Saturday, September 29, 2012

goat sex and auctions

Bonita and Francis, my dairy goat duo, have a big week ahead of them. In the next few days they will be transported to Common Sense Farm where an Alpine buck named (and I am not making this up) Little Britches will serve them up a helping of lovin' If that goes as planned I can expect kidding in early March, and a pair of does ready to freshen and get back into the dairy swing.

I'm lucky my mentor and her herd are three miles away, and that for breeding time I have someone to show me the ropes. It's a debt I hope to pay forward. I am slowly doing just that. Last Thursday CAF friend and Season Pass member, Sarah had me come over to show her how to trim hooves and give CDT shots. It was an easy knowledge to share and I was honored to make the house call. By the time I left Sarah had trimmed a hoof and gave a shot herself. If any of you live close enough for me to run over and help, I happily will.

Right now Bonita is dry. I did my last milking the day I returned from Antlerstock and barely a half pint left her teats. After months of milking her every day it is a weird vacation. There is no freedom like the freedom from a dairy animal, you feel like you could go run the Amazing Race (coincidentally, New York State goat farmers Josh and Brent are...). It's a perfect time to add swine to the farm, the morning pig work will take the place of milking and by the time kids are hitting the good earth the pig will be in the freezer. At Antlerstock I will get my little tamworth/GOS cross piglet and I'll let you guys name him.

I'm off to my first ever auction tonight, over in another part of the county. Some gals hit the bars on Sunday night, some hit the horse-drawn equipment auctions in Washington County. I hope in the next few years Jess and Riley and the clan from Key West are coming over for a Saturday night potluck and talking about their farms with me. I love that some readers want to make this place home as well. I think of you all, and often.

...and for my next trick!

I didn't wake up in the middle of the night last night. I slept the solid, happy, sleep of a person who achieved her small goal. I woke up to more rain (we are in for a spell of it) and was excited to take on the day. I went out with Gibson to feed the critters and returned to coffee and oatmeal. My body was soaked by my mood was airy as a maple leaf on the wind.

There's a chicken in a small cage in the back of my truck. She's one of the Golden Laced Wyandottes I raised from a chick this spring. She's in the truck because in about half an hour we are off to share in a little adventure. This morning is my first ever Library talk for children! I'm heading a half hour south to the Schaghticoke (Skat-eh-coke) Library and really excited about it. I adore kids, specially the ones old enough to talk and too young to stop imagining. I am going to tell kids about farming, chickens, food, and my book Chick Days. It'll be a hoot!

Strike that! It'll be a Bok bok!

Friday, September 28, 2012

What does Cold Antler Farm mean to you?

Bringing Home the Bacon!

If there was ever a testament to the magic in this green world, it is this small farm tucked into a mountain in foothills of the Adirondacks. I just set up the payment for my mortgage online, it will be deducted early next week. Just writing that makes me swell with calming joy. It's a bit late, but I made it.

That fine payment happened after a day of tackling my fear with constant action, but it also happened because of a little tealight beeswax candle. See, I was trying to focus on the steps to take towards meeting my goals—lost in meditation staring at the candle—when I realized perhaps the candle itself was the key?! So I emailed the people on the box, folks I met at the Mother Earth News Fair. Within a few hours I was able to sell an ad to the fine people at Scent from Nature. They sell beautiful, heavy, all natural beeswax candles I adore and meditate with here. The same candle I lit this morning lit the whole day in service to the light. If you get a chance send them a message on their site (link is over there on their ad on the right and in this post) and let them know their support keeps this place going. They signed on for six months and it was what pushed a tittering home bill over the precipice into the world of PAID!

And if that wasn't good enough news, I got kind emails from readers who need design work and logos, a few small donations, and someone who owed me for a workshop paid up as well. This makes for a night of celebration! It is raining outside but the fire is burning bright in this farmhouse! I opened the windows to let out the heat out and let in the cool winds and sounds of rain. I love this combination of indoor comfort and outside bustle. It makes the living room feel like a campsite. I cracked a hard cider and will enjoy my beef soup dinner. Life is good.

