Saturday, November 6, 2010

a good morning

I woke up to the sound of Upset crowing. I was certain it was him. When you live with a handful of roosters you've known since they could all fit in...well, a hand...you can tell their voices apart. Upset sounds like a recording of a rooster used on a movie set. Winthrop howls like a dog. The little Bantam (named Fancy) sounds like a drunk court jester on speed, and the meat birds sound delicious. Even as I wake I know who is who. You pick up these things by osmosis.

I dressed in a warm sweater once outside the covers, and stepped over the army of dogs at my feet. Jazz and Annie do not move before 7AM, and I gingerly walked around them as I made my way to the kitchen. I started the percolator on the stove and lit some candles. It was still dark outside, and I didn't want the harsh light of the kitchen's electricity to rattle my calm morning. I took a quart jar with a votive in it over to the wood stove and got it roaring. The thermostat never rises above 58 inside, but with that fire going the kitchen would rise to the high sixties. I looked out the window, smelling the coffee stat was starting to perk. Outside the pasture was covered in frost and Sal stared at me a while before letting out a long, low, bbbbbbaaaaaaaa. He looked like I owed him money.

I went outside in rubber boots and a knit hat to feed them a flake of hay. It was light out, but not yet sunrise. Everything was blue. The chickens noticed me and flocked around my legs so I threw them some corn and feed. I didn't go into the barn to check on the rabbits, it was too dark without a lantern. I would see to them after daylight.

Inside all the dogs were taken outside to relieve themselves and then fed breakfast. I went about the business of making oatmeal with some maple syrup to flavor it. (This was an oatmeal morning for certain.) I took a pound of ground beef out of the freezer and let it thaw in the metal sink and then went about prepping some yeast and honey for fresh bread. I had no specific meal planned but thought meat, potatoes (I had 15 pounds stored up), and fresh bread would invent itself into a comforting meal for certain. This house would be warm soon, and smell of butter-topped bread in a few hours.

When my work is done around the farm, and a meal's been enjoyed I'll open a bottle of homebrew and get out my fiddle. I've been meaning to play more and I think that'll wrap up just in time for Prairie Home Companion. A radio show I used to listen to driving (too fast) home from college in a red Jetta with dreams of living in a loft in Philadelphia after graduation. I wanted to fid a job at an up-and-coming design firm and eat Japanese at 3 AM. Back then I wanted to be cool. Now I want to be useful. Tonight I will listen to tales of Lake Wobegon from a little sheep farm in Washington County. What a change in just a few years of mountains and America. If I knew that was where I was going I wouldn't have driven that Volkswagen so fast.

Last night I parked my car after the book event in town and I have no intention of getting back into it until Monday morning. I have plenty to keep me busy here—both on the farm and in my office—so I see no reason to stray for sport. It seems whenever I leave the house it's to spend money, even if it's just the gas to wander somewhere. It's something I am trying to do less and less of and so a solid two days of hard work, writing, and getting the house in order will be both prudent and relaxing. I would not have dream of staying in my house and property for 48+ hours a few years ago but that was before I realized errands and buying things made me very tired. I am through being tired by the world. I'm just starting to learn how to live in it.

27 Comments:

Blogger our urban farmhouse ♥ said...

My sentiments exactly, Jenna. My home is the place where I feel most comfortable and productive. My frequent goal is to come home on Friday night and not leave until Monday morning b/c I have so much sewing, cleaning, and homemaking that will keep me busy and happy. It's not a goal I achieve frequently, but when it happens, it's pure bliss!

Your writing brings your farm to life. Thanks for the early morning liveliness :)

November 6, 2010 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

What a great post, I feel like I was walking along with you this morning. I read your blog often but barely comment. I found you via a mention in the book, "Radical Homemakers," so I checked out your book, "Made from Scratch." I loved it. And its funny that you mentioned making bread because I tried your bread recipe for the first time last night. It came out great! I can't wait to make more! Thanks for the fun adventures!

November 6, 2010 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Tamara said...

What a wonderful treat to wake up to!

November 6, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm in radical homemakers?! I gotta see this book, that chick lives near me too. That's it. I'm emailing her.

November 6, 2010 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Your post is a fantastic read, as always I have to say.

The fact that you didn't know you were included in Radical Homemakers isn't. Good thing that Erin told you.

Enjoy your weekend at YOUR farm.

November 6, 2010 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

When I first found out about Radical Homemakers I was very excited because it sounded like it affirmed everything that I am feeling/doing in my life at this point. When I ordered the book from Amazon, I picked another book so that I could get the free shipping, and so I picked your book. Since finishing your book, I have read your blog and I can't get enough!

