Monday, March 14, 2011

the prayers run like weeds along the road

I'm listening to Kiss Each Other Clean on the record player while the tea kettle simmers. The combination is making this old house a few degrees warmer. I very much like the sound of new voices on old machines. I like it even more with a hot cup of tea between both hands. It fills them, keeps them warm. I keep my house at a temperature I can afford, and it's not uncomfortable with a sweater. Sometimes it gets chilly, but moments like this: with music and hot tea make the heat deficit poetic. Swirling steam rises from mugs. You can make your own weather in an old house in upstate New York in late spring.

I'm tired from a long day, spent with a fever and trained on the tasks of preparing the world for a few more wooly souls. I finished the lambing jug tonight, and while it's crude it will make a fine nursery for whoever decides to lamb first. It's built inside the smaller sheep shed and creates a 4x4 pen with it's own water bucket and hay supply on a hook. I'm proud of it. It's the last thing I had on my list to prepare for these new blackface lambs. I'm ready now. I'm ready for what's next.

I sing along with my record player. Sam doesn't know it, but we're a capital duet. I especially adore Walking Far From Home, which I know every word by heart now. That song reminds me so much of the last few years driving and living all over this fine country. It feels so good to sing along with the cracking LP while finally home.

Six years, 7,000 miles, five states, three vehicles, and a farm that is turning me into the woman I so desperately want to be: strong, graceful, calm, and quiet.

I'm none of those things, not really. I can carry a pair of 50-pound feed bags over my should, but that's not the strength I'm referring to. I mean stronger willed, more in control of my actions and emotions. I want to be able to obtain some level of moving grace, be able carry a mug of coffee up a few flights of stairs without spilling half on the trip. I want to get through a day without cutting or bruising myself. I want to get over my anxiety and panic, stop being a slave to my own fears. I want to not need to talk all the time, just listen, and remember the old Japanese saying that silence is better than 99.9% certainty.

Maybe these lambs can be a new start for me. Maybe they can be my ovine ambassadors towards being a better person. I'll hold up my end of the deal and stock my pantry with colostrum, vitamins, ear tags, and hoof medications, and they can show me how to exhale slower. Something like that.

I have a long way to go. I'll start here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be patient with yourself. These things are a journey not a destination.

March 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Chance said...

My old professor, the poet James Broughton, put his favorite saying on his tombstone "Adventure, not predicament"...and really, I try to reframe my world like this. It's all adventure, not predicament, even the hard stuff. Grace and strength, one day at a time.

March 14, 2011 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger wtf-ery said...

Great post.


At the risk of running my mouth (or, fingers, as it were) I'm just going to say; breathe.

I need to take my own advice. I often walk away from a great experience - having been blessed by meeting someone fascinating and similar to my nature - and wonder, "did I let them get a word in edgewise?"

You have lofty goals, as do I.

Quiet, though, is not one I think I can attain until I grow up.

March 14, 2011 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

I just came from a friend's house where they have their first five chicks ever, peeping in a big cardboard box. I looked over to the table and saw your book there--"Oh!" I said, "That's Jenna's book!" And I proceeded to tell my friend and her young daughters all about you. Meaning, what an incredible young woman you are, doing all the things you do, being brave when sometimes that's the hardest thing in the world. A real role model for the young girls, and for my young girl, too. Heck, you're a great role model for us all, men and women--we're all human and liable to be fearful, weak, overwhelmed. But we can all overcome those obstacles when necessary, and like with anything, it all just takes practice.

March 14, 2011 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

You are not giving yourself enough credit!

Sure there are always things we can work on but don't forget the contentment with who and what we are and the path that brings us here.

Enjoy the lambing season. You are ready.

March 14, 2011 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

I'm so excited for you. Birth of anything is so crazy wonderful and immensely humbling.
It will be awesome.

March 14, 2011 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

Wow, this sounds so much like what I think about my life and goals. I look up to you :) I want to have a farm like you one day.
And hey, being too cold is better than being too warm. :)

March 14, 2011 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

In the 1950's my family left down home and came to the city. They said they had to, to make a living. I'm 46 and I've spent most of my life trying like you to get back there. Remember farming is a way of life not a trip. Others may not understand, but its okay, they don't know what they're missing. You'll do to ride the river with.

March 14, 2011 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

If I remember correctly, you're not quite thirty yet. You will find forty very calming, and wait until you hit fifty!

What you are looking for is age and the calm that comes with it.

I think you already have the wisdom.

