So I came across this blog online and adore it. The entire thing is based on agricultural literature. A couple reads and reviews books about all the things we love: farming, livestock, homesteading, gardening, chickens, memoirs, etc. They recently reviewed Made From Scratch, which is how I found them. (Thanks guys!) But my review aside: this is a great resource for those of us looking for some winter reads that fuel our barnheart. Check it out, and then head to the library or bookstore to stoke the fire.
Stop at hardware store on the way home from work to buy roof rake. Come home from work. Smell poo. Hear Gibson crying. See diarrhea all over crate. Open Crate. Take Gibson outside. Gibson poos out pie plate bits. Sheep need to be fed. Gibson gets a bath. Gibson gets dried off. Place towel down in living room. Feed wet dog. Wash and scrub plastic crate. Bleach crate. Start fire in wood stove. Take out other two dogs. Start to assemble roof rake. Get a call from Shellee. Talk to Shellee while assembling roof rake. Still have to feed sheep. Use roof rake. Success! Talk to Shellee while raking snow off barn. Gibson barks at barn snow falling off roof. Rake breaks. Drop iPhone in deep powder. Curse, a lot. Have to feed other dogs. It is -3 degrees and a storm is coming tomorrow. Find frozen iPhone after fifteen minutes digging with flashlight. Fingers ache from cold. Phone still works! Missed three calls from Shellee certain I was covered in roof snow. Add wood to fire. Feed other two dogs. Phone starts acting funny. Go dig out trash can from snowbank to pull to front of house. It is heavy. Curse women's liberation movement. Still need to feed sheep. Still need to feed chickens, geese, rabbits, and Pig. Come inside. Drink coffee. Worry abour needing more heating oil. Check furnace. Down to 1/3 tank. Worry about paying for more oil after 600 dollars in truck repairs. Focus on soliciting ad sales. Go back outside. Feed poultry in chicken coop. Pour fresh water into their font. Go inside barn. Turn on heat lamp. Collect frozen rabbit water bottles. Feed Pig. Scratch Pig's ears. Replace her bucket with fresh water. Realize truck can't handle commute in storm. Call Tim Daughton about a ride to work tomorrow. Ask if Gibson can come too, and avoid another long day in crate. Apologize to Daughtons profusely. Haul hay out to sheep. Refill sheeps' water bucket. Haul 20 pounds of water through snow. Decide women's liberation movement is effing bullshit. Scratch Sal. Come inside. Add wood to stove. Pour stout beer into glass. Starving. Make ramen noodles. Laugh at irony of homesteader-in-training eating ramen noodles. Say grace for dark beer and hot food. Change into pajama pants and old NEBCA sweatshirt. Turn on heated Blanket on daybed. Turn on Part 2 of Gettysburg. Cuddle with clean dog. Too tired to understand movie. Watch it presently with aid of memory. Decide that this first winter on the farm is humbling. Turn thermostat down from 61 to 58. Worry about what to do with Gibson tomorrow. Gibson is already asleep on my chest. His breathing is slow and no longer dirty, scared, hungry or panicked. All the animals are fed and safe. House has heat. Fire burns. Blanket is warm. Day was long. Early morning tomorrow. Another storm will roll in with ice and fears. Start all over again. Note on fridge says "NO PIE TINS ON FLOOR PLEASE."
Smile. I wouldn't want any other life in the entire world.
Missed the NEBCA annual meeting because the pony and I were down at Midas for two hours. That muffler I needed to replace... Well, turns out the tail pipe was shot too. Had holes in it scattered and rusted through like bird shot. I also found out why it was so horrible in the snow—the sway bar was broken, not even connected to the right wheel. So those things were repaired and I was silently grateful that they accepted staggering checks to be cashed after I got paid for the service. I also had fluids topped off, oil changed, hell I even washed the old girl to get some of the salt off her. After all that attention she felt like a new truck again, drove quietly and true. She still needs some other maintenance, but we'll get by for a while. Things like tires, a transmission flush, and some horrible issue with the back end's structure keeping it suspended over the wheels.
Looks like the money I'll get for selling the Subaru (once I get the title from the State of New York) will cover most of the repairs though, and that's a wash I can deal with.
It felt good actually. I was a little upset at first that I missed the only meeting of the year the Border Collie Club held (rumor has it I was nominated Newsletter Editor?), but to know I was taking care of something so important was comforting. The truck is like any other animal on the farm: needing attention, care, and regular check ups. Even though the repairs were more extensive than I thought they would be, hell, at least she's here. In all this chaos of the last week I kept forgetting how lucky I was to have this truck in the first place. I'd be lost without that scrappy beast.
It's snowing here pretty steady. The sheep are birds and fed and Pig is chomping away at her cracked corn and sow ration. It's hard to believe that in a few days she'll be inside the house. I picked up everything on Mrs. Frost's list of supplies after the car was freed: the plywood, bleach, freezer paper, ziplock bags, plastic wrap and such. It's odd shopping for someone's execution. I had no qualms.
The Subaru is gone. Now it's just me and the pickup. I feel like my Rhino died and all I have left to travel through the world is a paint pony. Not that there's anything wrong with ponies, I just really felt safe on the back of that Rhino. But what's done is done. I sold the Subaru for a couple hundred bucks, and it will start the savings pot for a new truck. I know some of you are shaking your heads at all this, but trust me, that Rhino was dead. Transmission ruined, cat converter gone bad, a destroyed interior, busted fuses, no working wiper fluid tubes, electrical problems...I ride them hard. My lesson has been learned though. Take care of your car and it takes care of you. I ran that Subaru into the ground.
So here's my plan. I will save up a couple thousand dollars over the spring and summer and by fall I'll have a new 4-wheel-drive pickup with room for my dogs and ready for winter. Now, when I say "new" I mean new to me. The plan is to buy an older truck outright for a trade in and cash. I'm past the point in my life where paying the bank for owning a truck for me sounds like a good deal. Cash for title, thanks.
At least that is the plan. If something tragic happens to the Ranger, it might all change. I have learned that "plans" on a farm are really just incantations. You can hope with fury and try your hardest, but sometimes weather, transmissions, and circumstance get in the way. Anyway, I hope to stick with Ford. I like buying American, and I've grown so fond of my little truck I can only imagine an F150 or 4x4 Ranger would suit me just fine. In the mean time, I have to start treating the Ranger like she's the sole vehicle that she is. Tomorrow morning she goes into the garage to repair her broken muffler, get her fluids changed and checked, and so forth. After that is the annual NEBCA meeting in Albany, which I will stay for just long enough to beat any afternoon snow.
