Saturday, July 31, 2010

a love story

At noon today I was sitting at a picnic table under a canopy of maple trees. Myself and a score of my classmates had just completed our Hunter's Safety Class and were now feasting on Axis, Red Stag, and Venison. I was a beautiful afernoon for a cookout and everyone was in high spirits. We'd just had the field section of our program (including shooting clays with a beautiful over/under shotgun, and a wonderful walk-though course with fake animals set up in weird scenarios where we had to explain whether or not we should shoot them). I now possess a Hunter's Safety Card and can apply for a small or large game license in the state of New York. Jenna the hunter. How about that?

Red Stag is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.

It feels later in the year than it is. A cold front has bedded down with Washington County, making the nights dip into the 40s and days hardly crawling in the high 70s. It's July but feels like September. It's getting me prematurely excited for fall. When I got back to the farm early this afternoon I grabbed my crook and ran up into the pasture. I used the staff to rattle a few apples out of the trees and hollered to the flock to come join me in the next field. They came gamboling uphill like overweight tourists and we all went through the gate together. Maude and Joseph ran to the far clover but Sal and I stood under the apple tree like old hands. I scratched his ear and watched his eyes close. His body leaned against mine. His neck arched his massive head up to meet my palm. I don't know what sheep think about, but I think Sal likes attention and is a master at savoring it. I crooked a few more green apples for him and he gobbled them up. Me standing, him chewing, the whole farm below us as perfect as waves.

Eventually he joined the others and I stood there, crook in hand. Wind came and whispered lies that it was late September. I believed them and closed my eyes, just like Sal. I was standing there in the same clothes I wore to run in, a tee shirt and shorts, but I imagined myself in a favorite pair of old jeans and a new flannel shirt: October clothing. (You know exactly what I mean: when the fabric is still plush and feels like hot chocolate if hot chocolate had a thread count.) Crows called out in the bottom field, distant but loud. I love that sound. I'd be lost without it. With my eyes still closed, with the sheep a few feet below me, I pictured myself in that same spot in three months. I imagined cold wind racing up my plaid sleeve. I tried to visualize what my arm would look like, what my body would feel like, after two months of running and farming. I felt the air fill the space between a tawny arm and new cotton and fell in love with the quarter-inch of invisible beauty that could live there. The hair on my skin pricked.

I sighed. Some things can't be helped.


Thursday, July 29, 2010


So I have big news: Cold Antler Farm is going to be a movie! CAF will be the subject of an independent documentary about the making of a small farm. Legally, I can't delve into details about the production, but I can send you to a site to learn more about it and contribute if you like towards the filmmaking process. What it is—is a crew of filmmakers coming to here throughout the first year. They will document the beginning stages of one small Northeast farm. They'll film the new ram, flock and lambs. They'll capture everything from roto-tilling to farmers markets and fairs—making a visual journal of a girl trying to makes things happen. They're interested in capturing the challenges along the way and the back-story that's lead up to it: a sort of lifestyle story about what this life choice means to me and how I got here. Quite the goings-on, quite!

*There's no cash involved for me (it's actually illegal to pay people to appear in documentaries) so please don't think this is some sort of financial boom. I don't want this to come across as a some sort of hubristic announcement of a movie deal, with celebrities and fat checks. That's not the case at all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

the sad tale of june carter

I left the equestrian center elated. The grounds, pastures, animals... all of it lovely. Riding Right in south Cambridge is a beautiful set up. Indoor all-weather rings, outdoor rings, a team of school horses, a pleasant staff. It was only a 12-minute drive from my farm. Hollie showed me around and gave me a tour of the center's schooling area. We chatted briefly about farming and writing (she's a future Storey author) and I set up a Wednesday night lesson schedule. I start next week.

Maybe it was the horses, or maybe it was the fact I had the day off from work: but I decided to celebrate my great mood. I was at the feed store picking up sheep grain and trying on paddock boots when I noticed they were selling barn cats.

Uh huh.

I've been wanting an outdoor cat here at Cold Antler for a while. Someone to patrol for mice and rats around the feed and grain. Keep animals from nesting in the hay pile. I like, and miss cats. Living with huskies it wasn't an option. But now that I have a barn and a heated mud room for winter, it was possible.

So I saw the twenty-dollar kittens in the cage and fell for an 8-week-old long-haired, yellow-eyes gray kitten. I picked her up and she hissed. I liked her spunk. I didn't want some passive nancy cat. I pet her and she calmed down. She was beautiful, elegant, sassy—I named her June Carter and drove her home in the pickup.

When we got back to the farm I scooped her up in my arms (still hissing, mind you) and held her outside the truck. I had her in one hand, like you would a puppy, arms securely under her armpits and body safe against my body. My right hand searched for my camera to take a picture. I wanted to post it on the blog and text it to friends in the office.

She slipped right out of my hands and ran into the woods.

It happened so fast. It had been so long since I'd been with cats. I forgot how slick, how fast, how contortionisty they are. In a second she wanted out, and was free. She ran faster than the rabbits into the woods behind the barn. I desperately tried to get her back. We played hide and seek for a while but soon her meows stopped and I could not locate her. I grabber her dry kibble and shook the bag, calling her name. I let out kibble for her to crunch on. I walked all over the property hunting for her, getting ripped open by branches and stung by nettle in the process. I didn't even know how to start finding her. I was just punching under water...for all I knew she was in Shushan. I felt absolutely horrible. I feel horrible now. I had a cat for twenty minutes and blew it. How could I mess this up so fast?

I am hoping she comes back. I will set out food and water for her and leave the barn door open. If I'm lucky she's hiding just out of sight and will stick around the proerty. If I'm unlucky she'll never be seen again. I don't know how kittens think. I'm a stranger in a strange land here. Advice and small prayers are much appreciated.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

shushan train

On the commute home I drove through downtown Shushan. Shushan (Shoo-Shin) is not a booming metropolis. It's just a few homes, a grocer, Trip's Antiques, and train tracks. Today I pulled up to the intersection and was met by a parked locomotive getting ready to head out. Talk about perspective. The monster loomed over my little Ford and growled as we skittered past. Gibson barked at the whistle-blowing beast while it was still parked. Crooked Still was blasting on the radio, and there is something damn pure about bluegrass, trains, and dogs in the front seat.

Tomorrow: off from work and visiting the local riding stables. I'm back in the saddle, baby.

