Friday, August 21, 2009

the hard fall

I should probably be in a bar right now. I think that's where most 27-single-year-olds are around this time? It's Friday night and part of me feels like I'm breaking some unwritten rule by being here. Where I should be is in some booth with a coaster, a Brandy Alexander, and a band playing on some stage in the background I have to shout over. Let's be honest though folks—Cold Antler is about twenty miles away from the closest public bar and I don't want to be there. Everyone I want to meet is at home reading anyway.

Instead I'm just in from working outside and trust me, you would not be talking to me in any bar if you saw me right now. I'm disgusting. I've been spending all afternoon and evening trying to get the new lamb accepted by the other hoofstock. It's slow work. No real violence but the little guy isn't being welcomed with open arms. It'll take time. What doesn't?

It poured like the dickens today and the ground shape-shifted into a putrid mess. A sour stew of feces, rotting hay, and mud sweating in 90% humidity. The air around the farm was so heavy you could take off your soaking-wet shirt and hang it up in mid air. It would just float in the ether. Too hot to let even gravity take it.

I've been warned by people close to me that I'm wasting the best years of my life by dedicating myself to this farming business. That tying myself down to animals and gardens is creating a social prison: a place I can't leave. They do not say this with anger, just genuine concern. Some are worried I've turned myself into a hermit and others get frustrated when I don't know what movie trailers they're talking about (I don't have a television or high speed internet). Mostly, they just think I'm in too deep. Too many animals, too many gardens, too much balance of work at the office and home. They worry I will burn myself out. And their worst fear is none of this will ever happen. I'll never be able to afford the land and start a farm. They tell me they don't want to see me build up this idea to the point where it becomes everything. They worry I'll be crushed.

I'm 27 and I wake up at 4:45 and I'm outside by 5. It's still dark, even in the loping end of summer, and I am outside. It does not matter if it's a downpour, sweltering hot, or 20 below. I am outside. Running a farm, even one as small as mine, is a constant equal only to taxes and bad sitcoms. I work from 8-5 and then once again am out in my wellies. I do all this knowing bears have destroyed my hive, a fox has eaten half my poultry, and a storm has destroyed the corn crop I spent my entire memorial day weekend making blisters over. You'll have this. It's what I signed up for.

So maybe I am single, and over-worked, and not getting enough sleep. Maybe I should be in Madrid or Stockholm right now. I have no idea what it is I'm "supposed" to do. I guess travel and bars and such are it. And I would be into that but you see, there's this thing:

I'm in love.

I am completely in love. It can not be helped. I don't know when it happened, or how, but somewhere along the way I fell for this farming gig, and fell hard. My heart is now a throbbing piece of meat held together with baling wire and fiddle strings. I fall asleep thinking about lambing jugs and creep feeders. I sit in meetings at the office and my mind wanders over to sheepdog trials and October pumpkins. I have it bad. I have lanolin under my fingernails and hay in my bra and I don't care because I am so goddamn in love with this. All the mud and rain and hours in the heat mean nothing. Nothing at all. I don't think it's the honeymoon sweeping me off my feet either.

No darling, I am in love.

I wake up every single morning with a purpose and a reason. I understand that purpose may be as simple as a small community of livestock depend on me, but as far as I'm concerned they're as legit as any board of directors. And I know farming isn't exactly an uncommon dream. I am certainly not alone or special in wanting my land and workng for it, but that doesn't matter either. I am needed here. I am of use.

I'll keep listening to these concerns, and I appreciate the intent. But what the wary seem to overlook is that it doesn't matter if I get this dream. It doesn't matter in the least. What does matter is that I tried and keep trying, because just knowing what you want to do with your life is gift. It's a breathing hope you crawl towards every. single. day. And if I never get a giant flock, or a farm, or a sheepdog, or any of my big plans—I still know that I want them. I understand this. It is a natural law, as real as Newton's own. And I think that is a fine way to live. You don't have to obtain dreams as much take ownership of them. It's good to want things. It makes the world make sense.

I will always be a shepherd—three sheep, three hundred sheep, or none at all. I stand by the photocopier at work with a crook in my hand and a black collie by my side and even if you can not see them they are there. And that reality of desire makes everything else small. All my worries fade in the plaid fabric of wanting, and makes every day of work I put into my farm another rung on the ladder.

