Monday, April 2, 2012

thank you, friends

Thank you to everyone who helped me make the down payment towards Merlin! I sent a check on Friday, it was for well over half of what I owed by June 1st. People donated from all over the country to help make this fine boy mine, and I do not take it for granted for a second. It is the community here that is making him possible, and as a thank you I will auction off my early 1900's fiddle as a thank you for that to the folks who were a part of the story. Some people said they wouldn't take it, but I hope the winner does. I don't want Merlin to be a gift, I want him to be a combination of sacrifices, sweat, work, friends, and hope.

You can read the conversation and controversy here, and of course the event goes on until I pick a winner on the Sunday after Shearing Day, April 15th. Stay tuned, and thank you again for all you do for this farm girl. I will write as long as you read.

(Merlin thanks you, too)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you do here is valuable and priceless.

April 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And some money came from Australia 12,000 miles away on the other side of the planet :-)I had my first lesson for 2.5 years yesterday and some of that inspiration definitely comes from Jenna and Merlin.

April 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

A big thumbs up for this!

April 2, 2012 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Tell Merlin that he is welcome.

April 2, 2012 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger PattyW said...

Love is all around! & magic too.

April 2, 2012 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...


April 2, 2012 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Well deserved Ms Jenna, glad you're at least halfway there! Peace, love n magic to you & your black pony~

April 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is so beautiful, Jenna! I am proud for you both!

April 2, 2012 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger TwoBlueHeelers said...

Congratulations, Jenna! And what a beautiful, beautiful photograph. You and Merlin look like you are melding minds together. Ride on!
P.S. Hubby Chris is downstairs now, picking out Twinkle, Twinkle on his guitar, by feel alone. Your adventures lead others to try new things!

April 3, 2012 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

Your writing is your gift to us who enjoy reading and find inspiration and joy doing so.

April 3, 2012 at 1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And from the UK too as thanks for the inspiration - I'm on the way to my own little dream and your blog and books give me hope when things are slow or tough. Fantastic news that you're well over halfway already. I think Merlin's magic is spreading far and wide.

April 3, 2012 at 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if you auctioned off something really magical (deeper connection with you) and also practical (a one- month series of phone calls inspiring and giving practical advice to someone looking to make the farming leap)? At $20 a ticket, a lot of folks would dive in, the winner would get something amazing and unique, and you'd get to make money and a difference:)

April 3, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if you auctioned off something really magical (deeper connection with you) and also practical (a one- month series of phone calls inspiring and giving practical advice to someone looking to make the farming leap)? At $20 a ticket, a lot of folks would dive in, the winner would get something amazing and unique, and you'd get to make money and a difference:)

April 3, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger ladonna benes said...

Give up the t.v., the smart-dumb phones, work hard and I mean really hard, don't ask for 'things' that you can't afford, live but do it actively and not vicariously, make mistakes. Advice only gets you so far...that I know, one must 'do' it to know it. Live simply. Did I say "life isn't about instant gratification it is about working your ass off". I don't 'get' what people are so fascinated by in your blog. I get that people don't believe that they can do this. Homesteading. My parents did it and I will do it...not by technology but by digging in and working. I won't be buying ready made chicken coops etc. I'll reuse and recycle what there is or what I can find. Even hobby farming means sacrafice. I know what I'm talking about, I grew up on a ranch/farm. It's not pretty alot of days, animals die, crops get wiped out, chicken poop really smells bad, sheep have to be dewormed alot. If you want to read about how it is Countryside magazine. More realistic. Everyone has a right to their opinion and mine is that your blog only covers a small percentage of the 'truth' of farm living. It is not about instant gratification...even if you want the horse. Save your money and wait for it. Respectfully, a country girl.

April 3, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

Congratulations Jenna! I know you will savor every moment and every experience with Merlin!

Grace and Peace,


April 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger livin life said...

Good morning Jenna.....I came here to ask how to contact you as I would like to help with your dream. That is still a fact, I am not sure how to reach you. However, I am stunned that somebody would take time..and a bit of it to write something so negative on your blog comments. Of course everyone is entitled to their own oppinions....and I also think life gives us what we focus on. Instead of the dead ewe with the perferated uterus and dead lamb that was too big to pull....I choose to focus on what I learned and how to have better management for future lambing season. I also belive life is a give, you get (not in equal measure nor to or from the same folks) Jenna you give a lot in your sharing of you life and passion. Such a fresh take, not at all Pollyanna, in reality of things going right and things going wrong. Thank you for the courage to share THAT with the world. The negative comments are most definately the down side to blogging but it is so very small. The lives you touch in a positive way are what you tuck in your heart, girl! Live the dream....Seize the day! And I choose to share in your dream and give because others have done so with me!

