Sunday, June 6, 2010

a letter from a reader

Emails come every now and again, and I am ashamed how behind I am on replying to them. Sometimes I simply can't. Yet any note someone sends me is appreciated and if I can help with a question or problem, I try. When I wrote a few posts ago that I was in a low place and needed some encouragement, this came to my inbox. I never post reader mail, but this one made me wake up and realize CAF isn't just my farm. It's also the Gold's, and David Shearer's, and Fin's, and the Snyder's, and Tara's, and Amy's, and Paula's, and Melanie's and many others I have never heard from but still click here everyday to see if Finns back or if the fences are up, or what the heck a Scottish Blackface looks like. This email made a very long day end with happy tears.

I'd blog if no one read a single word, but I am so grateful that they do.

(And Amelie, Joseph says to enjoy your yogurt! But can I have the raisins?)

Dear Jenna,

There are some mornings that shine brighter than others. Yet, even with the clouds there is always sun. It’s just so damn hard to see what has always been there. In our home we called it temporary blindness — not unsightedness — but temporary blindness. It’s a condition that is self-created and self-multiplying. Simply put, it is the inability to see, take in and digest, and appreciate, when the muse turns ugly and leaves the building.

Jenna, my family and I are daily Cold Antler Farm readers. We do not visit any other blog, nor have any connection to homesteaders than you. It’s not that we turn to your blog for advice HOW to do it, we turn to your blog every morning to relish in the fact that someone we vicariously know IS doing it. Your dream, your farm, your vision, your experiences have been mutuality felt by a family of four striving for the homestead dream.

Your youngest fan, among our four, is only 3 years old. Her name is Amelie and her morning routine consists of yogurt, raisins, milk and Jenna. The sheep are always a big hit with her - the pics and the stories - they are her homestead motivation. Our 7 year old, Eliah, wakes to ask, “What’s happening with Jenna this morning? Did she get a horse yet?” Can you tell that she has equines on the mind?

I remember the moment that we first met. It was at the library. Julia, my pretty half, and I were gathering information on homesteads and the brave people that forge the way. for others like us. We found many resources with great ideas, spectacular photos, harrowing stories, and canned laughs. Yet, there was no one who captured the essence of the experience in words quite like you. Made From Scratch started as a library rental and became a family necessity. And, just like a good movie or a great book you don’t want it to end - yet every movie has end credits and every book has a back cover, except yours!

When the Cold Antler Farm blog was discovered so was the never-ending adventure. Unbeknownst to you, you became one of our family. Family talk consists of speaking about “Jenna” adventures or arcanely using your name in the presence of others as if they know you - as if we know you. It became habit to visit the site daily and to digest the words that so magically, so eloquently capture what we are trying to do. We laugh with you. We smell the fresh herbs through you. We watch “Farm TV” with you. We make mistakes along side you. We carry the excitement of life from you. You are major inspiration thoughtfully packaged in great prose. Inspiring enough to give us the courage to change our lives NOW while we transition toward a handmade life.

While glory of the correct action is good, even blissful in its encouragement, mistakes seem to carry a tone detrimental and stifling. Yet, once I clear my mind, chalk up my mistakes as part of the education, and shed that non-utilitarian condition of temporary blindness, I once again feel useful. And, as Jenna says, “Be of use, I say. Be of use and everything else falls into place.”

Amelie, Eliah, Julia & Jason Gold
Proud Suburban Homesteaders


Blogger Affi'enia said...

You know what, that is one darn eloquent email. I think that family have put into words what many of us feel.

Even on your worst days you are an inspiration to many folks just because you are a real person getting on with the dream we all dream.

June 6, 2010 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Very nicely put! Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed that letter and think it's great to read that someone feels as I do about your efforts and commitment. We all have down days, all of us, and moments that seem to turn our efforts around.

Looking forward to reading this family's blog someday soon!

June 6, 2010 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Beautiful letter that brought tears to my eyes! This family should blog! Thanks for sharing!

June 6, 2010 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

WOW! and AMEN!

June 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger M said...

That's an amazing letter to have received - so sweet and so heartening. I've been reading your blog for a while now, because like the Golds, I get to live vicariously. A few months ago I made the switch from house with a huge garden where I grew veg (back in Australia) to a small apartment in Germany, with no garden and a suspicious lack of warm weather. Reading your blog lets me remember how much I love gardening, how satisfying it is to reap what you've sown, and what an achievement it is to do these things on your own. Keep your chin up, Jenna - you're an inspiration to us all.

June 6, 2010 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Thank you Gold family for sharing what so many of us feel. It is "our" farm, Jenna, and you are a part of our extended family.

God bless all the CAF family.

June 6, 2010 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

What an exquisite pleasure to read a heart-warming, honest and open letter like that for breakfast!! There appear to be a number of us "Vicaious Jenna" types out here. I have a tiny space in sight of the Golden Gate and we grow a bit of this and some of that, too.

Stay aware, ask for help and accept it-later you will be in a position to offer. "All our life's a circle; sunrise and sundown..." (H. Chapin)

June 6, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

That was said so perfectly. A co-worker and I talk about you as we feel you are a close friend of ours. I don't comment that much but I do check in on you a few times a day to see what's up. I do worry about you sometimes being alone with all of that responsibility. Thank you for sharing that letter. Peace.

June 6, 2010 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home said...

Well spoken.

June 6, 2010 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Wow, that wasn't even about me, and _I_ was teary-eyed by the end. That message is one unexpected benefit to all your hard work, isn't it?

Thanks for keeping the dream real, Jenna.

June 6, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

This family's email is exactly what I always wanted to say to you but couldn't find the words. Because of you I make my own butter and plant a vegetable garden every year. My dream of living in the country someday now seems attainable because I see what you have accomplished. And although I am the only person I know who reads your blog my whole family knows your name because I talk about you all the time =) You rock.

