Thursday, May 21, 2009

peace and hope

I am slightly amazed you nice people have made my scrappy farm a part of your life. I get emails and comments from readers all the time, from all over, and I can't help but sit here in this Vermont kitchen and grin like an idiot as I read them. It's so exciting knowing other people are watching out for you, keeping track. The idea that Jazz, Annie, Maude. or Finn come up in conversations in Australia, Milwaukee, North Dakota.... blows me away.

Tonight after work I came home to this farm, and worked harder than I had all week. I let Finn run amok, and let the sheep out to graze. While they chomped away in their small pasture I moved dirty straw from the henhouse into the garden, making my mulch, singing old southern mountain songs as I dug the pitchfork in. I was happy. I like the happiness that comes out of working with your hands. It makes sense to me every time.

I ended my day playing the fiddle. I sat with Annie on my porch and played Amazing Grace in a long, droning, Appalachian style. I sipped a bottle of hard cider and thought about the beautiful day I just had. Today was 87 degrees and sunny in VT. I spent it laughing and rolling over our green hills. I got to ride in a sidecar on a Russian motorcycle, and eat ice cream with sprinkles. I ended the day tending my gardens and laughing at my fat silly sheep. In appreciation, I sat there and played Grace as I learned her, in that mountain way you only know if you woke up in a place where everyone had ceiling fans on their porches and knew holler as a place, not a verb.

Tennessee will never leave me. I think about her every day.

People ask me why Cold Antler Farm is called Cold Antler. It's a mix of Zen Buddhism and hopeless romanticism. Cold comes from the poet Han San; who's Zen poetry's responsible for so many cross country moves. Antlers: well, antlers to me are the most primal and historical symbol of masculinity. I always have an antler necklace or a deer around because someday down the road, if I am very lucky, I'd like to fall in love. And I hope it's as natural, ordinary, and simple as spikes are on a deer. Some girls spend their whole lives praying for a white knight—I am just trying to find my antlers.

So Cold Antler means, quite simply, peace right now and hope for love later. But while I hope, I'll farm. I certainly dont expect this kind of thing to happen anytime soon. Maybe in the next ten years or so? In the meantime, my music, animals, writing, and gardens will keep me going. A girl can run on fumes for a very long time if she keeps her thoughts ahead of her, and lets herself fall in love with chicken shit on her wellies in the meantime. I'm in no rush. But you know this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the blog and I've also just started reading your book. Trying to make small movements towards being more self sufficient in my own life and I'm finding what you're doing to be very inspiring. Thank you for letting us peek in on your life. :)

May 21, 2009 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Little Ant said...

I love your attitude Jenna. I am in total agreement with you on trying to live your dreams now instead of waiting for later. The world would be a better and happier place if more people could adopt this way of thinking.

May 21, 2009 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Hi Jenna,
I just read your book and discovered your wonderful blog. I hope to have a little farm like yours someday, but your book made me realize that I can start doing small things right now. It snapped me right out of a work-induced funk.

Cheers from Laguna Beach, CA.

May 21, 2009 at 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

Oh my! I'm just up the interstate from Milwaukee, kind of in the middle of nowhere, but thats where I like it. :) I'm always keeping up with you. You've really helped me look inside myself and find my hearts desire. I'm getting there. Small steps. Thats all you can do. And the more I do outside, the more I do to become more self sufficient, the happier I become. And its the best kind of happy, I think. I've found my "antlers" already, and he loves that I lean towards the older ways. You'll find your antlers too, and make his heart go pitter pat. The more I read your blog, the more I feel like I know you. Thanks for that. Its great to have friends all over the country! So, here's from the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin!

May 22, 2009 at 12:54 AM  
Blogger granny said...

Hi Jenna,Granny from Australia,Ive just finished reading your book and Loved it!!I enjoy keeping up with all the happenings at coldantlerfarm,so keep blogging,please!Wishing you much joy and happiness :0)

May 22, 2009 at 4:42 AM  
Blogger Karen L R said...

We are headed to our place in VT this afternoon. We'll be shopping for blueberry and raspberry bushes, and planting and weeding. Open Studio Weekend, too. The best part of all is waking up in the morning, sitting up in bed and seeing those Green Mountains out the window....We worked for 30 years to get this place. So folks, follow your rural dreams, either right this minute or with a long term plan. Just do it!