April 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Sara Thompson said...

He's beautiful and deserves a beautiful home.

April 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

If I didn't ask for things I wouln't have any of them. If I didn't ask for a book deal I would not have it. If I didn't ask how to buy a farm without any savings and bad credit, I wouldn't have it. If I didn't ask for advice, help, or support I wouldn't have any of those either.

A reader wrote me to tell me she thinks having donations on the blog offends people because asking for assistance to some if considered wanting something for nothing. It is a cultural and a generational thing. I think readers see me as a farmer with a farm blog, not a writer giving away away free content. They don't consider the blog hard work. They see it as a playground, or a thing I do just for fun. It is more than that to me.

The donations on this blog are voluntary. No one has to pay for any of this, it is all free. But some people are happy to donate towards the blog, as they see value in it. Like they donate to their local PBS stations even though they are free.

Please understand writing everyday for five years while working two full-time jobs is also hard work. It is really hard,actually. Keeping up a living document online for now over five years is just as much work to me as growing food and building fences. It takes everything I have to offer. It makes me just as exhausted, dirty, and mentally nuts as any lambing season.

The farm is my body, and this blog is my soul.

Anyway, thank you Ladonna for your comment. I respectfully disagree that this blog isn't work. I respect your views, and welcome them here. Know if I didn't need the help I wouldn't ask for it. I'm not afraid, ashamed, or upset to ask when I do. And if I can ever help you through this blog, I will. I have done it for folks in the past and am happy to do it again. This blog helped a family in Florida get back on their feet, a little girl afford kidney surgery, and donated livestock through heifer international at Christmas. And yes, it is also helping me own a horse that feeds my spirit and dreams.

Thank you all who support and help this farm, however you do it.

April 3, 2012 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

and Livin Life, you can contact me at

April 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger jules said...

OMGosh Jenna! What a beautiful photo of you and your pony.

I love horses. They are so centering and calming. I remember when I rode. I loved being at the barn. It was meditative. And just can't have a bad day on a horse. (Of course I know you can, just sayin')

April 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger KimberlyT said...

I think that you started out really well with your blog and book. I read you and laughed with you but I have had a hard time swallowing the donation button and the request for money from your readers. I am 11 months and 18 days older than you so I don't think you can use the generation gap as a reason. I think this is more a class issue. You had a suburban up bringing. This colors who you are just like an upbringing on a farm or in a trailer-court colors others. I don't doubt that the farm is in your soul but I do question your tactics to get what you desire.
Ladonna's comments were not negative- just the reality of livin' a farm life. Like I said you were onto something in the beginning and you have even said yourself that your blog is now about "how come". For myself, I would feel better about the direction you are headed-- do something radical and save a dollar. That Jenna, would be different than the rest of OUR generation.

April 3, 2012 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Jenna- Dream your dream!! I've been reading your blog and farming vicariously through you for about two years. I grew up in a rural community in Indiana and now live in Lancaster,PA, happily spinning wool and thinking of a young lady on her horse, and paying forward the kindnesses that were given to me growing up "livin a farm life!" Use my donation towards Merlin and someday I'll try to make it to one of your gatherings to see the dreams in person.
Cheers and good health!!

April 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I didn't think her comment was negative, I just said I disagreed with the notion that writing this blog wasn't part of the hard work she described.

I really think people do not consider writing work worthy of payment, not online anway. People will stamp their feet at a blogger asking for donations and then happily pay 20 bucks for a hardcover at a book store. I do not understand that. If the argument is I chose a free venue such as the internet, then why not get your books from the library? Because you want some ownership, you want something tangible. You feel like you are getting "something" for your money.

You can hold a hardcover book, but you can't own a web page. You can't shake my hand or call me on the phone. I am not a real person to many readers. I am a character, apparently asking for something and giving back nothing. That is so hurtful to read. This farm, and writing about it, has been my entire life for nearly 10 years. I give everything for it, and this site.

I do accept donations. I have the entire time this blog has been live. No one has to donate anything. I have never once asked for people to pay for this blog, it has always been free. But I do appreciate it when people chip in, it makes it feel valid. And it is a lot more personal and impactful than buying a book in a store I get .67 cents for, pre taxes.

April 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger ladonna benes said...

I was not talking about your blog. Many writers, famous writers, do not receive financial riches. I do not believe it is ethical, although there are people who can and will be led no matter the cost. If you love to write then just write your blog and take the donation button off. Enjoy it, you consider it work, okay, I don't disagree. I was mainly speaking about farm life, simplifying and letting go of all the technology that gets us all into financial difficulties. Or can! If every new farm or hobby farmer was asking for donations no one would be raising food, they would just be blogging and buying. Sorry, I have to agree that I loved where you went with the blog until the donation button popped up...and I don't recall there being one in the beginning. Don't miss the point I'm talking farming not paying for your blog.
Respectfully, LaDonna

April 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

if you think i make a living off donations, you are sorely mistaken. I make a living off the workshops, ads, classes, and books I write. And my job at Orvis.

