Saturday, February 9, 2013

No Messing Around!!

Atlas & Maude

Storm Has Passed

The storm passed us, for the most part. About five inches of snow are out there, and most of that was blown around by harsh winds. I know it is a rough morning when I can hear the howling against trees and no owls start my day with their hooting home from highly rounds. I thought to myself, "If it's this wild here, how bad is it on the flats?" and thought of Jon and Maria and Patty and Mark, both with fairly exposed farms compared to my little mountain homestead. But I heard from both farms and all is well.

Chores this morning were extra bitter, but everyone from the lowest chicken and rat to the mighty horses ate their fill of breakfast and well water. The water defrosters made it fine, and the lows only sunk around ten degrees. Tonight will be colder, but the roads will be clear. I plan on spending the day around the house tending to things like pipes and stove wood. There's a crock pot of chili on and leftovers from yesterday's pork barbecue. This place never starves, I'll tell you that much.

Here there is no Fiddle Campers this weekend, and while it is a bummer I feel I made the right call. While conditions here are pretty mundane just a few hours southeast there are reports of over two feet of snow. Parts of Massachusetts put out a driving ban earlier while the road crews worked. Not the best travel conditions to Veryork for folks coming this-a-way. So I have a house full of fiddles and soon as Hubbard Hall gets back to me with weekends in March I'll post the new date. Some local folks may come by tomorrow to pick up their instruments just because they have their hearts set. Today I asked to keep the farm guest free, the driveway isn't even plowed yet.... I'll catch up.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Storm Has Begun

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jenna Woginrich: Falconer in Training!

This morning I joined the New York State Falconer's Association as an associate member, and applied to the DEC for the study packet to become an apprentice. What does that mean? It means I will be learning to train, trap, hunt, and live with hawks, something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Falconry has been on my mind a lot lately and the clincher that made me join the club and request the packet was a ride home from Livingston Brook Farm last week. The same folks I see time and time again were off in a field, gauntlets on their arms, working with their hawks. I have no idea who these people are, but I nearly pulled over to talk to them. Point is, they aren't storybook characters or Olympians, these are everyday people just doing something they love. I think my days of driving past things I want are over. If I want something, I fight like hell to make it part of my life.

...And perhaps not surprisingly, falconry is all around Cold Antler. There is an actual British School of Falconry in Manchester, Vermont (about 30 minutes away). I have friends who have friends who do this, know neighbors with Mews and birds they take out. I'm single, I have land, time and space. It costs a total of $40 to take the test and then, well, there isn't much of a cost to it. A licensed falconer traps you a juvenile red tail or kestrel and that is what you learn with. You don't buy giant cages or special gear outside of a leather glove. It's more of a lifestyle commitment than a monetary one. And if anyone can make room for falconry in their life it's the girl training horses and shooting arrows on Tuesday afternoons when she isn't in her office writing.

I think it's time this girl got a hawk. Or, at least try. Anyone surprised in the least?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fiddlers Rendezvous Postponed

Folks, after several travelers told me they weren't coming and the weather reports have upgraded to a 100% chance of at least 9 inches of snow, it feels like postponing the weekend is the only responsible thing to do. Yes, I understand that some of you will be upset but I can't chance having people out on the roads in this weather, specially for a weekend of fiddling. We will plan the event for early March instead. Is that possible for everyone?

If you are still coming out no matter what and want to hang at CAF and learn to fiddle, I will be here. You can help batten down the farm hatches and learn in more casual and personalized environment. It'll be us and the wood stove and Am and PM chores. I will happily host and hand out instruments to those who want to come and are already on their way. But for those of you who are fretting travel, fret no more. The event will be rescheduled and we can all set our crock pots, get batteries in our flashlights, and get ready for some serious snow.

The Perfect Pair

I see another summer of arrows and saddles ahead, and the tell tale sign is a black mare named Ebony. She's a draft pony for sale on Craigslist, and while she sounds like a dream (and a perfect match for Merlin) she's not destined for Cold Antler Farm. She's a possible horse for my good friend and neighboring farmer, Joanna.