June 6, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Wow. You are definitely the town square in our little virtual village. Glad to have the Gold family as residents. I agree with whomever said they should also think about a blog.

June 6, 2010 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Thanks so much for sharing this email. They really got it right. I'm also encouraged by what you do...and it gives me hope..hope that even living in an apartment, there is ALWAYS something I can do to make my life simpler, be closer to the land and doing things for myself :) :) :) This was so encouraging to me too.
I also heard of your book and checked it out from the library...because at the time I was broke/unemployed. The book was so good, I went out and bought it and have reread it. It's funny, realistic, great tips, ideas etc. In fact, because of some of the resources you listed in the back, I've purchased other books and am slowly building a library of tools for the day I have my own place out in the country somewhere :) :)
I was feeling like that the other day...that what I was writing wasn't good...until someone said they were encouraged and it made them feel good :) :) That's the best compliment. You are doing a good thing ...a very good thing..and regardless of what is happening, there are a lot of us out here who are glad that you are writing and sharing with us :) :)
Greetings from Oregon,
Heather :)

June 6, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Weighty Situation said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 6, 2010 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Vermonster said...

You know, I live in the hot and muggy state of Florida, my husband a native Floridian, (myself a Vermonter) and I can't tell you how many times I refer to you as my friend Jenna when speaking to my husband and family.
The second thing I do when I get to work, is to go to Cold Antler Farm blog to see what is going on.
So many of us that cannot have a backyard farm other than potted veg, do live vicariously through you.
The weight of that knowledge must be tremendous, but you keep letting us come to you for inspiration.
I know that if it were up to us who are faithful readers, if we lived close enough to you, we as those who are community farmers are oft to do, come and assist you in any way we can.
All you would have to do is post on your blog, and facebook, and yes even a mass emailing that you need help to raise a barn, or dig post holes for fencing and we'd be there. It's not a shame to ask for help, it is a shame to not ask when you need help.
We all love you Jenna. It's why we visit every day.

June 6, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

It's a funny thing- I bought your book from Amazon, site unseen, and loved it. Then found your blog, which I think was mentioned somewhere in the book. I had a lot of catching up to do, which took the better part of a week's evenings, and it was great fun to follow along with what was going on with you. After all that, it was like I had a vested interest in your success! And part of that is due to the fact that you are always putting yourself out there- sometimes you get a little raw where life has scraped some skin off- but we all feel for you, and hope the best for you. You may be all alone right now in the physical world, but you are definitely not alone.

June 6, 2010 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Sue or Willow. We share this ID said...

You're known as Jenna around our house as well, and I tell my husband (who only reads letterpress blogs) about your daily happenings as you were a RL friend. My daughter, 11, reads your blog, and my son, 8, peeks over our shoulders at it from time to time. We're another suburban homesteading family that has been following your adventures with fascination and admiration.

June 6, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Have your heard of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF - AKA Willing Workers on Organic Farms)? This organization, or others like it, might provide a great opportunity for you to get some help around your farm while also teaching someone else what you know about sheep, growing veggies, raising poultry, etc.
What a great letter from your reader. While not all your readers can write such a beautiful letter, you can rest assured and take comfort and encourage from the fact that we all think the same way about CAF.

June 6, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration to all of us, even those of us old enough to be your Mother!
Even us Grandmothers feel dispair and depression from time to time.

June 6, 2010 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

Great post and the perfect treat for a Sunday AM.

CAF is part of the morning ritual, right after I make the coffee.

Somehow it would interesting to see just how "big" of a homestad CAF extends past the farm in Jackson.

June 6, 2010 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

This was so wonderful to read. I can see how it picked you up from a low point. I have to admidt that I talk about you, this blog, etc. like I've known you for years and we went to school together. Sometimes people look at me funny and say, "but you don't really know her". No, I don't know you, we've never met, but it really does feel like I've known you for years. And its because just like the folks that emailed you, reading this blog is a daily adventure. I never miss checking it for new updates. You are loved Jenna! :)

June 6, 2010 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

Your farm is part of our farm too!
It was your book and your blog that gave me the courage to name our little homestead (Little Farm on the Tundra). And what gave me the courage to just start.

We are night time readers. Your farm fits in between tucking kids into bed and shooing chickens in to roost. I read while I nurse the baby and sush the toddler. Sometimes if the toddler is still awake when the baby is asleep, she gets to look at pics on your blog on my iPhone while we snuggle a bit longer. After the girls are asleep, I head out into my corner of Alaska to tuck in chicks and turkeys, close up the greenhouse, and check on new growth.

I would farm and homestead whether I read your blog or not, but I do love to know there is someone else out there that understands the tranquility of standing in a dusty hen house counting heads and watching the pecking order work itself out.
I DO owe the love of percolated coffee to your book. Aw gosh, that's good stuff... Sans chocolate, as we have milk allergy here!

June 7, 2010 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Ditto, ditto, DITTO!!! See how many of us care about you? And see how much we relish our Jenna fix! Love, Jan

June 7, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger ************* said...

Loved reading that letter. Yr one of my favorite homesteader blogs too (along with Homegrown Evolution, Small Measure,, the Dervaes family.. I hope someone lets me know if I'm forgetting someone!)

Love and foraging,
An urban homesteader

June 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger joie said...

What a great letter, Jenna! After reading your book, it reinforced so many things that I've long wanted to do! The music thing?! For a long time now, I've imagined my boys and my husband and I sharing mountain, gospel music--with others! We have so much in common! You're such an inspiration, Jenna! My 13 yo son has started reading your book, and the name "Jenna" often times comes up in family conversation!

June 10, 2010 at 2:56 PM  

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