He ran one way and cut them off at the pass, stopping them from walking down hill into the neighbor's property. I ran back to the sheep shed to grab the coffee can of grains. soon as their giant ears heard the rustling of grain in metal they turned on a dime and ran at me at a full charge. Sheep aren't cows mind you, but seeing three 140-pound animals running toward you, eyes locked on the can in your hands was intimidating. I slowly walked backwards into the pen. All three followed. When they were back inside heads deep in the grain bucket, I checked out the escape route. They had learned that one side of the gate rested on hinges. So they simply lifted it off them till they were free. Whoever says sheep are dumb animals doesn't live with them.

Sean headed back to the Midwest on Sunday, and the rest of the weekend involved smaller scale neighborhood cookouts. But I found the most enjoyable time at home was spent out in the pasture with the flock. I set up movable fencing in the field closest to the pen, giving them an extra grazing room. I'd bring my fiddle, some books, and my alpaca wool blanket and lay out with them for hours at a time. I'd play a few tunes or read a few chapters, sometime I'd doze off or sip a mason jar of lemonade. It was relaxing as it sounds. Every now and then I'd be interrupted by Marvin's nose if my elbow or fiddle was in the way of his foraging. When the sheep had eaten for a while, and I was ready for something a little more active, I'd get up and call them inside the gate. They'd come trotting in, expecting grain for their amazing diplomacy. I delivered.