Monday, January 12, 2009

gifts, and other thanks

Yesterday was perfect for mushing. I took the dogs out in the brilliant afternoon sun on a nice two-mile outting. You just don't know how beautiful Sandgate is when it's capped with snow under a blue sky. The dogs and I like the long stretch from our road down to Lincoln Lane. We pass goats and ponies, wave to neighbors, and try to duck out of the way of zooming woodpeckers that fly across the empty roads. There's plenty of soft sloping downhill so the dogs can really crank. For over a mile they just get a crush on their own legs and lungs till they are nearly ready to take flight. Usually we are so tired after the sprint, we all walk back home together side by side. I put on my ipod (p.s. go buy the Fleet Foxes album now, amazing) and while they silently pad along the ice, I look around the snow-covered dirt roads and birch trees with the stupid bliss a girl gets after running dogs. I am easily entertained. Which, by the way gentlemen, makes me a cheap date.

When we got near my road, I pulled the sled up to the mail boxes to see if anything came worth taking inside. We always do that after our runs, and usually I just pile angry bills into my sled bag and worry about my budget. However, instead of bills I pulled out a small, brown, package on this particular sunny day. The address was simple. Get this:

Jenna Woginrich, caretaker
Cold Antler Farm
Sandgate VT

And by god, it got here. To the mailer's credit, they did look up the zip code and include that, but props to the postal service for validating Cold Antler as a legit place. I lack any solid mail-related patience and opened it on the back of the sled while the dogs trotted home. I ripped the package open with one hand while using other to hold the brush bow while we glided along. Inside was something so hilarious, so wonderful, I nearly plotzed right there on the runners.

Mary, from nearby Clarksville, heard my interview on the Book Show. She then bought the book, found this blog, and read my open letter to Maude (who by the way, never responded) She saw Diana's comment on the post about wanting Maude T-shirts and was inspired to send this. She wrote she couldn't make me a shirt, but she did make me a set of note cards featuring Maude's photo and the line "...the mean, crotchety, ruthless old ewe" across her mug. Brilliant! I mailed one that very day to Diana (If you don't know who I'm talking about, Di was my farm mentor from Idaho. Get to know her, she often comments here) and another to my folks in Palmerton. What a treat. Thank you Mary. I think you're the bee's knees.

Then today on top of the mailbox was a package from Alaska. I knew who this was from, Joyce, a long time reader. She sent me a beautiful (handmade?) purple shawl and a polar bear card with a lovely note. She ended her letter with "please don't ever stop writing" and somewhere in my gut I felt some dirty unvarnished pride. Not for me, but for you guys.

This is going to sound silly, but you people have made me so very proud. Most of you are in the same place I am - limited by circumstances, but still big dreamers, scruffy newbies, or chomping at the bit to get into this farming gig. Yet among all your efforts and adventures - you people decided to make my little farm a part of your lives. I'm proud of you because you make time for me while you're doing the same things I am. And you make a constant effort to show your kindness even though you're all so busy. To know that readers of this blog take the time to mail photos, send letters, and e-mail pictures and stories... guys, you have no idea how much that inspires me. A woman from Kentucky sent me a photo of her first ever hand made loaf of bread. It was twisted in a braid near her state plate. When I saw it I nearly teared up. Oh, who am I trying to kid, I cried okay? I am a sap. You all know that by now anyway...

My life is pretty solitary. Yes I work a full-time job, but after work I have just me and the farm, two dogs, and a lot of books and music. But to know that there are people all over the world waking up, pouring their morning coffee*, and thinking "Hey, I wonder of Maude poisoned Jenna yet?" and then click over here to read about were-roosters and ice storms.... I don't know, I'm just so damn grateful to have folks that want to listen to me in the first place.

And I won't stop writing. I think I'm somewhat dependant on it at this point. But you need to promise me you won't stop knitting, or reading, or buying that first banjo, or gardening, or sewing, or baking, or training your dogs, or antiquing, or buying local, or dreaming about your own farms. There is safety in numbers for people with big hope and small chances. I think as long as we keep egging each other on, we're a force to be reckoned with. So again, thank you so much. So much.

I only half apologize for how corny this post was, because I really mean it. And I'm also kind of concerned I just gave Maude the idea to poison me...

*I assume CAF folks are coffee drinkers like me. Tea drinkers are also welcome. I can respect that lifestyle...


Blogger Carrie said...

I fall under the category of scruffy newbie AND tea drinker and I love hearing about the goings-on up there in VT. I got your book for a friend and set the other one (only other copy in the store) flat so more people could discover it ;)

On that note, did you design the cover as well?

January 12, 2009 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Lucie Summers, an amazing artist over in the UK did. And man, she did a great job didn't she! thanks carrie.

January 12, 2009 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger sara amber said...

ooooh, you DO know fleet foxes! i've been listening to them so much this winter.

love the maude notecards. love this post. and i have to say, if sara hadn't shown me your blog or arranged for us to visit you, i would probably not be plotting out veggie gardens with my landlord now or looking up mountain dulcimer prices online or obsessing over 30 rock, angel and the civil war.

so, thanks.

January 12, 2009 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger dvisser said...

Hey there, Jenna,

Thank you for the inspiration and instruction! My partner gave me Made From Scratch for x-mas, knowing that I'm an aspiring homesteader. This weekend I made me first two batches of butter - super fun and easy as pie. Then made biscuits with my buttermilk.

My first experience of farming came many years ago on a sheep farm in VT - and I feel like you're part of what's helping me find my way back to it.

January 12, 2009 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

SARA! did you start watching Angel! Holy crap Wesley is my favorite character from the whole Whedonverse. We must hang out again.

and thanks dvisser, you come back and I'll try to get there and maybe we'll meet somewhere in the middle for a high five.

January 12, 2009 at 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad you liked the shawl. It was reading your blog that gave me the push to get out the old crochet hook.

- Joyce

January 12, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger sara amber said...

i DID!! i'm already on season two and loving every bit of it! angel was never my favorite character on buffy (i think because every other character was SO GOOD and so well written), but on his own show, he has really developed into a character i love. and well, then there's wesley...please tell me he makes it to the end of the series!

(wait, don't! i am so anti-spoiler it's ridiculous. all i know is that spike eventually makes his way to the show...)

January 13, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Anonymous The French Mule rider said...

Damn it I have to start drinking coffee if I want to keep reading this blog ....

January 13, 2009 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Mama Pea said...

Take back your half apology for "how corny" this post was. Not at all . . . just from the heart. Which is what it all should be about . . . people still able to touch other people.

And didn't I tell you way back how HUNGRY good folks out there are for the knowledge you have to impart (has your book gone into second printing yet?) and your sharing of the life you've chosen to follow?

Write on, Jenna . . . but be wary if Maude invites you into the pen for coffee break some day. :o)

January 13, 2009 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

thanks for the mushy blog...this one brought tears to MY eyes. you're an inspiration.

January 13, 2009 at 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only been reading for a couple months and I just realized that I don't recall how I found your blog. I think I may have Stumbled it.

January 13, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are such an inspiration to my Husband & I!! We are doing what we can with what we have right now & it's so rewarding to reach a step in our quest to homestead. Being able to read your daily posts are wonderful!! They truly keep us inspired & keep us reaching towards more goals - this year it's chickens, knitting & sewing. I was even lucky enough to get a free treadle sewing machine which I am working with to get it running for use!

Ok so this is really long but THANK YOU for being such a great writer - we enjoy "spending" a little time with you each day!
in PA

January 13, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

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