The car crisis has been met and defeated in honorable combat. Sorry for the melt down. (You know I'm freaking out when there are a lot more grammar mistakes than usual.) Now back to your regularly scheduled bloggramming.
The Subaru was kinda running yesterday, but today I can't even back it out of the driveway. It just stopped working. It is blocking the pickup and the three feet of snow around it leaves no other options except removing the Subaru to back it out (which I can't). I am scared to drive the light truck, which I have to dig out and re plow the driveway by hand just to attempt driving it to work, which I am very late for. I have missed two days of work this week, and I might miss half of another one. I am sure I'm not a big hit with my boss right now. I'm on the phone with my roadside emergency service but the tow trucks under my plan are all busy with the storm...no one can get me out of here until this afternoon, and they don't want to drive up the mountain and risk getting their own tow trucks stucj. I can't just get a ride to work because, I have to be here to sign the invoice of the roadside assistance won't cover it, and I NEED them to cover it because paying for any extra expenses is totally out of the picture right now. I'm out of morale, and energy, and dog food, my cell phone is out of juice, and I have an embarrassingly low checking account till next paycheck two weeks from now due to heating oil and a mortgage payment. I'm worried and scared that I won't be able to get a new car with my iffy credit. I hate this storm, it is making everything a hundred times more stressful. The barn roof is buckling, the animals are stuck in small spaces, and hauling water is a feat that humbles you.
What do you do with a broken car you can't fix? Do you sell it to a dump? Do you hide it in your driveway till another day? Where is the how-to manual on everyday life?
I just want this week to be over with. I know things could be worse. I know I am lucky to even have these problems in the first place. But that doesn't solve such big problems. I'll be okay. I just need a miracle, or a dealership willing to finance a new truck for a humble trade in.
If you will be around Southern Vermont next weekend there's going to be a friendly little gallery event you should not miss. My coworker (and part-time Cold Antler photographer) Tim Bronson will be hosting his first-ever photography show at Izabella's Eatery in downtown Bennington. There will be food, music, and great prints on the walls. I don't think there will be any Cold Antler animal images on display, but there will be plenty of other compelling eye candies to keep your artistic gears grinding. See his work here.
Izabella's is a wonderful little restaurant that offers seasonal/local foods and supports local farmers and artists. It's a great place to eat, and Tim's award-winning photography will not only be on display, but for sale. So head on out and support good food, good people, and good pictures. Local food and pictures, hot dang.
January 23rd Izabella's Eatery 351 Main Street Bennington, VT 1-5pm
My day started with an exciting trip into Manchester, Vermont for a visit to a local NPR studio. Lynne Rosseto Kasper of the Splendid Table was calling into the station to interview me about keeping backyard chickens and how to deal with tough roosters. I had never been in a real radio booth before, and just sitting there with my headphones and the giant poofy microphone made me feel all sorts of special. It was a quick half hour, and I think it went well! The segment will air in two weeks, and hopefully spread the gospel of backyard chickens to the foodie masses. Before I said goodbye I gushed at Lynne about how much I loved her show. I really do. I've been listening for years. Falling in love with cooking is a side-product of growing and raising your own food. Cooking is a celebration. I am damn Mummer.
My day ended however, in a transmission shop. The Subaru is dead. The transmission is at a point where replacing it would cost about $3,500 and I don't even think the old girl is worth that much anymore, certainly not after what I put her through. Even if I wanted to replace her for sentimental reasons, I can't afford to. It was a hard blow to this small farm. It's the only four-wheel drive vehicle I have—and while I am damn lucky to have the pickup here to remain the lone workhorse—it's not a snow car. The Ranger just can't handle ice or any road covering beyond a dusting. Hell, I got it stuck in wet grass. To really frost the cake, they are calling for up to ten inches by tomorrow afternoon, starting late tonight. Most of it dumping in hard storm surges that make driving up a narrow, winding, mountain road in a light, 4 cylinder, 2WD pickup near impossible. All I can do is put weight in the back and hope the studded snow tires do their very best after the roads are cleared. Ugh. The sad reality is I need to sell the Subaru and find a replacement 4WD something. If anyone has a lead on an F-150, let me know.
I can't even really think about it tonight. It's too much. I know it's certainly not the end of the world, but It is times like this when I really wish I had a partner. When you're a team you simply figure things out. When you're alone you have to stress through it, become a burden to your coworkers, and lose sleep tossing and turning over the solution. There's no one to decompress with, or talk through it, or tell you things are going to be okay. On a new farm: 99% of the daily effort is based on convincing yourself that is true.
I made the sweetest, flakiest, sugar-coated bread this weekend and wanted to share the recipe. It came out perfectly, and it was one of those happy miracles amateur cooks come across among the many flops of an educational kitchen: but this, this bread was heavenly. I made some flourishes and variations on a basic farm loaf recipe and added a secret ingredient...goose.
Well, a goose egg that is.
You'll need: Good Flour Room Temperature Butter Honey Yeast Sugar Goose Egg (can substitute one and a half chicken eggs) whisk cake pan (or cast-iron skillet) large baking bowl large saucepan of water
Start your bread by placing a teaspoon of dry active yeast into a bowl, and cover it with about a tablespoon of good honey. Then add about a cup of hot water (like as hot as your tap will go) and using a whisk—quickly mix together the honey, hot water, and yeast into a dirty, frothy, water that looks cloudy and useless. Then set it aside and come back in about 5 or 10 minutes to see what's come of it. If you have a frothy head of yeast foam; then your yeast was fresh enough and your water was hot enough. If you just have the same exact dirty water your bread probably won't rise and be hard as a brick. (Try again with hotter (non boiling) water and fresher yeast.)
But if you got the frothy goodness... Crack your goose egg and whisk that in as well. (I add about a 1/4 cup of sugar at this point too) and about a 1/2 cup of flour. This is my starter. What you should get is a wet porridge of yellowy goodness. Add half a cup of flour at a time and mix/knead it in to thicken it up to the point where you can start kneading on a table top. You want a firm dough that still remains a little sticky. (You can sprinkle flour on your counter while you knead to keep it from messing up your table and to keep it intact.)
When your dough has been well kneaded (about 5 minutes of good arm working out), take some soft butter into your clean hands and literally rub your hands together like it came with a Jergens label on it. Then use that soft butter and massage it into and around your dough, really give it a coating like you're repairing cracked skin. Cover the thing in a film of real butter and let it set to rise in a clean bow with a damp cloth covering it. It needs at least two hours (egg breads rise slower, the dough has to work more) in a comfortable, undisturbed place.
