Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blinders On: Time To Make It Happen

This was originally written and published on November, 6th 2011. A reader shared it on her Facebook Page today and I wanted to share it again, update it a little, and I hope you enjoy it. 

There's a chicken I raised and potatoes I grew on this farm in the crock pot right now, swimming in a stew of cream of broccoli, carrots, and onions. Later today I'll ladle it into a butter pie crust and bake it into a pot pie. It'll be served with bread I am baking today, and green beans I blanched and froze from this past summer. Dessert will be with apple turnovers brushed in butter and sugar. The meal is for Brett and I, after a we spend the afternoon constructing supports for the basement floor. The floor of of this house was always wonky, but recently, due to either the high moisture of the summer followed by the daily heat of the wood stove, age, (or all of this!): the floor has been creaking, dipping, and rising up in new bumps. So Brett's going to inspect and correct it, and for his kindness I'm making him dinner. It's a fair trade, as a home-grown pot pie is out of this world and I don't care who's making it (even if they cheated with some Campbell's in the stew). I am looking forward to the work, the company, and the meal!

I spent the morning enjoying the extra hour of sleep granted by Daylight Savings. But when I woke up the house was a chilly 56 degrees. Talk about motivation to get outside and do your chores! By the time both stoves were cleaned of old ash, re-lit, and roaring I was outside feeding the sheep, chickens, pigs and handing carrots to Jasper. Out there the world was crusted in ice. The thermometer read 22. The sheep had ice on their backs and the chickens were already up on the open areas of pasture first hit by the sun, so they could scratch and explore in the defrosting horse patties. I live on the east side of a the mountain, so I get daylight before my neighbors on the other side. I think it's nice this time of year to see that sunrise sooner, and to watch the grass go from white to dark green as a flock of mini dinosaurs trot past me to eat some horse poo. Nice, indeed.

I am spending the day at home, both taking care of it and being taken care of by it. The work of reinforcing the floor, stacking wood, and animal chores is just as vital an enjoyable as baking fresh breads and pot pies by a warm fire. This farm grew the food and some of the wood, and it deserves some TLC from time to time. When I stand up in the pasture and look over this place I am held in an emotional limbo that leaves me floating somewhere between ebbs of gratitude and incredulousness. I can barely believe it happened, but it did happen, and that's what I want to write about this morning...

I bought a farm. I bought a farm at 28, with no savings, poor credit, and no experience with negotiating beyond livestock tailgate parties. I want you to know that if this is something you want as bad as I did, you can do it too. Do not let ANYONE tell you otherwise. Those naysayers are full of more horse shit then my chickens.

Buying this house was a blur. It was the first (and only) house I looked at. I walked in it, around the property, and felt every kind of heart-gripping compulsion to make it mine. I just wasn't sure how? The realtor, Leon Barkley, was the man who showed me around the place. The first time I met him I was terrified. Not because Leon was in any way scary, but because he represented a possibility I had never let myself believe in before. He, however, sold many homes and knew who was and wasn't going to cut the mustard. He had faith in my story, and felt this old girl was a good match for me. His instincts were right, but it turned out his connections were even better...

I told Leon about my below-average salary, zero savings, and 530 credit score and he didn't even flinch. He explained that traditionally I might be in a fix, but other options existed outside of banks and the FHA. He said I should talk to a mortgage broker he trusted named James Teele. He said James knew the USDA loan program inside and out, and those mortgages didn't have as strict qualifications as some banks, and required no money down. This sounded made up to me, but I called the man he suggested.

James Teele explained that Washington County, all of it, was in an area the US government considered "Rural Development". Unlike Vermont, where I was living at the time, this place had options for a new homeowner without a fat bank account. I was intrigued, and James was kind, honest, and coached me through the process of buying this farm. He was invaluable and without him I would not be here today. That is a summary of my personal story of the winter of 2009/2010. But what you need to understand is that this isn't a case of luck and circumstance. This farm happened because I walked into a house with the belief that no matter what I would make it mine. It wasn't a case of money, or who I knew, it was a case of stubbornness, faith, and belief in myself and in the outcome I had written down on a piece of paper months ago that I carried with me everywhere I went in my back pocket.

I'm going to stand on my soapbox now.