Monday, July 26, 2010

the road to cold antler

Sunday, July 25, 2010

fences up!

I woke up and before any other farm chores were seen to, started making two loaves of bread. I had company coming in a few hours and french toast was on the menu. Few things are as delicious as butter-patted homemade french-toast with farm eggs. I got the bread mixed, kneaded, and set it to rise in a big red pyrex bowl on the counter. In a few hours the house would smell amazing. I looked forward to playing diner and getting a slew of scrambled eggs and toast ready for my friends Steve, Patrick, and Phil. I promised them all a good breakfast before they helped me put up the next section of fences.

While the bread rose I went about morning chores and my mile run. It's been over two weeks of my commitment to running and healthier eating, and while I can't claim any major weight loss—I can say I feel better. What started as a mile a day is now up to sometimes two or three. I can now make it up the steep three flights of stairs at work without huffing and puffing. I don't have pain in my hips when I lay down because of my homegrown yoga post-jogging. My hair feels healthier and thicker from the daily intense sweating—cleaning out my scalp of oils and toxins. I sleep better at night. And today while building fences I didn't break a sweat, even running to and from the house for pliers and wire cutters. So the running is paying off in the farm labor department. I felt good today out in the field. I weigh in with my doctor on Wednesday so I'll find out then if any actual pounds dropped.

When the guy's arrived (filling my driveway with pickup trucks-a happy site) we dined on breakfast and coffee and then headed outside to unload my truck's bed of fencing (One roll of field fence is about 230 pounds. It had to be loaded into my bed with a forklift... so you can see why help's a plus). We staked out and pounded posts (really, Phil pounded posts) and before we knew it we were zip-tying fence to posts and creating a second pasture. It's coincidental luck that I can only afford to create one addition at a time, but it turns out what we can set up, complete with gates and such—is a perfect rotational grazing system.

In just under two hours we were able to double the sheep's pasture. It was sweaty, hard, work with side effects such as caught fingers, sore muscles, twenty pounded posts, and the occasional black-fly bite: but our efforts proved worthy of the cause. The fences are up. The sheep ate fresh grass all day. And I now have two fenced paddocks to rotate grazing in. By Fall I hope for at least three, maybe four. As long as this girl can bribe a few guys with breakfast: the farm will keep growing.

And now: time for bed. I helped put up 250 feet of fence, ran three miles, walked dogs, cooked dinner, and wrote. It is time for this girl to circle three times and lie down. I apologize for any grammar or spelling mistakes. I will fix them in the morning when luck starts all over again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

hunting 101

My work is hosting a Hunter's Safety class, free of charge, to employees who are interested. I am taking it. It starts Monday night with a classroom lecture and will follow with weekends at the Manchester Wingshooting school and some other field work. I have never hunted before, but all of my friend up here do. Deer, ducks, grouse, woodcock, pheasants, and turkeys are all pursued around these parts. It would be fun to hop into a duck boat or go pheasant hunting with the gang. It would be just as grand to have a chest freezer full of venison. I guess I'll wait and see.

The main reason I am taking the class is to better know and understand firearms. I own a small rifle: a 1969 Remmington .22 I bought in Idaho. But beyond loading it and firing it: I know little. This class will teach me more about basic gunmanship (if that is even a word) and if there is any interest in going hunting, it will spark there too.

It would be nice to join the community of hunters here in the fall. It seems like that celebration time of bounty, stories, pursuit and loss is epic to so many. The hunt crosses socio-economic boundaries and handshakes across property lines are common. It's exciting to hear the stories. Maybe I could start telling some of my own. I'm looking forward to hitting the field.

maude does not care for being spun at

Friday, July 23, 2010

on the shelf with the others

I opened the door of the cab and let Gibson sail out into the back field at Orvis. He's not a puppy anymore, at least not physically. He now stands almost as tall as Annie, with gangly legs and an ostentatious tail. He loped down through the tall dew-soaked grass till he hit the fish pond. Then jumped in with a splash, lunged out with a shake, took a dump and trotted the football field's distance back to the car. He was covered in dirt, pond water, dew, mud, and panting like a runaway. He shook and his tongue spilled out. What a little monster.

It was a little after 7 AM. I'm usually at the office to run and shower before the 8AM workday starts. I look just as rough as him at that hour, and don't even think about mascara till I'm done with my morning mile. As I was loading him into his crate in the back of the truck, I saw a coworker walking to his pickup with a little ball of fluff in his arms. Dear lord, it was a 9-week-old Australian Shepherd pup. I melted.

I scooped up the pup, congratulated the owner, and tried to remember when G was that small. I know that photographic evidence exists, but my black-and-white blur is now 34-pounds at four months. He's lean, curious, and will hopefully turn into a fine farm dog. But all that fluffy innocence is gone. Gibson is a clever mess. He's figuring out how to get what he wants and goes for it. Food on the table: chomp. Bunny behind the bike in the barn: chase. Pond at the bottom of the hill: splash. But I can't complain. He comes when he's called. He sleeps in my lap in the truck. He goes to the bathroom outdoors. He stares at sheep. He's great. Still, I stole myself. I cradled the little guy in my arms and inhaled puppy.

Dogs are perfect.

Fridays are optional half days at my office. If you put in an extra hour Monday through Thursday you can leave at noon on Friday. This week I took advantage of the program for a sexy afternoon at the Washington County DMV. I stood in line and stared at the much-needed rain. My brain thinks like a farmer now. Did that guy on McMillan road cover his round bales? Did he pull them in before this came? What a waste if he didn't... I thought about how I didn't have to water the garden. I worried about flies on the sheep. I paced in line a little. I hate lines.

When I finally got my turn I realized I filled out the wrong forms and didn't have a copy of my birth certificate. No new license for me. However, myy truck had all the necessary paperwork to become a New Yorker, even if I didn't. I was asked if I needed passenger or commercial plates for my truck. I had no idea, and asked what she meant. She said if I ever planned on advertising a home business I would need commercial plates. They were five dollars more. I ponied up the cash. Who knows, maybe Cold ANtler Farm will be slapped to the side of the Ford someday. I paid a ridiculous amount of money for two blue and gold plates, and drove home in the rain storm. It felt weird being without a dog. All three were at home. The ride was boring. Life without a dog out the passenger-side window might smell better, but it is fate too sad to even consider.