When it's doubled in size you're ready to punch it down and knead it back into its original shape. When you got all the air out, break it into three balls, coat them with some fresh flour (as to make them less sticky) and roll them into long snakes of dough with your hands. (You want them fairly skinny, like as thick as your thumb.) Take all three snakes and braid them now. Make them into a long, beautiful, horse-tail braid and then coil that braid around itself so you have a gorgeous knotted circle. Make sure you really seal the ends and bottom by pinching the dough together so it is really connected and won't break apart while it bakes.) Now place your pretty dough into a buttered cake pan (or better yet, cast-iron skillet). Set it aside for another two hours to rise again. You want the skin to get a little hard to the touch, almost stale. that's when you know you're ready to make magic happen.
Next you'll get some water to boil over your stove. When it's bubbling, take your small circle loaf and carefully place it into the boiling water (like you would with a bagel) for about half a minute, and then flip it back over. Set it on a clean dish towel to air dry and then brush it with melted butter. Before the butter gets a chance to dry too, gently sprinkled sugar on top. (If you sprinkle from about ten inches above it your sugar will fall over your crust more evenly). Place it back into your greased up skillet and bake for about 25 minutes at 360. When it is a healthy brown take it right out of the oven, free it from its pan, and set it to air on a rack or towel. Eat with real butter. Smile like the happy beast you are and take a bite.
It's snowing pretty steady out there, the farm is gently buckling under the new weight. I came home from work thrilled at the forecast and my plans, which tonight meant firing up the wood stove, feeding everything that clucks, honks, barks oinks, and bleats and then retiring in for an evening the way only people in the middle of nowhere with Hoof-n-Heel in their cabinets can. I am telling you there is a different kind of peace of mind for the people who tend animals in a winter storm. You come inside from the cold and shed your layers, get a hot cup of tea, and sit down with movie or book knowing that the ones under your care are sheltered, fed, and calm. It infuses you, takes a regular snow squall and turns it into a nostalgia you drink in the present.
The peas in the kitchen are shooting up a good inch, and the goose is now sitting on seven eggs. The hens however have stopped laying save for one Rhode Island Red and one Leghorn, and I am lucky if I can find their egg in the dark barn at night. No signs of bunnies yet, but the Palomino doe is making a fur nest. I'll add more fresh hay tonight just in case. Pig is getting fat in new ways, growing even bigger jowls on her head, which is now the size of a basketball. In preparation for the big day I bought a chest freezer off Craigslist (used but in great shape) and look forward to filling all 6.9 cubic feet up in a few weeks. It gets delivered tomorrow from the guy who plows snow in Cambridge.
I ordered 84 chickens tonight off Murray McMurray. Just a few layers and ten meat birds for myself and the rest are for the Chicken 101 workshops (only four spots left, three in meat birds) and coworkers who added their orders onto mine. I decided to get Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and Ameraucanas for the workshop since those are the birds featured in Chick Days and I thought it would be a fine treat to have a perfect comparison for the new hen mothers (and fathers).
And I have a bit of news for you, The Splendid Table will be interviewing me about backyard chickens for their weekly radio show, and I am thrilled. This is one of the three radio shows I can't miss on the weekends: and to be on it is almost surreal. I need to drive to a radio station in Manchester Vermont to record the half-hour conversation but how fantastic to get the word out about homegrown backyard eggs. Who knows, it might even inspire a random weekend listener to check out the blog or start looking up coop plans online. All the power to them. Chickens are a pleasant addiction.
When I came home to the farm yesterday I discovered a tall, skinny, box propped up against the red door. I knew exactly what it was and (to my recent memory) had not been that excited to rip through cardboard in a very long time. What lay under all that paper and tape was something I had wanted since I saw my first sheepdog trial years ago: a proper shepherd's crook. I have a simulacrum of sorts: a very cheap wooden livestock staff I bought for twelve dollars online, and it does the job of helping me sort through animals and guide gibson in training....but it's a clunky. heavy, ugly thing. It's nothing like the beautiful crooks you see at big trials, the horn and wood artifacts held like scepters among the serious competitors aside their mythical dogs. A good crook is a piece of art, and after three years of living with sheep I was about to have one my very own, Cold Antler style.
Inside the box was a handmade stick of hazel with a curved antler top and ram's horn inlay. And It wasn't just any antler either....this was a special item of my own with a story just like mine—and now the story was completed in the form of an avatar for my own manifarmdestiny. or to put it plainly: I held a dream in the shape of a stick.
See, that antler on the top was bought nearly a decade ago at a festival in Pennsylvania. It decorated my college dorms, and traveled with me on the dash when I moved to Tennessee. It held no real purpose other than I liked it. And that gut attraction to it's curve and strength kept it around. I tied it to some straps of leather and it hung from the rear-view window of my Subaru for a while in Idaho, and when I moved to vermont it had a spot on my bookshelf. Like me, it found itself in places unexpected, always a part of a larger story it had yet to understand. And when a crook-crafting shepherd in Virginia asked me if I had any antlers lying around I'd like to turn into a stick....I knew this was the one I'd send.
I had been sending emails back-and-forth with a shepherd in the Shenandoah Valley I had met online. His name was Daniel King, a dog and sheep man in Virginia. (We shared acquaintances of members in my local working border collie club.) He works his staff of border collies to manage a large flock of hair sheep onQuiet Acres Farm. Together with his wife Sylvia they produce quality grass-fed lamb for their community. So the Kings are a couple living my dream.
Somehow in the transaction of stories and dog talk we struck a barter. I'd send him some signed books and he'd fashion me a proper herding stick, something that matched my farm and personality. The staff in the picture above was his gift to Cold Antler. It is so beautiful, rich and vivid as a prop on a movie set. The natural curve of the antler makes a nearly perfect crook-shape. It will know lambs, and woods, and long walks with my dogs. There is Gibson with it. Over the years he'll learn that when I grab this stick, it's time to get to work. After a while of such association he'll love it as much as I do.
The antler was mailed to Daniel a few weeks ago. There he bleached, filed, cut, carved and stained this beautiful staff. You can see a photographic essay of its creation here. (He said he'd add captions to explain the process eventually), maybe this is something some of you craftier gents and ladies out there might be able to make yourself?
