Friday, February 20, 2009

can't blame me for trying...

I hope posting this doesn't upset anyone, as this isn't the usual content, but I need to talk business for a moment. As a farmer-in-training and a hopeful homeowner—I need to start really focusing on my goals of someday, somehow buying my own land to start my shepherding career. Right now, the first step is paying off loans and debts so I can get myself in a position to not scare banks, and currently that isn't a fast process. To be honest it's painfully slow. So in the spirit of doing what I can with what I have - I would like to start inviting a little advertising on the site.

If you own or work for a homesteading, farm, livestock, green, or like-minded business and are interested in possibly sponsoring the site, please send me an email and let me know. Off the blog I'll explain my goals, banner sizes, time tables, all the logistics. I can asure you the site is growing by the month, with more and more readers coming everyday. On average about a thousand people stop by the farm daily to check in, and I don't think any of us would mind a small link to a hatchery or seed company. I would like to think there is some interest to mutually benefit from the blog.

Thanks guys for your patience, and there won't be any more posts about business. A girl just has to try, that's all. Back to the important stuff tomorrow.

socks, among other things

Well folks, the weekend is moments away and I bought new socks. The combination of these two things have slapped a smile on my face (I am a very easy girl to make happy). On my lunch break I stopped over at Whitman's Feed and bought a bale of straw, a twenty-pound bag of dog food, and a super-thick pair of cold-weather Carhartt boot socks. Sitting here at my desk I am giddy with the thought that in a few hours all the farm chores will be done and I will be in front of my fireplace picking my banjo in the transcendent comfort that can only be stirred up by farm chores and warm socks. Socks that will feel twice as warm because I had just lined the sheep shed and chicken coop with a straw bedding, which I will undoubtedly enjoy with them. See, I started this little ritual of plopping down on the clean straw right after I lay it and spending some time with the birds. I sit there and check on their overall health, and watch them go about their lives in the glow of the coop's heat lamp while the snowy night outside howls and blows. It's comforting really. Our special avian-fort, warm and earthy, safe and glowing. My little omelet house.

So tonight I'll haul straw, feed the crew, pat some sheep on the head and then sit down and play some music. A perfect Friday night. And with the socks, well shucks, that just tips the scales in the favor of bliss. Like I said, I am a very easy girl to make happy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

bless those texans...

Not to be outdone by Liz, jay from Texas sent along this photo of Scratch surrounded by some good friends. I'm happy to see the book messing with that sort of crowd. A fat happy guitar and a mando make my book look kinda rugged. Thank you jay. Stick around and I'll post some banjo tunes I recorded soon as I figure out how to upload it.

come see me this sunday

So if you have no plans for this Sunday, and live around Williamstown Massachusetts, we can hang out. Images Cinema is hosting a movie/author talk at 2PM and I'm the author. The movie is The Garden. It's about a rogue gang of urban gardeners in Los Angeles. The theme of the movie, and the conversations afterward is sustainability and self-reliance. Should be a casual, education, fun afternoon following a provocative flick. I think books will be for sale as well. This is what the Website says:

Sunday, February 22nd at 2:00 pm
This film is showing as part of the Sustainability Documentary and Discussion Series. Screening followed by conversation with Jenna Woginrich, author of Made From Scratch, and members of the Target Hunger Northern Berkshire CSA Workgroup. This event is sponsored in part by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation

The Garden was nominated for an Oscar for Best Feature Documentary
The fourteen-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles is the largest of its kind in the United States. Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers have since created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community. But now bulldozers are poised to level it all.

The Garden follows the plight of the farmers, from the tilled soil of this urban farm to the polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand answers. Why was the land sold to a wealthy developer for millions less than fair-market value? Why was the transaction done in a closed-door session of the LA City Council? Why has it never been made public?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


How great is this? A reader from good ol' Canada wrote me and mailed this picture. She said I got her grabbing her old fiddle and has started playing again. Thank you Liz, and good luck with your playing. Knock 'em dead.

i'll be inside

Things at the farm are quiet. That kind of lazy quiet you roll into this time of winter. Besides a hopeful goose, some miserable vibrating bees, kitchen seedlings, and the regular gang of chickens standing on the porch—not much is happening at Cold Antler. The big news of the day is we're expecting a few inches of snow tonight, and I'm actually really excited about that. You wouldn't think after such a long winter I'd still be looking forward to fresh snow (specially after all the bitching I've been doing lately) But I am. I'm a sucker for the aesthetics. Everything just looks nicer after a fresh coating, and when you've been looking at chicken poo and dirty yellow dog snow all week, it's a borderline morale boost to see it all pristine again. Hell, even the sheep look cleaner after it snows. So tonight I am looking forward to coming home, tending to the animals and then doing nothing but reading inside with hot coffee while the weather turns. Strike a fire, raise up a fiddle, scratch a dog's ears and let it snow.