It's a very tall ladder.

I don't go to bars. I don't have a TV. I have this farm. I am in love.

It's enough.

74 Comments:

Blogger Mousme said...

*sigh*

Your blog ate my comment. I will try again, but it will be shorter and less eloquent.

The gist of it was that obviously the well-meaning nay-sayers in your life don't get it. You are following an unconventional bliss, and so you will naturally attract some weird stares along the way. Not many people dream of getting up at 4am to tend sheep.

For what it's worth, I'm thirty and have never spent my Friday nights in bars. Now and when I was twenty-seven, my Friday nights were mostly spent at work. Let me tell you, I'd trade work for a farm any day of the week.

I've been reading your blog for several months now, even though I don't comment much, and you seem really happy. If this is the case, smile and nod at the nay-sayers, then simply carry on as you were.

August 21, 2009 at 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I know exactly what you mean! Beind needed is a wonderful thing and fufilling too.

August 21, 2009 at 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Sherry/Woodswoman said...

Excellent post.

August 21, 2009 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great that you know what you want and you are trying. Each goal achieved is a tangible, solid reinforcement of why you are doing this. I'm 49, I've got an "empty nest" and I am inspired by your setting goals and dreaming them into reality. I need to set new goals for myself and dream them solid. If others can't hear the drum you are marching to, don't worry. You hear it clearly enough to make up for that.

August 21, 2009 at 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Erica in San Jose said...

Jenna I can hear your drum. It's got this amazing rhythm and those of us that can hear it, are dancing along right beside you!

I am 25 and have spend approx 3 Friday nights EVER in a bar. I've never been to Europe. I wish I had a farm to be getting dirty on, instead I do what I can with my little suburban yard and dream of my piece of land which will someday keep me busy with all my critters on weekends too. No worries, for all the nay-sayers that don't get it, there are many of us dreamers that DO get it and encourage you every step of the way!

August 21, 2009 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Ria said...

here, i think you would love this dress. it's made from the bride's own sheep. http://ow.ly/kVup

August 21, 2009 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Jenna,
Anyone who reads, even a couple of your posts, will quickly realize that you are in love with your life. You have goals, are determined (like nobody I've ever known your age)to meet them. You are well rounded and learned. You seem to be committed to your quest and you work so hard that your hands hurt. Simply put, you are happiest and most content when you are working your farm. I see nothing wrong with that...although I can see the other point. I imagine that they care a great deal for you. That should be comforting in itself.

Hang in there...do what you do best and know that no matter what happens, your own farm or not, that you have always given it your all!

August 22, 2009 at 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Francesca said...

Passion in life is worth everything.

August 22, 2009 at 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you inspire me there are a dozen others who would say as well and a dozen dozen who would say nay i'm sure they are as well.

enough corn to replace what you have lost?

August 22, 2009 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger Rhonda Jean said...

You are what you are, nothing will change that. And you can't change what others think of your choices. They'll come around in time or if you want them to understand sooner, just read this post to them. It'll clinch the deal.
You are one of the finest blog writers I've come across. Isn't the internet wonderful. There you are alone on your farm on a Friday night, I am here on a Saturday afternoon having just come in armed with vegetables for tonight's dinner. Linked, we are, through these cables and magic.

August 22, 2009 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Didn't you live down south, then Idaho, now Vermont? That doesn't sound very tied down to me...that sounds like a typical person moving through their 20s trying to find the place that's home for them...and most people get their social outlets through family and work, not bars, which although fun, are not really conducive to meeting anyone who will be the love of your life...and I'm generalizing here but most people can't afford nor can get away from climbing the corporate ladder to go to Europe until later than 27 anyway...take it from this 42 year old - you are never tied down if you are doing what you love...the rest will all fall into place when you least expect it...

August 22, 2009 at 1:46 AM  
Blogger Kalee said...

Heck yeah Jenna, you do what you want. You're my hero for that.

August 22, 2009 at 2:22 AM  
Blogger Daffy said...

Hey, lass, you're doing what you love, and it's so obvious that you love it to anyone who reads here. You're living most of your dreams, RIGHT NOW, how many people can say that? You'll build up your flock as you go along.

