Tuesday, February 9, 2010

i steal myself

I think the best investment I made in the winter of 2009/10 was my insulated waist coveralls. Which is a fancy farm-talky way of saying chore-time snow pants. They are thick canvas jeans, brown as Joseph's wool and quilted inside. I can step into below-zero temps, get nipped by geese, plop down in straw and not feel anything but warm, farm-proof, goodness. I pulled them on this morning to do the pre-office chores and for the first time in months, didn't need the flashlight. What a gift a free hand is! I was able to cut my morning rounds in half. I can carry out a fresh font of water for the chickens (pouring half of it into a basin for the geese) and a flake of hay for the sheep in the other. Warm and in the smoky pre-sun light I could spend hours outside, even at 10 degrees. But instead I go inside for the dogs and my morning ritual of coffee and a chapter of a favorite book. Coffee, a quiet dog breathing on my chest, and a chapter in the morning makes all the difference.

This daylight is creeping back into New England, and the lack of snow here makes us think it's almost spring. I was looking at seed packets and nest boxes on my lunch break. I am trying not to make any plans, but am thinking about pastured broilers and magpie ducks if I land the farm. I want to start raising my own meat, and get back into that old life. Oh, and the lack of snow means I can drive the truck to and from the office! It makes me so happy. I love hopping into that big orange rig, the color of fall. I love cranking up the Be Good Tanyas and singing as I roll down the mountain to work.

I'm feeling optimistic about this house. It's a long way from a sealed deal but I am moving forward with the rituals and circumstances that go into home owning. The offer contract is in the lawyer's hands. The home inspection is Monday. My mortgage broker thinks he has a back-up FHA loan in case the USDA falls through (cross your fingers it doesn't). I am closer today, right now at this very minute, than I ever have been to owning my own farm. That in itself feels amazing to this girl sitting in a tiny cabin. The hope itself is big enough to move into.

When this blog started, Cold Antler was a rented backyard in Idaho with a hive of bees, a few raised beds, some rabbits, and a small flock of chickens. Now it's on its way to becoming something substantial. A place of sheep and dogs and goats and geese. The bees are already ordered. Hell, who knows what's in store? I constantly find myself getting lost in the idea of the Jackson farm. I steal myself.

More than one person has recently asked me why I named this place Cold Antler. Cold Antler, darling, is a combination of things. The first part is actually a name. The famous Chinese Zen poet, Han San, was a wise mountain recluse. The English translation of his name is literally Cold Mountain. His poems make me laugh, and smile, and think for long gallops about my own place in the world. The second part, Antler, comes from the old pre-christian belief that antlers were a sign of man. The Celts put antlers on some male deities, a symbol of both the gender and of fertility itself. For me, the antlers (and I am some what embarrassed to share this) stand for someday falling in love. Cold Antler Farm is the hope that this crazy zen recluse will find her antlers. It is hopelessly romantic, foolish, and the complete opposite of the sensible and pragmatic work of living off the land. Cold Antler = hope for love. I don't need it, but that doesn't mean I don't want it. I'm certainly in no rush, and not even mildly interested in 98% of the men I meet, but I am always on the look out. Most men I meet are kind, and sweet, but not correct. But every now and then someone comes along with antlers, and the hope and excitement makes me feel rich.

It'll happen eventually. It's just not my time.

So that's what this place really is. One woman's work. My entire life goal is based on a hopelessly romantic notion of true love, sheep, good dogs, strong coffee, mountains, autumn and home-grown food. I don't want anything else but these things. The details mean little to me. Vermont, Tennessee, New York, Idaho... These are names. These are lines on maps we made up to make sense of the world. But dirt is dirt. A lamb is a lamb. A border collie flanking a flock in a windstorm is just as much pure poetry in suburban New Jersey as it is the hills of Scotland. Maybe even better.

I can't get hung up on details. Truthfully, I abhor them

Anyway, now isn't the time for romance or over thinking. Now is the time for big change, long sighs, and not looking down. I have a farm to buy, and then when I finally get in the door, the real work starts...

P.S. Snow tonight and tomorrow. We are due.


Blogger 香水 said...


February 9, 2010 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Best. Post. Ever.

February 9, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Insulated bibs are the BEST EVER! And I'm too tired to have anything more to say than that. :)

February 9, 2010 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

i had to snile at the description of your snow pants! These were what i used as alittle kid to go sledding and play out in the snow. Being a poor dairy farm kid all the other kids from school had the fancier slick snow pants .... but i think i was warmer! :)

February 9, 2010 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger E said...