When I got home to the farm I pulled off the green plates. This was a little sad, but sad only in that suggested way people tell you should be sad. When I moved to New York so many Vermonters who knew me asked, "You're really going to give up your green plates?" They're more than car stamps: they're a lifestyle and a personal choice. I shrugged. It's not where you live, it's how you live. The entire notion that is the state line between Vermont and New York is less than a dozen generations. There is furniture in people's houses older than either state. I'm not attached to what color my plates are or where my mail is delivered. I am attached to my Northeastern Octobers, crows, dogs, fireflies, thunderstorms, and borrowing a small piece of land for a while to grow food and grow up. If a firefly can cross the state line—so can I. Glow where you are, damnit.

The green truck plates are on a shelf with the Tennessee and Idaho ones. They are lined up by a window where the light hits them and I remember things like Elkmont, Caribou Lake, and the Great Ox Roast.

So it goes. May the New York memories begin.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

we did it

pasture spinning

I did a bit of spinning in the pasture tonight. I came home from work, did basic chores, and then walked up to the high gate with a quilt, roving, a crook and a drop spindle. I spun on my blanket while the sheep tottered around me. It's oddly pleasing, spinning yarn from sheep eating their dinner right beside you. The yarn was imperfect and chunky. I liked it that way.

The carded fleeced seemed to race into yarn. It took moments to spin and collect on the weight of the object. Curious how it took months to grow on the back of an animal, a team of skilled people to shear it, hours of soaking, a night of carding—and yet in minutes it met it's meaning. How elegant a fate.

It was dusk. The air was warm. It was one of those afternoons you read about in books.

fencing and french toast

No pumpkins this year, at least not so far. The one softball-sized globe was chewed apart my a deer. It's a sad, but accepted fate here at the farm. The garden was a bust this year. Between the heat wave, animals, and lack of proper fencing and size: it failed. But I did get some decent onions, potatoes, salad greens, and whatever ate all my squash won't eat the basil, tomatoes, or peppers. So while half of the crop was devastated, the rest was still food. I guess that makes it a half-success?

I guess it's a matter of opinion. If you're a friggin' deer it was a 100% success.

Support has been pouring in about the barn raising! Folks have been emailing me asking for the mailing address and donations have been trickling into the community bucket. So far I think I have enough nails, plan suggestions, and ideas to get started in September. A pre-built structure is an option, but so is light timber framing from wood already on the property. I'll contact a local logger and see if I can work out a barter. Something like: you clear this pasture for me and you can keep the wood you hewn, just leave me enough for a 10x20ft pole barn. It's worth a shot anyway. I think it's a win-win. I get land cleared and a barn wood for no effort.

I'll be putting up fences Sunday morning. Some friends are coming over to help me expand the sheep pasture once again. We'll be working from 10-noon and enjoying fresh-baked bread and farm-egg French toast (and coffee too). It will be a morning of good work and good food. I can't wait. This place is becoming a real livestock operation, one day at a time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

carded wool

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

let's raise a barn

Those of you who have been following this story know about my dreams of wanting to become a shepherd. You knew me before the flock, before Gibson, before sheepdog trials, before Sarah, and before Vermont. You've been sharing advice, cheering me on, and keeping me going. I thank you, so much.

This blog has become more than just my story, and that's because you're here reading it. Community has always been a huge part of my story. It only seems fitting that I reach out to you now that we are months away from my breeding flock being delivered to Cold Antler. In a few months the hooves will hit the ground and my life as a wool and lamb producer will change forever. So tonight I have an announcement. I want to host a barn raising.

A blog barn raising can't be conventional. Distance, age, oceans, and so much more separate us as a group. Despite those things, we are still a tribe. All of us understand the importance of a garden, of clean food, of fresh air, sunlit soaked animals and good music. So I am thinking this: If you want to help raise the pole barn that will be the flocks new home, be a part of this. Mail me a nail in an envelope. Send a postcard with words of encouragement. Paint a picture, send a photo, email me barn plans, gift your old hammer. If you want to help with the big stuff you can offer to lend me your saw horse or power tools. Maybe you can hunt down the Albany Craigslist for barn boards for free pickup, or cheap used fencing. I just want this structure: the first that I'll add as a homeowner, to be everyones'. If you ever visit the farm I want you to be able to say, "Yup, that was the nail I mailed from St. Paul. I painted the end blue." or "That's the lumber I donated my frothy coffee cash towards." I don't care how you participate: I just want it to be ours.

I want my sheep to be safe from wind and snow and rain under a roof we all helped build. I want the outside to have your stories, and memories, and trinkets nailed to it. Those of you who live close: come over and bring your tool belts. Those of you far away: send some encouragement.

I know together we can raise a barn. We can get a safe structure up for the growing flock. We've come this far.

first toms of the year!

jackson, new york

woginrich wool mill

I am starting to learn how to process my own wool. While I did mail most of my fleece off to be processed by the pros: I kept some for my own fiber education. So far, I'm just learning to wash and prepare the wool for cardingm which I'll do later tonight. Washing the wool wsa easy, but took some patience. I had to prepare the raw (just cut off the sheep) wool by picking out all the hay and any other bracken by hand. Then I soaked it in natural dish detergent and water (without aggitating it at all) till the water turned brown. I would lift the wool up with a cheesecloth (trying my best to not turn it into felt) and then dump the dirty water and refill it with clear, warm, water and more dish detergent. I did this about six times till the water was clear and then gave it one soak of plain water as a rinse.

Then I let it dry in the sun. That part is easy.

Now I have a pile of clean, fresh-smelling wool ready for the drum carder. Tonight I turn that clean wool into long rovings by running it through my carder, and when you pull it off that wheel it really feels like the beginnings of a new knit hat. I have a reader to thank for that. I was gifted someone's drum carder last year and with much grattitude I accepted it. If I get exctied and carried away I might start spinning with my trusty spindle. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

an aesthetic decision

I'd follow Geoff on his shepherding rounds. In our green rubber wellies we'd splash through the burns, checking each newborn lamb. Geoff'd pick it up to pat its full belly, "That's all right, old girl, I'll not harm him," and when mother and lamb had got separated )some of the burns were too deep for the lambs to swim), he'd join them back together. Brilliant mosses swirled in the stream-beds, oyster catcher and curlews called from the banks. The mist hung above us like theatre scrims and the light shimmered. Geoff's young dog, Cap, swirled in and out of the fog. The decision to become a shepherd is an aesthetic decision.