Listen, if you want a farm then you need to stop telling yourself it'll happen later. None of us are getting any younger, and as far as I'm concerned putting it off is the same as giving up. Life is happening now. You need to start making it happen now, because for some of us it isn't a matter of just moving boxes and road trips. Some of us have credit and savings to repair, and it might take a five years. Well guess what folks, five years are coming no matter what, so why not be on your own farm at the end of them? Start the process now. I don't care what your situation is, start now.

Pick up a homes-for-sale flyer at your local diner and send some emails, scan the local papers, walk into local realtor offices and check want ads. Drive around the places you want to live and ask questions, notice For Sale signs, and take notes. Make appointments at your local, and other credit unions. So what if you walk into a bank and are laughed at?! (I was laughed out of three.) So what if you are told no, over and over again? There is no law on the books that says that you, the dreamer, can not pursue the dream of a farm. No police who scan you for credit scores before you take the tour of that farm outside of town. You can and should do this! Call those Realtors, walk into those houses and see them. Touch the banisters and barn walls. Fill your current coffee tables with those library books on goat shed building, chicken care, and gardening. Create the reality you want to live in. Surround yourself with it. Take classes, attend workshops, spend time with like minds at local CSA, craft, and community events. It will be forced to happen to you as long as you believe it can.

Ask questions and never be ashamed to be totally honest. You might see some hackles raise when you tell folks you just got your first job out of college, have little savings, and four credit cards, but they will either say yes or no to you, and soon as they say no, ask why. The information will be invaluable to your process. Maybe that rejection is what you need to start paying off those credit cards and eating plain pasta with red sauce for a month (that was my case), or start that major yard sale and eBay jihad to get the nest egg to build your confidence. A rejection is a gift, it tells you what you need to start doing so the next time your try it can't be because of credit cards, or lack of savings, or loans. Accept these hard lessons and fight to repair them. The work will be hard, require changes in your current standards of living and frugality, but again, in five years wouldn't you rather be lighting a wood stove in New Hampshire than a cigarette outside your break room?

That whole rant's point is to explain this very basic point: start now. Do not put off your plans. Do not expect the world to be the same in ten years. Now is the time to take advantage of all the foreclosures, care taking options, rural rent-to-owns and so forth. If you are sitting on an expensive home you already own in a subdivision, but desperately wish you could be on a farm...well. it might require you purge yourself of that mental disease that is the "addiction of prior investment". Just because you put everything into where you are not doesn't mean you have to stay there, but it will become a prison if you convince yourself you can't leave until the economy gets it back to it's 2007 home value. Walk away and start living.

Some of us simply will not qualify for a traditional 30-year mortgage. And for those that do not, you still shouldn't be vanquished. In this economy, do you have any idea how many second country homes are up for rent or foreclosure? Up for rent-to-buy options or seller note-holding? Thousands. You'll have to scurry a little, dig a little. Maybe ask the person who posted that place with the barn, stables, and brick house on Craigslist if they are the owner, and if they would consider a renting proposal that after a year would allow some conversations about taking over the mortgage? There are choices and chances out there for all of us, but they will only be presented to the people who are willing to chomp bits, paste their ears back against the sides of their heads, and run forward with blinders on. You need to sprint past who you were before, and past the other people letting life happen to them. Your dream is only as far away as you are willing to believe it is.

Find it. Fight for it. Believe in it.

It's waiting for you.


Blogger Mindy Smith said...

Totally agree with you Jenna.

My husband and I don't own our farm. We want to desperately and have a plan to buy our own in the next two years (scrimping and saving etc).But we didn't want to put off farming just because owning our own wasn't in the picture yet. We've been renting a little three-bedroom house on five acres about an hour outside of DC for almost a year now. We saved so much just moving out of the city (something like 1000 bucks a month just in rent) such that I've been able to quit my job to devote all of my time to growing our rented farm while we continue saving for our own. We've had to take risks, make some sacrifices (longer commutes, sometimes longer hours) but our dream is becoming a reality.

We'll be looking at properties to buy as early as February next year but they won't likely be move in ready. Sometimes you have to be willing to put in a ton of work to get what you want and a fixer-upper with acreage will be what we can afford this close to DC. And that's just fine by me. After all the hard work, all of the risks and sacrifices East Egg Farm - wherever she lands - will be totally mine.