Joanna is in her mid thirties and neighbor to Patty and Mark. She and her husband Greg are new farmers, and just moved to their land a few years ago. She's got a green thumb and already works on a big farm here in the W.C. She knows the ropes. I got to know her this summer though helping with haying and general dinner parties and hanging out with the Livingston Brook crew. She caught horse fever, and wants a sturdy horse to ride, plow and drive with. Her heart is set on a small draft like a Haflinger or Fjord. She is, however, a little nervous about taking the big step. I understand that, but I also know that the best way to get over hesitation is to blindly dive into the thick of experience. I think Patty and her will check out the mare this weekend and she just might be the third member of our little private riding association.

That sounded dirty. You know what I mean.

As for my mount, Merlin and I are a perfect pair. We're both deeply stubborn and convinced the other one is being a jerk. These last few days I have been working with him, trying to get back into the habit of regular training sessions and riding, but it's tricky. I left the world of arena's and instructors who demand proper alignment and now I am finding myself in the equine version of home schooling. I use the occasional trainer when I get in over my head, but my new coach is my farrier and he shows up in a pickup with a cowboy hat.

I know with Merlin's training sessions I need a plan. If I don't have the entire event set into systematic activities with small goals it is a waste and I get frustrated. Working with Merlin is like climbing a ladder. I can move up, but one rung at a time. When I am patient and methodical, amazing things happen. But if I get frustrated or over my head, I just end up with my butt on the ground.

Today's goal was simple. Do groundwork as long as it takes to have a responsive and calm horse, then mount up. Once mounted, perform a pre-set routine of tasks on the road and then end the session with a big smile. Today we managed to do just that. I had him groomed, tacked up, ground-worked, and we rode much better than the day before. It wasn't perfect, it rarely is, but even when Merlin wanted to argue and do his own thing, I managed to remain calm and patient and get my way. We use a simple snaffle bit, a lot of circling, and my big fat stubborn streak and eventually I win out. I think back to last March when just sitting on Merlin's back and walking around the arena was scary. It took a lot of miles together, but through amazing instruction from many people I have a horse I understand. We are a team now.

I don't know if Joanna will get the mare or not. I do know that she, like many of you, has a big dream and is just apprehensive about the commitment and the trials ahead. I think a lot of folks make decisions based on such fears. I know I do. Everything you read about on this blog, every trail ride and every move cross country. All of it is done out of anxiety. But it's not done with a fear of failure or mistakes, but a fear of regret. I worry a lot more about missing out on experiences than I do about bruises and permission. Sometimes that has worked in my favor, sometimes not. But when it comes to horses I am proud of my giant, crazy, leaps towards the team Merlin and I have built. This time last year he was a pipe dream. Now he's just my pipe.

Point being: Joanna, ride on.

Snow This Weekend!

Snow is coming, possibly a lot. While Fiddlers' Rendezvous is still on, I am curious if anyone will not be attending due to the snowfall? It looks like most will hit Friday night, and our plow teams here are great. Even my farm road is on a school bus route, and stays well kept. But if a large number cannot make it then I will reschedule the event. What say you fiddlers?

Update 9:30AM So I will hosting this camp. Over half the attendees said they are still coming. Brave souls! So if you feel you can't because of weather (I totally understand) let me know through email and if there are enough of you folks then we will host another weekend event, so everyone still learns the devil box.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gibson and Tom

Playing Gloom by lantern light on the farmhouse floor. We had a game night a few days ago with some friends from, Tara and Tyler. They are a young couple who are moving to Veryork from Minnesota, bought some land in Vermont close by CAF. Great adventurous friends who appreciate some dark humor in their gameplay. Tara caught this photo of Tom and Gibson in the lantern light. I love it!


Fiddler's Rendezvous Schedule Posted!

Folks who are coming this weekend for Fiddler's Rendezvous, here is the plan. PLease arrive at Hubbard Hall Freight Depot at 9:30 AM in downtown Cambridge. Parking for the Depot is behind Main Street, just turn at the brick building with Bean Head's written on it and you'll see the lot and Freight Depot behind it. If you are in a grassy park-like area that looks like an old train station, you found us.

We are starting at 10AM on the dot, and you are expected to bring the book, your tuner, and spare strings and fiddle if you are not getting one here at the camp. It's a fun time and a great and easy introduction to this instrument but it is a long morning of getting acquainted and learning some basics. We'll break for lunch for an hour, and pick it up again at 1PM. Class usually goes until 3PM after that, and we officially break around 3:30.

Lunch can be bought all over town, with a few options or you can pack lunch. There is no camping at the farm in the winter so you will need to find a local hotel. Suggestions can be found here!

