Monday, March 10, 2014

Biting Your Tail

I found this post while looking into older blog entries. I feel it is fitting for reposting after yesterday's beauty. It was written when I was struggling with the decision (or rather, telling the blog readership my decision) to buy Merlin. I knew I was going to have this horse, learn from him and with him, but it was a foolish choice in many ways. He's the best worst decision of my life. And now here I am two years later, driving my own animal in cart down the road without help or fear. It amazes me I have only had him in my life 24 months. I feel like he's always been a part of me. 

Anyway, here is a post I wrote in response to the folks who told me how foolish I was. It's about a horse, but it is also about this farm. Mostly, it is how I live my life. 

February 15 2012

I recently talked with a couple from Canada who are coming down for a workshop in May. I'm excited to meet them, and to talk farm dreams together over a few cold ciders on the porch. While signing them up for the event we were emailing back and forth and through the exchange I was casually asked a pretty tough question. I'm paraphrasing, but what they basically asked was this: what was going through my head pre-Cold Antler that made me take the leap of faith? They are currently renting in the city and worried a mortgage would be too hard to meet on top of running a farm. These are serious concerns, and should not be taken lightly. I thought about that question most of last night. I fell asleep thinking about it.

Later that night I woke up around midnight, worried. I posted that short update about my decision in bed from my iPhone because of all this fuss about Merlin and the general readership of the blog. I was anxious reading emails and comments (some very helpful and kind, other not so much) offering all these doubts about that Fell. I woke up worrying in the dark about things I knew perfectly well how to handle in the daylight. But you know how everything is so much harder alone in the dark? That is how I felt. I fell asleep going back to the barn in my mind, a quiet place that calms me.

May your eyes be wide and seeing
May you learn from the view where you're kneeling
Know the fear of the world that you're feeling
Is the fear of a slave

You know what the funny thing about all that was? Until I read those doubting comments from various people, I had not second guessed that pony or my ability to own him for an instant. I had not made up my mind about him (I have not even seen him yet outside photographs) But the whole discovery of him felt like the Universe had delivered a wish to my front door. It was the same magic I felt when I held my first published book, picked up Gibson at the airport, and closed on my farmhouse. The same certainty through a secret smile of gratitude and answered prayers. I have felt this before and emailing Merlin's owner was that same feeling of hope manifesting into reality. It was magic, and the fact that the animal in question was named Merlin... Sometimes gods laugh while holding our hands.

May you know how the fight was started
Want as much from the snake as the garden
Wear them both like a glove that you can wave

When I was 27 I told myself a Fell would be my 30th Birthday Present (jokingly). I discovered them in the Northshire Bookstore. I was paging through one of those photographic encyclopedias of horse breeds and told myself to pick out my dream horse, as if it was a catalog. I paged through the heavy book and landed on a photo of a stocky, long-haired, coal black pony with his mane in his eyes, feathered feet, in a field with sheep behind him. It read "The Fell Pony" rare, ancient Celtic breed of northern England. Known as the shepherd's pony. That was my dream horse. A draft animal my size, a beast stocky enough to ride but strong enough to pull a big log. Then I read they were so rare in America that less than 50 had been imported since 1980. I closed the book. It was like wishing for a unicorn by staring at a poster on your pre-teen wall.

May your mouth betray your wisdom
May you get what they failed to mention
May your love be your only religion
Preach it to us all

Anyway, at the time it felt like a joke regardless of the breed. I could not even begin to imagine owning a horse. It was a bigger deal and commitment than owning a house. Where I grew up girls with horses were from wealthy families - toys for the rich. Out here in farm country double-wides have a string of electro-tape around their 1/4 acre lots with a quarter horse. I have learned that horses are a passion and a priority - not a status symbol. And for a girl destined to live and toil beside working animals the rest of her life they are just another step towards my dirty rendition of bliss.

May you lose what you offer gladly
May you worship the time and its passing
Stars wont ever wait for you to watch them fall

I bought Jasper without a doubt in my mind that he and I had some things in common. We were both scrappy, small, and tough as nails. He needed a home and I wanted a horse. When I met him everything in my gut said he was right for me, just like everything in my gut tells me I should absolutely not have cattle, alpacas or llamas here. There's nothing wrong with those animals, but they don't feel right and I won't have them here. I am not collecting trading cards. I am planning my farm. My choices are mine and make sense to me.

Now, back to the Canadians in question. There is a reason I am talking about pony books and a lack of cows. How I am considering Merlin, my gut feelings, that sense of magic and possibility—that is how I run this farm. That is how I GOT this farm. There are no spreadsheets, budgets, rainy-day savings accounts, or surgery plans for 14-year-old dogs. What there is instead is a rock-solid faith, belief in my own ability, acceptance of good will from others, and a stubbornness to make it happen that could turn a mule into stone.

