Sunday, June 12, 2011

especially lamb masala

I got home from the herding clinic by 2:30, and that only left me a few hours to prepare for the party. A few weeks back my friend Wendy (whom I met at Riding Right) asked if she could have her birthday party at my farm? She promised me she'd take care of all the food and clean up, she just wanted to cook out and kick up her heels outside the city of Saratoga Springs. She said she'd invite a small crowd, respectful of animals and not bothered by sheep poo on their shoes, so could she do it? I was happy to oblige. It was kind of strange to become someone's celebratory destination, though.

So the party was that night, and with just a few hours till the decorating committee and musicians showed up, I had cleaning, cooking, mowing, mulching and other regular farm chores to blast through. In the rush I mowed the Crafstman push mower right next to the hive, thinking they would act as calmly as they usually do when I putz around the garden area. Instead of acting like a monastery, it became an aircraft carrier. a few guards shot out, and circled around my sweaty hands. I accidentally clamped down on one in my left palm as it squirmed between my fingers. It said goodbye to the world by shooting a stinger down into the tip of my middle finger. I cursed and grasped my left wrist with my right hand and shook it at myself. I held up the one sore finger to inspect it.

Oh boy...I couldn't help but smile at the prank. I stood there giving myself the finger on behalf of one pissed-off martyr. Talk about getting the last word...

By 6PM Wendy and Jim had set up their drink station, buffet, and people started showing up. Diane came with three Freedom Ranger chicks as a housewarming present and they went into the brooder with the turkeys. Folks took tours around the farm via Wendy. She seemed proud to be here, and was happy to show people around. It was touching to overhear.

We grilled burgers our Riding Instructor Hollie made from her brother's cows, and Jim made the kind of Mojitos you just don't forget. Diane brought a wheel of her 2-month-old aged cheddar she made herself. For this farm it was a high class time.

After we finished our dinner in the front room of burgers and jerk chicken, we all retired to the living room where Ed (fiddler) and Tom (guitar) were already playing some tunes. They were wonderful, and as the night got rainier, the conversation louder, and the sun set in the gray sky, we could still see the sheep outside the horizontal windows over the daybed in the background. It made all the preparations and stings worth it. Hell, Ed and Tom made this month's mortgage payment worth it! (If you click this link here, you'll get a to listen to a tiny bit of it) Wendy see,ed thrilled to have the friends, food, music and the farm all come together for her big day. Actually, everyone aboard CAF that night seemed to be enjoying the same relaxed grin.

Or maybe it was the Mojitos?

Writing this, I realize how perfect this life might seem to many of you. Some nights like last night, I get tricked into that too, but I promise you this place is far from paradise. I feel like a lot of you have been following this blog for years, and maybe you think this is the end of the three-part story? Girl gets in a tight spot, Girl freaks out, Girl buys farm. But I can't stress enough how far I need to go to get to my own goals, and how bumpy the ride is getting there.

There are serious problems here: issues with stress and anxiety, family expectations and support, financial woes, and also going through this whole adventure alone and not sure if that will ever change. It makes a girl tired. Very tired.

I don't write about these harder things as often, because honestly, I try not to even dwell on them. I learned a long time ago the only way to maintain this crazy dream is to inhale positive thoughts and ideal circumstances only. If I ever stopped to realize the risks, dangers, and irrational things that go into living this way: I'd never had done any of it in the first place. And I say that as a woman who has been knocked unconscious, rammed, sunburnt, cut open, and cried herself to sleep with worry more times than I care to admit.

But those bad things aren't the majority of my life. They're maybe a third? And usually I'm two busy with the rest of that fraction to give myself the luxury of much fear or stress. I learned if you stay busy enough, and put blinders on towards a goal, you will reach it and not focus too much on the possibility of negative outcomes. So I do that, and I pray that someday I'll stop working in the middle of the carrot patch, take a deep breath, and realize my twenties are behind me and I get over myself a little. Start lengthening my stride.

