Tuesday, January 19, 2010


There’s a condition that inflicts some of us and I can only describe as Barnheart. Barnheart is a sharp, targeted, depression that inflicts certain people (myself being one of them) as harsh and ugly as a steak knife being shoved into an uncooked turkey. It’s not recognized by professionals or psychoanalysts (yet), but it’s only a matter of time before it’s a household diagnose. Hear me out. It goes like this:

Barnheart is that sudden overcast feeling that hits you while at work or in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. It’s unequivocally knowing you want to be a farmer—and for whatever personal circumstances—cannot be one just yet. So there you are, heartsick and confused in the passing lane, wondering why you cannot stop thinking about heritage livestock and electric fences. Do not be afraid. You have what I have. You are not alone.

You are suffering from Barnheart.

It’s a dreamer’s disease: a mix of hope, determination, and grit. Specifically targeted at those of us who wish to god we were outside with our flocks, feed bags, or harnesses and instead are sitting in front of a computer screens. When a severe attack hits, it’s all you can do to sit still. The room gets smaller, your mind wanders, and you are overcome with the desire to be tagging cattle ears or feeding pigs instead of taking conference calls. People at the water cooler will stare if you say these things aloud. If this happens, just segue into sports and you’ll be fine.

The symptoms are mild at first. You start glancing around the internet at homesteading forums and cheese making supply shops on your lunch break. You go home after work and instead of turning on the television—you bake a pie and read about chicken coop plans. Then some how, somewhere, along the way – you realize you are happiest when in your garden or collecting eggs. When this happens, man oh man, it’s all down hill from there. When you accept the only way to a fulfilling life requires tractor attachments and a septic system, it’s too late. You’ve already been infected. If you even suspect this, you may have early-onset Barnheart.

But do not panic, my dear friends. Our rural ennui has a cure! It’s a self-medication that that can only be administered by direct, tangible, and intentional actions. If you find yourself overcome with the longings of Barnheart, simply step outside; get some fresh air, and breathe. Go back to your desk and finish your tasks knowing that tonight you’ll take notes on spring garden plans and start perusing those seed catalogs. Usually, simple, small actions in direction of your own farm can be the remedy. In worst-case scenarios you might find yourself resorting to extreme measures. These situations call for things like a day called in sick to do nothing but garden, muck out chicken coops, collect fresh eggs and bake fresh bread. While that may seem drastic, understand this is a disease of inaction, darling. It hits us the hardest when we are farthest from our dreams. So to fight it we must simply have faith that some day 3:47 PM will mean grabbing a saddle instead of a spreadsheet. Believing this is even possible is halfway to healthy. I am a high-functioning sufferer of Barnheart. I can keep a day job, long as I know my night job involves livestock.

Barnheart is a condition that needs smells and touch and crisp air to heal. If you find yourself suffering from such things, make plans to visit an orchard, dairy farm, or pick up that beat guitar. Busy hands will get you on the mend. Small measures, strong convictions, good coffee, and kind dogs will see you through. I am certain of these things.

So when you find yourself sitting in your office, school, or café chair and your mind wanders to a life of personal freedom, know that feeling is our collective disease. If you can almost taste the bitter smells of manure and hay in the air and feel the sun on your bare arms, even on the subway, you are one of us and have hope for recovery. Like us, you try and straighten up in your ergonomic desk chair but really you want to be reclining in the bed of a pickup truck. We get that.

And hey, do not lose the faith or fret about the current circumstances. Everything changes. And if you need to stand in the light of an old barn to lift your spirits, perhaps some day you will. Every day. For some, surely this is the only cure.

We’ll get there. In the meantime, let us just take comfort in knowing we’re not alone. And maybe take turns standing up and admitting we have a problem.

Hello. My name is Jenna. And I have Barnheart.


Blogger ta2mee said...

Hello, my name is Kim and I have Barnheart....and a book on building chicken coops, but no chickens in the foreseeable future...=(

January 19, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Mary Lee said...

Good post tonight, as usual! Maybe Barnheart should be the title of your next book. Enjoy your evening.

January 19, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


January 19, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Hello, my name is Penny and I have Barnheart.

Well done! Very eloquent and exactly how I, and many others, feel.

January 19, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Crystal Springs Farm said...

Hello My Name is Jonathan and I have 8 new baby lambs and more on the way. I am glad to see I am not alone, we all got the calling for this...Strange my journey started about almost 5 years now.

We're raising California Reds, I think we are the only ones in NY at his time. Perhaps a trade of some rams this spring :)

So blown away by you blog!


January 19, 2010 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Well Said. I too have Barnheart. I live in the city and hope my cure will find me soon. I feel boxed in.

