Friday, August 10, 2012

daylight on the way

Well, it's three in the morning and I can't sleep. I'm up because I am worried about this fall. I feel like I won't be ready for it, there's so much to prepare and plan for. It's mid August and I have only 42 bales of hay put up and one cord of firewood. I have plans and sources for the hay and wood but the gathering of it all is slow and nail-biting.

I do not regret my decision to leave Orvis, I needed to leave for many reasons and each of those many reasons was justification enough to move on. There are so many exciting things ahead for me: The Mother Earth News Fair and my keynote address there (I'll be talking about you guys, hint hint), Fiddle Camp, Antlerstock, and October herself. I am grateful and I feel blessed. I have supportive and loving friends, and every day is filled with so much beauty it can bring me to my knees, and often does.

But the truth is that 8-5 job was a grounding point, not real security by any means, but it was easier to fool myself into thinking it was because that's what all of our peers and family think it is. Every two weeks money came in no matter what, long as I stayed on the payroll and the truth is, I miss it. Here, every day is open and free but the past month has been dedicated entirely to figuring out how to get my feet on the ground and prepare for winter. It gets scary, especially alone at 3 in the morning when everything seems impossible and daylight is hours away. I don't want to be rich, I just want to know I'm breaking even and the bills are getting paid, wood is stashed, hay is in the barn, and then winter won't be as ominous. I can focus on the firelight instead of the cold. It's a choice to focus on what's good instead of what's bad. I try to be positive but it is hard sometimes.

Having a website like this is hard. If you write about fears concerning money, people think you are asking for it. I'm not asking for anything, and I'd like to make that clear. But I do want to share the part of the story that involves it. Because I think a lot of readers out there want to transition into full-time farming or self-employment and while I would never go back I think there are ways to prepare that make the transition easier. I thought I did those things, but not enough of them. I am learning from my mistakes one 3AM at a time...

Daylight is coming soon. I'm not giving up the good fight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


August 10, 2012 at 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Eileen Moriarty said...

Thanks for sharing your fears, otherwise the realities of small farmers is lost in what can seem like bucolic splendor. The truth of the small farm is boom and bust, magic days of feeling it is the best life in the world and fear of not being able to care for the animals and pay the bills. Honesty about your situation grounds us all.

August 10, 2012 at 4:49 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Breathe Jenna, breathe. I hope and pray you will be alright (and I don't even pray usually).
You say you didn't do enough of the things to prepare - well you know what they say about hindsight being perfect!

August 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM  
Anonymous Carly said...

Thanks so much for this post. I am also starting my own business and farm and quit my 9 to 5. It is scary and terrifying to realize that you are in charge and how weighty your decisions are. It is good to now that others are out there at 3 in the morning knowing that they made the correct decision but worrying about the details. And sadly in the light of 3 am the details seem bigger and scarier then ever.

August 10, 2012 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

I can sympathize with you, Jenna. There have been many times when I have been awake in the dark hours of the morning agonizing over finances, my job, my kids, my grandkids, my husband. So many things in life to worry about but there are also so many things in life that make you happy. You just have to take one day at a time, I guess.
I'm retired now and I still am sitting alone at 3:00 in the morning worrying about our future and whether we can make it on fixed incomes. I have 5 grandkids now and I love them to pieces but I worry about them constantly.
Too bad you didn't live closer, we could have a cup of strong coffee together at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and watch the sun come up. Sharing your worries makes them a little more bearable. Keep on sharing with us ~ we're good listeners. Keep the faith.....

August 10, 2012 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Sorry to hear you didn't get a good nights sleep - time to test out that lavendar theory from the herbal remedies you were discussing recently! As a reader, I like to hear about all aspects of farming - even when it's not all cute lambs and baby bunnies. Please keep sharing. Seems like you have had many visitors recently, just because you want to help introduce them to farming, and there are so many readers who sound like they would love to come and see the farm when you talk about the workshops. Be able to help you in some practical way. Although the long term plans are in place, how about a shorter term solution like a CAF open day. The entrance fee is firewood or hay from visitors, in return for farm tours, watching a sheep dog demo, petting a pony, wool, produce, eggs, manure for their gardens, a guided walk so people can take pictures at your place. Or is there a local firewood supplier who may trade some manual labor from you in return for a firewood delivery? Time to put your bartering skills to work. Sometimes doing something practical, towards a solution to a problem,helps stop my brain when it's in 'scramble - panic' mode. Most things look more manageable in daylight, maybe being awake early meant you got to see the sunrise. Hannah

August 10, 2012 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

I know all about those middle-of-the-night worries Jenna. Everything seems built up out of all proportion. It seems to me though, that you have a great deal of ability to make money from your knowledge and skills and your writing. Sometimes, things are very slow in coming together then all of a sudden every part of the jigsaw is in place.