I'll someday walk out onto the Novice Trial field with this stick, Gibson by my side. I'll stand at the post and look down at my silly dog and send him away to the flock. He'll dart up that hill and leave me standing with my hazel and horn in old faded jeans, high rubber boots, and a waxed cotton jacket. A statue from another slice of history. I look forward to the time travel.
A calm night here at the farm. Highlights after work included such fantasies of wonder as mending a pair of jeans and washing the swine's water bucket... But don't be fooled, because everything is in an underground state of transition. Animal farms slow down a bit come winter, but comas don't mean death, son. No no, this place is just at a resting heart rate. The days are slowly creeping into light and the farm is lazily writhing back to life along with it at a steady clump.
Life and death are square dancing here. The one remaining doe in the rabbitry is preparing a nest for possible kindling any night. The goose is sitting on five eggs now, and if all goes as planned by the time the folks arrive here for the Chicken 101 workshops there will be goslings and bunnies to meet as well and discuss. Along with all this new life that will shake up this farm in just a few week—I am calling local groceries and kitchen supply stores to get the right wrapping paper, bags, and marking pens Vicki requires for her work here on Pig's harvest day. I'm also flipping through the hatchery and seed catalogs to plan a modest harvest of meat and eggs, along with the stack of sheep books by my bedside to study up on lambing. Good god, there will be a lot of noise around here come May...
I can not wait to look out my office window and see a pack of lambs running up and down the hillside. In my head Blackface lambs look more like muppet monsters: all shag and tiny horns and weird splotchy faces. What a sight that will be after this heavy winter! And they want more soon, too. A storm is in the works, perhaps this weekend. Let it snow I say, I have hives and hens to think about. And a happy little memoir about love on a farm that makes it seem almost possible, and I giggle like a 14-year-old when I read it.
And yet, amongst the kingdom of the animals is a little container in my kitchen of sprouting snap peas. A tiny triumph in a Cabot yogurt container. I was so happy to see the first peaking green that I learned a new fiddle tune (Rye Whiskey) to welcome them into the world. I set them down in front of the music book and played to a pot of sprouts. I held a benefit concert for a future day spent shelling peas barefoot by a banjo. Damn, it felt good to learn a new song. I play that devil box nearly every day but always the same favorites. It felt good to be a student again, try something new. Or new to me rather: since all my songs are old time tunes from ages ago. Which is what I prefer. It's how I know it's a good old one—cured by generations of other fools in their planting kitchens.
Just got off the phone with the butcher. A woman by the name of Vicki Frost, who lives in Northern Vermont will be coming to Cold Antler to not only slaughter the pig, but teach me every step of the process and wrap and prepare the meat on site. This will happen on January 22nd, just a few weeks from now.
Choosing a traveling butcher was important to me. It meant that Pig didn't have to go through the stress of being loaded in a trailer, held in a holding pen, confused and worried about how her world changed. While I understand the importance of a good slaughterhouse and the services they render, for just one pig it seemed like a big fuss. Instead the pig will die here in the place she has lived since she fit in a dog crate. Mrs. Frost will kill the pig with a single bullet from a rifle the animal will never see, and then together we'll hang and prepare the animal for the freezer. A station will be set outside with a santized table for the butcher work and another for wrapping. I was given a list of supplies and preparations, all very professional on Vicki's behalf. She's been doing this for over forty years and wants things to be as painless, respectful, and pleasant for all involved as possible. She's also excited I think to spend a day teaching. I'm happy to be her student.
So a big day isn't too far ahead. A lot to prepare for, in more ways than one.
So I'm at my kitchen sink. I'm doing dishes from my evening meal and listening to a Michael Pollan lecture at Google on Youtube. The leftovers have been packed up into the fridge for lunch. The coffee pot is loaded for 4:45 AM, and resting on the burner that just moments before held a pot of brown rice. The dogs are mumbling and shuffling about in the living room, going about dog business of the highest order. And I, I am scrubbing a small cast iron skillet I had scrambled a single Tamari-soaked egg in. There's a freshly baked pie aside me while I'm doing this, all this dishwashing and Michael Pollan listening, and it smells amazing. I made it that afternoon in case some guests stopped by that told me they'd try and show up. For some reason they didn't. So my tomorrow my coworkers will get some charitable pie to start their week with. Everything is perfectly mundane, could not be a more normal Sunday night.
And then I am hit with this wave of happiness. That is the only way I can describe it. I have to stop racking the rinsed dishes, put down my scrubber, and just kinda hold on to the edge of the sink. It's not like it was some mental orgasm or epileptic fit, just a simple lack of complaint. I couldn't stop myself from smiling. From feeling warm. And a few moments into it I realized it wasn't happiness exactly I was feeling, but gratitude. I was washing dishes and for whatever reason this bright fog of gratitude scooped me up. The weird part was it wasn't a feeling of thankfulness for tonight, but for the nights ahead. What I was experiencing was this deep, earth-shaking thankfulness for my big dreams. For lambs, for the farm life, for the books I haven't written, the man I haven't met, the meals I hadn't shared, the family I had yet to start. I was, for some reason, grateful for a life I didn't even know yet. It was the most peculiar thing.
I don't know what brought it on, but it was an amazing feeling. I wish I had better adjectives to describe it. It taught me this much though: I don't think it is possible to be truly happy unless you are deeply grateful. You need to meet every day on your knees in thanks for what you already have, and when you start a day feeling that way you can't possibly not find more things to be thankful for. Some how, this practice found a way to mutate inside me on it's own. It welled out of me, at this banal moment, as something so profound I can only call it grace.
I am not writing this as a girl living out a dream life, trying to tell a bunch of strangers about how happy she was doing her housework in her kitchen. My life is far from ideal, despite all the things you see on the web here, it is still a human life. There are things I would never share, or write about, or want to repeat and like all people tasked with a certain level of self-awareness—I am also haunted by mistakes and regrets, pain and heartbreak, sorrow and anxiety.
But why the hell should I focus on that?
What happened tonight, what just happened, what made me run and type here like this at my desk: it was a need to share this idea of gratefulness. I think it's the best feeling in the world. It's why I miss you is so much stronger than I love you. Gratitude is old and forever. It's the constant soil from which anything and everything we desire to make us happy comes from. Without it, all those things we pray for: money, relationships, farms, chicken coops: are fleeting highs of adrenal. But if you see the world with eyes with that soil in your crow's feet, the simplest things make you buckle from drive by grace. Sometimes when you least expect it.
Life is messy. So is farming. And I think the combination is the world's perfect fertilizer to grow a Jenna in.