January 19, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Jen (emsun.org) said...

Hello, my name is Jen and I have Barnheart.

January 19, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Jenna - your writing is fabulous, thank you for sharing. I find that I fill the farm void with all the small things I can do -- mainly in the kitchen and making things with fabric and yarn. I know, for me, it will probably be years before I have the piece of land I dream of where I will grow lots and lots of food. I hope you be living your farm dream very very soon!

January 19, 2010 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

Hello, my name is Jill and I have Barnenvy. Its not quite as serious as Barnheart, as we do have the farm. It includes chickens and gardens, beautiful scenery and a great Blue Heeler farm dog. But no barn, and barely fencing, so no 4-footed livestock. I guess its a half-recovery from Barnheart, but we can see the light from here.

January 19, 2010 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

Oh, I do get this. I have my piece of heaven already. As often as I can, I go there to the land I affectionately call The Home Place. It's a 20-acre piece, remote, very remote. 8 miles = 45 minutes of slowly trekking off the pavement over a ranch road until I finally get there. It's far from running water and electricity. There is no cell phone signal. For now, I live and work 90 miles away. Every time I visit, I feel that sickness on my way back to my town. I dream, scheme, and connive, trying to figure out a way to live there. It's just not possible right now. So I research water catchment and purification on my lunch hours. I look at solar panels and how others garden in the desert. I give thanks that I really do love my job and that I can take it a day at a time.

January 19, 2010 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Angi said...

Hello, my name is Angi and I have Barnhart. For me, some chickens and a couple alpacas would be the perfect shot in the arm!

January 19, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger thedoza said...

Hi I'm Naomi in Eugene and I have Barnheart too. I have nine angora bunnies in my living room and I'm pretty sure they have it too. I am in school and have a ways to go before we can all move to a patch of ground, but for now, there's bunny hair everywhere!

January 19, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

I too have been stricken with Barnheart. I don't mean to say that like it is a bad thing. Great post Jenna, one of your best since I've been reading. We'll all get there in our own good time.

January 19, 2010 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

My name's Bri and I have Barnheart and a bookshelf full of 'how-to' homestead books and a stuffed bookmark folder of websites of the same kind. someday, i'll have my small farm.

this post was beautiful, you put your finger right on it!

January 19, 2010 at 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,Jenna, My name is Barbara I am also suffering from Barnheart. Have been since I first watched my first episode of 'Good Neighbors'. Dreaming of Self suffiency, chickens and a goat... someday.

January 19, 2010 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Rois said...

Hello my name is Rois and I have Barnheart as well.

January 19, 2010 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

I think mine's Gardenheart, a related dis-ease. Don't need the critters, but boy oh boy, I need my hands in the dirt.

January 19, 2010 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Hi Jenna. I hear you. Yes - we'll get there. peace and love

January 19, 2010 at 11:51 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

Thanks for this!! It is exactly what I needed to hear when I'm tired and frustrated with my work. It tells me that my big problem isn't at work its that I don't have chickens running around my yard!! :) :) :)

January 20, 2010 at 1:08 AM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

Or you could just come and read your blog Jenna. Cold Antler Farm Blog is balm to my Barnheart.

January 20, 2010 at 2:37 AM  
Anonymous NorCalRN said...

Hi- My name is Erica, and I have some serious Barnheart here.

I have a house, but no land. I have cats, but no mice. I have a horse, but no barn. And I have 2 Sheepdogs with nothing to herd....

p.s. Crystal Springs Farm- I LOVE California Reds. They will be my first Sheep! :)

January 20, 2010 at 2:41 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

Hello, My name is Joelle and I have Barnheart.

More and more I feel the way you have just described. This spring we will be getting out first chickens and are expanding the veggie plot. I have a picture of the view from the front gate of the old farmhouse that started this longing in me sat on my desk. When the speadsheets get too much I look at the view over fields and trees and take comfort in the fact that one day I WILL get there. Maybe not that farmhouse, bout one somewhere I can call my own.

January 20, 2010 at 4:19 AM  
Blogger Bicycles North! said...

Hello I am Stu and I have barnheart. In fact I am suffering. I read this blog post two minutes after my boss asked me to do a thousand updates in an open plan office somewhere in the grey morn of the UK.

It is good to know I am not alone. Yesterday I attempted to convince my colleagues that my ambition to own a donkey was indeed rational.

January 20, 2010 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This post and the comments left after it have been the most fun to read. So good to know I am not alone out here. Mine started when I was about 10, living the Wonder Years childhood in the Suberbs of So. California, my dad had a stack of the original Mother Earth News Magazines on the coffee table. I read those things from cover to cover and then again. I was hooked.
I still have a crate full of those original magazines that I revisit whenever I needed a shot of focus. My name is Laura and I have barnheart.