-Donald McCaig
Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men
Searching through Scotland for a Border Collie

Sunday, July 18, 2010

i miss my old hammock

the certainty of weather

I have held fast to my self promise of jogging. Since my birthday I have dedicated nearly every day to at least one mile on the treadmill at the office gym or out here on the sparse roads of Jackson. Yesterday I was outside jogging and the urge to keep going started to overcome me. I ran past my normal turn-around point and kept a steady pace towards route 22. If I ran there and back to the farm it would be a little over two miles, the farthest my recovering body had taken me since my reincarnation as a runner.

It was hot. Probably in the mid eighties and humid. There was a chance for storms, and if any weather could bring them, this was it. The going to hit 22 was all downhill and easy, I barely huffed even in the heat and sun, but soon as I turned back the grade started to change and every step gained ground.

Suddenly, I broke out into a sweat and the simple mile turned into quite the obstacle course. The hilly climb was brutal for me, an out-of-shape runner. My only goal was to not stop. I could slow down to a mockable crawl but I had to not walk and just keep jogging. So much of jogging is mental. If you let yourself stop, if you allow it, you always will. So I kept on. Only when I hit the driveway did I lurch into a slow walk. I collapsed into the shady open bed of my pickup and looked up at the sky. Blue.

My heart sank a little. Weather reports had been calling for storms for weeks and they rarely came. I would get excited, gloat to my coworkers about the weather, check my zip code every hour online hoping the chance for precipitation would crawl up 10%. I adore storms. They make me feel more like me. Yet the sky remained blue and clear as a still pond. I cursed it.

I am a girl who does not care for calm weather. It makes me lazy.

I came inside, panting. Something about running outside really whips me. I can run twice as far on a treadmill and just need some water and a shower, but really moving my body over distance slams me into a forced submission of anxiety and fear. When I run I am too focused on just completing it to start worrying about money, or relationships, or deadlines, or letting people down. I can only think about going home. And when I get there, when it's over, I instantly forget the suffering and just revel in the selfish satisfaction of completing a task. The proof is in every sucked in breath, the cramps in my side. I love it.

I walked into the farmhouse and headed straight for the dark, cold, kitchen where I grabbed a quart mason jar from the fridge and then sat on the floor, my back against the cold frame. I don't know much about physiology, but it seems that when I stop and drink sweat pours out of me. My hot hands around the cold jar force instant condensation outside the glass. I drink and feel my arms, back, and legs burst into a shine of new sweat. It sounds gross but feels purifying. It feels like bad things are leaving me.

Cold showers are welcomed at times like these.

I had friends over last night for a cookout and movie; three couples. One couple brought their year-old daughter, and the other brought their puppy. The third brought a batch of chocolate mint pudding. We barbecued, laughed, drank and watched JAWS (one of my favorite movies, fitting for summer). I loved hosting my friends and filling up my hungry self with good food. Later when things calmed down and we were all watching the movie, I could hear the thunder outside and feel my skin prickle with excitement. Finally, a storm was rolling in. Blessed event. I almost wanted to sigh with relief, having waited so long. I couldn't sit still. I left the camaraderie for a bit to step outside alone (certainly with three couples no one notices when I scurry away).

Outside the storm was windy, dry, and beautiful. Thunder came and the sky lit up but no true rain came. I retired to the bed of my pickup truck again, it was right there. Once again I was on my back, watching the sky. Just hours had passed and so much had changed. I hoped I could conjure the same changes in me: to be healthier, make better decisions, be more protective of myself and smarter about how I lived. Summer is a confusing time for me. So much effort and hope and planning but it all gets lost in the decadence of the weather. And rattles against the lushness of everything around me. The green maples, the warm wind, the tired body, the taste of chocolate still in my mouth.... I watched the clouds swirl and wished I understood things better than I did. I wished I had the certainty of weather like that, and could change so fast.

The last of the flashing fireflies glowed near the honeysuckle bush, a few drops hit my face, and I just watched. I ignored time, and he ignored me.

Tomorrow I'd run two miles again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

border collies for public office!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I had slated tonight as the day to buy hay. It was the first non-rainy afternoon of the work week and my supply was growing low. I'm already starting to plan for winter, so when I have the time and the weather is good—I drive north to Hebron to get whatever I can afford and bring it had to Cold Antler. Hay Day: I have been looking forward to it all week.

When the work day is over I go home and change out of the clothes I've grown so uncomfortable in. I slip into a tee shirt and wellies. I throw my hair up into a knit cap (yes, it's 89 degrees, but nothing keeps the bugs off and the sweat off my face like the natural wicking power of wool) and braid my hair into pig tails. I grab Annie (the best ride along dog at Cold Antler) and together a girl and her husky roll up 22 towards Nelson Greene's farm. Just past Tiplady road you can hang a right and weave uphill to Nelsons. I couldn't wait to be in that loft.

I only planned on buying half a dozen bales. Well, "buying" is a euphemism considering Nelson is rarely there when I arrive. I'm on a 9-5 part-time farmer schedule and on the late evenings when I show up he's either out or inside with supper. So I go through my normal routine. I open the loft and crawl up into the cathedral of hay and start throwing bales of his second cut down to my truck. I love that hay loft. I love the way it smells, what it means. It's an entire pasture in a rubik's cube of stacks. I can climb 30-feet high and feel safe. There is soft hay everywhere so if you slip (and I often do) you're fine. You land on the soft bedding and get up again. Today I stopped to take some pictures to share with you. I want you to see how my workday ends.

When the truck was loaded I drove us to Nelson's mailbox. I dropped off the check for the hay and then Annie and I headed south to Jackson. The wind felt good after the hot day. I drove with the windows open, my arm hanging off the edge. Annie hung the front half of her body out the window like she always does. Two girls and the open road. I smile a lot when hay is involved. I smile more in the company of dogs.

July is halfway over, and August is stalking us in tall grass. Before you know it September will be here and I will be barking for fall. I can not wait.

farm shape

I'm on a mission to get in better shape: for me, for the farm, and for my future. Contrary to what you might assume about me I could stand to lose about twenty pounds and they're holding me back from feeling more comfortable with myself, and more fit for the work of everyday farm life. It's a lot easier to buck bales of hay into a truck when you're not wheezing or panting. And it's a lot more fun pounding fence posts when your arms aren't ready to give out as you slam down the 30-pound weight driving them into the ground. I don't want to grow tired based on the fact I'm lugging around an extra twenty pounds; it's not sustainable or efficient.