November 6, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger DebH said...

girl...thats one of the BEST posts I've read on your blog! Don't get me wrong..I like them all. That one was just the absolute BEST!!

November 6, 2010 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Synchronicity triumphs again. Here you were, asking about frugality measures just the other day, and the name of a book which has tons of tips for living cheaply comes up -- Radical Homemakers. It's such a valuable book, and so encouraging. Also loved what you said about somehow managing to always spend money when you're out of the house....that certainly struck a chord. Best thing I ever did was cut back on my errands, trip-linking so I only need to shop once a week or so. It saved both gas AND cash, as I no longer find myself out wandering antique and fabric stores buying stuff I don't truly need. I'm happy to be less of a "consumer" now, because the last thing we need on this planet right now is more consumption, you know?

November 6, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Okay wait, maybe it was recommended to me via Amazon or another blog I started following because of Radical Homemakers...gosh now I don't remember and I don't want to get anyone in trouble! AHHH! I just checked through the End Notes in the book and don't see your name referenced. I know she would have asked permission before using your information. Really sorry about this!!!

November 6, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

No fuss Erin, I was excited I might be in the book, not upset! That would have been a happy thank-you email!

November 6, 2010 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

for about a year i was coming home every day with a bag or two hanging off my arm; having to struggle with purse, one or two bags, my backpack and a door lock that would stick every time drove me NUTS. thats when i started asking "do i need it or just want it?

also, i stopped using the car during the week (this was when i was working,and could use public transport to get to work in the city. now i am on maternity leave so... got to use the car on weekdays for appointments etc) it is amazing what you realize you dont actually need if you have to walk or bike to the store to get it. i saved buckets of $ and felt more relaxed to boot.

now i have to figure out how to do the same thing with a new baby.... it is soooo hard not to buy things for your new baby......

November 6, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Lael said...

I'm relatively new to reading your blog, but could really relate to today's entry. Although my path was slightly different than yours, I, at one time, dreamed of being a corporate executive, traveling the world (still like to travel, though, when I get the chance), driving nice cars, wearing designer clothes. Today, we raise sheep and goats, I spin and knit, dye my own fiber. I drive a compact car, wear Lee's and sweatshirts and am so glad I do not have the stress of corporate politics. And sometimes I bake bread, although I do that more often in the bread machine, because with 100 or so sheep (plus or minus, depending on how many lambs haven't gone to market yet) I just can't seem to find the time to bake "real" bread anymore!

November 6, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Robbie Grey said...

Very pretty post. Having done a ten year penance in a city, before striking out of such things again, I found I could empathize.

November 6, 2010 at 1:10 PM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

Minus the farm elements (sadly), this sounds pretty much like my weekend plans. I have things to take care of around the apartment, plus time planned for some music, cooking, baking, and maybe some reading or knitting as well. I've been out a lot more than usual recently, and I'm trying to tighten my budget a bit too, so the plans are simply to stay in, stay put, and take care of the things that need to be taken care of around here. Sounds lovely.

November 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Funny you should mention not wanting to get in the car. I try to have several months' worth of everything we need (food, sundries, toilet paper, etc.) stocked up before the end of October because I hate being out in Christmas traffic. Our food bill should be practically non--existent nest month- just eggs and dairy, which is stuff I can't produce for us (yet).

Not spending money gets to be a fun game after awhile. Another fun game is getting as much as you can for your money, but I don't include food in there. Our farmers who produce on a small and careful, humane scale need to be supported. But everything else is fair game!

November 6, 2010 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

This post was a joy to read, Jenna. I am so glad that providence lead you away from that loft in the city. I would have had no interest in another Sex in the City story,so your writing never would have been reflected in my eyeglasses. You have made difficult life choices, but they have been a blessing to others who have been privileged to follow.

November 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

What a joy to read that post x and I am so pleased to hear of another who dislikes electric light in the mornings.In fact I dislike it pretty much all the time,especially overhead lights yuech. I swear the reason society is mostly brouchy as hell in the mornings is due to waking up and whacking on the electric lighting...its jarring and too..well just...too much!

I adore getting up in the dark,padding to the kitchen to light a candle and opening the curtains, as dawn breaks I blow the candle out and start the day peaceful of heart and fresh of soul.