On paper I have absolutely no business owning my own land and home, a show pony (any pony!), book contracts, ad sales, a happy blog with loving readers. I have no marketing, writing, or business background in my education. My credit score is a joke. I have only enough money in the bank to cover what needs covering right now and it is all up in the air after that. And yet, I have these things other people don't for one reason and one reason alone.

I ask for them.

I asked Storey if I could write them a book. I asked the realtor and mortgage broker to help me get this house. I asked Red Top Kennels if I could buy a puppy on a payment plan. I asked countless companies to support this blog through ads. I ask for barters. I ask for donations. I ask in ritual, in dreams, in my every day choices and decisions and when I get turned down I ask some one else. When I saw Merlin on craigslist for thousands of dollars I emailed and I asked if we could work something else out? Maybe we will and maybe we won't, but this much I can assure you of:

I would have nothing if I didn't ask for it. From kisses to paychecks, I have asked. And I ask with total certainty the things I ask for will happen. I am not a sheepish asker, no sir. I know that every question is a prayer, and you don't waste God's time. Live your life with faith in what you are trying to achieve and with the intention of harming no one along the way and you can't not succeed in this world. I truly believe this. I live this. I make a decision with utmost certainty and work backwards from there. And when people tell me I am foolish or crazy, I stop listening. I go home and walk up to the top of my hill and look at 6.5 acres of what not-listening-to-warnings can get you.

So my dear Canadian Friends, what are you waiting for? Waiting for enough money to make sure all your friends and parents nod approvingly at your "hasty" decision? Waiting for the market to change? Waiting for a lump sum of cash to fall into your lap. I used to wait too, but then I decided to ask. When I signed the mortgage papers I had no idea how it was going to work out or how I could manage it. The farm was $500 more a month than my rent was, and things were tight then! I just knew it was going to work out because it had too. There was no question in my heart. The money came because I asked for it and was willing to work for it, constantly.

I put down my deposit on Gibson while being kicked out of the house I was currently living in that did not allow any more dogs. My future was completely up in the air. I made the decision for that puppy because he was a powerful choice towards an independent life. I knew, no matter what was going on in my current situation, if I didn't make constant decisions and choices that pointed me towards the future I wanted it would never happen. Foolish? Maybe. But I had paid half his bill by the time I closed on the farm. I was only in the Jackson house two weeks when I picked him up from the airport. The only life he knows is this farm, and every night as we fall asleep together I kiss him on the forehead and tell him he is a dream come true. He is.

There is absolutely no record of careful planning on this blog. Do not expect it, request it, or think a receipt is coming any time soon. Dear hearts, this short life is going way too fast for me. As I am reaching thirty, I am realizing how little time I have left. Some of you a few decades older may laugh at that, but how fast did those decades fly by? I was JUST at my college graduation and it is nearly a decade hence. I have (maybe, if I am damn lucky) thirty more years left to work hard, outdoors, like this. To work around heavy horses and hoes, run a farm, have a family, grab a black Celtic pony by the mane and ride into the forest. This beautiful place is ours too short, and who knows how long I will have here? How long I'll have two working legs and arms? How long a beating heart? If my life makes you angry because it seems totally ridiculous, that's because IT IS. All of our lives are, if we are lucky enough to let them be.

We're the smoke on a burned horizon
We're the boat on a tide that's rising
Both the post and the pig you're untying
Butcher gone for the blade
Someday we may all be happy
Someday all make a face worth slapping
Someday we may be shocked to be laughing
At the way we behave

Now, darlings. Now I want to talk about some very important things.

On Failing
I have absolutely zero fear of failing at this, at ANY of this. I have no fear of losing my corporate job, or my house burning down, or a horse breaking his leg in the field. I am lucky to be 29 as I write this, young enough to accept some serious failure if that is what life throws at me. If I lose my job I'll get another. If my house burns down I'll rent a trailer and rebuild it (that's why I pay for insurance). And if a horse I loved breaks his legs in the field I'll put a rifle to his head and shoot him. I'm not scared of loss, risk, or pain. Life is a sad, messy, and scary place and I accept the dark parts of it as much as the light parts. I refuse to spend a life setting myself up to not face these things are then label it "successful". I know a lot of miserable people with money in the bank and 401k plans who admittedly never really lived a day in their lives. They are already gone.