I'm 29, and have always thought bars are overrated. Probably except our local pub which has lots of beautiful, home made music in it :) And which I only visit once a month or so, even then.

I don't have a farm, I have a tiny, tiny city garden, but can feel your longing... You'll get there.

Jenni
x

August 22, 2009 at 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Tony in Asheville said...

Jenna,

At every age, at every venture, adventure and dream we are faced with folks who will rain on our parade and they are usually folks we are closest to.

I don't know why this is. It has been this way my whole life. When things do eventually turn out ok they will say things like, "he was just in the right place at the right time."

Your passion will be the attraction for those of like kind. The type of person you seek is not likely going to be found in some bar anyways.

You will accomplish what you set out to do because you won't allow otherwise. You are dedicated to this dream more so than most people are dedicated to anything in their lives. It is my experience that most just pass through life but few take the time to grasp a dream and hold on for all they are worth. Your adventure is a character builder so don't you get down because of the nay sayers.

I don't know why but I can only guess that those who will sacrifice and do whatever it takes to accomplish a dream somehow irritate those who only day dream. I think we hear the nay in what they say because this is what they have been telling themselves for years and feel they must now tell us. Their fears or apathy have kept them from their dreams and perhaps it is envy or sel pity that does not want us to be any different.

People like this eventually by some home but not the one they really wanted. They settle all their lives because it is easier than pushing the envelope. If these folks can end up owning a home, think of the farm and life you will realize because of your dedication and motivation.

You will find someone Jenna who shares many of your dreams. You are not sitting home alone, shut in from the world. You may be up at 4 am but your books and writings are in the hands of people all over this country and no doubt around the world. Few of the nay sayers would likely have said that was possible because they would never have dreamed to try such an endeavor.

Your words and dreams preceed you now and in time you will find your man and he will find you.

In life it is best when we are given small reasponsibilities like 3 sheep, to master so that we are prepared for more in our futures. This holds true for animals, money and dreams. Think of how many people jump to the end of the dream without earning the dream itself and ask yourself how many of them are still succesful at it just a few short years later. Ever see those lottery winners who go from lives of no financial responsibility to millionairs over night? So often they not only lose all that money in a short time but are often worse off then they were before they "got rich." They had no practice or refused to practice self discipline. Discipline comes from doing, not winning some lottery.

You are right on trach my friend. You are learning and preparing for that farm of your own and you won't get it by accident or attrition. You are earning it.

Tony in Asheville

August 22, 2009 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger R. Clark said...

I am alone with my sheep but my sheep are not alone with me.
-Lionel Hardcastle

August 22, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna, here's the thing...happiness is not found in a bar. The person you are supposed to meet in your life will have dirt under his fingernails, wellies and not mind lambing at 3:00am. I've spent plenty of time in bars in my youth, and not one time did I meet the person I was to marry. He was found at work. And though I totally understand your desire for a mate, it's strong in those of us that feel that...looking for him isn't going to make him appear anyways. It's when you're ready for his appearance that it will be.

And I would say to your naysayers...if young people don't care about farming, where will the future of farming be? The average age of farmers in our country is 60, no joke. So, farm, do your thing, enjoy your life and all the hard work that comes with it. And keep your dream alive because it's so important for the collective conscious of humanity that happiness starts with each and every one of us. So, keep your happiness, it makes the world a better place, one muddy boot at a time. ~Vonnie

August 22, 2009 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Please consider my hypothesis on this: Some of the folks your age in a bar on Friday nights are not there because they are relaxing and having fun, it’s because they are looking for something they don’t have; healthy relationships and a meaningful life. We can all see that you have a healthy relationship with your close friends, your animals, and your piece of earth (CAF). Your meaningful life is the equitable treatment of that which gives you life; plants, animals, and the earth, itself.
So if others believe you are burning yourself out and you can't convince them otherwise, don't worry. You are doing what’s right for you.
P.S. The mom in me must now say “Make sure you are eating right and catching some extra z’s now and then.” :)
Best wishes!

August 22, 2009 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Good for you Jenna! How refreshing to see your commitment and hard work for a dream that really means something. Friday night spent in a bar is wasted time, what you're doing will never be a waste. Your passion is contagious and from experience I know it will only increase. I can't wait to hear what your future holds knowing how much you're loving your present!