Cold Antler Farm is my refuge, my goal, and my motivation every day. It's my purpose and it's my responsibility, but you have to understand that as much as I love it, it isn't getting easier. But you know what? I don't think love is ever easy. Not if it's genuine and you're honest with yourself. Not if it's worth it.

Would I trade it all in to be back in Knoxville with just two dogs in an apartment? Never.

...But I do miss Indian food.

27 Comments:

Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I think you are on to something with having the celebration at your house. That little piece of enjoyment, with no goals involved, just good food, music and friends...

June 12, 2011 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

and this is where you need a "like" button:-) Great post!

June 12, 2011 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I admire you. You've reached for dreams and the road to dreams is full of learning curves. When we feel alone in our challenges...it's an illusion. This blog of yours is proof of that. Yes, people follow along to hear a good story...but mostly, people care about your goals and cheer you on! I know you know that! Life in suburbia is full of crying nights too! LOL You have the right approach...good food, good critters, good music (especially when you make it!), good laughs (especially at ourselves), and good faith! Keep doing what you're doing girl!! It's great stuff! I wish I could come over and make you a mean curry though!
Cheers and hugs,
Courtney

June 12, 2011 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Jenna thanks for your honesty and frankness about your life. You are not alone. I too am crying myself to sleep at night, think myself crazy for wanting a farm and a career as a librarian and wonder how my husband and I keep it together as he travels across the country for work. But like you I have such love for what I am doing that no matter the hurtles I seem to keep getting back up and facing them. Once your dreams are realized there is no turning back. Do you know how lucky we are to know exactly what we want out of life? I thinks its worth all the stress and worry. You will make it Jenna! I will make it. We are strong, smart and resourceful women! Anything is possible. Hugs from far away!

June 12, 2011 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

girl refuge or not you have been through hell this year and just being a single woman farm owner (like I am) you need to see a doc about some zoloft and xanax. sorry to say it but there is a physical reason other than hard work for your stress and tiredness. depression is not in your head. it is a physical reaction that can be treated just like an infection; think about it. you really don't want to miss enjoying your farm.

June 12, 2011 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Lissa B. said...

I think everyone can relate, no matter where they are or what their circumstances might be. I long for a farm, just a small one, but my Husband is city through and through. I long for the simple life, he longs for the newest internet capable pda and a new motorcycle because his buddy at work just got one. Love is never easy! We've been together 11 years now, living in the city the entire time. Now he's finally getting tired of the city life (mainly the loud neighbors) and is coming around to the idea of a country life. You just have to keep sight of your goals and keep working toward them. My loves are my husband and daughters...and the farm I hope to have someday. I work hard every day to make the first three happy and the last happen. Just know that all of us out here who read you are in the same boat. That happy, tired, frustrated, exhausted, thankful kind of love is what pulls a lot of us into homesteading in the first place, I think. Good luck with all of it and know that we're always here, cheering you on. Although I don't have a good recipe for Lamb Masala...but my Mom makes a pretty mean Lamb Kabob served with Naan bread and yogurt sauce that is TO DIE FOR! ;-)

June 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Amen, Farm Girl! Sometimes I find myself barely able to breathe when I look at all the farm chores that need to be done when I get home from work(and the credit card bills that have arisen from starting a little farm of my own). You've done amazing things and as I walked around your farm last night, I thought how comfortable and peaceful it is - all the birds meandering around the chicken yard, the sheep and Jasper on the hill in view of the kitchen window. A ton of hard work goes into it, but it sure looks worth it.

June 12, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger aHunkaHunkaBurningLove said...

wow what a cool looking ceiling

June 12, 2011 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

It's the original beams! The people who redid this house dropped the ceiling in the kitchen (maybe 7 feet hight), and put plastic/fake tin in the front room, but the living room has the old beams and now a wood stove and I love it. I live in that room and the kitchen.

June 12, 2011 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Such a great post as usual. Thanks for sharing your deepest feelings with all of us. Just so you know, that for a lot of people, your 20's really suck a lot of the time and it really does start to even out as you get older! Follow your heart, don't listen to the naysayers ( especially if they are family) and seek out like minded souls who will help validate the choices your heart leads you to make. You have reached more personal goals in one year than many will in a lifetime. Slow down a little so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You have the rest of your life to realize all that you want to accomplish. Wishing you the best summer ever- with love-Karen from CT

June 12, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger kringsrud said...