Good work clothes are the best! Including most of the year at some wool. Wool hat, wool long johns, and last but not least wool long sleeved tops (these all day and all night).

February 9, 2010 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger E said...

Good work clothes are the best! Including most of the year at some wool. Wool hat, wool long johns, and last but not least wool long sleeved tops (these all day and all night).

February 9, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger melinamarie said...

Well I think that you are always a poet and romantic. Even when you are not talking about antlers. It's nice to hear about the meaning of the name of your farm. I just know the one is out there for you.

February 9, 2010 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Christine Crocker said...

dear jenna,

I'm a 6th generation farm girl here in Oregon and when I read your words of how you love your life and wanting your farm so badlythat you can see it, smell it and taste it...and living on the hope of it...well, my eyes well up and my heart just sings for you.

I've always felt as you do, needing nothing more but just good ground to farm, a good man to work by your side, animals and growing your own food, all that and a good steaming hot cup of strong coffee in an old ironstone mug while standing on the porch in the star studded predawn hours.
All of these things and the song that your heart sings will all come...
Bless your efforts, Jenna.

ps. I love reading your blog and look forward to each word...and I wear insulated overalls, we live in them during our winters.
You can't hurt or cold, they're wonderful.

February 9, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

I love the reason you named your farm what you did! I don't think it's silly at all :) He's out there, when you meet the right one, you'll forget all about the long hours of daydreaming about who he might be. My prayer's are always with you.

February 9, 2010 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Maybe a moot point now, but when I have to do chores in the dark, I use a head lamp thingy. The kind you put on your head. SO handy. Especially lambing in the middle of the night.

February 9, 2010 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

First of all, LOVE me some Be Good Tanyas!! Littlest Bird can cheer me up from the darkest of moods. I was talking to my bro about the whole dating scene today (I've been out of that since 1997 Thank the LORD!) And I told him it was kind of like digging through boxes at a garage sale through other peoples broken, worn out crap hoping for that "Antiques Roadshow" find of a lifetime. Improbable, yes, impossible.....NO WAY! Keep those eyes and heart open and something will happen!

February 9, 2010 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger TaosJohn said...

You write very well. It's enough to make me envious. You are much too young for this kind of thing. Stop it immediately, or I shall have to come and break your keyboard.

February 9, 2010 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger CK said...

Snow here too! We are getting up to a foot in less then a day Woo hoo Michigan!! ha.

February 9, 2010 at 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna,
Its snowing here in your hometown. Madeline is super excited to play in the snow tomorrow. We ordered seeds, and got this sweet rabbit cage at an auction today (its really for chickens but will work great for the rabbits) for 5 bucks!! Give me a call this weekend I need your address again ( I see a care package in your future my dear ;)................

February 9, 2010 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Bex said...

Don't be embarassed about why you named the farm what you did. I think it's adorable (the spouse thought so, too). He's out there, somewhere. He'll find you.

February 9, 2010 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger CountryCouture said...

two words: head.lamp.
They even make little LED ones that clip onto the end of a baseball cap (if you wear one in the summer.)

February 9, 2010 at 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant, thank you for sharing your journey!

February 10, 2010 at 5:11 AM  
Blogger GreenAnthropology said...

It's wonderful to hear the history behind the name of your farm! But have you ever thought maybe the hope for love isn't a man, but your very own farm?
I think the man is secondary. Things in life like your farm, they are there to stay. Men can come and go. Your land is there to stay. Okay, so it sounds a little Gone With the Wind-ish, but it's true.

February 10, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Beautifully written! Awesome

February 10, 2010 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...


Have your parents seen the farm yet? What did your dad think?

February 10, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Melissa E said...

Funny, I was going to recommend you get yourself a headlamp...but looks like others beat me to it! Its like gold in the form of a flashlight! We swear by ours! Great for working, hiking, etc! Keeping my fingers crossed for you and the steps ahead!

February 10, 2010 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love the explanation of the name of your place. Most people don't seem to name their home, land or dream. I have a place in Southern OH and the house has had 3 owner counting me. It was first called Shanti, which means peace in Sanskrit. I added to it and it is now called Shantikunja, abode of peace. I love the connect that naming it has given me to the home and the land around it.


February 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger CoyoteGirl said...

Love your post. You'll find your antlers when you least expect to...it always happens that way.

February 10, 2010 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Scott said...

I planned to recommend a headlamp, but I'm several steps behind other people it seems! It'll be your best investment after your quilted trou!

February 10, 2010 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Hey, just donated a few bucks... Good luck getting your home!

February 11, 2010 at 8:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home