Friday, January 23, 2009

lonely banjos

There's an ongoing question that keeps coming up on book reviews and blogs. People read about my life here, or read about it in the book, and keep asking the same thing: isn't she lonely? They aren't judging my whole single-farm girl status—they just think having a full time job, running a small farm, and writing all the time may be a bit of a drain for one person without the help of a spouse or family. I just wanted to say this...

I'm fine. Really.

I guess I would be lonely if I was homesteading full time. There might be some cabin fever if the cabin was the only place I could complain about a fever in—but 40 hours a week I spend daylight in a busy office. Soon as I come home from work I throw myself right into farm chores, dinner prep, dog walking and barely remain standing by the time couching rolls around. My weekends are packed with neighbors, music jams, rural adventures, baking, and fiddle lessons. I talk on the phone with friends and family daily. Loneliness doesn't really have a chance to factor into the equation. Sometimes it creeps in, like the Christmas I spent a lone in Idaho, but even then I live with two kind dogs who've been by my side since Knoxville. Yes Virginia, she isn't a total recluse.

As for men? Well, there isn't one. But I'm not in some mad rush to land one either. I don't date for sport, and wouldn't want to be with someone just for kicks or to fill up conversation time in the car. I feel like dating is a lot like getting a dog. You shouldn't do it unless you're all in - ready for when the shit hits the floor but optimistic about the long haul. I'm not talking about marriage or mortgages here - just a general loyalty to making it up as you go along. Which, turns out to not be what most guys around my age are into, and I'm not much for the text message, strappy shoes, and bar scene...

So yeah, a guy would be nice, but I need to keep my head down and ears back. My eye is on the prize, which isn't a husband, but another type of marriage, my own farm. What I really need is good working sheepdog to make my future bliss a reality. I'm just saying, gotta keep those priorities in check. I think I just caused a collective-furrowed sigh from mothers of single women across America.

Oh well. Like I said, no rush. I'll know him when I trip over him at some point (I am a klutz). Also, finding a guy equally excited about the Daily Show and dairy goats isn't exactly a cake walk. Whomever he is, hopefully he's not allergic to wool. That could be problematic... but there are hair sheep. Anyway, we'll work it out.

I am lonely about one thing though. I miss my banjo. I miss having it when I come home from work. I miss seeing it propped up against a chair or out on the porch catching a tan while I'm in the garden. I sold it when things got really tight a few months ago, and I justified hocking it because it was a resonator banjo, and I needed an open back for the clawhammer style I was learning. I have my eyes on this Morgan Monroe bruiser called the Hobo. It's nothing top of the line, but it looks perfect for slinging over my shoulder and walking into the woods with the dogs. I can't wait to have one of those five-string wonders back in my hands again, and this time I won't let it go so easy. I started setting aside some cash, just a little a week. But I promise you all by Spring I'll have a banjo at Cold Antler again. I'll need it to calm me down after sod breaking. I get all worked up when I'm with my hoes.

Tonight's Farm Chore Playlist
Blind Dog - Norman and Nancy Blake
In the Devil's Territory - Sufjan Stevens
Sixteen, Maybe Less - Iron and Wine with Calexio
God Bless Mom - The Frames
Bixby Canyon Bridge - Death Cab For Cutie
Nothin' But Nothin' - Yonder Mountain String Band


Blogger Carrie said...

Well said!

Personally I think it's better to get serious later in life.

I tripped over my own man quite randomly (& literally) on the Appalachian Trail. does run thru VT....I'm just sayin' ....

January 23, 2009 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Melonie said...

Frankly I think it sounds like you lead a very full life - and sometimes you sound TOO busy to even have time to be be lonely. I found the same thing when I got divorced. People asked if I was lonely but it was actually *easier*. I could be an introvert when I wanted and nobody knew I was just doing my thing at home. I could get out and "do" when and where I wanted. It was actually a lot more lonely to be a "married" woman with an absentee husband.

Although I must say, it would be hilarious to read about you at a bonfire in those strappy sandals, texting some flannel covered hottie across the way. *chuckle*

Good luck with the banjo fund. I made my contribution - now Amazon has to GET it here! ;-)

January 23, 2009 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Tari said...

