Friday, November 2, 2012

A Messy Farm

It's been a string of cold, rainy, and muddy days here at the farm. I'm not complaining, it's my favorite type of weather, but it sure isn't making the farm look very appealing. Sometimes this place seems to be little more than mud, bent over t-posts, and sagging field fences. With the fall leaves gone and the weather too warm for snow (though my fingers are crossed) the world outside my woodstove and music seems to be stuck in a very unattractive purgatory.

It's not a television farmstead, that's for certain. And I'm ashamed to admit this is something I worry about. When folks travel for hours and come to a place literally thrown together by hope and force, I worry the results do not live up to the blog. Everything was done piecemeal, everything in a state of repair. The entire operation is small, not a rolling landscape. Tools and animal droppings are everywhere, the pile of trash by the dump never looks great. The house needs power washing. The truck is dented and covered in turkey poop. Most things are reinforced with baling twine.

Well folks, it's not pretty, nor is it impressive—but it is mine.. I am contented that the animals are happy and well-tended, the food that comes out of this place is sensational, and the friendships I've made since moving here are nothing short of amazing. Oh well, this just goes to show that working farms are not movie sets. If you want a magazine spread, check out Hildene in Manchester. If you want some good home brew and a chicken dinner and season 5 of Buffy on Hulu: come here.

I can't wait for the first snowfall.

30 Comments:

Blogger Eileen Hileman said...

Jenna - you have "REAL" farm. What you describe is exactly what a real working farm looks like. Those picture postcard expectations usually come from people unfamiliar with what a real farm looks like and what it takes to make it work. No apologies Jenna. You are living your dream,sharing that dream with others and inspiring us all. I don't think anyone who arrives sees anything but the dream. If they see something else - they're in the wrong place. When I think of CAF - I think of a magical place where dreams come true. Where neighbor helps neighbor and community means something more than a place on a map. Mud and poop and bailing twine are the staples of farm life every where. I'd be suspicious of a place where everything is perfect because it wouldn't be a real farm - it would be a rich person's weekend home.

eileen

November 2, 2012 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dixon said...

It's whats called a working farm. I think if a place is picture perfect, either its: A: all done by paid employees or B: the owners don't really use it to live on and in. Eileen said it perfectly. I go through regularly on my farm and pick up stuff that shouldn'be be around on the ground, but every fence or barn on my lil' 5 acres has baling twine somewhere holding something together. Its called real life!

November 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Jenna-
Love the honesty of your farm, poop and all. Can you comment on why you value your woodstove above others? I am in the evaluating stages and love the dual purpose woodstoves but they are pricey. What drew you to the Bunmaker? Silkies and chickens arriving next week! Current "livestock"-11 egg laying chickens, 2 rabbits, and a box of vermiposting worms.
Enjoy the weather-50's here.
Holly from Illinois

November 2, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Jenna-
Love the honesty of your farm, poop and all. Can you comment on why you value your woodstove above others? I am in the evaluating stages and love the dual purpose woodstoves but they are pricey. What drew you to the Bunmaker? Silkies and chickens arriving next week! Current "livestock"-11 egg laying chickens, 2 rabbits, and a box of vermiposting worms.
Enjoy the weather-50's here.
Holly from Illinois

November 2, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

Oh, the mud thing. Recalls keeping horses in Alaska when I had to find boots with handles on their tops because the mud wanted to suck them off my feet with each stride. That mud could suck a shoe off a horse's feet. When the ground froze and snow set in, life was better. Then it all happened in reverse at spring break-up.

November 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

I think this time of year blows. It's ugly, it's cold, it's nothing like the hope and promise of spring, or the fulfilling spirit of summer. Anyway, if people want to see designer farms, they need to stick to reading Better Homes and Gardens. In all of my life working with hobby farms and "bootstraps" equine facilities, I have never once witnessed a feces-free, baling twineless, mud exempt facility. Unless you are married to a rich man/woman, won an exorbitant law suit or are a world renowned dressage training facility...

Like I said, I'd rather see THOSE in a magazine. If I wasn't so far away, my career wasn't a ball buster and money grew on my trees, I'd be over much more frequently. Or, like ever.

November 2, 2012 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

I think your farm sounds wonderful :) And I think most people here see it as inspirational, because you show us that it is DOABLE.

November 2, 2012 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

I agree. You have a real farm. Martha Stewart's "thing" in Bedford is a magazine farm with tons of staff to clean the stuff.

My maternal grandparents had land going back a bit, and a working farm. My memories are of grandma killing Sunday dinner (grabbing a chicken,) water came from a pump. There were "rules." "Don't go near the bull." "Watch for snakes in the hay in the barn." "Don't pull the hogs tails." Etc. And chicken poop and cow poop and horse poop all over the fields. My mother told me they only ever bought sugar and coffee. They had a mill nearby for the grains. My grandfather butchered the meat and had a smokehouse. It's amazing they survived out there, miles from anyone, but they had all they needed. So please...you have a REAL farm. ...and just to make you laugh, Martha only has black horses, and...she orders they not be let out in peek sun hours as it "turns" their coats. Can you imagine?

November 2, 2012 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger jules said...

Oh my gosh, imagine that, a working farm!

Your attitude is amazing, how you look at the sunny side through all the mud.

November 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I was just looking out into my backyard full of mud, and my kitchen floor covered in muddy paw prints, and thinking exactly the same thing. It ain't pretty, but it's mine :).