August 22, 2009 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger ammamcp said...

No, they don't get it and most folks never will. That's OK, it's nice to have folks concerned about us.

I come from a long line of farmers and I do know 2 things - 1) ya gotta love it to do it 2)it is its own reward. You have both pieces and you're only 27. Wow.

What a blessing to know what you want and be willing to do what's required to have it.

I have become a regular reader of your blog. Your passion, your voice inspire me and keep me mindful that my dream is to get back to the country. That's something most of the people in my life here just don't get (I'm in an L.A. suburb for a while). That's OK.

The happiest times in my life have been when I'm on a farm! Right now it's a virtual farm - yours!

August 22, 2009 at 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna,

I wanted to say I read your post all the time but this is the first time I have commented. Keep on doing what you love, we living here in Australia are on our small rural property only without the sheep (animals will get here eventually ha ha), just the land and gardens at this stage, however we have much wildlife here! People will always feel like they have to comment and we also got the comments of what will you do with all that land when bought our property but we love it and I'm only 34. Yes it's hard work, I spent 5 hrs digging in the garden today but commented to someone tonight that I've never felt better. Take what is useful to you out of their comments and toss the rest. I have never spent a night in a bar in my life and don't intend to. I can think of a million other things I would rather do. Keep persevering with buying your land, many people looked at us strangely when we said we wanted to buy some land and some still do not understand the work involved but if it's where you want to be hang in there, you will get there in the end. Keep on at the banks and you will get through eventually and get your dream!

Susieq.

August 22, 2009 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

You'll get that land. Just don't limit where and it will be found. There has always been a great concern for those who take "the path less traveled". For those who have no spirit or mind for independence and strength will always be dominated by fear and paranoia. They have great worry but don't forget "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". The homesteading mind is doing exactly what we evolved over millions of years to do. Out in the open air using our bodies and mind to their full potential. Which is not sitting in some sad cubicle being denied sun light and fresh air. Those who are stuck in the mundane fear your freedom and happiness. It's quite sad when minds are fettered and locked up. You're on the right path. Bar's are emotionally depraved cesspools for people who have no where better to be and nothing worth filling themselves with. We are with you.

August 22, 2009 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

I think it's amazing, what you have accomplished... especially at your age. You do what you feel you need to. I am 32 and I did the travel and bar thing for years. Although I'd never give up those experiences, because they are MY experiences, I think you are not missing much. There is not one road for everyone to travel down. You have forged ahead on your own with a machete through the forest. If you truly love it, I don't see burn out happening. You have inspired many people, including myself, and will continue to inspire them. Thanks for being so independent and strong and sharing that with all of us who have a similar dream.

August 22, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Mama Pea said...

Bravo! Excellent piece of writing.

You WILL get your dream.

August 22, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When your in love, you do what you need to do. If you are happy Jenna, just keep going and let all the people who are concerned get over it and be happy for you too.

I went from rock star to farm girl in a 4 year period. Bar and club hoppin, concert going. I work for an airline. I met and hung with bands we have all heard of.

I now live with animals, my kids, a (still new) hubby on 6.91 acres of woods, gardens, dirt roads. I love it. I am sooo happy. Its like finding a sort of peace for me.

I am happy for you. I agree with Mousme, you are following an unconventional bliss. Not everyone will be as accepting.

August 22, 2009 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

"I stand by the photocopier at work with a crook in my hand and a black collie by my side and even if you can not see them they are there."

Beautiful. This made tears come to my eyes.

August 22, 2009 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

Jenna,(and everyone else who reads your glorious blog),

Have you read Annie Dillard "Living Like Weasels"?

If not, I suggest you put it at the top of your "Things to do by a warm fire after a long physical day of moving towards your future".

It's not a long piece of writing, but it's one to be read aloud whenever we need the reassurance of a voice that totally understands why we do what we do with all our heart and soul.

Nikki.

August 22, 2009 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous claybustinprincess said...

The nay-sayers? They may actually get it. But its out of the norm, so they dare not follow that path. What would people think?

The nay-sayers?

They're jealous. You have chickens -- they are just chicken.

August 22, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Clare said...