And if all that wasn't enough to celebrate, I worked out a fine barter with a local heritage pig farmer just south of Albany. Betsy will be bringing to Antlerstock a Tamworth/Glouchestshire Old Spot cross piglet from her first ever farrowing! The little barrow was a trade for her ticket to the festival and I am thrilled to have her, and the little boy, here at the farm. I best get the pig pen ready!

The day started with fear and I set it aside. I cleaned up the house, had a good shower that scrubbed away all the doubt and worries and set into a day of action. The fruits were plentiful, returned in kindness and sales and pork. I can only say that if it wasn't for this community's encouragement I am not sure I would have had the strength to push through the collar like I was. You are all my Tein Eigan, and I thank you for the flames.

Of course there are October's bills to worry about, but it isn't October tonight! So instead I am going to enjoy my dinner and my apple drink and sit deep into my chair by the fireside. Sometimes you need to rest on the journey and tonight is just that, a comfortable campsite along the road of life.

A comfortable campsite with the promise of bacon by candlelight...


thanks henry

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can''re right."

-Henry Ford

rain and snow

I walked around the farm in the light rain, Gibson at my side. The morning was cold enough to require my trusty green Carhartt hoodie over my work kilt. My feet were warm and dry in Meredith's hand-knit wool socks inside my brown rubber boots. A hand knit cap I made myself was on my head, as much for warmth as its weather shedding double layer of Jacob and Bluefaced Leicester. Every step was a splash and as my dog danced around my heavy feet I sighed. Things are getting stressful, scary even. My mind is reeling with fall expenses, bills, projects, and the real world of money. These are the kinds of things that can swallow you if you let them.

I can't allow the doubt or fear to take over Cold Antler. If I do the place just becomes a bubbling pit of bills and sleepless nights. You look up at your ceiling in the dark and all you can hear are the words of doubt people have been telling me since day one. You haunt yourself, and it is worse than any headless horseman (and that's coming from a New Yorker).

I understand the situation as what it is, that bills need to be paid. I tell myself the same mantra, You have always made it work and you always will...You have always made it work and you always will...You have always made it work and you always will.

I find a way through positive thinking and a lot of prayer. My goal for the day is to pay my mortgage so I don't have to even think about it during Antlerstock, so I can just enjoy the October weekend for what it is. I'll spend the whole day trying to make that happen. Contacting sponsors for ads, offering you folks discounted season passes and workshops, selling items on Craigslist, posting of facebook: whatever it takes. I know nothing happens to solve the problem unless you change how you view it, and work your rump off to fix it. So in the honor of attraction and a brighter tomorrow, here is a blog post from December 2012. I know this hasn't happened yet, but perhaps it will.

The first snowfall of the year came down fast and bright, like the ringing of a giant brass bell. What started as a cold, wet rain after dark turned as the cold came on down the mountain. I knew it was snowing as I fell asleep, not from my window's view but from the lack of raindrops hitting the pane above my bed. Snow can be amazingly quiet, even when it is angry. We are alike in that way.

In the morning three inches of perfect blessing covered the farm. This marks the end of the Days of Grace, that holy time here in the Upper Hudson Valley after the leaves have all fallen and before the first snowfall. Up until last night farmers had a last chance to catch up on all the winter prep chores that snow makes more dodgy. Tractors are oiled and under cover. Large round bales have been taken into the field to save on winter square bale efforts. Defrosters are in troughs, larders are stacked, and everyone has enough coffee to make it through the weekend, if not the month. These tasks seem like common sense, but they are mighty. they are what make a morning like this a thing of beauty and repose, and not fear.