November 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger SuzieQ said...

You are an inspiration to many young and old people. I had found you from your book "Made from Scratch." I had already started my garden in my (very small) backyard in a bag of potting soil. I saw it could be done. We were then then transfered to the Dallas area. No way could we afford any kind of big yard. So, I made do. I have raised beds in the front and back yard. I have a cloths line that I put up in the carport. I don't leave it up when the clothes are done. My husband is now used to having "my tighty whities" on the line. I learned to can, knit, and preserve food from youtube. My brother in law is teaching me how to hunt.

You are so right it can be done. All of the babysteps add up to get the job done. So, thank you for putting your life out in the open. People can see that it can be hard, bad, and sad with the animals, but the rewards are increadible. Again, thank you.

November 6, 2011 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your post, Jenna, and believe in all you are saying, even if on a smaller scale.

We live on .18 of an acre that we want to stay on, so we are homesteading it instead. It's in a mobile home neighborhood where some others have decided to keep chickens and geese, do their own gardens, etc. There are some codes that prevent us from doing more than we can do here, but nearby there are people who wouldn't mind raising a pig for us, or a turkey, which would be great fun.

Your rant is an encouragement to me because I've been ranting to myself for the past few months. "You will NEVER be a homesteader unless you actually do the work to homestead," is the basic gist of it. So with a brave face, a thick jacket and my Dr. Martens, I'll be going outside each day to work on my homestead.


November 6, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

Jenna, I can relate to you and I love that you posted about this! You are kind of my hero!

During grad school, I bought a foreclosure with a 3/4 acre yard (with visions of backyard chickens, goats, and a lush vegetable gardens) at the age of 23! I'm so glad I did it now instead of waiting until I get a "grown-up job" when I graduate at age 28! I'm living out my dreams right now, rather than 5 years down the road.

My motto is: "If you want it, make it happen."

P.S. I have the chickens and the vegetable gardens. Now, if only I could get urban goats legalized in my area...I would be over-the-moon!

November 6, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jude said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

November 6, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger grinder said...


November 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Megan, a farmer at heart said...

WOW what an honest post. It's nice to hear how you had credit problems and you still made it work. It gives us all hope that we will have that farm if we really want it!!

November 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! You've gotta have a dream, but that dream's no good if it remains only an idea in your head. We also thought there was no way we could own land, but eventually just talked to the right person, and here we are 2 years later. Most days I wake up and still can't believe it.

The other thing I wanted to add is that while you're dreaming and working on making that dream come true, let yourself "bloom where you're planted" right now. I struggled with this for a long time--always wanting more space to grow food, etc., and putting it off until I did. But, when I decided to stop waiting and work with what I had in front of me, I found a lot of freedom in that, and it's when new doors started opening. And those skills carried over when we finally did get this place of our own. --Jaime

November 6, 2011 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Susannah of Cricklewood Farm said...

You said it, sistah! I'm working towards that goal. I have crap credit, am self-employed and live paycheck to paycheck. But I will have a farm in the very near future - I know it to be true. Meanwhile, I rent, raise laying hens, bake my own bread, and grow my own produce. Not a farm yet, but it's a beginning.

Timely post, Jenna!

BTW - will Barnheart be available for Kindle?

November 6, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...


Now, to all of us folks still wanting our own land: "CHAAAARGE!!!" ;)

November 6, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Luann said...

Sage advise Jenna! At age 49, this past Dec. I moved to my dream farm. WE bought 60 acres here in central WV. The cost of living here is 1/3 of what it was in NJ. Altough it is a little difficuly to get here to my farm in my Hyndai, I would not trade it for the world. I moved into a frame of a cabin that we will be construting over many years. This past winter I had no heat except a kerosene heater, no water, I carried gallons up the mountain, no stove, I used a hot plate. I could go on and on about all I did not have last winter, LOL But now I have heat, water, stove and my old clawfoot tub was hooked up this past week. Moral of my story is there is no age limit, I also had a dream and went for it. I am learning so many good things and am so grateful for your blog, I helps keep me inspired and motivated. thankyou!

November 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger David Shearer said...