So I started running again, just a mile a day. I balance this with yoga and even though it's only been five days I feel better. Even if starting a personal fitness program is just a placebo in itself: it's working. I sleep better, I eat better, and I hope that come October I have reached my goal weight while still enjoying the occasional slice of apple pie and bottle of hard cider. I could try and lose thirty pounds and cut out all the foods that I enjoy, but I won't. Life is too short to miss out on all that amazing, homegrown, and homemade food. So I'll check in every week and let you know how it's going. I started on my birthday and I'll share my loss or gains as I plod along once every two weeks or so. Feel free to join me if you too want to feel a little tawnier under your flannel come fall.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

onions drying on the attic door

a homeowner's tale

Once upon a time a girl bought a house in Washington County, NY—land of farms, sheep, tractors, and fly fishing.

Then one day she didn't have hot water. So she called the oil company to deliver more fuel for the boiler.

The oil delivery guy came, filled up the tank with a hundred new gallons (273 American dollars), and then watched flames shoot out into the basement. We jumped back.

He looked at the furnace, then at me, then at the furnace and said after three beats:

"You're going to need to get this cleaned."

So the girl called the service people, who came to clean the dirty furnace (119 American dollars) so to not blow up the little white farmhouse. Alas, he discovered a broken ventilation system. I could have hot water again, but would not be alive to use it since the house would fill up with carbon monoxide.

He looked at the vents, then at me, then at the vents and said after three beats:

"You're going to need to get this vent repaired."

So the girl called the service center, and another man came to test the fan motor. He discovered the broken circuit board (175 American dollars) but said he could not repair it. The house's ventilation system was not up to code. The house would need to have that replaced and up to federal standards before they could fix the vents.

So the girl called the service people once again, and they showed her the system she would need to take hot showers as a living human being, and it required a brand new ventilation system that rose 2 feet above ground level! (2,000 American dollars) or a new masoned natural draft chimney (3,000 - 4,500 American dollars).

At this point God laughed, and the home owner cried. She just wanted hot water. She did not realize she was breaking the law. She does not have 2,000 dollars.

So the girl called the home inspector, who should have seen this issue and arrangements could have been made to get the vents up to code before she and Chase bank bought the farmhouse.

The inspector offered to pay for the new ventilation system, because if people found out there was a body count in his home inspection process, it would be bad for business.

At this point the home owner smiled. Small victories get her through the day.

The hot water will be back in a week and the house will refrain from being an outlaw.

Monday, July 12, 2010

maybe next time

i hoped for a thunderstorm.
but i was wrong again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the trial

"So you're finally here with a dog." was what the smiling Barb Armata said to me under the yellow and white tent hosting our morning bagels and cream cheese. She had good reason to say that with such gusto. Barb was a sheepdog trainer and the woman who will be my mentor for our herding education. I told her I was thrilled to be here today, and I was. For three years I have been attending and volunteering at the Merck Forest Sheepdog Trial. I had been a member of NEBCA (North East Border Collie Association) since that first visit when I had only lived in New England a few months. Last year I kept score and helped where I could. This year I did the same (and spent a few hours releasing sheep from the chutes at the top of the trial field). I had been here for years, at club events time and time again, and now I was finally standing amongst my peers with a respectable pup of my own. I felt rich. Barb knew it when she saw it.

All of the shepherds knew who Gibson's father was, and respected his breeder. When Steve Whetmore (the shepherd I read about in books and the first NEBCA member I ever emailed) said to people under the tent "Hey, this is a Riggs puppy!" my chest swelled. I am still a fly on the wall to many of them. I've never proven myself with a dog (failed one actually, as most know and I am still ashamed of) and never stepped on a trial field. But I haven't disappeared either. I have been around for three years come bad and good, and now I had a prospect. A dog that might very well make it to these fields as a competitor someday. And while rarely did a club member talk to me, they seemed to nod a little more, say good morning. And I took every bone that was thrown to me. I respect them and envy them more than they'll ever know.

Day 1
I woke up to a thunderstorm yesterday. It made me so happy. I was 28, and comfortable in the lull of the box fan in my farmhouse. I was half-awake and listened to the rumbles, smiling like an idiot. I adore thunderstorms so much, you just can't know. It was the best gift a farm girl could have, and even though the day was to be overcast I didn't care: it was a day for a sheepdog trial. The heat wave had been sliced open by the storm. It was milder, and the rain a blessing.

I drove early that morning to the trial with Gibson shotgun beside me. I had been told pets could not come, but Gibson was not just a pet. He was my business partner, a regally-bred registered dog, and a someday herder. He would get in. I'd see to it. (He did. We walked right in like he was High in Trial. Take that, stupid website rules!)

I spent the first day of the two-day contest just watching and walking around with Gibson. It was my birthday, and I wanted to celebrate. There was no greater feeling than to be amongst these shepherds at the site of my first-ever-visited sheepdog trial with my own pup. I watched under the white tents while the rain came and went. The fog played with the tops of the trees and the competitors all hoped it wouldn't hit the fields and block their view of their dogs. I spent most of the day silent, sitting amongst the trialers listening. I watched dogs around me and how they never left their master's side. I looked down at Gibson between my feet, sleeping quietly and understood. I listened to the hot shots talk about their land and trucks. I talked to some folks who just came to watch. I wanted to help them get excited and understand. To them I might look like the real deal, but I identified much more to the fanny-pack-toting spectators from New Jersey than I did with the contestants. I was still green and clueless, I just happened to have come this far. I told them about sheepdog trials as if the World Cup never existed. This was the epitome of competition and sportsmanship: I bet I seemed crazy.

Eventually I worked up the nerve to talk ask Don McCaig if he would sign my copies of his books I stashed in my backpack. (Nops Trials, A Useful Dog, and Eminent Dogs Dangerous Men) Last year I kept his score on the trial field star-struck and nervous. McCaig is a NY Times bestselling novelist who writes about shepherding and lives on a giant farm in the southeast. He's the only person to ever write an approved sequel to Gone With the Wind. He keeps sheep, writes for a living, loves the history of the south and Civil War.... he's one of my heros.