May 22, 2009 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Oooh! Was it a Ural? A friend of ours has one - they're the bomb! I don't know you manage to get such good pictures of Finn. I try and try to take pictures of our goats, but they're always way too close to me!

Oh, and the love you'll want to wait for is the one who LOVES the chicken shit on your wellies. It'll come. But you know this. ;)

May 22, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Yes! It was totally a Ural.

May 22, 2009 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Bad Hippie said...

Hey, Jenna!

Love the book, love the blog. I can't believe you work 9 to 5 and then tend to animals and a garden (of such size!). I'm starting small with one (each) 4x4 and 2x4 raised bed and some potted herbs. I'm a knitter, too, and sewing is starting to seem very attractive.

Oh, and the chicken chapter? Damn if it didn't have me googling "urban chickens" and calling my city to see if I could have some hens in my back yard. Free entertainment for the house cats!

May 22, 2009 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna, you are so refreshing! It is really nice to find someone so young with the common sense to be aware of herself and not sabotaged by all the phony, superficial things in the world today. So many times, young people with real potential just lose their way because they fall into the here and now, popular fad lifestyle, rather than really knowing themselves and sticking to what's right for them and being true to themselves. They would save themselves so much wasted time and trouble if they just tuned in to their heart and soul and learned what truly makes them happy rather than joining the masses and trying to be popular. I've been telling everyone I know to get your book and read it. Not to say you're not popular, but you didn't choose to buy into the mainstream rush to know what the plot of the latest reality show is or the latest food or fashion fad, you have found the real pleasures in life and you're living your dream. I, for one, am looking forward to watching you grow your dream. Thanks, Jenna, for being a really genuine person. Mimi

May 22, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Beegirl said...

Love your blog and looking forward to reading your book! Best to you from Western PA!!

May 22, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Pgrass101 said...


I find it inspiring how you live your life on your own terms.

I have followed you blog since I read your article in Mother Earth News

pgrass101 from LA (Lower Alabama)

May 22, 2009 at 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Local Nourishment said...

Living vicariously through you, girl. Married the man of my dreams, but he says a divorce will precede chickens or any gardening more serious than my patio containers of lettuce and tomatoes. City boy doesn't like chicken shit, I spoze. All in all, sure, I'd like the farm, but I love the man, so please never stop blogging and letting me your life in my dreams.

May 22, 2009 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Jean said...

Jenna, you've got me coveting your fiddle. Although my mother was quite musical (piano) my only musical expression is to sing loud and out of tune to various bands I like. I love Appalachian music most of all and Blue Grass in general. But now, every time I see your fiddle, I am reminded that I too could play, I only I would try.

May 23, 2009 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger TaosJohn said...

Beautifully written. I may have been you in another life, or maybe you were me. :-) I'm way older than you and a blown-out, silly man, but something in this feels like I could have said it, were I there, and you make me feel like I am.

That's the mother lode of universality. I know what "hollers" are, too.:-)

May 23, 2009 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Rhonda, get a fiddle and play! C'mon!

May 23, 2009 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Vermonster said...


Your comments of thankfulness for us are well appreciated, but I must confess that for me, originally from Vermont, now living in the flat lands in Florida, reading of your adventures and mishaps is living vicariously through you being home. We have fallen in love with your story and your home. I miss Vermont so much, and reading your book, your blog reminds me of what my life used to be.

Marina aka Vermonster

May 23, 2009 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Stumbled across your blog by searching "backyard homestead" (btw, just bought the book and love it).

Anywho, just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying your blog and especially this post.

Deb (northern Michigan)

May 29, 2009 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Grant Wagner said...


You know, I lived jus outside of knoxville through my junior high and high school years. I don't think I ever forgave my parents for moving me to that "God forsaken place full of ignorant hicks" nor did I ever really forgive myself for leaving. As much as I wanted to fight it and run, those hills really worked their way into me. I've put myself into Hilo, Hawaii, Baltimore, Maryland and most recently Chicago, Ilinois since, but there is something about Appalachia which never lets you go.

Becides, I miss watching the Volunteer Fleets during the UT games.

October 5, 2009 at 4:25 PM  

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