You, my friend, are the perfect recipie for an ailing society. Keep on farming. And keep on writing. You do both so well.

November 6, 2011 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Thanks Jenna! This was just the kick in the pants I needed to get out of my sulk over lack of money and overwhelming debt. I WILL own a farm. I will make it happen.

November 6, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Absolutely awesome post today Jenna.

November 6, 2011 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger admin said...

Thanks for the pep talk! You’ve added focus to my dreams and faith that they really can happen from the first moment I stumbled upon your blog—I’m very grateful for that.

November 6, 2011 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Well, if standing on a soap box results in posts like this I say jump up there! Especially in this economy, people seem to be so afraid to change their circumstances or feel powerless to do so. I think now is the perfect time. The evening news tells us every day that the world is an uncertain place. What I love best about my farm is that is it my own piece of the world where things are always OK because it is the way I want to live. That doesn't mean it's not hard to bury a goat, fix your sagging barn roof, and spend all day cutting down dead trees all in one weekend (as I did recently) but it's REAL. So much of what goes on otherwise in the world feels so removed and artificial that I think farming is the only real thing left. Thanks for another great post, Jenna! You inspired a lot of people today.

November 6, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

two notes:

This USDA program is not for people with low credit, but i had to improve my credit to qualify. Please don't think it is for low credit.

Also, you can not buy a business or working farm with this program. This was a HOME I bought, that is becoming a business.

November 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

And thank you all for your kind words... makes me want to keep writing, and farming!

November 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Jenna- there is more to life, believe it or not than geography. I guess I am feeling a bit tired today, from my work, but seriously, life is not about wanting what you don't have, it's about loving what you have and inner peace. People can make a good farm out of 1 acre, even better than some do out of 10 acres. It's utilization. Owning a farm is wonderful, but it costs $$ and sometimes people just can't afford to buy the farm (and I don't mean croak, but maybe sometimes that's what it takes!). When you lived in your old place you were so happy there, until things fell apart. That was a small place too. This is bigger and you can have more animals, but at the end of the day, you are the same person, with the same family and same stresses, just on a bigger scale. Maybe it's our age difference. I have a lot of land at my disposal now, but I just see it as a change, not a betterment of my life. Farming is not all rosy and it is not something one does to be happy. It is how one lives- and trust me, it gets old at times. If you were injured and lost your ability to farm, would you fall into a depression? Ask yourself that. Then, think about where true happiness comes from- within- not anywhere else.

November 6, 2011 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

I was in the basement working on building parts for a small mobile chicken coop/run I've been building for a couple of weeks. My mom came down and said that you were "writing to me" in today's post. I cried by the time I got to the end. She was right. I'm 29, female, still live with my parents on 2 acres, am a year into raising my own Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats and working with my mom on our new chickens. All of this came out of nowhere. I had some random major health problems last summer that prompted me to fiddle with my diet. That's where the goats came in. YOU are the reason we have chickens because of your story over the last several years (which I read last winter completely in just a couple of weeks.) The more I work with our property and our new livestock, the happier I become and the more I want to make it my life. I have tried for the last 2 years to get a mortgage and have been told by now 10 mortgage companies that if it weren't for the housing debacle changing the tax laws, I may have had a mortgage ages ago. I own my own small business so my expenses are higher than they probably should be for holding a mortgage. I found a 6 acre farmette with an adorable 1920's bungalow within my business's driving range. My mom and I went to visit and we both fell in love with it. I've stared at a photo of it for almost 2 years now and it went off the market a couple of months ago. Because my ability to get a mortgage it directly tied to my final tax information, I have just one shot each year to see if I can apply. It depresses me each time I talk to a new mortgage person and they each tell me "maybe in a couple of years". I have more and more become resigned to the probability that it will continue to be "a couple of years" before I can move on. Your post made me think about maybe actually knocking on the door of that house to speak with the owners in person. According to their agent over a year ago, they need the money from the sale of the house to move on, so I don't know if any benefit would come from the conversation.

Thank you for sharing your life with us and for being such a beacon of hope for us "normal folks". You truly are an inspiration.

November 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

I also bought my farm with a USDA beginning farmer's loan this Feb. It took almost a year from the start to get it done. I am starting from scratch on bare land. I have a shed, an 80 year old hay barn (wooden tent) and a square hole in the ground soon to be my strawbale cabin. You just have to bite down and do it. Do it with all your might.