I'm reading The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. It was a recommendation from a reader here, and very appreciated. So far it's been funny, bright, and warm. It's about two people living a life that I'm fairly certain is my exact definition of heaven: love on a draft-horse powered northern farm. Their impressive full-service, all-year, CSA ($2,900 a share!) feeds a hundred people everything from apples to bacon. Together this is their whole life, and while I am just a few chapters in I find myself relating so much to Kristin. She starts out the book in New York City but she gives in to her barnheart hard. She meets this knight in hay-strewn armor and so begins what I think is a true fairy tale. This is the story of the writer-turned-farmer, her man, and their land. Can't wait to get back to it...
In the comments section I'll add some other reading picks for winter, but I am more interested in what you guys have on your night stands and what books (farming related or not) are inspiring, warm, entertaining, and think others here would enjoy? Murder mysteries to how-to pamphlets know welcome here.
I could not pass yesterday up. The combination of mild weather (nearly 50 degrees!), melting snow, safe roads, and a Border Collie in training meant I would make the drive to Denise Leonard's Farm for a mid-wnter herding jaunt. For practical reasons I have slowed down Gibson's schooling (mostly to save money). But hell, sometimes you need to break your own rules when the logic of reality steps in. It was the perfect day for a lesson, the kind of day that won't show up again until April. A gift horse combination of circumstances that was worth dipping into the savings for. And anyone who trains animals knows you need to keep the dogs (and sheep) in the practice of work. Keep minds thinking, legs moving, and my heart rate up. So I packed up the Subaru and before dawn on the first day of the new yea—my pup and I were off to learn how to be shepherds.
In this video you can see how the lesson started. Gibson chases in circles, and Denise asks if this is how he acted when I let him herd at my own farm. Yup. At the end of the video she walks up to him smacking a training stick on the ground at him, but don't fret. The stick isn't used to hit dogs. It's used to smack on the ground next to them, or guide them, or block them, or pretty much make it clear that in this team the handler is the one holding the big stick. I love her admonishment "get out of it" which means "knock it off, jerk" and I now say it all the time. Usually when I am in a rut, bad mood, or acting foolish.
What a difference a few months make! The break from the sheep let him grow up a bit, calm down. He did so well at 10 months compared to his frantic first encounters as a seen-month-old. He was still a little wound to start (he always is), but his frenzy died so much sooner than last time. Within minutes his tail was down, his head low..and while he wasn't perfect, he was starting to look and act like a proper sheepdog.
And I was starting to look like a proper handler. I too need to learn how to move with ovines and canines in this crazy dance. I need to know what Gibson is doing and if it's right or wrong. You learn as much as you can from book charts and videos...but when it comes to the ordered chaos of the training pen most of that leaves my head and it's the voice of Denise, the training staff, and the lambs that I have to teach me.
As the lesson went on he was calmer, balancing the sheep with me, and laying down and stopping on command. By the end of the lesson we were working on a fence line, far outside the pen in Denise's upper field—and while it was a long way from the trial ribbons—our trainer was confident that if both of us stick with our training and goals Gibson could be a fully trained working dog by the ripe old age of three. It takes a while for the new kids to catch up, but we've almost hit his firth birthday (March 16th)
The annual NEBCA (North East Border Collie Association) meeting is in Albany on the 15th. I'll be there, and possibly the youngest person attending. The fact is there just aren't a lot of people in their twenties herding sheep in New England. I wonder why that is? There are certainly a lot of sheep farms, and plenty of younger people involved in other dog sports like conformation shows, obedience, agility and tracking? You don't need a farm or sheep of your own to start, just that weird desire to wear high boots, a warm sweater, and stand by your dog with the same goal in mind.
What a luxury to have today off, a weekday morning, here at the farm. Simple tasks like lighting the woodstove first thing, and setting about the weekend morning routine seem scandalous. Usually at this time on a Friday I am frantically swilling coffee from a travel mug as I zoom down 313 into Vermont. Right now, well, I haven't even showered yet.
I have plans to go up to the Agway in Salem later and buy some feed and warm socks—possibly start pricing materials for a modest hoop house. My midwinter mind has turned to growing things, as it tends to for all gardeners dealing with snowdrifts and seed catalogs at the same time. Hell, I planted snap peas in a yogurt container in my kitchen yesterday just to look forward to something green. The anticipation of just a few pea sprouts lights my mood and makes me miss having a banjo around here. For some reason pea sprouts and a banjos always go together for me.
This year's over. I have a lot of goals but most of them are personal. I've put so much energy into the farm this first year that my own needs have fallen to the wayside. So I started a morning and evening yoga and meditation practice again. Nothing drastic, just fifteen minutes of Zazen and a good stretch twice a day . I want to start every day able to clear my head and touch my toes. From these disciplines will come better fitness, less anxiety, and a calmer attitude towards myself: which I am sad to admit is usually discontent. My 2011 will be dedicated 100% to this farm and 110% to the farmer. She needs to heal up a bit.
There's much going on with the feather set around here... Starting with the fancy new additions to the chicken coop. Five Pumpkin Hulseys are now in holding cages in the trapper's coop here at the farm. They were sent up from Greenfire Farms in Florida, a barter for ad space here, and I can not wait to add this heritage breed to my flock. Pumpkin Hulseys are exactly what they sound like: bright orange firecrackers of chickens. Oddly enough, scrappy birds have a history at CAF. Shortly after I moved in Sheriff Tucker from across the street informed me that the famous Jackson Cockfights were held in my barn, a raucous affair, with plenty of shady folks and flowing booze. The hillside to the stream is littered with old glass bottles from decades ago under the piles of leaves and compost. While I have no interest in watching (or hosting/condoning) rooster fights, having some birds who were once bred for that purpose is a nod to the weird and tangled history of one little farm. Here's what the Greenfire Site says about these guys:
Pumpkin Hulseys emerged over a half-century ago when a famous ‘cocker’ from Texas named E.H Hulsey was losing cockfights because his birds lacked the size and hitting power necessary to win these brutal contests. But, from a friend in Memphis he heard the story of a single, pumpkin-colored rooster that was said to possess all the traits of a perfect gamecock, housed in a large and powerful body. (Memphis—the city that gave us barbecue, Elvis, and the blues— seems forever capable of supplying things that are beautiful and at least slightly dangerous.) Mr. Hulsey traveled from the dry plains of Texas to the humid streets of Memphis, and there he secured the seed stock that would make him one of the most successful cockfighters in America for the next two decades. The pedigree of that single bird remains a mystery, but its superior genetics were to spread through thousands of birds over the next half century. As Mr. Hulsey soon learned, the offspring of this mysterious rooster grew to be skilled and aggressive fighters, and pumpkin Hulseys gained the reputation as the favored breed to use when creating powerful hybrids that were smart and fearless in the pit.
