Saturday, November 12, 2011

sheep, for example, are not assholes

I did not pop in a workout video today, nor did I suit up for a mile run. I had been up and about since dawn loading and unloading 42 bales of hay in the barn, hauling 200+ pounds of water, lugging grain, stacking wood, slopping pigs, cleaning out rabbit cages and other various farm chores. I had been "working out" since before daybreak, and decided even Jillian Michaels, the main sadist in my video collection, would let this day without free wights slide. By 2:30 I was dragging ass, and the kind of tired that leaves you wanting nothing more than a moratorium on all forward momentum and something cold to drink. I came inside for a glass of cider and poured it into a pint jar. I drank it like I meant it.

Jars have become my main form of drinking glass, mostly due to their abundance and convenience. I remember being at a library talk in Sandpoint, years ago, and seeing a girl with a quart jar with a slice of lemon in it and I thought it was the "neatest farmy accessory" in the world, and quickly mimicked it. Back then, I was playing farmer because I wanted that woman's life. Now jars are everywhere, and just are, and it makes sense to haul things around in them. It was probably that same for that woman in Idaho. She wasn't coming to the Library with a mason jar to make a lifestyle statement. She was coming to the Library with a mason jar because she was thirsty.

But things like that jar was exactly how I lived my life before I had a farm, but knew I wanted one. I subscribed to farming magazines for my rental coffee table. I wore Carhartt vests, bought a pickup truck, and kept pet livestock. I did all of that not because I was a poser farmer (though I am sure there were some angry and sordid individuals who felt I was), but because I am a firm believer in the fake it till you make it attitude. If you want something, you do what you can with what you have. I no longer worry what locals around here (or hecklers online) think about my legitimacy as a farmer. They can think whatever they want. I know that I'm a farmer. I am a person growing food and raising animals and trying to make the mortgage payments on time just like everyone else with a halter, electric fences, and a commercial plate on their pickups in Washington County.

My point is this: don't let someone else's definition of authenticity validate you. Not the people who roll their eyes at your backyard chickens, and not bloggers like me. Who we are is our business, and a gift we can only give ourselves. If you want to be a farmer, then become one however you know how. If that means magazines and jar water bottles like it did for me, then onward and upward to the hardware store and online subscriptions. If it means saving money, reading library books, and getting an internship at an organic farm, then have at it. Do what feels correct for you, what makes you feel more "real" in your everyday lives (it that is something you feel you are lacking, as I certainly did). And know this, there are a lot of people out there who are unhappy in this world and will jump at the chance to knock you down, correct you, mock, snark, and make you feel foolish for taking small steps towards a bigger life. To those people, I hand them kites and tell them to fly them, and to all of you putting up with it out there, I'll share this quote:

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”  
~ William Gibson


Blogger Mist said...

Oh how I needed this reminder today. That Gibson quote is priceless!

November 12, 2011 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger LindaSue said...

Love it Jenna!

November 12, 2011 at 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Gibson quote.

Jars have made their way into drinking vessels in our home for several years. It seems a natural replacement for plastic and metal and like you wrote, are readily abundant. I personally don't really think of them as strictly farm-y - maybe because my mother was a frequent canner (and we didn't have a farm) and they were always around to drink out of. They are, however, a great way of avoiding gimicky water bottle purchases. I have been prone to those gimicky purchases in the past. I now have several water bottles that I dislike and choose to drink out of jars.

Nice post, btw.

November 12, 2011 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Jenna- once you *truly* believe you are a farmer, you will stop proclaiming it. This I think is a quote by either Salatin himself, or one of his followers. Just be yourself- do what you love and love what you do. With added popularity comes the down sides- as Jon mentioned in his blog. Life is about enjoying it not defending it.

November 12, 2011 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

When I taught writing classes, I used the phrase "fake it until you make it" all the time!! I'm a firm believer in it too :)

November 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Brava, Jenna, Brava!

November 12, 2011 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara Techel said...

I just came across your blog via Jon Katz blog. I'm so glad I did! Loved your thoughts on authenticity! And the quote from Gibson is going in my journal of quotes.

November 12, 2011 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Amen. Very well said.

November 12, 2011 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I've always been taken aback by some of the strongly-worded opinions posted to your comments by folks judging from a few words and a two dimensional picture. I have a lot of respect for your ability to shrug them off and maintain your momentum.

November 12, 2011 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger sash said...

Woo hoo!!

November 12, 2011 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

Love it! Stealing that Quote.

November 12, 2011 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

PS I don't find this kind of talk defensive. I take it as encouraging to those of us just starting out who have not quite figured out our identities yet.

November 12, 2011 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Mrs. N, that's because it isn't defensive. You are exactly correct.

November 12, 2011 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

This was a very good post. I am not one to be bothered by other people but when I found out that my "weekend" neighbor was rethinking coming to live here because I had some cats, dogs and chickens(a neighbor who has only talked to me once and only comes here about 8 times a year and spends his time raking leaves around his trailer), I was "bothered" and started evaluating what I do. Then realized I was being stupid and that when he gets to know me (some future day apparently) he will understand. Most misunderstandings are people who don't take the time to get to know the people they "think" they have a problem with.

November 12, 2011 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Sue at Sweetgrass Ranch said...

I love this entry, Jenna. Thanks for the pep talk -- it's something everyone needs to hear now and then.

November 12, 2011 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Sue at Sweetgrass Ranch said...