I think back to late September when I was so scared. Money was tight, down to my last few hundred dollars. I had no idea how the horse's barn would be walled, heck, I didn't know how I would even afford the lumber. But it got done. That and the firewood, hay, bills, mortgage payments and everything else. Partially thanks to the efforts of the blog, readers at workshops, and a hundred other small measures. But also thanks to the long-awaited book deal that sent me a check in the mail. Opening that envelope at the mail box let me release a sigh so powerful the birch trees swayed as it left my lungs. No book deal is a fortune, but it is enough to cover a few month of expenses and in the world of self-employed farming writers it is heaven sent. I was so grateful to receive it the earth below me rumbled.

I know I have to head out soon to do the morning rounds but a fire comes first. It may seem selfish but it is certainly not. A fire started before the outdoor work starts means comfort promised on my return. I bedded the fire around 10PM last night, setting a think yuletide log on the fire to chew away at. By morning just a a black snake of charcoal remained but the embers below still turned red when I blew on them. With some newspaper, hand-hatcheted elm, birchbark and locust hulls I can start a new blaze in moments. The first heat of the new fire lights up my face and my spirits. To look out glass doors onto a world made new, with elements life fire at your back, you feel lucky in ways Superbowl winners only dream of. Fire now roaring, I head out in wool and wax cotton to tend my animals. They waited long enough.

After everyone else is fed I can come inside and feel that kiss of firelight, shed off my wet layers and heavy boots, and wrap myself up in a blanket on the floor in front of the stove. On top of the bun baker is a tea kettle of water and a percolator of coffee. I just need a bowl of oats and a mug and I can it there and eat breakfast in front of the stove like a child eats her cold cereal watching cartoons on a Satturday morning. I feel that same level of bliss from mindless contentment. I have food, and heat, hot coffee, kind dogs, and a day ahead of writing to do. That time between morning chores and the day's work is also a mini Holiday. A Moments of Grace, if you will. I sit there and enjoy the grog and gruel and take a moment in deep thanks that this is where life has allowed me to canter. I am home. I can stay here a bit longer. It is enough.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Holy Crow! Countdown to Antlerstock!

Just a little over a week to Antlerstock! For folks traveling in for the weekend, remember that Friday night is a casual (workshop free) BBQ here at the farm. It's not part of Antlerstock, just a private party from 6-9PM or so to enjoy a little campfire and talk about the weekend. It's a great place to meet others who are staying at the same hotel or Inn, figure out car pools, relax after a long drive, and talk about the weekend ahead. If you are coming to the Friday night event, please email me to RSVP so I am ready for you.

Note that meals are not provided at this year's Antlerstock. Workshops start at 9:00 AM and go till 5 or 6 PM so you need to bring along your nosh and picnic gear. It never hurts to throw in a blanket or folding chairs! And there is always a midday break if you want to hit a restaurant. I will have bottle water available for those who want it.

There are still 2 spots open for Antlerstock due to cancellation. If you want to be a part of the BIGGEST party of the 2012 year here in North Country October, please email me quick to take the tickets! And if you aren't sure if you want to commit, I will offer them at Season Pass Rate and it will also include NEXT YEARS Antlerstock. The farm could use your support and I'm certain you'll have a big time! Come See Washington County! Shucks, some readers are even moving here because of this little blog!

Last Chance Slots For Workshops
2 spots left for Antlerstock 2012
3 Spots left for Words and Wool Dec 1st
5 Spots left for Fiddler's Rendezvous in Feb
8 Spots left for Dulcimer Day Camp

Antlerstock 2012 Itineray! Friday Night: Arrive at 6PM for a casual meet and greet and campfire. Not an official part of antlerstock, but a private party for folks who want to come a night early and just relax, find the farm, and get their bearings. We'll have a cookout, potluck style, so bring a dish and BYOB. It'll be a nice time.

Saturday: Antlerstock begins!