November 6, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I don't have a farm, but, in the way things go, may or may not up with one years down the road. I, personally, have a profound laziness coupled with a manic devotion to projects that I research and pursue (like this crazy having a dog and training her thing...I couldn't do that 'til I had my own house, and my family is surprised and amused).

I don't know what I would do on a farm, but I would do it. And kudos to you who already have yours!

November 6, 2011 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Thank you for this post. I can't even explain how much it spoke to me.

November 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crazy, that is practically identical to my outlook on the situation! If I wake up every day with the dream and will to be a farmer, with the interest and passion for it, I will naturally surround myself with the tools to do it!

November 6, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Yay Jenna. GREAT post.

November 6, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Dee Dee said...

Wow..I have been following your blog for about a year or so. I think its awesome that you took a chance. I would love to have a farm. I live in a subdivision right now. And I am a Realtor...thanks for the support. You are totally right, there are a lot of deals out there right now, and the interest rate is really low.

November 6, 2011 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nice kick in the butt, Jenna!

November 6, 2011 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Great post, Jenna. Sounds like you have not been on your property very long. You are doing great.

Good for Luann and Green Zebra Market Garden for not letting age get in their way.

Now to sit by the wood stove and knit mittens from locally produced Alpaca wool.

From the Phony Farm in TN.

November 6, 2011 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

You have no idea how much I needed this post today, thank you.
Sometimes we get discouraged when we think about how much we want to be back in the country on a little farm of our own. I know we're not ready for a farm yet, but as you said, we're not getting any younger. This post reminded me that things happen in their own time and sometimes when you least expect it, we just have to keep focused and keep working toward the goal. I check the real estate sites about once a week, and if we see something that interests us we go out and look at it. We have yet to find the perfect place, but I know we will. Until then we keep adding more garden to our little half acre suburban lot, and the coop that stands empty now will welcome a new brood of chicks in the spring. I intend to make the most of this time in limbo by learning as much as I can before our dream becomes a reality.

November 6, 2011 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

This is not a post about buying a farm. I don't want to live on a farm, though I thoroughly enjoy reading about the life of someone who does. This post is about living your life - the "real" life that we all say we will live someday. And a rant like this one is the kick in the butt for those of us who are 2+ times your age, Jenna, and are still waiting for enough money, enough time, enough something to make their dreams come true. Keep ranting. I like it. Someday it might sink in!

November 6, 2011 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

get a digital electric pressure cooker, hell, buy 3 I did. Out with a slow cooker and in with a fast cooker.

November 6, 2011 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

I so needed to read this right now. Bless you, Jenna!

November 6, 2011 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Bluebelle Quilts said...

Regardless of your type of dream home, we all have to live in the now. Be present. This is the only life we've got.

Write down your dreams and goals. Put together a scrapbook, vision board or even Pinterest the things that you want as a visual reminder.

Meet with a realtor, look at properties and put a price tag on your dream.

Set up a savings account at an online bank or a credit union across town. Then have a few dollars direct deposited each paycheck. If you have to wait two days or drive an hour to withdraw your money, you’ll be less likely to withdraw the funds unless it’s a real emergency. You’ll be amazed at how quickly those dollars add up.

Learn to say, “No.” Do you really need four black purses (regardless of how cute they might be)?

Be patient. Your time to buy may not be right now. Time and consistently paying down debt will improve your credit score. Beefing up your savings to where you can show a 10-20% down payment will remove a lot of lender angst about a less than stellar credit score.

If you own your home, pay it off as soon as you can, particularly if you plan to stay there. Refinance to take advantage of the low interest rates if you can. If you are underwater on your mortgage, then investigate programs that might be of assistance to you.

I am not a financial counselor, merely a school librarian who learned some unwanted - but necessary - money lessons from the school of hard knocks early on. It didn't happen overnight, but I do own my home and I have a long-term plan. Not tabloid fodder, but I do sleep well at night. :-)

November 6, 2011 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger becky said...