The donation button on this blog is there so people can pay for their classes, workshops, antlerstock, CSA shares, webinars etc in a simple and easy way. Since to "donate" you don't need to have a paypal account, you can just use your debit or credit card. Not everyone who wants to come to a chicken class wants a paypal account, they just want to swipe their credit card. It is there for business and the rare occasion I do a fundraiser of sorts.

The button has been their since 2008.

Donations are a small part of keeping this farm going, and if I do request them they go entirely to the item they are dedicated to. for instance, to help buy this farm back in early 2010 and buying this horse.

April 3, 2012 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

"I really think people do not consider writing work worthy of payment, not online anway."(quote from Jenna)

Jenna, it doesn't seem like you're asking for payment for writing, it seems like you're asking for donations for a luxury item. For the record, I was one who doesn't really agree with the idea of your readers funding Merlin, but I HAVE donated to a blogger before, because she was posting valuable information and she needed to upgrade her computer so she could continue posting. I gladly donated money so I could keep reading her blog. And I just donated money to a free forum I'm a member of, because the moderator pays the fees out of her own pocket.

I'm pretty sure you know it's not the concept of donating money for services (like a blog) that some may disagree with, but it's the idea that readers are paying for luxury items when there has been a history of financial hardship. And I wouldn't call it a generational thing, because I'm just about to turn 31.

And to those who ask why people post negative comments: this blog often has great discussions in the comments section, and I see this as part of the discussion, especially because Jenna brings it up and refers to issues and poses questions in her comments as well. It's certainly not a personal attack, it's just a differing opinion.

And I get the feeling that this blog is as much a personal journal for your as it is entertainment for others. At least I hope it is...when blogging feels like a job or a chore, it's no fun! I'd blog even if nobody read it. In fact, most days I'm not sure anyone other than my mom and sister read it. LOL.

April 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't feel attacked at all, but it should be okay for me to respond to comments directly about me. I didn't delete them, I just wanted to defend my views.

I only delete comments if they are negative and the person doesn't share their identity.

April 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yes, this is certainly a personal blog. And people change, circumstances change. A reader who started the blog with me at 25 might very well not like it at 30. We both just went through a collective decade.

Again, the raffle is voluntary. If you do not want to support Merlin, do not add to it. If you like the blog and the farm, and want to support me as a writer but think the horse is a luxury, then come to a workshop or buy a book. Or just keep reading.

April 3, 2012 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

What is Merlins purchase price and how much have you raised so far?

April 3, 2012 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I know you didn't say you felt attacked, I was commenting on some of your readers who get pretty defensive. LOL.

April 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Maybe I should say protective, not defensive. :-)

April 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Meredith, I'm not going to share that information. I don't also share my mortgage, electric bills, gas costs, truck payments, or anything else. That is private.

I will share that folks who did donate for him helped pay 2/3rds of the down payment and that total it is about 18% of his actual cost.

April 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I get it Katie, and I agree with you. I think the conversations in the comments of this blog are wonderful.

April 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I will start with low monthly payments on him in June, this whole raffle was to get to that point.

April 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Elaine P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 3, 2012 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger ladonna benes said...

Yup...that's all I've been trying to before cart. Save so you don't lose your home or your horse. Thankyou, Elaine P. those words are the ethic that has helped me survive and do so with grace. peace to all, hoping your roads aren't too rocky.

April 3, 2012 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 3, 2012 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Elaine P said...

You're most welcome Ladonna. Apparently, the blog administrator's nerve was hit. So much for all views welcome.

April 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Your views are welcome if your profile links to you real name and email address and website/blog/facebook page. Your profile is blank. So was heathers. you can say whatever you want here if you do it publicly.

April 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 3, 2012 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

As a writer and editor for two newspapers, I understand the amount of work and determination it takes to produce well written articles on a daily basis. Because of this I am gladly donating the cost of a book to help. My donation really isn’t for Merlin, Sal or even Gibson (all worthy causes) but to Jenna the writer, to show my appreciation for her years of work. Thank you.

April 3, 2012 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Elaine P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 3, 2012 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger ladonna benes said...

Most of my family is deceased or incapacitated or do not care to work their ass off. I do not have a 'family' taking care of me financially...that's good by me, less entangelments and expectations. Remember, 2000 acres in the west is very small. I and my partner are trying to reclaim the buildings, land, fences. Not an easy task. But love for the land is understood totally by is a sacred place and far from civilization. I'll be very poor, that's a given. Elaine, we think on similar waves.

