Monday, October 8, 2012

Through The Woods

I am running through the woods behind Merlin in full harness, trying not to lose my grip on his driving lines or tripped by the 300 pound log we are moving out of the forest. I have driven Merlin in a cart moving down the road, ridden him at a canter through hill and dale, but I have never had to hold onto a thousand pounds of equine momentum in a rose thicket while trying not to be crushed by a recently fallen tree trunk. There is too much going on to be scared and too many people watching to stop.

All that is keeping us ahead is my commands and the 15 feet of leather connecting his bit to my hands. the lines are new, not yet broken in and slick as eels. I hold onto them with white knuckles as I dodge the log, jumping out of its way and moving ever forward. Merlin just punches ahead not giving me much trouble but in his own sort of hurry. Speed is his friend and my danger. I feel the rose thorns grab my shirt and tear hole after hole.

He wants to trot and I want him to walk and we are having a spat while people watch us coming closer an closer to the farmhouse. A rose bush catches my red cowgirl shirt and I can hear it shredding into pieces. I feel a loose piece catch and hold me back enough to tighten the lines and Merlin tosses his head as we stop. I am stuck in the thicket and someone (I can not remember who) takes my long-sleeved western shirt off and frees me to go ahead. Merlin bursts forward with the chain and log and all I can think of as we come into the gray daylight of the backyard is I'm so damn glad I had a tank top on underneath...

We got the log up to the chopping station where Antlerstockers who had watched a workshop on proper log splitting techniques were eager to grab the Fiskars and try out their new skills. I am just panting, inside and out, starting to feel the chill of the 45-degree wet weather as my sweat dries off and cools against my skin. I'm in a kilt, rubber boots, and cotton tanktop and for possibly the first time in my life I do not care if my arms look fat. I just moved a friggin' tree out of the forest with a draft horse and it was about to be chopped up for heating fuel. I put my fists on my hips and let out a long laugh mixed with a sigh. I'd been in car accidents, roller coasters, and bad plane landings but none of that could match the rush of moment. I pull myself together as someone comes up to ask about directions to the Burger Den. I try to tell them and can't through the squeals of the new piglet in the barn, trying to escape. My head is in thirty happy places at once, as I lead Merlin to his post to untack him and turn him back into his paddock. A cloud starts to shower us and there in the rain, covered in cold sweat, mud, and blood from my new thorn cuts I am explaining how amazing the chicken tenders are at the Den. The whole place is a frenzy of new and old friends and faces and folks heading every which way to take photos, listen to workshops, and share stories. No one minds the passing shower and soon my arms are clean of all dirt and red. Wet, tired, and happy I take in a deep breath and pull on a dry hoodie.

This was going to be one Hell of an Antlerstock...

photo by weez


Blogger Becca at Rabbit Moon Farm said...

Great post! I know this is completely out there, but how do you upload photos to your blog? I use Blogger, too. And suddenly I can't directly upload photos. I get an error about invalid server response. I really don't feel like downloading Picasa if I don't have to. I was just wondering. Thanks, Jenna!

October 8, 2012 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Lynnanne said...

Great post! Congrats on another successful weekend of activities. Wish I could have been there... maybe one of these years. :)

October 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Awesome story, love the way you tell it. Sounds like a great time, wish I didn't live so far away!

October 8, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You lead the good life! Wonderful writing. Thank you.

October 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

#1 - your arms are NOT fat! #2 - you are an awesome woman!! I thought I was impressed when I read Barnheart, then I saw the farm and all the animals and responsibilities and now you have totally bowled me over after seeing you in action at Antlerstock.

Have you ever read the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou?

October 8, 2012 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Well, that brought it all back. I think the only detail you couldn't have seen was the rest of us running up the muddy path behind you, batting at rose briars, wanting to see that phenomenal run through to the finish.

October 8, 2012 at 4:26 PM  

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