Jenna,
I feel compelled to comment and encourage, although all those before me have implied alot of wisdom eloquently.

When it becomes an introspective time, I feel reaching out and finding new sources of encouragement is life affirming. Have you looked into this farm to community mentor program in Vermont? http://www.nofavt.org/programs/farm-community-mentors

That might be a good way to connect and maybe find a new opportunity. Also, I would suggest pulling out Sylvia's Farm by Sylvia Jorrin and rereading it for inspiration. If she did it, so can you. Hey, maybe she needs someone to carry on for her? Might check that out! Take care, chin up....

August 22, 2009 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Clare said...

p.s. How did the meeting with the loan officer go? Is it a do-able list of things to accomplish towards the goal?

August 22, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Anonymous karenfigley said...

God has a path for us, each one to his own. My son's path is not one I would have for him, but there you go..

August 22, 2009 at 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Pauline said...

Jenna, this is one of the most beautiful things you have written; it came direct from your heart, and we can all feel it. Those others are just jealous that you even *have* a dream and have some idea how to reach it. And, no, you won't find your special someone in a bar; your sweetie may be reading a book at that wonderful Manchester bookstore (maybe even YOUR book!) or picking up a fiddle and joining in on a song one night around a friend's fire, or even asking your opinion about chick starter feed the next time you're buying some. It's all waiting for you -- just let it unfold in its own time. And please keep sharing it with the rest of us!

Pauline in Ithaca

August 22, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
OpenID steelkitten said...

People are always scared of those who are different, but that's no reason to stop being different.

Follow your own path. Always.

August 22, 2009 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Rois said...

Someday a partner will find you and take one look at your wellies and at some point the straw in your bra and fall head over heels in love with you.All because of who you are and where you are at that in your life.
Bars are for the lonely and that's just not you.

August 22, 2009 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger sarah jerger: paper + stitch said...

Your passion and commitment is truly inspirational to me. As a fellow 27 year old Vermont woman who has big dreams (albeit, not farming – did that my whole childhood), I send you major kudos for being who you are and sticking to your guns. I find I also struggle sometimes with my day job, knowing I could be working on more creative things that feed my soul. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and can quite certainly say you have a steadfast spirit. You remind me, when I’m sitting there with my eyes glazing over Excel spreadsheets, that with enough drive, fulfillment is possible, even if I don’t have the “perfect” conditions.

August 22, 2009 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Sam Olmstead said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 22, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

My Dad taught me something I carry with me till today:
the only person you need to please is YOURSELF.
Be the SHEPHERD not the sheep.(thought you might appreciate the
analogy :) )

August 22, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

Wow.

What a great way to start your day reading Jenna's blog and all the great replys. Goes great with coffee. :)

And what Francesica said, " Passion in life is worth everything."

August 22, 2009 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Well said!

August 22, 2009 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Jenna,
When I was 27 I was married and had two little boys but I had absolutely no idea who I was apart from them or what I wanted. You have the incredible gift of knowing who you are and what you want! As the mother of four now 20-somethings (okay, the oldest is 30 now!) I worry about how life will treat them and know it won't always be good. But more than anything else in the world, especially for my 2 daughters, I want that kind of knowledge for them. Its priceless. Be true to yourself sweetie, and as sure as fall follows summer, good things will come your way.

August 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger P said...

so...would the folks who are concerned about you and your happiness be satisfied if you WEREN'T pursuing your dream? There is something very wrong with that.

And even if there were the remotest possibility that you did get burned out on it, wouldn't it be worth it to look back on this time with fondness and a smile on your face at the memory?

I realized last night when I read yet another blog on urban homesteading that since I've been interested in this as a kid, I probably should have stuck to my guns and pursued it. Now I'm 49 and just getting started on something that I should have been doing all along. And I have to settle for suburbia because somewhere along the way I got married, so the country life is out of the question for me, even though in my soul of souls, I know I'll never be completely content without it.

Stick to your dreams Jenna. You're exactly where you need to be: you should be clapping your hands because you're happy and you know it. Get everything together that you want and don't compromise.

You're happy; now stop worrying and let yourself enjoy it!

August 22, 2009 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 22, 2009 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Amigo van Helical said...