I heard about you in a book about how to have a profitable hobby farm, which is my dream. so I looked you up on the internet and have been reading your blog for weeks now, reading all the back ones, your such an inspiration I just love your youtube videos. It made me laugh when you referred to you chickens as mini dinosaurs, because i had mentioned to my husband that when our chickens were in the in between fluff and feather stage they reminded me of little dinosaurs running across the yard

November 6, 2011 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Firecracker Farm said...

This is the most important thing I have learned from you.

November 6, 2011 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Yes! Jenna, it is posts like this that make me keep reading!
As we celebrate four months living in our farmhouse, readying ourselves for winter, cleaning our purchased fiber (which will eventually be fiber from our own animals), and listening to the combines take down our neighbor's field, I am amazed at how far we have come. We too did the rural development loan and had to be careful with the type of land/home we purchased; however, now that we are on the land we can make it into whatever we want.

November 6, 2011 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Simple Pleasures said...

Excellent post Jenna. Gave me lots to think about. I love that you were honest about your financial situation. It really makes the rest of us with similar circumstances feel that there is hope. Keep up the good work.

November 6, 2011 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

bookkm, that was exactly my point!

Thank you all for the kind words, and I look forward to seeing Briget and Lara again soon!

November 7, 2011 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

@Kelpie - I don't think the point is that everyone should run out and get more land, or even that everyone should farm. I think the point here is that if there's something you desperately want to do with your life, GO DO IT. Don't make excuses, don't procrastinate, don't live vicariously through others - go live your own life the way you want to, before it's over.

I was miserable on my tiny suburban lot. MISERABLE. Now I have 12 acres and I'm about a million times happier. Yes, I only really use about two acres of it, yes, it DOES get old sometimes, yes it is a ton of work, but I LOVE IT. It feels right for me. You are of course correct in saying that it won't be right for everyone, but everyone should find their "right" and go get it. Don't wait, people. Learn to separate real challenges from fear. Don't be hamstrung by fear.

November 7, 2011 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger SHJeffers said...

I am nearly twice your age, and yes it was FEAR that kept me rooted in the life I had. Fear of not being 'normal' fear of doing something 'different'.

When you actually bought your farm, it was shortly after I had read "Made from Scratch" where you had talked wistfully about wanting to be a shepherd. I thought DANG if she can do it in what, 5 years at age 29, what the heck am I waiting for? An engraved invitation from the Universe personally addressed to me?

So, nack in March I started to take some steps and I took the emotional hits from 'friends' and family, (you know the ones I am talking about) but 2 things I did that kept me sane were reading your blog and staying away from negative minded people. You kept saying "if I can, you can" so I kept trudging, and as I walked away from the naysayers and towards the like-minded set, somehow it got easier and easier.

I am still crazy Aunt Tiffrz to my family and the 'chicken lady' here at work, but now I don't take it personally. I know that is just THEIR fear talking. I'm loving the farm life more and more every day. Thank you for sharing, Jenna!

November 7, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

FYI, found an online resource for finding property: You can look for rentals or property to own.

Thank you for this post. I think this is important to keep in mind. Currently I am living with my parents (+boyfriend - yeah, situation no bueno) on a lot with a yard taken up mostly by a pool. Since I have little say in what plants to put in their tiny yard, whether to put up a clothesline, or what to buy at the supermarket, I try to learn and do what I can have control over. I crochet, bike to where I can, read and absorb info as much as I can, and take classes. I keep in mind my dream of having space to garden and keep chickens/goats while I search for a job to help keep me afloat (currently unemployed).

Something that I think is absent from the homesteading world is information on ways to go about providing income for your homestead. There is info scattered here and there, but I feel like this is something that many struggle with, and a resource for ideas would be helpful.
I guess I'm just looking for guidance, as I am trying to decide right now whether or not to go to graduate school for Library Science. I don't want to take on any more debt and worry that more debt would put off my dream, but at the same time know that job prospect otherwise are slim (but aren't they for everyone).

November 7, 2011 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Elliot Tanager said...

Inspiring post! We are thinking of selling our modest lake house and buying a 10-20 acre farm within 2.5 hours of NYC. Since we live in the city, the plan would be to find someone to farm the property in exchange for upkeep of the land. Living arrangements might be included if we can find the right house. Any ideas on how we should get started?

November 8, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Sonya said...