9:30 AM - sign in, morning mingling, and tour
10:15 AM - Backyard Forestry
10:15 AM - Soapmaking
11:00 AM - Sourdough Starter and Baking
11:00 AM - Harnessing up and moving logs with Merlin/Jasper
12:00 Noon - Safe Axe work, chopping and stacking 101

1PM - Lunch Break, bring a packed lunch or drive into town for a meal!
Stay for a homesteading talk under the King Maple

2:30PM - Backyard Rabbits and Chickens for eggs and meat
3:00 PM - Getting Started with Dairy Goats
4:00 PM - Timber Sports talk and demo
4:00 PM - Conversations Under the King Maple: Wrap up
5:00 PM - End of day, enjoy a drive around the WC, welcomed back for a campfire and music at 7PM lit by jack-o-lanterns. Story time and music.

Ongoing daily activities: cider pressing and pumpkin carving.

Sunday: Day 2~

9:00 AM - Horses for the homestead, riding and work
9:00 AM - Salves and herbal remedies
10:00 AM - Hombrewing 101!
10:30 AM - Fiddles and Dulcimer Overview
11: 00 AM - Pruning fruit trees and forestry

Noon - Break for Lunch!

Ongoing daily activities: Optional Tour of Common Sense Farm, Soap Shop and Poultry barn

1:30 PM - Cheesemaking 101
2:00 PM - Highlanders and backyard Beef + Pigs 101
3:00 PM - Sheep and Wool for the homestead
3:30 PM - Energy and the future, conversation
4:00 PM - Blogs and Freelance for the Homestead
4:30 PM - Wrap Up under the maple tree

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two Animals

Saturday Morning at the Fair

My Saturday morning at the Mother Earth News Fair was delightful. The rooms at Seven Springs were gorgeous, log cabin style accommodations. My "pet friendly" room was not what people expect (AKA smoking room on the first floor). Instead it was a super clean, smoke-free room complete with a ground-level door out to a dog exercise area complete with doggie baggie stations and bins for clean up. Pretty nice for the traveling dog owner, and nicer still for the hotel not to have canines running amok.

Gibson did a bit of running amok. He loves elevators. Soon as one opens he jets inside, spins around, and just smiles back at you. It's on you to race in with him or else he ends up on some mystery floor and you have the second act of a bad romantic comedy. So I did a lot of running into elevators. There's never a dull moment with a Border Collie on board.

After a team breakfast with the rest of the Storey Authors I started exploring the fair. I walked through the ALBC tents first, to meet the animals who had come along with their farmers on exhibit. There were sheep, llamas, goats, alpacas, chickens, cows, geese and pigs inside that space along with booths to ask any question you wanted about everything from milking techniques to bacon yields. I spent most of my time eyeing a flock of beautiful Leicester Longwools from West Virginia and left with a naturally colored gray ball of roving to try out on my wheel when I got home.

Since I already dropped fifteen dollars, I decided to spend another ten and then call it quits for the day. I got six bags of seeds from Southern Seed Exchange (who was running a special) and pocketed them like magical golden tickets in a chocolate bar. Out of all the things I could buy at the fair—and there was everything from tee shirts to llamas— I was thrilled about a winter harvest of kale, hearty lettuce, and other greens. I think this means I'm growing up.

Shopping done I made my way to the indoor conference room where, believe it or not, eight chickens were going to die in front of 600 people. If that sounds a little horrific or exploitive, it wasn't. This was a demonstration of chicken harvesting equipment and a detailed instruction from Joel Salatin. For those who know me, you know that hearing Joel speak (Even about chicken guts) is a treat and an honor. I look up to that man, very much so. And I wasn't alone in my admiration either, there were literally hundreds of people, from little kids to a few elderly Amish couples listening in on the best ways to process their birds. Everyone had baited breath...