I'll host a short farm tour at CAF for anyone interested Saturday after class. Come and meet the animals and get taunted by geese while Merlin hollers for hay!

Class starts Sunday morning at 9AM-Noon, another break for lunch, and then we finish up again around 3PM.

In Summary:


9:30-12 Noon at Hubbard Hall, Cambridge NY
Meet Your Fiddle!


First notes and scale, first song


Shuffling and droning, thickening the soup


more fiddling!

Good To Want

Things here at the farm are sauntering into a plateau of amicable stability. It is such a relief. Yesterday a horse trailer full of hay was delivered and stacked in the barn. The excess was stacked by the house under the shelter of the porch, tucked aside a cord of wood stacked the week before. Outside my kitchen window, it is so highly stacked with grass and timber I can't even see the sunlight. That's a consolation I'll gladly make, because few things lift this shepherd's spirit like looking out a window and seeing proof that summer not only exists, but is still there for me.

It's Tuesday morning. My plans include a trip to my bank before noon and an afternoon of freelance design work with a writing chaser. I try to make time every day to shoot some arrows into the haypile and work out, too. Currently I am on a cleaning tear and this house is being wiped and dusted from top to bottom. It feels wonderful to be shedding pounds and removing (literal) dirt and garbage from my life at the same time. I've taken a pretty serious view of my martial arts education and decided to get as much as I can out of it. In less than a month I have relearned five of the traditional Taekwondo forms, and can now easily do a hundred pushups and hundred sit ups in under twenty minutes. When I start adding more cardio, through twice weekly sparring...well, I can already see the last of the extra weight falling off. It feels wonderful, and I feel renewed. Last night I was fighting with a black belt at the dojang and I could not stop smiling, I just couldn't. Like holding a bow, or sitting in the saddle, sparring feels so comfortable to me, so correct. There's a big AAU tournament this summer in Albany, and I will be entering it. I'm going for the gold, folks. It's good to want things.

Yeti and Boghadair

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meet The New Guy

It did not take long for the Maine Coon sized hole in my heart to be filled back up. Boghadair, came here this past Samhain. And now Yeti has come to see if Cold Antler will suit him as a new home. He's a three-year-old Maine Coon, and easily twice the size of little Bogh. He's not exactly, um, calendar material. He's a hard luck cat, scraggly as a Disney villain's sidekick. But he is sweet, and has a lot of character. Right now the animals are all a bit suspicious of him, but neither the dogs or Bogh has bothered with him much since he arrived and set up Camp Bathroom. He has a towel to sleep on, a litter box, and food and water and will come out in his own good time.

Welcome Yeti!

Superbowl Ad: God Made a Farmer

saxophones and puppies

Meet Darla, the 9-week-old Old English Sheepdog puppy. She might be the cutest little Ewok I have ever seen. She isn't my little girl (I like my dogs a little more crazy), but she came to visit this weekend and her proud new mama (Patty) took her over to the sheep gate. This little dog, who's from a long line of shepherds, stood tall and looked those sheep right in the eyes. Darla (who I call Moneypenny) will be a great addition to Livingston Brook Farm. There she'll be a true farm dog! She'll weave around hay bales and battle with barn cats. She'll run in big hay fields, walk alongside horses and tractors, and learn woods and streams from Harley, their big hunting dog. She has a great life ahead, this little pup.

Having a puppy around has been a real treat. I have had lambs, kittens, chicks, and goat kids around but having a pup squirm and smile in my arms is something different. It's a whole new vibe, and entirely pleasant. I think music explains it best. Having a kitten around is kind of like having a new saxophone, violin, or flute on the table you're learning to play. It's something that will become smooth, sleek, and explosive. But a puppy? A puppy is all Banjo. Banjo, banjo, banjo. All plucks and smiles and clumsy happy sounds. And as you play more and the pup grows up you get something mighty bright and powerful too, just incapable of a cat's level of jazz. And that's fine by me. There's not a lot of room for jazz in my life, some, but not much. I'd rather dance with dogs. I think dog's sleep better at night.

Banjo, banjo, banjo.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gibson Vs Taxidermy: Round 1

A long wild weekend here. While I recover and get back into my annual Feb 2nd clean-a-thon, enjoying watching Gibson deal with taxidermy. Sorry about the static jitter sounds in the beginning, it goes away fairly soon into the playing.