I really really needed this..Im an American living in The Netherlands and have been lost since I moved here 4 years ago. What's been missing is my dream of living on a small farm type setting. It looks like we are going to finally get it in a year and a half.

I was upset because it's going to take that long to get the dream..but after reading this..Im actually behind and NEED this year and a half to save, learn as much as I can about chickens and keep planting my container garden to learn what works,what doesn't,to sell off everything we dont need and put that money aside.

I cant thank you enough for this post and for all wonderful and helpful responses!

November 8, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Thanks for the pep talk.

November 9, 2011 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

You just offered a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless dream, or so it seems. Wondering if I should bite the bullet and go talk to a realtor about options and game plans and see what needs to be done to get out of this 1 bedroom apartment that houses 3 people (we have no living room) and get into a house with just enough land for the hens, a large garden and some fruit trees (and maybe a goat, but the hubby might not go for that one).

August 21, 2014 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I'm so glad! I was reading this old post with such nostalgia for 2011, and realized how much has changed since then for me! I'm working on my 6th book, quit my job, own 2 horses, and have made so many close friends since then. I now have 23 jobs, and grittier clothes but if I can do it - you can too. It really comes down to choosing to make it happen if it is something you really want.

August 21, 2014 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Yeah, you reposted it! Hurray, I'm useful ;)

I was curious if anyone out there had any experience using federal lending plans for new farmers in Canada, and if so, how did it go? I'm currently looking up lending programs and grants here in Ontario - and it is a crazy process.
I have, however, finally started actually looking through listings and researching various communities in Ontario. This is a huge step, since I've been in a horrible slump lately in my dead-end job and 1-bedroom apartment in Toronto. I feel like having my own farm on a few acres is possible now - all thanks to articles like this. Thank you, Jenna!

August 22, 2014 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Jenna - unreal that you posted this! I live in a townhome (underwater)am a single mom w 2 teen boys and went to look at a small farmhouse on a single acre flanked by maples, fruit trees and wonderful property etc etc. Small but it fueled my desire! I am living paycheck to paycheck finishing college at 43 years old in the spring - do I feel I'm too old? No, I feel like I'm just getting started with my own life! I believe Inspiration, Tenacity, and Desire will trump - and seeing your post in black and white was a sign - a message in a bottle. I don't know how this is all going to work - I just know it will! Please keep writing! I'll keep reading and one day I'll be leaving a comment from my own farm! Thank you again!

August 22, 2014 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you get the money to close on the house? I know that USDA has no down payment but there are thousands of dollars in closing costs. This is good information to all who dream of owning their own farms! You can give them the tools needed to take that next step.

August 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you get the money to close on the house? I know that USDA has no down payment but there are thousands of dollars in closing costs. This is good information to all who dream of owning their own farms! You can give them the tools needed to take that next step.

August 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Quilt: We negotiated with the sellers that they would cover closing costs, basically the 7k or 8k in closing costs was added to the house loan, making my mortgage payment an extra 30 bucks a month...

August 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

You got this Chrisy!!!

August 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger zoe said...

Thanks for this. I like to think it was serendipity that brought me to it today. My aunt and uncle are retired hobby farmers who started their enterprise with a lot of money in the bank, and my mother's convinced that my love of farming and desire to farm is borne from a false impression.
I've been living in NYC for six years and am "making it" by some folks' standards, though I'm only a year out of college. I'm on a "good track" in media and publishing. But it doesn't feel like me. And as incredible as it is, this city feels downright toxic. I've always loved the outdoors, animals, and quiet spaces—not much of those things in New York. There's been a lot of fear, insecurity, and anxiety keeping me where I am, and your post is part of a pile-on of recent events that encourage me to ditch the fear in pursuit of the things that make me feel whole.
I think modern farming necessitates creativity and flexibility. Resourcefulness. Gratitude, and presence. Thanks for reminding me that even the things that terrify us, if we want them badly enough, are within reach.

August 25, 2014 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

After reading your article in Taproot and your post here, I have been re-inspired to pursue my own dream of owning and working land, just like our ancestors did. I can't thank you enough for your encouragement. But more than that, you include ideas for realistic experiences people can seek out in pursuit of their dream. Thank you for turning me back to my light.

August 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM  

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