Jenna,

Your dreams and feelings are yours -- they're not for others to judge or even to validate. It's great that you've found your passion.

One thing though: I've noticed that you occasionally mention your "day job" in less than enthusiastic terms. You might want to keep in mind that your day job is for now your best shot at funding your dream. It might be good either to leave it out or else mention it in the most positive terms possible when you do bring it up. Just a thought. One never knows who might be following CAF.

Cheers

August 22, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I can relate to this blog entry. I've had people close to me question my choices, hobbies, etc.

My conclusion was that most people can't understand that happiness isn't the same for everyone else. You have more passion and desire and want for the things that make you happy and fulfilled, and a lot of people still haven't figured out what that is for them.

They may be occupied with things, but I have to wonder how many of those things they are actually passionate about? How many of those things enrich their lives and make them more aware of who they are and what makes them truly happy?

I wish those close to you who think you are losing the best years of your life come to realize that you are doing exactly what it takes to make sure these years are your best. Following your dreams and spending time with things you are passionate about hardly seems like a waste of years.

:) Follow your heart.

August 22, 2009 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, you go girl. I wish I had had your courage at 27. My life would have been very different. I wanted what you have but listened to people telling me to live the conventional life. Now probably all I'll ever have is 2 suburban acres and a border collie. Trust me, you don't want to reach 40, have a family and a mortgage to find yourself wondering what would have happened if you had followed your dreams.

--Ave

August 22, 2009 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah Sanders said...

Well, everything I was going to say was said ever-so-much more eloquently by Eric in San Jose - so, I "second" her thoughts! Those of us who DO get it are dancing right along with you, Jenna! Keep up that drum rhythm - it's always best to follow your own beat! :o)

August 22, 2009 at 3:14 PM  
OpenID chickadeeworkshop said...

Everyone ahead of me has said it so well, but I am nodding in agreement with all of them. I'm sure the ones who are concerned love you, too, and very much. They just don't get it. You know who you are and most people your age....or much older...haven't a clue. I'm just finding out who I am in my 50's and maybe....I wasn't this person in my twenties. Maybe I had other things to do then and they were important, too. Somehow, I now feel rushed to try to have the dreams I didn't even think of back then.

Continue to live the life you want and pursue your dreams. You are Jenna and no one else will know what happiness is for you.

August 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hi Jenna,
First of all, I just want to thank you for keeping this blog. I love reading your eloquent, passionate writing and seeing the lovely photos you take.
Second of all, I venture to guess that the real concern that people have is that you are single (as unfair and sexist as that is). I am your age, with a college degree and an excellent job, no kids, I own a house. But, like you, I really want a small farm of my own and to be able to spend my days working the land and animals. I tell this to my friends and family and they have never discouraged me, and you know what the difference is? I'm married. People see me as already settled down and with nothing to lose by becoming tied to one place. I think that the people you mentioned see you as possibly sacrificing your chance to find a mate, and that is their real concern. Of course, I think you are doing what you should be doing and that you know best what will make you happy. I hope I'm not being too presumptive.
Your steadfast reader,
Liz

August 22, 2009 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

I have a fortune cookie saying taped to my computer at work to remind me about keeping to the path I know is right for me. It states "The goal is not always what is at the end of the journey but the journey itself."

So what if you never get all you dream of (although I think you will eventually get there)?! You are living the life YOU want. You might encounter obstacles (storms, foxes, bears) but they too add to the richness of the experience. You are living an authentic life. How many others can really say the same?

Keep it up. We are all with you.

August 22, 2009 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

From a 20-something in California who also stays home on Friday nights to you, Cheers to this post in every way imaginable!

August 22, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post, and so true. Knowing what you want in life is such a blessing, especially when you consider that so many people really don't know what they want, and what it is they truely love. Bravo to you for chasing your dream, and for realizing your place in this world (and sticking to it!) You.go.girl.

And a quote from Thoreau, which, I feel, applies itself wonderfully to your situation:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."

August 22, 2009 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Calidore said...

It doesn't matter how tired you are, how hot it is, the hour that you get up or even the hour that you go to bed. If you are enjoying what you are doing then that's all that matters. Pass those nay-sayers and tell them to muck out the sheep pen - maybe a whiff of good honest work will change their minds.