He signed two of his books to me, and my copy of A Useful Dog to Gibson. What a guy.

Before I left for the day I stopped at the visitors' center and bought some lamb—which I took home and pan fried in cast iron with spices. I ate it over whole wheat pasta with marinara and garden basil. It tasted amazing: the rare lamb so moist and flavorful...the spices so rich. I had a Guinness and some chocolate cake to top it off and was grateful for the year. It was a great birthday.

But today I left the house at 7, and was at the post to work by 8. I had permission from the club to drive my truck right up to the main tents, so Gibson could be with me again while I worked and not far away in the parking lots. I parked right by the other NEBCA folks and felt a little more included in the scene. While I watched the trial he lay at my feet, but when I was down on the field keeping score he slept under the tailgate in the shade with a bowl of water. I remember looking at him, snoozing in the sun under the truck as I walked to the fields to keep score by the judge. Three years ago I had no truck, no sheep, no dog. Now I was (in a way) one of them. Most of the shepherds here had 50+ acres, 25+ sheep, and several collies. I had one pup, 6.5 acres (lawn-size to most of them), three sheep and a used truck. I still felt part of. What I had obtained may be meager to those with 25-ft-tall tractor, but it's mine.

Day 2
The second day of the trial was hosted under sunny skies and I was there to help. I kept score all morning, writing down the points removed from the 100-pt perfect score all dogs and handlers start with. I kept time, chatted with the judge, and watched the pros at their paces. I braked for lunch, walked around with Gibson (sweaty and hot) and ran into some blog readers from New Hampshire. Bill and Nancy were gracious, and were kind to Gibson and said wonderful things about the blog. I was glad to meet him. I only wished he commented more so I knew who he was. I love it when folks chime back on here. It reminds me that I am writing to people and not my computer.

My afternoon was spent high above the trial field at the chutes. That photo at the top of this post shows you how high above the action I was. The white tent is where the spectators were. The smaller white tent is the judge's station I had been keeping score at earlier. And all that distance between them and the photographer was the trial field. A very large, hilly, and rough place to run a dog.

The chutes are the pens that hold the 60+ sheep (this trial ran Katahdins) which are released three at a time for the trial dogs. It was hot as hell. I spent a few hours wrestling ewes into pens and then letting them out onto the field. (Lanolin mixed with sun block to make a smell few can relate to, but I kinda enjoyed.) Then something kinda great happened amongst the sweat and angry sheep. A really attractive guy (a Merck staffer, 28, and tanned and built as a 1960's surf movie extra) was driving a red truck filled with water for the sheep. At first he mostly ignored me through polite conversation. But as the trial went on we got to talking about my farm, Gibson, sheep, border collies, and his role as the main farm worker at Merck. He seemed to think Cold Antler was cool and was impressed I was doing it alone. He too was managing Merck alone, so could relate (even if the scale was far greater). He said he wanted to rescue a border collie from a local organization and have it work the farm with him. He seemed interested in what I was saying, even though I looked like a horror. (I was covered in sweat, flushed, in a ripped shirt and blotchy from the sun). It was far from movie fireworks, and I have no idea if this guy is A) single, B) even remembers my name, or C) I'd even like him once I got to know him more. But I realized just a few days after asking for a man to come into my life I was leaning against the tailgate of my pickup watching a pastoral scene of heartbreaking beauty with a local man who was my age, loved sheep, and was dedicated to agriculture. I might never see him again, but the fact I was enjoying the trial around such amicable company did not go unnoticed. I smiled. And my blood is as red as any woman's.... (something about really tan farm guys with sandy blond hair and a love of sheepdogs kinda gets me.) I told him to google Cold Antler if he was ever online. He said it was a name he could remember.

By the by: I have gotten a few emails referring to my dating post, for those slightly interested. My scheme worked in getting a response, and who knows, maybe there will be a date or two?

On the way home from the trial I turned the wrong way and headed into Sandgate. It was the instinctual way to go since those backroads were the same ones I drove for two years buying hay for my sheep in Hebron while I lived in the cabin. It had been a few months since I really drove through Sandgate, and little things called out to me. I noticed farms with new animals I didn't recognize> I saw what had once been the raw frame of a barn's cupola was now being sided with red boards. Little changes, but enough to remind me it was no longer mine. I drove through the notch and it felt different than before, harder. It hurt a little.

But I do not miss Sandgate (or living Vermont) like I thought I would. Jackson and Cambridge are starting to feel like my own. People know my names in the bookstore and the in some town shops like Common Ground Cafe. I was asked to do a talk at Hubbard Hall in the fall, a place where authors like Jon Katz talk. And the farmers at Common Sense Farm wave to me when I drive by. It's still new, and I'm still a stranger with Vermont plates to most, but it is starting to feel like home.

And with all that, I'm saying goodnight. I'm sore and sunburned and tired. It's back to the office tomorrow, with its own stresses and such, and while I don't look forward to it I am glad for it. I must remember I am not a McCaig. I'm a girl with a day job, a used truck, a puppy, one mildly-sucessful book, and a very small farm. But I am happy. I like where I am. It's enough.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

photos from the field

Friday, July 9, 2010

hey blue gate farm!

Did I just read about you in Hobby Farm Home?!?!

october hope

this will just take a minute

If you're a single man who isn't scared of livestock, I'd like to have a word with you. This will just take a minute.

I've been alone for a long time. I choose to be. I don't date for sport and get nothing out of bars, clubs, or online dating. But I am getting to a point in life where I'm starting to accomplish things I want to share with someone. It's a great feeling—buying your own farm and following a dream—but it feels less real without someone to lean against. By choosing to follow my goals like a workhorse with blinders on—I've learned how to do a lot of amazing things—but in all honestly, I've had a little trouble cultivating a social life.

However, I have managed to keep this blog and it's become a home base for my goals, plans, and dreams. So it only seems natural that I'd post a PSA asking one of you who fits this description to take this farm girl out on a date.

Yes. I'm serious.

I'm not tall, thin, or particularly attractive. I'm over-educated, under-paid, and my savings account currently rivals a fast-food paycheck. I have a lot of faults and I make a lot of mistakes. But despite all that: I really do have good intentions and try to lead a healthy life. I can jog a few miles at a good clip. I've read some swell books. I can keep up in a conversation about analytical continental philosophy but I'd rather be herding sheep. I capable of crawling uphill when something matters. I take crisis in a panicked stride, but a stride none the less. I'm good at resolving conflict, I subscribe to logic over emotion, and I'm serious about composting table scraps. I can grow you breakfast and a sweater.