Four Cornish Crosses and four Freedom Rangers were slaughtered quickly and without fuss in an 8-cone, wheel of killing cones. From there they went through some Cadilac scalding and defeathering aparati and were then handed to Joel, who could clean them perfectly in under 30 seconds. I took mental and physical notes and considered the whole workshop a success. The fact that everyone was more interested in actually learning about harvesting the animals and no one was there for the shock value or protest was a huge jump in the DIY community's mindset to me. This is progress, when we can talk about preparing dinner without writhing in our seats worried about the fact an animal had to die so we can eat hot wings. Of course an animal had to die. And the people at the event were not interested in the politics or argument as much as the most humane and ethical ways of going from chick to chicken sandwich. I applaud the whole fair for pulling it off. And Joel made it all seem possible, easy, and was vastly entertaining on stage.

After Joel's talk I met up with Brett and some CAF readers. Meredith and her friend Tara were there, along with some interns from Polyface that were rooming with her outside of Seven Springs. This is one of my favorite things about the MEN fair, it's meeting up with readers in person. Comments and emails are wonderful, but actually having someone show up for a workshop in person at my home or at the fair is the bee's knees.

By this point the Fair was in full swing. At least 20,000 people were milling around, shopping and absorbing classes and workshops all over. It wasn't even lunch yet and the place was swarming with eager people clammoring to take the Urban Beekeeping or Emergency Prepping workshops. Indoor classes abounded, outdoor demos and tent talks lit up the atmosphere. It was like a crunchy Southern Tent Revival, only you know, with alpacas. Brett and I were overwhelmed and headed inside to the conference center area. There was a HUGE gymnasium-sized book store set up and walkways of vendors and more conference areas. Brett and I both wanted to hear a local teacher (local to us in Veryork, not PA) from Green Mountain College talk about common homesteading mistakes. His talk was so packed we sat on the floor between rows of chairs. I could not believe the crowds, even compared to last year.

I think this self-reliance thing is catching on....

More later! I'll write about my talks, people I met, the keynote and sitting next to Temple Grandin for dinner! It was AMAZING!

P.S. I am announcing a spring Herbalism 101 workshop for April later today, taught by a trained herbalist and good friend, author and television personality, Kathy Harrison!

P.P.S. People have asked me about the text ads on the site and if they click on them does CAF get money? The answer is yes, that is how it works. You can click them or ignore them, that's your call.

P.P.P.S. Also announcing a garlic seed giveaway tonight from Annie's Seeds! This blog is ON FIRE people!

A Scottish Morning

now that feels good

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

stacking wood and books

My mornings back home from the fair have a new pace to them. I feel now that I am home and there is nothing to do but prep for winter and keep the farm humming. I am free to really dig in. I have plans to fix the horse cart, get a piglet, and start really focusing on my next moves in my writing career. Change is on the way, and not just the weather, people.

Fall is in full swing and nights are into the 30's now. I wake up to a bowl of oatmeal with a chopped apple cooked in it while it boils. I do it over the stove and it is ready in five minutes. People think it is crazy I don't have a microwave, but I find them intrusive. I like my stove, electric and wood, and cook with them. (And I still technically have a microwave, I'm just using turned on it's side as saddle stand in the tack room.) Anyway, OATMEAL! You add a little cinnamon and maple syrup and you have an amazing breakfast with enough sugar and carbs to stack a full cord of wood, which is exactly what I plan on doing today before it rains tomorrow. Wood as nice as this, delivered yesterday by Bob Ackland of Maple Lane Farm, should not get rained on.

Tonight at 7PM I plan on heading into town to listen to good friend Jon Katz talk about his newest book (his 22nd!) a collection of short stories called Dancing Dogs. He is doing a reading and a signing and I'm sure the place will be packed. His dogs Red and Lenore will be there, and I'm certain Red will perch right next to him and Lenore will fall asleep on the hardwood floor around 100 people. Lenore lets rest stop for no man.

Monday, September 24, 2012

what a beautiful sight...

Season Passes & Antlered Dulcimers

Winter Prep is coming along, and the work to prepare for what is ahead is down to firewood and lumber. I have secured some hay, had the chimneys inspected and cleaned, and got snow tires to replace my balding previous ones on the Dodge. The two big jobs left to do are get more firewood (at least 2 more cords) and order the lumber to finish the horses' barn for the cold ahead. Right now the horses only have four poles and a slanted roof and it suits them fine three seasons of the year, but for harsh snowfall and bitter winds they need some walled protection. I know it'll get done. It just requires figuring out how.