I am so there. Like, ugh. Who has time for lonely?

And even if there was time, finding a significant other who's down with chickens and permaculture...well, it's proven problematic for me, that's for sure.

If I had banjos instead of guitars, I would totally send you one of mine. I know how much it sucks to be without.

Just got your book, and am adoring it. I seriously have to talk my landlords into the bees...

January 23, 2009 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger FarmerGeek said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 23, 2009 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger DivaHick said...

It's a good thing I found my husband before he found your blog. (Esp. since he just walked in and informed me if something ever, God forbid, happened to me....)

ANYWAYS, you should check out a band called Horselips from the seventies (OK I believe they are still around) and Steeleye Span if you haven't already. Slightly more to the Celtic side, but I think you'd get a kick out of them.

January 23, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finding women of similar, simple living idealogy was a chore for me but I managed to pull it off and I am sure you can as well.

There is no need to rush. You have a very wise head on a young lady's shoulders. Time my friend, is very much on your side.

Keep on keeping on and on that path you will find him.


January 24, 2009 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Hey Jenna,
I think every woman would tell you not to worry about finding a man anyways. It's not 1950 for crying out loud! AND, you are so right, he will happen in your life when he's supposed to, when you're ready for him and can focus on that relationship. It takes focus to make it work, so you do what you want to until he comes along.

I don't have a little sister, but in reading your blog, I've "adopted" you as such. I say these things from a big sis point of view, you're doing the right thing in taking your time, find the RIGHT one and you'll be thrilled you did. I say from the voice of experience, I am someone who waited until my 30's to get married, and he's so worth it.

But he'd love chickens and sheep, so they're out there, too! ~Vonnie

January 24, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

I am slightly offended on your behalf that people could wonder about you being lonely because there's not a man on the scene. Your writings show that you have a VERY full life. I guess that's just society, though. I got that a lot when I when I was single, too. Sigh...

I have your book on hold at our local library and will be picking it up today. I can't wait to check it out.

Keep on keeping on, sister. It sounds like you have a fabulous life.

January 24, 2009 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger EJ said...

I now have a husband, but on another farm, in another life I was divorced. Lots of people had opinions on how/why a single woman couldn't/shouldn't keep the farm herself. I listened with amusement but didn't really care. Ended up selling after 2 years, but thats another story.

Peoples assumptions about what your life is like and what you can do reveal more about themselves than they say about you.

Go for it! Have fun! Work hard! Love the animals!

January 24, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

My partner left our farm (and me)5 months ago, said it was just too overwhelming. I said good riddens! and I'm doing just fine by myself!No more arguing about the placement of loafing sheds, amount of seed stock to buy, and on and on.
people ask how in the world I am managing, and I tell em' a lot better now. My animals, my friends my life. Harmonious

January 24, 2009 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Okay... YOU of all people don't strike me as someone who ever gets lonely. Besides the obvious company of your farm clan, you have a group of people near and far who are smashingly in love with you. Look it up. It's a word.

(I know what you're saying. I did look it up. That's because you looked it up in a dictionary. See, i looked it up in my gut.)

And, maybe this goes without saying too, but i think you're incredible and completely unique. And usually, a person of that caliber has to be matched up with someone alike. Obviously. All in all, i'm not worried about you. (and that's less for you than other people who might be worried about you). You're a good kid.

Just gotta love that banjo. (of course, easy for me to say. My poor violin...)

January 25, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger jere said...

i definitely echo everyone's support and admiration of you. your spirit and drive are totally inspiring.

i was one of those readers wondering though about the amount of labor required on a farm (or homestead) especially as it grows, and how it's traditionally been a family venture (even of nontraditional family groupings). and then there's the economics of farming, which often requires more than one person (or at least an outside income). i'm definitely not saying this out of judgment or even concern (it's clear you've got it going on!) but just out of curiosity as to this lifestyle for most people (and for me!) in these trying times.

January 25, 2009 at 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Judy said...

I've found that lonely people project loneliness onto single people. Being single and autonomous is just about as good as it gets...especially when you make the choices that shape your life into what YOU want it to be. If only everyone took the initiative and made THAT commitment! Good things follow when you keep the door open to them. Go girl!

January 29, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

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