I want to know a man who only says my name when he exhales.

I want to play music with you. I want to brew homemade beer and wine in August and then get drunk with you on it during a Halloween bonfire kept stoked by stories and a string band. If you are drawn to fireflies, mountain streams, stringed instruments and are more excited to watch a Thunderstorm roll in than the series finale of LOST, please consider me. And if you're not 100% country, that's even better. I want to find someone who will go with me to concerts and art galleries, listen to authors read to us, listen to 70's punk on my record player, and ride rollercoasters all over the east coast just for the hell of it. Someone who demands the occasional guilty pleasure like Pizza Hut during a Buffy marathon on a Tuesday afternoon we both called in sick. Someone who drinks coffee. A lot of coffee. Demetri Martin, Jon Stewart, and Joshua Jackson may move to the front of the line, but I'm pretty sure they're all with girls who don't ever have to worry about pulling lambs out of ewe orifices...

I'm not particular about looks, age, hair, eye color, or any of that impermanent garbage. I am interested in someone who likes to think as much as he likes to laugh. Someone with sharp wit, clever observations, who drinks dark beer and displays darker humor. Someone who feels most content when he's accomplished something he set out to do. It could be as simple as mowing the lawn or as grandiose as building a barn, but someone who shares that sense of satisfaction in shared work and can revel in the simple relaxation of hard cider and stringed instruments when that work is done. Someone who feels more alive on the back of a tractor or quarter horse. Someone who can grab heavy oxen by the reins without shaking. Someone who doesn't think teaching a goat to backpack is mildly insane. Someone who considered making cheese, reads books, and loves swimming holes (yet hates swimming pools). Beards are not necessary, but encouraged. Civil War buffs make me weak in the knees.

Selfishly, I want to know someone is keeping an eye on me, making sure I don't get hurt or do too much. I want someone to be out there with me when the lambs are born, his arm around me because I ran outside with Gibson in a fever, forgetting to grab a jacket. I want him to realize I'm cold before I do. And I want him put his hand on my shoulder when those same lambs are taken to market. (I want him to eat the lamb chops too.) I want a partner. I want him to love October more than anything.

For what that's worth. I make a damn good pie.

So if you love dogs, like dirt, can't help but make music, and think you could tolerate me: send me an email. It's a long shot, but most things are.

I am aware that this is mildly pathetic. Maybe it's the whole birthday thing causing this, but I have learned you only get things in this world when you ask for them. I know putting myself out there like this is just asking for ridicule. Please don't judge too harshly. I may or may not respond to any emails (if I get any, that is) based on how foolish/lame I feel in the morning. But if you are reading this and aren't the guy in the post, maybe you know someone who could be, feel free to share it.

i will never be a size 4

Not as long as I live a life where fresh garden potatoes and scrambled eggs from my own hens are on the menu. Cover up that beautiful gold starch and protein with some smoked maple cheddar...heaven

I enjoyed my breakfast this morning since I had time to cook. I am taking the morning off from work while a technician cleans and services the oil furnace downstairs. Turns out my hot water, heat, and everything else that causes warmth comes from that little box and it needs some TLC. When I ran out of hot water this weekend I realized it was because I ran out of heating oil (not something you think of buying during a heat wave). When the oil guy came to put 100 gallons in the tank and restart the furnace, flames shot out of it. He looked at the inferno, then looked at me, and said calmly. "You should get this cleaned. Soon."

So here I am, 500 bucks in the hole because one day I ran out of hot water. Welcome to home owning folks. All of a sudden one little thing happens and you realize all these expensive parts need to come together to fix it. It's going to be a frugal July. That's for sure.

So there's amazing things about my own farm. Like backyard breakfasts of this caliber. And there's also the money pit of home upkeep and repairs. Not a new song, but one I'm happy to sing.

P.S. That's a small plate. I'm not a lumberjack!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

rats and rabbits

My la rattes have been unearthed! My small french potatoes started as six little seed taters and have exploded into a saucepan of future meals. It's a good haul, and a small success after such a rough garden year. It's been a bad one for the lettuce and beans, but the onions and potatoes are strong. Hash browns will know me as well as I know them.

I decided to sell the rabbitry. I will just keep Bean and Ben, the rest of the rabbits and cages are going to go. It may seem sudden, but the rabbits are the most time consuming animal on the farm. And while I love and appreciate rabbit meat: I also know that I can get it from farmers twenty minutes away. I'll have meat rabbits again, I'm sure but right now I need to scale down and focus on my farm passion: sheep. I'll keep my pet angoras and continue to breed them. But going from two to over twenty rabbits is too much, too soon. I learned my lesson. I'll eat crow.

I need to scale back, slow down, and realize one woman does not a superman make. Right now I'm all about the uphill that is beginning a wool and lamb operation. After this weekend at the trials I'll be pounding more fence posts and looking at barn plans with drool coming out of my mouth. I am a shepherd. I am not a rabbitry with sheep. This is simply how things are.

If anyone is interested in two healthy does (one with two kits) and a few young adult french angoras, let me know. I have some that need new homes for bargain prices, and cages to boot.

huge fan

a hell of a year

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't part of the joy of farming the mix of low points and high points you achieve along the way" That was my friend Kevin, talking to me over the phone from his air-conditioned apartment in Philadelphia. I, however, was dripping buckets of sweat by a pasture in Washington County. I was trying to assemble an electric fence kit I picked up from Tractor Supply to save what was left of the deer, groundhog, and rabbit eaten dried up pumpkins. I wouldn't put up this kind of fight for anything else in the garden, but pumpkins mean October. You fight for the things you love.

"Yeah...but when the low points drastically outnumber the high points, you realize you might be doing something wrong..." I was frustrated. I made up some excuse about getting electrocuted and got off the phone. Between the heat wave, falling behind on etsy orders and writing projects, the loss of half my turkeys and new laying hen pullets, the garden's decline, the dead rabbits, and the fact I wasn't seeing straight due to having spent the last two hours after work in a dramatic heat wave: things felt bad. I was exhausted. I was coated in sweat, hay, and smelled as bad as the invisible fence I just sprayed around the edge of the pumpkin patch. I instantly felt bad for having snapped at Kevin, and guilty for having the audacity to not be grateful I was having these problems in the first place. It's just that sometimes, you feel beat.