When there are real money worries, you just have to prioritize I suppose. If things are really bad, then there is nothing wrong with admitting you need to work - perhaps part-time again - to pay the bills, and then step off the hamster wheel of work again when things are on a more even curve.

If it's any consolation, we have hardly any wood cut either, and my current health problems prevent me helping my husband as I normally would. It doesn't feel good to have so little stashed in the barn.

August 10, 2012 at 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

That's very tuff, but don't get discouraged. Have faith and pull through it. I'm reading "Barnheart" now; there, you say that if you think about something long and hard enough (and I'll add thinking about it with positive emotions), the universe will align to make it happen. I believe you'll figure this out. You've been through so many other challenges along the way. Don't worry, this will just be another story you get to tell.

August 10, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3am brings out the most basic fears in all of us, no matter what our lives look like. Thanks for being willing to share what your middle of the night fears look like. Know that you're not alone when you're staring at the ceiling and thinking the worst.

August 10, 2012 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger J.D. said...

Jenna, to bad we weren't living closer together as the "fear phantom" woke me up at 3 AM.

Perhaps focusing on one thing at a time might help us wade through it all.

Fall has always been a magical time around here. As we head toward fall's light, staying positive will guide us and protect us.

August 10, 2012 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Hammock Haven prayers for your success. We still have one income around here and still some days my head turns watching money fly out of the checking account to get this place up and running.

Put it in God's hands and get some rest. You're going to need it! :)

August 10, 2012 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Megan, Rudy's mom said...

I love your honesty. We're the same age and I'm still living at home so as I go through my upper level small business classes and reading the ups and downs your blog owning a small business scares me to death. I admire your guts! Someday in 2015 when I take that last class and graduate with honors and after reading your blog or even before that I have the combo knowledge of my books and the harsh reality that is the life I want.
Thanks for the education!

August 10, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jenna, a wise person once told me that everything after midnight is just emotions. Don't worry too much. As a self-employed person most of my adult life, I totally understand those midnight emotions! LOL! It's not easy transitioning from a start up that is financed through other means to a self-sustaining business.

August 10, 2012 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jenna, a wise person once told me that after midnight it's all just emotions. As a self-employed person most of my adult life I totally understand those middle of the night emotions! LOL!

I know how difficult it is to transition from a business that is financed through other means to a self-sustaining success. You'll get through it. Just make sure that the numbers work or make some adjustments to make them work even if that means a temporary or part-time job.

August 10, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

What is it about 3 AM this morning? I was woken by an awful charley horse and a puking dog.

August 10, 2012 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there no trees in your wooded land to cut?

August 10, 2012 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And why oh why do you always finally fall asleep just as the alarm goes off!!! Or at least I do... I feel your pain Jenna as I have struggled with this my whole life.

Just keep plugging along. I have faith in you.


August 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

She's got 5 or 6 acres total Anonymous, that is not enough land to do a sustainable wood lot, not even close. Plus she might be able comfortable splitting wood, but she's not a lumberjack. A tree that falls wrong can kill or take out the house.

Follow your bliss, Jenna. It's better than spending a life wondering "what if?".

August 10, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty - it's good to be prepared for these moments, especially for those of us who are moving towards a similar dream to yours.

I too can sympathize with the 3 am worries - it seems to be the worst time for processing anything. I had my own bout at 3 am today, and will be having tea with a friend tonight to talk some things through and make some plans. I think few things help to manage uncertainty and reestablish a sense of control when daylight comes like making plans and then putting them in action. I'm sure you have plenty of plans in action, though, so I imagine your resourcefulness will pull you through once again, despite the early morning worries.

August 10, 2012 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

I know the three AM fear feeling very well everything seems to be closeing in on you ...Try this put paper and pencil on your night stand ...When you awake in the middle of the night Wright down all your thoughts ... Then put them back down on the nightstand and let them go..... Put them in gods hands... In the morning they look very different .. One other thing we do before we fall a sleep is find five things you are thankfull for each day...

August 10, 2012 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

I am glad you share this aspect (money, stress, etc). It's what i love about your blog. So many others with blogs on homesteading topics just post the fluff. That's nice to read, don't get me wrong. But I rely on you to help me with the nitty gritty

August 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous jennifer said...

re: firewood

For better or worse it seems that storms are always coming through and knocking down more trees than some folks care to deal with. i'm in southwest VA and a storm about a month back threw enough free wood our way to last an entire winter and then some. and none on our own land - co-workers and friends have all been putting out emails saying "we have tons of trees down. if you come haul it away, it's yours for free" anything like that around your way?

