Saturday, April 2, 2011


It's 3AM on a Saturday morning. When I was in college, 3AM was normal. We'd be over a friend's apartment, still swigging bottles of Yuengling and talking about how we were going to change the world through graphic design. We'd be on some rooftop in warmer Pennsylvania, laughing through clouds of cigarette smoke and candlelight while the Postal Service played Clark Gable in the background. John Mayer's quiet version from some Atlanta bar of 3x5 was an anthem. I would crank it up as I drove through Amish country, singing along as I planned my future with friends passenger side. Stories about how by the time we were thirty we would have seen Europe, got printing in Comm Arts, and starting our own firms. I was already planning my future brick loft's Eame's furniture in my Rittenhouse Square apartment. I was all set.

It's 3AM on a Saturday morning. I am sitting in an 1860's farmhouse in Washington County New York. I'm typing on the same six-year-old Mac I graduated college with. I'm sitting at the same desk I scribbled on when I was fifteen. It looks nothing like an Eame's desk. It was my grandfather's desk and it was a gift from my parents shortly after I moved in. It is scratched and simple. An old Smith Corona sits here next to a stack of farming memoirs by far better writers than I. And a snow globe that cost three dollars with a black bear in it says Great Smoky Mountains and I am starting to cry just looking at it. It was Tennessee that showed me homesteading, and farming, and mountains, and music. I miss her so much.

It's 3AM on a Saturday morning and I am exhausted. Today three new beasts were born on the 6 and a half acres I now own. One ram lamb was a struggle just to keep alive and the twins I just walked in on. They were Lisette's and already asleep with full bellies when I found them at 2AM. I was so happy for this sheep it caused pause. The ewe I had worried about, given glycol shots to, medicated and called the vet to inspect...the sheep I expected everything to go wrong with come birthing had done it all herself. Her ewe-lamb and ram-lamb twins were big, beautiful, babies and now all three are in a stall next to the yearling and her little curly-faced boy. He seemed alert and healthy as of a few minutes ago. I hope they all pull through.

It's 3AM on a Saturday morning and I am not exactly sure how the design student in the red Jetta became the farmer in the Dodge pickup. I am certain that this farm—and this life—that so many people see as limitations and stress, is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my entire life. I don't know if the other version of me with the Herman Miller chair and wall of records would have friends that would come running to help me when I was scared about a possible prolapsed uterus. I may have had a fully-stamped passport, but would I even know the person who's name was on the front cover? Maybe. I know most of those people I shared all my big plans with in college no longer talk with me. I miss them all.

I do know that it's 3AM on a Saturday night and I am happy. Five lambs and four ewes are okay. My border collie is chasing shadows in the living room and tomorrow I will buy more anti-toxin, crimp ear tags, give shots, band tails and buy mineral licks and all of it was never talked about on rooftops while Ben Gibbard crooned.

It's time to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow. One ewe left to go and lambing season is over.

What a ride it's been.

Sorry about the lack of pictures.
I didn't have a camera by my side this time.


Blogger Lee Ann said...

You live a beautifully full life, Jenna. Thank you for sharing it with us.

April 2, 2011 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

I think that this version of your life can't be beaten! Perhaps, in a parallel universe somewhere, there is another you, lingering over coffee, meeting up with friends, running your own business and living in an apartment. I bet I know which you is happier and more satisfied though!

April 2, 2011 at 3:57 AM  
Blogger karen said...

To be able to live a life with passion, where all that you do is interconnected, is a blessing. Many people would be too afraid to step up and challenge themselves to learn new things, try new things, to risk failure, to fail and admit it, to pick up and try again. Limitations? Hardly! Thank you for sharing all that you do, you are an inspiration. Hope you got a good sleep! Karen from CT

April 2, 2011 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can do it! I don't care that you did or didn't have a camera, your descriptions were good enough.


April 2, 2011 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Velma said...

congrats on the lambs. and your life, well, sculpting a life is always hard, no matter what decade you're in. doing it well is the key.

April 2, 2011 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Go Jenna. I'm so happy Lisette lambed okay. Twins! congratulations to her and you. Sleep well now.

April 2, 2011 at 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have sheep. I have cows. Yet I feel the same. My neighbor's wife is upset with him for painting a rosy picture of life with cows. We've experienced a lot with our 2.5 cows in the last 2 weeks. I get upset just thinking about them not being there. Life is good!

April 2, 2011 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Your writing makes me cry on a Saturday morning when my family is still asleep. Thank you for sharing your experiences with such beautiful writing.

April 2, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Yay Lisette! I'm so glad everything turned out alright.

April 2, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Rurality said...

Congratulations yet again! Unspeakably happy for you.
Schedule a nap.

April 2, 2011 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Couldn't help this second post, I just noticed when I reread your post that you got it exactly right, you just had a little typo in your dream: It wasn't a "firm" you were going to start before you were thirty, it was a FARM.

April 2, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Congrats - on both the lambs and the life.

April 2, 2011 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger juliewondergem said...