And when you're exhausted you seem to only know how to pile the negative things into a rucksack and carry it around with you. I could have easily told Kevin I was outside on a beautiful day. That I had a healthy pair of breeding turkeys, a newly fenced sheep pasture, a freshly mowed lawn, a 4th of July spent with good friends from Boston, and sheepdog trials this weekend. I could have told him how healthy the remaining free-range rabbits were, and the geese were getting pretty new feathers, and that the new hens I bought the weekend before were settling in fine. But something about a heat wave and dying pumpkins makes me grumpy. I don't know why exactly but I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I blame the heat with lack of thunderstorms. I couldn't get the fence to work either. Ugh.

I also don't mean to make it sound like I'm some sort of prisoner in my own prison. I adore this place, this work, and this life. But when I click back to this blog last July, I can only see an amazing garden, a laughing goat, healthy rabbits, no broken sales or looming deadlines, and less stress. Or at least the illusion of less stress.

I'll snap out of it, I'm sure. A poor mood does nothing to benefit me and certainly nothing to benefit anyone else. I just have to focus on what's ahead that I'm excited about, and slowly work towards those things. I realized that this morning when I was about to step out of the shower. On the hook just outside the curtain was a wool hat I knit, and a rusted orange towel. Together the colors and wool made me think about how all this tension ends with the pleasures of Autumn. I actually got a little jolt of excitement when I saw them together, and it reminded me that no matter how moody or distracted I might be in the fog of July: in a few months fall will be here. And when it comes, I'll be ready.

Hopefully, with at least one farm-grown pumpkin.

I turn 28 on Saturday. It's been a hell of a year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

heat wave

The first thing I did when I walked into Wayside was head straight for the walk-in cooler. Wayside, like many small general stores, has a wall freezer stacked with soda and beer, but if you read the signs in the store you learn that is also where they keep the iced coffee. We're in the throes of a heat wave here that has temperatures in the high 90's and humidly near 100%. It's causing the sheep to sprawl in the shade, almost dead. The birds are spending all their time in the creek, letting their tiny raptor feet search for salamanders instead of slugs. The garden (now almost gone to deer and woodchucks, another sad story for another time) is barely getting by. I soak it with water everyday but the heat sucks the life out of it.

I am certainly meeting my challenges as a small scale producer this season. Between predators, garden pests, heat waves, groundhogs and deer I have lost half of my poultry and half of my garden crop. Right now I am with the pumpkins for the fight of their lives. I can take buying my salad greens and tomatoes at the market. But buying pumpkins, the heart vegetatble of cold Antler, breaks my young heart.

The dogs are okay. Jazz and Annie, were born and raised in Tennessee and didn't leave the Volunteer state till they were five years old. Both were outside dogs before I had them, meaning they grew up in the swelter and seem to take it in stride. At night the dogs lay in front of the fan and pant. I put ice cubes in the dog bowl. Gibson spends the day with me in the shade, taking many breaks for swimming in the pond and drinking lots of water. The whole pack is fine, me included.

Monday, July 5, 2010

best. roadside. find. ever.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

ready for finn

Now with the expanded pasture and new fences...
I think I'm ready to bring Finn back!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

fast fast dog

hens and market

Mornings with a mission are good for the spirit of a small freeholder. Tiny errands and adventures that add to a common goal fill me up with a certain kind of happiness. Satisfaction I don't know where else to find. It doesn't have to be complicated, and it certainly wasn't today. I got up early, loaded the truck with a wire cage and some fleece, and drive the 45 minutes west to Saratoga. I was off to buy chickens.

I had found a backyard chicken keeper with an excess of barred rocks and black sex-links. I bought four new young hens to replace what was taken by the fox. When I handed over the money, shook hands, and drove off the back of the pickup was alive with the sounds of clucks and squawks. They were padded in from the wind and sun by the fleece on two sides and my little orange truck drove off with a bed of wool and eggs.

Since we were in Saratoga, we decided to hit their big market. What a grand thing that was....I bought lamb burger and sunflowers, fresh lettuce (mine was all eaten by a deer in one night...) and got the number of a sheep farmer near Jackson who also worked with border collies and said I could come by to pick her brain about starting my own lamb and wool operation. Networking is becoming the number one reason I go to markets now. The foods great, don't get me wrong, but the people are even better.

Gibson was with me the whole time, as he is on all farm errands. As my business partner and gangly teenager he was fairly well behaved. Friendly as hell, but growled at a petit basset griffon vendeen that walked by at the market. It was the first time he's growled at anything that wasn't a sheep. I shooshed him up but the market staff walked over in a huff about how dogs shouldn't even be here and can't unless they are practically invisible. I get it. I didn't complain or fuss. Gibson went back to normal instantly. I think he just doesn't care for the French.

I got back to Cold Antler around mid-morning and unloaded the day's haul. I was able to find an antique washing table for my guest room for ten bucks (score). And I set it up with a bowl of fresh sunflowers to boot. My college roommate Erin is coming for the weekend with her boyfriend and I want to show some sort of hospitality(considering my backyard is a pasture and there's no air conditioning). Not everyone is into fans and chicken poo on their shoes. But Erin's never been much for high maintenance. I think she'll be fine.

Enjoy the weekend and happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 2, 2010

the staredown

survey says

Hey CAF readers! Where are you from? I'll start:

Jenna Woginrich
Jackson, NY

Future Lamb and Wool operation, current homesteading web designer.


Thursday, July 1, 2010


wool day

This morning I loaded up the back of the pickup with two season's of wool from my sheep: six fleeces total. Loading that pickup bed while the sheep watched from their new pen, my border collie pup in the front seat, damn it felt good.

I'll be boxing it and mailing it to Connecticut today to a processor who will turn it into yarn. The yard will be mailed back in a few weeks. I don't know how many skeins I'll get, but it'll be a lot. (That's almost fifty pounds of raw wool back there!) Enough to stock up my cabinets and keep me knitting all winter. Also, I hope to save some to sell at markets and wool festivals. I can't wait to get that package back from the mill. And it's a big step for the farm as well. I've been eating veggies and meat off the farm for a while, but now I'll be able to produce a bit of clothing from the backyard to boot.

new pasture and pen