January 20, 2010 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Hello, my name is Toni and I suffer from Barnheart along with my husband, three shelties, and six chickens. May there be a cure someday soon... because my feet have gotten wet, but, I want to jump head first into the pond!

January 20, 2010 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna - That is exactly what I am experiencing right now. I get hit with the feeling and then I get in the dumps and need to have some one pull me out of it. I have the land and a house that I would much rather be at but need to get organized and just make the leap. So yes my name is Pam and I have Barnheart.

January 20, 2010 at 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Peggy and I have Barnheart.

I wrote a blog post a couple days ago about my green blood (it's grass, not Vulcan) and my grandpa's tiny cattle farm. It wasn't a big operation, but he was so happy.

Thank you, Jenna, for finally putting a name to the yearning in my soul to be on grass.

January 20, 2010 at 7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Shellee and I have Barnheart. I discovered it the other day when I panicked that I didn't have any other homesteading/farming books to read at the moment. I ran around my house trying to find anything that screamed FARM. So I have come to conclusion, the only way to treat this is to get some chickens!!

January 20, 2010 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Jenna, I think you have a movement here.

My name is Crystal and I have chronic, debilitating barnheart.

My husband has barnheart. My five kids get it too. I wonder if it's also genetic...

January 20, 2010 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Hi my name is Carrie and I have Barnheart. Thank goodness someone finally put a name to it, I thought it was all in my head. (sort of is) On New Years eve at a fancy party with food and drinks and music, I sat there wishing I was in a quite barn surrounded by farm animals, smelling the hay and hearing the contented noises. I wondered whats wrong with me, now I know, I have Barnheart.

January 20, 2010 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

I've had that malady all my life...But i know YOU will get there...i know you will...

January 20, 2010 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Hello, my name is Matthew, and I have barnheart. My wife has barnhart. And we're pretty sure our dog does as well. And we hope it IS genetic; I guess well begin finding out in a couple months.

I find its symptoms most acute in the winter, with the garden resting before the the spring rush. This year your blog, along with our usual ration of gardening and homestead books make this time more manageable.

January 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Lorri said...

My name is Lorri, and I have Barnhart. A wonderful post, and thank you for a name for the condition!

I've learned to be quiet at work, and the computer desktop is always farm pictures, to remind me of the light at the end of the tunnel.

January 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Wanda Barrett said...

I live in the city and I visited a farm on Tuesday night to pick up a gallon of milk. The fridge was empty, but it was time to milk, so I hung around the barn, and the horse, and the calf, and the pigs, and the chickens, while the cow was milked. It was the most fun I've had in ages and I was so excited about the experience that I called my husband and my daughter on the way home. I don't know that I have what it takes and I sure don't know that I have the guts it would take to make the leap, but the Barnheart has got hold of me.

January 20, 2010 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Tony R. said...

hello, my name is Tony and I have Barnheart

January 20, 2010 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home Kitchen said...

Here, Here!

January 20, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Cagney said...

I looked it up....there is no stopping or reversing Barnheart once it starts....we're screwed:)

perfectly stated post. Jenna, you do a wonderful job of saying what's in our hearts.

January 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

I have it too!

From now on I'm going to use that word to describe my feelings. Thank you for putting a name to our "malady!" :)

January 20, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Thank you for finally naming this malady...I actually feel better now, knowing so many others have it too. I think the winter time is the worst!

Fyi...it is genetic. My dad has it, and so do my two sisters and one brother. However, my kids did not inherit it, and I don't know if that is good or bad?

January 20, 2010 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Beautiful post, and you're right on point with this.

I have suffered from Barnheart for most of my life - except for a while when I lived the dream....

It goes into regression but never goes away, and may hit you hard when you think you're over it. I have finally given in and am letting it take over.

It may take a while, but I am looking forward to county fairs and travels through farm country as mild doses of the cure this year, until I can spend sunny days with my spade and hands in my garden once again.

January 20, 2010 at 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God you're good, Jenna W! This place just keeps getting better. Sincerest thanks!

January 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

Hello, My name is Barb and I spent three hours mucking out the hen house last Friday and was quite puffed up when I peered through the just cleaned window to observe Alisdair and the girls enjoying their fresh new surrounding in the glow of the heat lamps. Does it get any better than this? Excuse me while I go and massage people for the next 12 hours and suffer from the pangs of wanting to be home with my crits (cats, chickens, sheep and llamas). Someday I WILL have a place of my own!