I have only two spots left for Antlerstock this Columbus Day Weekend. You could either pay for the two day event, or buy a Season Pass for just a bit more and not only come to THIS antlerstock, but NEXT YEARS. Antlerstock is always 2 full days with many experts on hand. This year will include professors, authors, homesteaders, farmers, and teachers of all sorts. We're cutting down trees, logging with horses, throwing axes, brewing beer, having campfires, carving pumpkins, and pressing cider (and that's just SOME of what's hapening!). Please come on down and support the farm!

I thought up this idea recently: put the Season Pass on sale, and offer an incentive for folks to take me up on the offer. I am going to offer a discounted Season Pass rate of $350. That means you can come to ANY and ALL workshops for an entire year including Antlerstock ( my two day homesteading extravaganza). If you sign up you will be entered for a drawing to win a TK O'Brien Leaping Deer Dulcimer. They are a $275+ value, made in North Carolina. And if you are already a Season Pass member, your name will be in the drawing as well. A Season Pass is a great gift for a friend with Barnheart, and if you are a part of a pro-CAF couple, then we can work out a two-person discount as well. Please email me to sign up!

Right now you will see a lot of yard sales, workshops, new ads, promotions and things like this on the blog as it's a tight time and this is how I make my living now. I do not expect things to stay like this much longer. I have some bigger things in the works like future book deals and speaking events but while I am getting myself and the animals ready and facing the reality of looming obligations I am going to try every way I can to keep this ship afloat. So I guess what I am saying is please be patient if the pitches and workshop announcements annoy you, they won't always be there! I am hoping by November you'll see a sharp decline and a lot more contented winter writing and webinar updates instead. Until then, I have fires that need to burn, walls to raise for a pair of ponies, and a few banks to make happy.

Tuatha na dá bPréacháin Eitilt, (Of the two flying crows)


Joel & Some Chicks

The Mother Earth News Fair: Day 1

We left for the Fair early, right after chores on Friday morning. This meant getting up at 5:00, going over the whole farm, and then loading up a diesel station wagon for the long drive. My truck was in dodgy shape (sorry for the pun)—and Brett's is so big is requires melted stegosaurus to get 400 miles—so we borrowed his sister's wagon. 50 miles to the gallon can not be beat. We left the farm at sunrise.

It's hard to leave a place that is your whole life. The farm is my home, my business, my livestock, my every energy. It's a place people go on vacation. I can't just head out with a little extra hay and water and feel okay about it. A small army was involved in leaving for the Fair. The Daughtons took on the huskies, saving me the costs of boarding. Patty and Mark Wesner and Jon Katz and Maria Wulf all came by to check on the animals, do chores, and generally keep the place under their safe watch. Brett was driving, a huge kindness. And everything had to be ready for me to return by Sunday afternoon. It was going to be an exciting and exhausting weekend, I was as excited about the little vacation as I was anxious to leave.

The happy travelers were Brett, Gibson, and myself and the road ahead was a minimum of eight hours long (meaning if we kept on without stops). Washington County to the town of Somerset Pennsylvania is quite the haul. Brett had a headache and Gibson refused to stay in the back cargo area on his bed. After a while we just let him perch on the vintage wooden suitcase I had packed my clothes in. He sat like a little sphinx, watching out the window while we passed farms, cities, developments and roadside attractions.

By the time we pulled into the Seven Springs resort it was close to 5;30PM. That's a long day, no matter how much you enjoyed your company. Brett was ready to park and relax, his head was still hurting. But he was right as rain by the time he got a short nap in.