Wow! I love this entry, Jenna. Thanks for the pep talk -- it's something everyone needs to hear now and then. Hats off to one of the best farm/ranch gals I know -- YOU!

November 12, 2011 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Florida Farm Girl said...

My dear, I'm a true newbie to your blog but I am so glad to finally be here. You've learned some lessons in your short life that are hard to come by for a lot of older folks. Stick to your guns. I guess I'm finally getting to that point myself. About danged time since I've got the big six oh coming up in a couple of weeks. But we won't go there.

November 12, 2011 at 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really loved this post, and a nice twist on the idea of "posers". I remember buying a little grooming kit with some horse brushes in it, years before I ever handled a horse, because it brought me one step closer to my dream. Sometimes "faking" it isn't about being inauthentic, it's about feeling closer to who you want to be. Thanks for being so real, Jenna.

November 12, 2011 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I needed this post. This year My 4year old son helped me in my garden - the extent of my "farm". We canned and preserved what we could. Today we went to a metro park that restored an 1880's farm where we looked at chickens, turkeys, sheep, slopped a couple hogs,and watched a draft horse pull a tree out of the woods. So fun to be able to teach and show him. My wife and I are on a 6 year plan to be in a small farm similar to yours. Baby steps.

November 12, 2011 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Thank you, Jenna. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.

November 12, 2011 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Knit Picky Knitter said...

Love the quote and you are spot on, Jenna!!!

November 12, 2011 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Love it!

November 12, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Hooray for you, Jenna. I love the farmer you are. Tell you what I told my daughters when they were in high school "Those people are jealous and just ignore!" It usually turns out to be true. Every night before I go to bed I check your blog to see any updates. If you haven't posted, I'm always disappointed. Your life is very exciting for this 64 year old lady. Rock on, girl!

November 12, 2011 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Ps @Flartus, You are so right. Also, I use glass jars for my left overs and got rid of my plastic years ago.

November 12, 2011 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger spike said...

Wise words! We finally have a farm and I still hesitate to say "farmer" but my bones and muscles are screaming it! Screw the work out videos and the hecklers. :)

November 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Luann said...


November 12, 2011 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger ST said...

I've been wanting to get some canning jars for general utility purposes ever since you so charmingly sent me on my way to the airport from Antlerstock with a small mason jar of chili to go. Your post inspired me to get around to it today. I got some wide-mouth 8oz jars at the grocery store and am going to use them for my beeswax candle molds tomorrow.

November 13, 2011 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger K. Jean said...

Thank you Jenna. You just tied up a few things together for me, funny how it is when things come together to speak to you like that. Somedays you put my brain down on paper. Thanks

November 13, 2011 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger macbew said...

love the quote and so true

November 13, 2011 at 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Preach, sister! Great post!

November 13, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Indio said...

Generations of people have been born into farming families. Some of them leave for the big city and some of them stay because its all they know and they must love it. People who were born into farming families don't defend their decision to keep farming because they don't see anything unusual or different about it. Also, they probably aren't hobnobbing with city folk.
Even if you don't live on a farm, understanding the importance of the food chain and farms is definitely increasing. The irony is that 70 years ago, when victory gardens were widespread, people knew this and then somehow lifestyle convenience became more important.

November 13, 2011 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Hey Jenna!

So you gotta be somewhat careful about using your canning jars for anything besides sitting on a shelf with food in them. The more you bang up the jars, scrape the insides, scrape up the outsides, the weaker they'll be. And when you plop them in a water bath--CRACK! There goes a jar.

At this point, I've got a (large) set of jars I use for canning/ storing, and a set I use for making yoghurt/ drinking out of/ storing soup in the fridge/ scraping out the last of the jam. For my canning set, I use silicon spatulas to avoid microscratches and I treat them like the long-term investment that they are. My day-to-day jars, like those obnoxious 1.5 pint jars (seriously, that's the most useless size EVER), well, I don't mind beating the crap out of them.

It's a bit of a pain to keep them separate and know what goes where, but once you've got a system in place, it's not too bad. I find that I only need a certain number for the day-to-day stuff, so once they're out and in my kitchen, I don't have to think about it too much. Jars that get opened--use up the contents, wash 'em up, and put 'em away ASAP.

Ok this comment is long enough now. :-)

November 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Lynnanne said...

@ Indio, et al:

There's a book, "Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture" by Shannon Hayes, that gives a history of how the evolutional roles of the "housewife" has changed society. It's a good read, lots of info.

From the back of the book: "… If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book."

November 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

That quote is brilliant and in need of a magnet attached to my fridge.

November 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

Jenna, there are way too many sheep in that photo for it not to be a real farm.

My dad was laughed at when he planted Christmas trees instead of corn and potatoes. The other farmer scoffed because he was foolish enough to plant something he couldn't eat. 6 years later he wasn't laughing when cars were lined up and down the road with customers. This same farmer planted trees that following spring.

You are the farmer you choose to be. Only you can define your farm. It is the work of no one else's heart.

November 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger LindaLou said...

So how can I buy wool from your wonderful sheep? I do a lot of felting and it is exactly the stuff I need. Thanks.

November 14, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Absolutely! The same could be said for any number of things. I am a Knitter. I take it seriously, and I do it a lot. It doesn't matter if lots of people think making something is ridiculous when a thing can be bought. They don't have to understand. Thanks for the reminder.

November 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Zev said...

It's encouraging to remember that there are always people who are jealous of anyone who is achieving anything close to happiness. Thanks for reminding me.

November 15, 2011 at 7:32 PM  

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