August 22, 2009 at 7:55 PM  
OpenID sensiblevermonter said...

Well spoken. Truely from the heart. And simply responded, so long as you are happy and living the life that you want to live, that's all that matters. We are the masters of our lives, and there is no normal path we are all suppose to follow. You are a very rare breed today because you know you are living your dream and loving every minute of what you are doing. :)

August 22, 2009 at 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

You've found what makes you happy so stick with it. I am sure the people telling you this care about you but they are not you and their life journey is not yours.
Thanks for this great blog has given me some great ideas.

August 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Tora: said...

I don't know who said it but the saying goes something like this - "find what you love and do it" - many never do, you're blessed and don't let the naysayers get to you!

August 22, 2009 at 11:12 PM  
Anonymous René said...

I'm turning 29 in a few days and I feel like I've waited 11 years too long to start working toward my dreams. I got caught in the trap of having the "typical" life, getting married, having a career, doing all the things people thought were proper while my dreams languished. So what if my dreams were born when I was a child without much worldly knowledge. It doesn't make them less viable or appropriate. Atypical people have to live their atypical lives to be happy. Don't let anyone tell you how to be happy. That's something only you can determine for yourself. Trust in that feeling. If you feel happy you are happy. You've got the fortitude to see this through. Don't doubt your dreams.

August 22, 2009 at 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna,

A few minutes ago I put your blog as one of my favorites here:
http://starfishenvy.typepad.com/starfish-envy/2009/08/a-few-of-my-favorite-blogs.html#comments
(see comment from "New Reader")

This post demonstrates why yours is one of my favorite blogs. I've been lurking for some time and admire your determination. All the best to you.

SD

August 23, 2009 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

thank you for all the kind things said, very much so.

I adore the people and work I do at my day job. I don't mean to talk down about it, ever. I was just saying that it's hard not to let your mind wander at work. I'm sure even VPs and CEPs do the same from time to time.

August 23, 2009 at 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Lynnanne said...

And when you're 50... may look back upon your life and have no regrets.

On the positive side of things, one must look at the things they've accomplished... one book published and a possible second on the way? Writers need their space... and I'd say you're carving yours out quite nicely.

Do whatever makes you happy, take joy in the fact that others care about you, and continue building your life the way you want it. Live for you. It's your life. And just imagine the others (family or otherwise) jealous because somewhere down deep, they're squelching a life-choice regret.
Typically, people try to redirect the lives of those who are choosing to live drug-induced lives on the streets. I'm a little confused why someone would be so concerned with the lifestyle you've chosen... I have a daughter who's 30 and has made some "interesting" choices for life... have your nay-sayers give me a call... I'll have them thankful for your choices in no time.

August 23, 2009 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger K. said...

You are blessed to know so clearly what your life's work is. Everyone else will catch up with you at some point. The reason I read your blog is because of your love of this life. I dont think you're in love anymore, this is a marriage, and it looks like a good one to me.

August 23, 2009 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

amen!

August 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Shannan said...

What you have said resonates so deeply with me. I have struggled with the nay sayers for most of my life. At your age I had 3 kids and had been married 8 years. All of this while everyone else my age was still partying. Now at age 31 I can say that I have never had a drink at a bar, not that I don't drink but I prefer to do it at home. I have been to Europe but my husband is German and we went to Germany to live not to take a grand tour. Following your dreams can be frusrtating and fullfilling at the same time and those who don't understand most likely never will. I have found that those of us who do things that are considered unconventional and follow our dreams are happier because of the fact that we are following our hearts and not just what everyone expects someone our age to do.

Follow your dreams, change them when you need to but always do it on your own terms not by what is expeted of you be society. It has taken me 31 years to discover what I truely want out of life do in that you are ahead of me.

I will say that you have inspired me and my family to take steps toward our dreams. Thank you for that and for sharing this journey with all of us, it is not always an easy road that we travel but at least we can tell where we have been by the dust on our boots.

Shannan

August 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger PBoyd said...

Keep at it, Jenna!

You're doing what you love, being who you were born to be-----that is what life is all about. I doubt, when you are breathing your last breaths, you will say, "Damn....I sure wish I'd spent a few more Friday nights at the bar".