I can not begin to thank you enough for your blog and your books. Even though we have never met and most likely will never met I feel as if you are my friend and your story has greatly inspired my own. I think that the life that you live most resembles my kind of heaven on earth. With all of the hard times that you endure and all of the deviations from your original path, your life is richer and fuller. I hope that my life will expand in the same ways.

April 2, 2011 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger mgamroth said...

Whew! Lambing season can be intense, no doubt. Try to remember that the bond between people and sheep is long and deep. The connection feels almost hardwired, primitive. Trust that your girls know what to do.
One of my ewes lost her triplets to a difficult and complicated labour. As comfort, she's become a wet-nurse to another's twins. Such grace and cooperation!

April 2, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Continued blessings, Jenna. You are where you are meant to be. One of my mottos is, "I had to be there, to get here."

April 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. If you can roll with it, you might just find the life you wind up with is infinitely more satisfying than the one you envisioned. (Speaking from personal experience.) Besides - why can't you still have that Eames chair one day - assuming you still want one?

April 2, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Oh my goodness I am so happy for you and for Lisette. Your blog is so heartwarming and real. You are where God meant for you to be. You bring such joy to so many people with your writings. So glad the night was productive. Have a good weekend and can't wait for the pics. ;~))

April 2, 2011 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Dreams change and you are living a very different, but more amazing dream. This life you have chosen for yourself with sustain you now and even more in the future. That exhaustion that you feel is similar to that of finals have that moment of "what the #$%& and I doing??" and then the next week you are signing up for next semester. Once this season has passed - you will rest up for a bit and be ready to face your next challege. I know that you inspire me and I read how you inspire others. You should feel proud of this.

April 2, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

...BTW I used to dream about getting 6 figures and a vintage I can't wait to get something like this:
...see Dreams change!

April 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Cris said...

Who knew running a labor and delivery unit for sheep could be so exciting?!? You are doing great--get some sleep, and hopefully the last lambing will be an easy one. I am so glad to hear that the weak ram is thriving. Good work, farmgirl!

April 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Thank you for stating so beautifully what this life feels like for those of us that live it - it can sometimes be so hard to convey to those who don't (and don't wish to). I just told an old and very dear friend yesterday that I can barely even remember my life before this. Congratulations on the lambs - I know you're not quite done, but you're on the home stretch, and well done!

@Kate - spot on.

April 2, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Congratulations, I think Juliewondergem said exactly what I was thinking. My adult kids now ask me what my "other" daughter is doing on the farm.

I am so thankful I stumbled upon your article in Mother Earth News and have followed your life since. I know in my heart (if that matters) that you have made the right choice for your life and I so look forward to following along and cheering you as you move throught this journey.

April 2, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Wild Plum Cottage said...

Your 3 a.m. writing is beautiful. You seem to have found exactly the place you're meant to be.

April 2, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger kringsrud said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes-- for your beautiful writing, for your passion, for your love of farming, and for your generosity in sharing it all with us. What an amazing journey you are on. You are truly blessed!

April 2, 2011 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger karental said...

I've been reading your blog for nearly two years. Read about the triumphs and tragedies. This is the first one that brought me to tears. Congratulations, Jenna.

April 2, 2011 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

You are an incredibly gifted writer. Even though I live in the city, your writing made me feel like I was right there at the farm.

April 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made me cry, dang it! Beautifully said. I'm so happy and relieved about Lisette and the babies. I know that's a load off of your mind! As I was reading your troubles with the ramling yesterday, I was so worried. Of course, I was concerned for the little guy, but my true worry was for YOU and what you had to get through, still not knowing if this new mom would get the idea and if the little guy would thrive. As I told my husband about the situation(he gets daily updates about the life of our 'other daughter'), I was saying, "I hope Jenna's okay," not "poor little lamb."

I don't think either of my daughters is doing what she planned when she was in college, either, but neither of them has a life as full and satisfying as yours. I pray that they find their passion and pursue it, because that is where the happiness lies. It's in the pursuit of what makes you get up and go!

April 2, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger gooddogboy said...

You got the mood just right. That is what it was like in college, but most of us had an inkling of what we wanted to do and be. You just got right on it right away. This is a great post. You are an inspiration.

April 2, 2011 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Life is what you make it. And you've made a great life for yourself. You should be very proud of yourself. Hell, I'm proud of you. Enjoy every minute, even if you're exhausted. Cause its all worth it in the long run. Congrats on your new babies. Pictures please ;)

April 2, 2011 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

You have done so well Jenna and deserve to be proud of what you have.

April 2, 2011 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope to one day to have an amazing day like that. What a beautiful life you have created for yourself.

April 2, 2011 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Marc Hogan said...

Coming across this late, but what a beautiful post! "3x5" (and I think I know the exact version you mean) has always been a favorite of mine, even long since I stopped knowing anyone else who seemed to want to talk about Mayer's old music. (I'd like to write about it more often, but finding an outlet for that stuff if you're a mostly indie-level music journalist is actually easier said than done!)

April 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM  

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