April 3, 2012 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

i deleted my own earlier comment, it is none of my business. I apologize for asking.

April 3, 2012 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I wasn't implying you were living off your family, either.

April 3, 2012 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Kayla said...

Congratulations!! I hope Biggie and I can take you for a trail ride when I'm allowed back in the saddle (soooo soon!)

April 3, 2012 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger kaelak said...

Guys, guys. We're in this for similar reasons - why are we bickering about the little stuff? The donate option is voluntary, and is used primarily to take workshop registrations and other fee-related services. Can we get back to talking about sheep, plants and chickens? We have more in common than not. :)

April 3, 2012 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

"....I am not a real person. I am a character..." (Jenna's words in the comment thread) My husband happens to believe that. In a later thread you mention how you support yourself. CSA's as being one way. My husband happens to believe that you are not a real person, or rather the person you've portrayed yourself to be due because you've failed to follow through with the first wool CSA. I don't know if everyone else received their share but we have yet to receive ours.

April 3, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I thought everyone had theirs already delivered? I will send yours soon as you email my address.

April 3, 2012 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

sent one to itsafarwalk

April 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I am glad to see these issues raised. I am probably one of those who have thought the same things, but bit my tongue (or my typing fingers in this case) and didn't say anything. I also kept my wallet closed, as is my right.

That being said, if Jenna wants to buy herself a trip to Tahiti and a hot tub, asks for donations to pay for it and gets them, I guess that's really between her and those who donate. Honestly, with all the webinars and workshops, I truly believe that all that content is out there on the internet for free, but if people want to pay for it who are any of us to tell them they shouldn't?

But it does seem like once you've accepted donations, you really can't say, "this is my blog and I'll say and do as I please" anymore. To some extent, the donations make you beholden to those who have donated, if in a spiritual sense only. Only you can decide if that's worth it.

On the bright side, at this rate you will never need to save an emergency fund because if the roof caves in, you can simple get on here, ask for money and probably receive it. That's not how I'd go about achieving adult independence, but if it works for you then I guess that's all that can be said. Other bloggers like James Howard Kunstler, RootSimple and others never seem to go on fundraising campaigns (even implied ones) but if people are giving you free money and you are comfortable taking it, then I guess that works for both parties.

April 3, 2012 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

You're a talented writer and you inspire me. This blog is a book that never (ever?) ends. It's worth it, darn it!

April 4, 2012 at 3:15 AM  
Blogger ladonna benes said...

I'm responding for the last time and it is directly for Kaelak. I itemize on my taxes. All my charities/donations have to have receipts or I cannot claim them. If one operates a blog as a business than it is only fair to ask for receipts for donations unless the blog is not considered a charity... the IRS will get it's due eventually. I care about the results of not doing things cleanly and honestly. I absolutely do not donate if I am unable to receive a receipt to the charity. I'm not saying this to argue or in a mood of dissent. If you care ask the appropriate questions or eventually the IRS will do it for you. That's all I want to say...I've done my best just to call the question. If one chooses to donate then it better be in the mail or in cash otherwise the person receiving the paypal or credit card donation may be called to account for his or her business, charity, etc. Again, respectfully...a simple country farm lovin' woman.

April 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Paypal sends me a tax form every year of every dollar that comes through them to me. My accountant includes it as my income, and I pay taxes on all of it since I am not a non-profit.

April 4, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Elaine P said...

Very cogently stated, Ladonna. Thanks. Indeed integrity speaks volumes.

April 4, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Bluebelle Quilts said...

This blog has never held itself out to be a charitable organization for income tax purposes.

You receive a receipt from PayPal whenever you use it to make any type of transaction - donation or purchase.

I also collect receipts whenever I donate to a charitable organization. I take them as deductions on my 1040. However, I also "gift" money to worthy causes that don't have 501(c)(3) status...because it's a cause I freely choose to support. Charitable contribution status isn't my sole criterion for giving money.

April 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Bluebelle Quilts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 4, 2012 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Few, few authors don't have to have second jobs. In today's world, even very successful authors are being published with less frequency - maybe every 18 months or every other year instead of once per year. My favorite authors in sci fi write and accept donations on their sites. It is about worth. Do we want to read their work? A blog like this one has its own intrinsic value or we wouldn't check for new posts each day. For me, donating from time to time is not just a "nice" thing to do, it is the right thing to do. I want Jenna to keep writing. So let's be nice, play nice, and not judge. Opposing views are great as long as they are not mean. It is like many things - you know it when you see it.

April 5, 2012 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger spike said...

Glad you were able to make that payment! Enjoy Merlin!

April 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

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