While bred for the fighting pit, perhaps ironically pumpkin Hulseys also seem better suited than any breed for true free-range farm living. They have the flying capabilities of wild birds and are strong and fearless enough to fight predators, including hawks and owls. At night they roost in the tops of tall trees, and during the day they forage while the rooster maintains a protective vigil over his flock of hens. They are gentle to humans, and if integrated into a flock at an early age, will also tolerate other roosters.
Although there are many beautiful breeds of chickens, pumpkin Hulseys may stand at the pinnacle of aesthetics in the entire poultry hierarchy. They are simply stunning. The roosters may have hackles of a golden orange color that shimmers with light, and their taut, powerful bodies are tightly encased in feathers colored the many shades of the red and yellow spectrum. They possess an unblinking confidence, and in the aggressive caste of their eyes and erect posture you are reminded of a bird of prey rather than a chicken.
So there you have it. The roots of a breed, named after my favorite squash, from my favorite state, matching my favorite season, and oddly connected to the history of this scrappy farm. Let's hope they fair well. If they do I might even try hatching a few out in a small incubator.
I had a dream last night that there were four goslings in the snow by the well. They were peeping behind their mother, Saro as Cyrus kept watch from the small rise above the well's spout. I'm sure the dream came from the nest of eggs she is currently sitting on, which I discovered in the coop last night. I had been taking stray eggs from her to bake and sell since before Thanksgiving, but decided to let her keep the rest to sit on if she chooses. It was an act of pure independence.
The last time she had a brood was on rented land, and the landlord's caretaker told me that no animals were allowed to be bred or added to the property, so the goslings had to go. They were carted off to a friend's farm in Shaftsbury, then sold to other farms. If Saro does manage to hatch another set of goslings, then I will bring them in from the snow into warm brooder boxes, keep one or two, and sell the others to nearby farms. Toulouse Geese are regal beings, and I have learned since acquiring my original two how entertaining and useful they truly are. They keep watch and alert of you any strange goings on instantly, they create down and meat (though I could never eat these guys at this point), and they are great foragers, weeders, and slapstick comedians when they aren't acting like they're better than me. Fine animals all around. I highly recommend them if you want to laugh and feel judged at the same time.
There's a viable career path out there that just isn't getting the attention it deserves. It's not for everyone, of course, but for people with the right amount of drive and wit: it's the only way to go. It's got all the perks of the best corporate offices: amazing window views, a dependable workforce, a great gym, marketing and sales opportunities galore and the best part: you can eat your coworkers' children. You just can pull that shit off at the Googleplex.
It's shepherding, darling, and contrary to popular belief there's still a paycheck to be made with a dog at your side and crook in your hand. While some might think this has been a dead vocation since, I don't know, the Bronze Age—there's actually a living to be made raising sheep. You can take your pick how. You want to raise lamb chops? Go ahead. Prefer to raise sweaters? You can do that too. Maybe you want to sell authentic Ricotta, lanolin skin products, or shearling boots and coats? Well, you can do those all in spades, son. And if none of this suits you, well, then raise lambs for other farmers so they can. There's no glass ceiling when the walls are electric netting.
A sheep is a noble animal, probably the perfect small-farm livestock. I always say this, but that's because I really mean it folks. Sheep give us wool, yes, but they also manage to give us meat, milk, lanolin, landscaping, lambs, rugs, cheese, leather, fleeces, horns, buttons, entertainment, ambiance and Border Collies. They are better behaved than goats, and less dangerous than cattle and hogs. One person with a good dog can manage a whole flock with a few commands or whistle blows. I ask you, with all these products and processes how could one not succeed if they truly gave it their all?
So that's what I'm doing here. Cold Antler Farm is a mix of many different species and projects: but the keystone of the whole arc (ark?) is 100% ovine. I raise sheep because my region, my personality, and my desire to be outside can all marry with the aid of these beasts. And I want to be outside with them, so much.
I want to knit their yarn, deliver their lambs, host farm dinners, and shear their raw wool. I want to learn how to train and work with my business partner, the Border Collie, so someday long from now I can breed and train my own dog on my own land and raise him up under the supervision of wiser dogs. I want to know what it's like to feed a pregnant ewe in winter, help her raise her lambs all spring, watch them gambol and grow all the long summer, and learn to say goodbye in the fall. I want to thank them with October bonfires warmed by thick wool sweaters and hard cider from the trees they shared with me. I want them to show me how to be a proper person. One who knows how to be quiet, and still, and not make a fuss or need to escape all the time. There is so much to learn from the Zen that is shepherding with a hungry mind. Call it a pipedream if you must. No offense taken here. I find both pipes and dreams useful objects in a life worth reclining back into.
So on 6 and a half hilly, rough, acres in Washington County I will learn how to do all this, slowly, with many mistakes and lessons. I'll repair soil and pasture. I'll learn to breed and train. I'll figure out the fences and outbuildings, socks and sweaters: all of it. This is my work and my dream and how blessed it is to have those two nouns together form the beautiful verb FARM. Whatever sacrifices or struggles arise I'll meet them the way a proper sheepdog does, with a steady glare, ears back, and head low. (I am learning how to be a better person by watching superior animals work with all their heart.)
I want to do this for the rest of my life. I know won't get wealthy. I know won't travel far. I know might do it alone indefinitely. I know I might fail. I know I'll get hurt. I know it's all an emotional and social gamble. That's all okay.
And Kathleen, you are the winner for offering that suggestion first and simplest. Though I did love (and consider) Hazel, Petunia, Natalie Porkman, Portia, and Sue). Email me Kathleen so I can send you a signed copy of Chick Days! And thank you to all who entered!
chickens 101 workshops on the farm! *DATE CHANGES*
I plan on hosting Chickens 101 Workshops here at the farm in March and June. Two will be dedicated to raising chicks for eggs, and one will be about small-scale meat production.