I know what you mean about cockerel crows! I have a new hampshire red and his cockadoodle is almost from a disney film! its pitch perfect,beautifully intonated and clear as a bell,one of the last hatch has a warbly more random crow,its easy to tell whose doing what lol!
GTM x x
ps I am nearly 40 and find the idea of a night out almost abhorant lol.I live where I work and leave this village to do the school run to another village but other than that I leave maybe once a week,sometimes not at all. Its a fine balance between seeking peace and becoming an island, I do treasure an handful of peoples company but I like to think being happy on my own is a thing to be proud of. And I dont know over there but here the price of petrol is fast making willynilly trips prohibitive.
Enjoy your evening x
GTM x x x

November 6, 2010 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Jenna - now you ARE cool! How about a CAF cookbook in the future?

November 6, 2010 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Sharon Delman said...

Jenna, what a GREAT post. You make me appreciate my dogs, chickens, bees and family so much more.

I love the line "Back then I wanted to be cool. Now I want to be useful." Yeah. I want to be useful too.

I love reading about CAF. Best to the whole crew there!

November 6, 2010 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger GirlSavorsLife said...

Loved the post description and really liked reading the comments that followed-- quite a community.

I too have read Radical Homemakers and was further encouraged to get off the career treadmill I'm currently on. I have set a date and am making the financial adjustments to make this lifestyle possible.

My husband built me raised beds for vegetables (and our very short growing season) and a cold frame I need to learn to use properly. Now...if I can just get people to move beyond the question, "What will you do?" ;)

PS Loved the image of the candle in the morning, and letting the light come naturally with the sun rising! I'm inspired.

November 6, 2010 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

How well I understand, Jenna. I live on a little mountain in the Callahans in Oregon. Ours is a tree farm instead of a sheep farm. You gotta wait a long time on trees and they're not particularly cute. They sure don't make cute noises...but home is home. Thank God. Enjoy the weekend. Sounded altogether great...

Blessings,

Dianne
www.mysouthernheart.com

November 6, 2010 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

We leave our place less and less the longer we live here. If we go into town 3 times a week that is more than enough. Like you, I find the trip just makes me tired and broke.

Your weekend plans sound great. I went to a goat education day 55 miles away, learned nothing new and wasted an entire day away from my family, puppy and sewing machine. Not to mention all the expenses of the event, mocha to drive on, and a stop at the store on the way back....

November 6, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

JENNA,
"BACK THEN I WANTED TO BE COOL" WOULD BE A GREAT HOOK IN AN
ORIGINAL SONG!!! YEAH, THAT'S WHAT
I DID BACK IN THE DAY, PRODUCE RECORDS, ETC.!!!
THIS POST IS ANOTHER WINNER FROM A REAL "INK SLINGER", & IT
JUST KEEPS COMING, & THAT IS A
VERY GOOD THING FOR ALL OF US!!!
THANKS, & CHEERS WITH A HEALTH DRINK!!!
RONNIE A VERY HAPPY SEAT WEAVER!!!
http://www.chaircaningdirectory.com

November 6, 2010 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

I saw two crows today during one of my walks with Cody and immediately thought of your "Hallows" post.

All is quiet here...now. A few votives are burning. The cats are sleeping in one giant black-gray-white ball.

I have just finished cleaning up from a night of entertaining. We invited all the neighbors to a homemade potluck. And not one single car was used :D

November 6, 2010 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Moose Nugget said...

Not spending money becomes a fun game as well as a game we play here, "How long has it been since you drove your truck, and is it gonna start?"

I used to feel like I always had to be going somewhere to feel like I was doing something.
Last week, my husband asked me a question about my truck and I realized I hadn't driven anywhere in over a week!
THAT is what I live about homesteading.
I actually like to be, well... Home.

November 6, 2010 at 11:48 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

thanks for this gentle read, jenna! very soothing.
and kandy gray, of the new baby kandy grays -- your little baby doesn't need much at all, mostly just mom and dad, some clothes & diapers (cloth!), and a comfy place to sleep. they tend to provide their own entertainment, and they have no clue a "toy" is for them. a wooden spoon, a pot, a ball of yarn...for when the baby is old enough...you'll be amazed at the fun!
i know it's tempting to see all those cute baby things, so try to think of who's selling you this stuff, then decide if it's something/someone you want to support. i hope this doesn't come across as a reprimand -- i only say it because the farther away i get from my baby times, the more i see how the consumerism starts at a ridiculous age -- and of all ages, the babies are the ones who need "things" least. give it a whirl -- you will love the adventure of not joining the Buy Buy Baby world!

November 7, 2010 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger elisa rathje said...

such a vivid experience of your morning. i love that. i'm edging closer to some of this, jenna. it is a thrill to read in detail about what you are doing. i love my guitar in the evening. we are leaving london and moving to the english countryside in a matter of days, i shall be re-reading your words to keep me steady!

November 7, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

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