Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Humble

It's been a hell of a week, and a wonderful birthday celebration to boot. I was able to spend my 37th with such good friends, music, and this little hidden town full of people that have become such an amazing part of my life. I don't think places like Cambridge are normal, and finding a place that I fit into and love being every day feels like the absolute best birthday present there is. There wasn't a day last week around my birthday I was allowed to pay for a meal or a beer and I got to ride my horses, meet some new people, and spend a lot of time simply enjoying a bit of summer.

Then I got thrown from a horse!

I'm fine! It wasn't one of my own horses, but a very sassy little Fjord Horse mare that belongs to a friend of a friend in Massachusetts. She's grown a bit nervous around her, so myself and some horse gal friends went to see her and possibly help with the situation. I volunteered to ride her since she reminded me so much in attitude and size as Merlin. I was warned she was spooky, but soon as I saddled up all I felt was the normal draft-pony goodness I knew from years of being around my Fell. As a short, strong, woman I am kind of a draft pony, too. So after a little groundwork and some tack, I was on the back of a Fjord for the first time.

We rode in a small outdoor exercise area at a walk, trot, and eventually a few lopes of a canter. I was told this horse was a little problematic but all I felt was a horse a little stubborn, but willing. I was feeling confident, even arrogant about the whole thing. Which is exactly why I deserved to be chucked off. Because after a while of feeling fearless, I was ready to end the ride and took off my helmet and threw it towards my friend Patty, right past my mare's head. Something that wouldn't even cause Merlin's withers to rustle. In two bucks she darted left and I went down. I hit the ground hard but got right back up and right back on.

Mares, they keep you humble.

So does plumbing. I am still without drainage and using basins for dishes and everyday washing. It needs a real plumber to help with the main outage clog but that has to wait until I take care of a house payment, the electric bill, and other more pressing needs. It is embarrassing though, when a guest comes and I have to explain the privy in the woods - but that's where the farm is at right now and I'd rather be inconvenienced in 80-degree weather than homeless. So I am forging ahead with the hope I figure out this month somehow, as I've figured out the month's before. I'm a quarter of the way there and have 2 weeks to make it, so here's to that luck.

I've accepted that this farm, the past ten years of it, is trusting my gut. Sometimes choices I make seem foolish. Sometimes they are. But all of them have ended up with a life I am truly happy to be fighting to keep. All of it is becoming this book I am more excited to write than anything else I've done in my entire life. The horses, hawks, winters, storms, dogs, people, town, stories... all of it have made me into the woman I am now and I like this woman, a lot. I haven't always. I've downright hated her at times - but at 37 I have never felt more comfortable and confident in myself. I trust her. I love her. And I want to keep making her proud.




Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Guts

Things here are a mixed bag of emotions. There are things I am excited about, energized by, working towards. For example the book I am hoping to sell and have been working towards all summer may be ready to shop around by Labor Day. That is encouraging. So is the time I spend running, or hiking, or feeling more like myself and active than I've been all winter when things were so glum through into spring. I have more optimism now - which I think is directly related to the light and activity - and I am grateful for it. That said:

But there are also a lot of things making everyday life troubling - like the plumbing still being out of working order. The household feeling out of sorts. The certified letters being sent in the mail reminding me I still am not caught up on my mortgage. It's all stressful and all I can do is work on one problem at a time, taking care of the most important things and then down the systematic list towards a resolution. Between the part-time work, freelance, writing, and the farm I feel like I am doing more than ever to stay behind. This marathon towards my end game - the farm's success and solvency - well I'm hitting mile 19 and feeling my legs shake. I've ran too far to quit and am scared of what'll happen during the last stretch. That's my everyday right now. The combination of energy and hope and this fear that it will all fall apart right before I hit the finish line.

