Thursday, March 30, 2017

All, Because of the Internet

After morning chores I sat down at my computer to see to some design clients. I had already communicated with two of them before feeding the flock. One is 30 minutes from my front door and the other farming in the UK. The first emailed me from his home before commuting to work, and the second was just considering the notion of a late lunch across the ocean. Both had questions about changes to ongoing logo designs. I addressed them in my dirty Carhartt jeans, makeup-free face, and hair braided and hidden under a knit cap sent from a beloved reader in Pennsylvania. All, because of the internet.

I feel so lucky to be following the homesteading dream at this time in history. We are all lucky! I have an international design and agricultural research station right in my living room. Thanks to the web I am able to make a living from this farm. I can contact publishers about books, magazines about freelance, clients about logos, and customers about lamb, pork, and fleeces. I can talk to blog and book readers, build my readership, and learn more about their stories and farms through social media. I have arranged for chicks to be delivered (ordered online) and just launched an eBook which over 120 people have downloaded from Amazon already to enjoy. Amazing. All of because of the internet.

I’m so very grateful for this double-edged sword. Cold Antler Farm wouldn’t be possible without it. Long before I ever had my first book deal I was writing about my adventures in newbie-homesteading on various blogs. And I sold my first book to Storey after going to their website (from an Idaho farmhouse with dial-up) and reading the requirements for a book proposal. I wrote one up that weekend, had an editor friend at my office proof it, and then mailed it with a designed logo for my book idea on the package. They contacted me about a week later. All, of because of the internet.

As much as us homesteaders like to accept the Luddite ideals and simple living - I can’t say enough good things about the technology I use every day. I like being alive at the privileged and lucky time in history to pick and choose what I want to use, gadget wise. I don't want to use a cell phone, but I have this 7-year-old iMac in my living room and it’s where I can watch movies and TV shows, play games, design logos, and write books. It’s where I sit a few hours a day working. And I love that my twitter is always open to keep up with the news, quips, politics and stories of the people I follow.

Twitter connections have proven to be the most amazing professional leads, in my experience. And because of it I have reached out to people I would never get to talk to without it. The NY Times piece from last month started as a DM on twitter by the writer. I’ve met so many amazing authors there and have been invited out to their homes and events. All, because of the internet.

As much of a pain in the ass as technology can be, it’s worth it to me. To know there are people who care about the farm. To know there are people who know me better than they might know their own cousins? Just because I am able to be honest here about this One Woman Farm? Amazing.

I have made lifelong friendships over this blog. I have championed and shared 6 books. I started out in a rented farmhouse on the other side of this continent, and now I am on my own piece of land I own and am fighting to keep. I don’t know how much time I have left here. Last month was rough and the farm is threatened. But there is still hope. I don’t know if tomorrow I'll sell a book or get a foreclosure notice in the mail. Things are never boring, that's for sure.

I do know that because of this farm I have been able to love every day of my life here, even when scared or anxious. I’ve been able to photograph and document the ups and down of a feral life and even pay off 20% of this little house and land, as a single woman. This farm has given my life meaning, community, and a reason to get up and fight.

Sometimes people tell me that they felt they could also farm or get their own piece of land because they saw me do it. That is the highest compliment I could possibly ever get. To know someone else took a stab at their dream because they cultivated enough courage from this place to see it in themselves? That is more successful to me then keeping an address or a dark horse. And it’s all because of the internet.

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary donation. It really does help keep the lights on.


Blogger MaureenM87 said...

Hey Jenna,

I'm really grateful for the internet, and for your utilization of it. I've been following your farm ownership journey for as long as I've been dreaming of farm ownership, and here I am about to close on my first ag property. Huge gratitude for you and your presence. Without your daily "normalization" of being a single woman who has *chosen* to live this lifestyle -- while still having eclectic interests and hobbies and progressive views -- I would probably feel way more terrified of this huge step.

Without your voice, Jenna, the farm blogosphere feels very weighted down by moms, nutritionists, retirees, and *very religious women who live and die by patriarchal gender roles*. They all have their purpose, don't get me wrong, but they make being an unwed feminist (who really embraces their feral side) feel preeetttyyy lonely...outside of the city.

So you rock. Your reverence for animals and their gifts to us is a beautiful, rare thing to behold. Your toughness in the face of arbitrary criticism...and ability to admirable. You are, in my mind, an excellent example of what "success" really is: someone grinding away at a precise vision, working just hard enough to stay a little bit hungry, and loving every anxiety-inducing and purely joyful moment of it.

Keep on, soldier!

March 30, 2017 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Maureen you have no idea how much I needed to hear that. Thank you. If you are ever in this area email and we'll grab a beer!

March 30, 2017 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Tasha Raymond said...

The internet has become the only link for so many of us homesteading type in this day and age, that it's scary to think about what we would be doing otherwise. Well, aside from the obvious cliché of all being hermits with gardens.

I'll be honest - your books are what really drove me towards looking at homesteading, and possibly later farming, as an actual possibility. I had read other's memoirs - like the Nearings', Coleman's, and Bright's - but they were all preachy outsiders that came to the game with money in hand. Yours was the first book that I read from someone going at it without the up-front cash or the back-up of the family wallet. That was the push I needed. Seeing someone try, fail, yet pull themselves back up by their boot straps....those are the stories I need, not the mythical legends of the Jeffersonian farm.

While our stories aren't 100% identical (no one's ever is), it's been amazing being able to read your blog and grow alongside you, even if on a slightly different curve. I remember a couple years ago when you had a regular vlog going. My son was watching over my shoulder and asked who you were.

Me: "Oh, that's Jenna. I read her stories online. She has a farm like Mumma wants."
Little Mister: "Oh."

A week later I was watching another vlog and he walked by. "It's Aunt Jenna!" Somehow, in one video, you had become family member to a little three year old who has never met you all because your life was similar to ours. Chickens roamed behind your, turkeys gobbled over your shoulder, and a farm was the background that looked familiar to him. Perhaps the most important thing was that you and his mumma were both rocking bandannas that day. for some reason, the connection clicked.

I don't know why I deviated towards that story, but I guess the moral is that while you might feel alone somedays, but you're right on the money when you say that the internet is a game changer. When strangers towns, states, oceans away can feel a connection with you, and a little boy who has never met you calls you family, you're never really alone.

Thank you for having the courage to be real and open.

March 31, 2017 at 9:34 AM  

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