Breakfast in the Backyard Sunday March 6th and Saturday 12th 2011 This is crash course in how to raise backyard chickens for beginners, and get this, it comes with chickens All people who sign up for the all-day workshop will go home with three heirloom laying chicks and a copy of my beginner's book: Chick Days. You'll go home with your new birds and everything you need to know to raise them right. This is a great opportunity for people who just need that friendly push to take the plunge into the poultry world. No experience with chickens needed to attend, and I am confident anyone leaving CAF that day will go home with confidence that they can raise their peeps to laying hens come fall.
The workshop will start at 10AM and include a brunch spread, coffee, and juice and start with group intros and lecture on how I came into birds and how they changed me into the farmer I am starting to become. There will be a tour of the coop and farm and more discussions on housing, healthcare, and a Q&A period as well. I would also like to host a group discussion about the importance of self-reliance and the first steps of adding animal husbandry to our modern backyards: both for food security and local production. It will be a day of like minds, baby chickens, farm animals, and probably a fiddle tune or two.
BBQ in the Backyard June 4th 2011 I will also do a workshop on small-scale meat bird production if there is an interest (which will not include a Chick Days book, but will include 5 meat birds to take home and raise for your table.) This all day events (also 10-4 with food and refreshments) will include lecture, and instruction in home processing with a live demonstation. You'll go home knowing exactly which boning knife to buy at the kitchen store and my secret leg loop trick for hanging fowl by their feet without a fuss. All the basics of raising backyard meat will be covered, but the bulk of the day will be on how to safely and humanely turn animals into food. (Trust me, I am an expert on the SAFE part after last summer's lesson). This will take place on the farm in on June 4th.
All workshops are limited to ten people, and slots are filled when the workshop is paid for to secure your space. If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com
So if you enjoy the blog (and are a member of Google) you can follow Cold Antler Farm fairly easily. Just sign into your google account and then you'll see that fancy "Follow" sign up by the search bar. Click that and you can keep track of the goings-on here as either your online self or anonymously. Since I use the old html version of this site, I can't just plop one of those cute widgets that say "Follow Me!" and shows your pretty faces. If you aren't a Google/Blogger member you won't even see the option of follow in that top bar, so just sign in and then visit CAF. Here's to old-fashioned instructions.
Yup. I decided to do it after all. Now several weeks into the piglife: I feel comfortable naming my bacon. This little girl needs a name and I'm asking you to make some suggestions. My favorite will become the little yorkie's new handle, and I'll mail you a signed copy of Chick Days as a thank you. To be fair, just one post per reader please.
I woke up with a mission. It was still dark outside, but from the lamppost light I could see that two feet of snow had drifted up against the glass doors in the living room. Just a pane of glass between my warm little house and the frozen tundra. I pulled a sweater over my head and walked to the front window, taking in the scene. About 18 inches of new snow had fallen, and was still falling hard. There was a loud wind, really loud. My home sits on the down slope of a small mountain and when the wind blows down you hear it before you feel it. Before I went outside to take on the weather I fired up the wood stove again, and put on a pot of coffee. Then I bundled up to take the dogs out and start shoveling.
I walked out with all my armor on. Carhartt coveralls, waterproof boots, wool socks, rabbit fur hat, ski parka and gloves. I looked up to the sheep sheds and not a sheep was outside their snowless caves. I couldn't blame them. I turned up my ipod and listened to an audiobook while I got to work. I started shoveling the drive, one scoop at a time and within forty-five minutes managed to free the car and move about a 1/4 of the snow off to the sides of fifteen feet of driveway (another 20 to the road, which was of course, piled with four feet of snow from street plows). I was heaving, so I decided to take a break and go inside to warm up. There is no rush, I can't rush. If I do it all at once I will burn myself out, pull my back, or cold get frostbite from a hole in a glove or boot. I have learned to do what I can in many small cuts instead of deep gashes. So, I took off my headphones and blew hot air into my gloves. White vapor came up all around my face in the 10 degree air. I watched it rise up in the blue sky and let myself get lost in the tiny meditation, that is until I heard a loud BBBBBAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH five feet behind me. I turned around and all eight sheep were at the fence gate. They must have marched down through the snow while I was lost in the work. Now I realized I had breakfast to serve, and that meant digging a path to their hay (and to them) before I went inside for my own coffee. My own break was delayed on account of eight rumens.... and fifteen minutes later they were all happily chomping through the blizzard on grass that was alive in Washington County ground in July. The wind picked up and they simply turned their wooly backed to it and kept eating. I suddenly never wanted coffee more in my life than that exact moment.
Inside I peeled off layer after layer and placed them in front of the wood stove to dry off a bit before I took on the rest of the driveway and new paths to the chickens, rabbits, and pig. I wasn't worried about the other animals. I had seen to them late last night when the first flakes started to fall and knew they had enough food and water to make it till noon if necessary. I had stapled more plastic on their windows, made sure all the chickens were in the coop or barn and shut the door tight. I was in no rush to free them either, since I knew the birds wouldn't leave the coop even if the door was wide open in this. Chickens aren't interested in reenacting the last scene of the Shining.
Storms like these stop a normal life. Schools are closed, offices shut down, and single people with day jobs and farms need to call in "snow." I had already spoke to my boss the night before explaining the amount of work that went into digging out the paths, animals, driveway and such. She told me to take off the entire day if I needed it, and I just might. People around here know that sometimes you just can't get into work when weather hits. Sometimes it's a fallen tree in your driveway, or lost power, or in this case: snowed in animals and everyone seems to understand the occasional necessary luxury of not going into the office when roads are closed. It's not even eight o'clock and the farm is just starting to get free of the snow and more is coming today, another 3-6 inches by noon. I'm going to fuel up on coffee and oatmeal and then head back out for round two: operation driveway. Hopefully this time when I stop shoveling for a break the pig won't be behind me wearing a bib and holding a knife and fork...
I'm back at the farm and mighty tired. After a long weekend of family and friends I packed up the car last night and headed north at dawn to be back at Cold Antler before the storm hit. Tonight they are calling for some serious snow: up to a foot with more in higher elevations. Right now it's dark as sin out there and the wind is picking up but not a single flake has fallen. I'm a little nervous about the old barn roof, my touchy furnace, and knowing the stone-cold fact that my entire morning will be dedicated to shoveling paths to the animals, hay, and water so that the place can function at near-normal levels. It's what we sign up for out here. I shovel with gusto.
I'm slowly catching up on emails (or trying), cooking dinner, and getting myself and the farm ready for the new year. I have some big goals (for me and this farm), and I'm dedicated to making sure I give them my all. Starting with getting more sleep, which I will see to by getting to bed a little earlier. Farmers do not watch Conan. It's a sad truth behind the label of pastured bacon.