November 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger polly said...

BUFFY. wondrous.

she seems like you, kicks butt but a little tender underneath? :)

i'd be proud to live as you do, jenna.

November 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

Picture perfect farms/homesteads are only perfect because they either belong to a carpenter or someone with the money to hire a repairman. The rest of us make do with bailing wire and duct tape!

November 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

Picture perfect farms/homesteads are only perfect because they either belong to a carpenter or someone with the money to hire a repairman. The rest of us make do with bailing wire and duct tape!

November 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

If it would make you feel better, I can send a picture of my sawdust and chicken poop covered barn floor, and my turkey crap covered back porch.

There'll be a welded wire panel duck pen in the background held together with hog rings (a cut above baling wire) complete with a slimy wading pool they swim in.

There's also a shack that the chickens sleep in with a tin roof flapping in the wind. The stock tank looks like it could pass for the set of a moon landing film, and the Johnson grass has gone to seed in the once manicured front lawn.

But it's MINE and I love every molecule of it!

November 2, 2012 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Emily Browning said...

We discussed that there was nothing wrong with "free ranging" tools at the meat bird workshop! Remember?! :)

No worries, your farm is the real deal. It was everything I pictured it to be and more! I understand muddy and not pretty right now also. Keeping my wood floors mud free is a constant battle with all of the boots and paws.....

November 2, 2012 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

Never apologize for being real!

November 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Oh yes, that invitation of good food and Buffy Season 5 sounds great!! Season 5 was pretty awesome.

November 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Mare said...

Jenna, your place sounds like my place!I don't have a farm but i do have 5 dogs(running in a muddy yard) 4 cats(and three messy litter boxes) a free range parrot that poops where he finds himself, and 2 stinky guinea pigs who scatter their litter everywhere. And i wouldn't have it any other way! Home sweet Home!

November 2, 2012 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger rabbit said...

The three trips I've made to Cold Antler have been surreal; in the most positive sense of that word. The mud, poop, and wet places smell of rebirth, healthy, rich soil. The barns of warmth, dry, and safety. The rolling pastures (which could hold multiples of my whole property) feed and house heartbeats and future. That farm house that "needs power washing"? It's withstood 200 years of life! I think it's allowed to be less than Benjamin Moore's 'Cloud White'. Cold Antler Farm is perfection-in the REALEST (yes that's a word!) sense of the word. Much love.

November 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Snow covers a multitude of "sins"; until it, too, gets covered in real life. Take the pretty pictures right after it falls.

November 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I get that it's a working farm and mud is life, but if the mess bothers you then change it. You can't fight the mud or the weather but you can scrub your house, or rally friends to help powerwash siding, or slowly make an effort to replace baling wire closures, or make an effort to gather tools and store them away. It's your home, so you do what makes the dream work. Just playing devils advocate here, you always tell us to chase our dreams. If you want a more orderly home you have the power to make that happen. But maybe you don't, and that's oK too. It's your dream. And the best pawprints appear in mud. :-)

November 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Anything authentic has a bit of "mess" involved!

November 3, 2012 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Hell, we don't care what it looks like. You are such a warm, welcoming and gracious host it doesn't matter. And it IS a FARM! I'd take your place over Martha Stewart's any day.

November 3, 2012 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Jenna, the farms you are speaking of are show farms. They are overstaffed and fully funded. What you have is an accomplishment. You made things happen. Everything that you see on your farm is bourn from blood, sweat and tears. A real working farm. That is what it is all about. And you have only been there a short time. I have a neighbor that has a gorgeous yard with lovely perennials and looks so groomed. My yard looks okay but shameful next to her yard. I wouldn't worry so much but you drive past her place and I swear angels and unicorns fly over it, then there is my yard. Well, you may choose to close your eyes as you drive past. I once mentioned to her how jealous I was of her place. She just laughed and said. How long have you been at your place? Just a few years? I have had 40 years to work on my yard. It will come.

November 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Lorie Hyten, adult services said...

Anyone familiar with working farms of any kind can relate...I think it's that sense of satisfaction that comes of knowing your animals are well cared that counts
. Neatness and cleanliness are always going to be fleeting...

November 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Your post reminds me of a saying a friend of mine used to say -- if you are coming to see me you are welcome any time if you are coming to see my house give me six months notice. I've rather adopted this as my motto for anyone that wants to visit. -- barbara

November 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger bree said...

I liked this post. Thanks Jenna for sharing yourself with us :)

November 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Wayne Jones said...

Very inspirational. Keep up the good work and I for one am cheering for your success.

November 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Mayleen said...

I feel the same way sometimes when I look at my place: my sheep and goat pens are more pallets and baling twine then welded wire; both of my vehicles are pushing 20; and the horses are determined to poop by the front steps (since they aren't fenced away from the house). But I'm really trying to create an authentic life, and so are you! Yup, it's a limited budget of cash and time, but it's nice to give the horse a carrot through the porch window, and I'm recycling/repurposing the scrap lumber from the landfill and all those darn hay-ties. Keep it up, girl, you are nothing but and inspiration and a smile!

November 3, 2012 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger famousthecat said...

I would so much rather see a small operation, one covered in poop and mud full of happy animals than some highly mechanized, brand new John Deere tractor-laden type of place. Seeing a place like yours and others in our area makes me feel like, hey, I actually could do this.

November 4, 2012 at 10:38 AM  

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