January 20, 2010 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Hello, my name is Tara, and I have fully succumbed to Barnheart. It appears to be terminal, and friends and loved ones have stopped coming to visit. I am a vegetable!

January 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi, I'm Andrea and I have Barnheart, and I'm keeping the faith!

January 20, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

Hi, My name is Julie and I have a serious case of Barnheart! Love my chickens, gardens and a new puppy on the way. So nice of you to officially give our "WANTS/LOVES/NEEDS" a name! Thanks, Jenna

January 20, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Mustard Moon Farm said...

Hello, my name is Sarah and I have a serious case of Barnheart.

Jenna, this post has me wiping tears!!! How I ache to find our "forever home" somewhere in the country - where I can't hear an interstate, or sirens, or anything else that is a city-sound. Thanks for the encouragement - and the diagnoses - I just knew there had to be a name for this longing!! ;o)

January 20, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Thanks Jenna...it's nice to have a name for what ails me.

My case started with lack of fresh milk for my new kefir grains...a simple quest for dairy has turned into full blown barnheart. I find myself gazing longingly at the farms that dot the landscape along the highway on my weekly run to Evansille to buy local organics, and stating aloud "I want a barn!" in a whiny tone. For now I ease my sypmtoms with this blog, some yarn and baked goods, and lots of homesteading and gardening books.

It's funny, as I'm posting this my husband, being harrassed by our two dogs and cats for some breakfast scraps, says to me " Ya know if it wasn't for you I'd never have had any animals." Ha! I guess he didn't know what he was getting into, and it's only going to get worse! Someday there will be chicken,goats,pigs(for snake patrol) and perhaps even Dexter cows. Good thing he's a patient man who loves good food!


January 20, 2010 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...

My name is Patsy and I have Barnheart......bad.

January 20, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Jenna, Count me in. I too suffer from Barnheart. I have the garden that is getting larger year by year, am hoping to get chickens this spring...I live just outside of a small extremely nondescript town on about 3/4 acre on a 55 mile an hour road with little privacy from suburbanite like neighbors on one side. I keep planting shrubs for privacy but they don't seem to grow as fast as I wish. They rarely come outside except to mow the lawn and complain about my summertime campfires even though it is allowed in this area. I want goats someday. I dream of supporting myself by maket gardening, perfecting the art of making goat cheese and selling that and farm fresh eggs. Reading your blog and others like it inspire me to reach out for and follow my dreams as best I can day by day while working full time. In my mind, I picture the day when I am no longer so reliant on that paycheck but can pursue my true inner happiness interests.

January 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, sister!

January 20, 2010 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Barnheart's acting up today...I just found out that I don't have enough room to properly keep chickens. I have to have a minimum of 100 ft from all neighbors on all sides, and living in the burbs, it just isn't possible. >:( Heart break and sadness...not a good birthday combination. Oh well, I still can have my garden, and now I've got even more incentive to seach for land in country. Wish me luck!


January 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger GreenAnthropology said...

Hello, my name is Holly and I have Barnheart.

Thank you for this, Jenna. It's exactly what I needed today.

January 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi, My name is Sarah.
I'm a chronic sufferer of Barnheart.

I have found it manifests as random conversation shifts towards "Well, what would honey taste like if the bees were kept near hops?" and talking about beef cattle genetics and calving ease over lunch.
My coworkers have come to believe that I'm crazy. They accept that I'm just "different".

I live vicariously through my sister, (who is in remission.) Her remedy was to find work at a dairy.

Some days are worse than others. But that's when you'll find me, nose deep in seed catalogs, and doodling hop trellis plans.

January 20, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh ooooh, I have Barnheart AND have 2 huskies warming up by my feet. You must be contagious, Jenna. :)

January 20, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hi, my name is Karen and I have Barnheart.
This post absolutely nailed it!

January 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger WeekendFarmer said...

: ) Been there. So stuck being a corpoarte rat...cant even come up for air to re-focus. Nice post!

January 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Fallen Oak said...

To keep it consistent you would call my affliction caveheart. I use wild edible plant guides. Think of ways to build temporary shelters while hiking and daydreaming. Always carry a folding shovel and hatchet. Collect birch bark to kindle fires. Love when people say: "why do I smell fire?" When smoke is caught in my dreadlocks. Getting up the courage to learn how to hunt. And wait for the day when the posted signs fall down, and former barnhearts let former cavehearts play them a tune and in turn provide a place to sleep for the night.