August 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There isn't a person on this planet (farmer or not) who hasn't experienced the 3 am blues. Jenna look how far you've come from that rented farm in Idaho. The wood, the hay, all of what is needed will arrive in time. Fear is geographical space to be crossed (Jon K.)You cross it everyday in ways big and small. You've created your dream by hard work and ingenuity. The wood and hay will arrive the same way. Your honesty about your life and struggles not only keeps your readers engaged but it also offers opportunity for support, caring and sharing of ideas that just might be what you need to put these issues to rest. You'll get there Jenna and it will be ok.

August 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not get a house/farm mate to help share costs & chores?

Hope it all works out!

August 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Noël said...

Thanks for showing us your heart, and most of us readers know that you aren't asking for money. You'll make it; just sometimes the beginnings of things take a little time, sweat, blood, and tears before the dream comes to fruition. Keep writing, dreaming, and persevering...and we'll keep reading and praying. Lord bless!

August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Mist said...

I have no words of wisdom or advice to give, but I wanted to let you know that my little family is here, rooting you on and appreciating all your honest sharing. Love and peace to you, Jenna.

August 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
So, I am curious as to why you want all your wood and hay in right now? Is that your level of comfort? Many, many horse owners only buy hay as they need it (and have space for)-which helps spread out the cost. We burn with wood and I don't think we have ever had all our wood purchased before winter. We buy as we need it.
Lisa in Maine

August 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Mary Schroeder said...

I appreciate the reality of your blog - It is the reason I follow it - along with the way you write. Keep up the good work. You have made your farm a reality - you can keep it that way.

August 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

I know that here in my small town in Kentucky, we have a "recycling and transfer center" where all of the trees and brush picked up by the city goes, and also where citizens can bring any trees or brush they themselves have cleared. The city cuts these trees into manageable pieces and sells them for $15 a truckload as firewood. The rest gets turned into mulch and sold for $5 a truckload. You might check in your area and the nearby communities and see if something like that exists! I heated my old house for about $50 (plus manual labor) buying this wood from the city. You do have to usually split it yourself--at least the larger pieces--but there might be a similar program near you!!

August 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

2 AM is my chest tightening, soul crushing fear time. As you know, you are not alone. Even those of us who have a constant paycheck feel that "Winter's coming" pressure, because the bills seem to pile higher than the pay. Positive opportunities will come from the Fair for you, you just wait! I'm thinking good thoughts for your financial security, my friend!

August 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I, too, was awake at 3:00 this morning--mopping up a flooded basement after a torrential downpour! After I finished, I couldn't sleep for wondering about money to repair the foundation leaking. Being alone in the dark seems to magnify our worries and fears. Thank you for sharing both the "good" and the "bad" with us.

August 10, 2012 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Myers said...

Its always 3am! emergencies, kid worries, etc never happen in the light of day. When i have a case of the 3 ams i write down all of my worries, then try to go to sleep. In the light of day, its easier to plan and find some solutions. I see many great replies from other readers. do what you have to do to get what you need. and never wonder if its right, just get it done!

August 10, 2012 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

Hi Jenna,

You didn't ask...I wanted to give. Year one of any new venture is full of unknowns. I think next year you will breathe easier and be more established as a full-time farmer. In the meanwhile, keep sharing if it helps lighten your load.


August 10, 2012 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

2Don't give up, Jenna! You CAN make this work. You are so gonna make it.

August 10, 2012 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

I hear you Jenna!
I`m seriously considering leaving my morning to late night job for the absolute unknown... I've playd around with the idea for the past 5 years, and it now feels like it's time to jump ship.

August 10, 2012 at 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hay is hard to find this year, my usual guy didn't think he had any so I asked a friend of a friend who does round bales and he had enough for me, that was a weight off my shoulders, maybe look for some in your area? You could put them in with the sheep and cover with tarps and uncover as they eat them? That's my plan for my alpacas. Don't overlook renting a room too, look at rates in your area, here small rooms to rent can be 100.00 a week. Maybe you could find someone who works a lot and won't be much trouble, just needs a warm place to sleep? Also think about renting out for farm stays like a bed & breakfast

August 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Crisy said...

Please please please do not stop writing about the gritty fear - it keeps me knowing im not going into this type of life w blinders on - you posted something a while back, you were talking with a Canadian couple and it was about fear, your salary, and such - It brought me to was so REAL. We all have those times, in the dark, trust me. I have some pages in my personal journal that have 3 words written over and over Just Keep Going Just Keep Going Just Keep I do. Good Energy to You

August 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home