I headed to the resort's bar and met up with fellow Storey folks. Pam Art, Ann Larkin Hansen, Carol Ekarius, and some others I didn't recognize at first were there and invited me to join them for some drinks. It was nice to just finally be there, at the destination, and Guinness was on tap. Brett joined us, and soon a pile of writers, and Storey Staff had collected for dinner. It was welcomed, as Brett and I both subscribe to the anti-road food idea of travel. We had a salad at lunch because we were on the move, not wanting to feel heavy and carb-loaded with five or more hours ahead of us in transit. But by dinner at the Fair we were ready to regret.

The food was amazing. That place really put on the dog! I enjoyed way too much, had a few glasses of wine, and looked around the table. These were people I have known for years now, people with farms and books, with databases and PR charts. These are the folks who also help keep Cold Antler running strong. They are a part of my extended community.

We ended up crashing before 9PM. Gibson was the first to fall, exhausted from the long car ride and rest stop potty breaks. He ate some food and crawled into bed with me. Tomorrow we'd all have to be up around the same time as the day before but for meetings and breakfast talks and then off to the fair to explore and take in the big show. The first thing I was going to hit was the live chicken slaughter/plucking demonstration with Joel Salatin. I could not believe the fair pulled that off. My hats off to whoever greenlit such a real and helpful topic at a convention center.

More to come through the day. I need to meet Bob, who is delivering a cord of firewood here in about ten minutes! People, there will BE HEAT!

pointing fingers at grief

Thank you for the warm wishes about George. It means a lot of get the comments and emails. It's such a simple thing, to send a letter or note saying you are sorry and understand, but it can buoy a person towards a better day. I woke up to a big list of comments to approve and all of them were kind. It was so appreciated, please know that. I wish I could say the same about the emails and facebook messages...

I have no idea what killed George, I found him long gone when I returned from my short weekend away. Plenty of cat owners leave on a Friday and get back on a Sunday and all it requires is a clean litter box and plenty of food and fresh water. George had those things in a house he had been living in for nearly a year. It was a complete surprise to find him gone. You just don't worry about cats, they are their own vessels, self contained units that only need the ingredients of ownership around to be ridiculously content. I think that's why folks love cats so much. You put out a box of sand, a bowl of krunchies, and offer a sunny window and they take those few things and become a part of a life. I worried about the horses, Jazz and Annie, the fences and the sheep but I never thought to worry about George.

Sometimes as a blogger you get worried about sharing things like this. I never used to worry about sharing everything, but I do find myself hesitating now. I worry if I write about losing an animal people will assume I did something to that animal. That loss is failure, as a farmer and as a caregiver. There are people out there who care a lot more about animals in general than their fellow humans writing about them and instantly assume the animal was a victim and the human incompetent. I know this because as soon as last night I got emails telling me what I did wrong and how I should not have animals at all. They are harsh, mean-spirited things to read and I wonder what kind of person take anothers grief and turns it into a pointed finger? I'm an animal, too. Why do "animal lovers" not realize that? They wouldn't kick a dog when it was down, so why me? To readers who read this blog looking for something to criticize, I ask that you back down on this. George was a loving, sweet, and sassy animal and fairly old and overweight. It was his time.

Truth is on a farm with this amount of life there has to be some death. It's a numbers game, the odds dangle in some critters favor and not others. I don't know if it is actually possible to kill a goose, honestly? Some chickens beat the clock and seem to have been here forever. And then some animals that share your bed and start every morning purring into your lap just leave. The only thing we really have after an pet dies is our integrity and gratitude. We do our best, so did George.

I'm going to go back to writing about the farm and the fair. If the transition from grief to excitement seems harsh, that is not my intention. Blog posts are postcards from a person's life. And just like the real thing, everything changes fast.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I will update everyone on the fair soon, but I feel like I should share some recent news. I came home to find that George had passed away. I do not know what from. I'm very sad he is not here now and I wasn't there for him then.

I took this photo Thurday morning, he was in my lap. His sister Lilly is mostly outside now. There are no cats in the house.

I have never been a cat person. I never will be.
But I was a George person.

I'm back!