I enjoy reading about your challenges as much as I enjoy reading posts like this one. The balance keeps it real. And aren't our joys so much sweeter for the struggles it took to get to them?

June 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

ahunkahunkofburninglove is my new favorite commenter name either

June 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I mean, EVER

June 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Sounds like life. Those feelings of fear and stress get to us all no matter what we are doing, seems like you might as well be up to something big and stress about that than end up stressed over the little stuff. Friends, music, good food, that's the cure. And we are all on your side. Your friend who toured her friends around the farm, I'm sure she is proud of you and Cold Antler. How many people do you think share your adventures with their friends around the water cooler? I'll bet plenty of people who don't read your blog know who you are, there are several at my work place who have never laid eyes on the blog but they know about Knox and chicken dinners and an awesome wood stove that has candals in it!

June 12, 2011 at 9:00 PM  
OpenID notherethenwhere said...

Sounds like a really great time (maybe minus the sting, though). I think you're right that love and the things that really are working are just aren't always that easy, and in some ways I find that that helps to temper the hardships a bit, which I hope is the case for you. But, in the end, I guess you do the best you can with what you have and focus on the good stuff as much as possible.

June 12, 2011 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Erin Leigh said...

My life didn't even really begin until I turned 30. The 30s are wonderful! Jenna, don't despair - life has a way of swooping in and dropping what you've longed for right at your feet when you least expect it. I met my hubs at 34, married 4 months later, had a baby at nearly 36 and another at 37. My head is still spinning!!
You have already accomplished more than most do in their whole lives!

June 12, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

I like the “put blinders on towards a goal”--found that is how I get by while somehow coming to a balance where I can enjoy the ride as well. It took a lot of work to get there though!...and constant attitude maintenance and some crying too, and although the journey is rough and unpredictable in its outcome, I too wouldn’t change a thing. As for the twenties! I sure don’t miss them (going to be 31 this November). I think what also helped me was making the somewhat heartbreaking decision (at the time) to move out of the Midwest where I was certainly in the minority being a singleton past 24 (not for lack of trying and social endeavors). Although I would love to find someone to enjoy the ride with, getting away from being reminded I’m single like there was something wrong with me has given me something that I’m very grateful for.
I’ve just recently started following your blog and have only been able to read up to 2009 on the posts, so I’m not completely filled in on your story yet, but your words, heart/spirit, and even the idea that someone else is out there not going through exactly the same things, but at least similar and also experiencing similar simple joys is something that helps lengthen my stride a bit more.
Your house is beautiful—jealous for your wood floors!
Thank you for your writing and thoughts.

June 12, 2011 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

as i've said for a while now, "you cant get good thai food in an amish town." but nights like our nite here make it worth it. great work baby!

June 12, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Oh honey, you are so far ahead of where I was at thirty. I've so been where you are with the financial fear thing, which is a hell of a lot scarier with a mortgage. My best advice is to save, save, save some money, and keep saving it.

And truly, the minute you have it altogether and are humming along like a well-oiled machine all by yourself and having a man around would just be throwing the wrench into works, that's when it will happen. When it's the least convenient to be distracted is when he'll probably show up.

When people start wanting to have their weddings at your farm is when you'll have to start charging for it. It could only help with the mortgage, right?

June 13, 2011 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

so learn to make indian food. bus in all seriousness, the stress is always there in one way or another, the trick is to keep on and not let it get you to stop. just like your doing. i found that it (life) got better in my thirties and, one year away from my 40's it will probably get better still. as it will for you.

pet the dogs for me,
kandy

June 13, 2011 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Fifties are the pinnacle for us women. We get wisdom and we know what to do with it. Self-confidence and assuredness are higher than they have ever been (I will be 54 next weekend) and that translates into a solidity of character…

Best decade so far, by a long margin.