I hope you all had a fine holiday, and if you live anywhere around these parts: prep the coffee pot tonight. You'll be grateful in the morning.
It's finally Christmas, and I am packing up the presents, dogs, and homebrew for a short vacation back in Pennsylvania to be with my family. Thanks to the goodness of the Daughton Family, I have secured some serious farmsitters and will be able to enjoy this holiday with my mother and father, brother and sister, and all 5 dogs (there are already two canine cousins waiting to meet us in Palmerton!). I'm excited for the road trip, too. It's been year since I've hit the highway, drank Starbucks (the Peppermint Mocha is a guilty pleasure), or truly strayed far from my land. This weekend will be the first time I haven't spent the night at my farm since I bought it. But the firewood will be stacked if it's needed, and the animals have their feeding rounds and heated buckets, and I feel good about this Holiday. It feels good to go home.
Also, I might be taking a short vacation from the blog as well, since this will be family time dedicated to doing nothing in particular besides talking, eating, drinking and laughing—and so the computer will be shut off or shut down. But I will be back Sunday, and writing up a storm. I just wanted to thank everyone for your readership and support and wish everyone out there a Happy Holiday! Stay safe, stay warm, and don't be afraid to hug a sheep.
There was a big vanilla sheet cake in the break room around 4 this afternoon. I checked to make sure no one was coming down the hall, and then wrapped up a giant piece about the size of my hand in paper towels. I stuck inside my sweater and snuck away with it like it was so sort of larceny. The cake was out for the taking of course, but not for what I had in mind. I put the paper towel wad in a plastic mailing envelope, shoved it into my messenger bag, and left the office like the secret ops smuggler that I was. I had a bounty of cake and I wasn't about to o home and binge either. I didn't want to eat it. I didn't want to save it. I didn't even want to compost it with a bucket of earthworms. I wanted to delight a pig.
And delight her I did. She nuzzled and chomped on the day-old baked good as if it was manna from heaven. Sure, I could have enjoyed the cake myself, but my own fleeting gustatory desires would have nothing on the joy I got out of watching my little girl root and lap up that frosting and yellow cake. It covered her snout and she sneezed to get it out of her nose. Then she ran ate the cake snot off she added to the feeder bin. I poured on some cracked corn and she squealed with delight. Her little curled tail wagged. Her little hooves lifted up and down. I leaned back against the stack of hay and looked at the Yorkshire shoat I was growing. She was easily as long as a Labrador now, and at least seventy pounds. In just a few weeks she doubled in size and her attitude around me has turned into a Labrador's as well. When I scratch her head she lays down in bliss and when I rub her tummy she kicks her legs the same way Gibson does when I hit a sweet spot. She's clean, tubby, generally quiet, and between the food from work and her few bags of feed: really inexpensive. So far there isn't even a hint of odor. She uses one section of the barn as a bathroom and since I cover it up with hay and wood chips, it never seems to fester. I'm actually shocked at how swell it's been going. Why doesn't everyone have one of these in the garage?
The bell rang at ten on the dot, and I was still flustered. I had only left the farm an hour earlier (it is impossible to get anywhere on time when you are constantly monitoring 41 other lives) and had finished just setting up my display three minutes before the official start of the event. As soon as the bell rang money was passed and food was bagged. There was a lot of winter produce (shocking amounts), freshly baked breads, cheese, milk, soaps, meat, candles, and hand-knit goods. If I had the means (or time) I could have bought everything I needed to make pot roast, a green salad, mashed potatoes, and as many veggie sides as I wanted for dinner (not to mention rolls and dessert) from a 100% local selection. It was uplifting to see so many people producing food in the middle of winter. I was also impressed by how good it looked. Every winter squash and carrot was mouth watering. The heated greenhouses of Bennington and Washington Counties are pumping overtime!
So the market was a lot of fun even it wasn't financially successful. I didn't sell a single skein of yarn, but I did sign and sell a few books. And that managed to make enough money to cover my table, gas, and buy 100 pounds of cracked corn and chicken feed on the way home. Not bad for a first time out, certainly not a loss my any measure. Any you know what?I don't think this was the yarn crowd at all. The market seemed to cater to either the highest-end shoppers swinging by on their ski vacations for morning pastries or locals who simply ran out of carrots and wanted to get out of the house. I feel that yarn folks are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum: people looking for a certain product, not browsing. But I was happy to see my skeins were the same price as the other yarn vendor.
Someone asked why I even bother with a farmer's market when I could sell out of yarn online? My answer is simple: I want my neighbors to get to know me. I want local people who are stumbling by to say hello and learn there's a new sheep farm in town. I love and appreciate this online community, but I also want to get to know the people in my area who also share my interests and values and a warm market like this in the heart of winter is a great example to take a field trip from the farm and shake some hands. I spent the entire day talking to people with sheep histories, hearing stories from beautiful faces who grew up on sheep farms before the world changed. One European ex-pat woman named Viola told me (as she shook a skein of my yarn at my nose) to never to get married and to stay smart. Another woman told me about the cabin on her great grandfather's sheep farm with a fireplace just like little house on the prairie. A fellow who grew up with summer chickens talked about his old flock and a man who just got some pet hens bought Chick Days as a gift. And Holly, a woman with a small farm in Bennington whom I bought some birds from last summer was delighted to see the story of getting those birds in her house made page 56. It was a lovely day. I plan on returning with some of your fantastic ideas to help the booth in January. I'll have some hand-knit goods, pattern giveaways, and one of those digital frames of my best photography of the gang here. My goal for the next market: sell three skeins!
So that was why I did the market. Cold Antler Farm isn't just a new business: it's a community and a personal culture just peeping out of of the New York soil. I want it to be part of the local food and craft network and to meet people who had been doing this longer and far better. I could always come home and sell some yarn online later. So no regrets from this farmer.
The blog of author Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm. Here she writes about her adventures following her crazy dream life as a self-employed writer, homesteader, archer, falconer, equestrian, martial artist, hunter, spinner, brewer, geek, and real-life Game of Thrones Extra. She loves movies, pop culture, running far, and eating animals. On twitter @coldantlerfarm
And when the children are safe in bed, at one of the great holidays like the Fourth of July, New Years, or Halloween, we can bring out some spirits and turn on the music, and the men and the women who are still among the living can get loose and really wild. So that's the final meaning of "wild"- the esoteric meaning, the deepest and most scary. Those who are ready for it will come to it. Please do not repeat this to the uninitiated. -gs