Friday, March 31, 2017

Honing In, Haunted Houses, & Friends

Yesterday as I was carrying water to the horse’s trough my head was going through the end-of-day to do lists. I had finished up work with three clients, mailed an illustration to Minnesota, and sent out notices to advertisers and publishers. the usual hustle of chores, work, pitches, and goals that keep this farm running. As I poured the water into the black tub, Merlin came over to see if some how this new water was also possibly grain, and as her dipped his head in for a drink I looked at his feet. He is due for another farrier appointment soon, but the trim would be short. His round dinner plate feet were sturdy and even on the slick hill. The farm was a mix of hardening mud since the temperature had dropped so fast over the last few hours. Snow was on the way.

Gods, I love this horse. His face has gone whiter every year, his mane less shiny, but he’s solid and strong as ever and I can’t wait for those hopeful summer days of riding, archery, running, and swimming in the river. I want this scary time behind me. I want the stronger, leaner, meaner version of me from last summer.

This was a tough week here. I got turned down for a opportunity I had placed all my eggs into. I foolishly assumed it would work out and it didn’t. So what had been all anticipation and eagerness Monday turned into despair and confusion by Weds. I panicked for a good 15 minutes and then stopped and sorted it out. My plan B reflexes are now honed, five years into self employment. I sent out some emails and contacted some people with the right connections. I put myself out there. I know this all sounds vague, but that’s because it’s all the muck of publishing and self promotion and nothing is official yet. Hell, nothing is even unofficial yet. But wheels are turning. Perhaps that bad news was what I needed to jump-start some other projects. That is the way I am going to look at it. If you want to live like this Optimism is the only drug that gets you through times like these.

After chores were done and the farm settled in for the night, I grabbed a green box from the chest in the living room. I called Gibson and we headed out to visit our good friends, Tara and Tyler, over at their amazing mountain homestead in Vermont. If you aren’t familiar with these two world traveling, green constructing, adventuring, entrepreneurs- get into them. They blog out of

Anyway, I was heading there to enjoy their hospitality of a warm house on a hill. Their tiny home has a little wood stove called The Squirrel and Gibson slept on it while we chatted and unpacked the items inside the Green Box. It was comforting to hear their own personal concerns, putting mine in perspective. We bitched about life the way friends do - that venting of anxiety, hopes, the future and reality's harsh truths. We all needed it. And then we got to leave Vermont for a little thanks to the game we were setting up - Betrayal at House on the Hill.

The lights were turned off and just lanterns and candles filled their home. The speaker system was hooked up to scary music and we roleplayed three adventurers - a priest, a fortune teller, and a teenager - exploring a haunted house together.

We got so into it, forgetting all the things that brought us down earlier that day. What a gift. What I love about modern board games like this is how transportive and clever they are. We had so much fun, and to end a week fraught with serious doubts, laughing around dogs and firelight and friends was so needed.

Friends mean so much to me and this farm. The night before I was at Patty and Mark's, watching Firefly on their giant TV feeling like I was in the movies. A few nights earlier my pal Trevor the Carpenter and Miriam, Chris, and Keenan (friends from back when I was more active in Taekwon Do (finances got too tight to keep going, but I really hope to return when things pick up) and we played ticket to Ride and just laughed over beers and stories and competitive railroad tickets. 

I found these people in a small, rural, area and they changed my life and grounded me in a way I feel is rare and lucky. I know a lot of hopeful future farmers out there are nervous about coming to new areas as outsiders, not finding community or a place to belong. But your tribe is out there. Maybe you'll meet as farmers, neighbors, internet gaming buddies, coreligionists, or people you chat up in line at the Agway. But they are out there. I found all of these people by accident, coming into my life through my passions of farming, martial arts, and writing books. I found them being excited about life and their equal verve and joy resounded back.

People attract people into their lives that compliment their natures. We all have different stories and particulars that set us apart, but at the heart this crew of adopted family is one hell of a song. We encourage, support, and care about each other in all our creative endeavor. It's how this farm has made it this far. It's why I am hopeful it'll make it a little longer.

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. Gaming photo taken by Tyler Kellen.


Blogger Sarah B said...

Thank you for this! I moved to a small town and feel like an outsider. This read is just the kick in the pants I need to make an effort!

April 3, 2017 at 12:10 PM  

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