January 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I've been infected with BarnHeart for several years now. For a remedy, last May, I sold my house, bought an RV, kept my day job for paycheck, and now live on the land with goats and chickens. No cure for me. For me, the best drugs for it are: sunshine, fresh air, and the smell of farm animals, in which I become overwhelmed with euphoria.

January 20, 2010 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Hi my name is Andy and I suffer possibly the worst case of Barnheart you will find in the northern hemisphere with further complications in Chicken Envy and dire, dire, Cheese complex.

Loving the blog as it is how I see myself, today I took a major step along the long road, but I too have a farm with a name, it exists, just not with me at the moment.

However seeing as the last chronologically coextistant thing in my life was the temporal bunny that now sits in a cage waiting to be fed, I know that it is only a matter of time.

Given the response already, it is only a matter of time before the word is going to be in common usage around these parts.


January 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

I've only just started leaving messages, but I've been reading along daily (!) ever since I read your article on Mother Earth News (.com) about how tough life on a farm can be. I don't know what it is about your characters, but Saster and Adah are incredibly awesome, even though you only have one post about them. And I almost had a heart attack when I saw a shot of your cubicle at work once while searching through here with a Postal Service cd cover hanging up. :)

All of us with a touch of the Barnheart know exactly what you're going through!

January 20, 2010 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Hello, my name is Ann, and I think I have Barnheart. I don't know how I caught it. I mean, I was a city girl who didn't even get all cuddly over puppies. Now I want chickens for my birthday.

Maybe I got it from my husband. He has many of the symptoms you described, so he must have a a bad case. I'll pass on your encouragement.

Keep believing and writing Jenna. You're an inspiration to the afflicted.

January 20, 2010 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Carla Bea said...

Hello My Name is Carla and I to have Barnheart, and so happy to know I am not alone. Hello everyone!

January 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello. My name is Bahb (sort of) and I have Barnheart. Finally! A term that so completely encompasses the ennui I feel every time I spend a week writing at my computer and less than an hour a day tending my chickens or prep-ing the garden for this year's mad dash of planting and praying that the early frost isn't TOO early. Now, if I can only get the Euclidean City Council in Spokane to allow a single goat, or even a sheep, I could further my "treatment." ;o)

By the way, awesome suggestion on the Sarah Jarosz album. I have it cranked right now.

January 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous tuliegirl said...

Hello, My name is Ann and I have Barnhart. I've got it bad! I think it is inherited, because my parents both grew up on farms and tried to steer us clear of such activites, but to no avail. I have to make a confession: I don't want to get over this condition. I want to become the epotome of Barnhart!

January 20, 2010 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Aranea said...

So true, so very true...

January 20, 2010 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hello, my name is Rosanne and I, too, have barnheart.

Your writing is great. I just loved this.


January 20, 2010 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger panthercreekcottage said...

And while you are administering a good dose of the barnheart medicine. Your must rememeber to plug your ears and go la,la,la when speaking with your city slicker friends.

January 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Shayne said...

Beautiful work!

Thanks for giving so much of yourself in your writing. Your words touch many hearts.

January 20, 2010 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

It's an affliction for which there is no cure, even when you're born and raised on the farm :)

January 20, 2010 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Conny said...

So THAT's what it is!! It finally has a name: Barnheart. I've wondered all these years why I can't keep my mind on my work. My name is Conny, and I have Barnheart. Pleased to meet you all.

January 20, 2010 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

My name is Anna and I'm a recovered barnheartaholic. I gave in to the bug and bought the farm and am currently living happily ever after. :-)

January 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Morgen said...

Awesome post, I have a new farma nd I have a barnheart reaction whenever I have to leave it.

January 20, 2010 at 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Candace, and I have barnheart.

January 20, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

Hi. My name is BJ and I have barnheart. I am not sure where I contracted the "disease" or if I even want a cure. It really seems to me that the "others" are the ones suffering really. You know, the ones who look at you in pity because they just don't understand the love of connecting with the earth and animals. They seem to me to have slightly anemic souls.

January 20, 2010 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

Jenna, I hear you. I have a variation of Barnheart... I know that I have no rural ambitions. In fact, I tried the whole back to the land thing, and it didn't work out: I yearned for the city.
But I do have similar symptoms as those you described: I want to build chicken coops; have two more compost bins in my backyard; keep one dairy cow, two goats and some sheep alongside my chickens. And have a bigger gardens. I go to the public library, and take out all of the gardening books, anxious for spring to come back so that I can start sowing seeds. I religiously turn my compost piles during snow storms so that I have new compost ready for when I rebuild my vegetable beds...
I have Urban Barnheart: like you I yearn for my own farm, except I wish for an urban homestead.
I'm still crossing my fingers and toes for you. I hope you get your rural farm very soon.