You have found, at a young age, what it is that makes you happy and fulfilled. You are a source of encouragement and hope to others who want desperately to do what you do, but haven't yet found the courage to do it. Don't ever let others dictate the course of your life or the sweetness of your dreams.

Live, love and dream DEEPLY!!!

Blessings, Patti

August 23, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger rhudd_art said...

Jenna,
My family and I love your blog. You are an inspiration to "wanna be" farmers like me. Thank you!

August 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I can bet money the people spending their twenties in the bar are not equating it with Love. I did spend 27 in a bar on the weekends and I regret it. i wish I had followed my homesteadind dreams sooner (I was 33 before I finally found myself in a rural setting-I had dreamed about it my whole life!)

if anyone is "wasting" their youth, it would be those spending time on the weekend in the bars. They are also wasting money they can never get back. You are investing yours in skills and practical endeavors that will "pay" you back one day (soon!); hangovers are a huge price to pay for a week spent working towards a weekend in the bar.

Just my 2c, but I have lived that life and I have lived this one and I would pick this one to do over long before I would pick the so-called "fun" years.

August 23, 2009 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

At the age of 36, I found myself divorced after 13 years of marriage and with a beautiful 8 year old daughter. While trying to make sense of it all, I came across a book, "Finding Your Own North Star, claiming the life you were meant to live" by Martha Beck. It changed my life and made sense of it. You don't have to be young to change your life or begin a new dream. I am 59 now, still single and since that time, I've accomplished a lot of my dreams and embarked on new ones and re-created by life a few times. It is called the adventure of living.

Keep the adventure in your life and the nay-sayers will forever be envious. For some reason, a happy person scares a lot of people. Keep scaring them.

With the state of the economy and life in general today, your unconventional way of life to some people may soon be the conventional that puts the country back together.

You have a wonderful gift of writing that makes us all feel like we are up at 4am with you and loving it also. Thank you for sharing.

August 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Reese said...

You just keep on doing what you are doing. Don't let anyone tell you what is right or wrong for you.

August 23, 2009 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I loved this post. You are embracing what is important to you, and what you love, and you are following your dream and your passions and not hurting others while you do it. What could be more important than that? Nothing, that's what!

August 23, 2009 at 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

This was wonderful. When something is your passion, people tend to not understand how it becomes your whole life, how you want it to be a part of your whole life. What I love about this blog, is knowing that there is a whole network of people my age out there, that would rather be at home with their animals and a warm fire.

August 24, 2009 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Lorri said...

Ignore the naysayers.

It's your life, your dreams. Live them to the fullest, without regret.

You're not the only one who doesn't know about current movies and TV (I don't either, and don't miss them!).

Everyone who has posted has been very elegant, and I've enjoyed reading them.

August 24, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

@ Donna -- Amen on the idea that Jenna's way of life may become the new Normal which saves our butts.

Wish I hadn't squandered a lot of years and money in bars---now I'm scratching, trying to turn 180 degrees at age 42...hopefully to become an organic farmer, God willing.

Jenna, being Of The World is an overrated experience. When you're lying on your deathbed (may it be at age 105), I bet you'll look back with joy, peace and satisfaction at your life, while many of your naysayers will be doing so with embarrassment and frustration.

August 24, 2009 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Sue Ann said...

You found your passion! Not many people can say that in their entire lifetime.
Keep doing what you love and keep the naysayers at bay.
I found my passion and let go of a lot to keep working at it. I had plenty of people telling me I was crazy - but I didn't care. What do they know about what I love, what makes me tick and what makes me beyond happy?
Having a passion means you are never working. You are doing what you are meant to do.
Don't be deterred by plan B. Keep striving everyday towards Plan A.
You're doing a great job!

August 24, 2009 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger kadfoto said...

You're an inspiration!

August 27, 2009 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Julie at Dragonfly Hill said...

Jenna you have said everything that I would say about my choice to expand my homestead. This is your love, right now. If your love wanes and a new love comes you will follow. Enjoy the love! many don't understand what I am doing either-oh well!

August 27, 2009 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Please please please don't ever listen to the naysayers! Even if their concerns are heartfelt and sincere, they come from a different world.

September 1, 2009 at 5:25 PM  

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