June 13, 2011 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

What Lynda H-O said! I'll be 50 in nine months and I can't wait. I loved my 30s...not so much my 40s (except for that new-grown wisdom) and cannot wait to turn 50! Stress is just different with each decade.

June 13, 2011 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger BrokenRoadFarm said...

I continue to be in awe of everything you do at CAF...by yourself no less! I hope that you will continue your story for many years to come. If it weren't for you, and stumbling upon your blog last winter, I would never have realized that the niggling voice in the back of my head was my yearning to take our 10 acres and start homesteading. Because of you, I now make my own butter, bake my own bread, have my vegetable garden going full tilt and have recently added four pullets to our brood of 2 dogs and 3 cats :-) I know there are times when you think it is overwhelming - we've all been there, done that in our "normal" everyday lives - but you give us the strength and fortitude to keep on keeping on. If Jenna can do it, we can too! You go girl! And did I mention - please keep sharing!!

June 13, 2011 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger scorpiogirl said...

Keep the faith Jenna, dreams don't come easy. You have your values in all the right places. I am this close to 50 and started my own business in my 30's, I had the dream but not a clue, eventually it was very successful but I spent many days and nights with knots in my gut and unbearable fear and stress. So many people thought my work was amazing but I never felt like I deserved the praise. Many others thought I was just having fun, playing every day at work. My body paid the price for many years of physical labor and in the end I walked away from the whole deal and never looked back. Do I regret it?would I have done it differently? do I miss it? No, no, and
no!!! I dared to dream, just like you and so many of your readers. We are what makes the universe spin. You go girl and, as if you need any more friends, just ask. Two ears, no waiting here.

June 13, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

When the going gets tough in our little bit of farm heaven I remind myself that staying on the message of this is my dream life sees me through the tough stuff (well maybe not in the darkest night) but most times. You seem to be doing great given all the challenges you face of climate, time etc.

June 14, 2011 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I don't know how but I missed this post. I honestly feel the same way about our little "farm"... the good and the bad. Keeping my eye on the goal is sometimes all I can do to get to the next day and push through the financial struggles, the exhaustion, the constant projects. I feel worn right now but the reasons, motives, goals, and purpose I have for doing what I do is worth it in the long run. To get to that moment each day that screams, this is worth it... is so worth it.

P.S. I met my husband at the horse barn and he wouldn't leave me alone. I didn't see that one coming... you won't either. :)

June 17, 2011 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

Jenna when I read this bit ****here are serious problems here: issues with stress and anxiety, family expectations and support, financial woes, and also going through this whole adventure alone and not sure if that will ever change. It makes a girl tired. Very tired.

I don't write about these harder things as often, because honestly, I try not to even dwell on them. I learned a long time ago the only way to maintain this crazy dream is to inhale positive thoughts and ideal circumstances only. If I ever stopped to realize the risks, dangers, and irrational things that go into living this way: I'd never had done any of it in the first place. And I say that as a woman who has been knocked unconscious, rammed, sunburnt, cut open, and cried herself to sleep with worry more times than I care to admit.

***** I had to check I was reading your blog not mine lol! I tussle often with getting cross at myself for self pity(which I loathe in others let alone in myself!) and yet also talking gently to myself and trying to cut myself some slack. My twins are nearly 6,I am a single parent in the middle of divorce proceedings that I am paying for and work harder now than I ever did in the office job days.If someone wrote my job description down most people would guffaw loudly and walk away!

But its my life and I love it. As you went on to write, the bad bits are a third,the other 2thirds are more than enough to make up for it arent they x

I dont like to write about the crap days too much but neither do I want anyone thinking life is a bed of roses and what I call the Oh Its Alright For You Factor. Walk a mile in my shoes I think to myself when I sense that!

I get told so often to slow down, do less,but the fact of the matter is with children let alone livestock there are some things that are simply essential, you cant just throw your hands up and say hey I am taking the day off guys! But I eat well,I go to bed as early as I can, and I am getting slowly better at recognising the few lol opportunities when I can think hang on girl stop, and sit down for a bit.
GTM x x x x x

June 19, 2011 at 4:49 AM  

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