January 20, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Carla Bea said...

Ok so I just re-read the comments and Maria is right I am her sister and I have it too... Its in our genes and someday I know we will fullfill it.. thanks for the name and the blog...

January 20, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

Hello. My name is Rosanne and I have Barnheart.

Thanks for naming it, Jenna.

My dream is a place in the North Carolina mountains. . . .

January 20, 2010 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Brianne said...

Jenna, I feel that you wrote this post for my mom, spoken to her tenderly, from a kindred heart and support of true, deep, understanding. Five years ago she gave up her farm, her love, with the hopes that in losing it (and the hellish commute to town) she would get her workaholic husband back. She hasn't. And in fact, his absence has only grown worse. She pines for the country again, but is in constant conflict as to how to get back there while married to a man who doesn't understand or feel an ounce of Barnheart. She feels so stuck, so desperate. She's planned her barn and her garden. She's picked out her hens and goats, and the name for her "someday" livestock guard dog. But how to get there? And, more importantly, how to survive in the meantime... my mother suffers so acutely from Barnheart. And I hurt for her. :(

January 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

barnheart....can you think of anything better to be afflicted with? I cannot :-)

January 20, 2010 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hey Jenna- I just ran across this. Something to think about if Foothold doesn't work out, but we are not engaging in negative thinking!

I too, have barnheart, but know that I can only bandage it, rather than indulge in a proper cure. You do what you can.

January 20, 2010 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

I'm a bureaucratic mole with the first documented case of Barnheart. Been a sufferer for years, even though I live on a rustic farm, complete with outhouses. Every moment away is agony and produces a yearning to return home. Nope ~ no cure. And it's not even listed in the DSM-IV.

January 20, 2010 at 11:33 PM  
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January 21, 2010 at 2:23 AM  
Blogger Michellerobin1979 said...

Hello, my name is Michelle and I have Barnheart.

I think I need to step outside and get a breath of fresh air (well, not so fresh, I do live in a city of 2 million...ugg, should I just stay inside?)

January 21, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger fersher said...

Nicely put, Jenna.

The first thing I did when I got home from work yesterday evening (after kissing my husband hello) was go out to the chicken coop to see if the chickens were still awake. I whistled my special tune and one of my hens came scurrying out of the coop and around the corner to greet me. I fed her some scratch grain from my hand, talked to her and then went back inside to start dinner...contented.

My name is Shelley and I have Barnheart!

January 21, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger BigFreeekinNate said...

Hello, my name is Nathan and I definitely have barnheart!

Sadly we live in a city of 12000 on the outer reaches of the Philadelphia Metro area where livestock is banned... and I have to explain to the Codes department that wildflowers are NOT weeds. *sigh*

January 21, 2010 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Hello, my name is Kate, and I have Barnheart. I have a shelf full of homestead books, and the only way for me to keep my Barnheart at bay is to diy everything I possibly can.

January 21, 2010 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger E.Cohen said...

Hello, my name is Liz and I have barnheart... Love the post. I have your book, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery and "The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It" by John Seymour. When I'm down, I just open the pages, reread different passages and look at some of the illustrations and daydream... This helps to soothe mild afflictions of barnheart for apartment city-dwellers like myself. :)

January 21, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Maker said...

Hello, I'm Becky and I too have Barnheart. Big red barnheart.

January 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger gooddogboy said...

Barnheart is brilliant. You should title your next book Barnheart. And when you get melancholy in the middle of the city, you have barnache.

January 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Crystal Springs Farm said...

Awesome responses so many people are either doing this now or dreaming of doing it.

All the abandonded farms here in Upstate New York should be occupied by dreamers with BarnHeart.

Having animals is healthier than watching TV all night or playing XBOX!

Just posted some LIVE Birth Pictures of one of the Ewes.


January 21, 2010 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

I definitely have a case of Barnheart - smack dab in the middle of urban living.

(However, my baking, making candles & cheese and garden planning definitely work better than Tylenol!)


January 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger tqbrock11 said...

Hello, my name is Kristen and I have Barnheart. What an incredibly sweet and eloquent post. I'm so glad I found your blog! Best wishes on getting your cabin...

January 21, 2010 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

This is one I have to comment
on because of an advertising sign
on my website which goes like this!!! It reads as follows:
Very Contagious To Adults
Symtoms - Continual complaint as to
need for fresh air, sunshine & relaxation. Patient has blank expression, sometimes deaf to wife and kids. Has no taste for work of any kind. Frequent checking of antique catalogues. Hangs out in all sorts of strange places. Makes secret night calls. Mumbles to self.
No Known Cure
Treatment - Medication is useless, disease is not fatal. Victim should attend as many auction sales and shops as possible.
You can delete this website where the sign is posted if it is not appropriate!
Really enjoy your BLOG!!!