I think people like us enjoy simple comforts. People who homestead (or people who aspire to) seem happiest when they realize all they need to feel content is a warm place to read with good lighting and an oversized sweater. Throw in something hot to sip and we're beyond set, blissful really. It doesn't matter if we're in midtown Manhattan or a cabin in the woods—that disposition is hardwired in us to relish in such basic activity. The sadistic part about it is we like it so much more if we just walked 13 blocks in driving snow, or chopped wood for 2 hours, or did something equally grueling because such basic rest is so much better when it's deserved. We're a little twisted in that way, old-fashioned even. Us highlanders like our rest when we suffered for it.

But hey, we're not monastic. We still like all the shiny distractions, blockbuster movies, and fast cars the rest of the world gawks at... but generally we can all agree on the merits of forgetting about all that awful business for a snowy night, our guitars, and a good book. For a while we forget iPhones ever existed. It's a nice vacation.

If you need me, I'll be inside.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

nebraska represent

Thanks to Sandy, in Omaha, who sent along this new bumper shot. It was Texans who started this weird CAF ritual and it's still going strong. To be frank, as a new author just seeing that hardcover near a license plate far away makes the hair on my arm stand up. I still can't believe I published a book. I am not trying to be cure or self-deprecating here, it really hasn't hit me yet.

So thanks Sandy, and thanks to anyone who takes the time to send me an email, write on my facebook wall, comment on the blog, or do anything interactive with the Cold Antler world. Your feedback is what makes this less of a stand-up act and more of a conversation and that is how I like it. Every night when I sit down at the kitchen table to check emails I look for that one gem amongst the 67 junk emails from an actual person. You have no idea how much they mean to me, even if I don't always have time to reply. Which is nothing personal, and please don't feel that way. It's just really hard to get back to everyone in all these venues with everything else in these short winter days. But I do read them, and they are the fuel that keeps me writing.

I'll say it again. Thanks.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I would just like to say before I posted this I was sitting in front of the fireplace learning a clawhammer rendition of Wayfaring Stranger on the banjo while simotaneously watching deleted scenes from the Office Season 2 on DVD. I think that pretty much sums up my life right now.

Moving on.

I like patches. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I was once girl scout (currently lapsed)? Or maybe it's the neat embroidery? Perhaps they're just more interesting and less annoying than buttons? Regardless, I like patches. I pick them up from places I've been, or from clubs I do and do not belong to. One of my favorites is an old Moose Lodge patch I found on the back of an old order-member vest. (It is huge and awesome). I take these finds and sew them into my life. I stitch them on plain hoodies or shirts to spice them up, make them feel more like me. I have an old police badge patch from Weiser* Idaho sewn onto the left sleeve of a blue plaid cowboy shirt, and that one really strikes my fancy. Someone once told me it was "illega" but I doubt anyone will confuse a short swarthy girl hauling hay in southern Vermont with an Idaho police officer... I sleep fine about that choice.

Anyway, I like how they add a homegrown personalization to things without being very specific. They make things your own, special, fun. If I ever get married, instead of bags of almonds or candles, everyone is getting a boyscout-style wedding patch with a deer head on it and some corny fireworks or rockets (or something like that) that says "Blank and Jenna's True Love Jamboree 2014!"** I am certain that idea isn't mine, but I can't remember the source to lend proper credit, so let's pretend I was being orginal there.

* Weiser Idaho is where the world-renowned Old Time Fiddle competition is held.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ready. set. plant.

The peas in this photo are from the farmhouse in Idaho. As you can see, I built them a very fancy lattice from dowel rods and chopsticks. As you can see, it worked fine. The snap peas crawled up the window and a few weeks after this snapshot was taken we had pods.

If you click on the photo to look at the larger version, you may notice Mary Todd Lincoln outside on the back deck. A nice chicken cameo from my past. So guys, If I can plant snap peas indoors in an Idaho Panhandle winter - anyonce can pull it off. Okay so, my peas were planted at 7 AM this morning in Sandgate Vermont. If you took part in the challenege, please leave a comment with a timestamp and your location. We'll use it as a record of how many peas were finally planted.

So far, 1!