So what is there to do? Just the day in and day out work of moving forward. Try to make sales, make soap, make art, land more work. Take advantage of part time opportunities that arrive and always make the choices that best serve the farm. That is why I'm still here, almost ten years into purchasing this place, and I know to trust my gut. My house's digestion might be off but mine remains intuitive enough to make it this far.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Lifted Up, Torn Apart

July has started with a bang, all puns intended. The farm is a little hairy - less landscaped and a little off track towards some goals, but all the big things are in place and so far every month the lights have (mostly) stayed on and the bills have been paid. The heat of summer is making me so, so, so happy. To wake up and have the light and energy to run a few miles before I even make coffee is something Winter Jenna couldn't even tolerate the dream of. Now I'm feeling lighter, stronger, tanner, feistier. I was able to mail in a mortgage check at the tail-end of June, cover the butcher bill, work out a payment plan with the electric company and my student loans. I've cut out so many costs I used to think were necessary in life. I'm broke, but feeling beautiful. I'm hustling, but feeling happy. I'm promoting this farm's wares and my skills to the best of my ability and without apology. Oh! And yesterday I applied to join the team of an online magazine that might open the door to a new stream of freelance and audience. What I am saying is things are tight but things are good. Hands down I am the happiest woman you know this Sunday morning with $65 in her checking account.

The new hawk, Auburn, is slowly improving as we spend time together. We aren't into real fall training yet since she is molting her feathers and that means a steady, rich, diet and not the weight-control of training season. So what we do together is simply spend time. Time on walks with her on my fist. Movies inside at night. Getting her used to me being in her space. It's a slow burn towards something lovely.

I'm writing you while my friend is asleep in the guest room. I've been up since 6, having done the chores around the farm, ran a quick 5k, made coffee, scoured social media for news and pop culture fixes - and now I am settling in to paint pet portraits and work on a logo client. I try not to do work on weekends like this, but I also need to catch up. Mailing out 5-10 orders a week is the only way to keep the flow moving and make room for new sales. I have soap to make today, and weeding to do to keep this place looking sane. But all of it is good work. All of it is a promise and luck. All of it is moving into a better place.

The lambs and piglets are doing well. I need more of both, though. Fall is always just around the corner and I need more stock here before the end of the month to stay on goal. It's a good post to set and something to wake up and work towards every day. Which is the best thing about this farm - the need to always be on top of what the farm needs. It never lets me slack off. It never lets me give in. I am the woman I am today because this place lifted me up, tore me apart, and let me start all over again. It means the world to me, it is my world. And I am going to do my best to keep it the plates spinning long as I can hold them.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Good Things!

Sunshine and warmth, what a beautiful thing. This morning the horses are grazing on new pasture, the lambs are starting to wean off their bottles, and the dogs are in from morning runabout and sleeping in sun beams in the living room floor. I have made the Monday List and am checking off "blog post" first because there are somethings to catch you up on! So far, none of them bad!

The new hawk, pictured here, is doing so well! She is getting trained from scratch and we are spending a lot of time together. She has a very nice mews set up, and expansion of my old set up, and it's been so wonderful having her here as well as building on my own falconry career. This fall I am considering a small falcon, to learn a new species - a kestrel or merlin. I'll be trapping wild birds, not purchasing any from breeders. While that costs me nothing by gas and time, it does mean there's a chance I won't get one at all. And of course who knows what the future will bring. Maybe training Auburn for release will turn into a whole season of hunting side by side and I won't have time for 2 birds. But just the whole thing of it is exciting. Something to look forward to!

I handed over a second outline to my agent, an overhaul of the last book idea, which was the bulk of my week's work. Planning out how a book goes is like building a hiking trail out of wild forest. You know there's a way to get your idea through, but the winding and switchbacks and need to cut down debris and find your route is harder than bullet points. At least for this book it is. I want to write about what was going on with my heart and mind the past ten years. I want to explain why and how I was hiding and how I was finding myself at the same time. At this point it's a book I feel I need to write, mostly to get the past decade from inside my ribs out for all of you to see. And while this is the baby stages of that process it is IN PROCESS and it lets me wake up feeling like an author again. It's a goal, and it'll be along hike to get there, but I get to wake up excited to make it every single day. Makes a woman feel very lucky.

I've been riding more, running more, hiking more - generally being out in the world moving as much as possible under the sun. It is amazing how much that and music can change my entire world. Miles fly listening to songs that inspire on the road. Trails become more saturated and magical, like the forest is a place for secret stories and hidden doors. I am feeling more like myself than ever and mind and body both seem to be letting go of a huge amount of stress. The kind of stress I want to write about in that book, not the regular farm-stress of making the place solvent and whole. But the stress of hiding who I am, or being ashamed to like what I like. It's been let go.

I hope you are all enjoying this summer as we start this month from jump. Wish this farm luck in keeping on, miles and mortgage, and I wish you the same in return!