A Very Happy Seatweaver,


January 21, 2010 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

i love it! i now have a name to put to the disease... must forward this on to hubby to read!

January 21, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Hello, my name is Rachael, and I too have Barnheart.

Angora bunnies (coming this weekend) and plans for alpacas should temporarily cure it. =)

January 21, 2010 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, my name is Robin, and I have Barnheart. Hopefully chickens this summer, but goats are still a couple years away I think.

January 21, 2010 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Hello, my name is Adrienne and I have Barnheart. I live in town and don't even have a yard (and have had no luck with container gardening) so I try treat my condition with long drives in the country. It works for about 10 minutes. Someday I will live in a place where I can't see my neighbors houses. Then I will be cured.

January 22, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Hello, my name is Margret and I have Barnheart. I have frittered away endless hours on homesteading websites and spent money my family didn't have on books about backyard chickens. I've even sunk so low as to..*gulp* bid on tractor parts on Ebay even though I don't have one...just to feel less like a failure. I NEED HELP!

January 22, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

This was wonderful. Encouraging. I felt my heart tug reading this. I long for freedom. It's good to know I'm not alone :)


January 22, 2010 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Sowing Clover (Emily) said...

JENNA! I'm infected! The seed catalogues, the garden, the chickens... glad to know I am in good company.

January 23, 2010 at 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

It's so nice to be able to finally pin a name on those feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction.

January 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

My name is Nancee and I have Barnheart as well. Great post! You have a gift for striking a chord. And I like Mary Lee's idea of naming your next book Barnheart. Enjoyed all the comments as well, y'all!

January 23, 2010 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger CK said...

Hi Jenna,

My name is Christine and I have barnheart.

My dream is a farm with sheep, a goat or two and rabbits.along with a big ol'berry patch. I want Icelandic sheep. Because of your courage I have worked up my own and will be attending a small farm conference near my house. I have a small backyard that is unfortunetly in an area that doesn't allow chickens. I did get temporary relief with the garden last year in an attempt to learn as much as I can in my safe little suburb before I have to depend on those skills. So, I planted 3 kinds of raspberries ( gold and reg. red varieties), asparagus ( which I shall harvest some this spring!), a nankin cherry, elderberries, currants, strawberries and gooseberries. I made my first ever jelly and it tasted delicious. I am hoping this year to can some tomato sauce. I am also learning to sew and crochet. I have read your archives for about a week and just caught up with you tonight. I Bought a violin even after reading about your summer fiddle contest and both it and the book you mentioned should get here in the week. thank to you aI am thinking about getting a top bar beehive and just need some more research and to convince the man its a good and safe idea. Anyway, I love your blog and book and I am a forever fan.

January 24, 2010 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger charlene ray said...

Hello, my name is Charlene and I have Barnheart. There I said it and it was so helpful to let it out. I love your blog. It is very inspiring! I think a book, Barnheart, is a brilliant idea.

January 25, 2010 at 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Hey Jenna,
After reading this blog, I just knew I had to write you and tell you what an inspiration you have been to me and mine. My name is Heather, I am 25 and I have barnheart. My boyfriend's name is Christopher and he also suffers from barnheart. We long for days filled with sunshine and the smell of fruit bearing trees, the sound of pygmy goats in the pasture gnawing on tree stumps and evenings filled with bonfires and music. Im in Raleigh North Carolina however and so ready to drop everything and run into the great wide open. I went to Border's yesterday to pick up your book and they were out :( sadness, but exciting news for you! Just wanted to let you know what a friend you've become and how your adventures have challenged me and mine to get a move on!

January 25, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger KimS said...

Jenna, I, too, am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks. I am "mom" - from Brianne's post, at 10:00pm. I cried reading her comment, as well. I am blessed beyond my comprehension, by her. It is good to know there are so many others inflicted with Barnheart, if for no other reason than to know we are not alone. I am overwhelmed by the number of comments posted to this entry. For me, the hardest part is the blank stares from those that have no clue that Barnheart even exists. Brianne & I wait patiently (or is it Impatiently?) for news on your quest. We pray your next step is the new little farm - and that you receive word soon!

January 25, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger The Beers said...

Hello, my name is Krystal and I too have Barnheart.

Oh, the relief I feel to finally have a name that identifies my symptoms (all those you described) is phenomenal! Thank you for giving us all a voice. Every little step toward our own barns is indeed great therapy. ;)

January 25, 2010 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Story said...