March 14, 2011 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Oh god Paula, don't tell her about the 30's then! lol. But yes Jenna, you really don't give yourself enough credit. You are doing what most people your age dream of. And from some of your post, and meeting you a few times, you do carry yourself with grace. As far as walking without spilling your coffee, let me know when you figure that out, I have yet to finish a day without spilling coffee. Oh well, got to leave your mark somehow!

March 14, 2011 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna H said...

Not much to add that others have not all ready said. A trick I learned when I first started being a waitress...Do not look at the cup when walking, it worked for me.

March 15, 2011 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

40s are calming? Well that's good news. And here I was stressing out over my 40th coming in 2 weeks!
Jenna, if you can figure out a way to do farm labor without cuts and bruises every day, I want to hear about it. I think it just goes with the territory. At least you can tell your self that you aren't a prissy girl with nails to worry about. Tell any future men you are an easy keeper.

March 15, 2011 at 1:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You've made a fine start Jenna.

March 15, 2011 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

@ Paula - LOL! Being a couple of years into my 50's I can understand your statement. As I read Jenna's post one of my first thoughts was how young you are and you're supposed to feel the way you do. I think the experience that comes with age makes us realize there is no hurry. "I'm a very old woman with a great many worries - most of which never came true."

March 15, 2011 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Jenna, this is my favorite song from that album too! I was admiring a deep purple and pink sunset while singing it myself last night. :)
The cool thing about personal growth and development is that you can't really fail or do anything wrong because it's a process, an ongoing event rather than a destination. When you never "arrive" there are endless chances to grow allong the journey.

March 15, 2011 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Vickie LeBlanc said...

I've been reading your blog for a few months now and I love it. I have to check-in every morning to see what you're up to. Keep up the good work. It's still pretty cold here in Atlantic Canada.

March 15, 2011 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

You know, there's a certain charm to a chattery farmwoman who spills her coffee every day, but can still butcher a hog or build a lambing pen by herself.

Just saying...maybe you're pretty darn ok the way you are.

March 15, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

You've made remarkable progress in the past year, wouldn't you say?
Be happy with where you are. The tagline on my signature says, "I had to be there, to get here." Don't sell yourself short.

March 15, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger shannonstoney said...

The following book is helping me with these issues:

It's not "religious," just helpful.

March 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I completely agree with Paula - age does bring with it the ability to be quiet. The other side of that coin is that it also brings the ability to speak up when it's truly important, stand up for yourself when necessary, say what needs to be said, and confidently proclaim your own worth. You will sometimes be viewed as mouthy, or rude, or a curmudgeon, but being able to speak your mind without fear is an awesome thing. Really, you've come a long way, and you're right where you should be. The things you want for yourself will come.

March 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Life is both loud and quiet. I'm sure that a quiet time will come, and in the mean time you are persevering better than I'm sure a lot of us would.

March 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Cold? Instead of slipping on an extra sweater, try putting on a hat. I have my house hat at the handy and always keep the temp. low. The hat really works. Try it.

March 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Hmmm, hat yes. You're supposed to lose about 40% of your body heat out the top of your head.

I'm a few years younger than you, and what you're doing inspires me to no end.

I too, strive for that quiet strength that need not be proclaimed in order to be felt and sensed. I long not to so exquisitely care about how I am percieved.

I don't spill my coffee (after 10 years in the restaurant biz, 5 in a place with two flights of stairs between kitchen and tables!), and - except with close friends- I speak rarely and with consideration, yet I yearn for the ease and confidence to strike up conversations, to find more than the minimum pleasantries to say to people. I'll silently listen to a group conversation for an hour before getting the guts to chime in.... I'm getting better, but I've still a long ways to go.
Maybe we'll meet each other in the middle one day.

March 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I'm a relatively new reader of your blog and have never commented before, but this post drove me to it. I'm exactly your age, only a year or two into my own homesteading fantasies, and you may not have a sense for how much your writing, the way you share your daily struggles and dreams, impacts and inspires those of us out here who see you as a light further along the path.

I'm also from PA (near Kutztown, actually!), also very far from home and a bit of a wanderer, with a day job I do love but a real sense of yearning for much, much more out of my daily life. And I just wanted to thank you for being so honest and eloquent about your path, and for showing us more timid folk what a bracing adventure it can be to just dive right in, nothing held back.

Also, I was just listening to the new Iron and Wine tonight as well. I love them.

March 28, 2011 at 12:37 AM  

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