I love this post Jenna! I started with Barnheart 30 something years ago. I went to weaving school, went to shetland & played fiddle, John Campbell Folk School was starting a homesteading program, worked at an apple orchard in NH (poverty lane), grew up...became an RN, massage therapist, holistic nurse, bought a little place with a barn, had chickens, border collies, grew gardens, built a cob oven, a stage on our property for music, bake bread, had more chickens, have a huge library of holistic, simple & small farm living, go to NOFA conferences, go to my farmers markets, sell some stuff, make lots of stuff (knitting, puppets, crafts, handwork), have a dulcimer, still have my fiddle....but, somehow despite all of this I still have Barnheart. I still live in the same place after 25 years on the edge of huge state forest...we unschooled for all of that time....but, I think I still have Barnheart because the picture of it isn't just right...there are still things that we haven't figured out how to get right. I think I passed the farming thing on to my daughter, now 22...she became a biodynamic farmer, makes her own beer, makes all sort of handwork projects, knits, is a musician, bakes her own bread...she's wanting to gather up a place of her own now...Barnheart...watch out because it's genetic...insidious the way it creeps up on you. What a great post Jenna.

January 26, 2010 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Jan Morrison said...

Hello, my name is Jan and I have Barnheart. It is a bit easier in the warmer seasons when I can spend more time digging but it is severe right now. If I was a farmer I wouldn't have to drive into town. I don't need a whole barn, my chicken coop is pretty good but not quite big enough for hanging around in - I need a stable. Yep, with just two or three goats and some ducks and uh...no pigs because there is only one reason to have them but a DONKEY. yes.
But I'm not crazy - I know how much work is involved and really I'm kinda old so...no. I want it real bad. Yes - I have barnheart.

January 29, 2010 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Celia said...

My name is Celia and I have Barnheart. I live in a city that does not allow chickens....and I get the weirdest looks when I say "I want chickens!" I want chickens so bad that it hurts. But until the day I find a way to have them I will continue reading your blog and dreaming about having chickens one day. I can't wait for your new book to come out. And I agree you should write a book called Barnheart!

January 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger Pris said...

My name is Priscilla, and I have severe Barnheart. I live in Northern Canada and dream every day of my farm-to-be. My husband and I just bought a house in town, but hope to have a farm one day soon. My chickens will come as soon as we have our fence up, and my garden is overflowing in my kitchen, just waiting for the snow and cold to finally be gone. I love your post, and I would love to put a link to it from my own blog, if that is alright with you. http://scrapartbypris.blogspot.com/

May 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger mindful mama said...

Hi Jenna,
I have Barnheart. I love the similarity to the name Braveheart, my all time favorite movie. I saw your article on Mother Earth News, complete with the picture of the sheep that made my heart melt. I stumbled across your blog and decided to try to find the Barnheart article on here. Turns out I did. And you wrote it on the exact day that we stepped foot onto our dream farm. During the day, we dream of owning it. At night, we literally dream of it. Barnheart... one word to describe so much dreaming, longing, emotion, and passion for farming. I love it. And I thank you for sending out your blog entry on the same day we were fully afflicted with Barnheart and the farm of our dreams. Here's to dreams being realized and hope for a better world, starting with the soil under our own two feet, wherever we may be...

September 1, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger E said...

Loved the book Jenna. And seeing so may friends among your pages too.
We live in Dorset. Clearly we are going to have to have you over for supper now!

February 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Brenda Snyder said...

I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone. I've dreamed of a farm as long as I can remember. We started with 13 day old chicks and now we have 75 chicks and a duck and I've been learning about sheep, but I would have to move to a bigger space.
Very good article!

March 18, 2012 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Lee said...

My name is Lee and I have Barnheart.

Started our homestead, and I now work out of town. I long for the day when I can work the homestead and support my family that way.

I often feel very depressed at night due to not being on the farm.

June 21, 2012 at 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 28, 2012 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna, I just finished your book Barnheart and I was so touched, I also suffered the same condition! I even started a couple of years ago a blog called "The farmless farmer" this is our actual condition have one baby steer, one heifer, to navajo churro sheep, bees, chickens and grow a big garden, everything is going on in land is not ours, I gave the book to my husband to read the last two chapters and see if those chapters grow the excitement of thinking in land of our own, right now in the same situation you were before you got your lovely farm, we have not so good credit, no money saved but the urge of farming and homesteading! Thank you for wonderful story and sharing it with us. We have a small family business called The Farm Fairy in NC, always with the dream of a fairy who will help us get a farm!

October 28, 2012 at 8:53 PM  

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