This is because people make decisions in their everyday lives as if they are planning on eventually running for Governor. As if someday down the line at a great, televised debate their poor choices will be pulled out of the ether and shoved in their faces. As if a moderator in a blue suit will whip out an index card while you sweat at the podium and read to millions of viewers: "Remember in 2009 when you wanted to buy that tractor, so you took out a home equity loan to buy it and build the tractor shed and the farm was foreclosed on 15 months later?! Why should we vote for you based on these horrible outcomes to your decisions?" Most people are terrified of things not working out, and being called out on them. It doesn't have to be a televised debate either. They're scared of being called out at a PTA meeting or dinner party, as if their mistakes are fodder for the sick comfort pot for those too paralyzed to make them themselves.

You can't go through life scared to fail. Lord knows I have failed several times with this farm, on this blog, and in life in general. I failed horribly in matters of the heart that I will never feel comfortable sharing on this blog. I failed my best friend Kevin, and I lost him. I miss him every day. I failed to keep that rental in Vermont because I insisted on this life. I failed at keeping my first sheepdog, Sarah. I failed at owning and raising a pack goat named Finn. I expect to fail some more. So be it.

The very best advice I can give is DO NOT be afraid of this. Do not let utter failure stop you. If your plans fail you will not be stabbed, or put in jail, or burned at the stake. Nothing happens but repairs and remorse, both heal in time. If someone points out a flaw, mistake, or risk then you raise a pint to that lesson and take a long drink. The correct answer to that moderator is "Damn right I got that tractor. Best 15 months of my life on my own land, there on than back of Ol' Green. Shame the farm failed, though." Had that example farm succeeded that tractor would have been just another risky, but correct, decision. Since it failed, it gets thrown in our faces by the other people safely watching from the docks while you set sail for a dream. Docks are miserable places, get off of them. You'll drown dry and standing.

May your hands be strong and willing
May you know when to speak and to listen
May you find every friend that you're missing
There's no check in the mail
May you end it bruised and purple
Know that peace is the shape of a circle
Around and around you go, biting your tail

On Money
I do not have a big savings account or a lot of money. I live paycheck to paycheck alone in an old farmhouse where the mortgage, utilities, upkeep, truck payment, insurance, taxes, and animal care all falls on my shoulders. My office job pays around $440 a week, take home pay. (There are waiters making more money than that.) I I keep my office job because I like it. I like the people, the design work, and I like knowing I have health care coverage in case of an emergency. It is a twenty minute commute and I can bring my dog with me so I consider it a blessing. The rest of my income is earned through Cold Antler. I run classes, workshops, odd jobs, yard sales, and go Six Ways to Sunday to get the bills paid. I have always managed to do it, even if just barely. I was scraping by just as tight in the cabin in Vermont with twenty chickens and three sheep on a cheap rental as I am now. Clearly, my expenses have gone up but so has my income. I am on my fourth book, holding a record number of events, and making it all work by the skin of my teeth no matter the time or energy needed to make it happen. I have always had enough, and I believe I will continue to make my choices work no matter what life throws at me. If things got tight I'd take on a roommate, sell antiques, teach music lessons, sell livestock, run more workshops, start public speaking, plan more book tours, and write, write, write till my fingers bleed and my computer lets out on last moan before the screen fades to black.

If supporting a farm that runs like this makes you uncomfortable, then do not support it. If supporting a dream that runs on fumes makes you feel as alive as it does for me, then support the hell out of it. I do the same for others like mine every chance I get.

Little children, the wind is whipping
Short hands on a clock still ticking
Both the egg and the red fox grinning
His belly full for the day

Someday we may all want nothing
And all forget we'll get what's coming
Someday I'll say the world was something
That we just couldn't change

On Being Realistic
I am not interested in what's realistic, never have been. Most people who say "realistic" are just using it as a synonym for conventionally manageable and emotionally safe. Let me tell you what realistic is. Reality is what is happening in your life right now. Not what you can afford. Not what you people tell you is manageable. Not what you have been advised, lectured, or ordered to do. My reality is a small farm full of animals in upstate New York. My reality is keeping the mortgage paid, animals fed, fiddle strung, and inspiration alive and breathing in a way that is always moving towards my true goal, which is an independent and creative life as a writer who pays the bills with her words, workshop and blog, and pays for her groceries in blood, sweat, and tears on her own land. In my fairly eccentric and unconventional reality, Merlin is as realistic as it gets. He is simply what may happen next.

I am a firm believer in jumping into life head first, naked, and scared. What's the point of being alive if you aren't testing your heart rate and taking chances? After all, nothing is safer than a person in a coma in a hospital bed. For me, being vulnerable, being risky, being afraid... this means you are alive. I am this way with my farm, my relationships, myself. If I love someone I tell him. I have yet to be told one loved me back, but one of these days it is going to stick. If I want something I go for it. And if I need something I make it happen or ask those who can make it happen for me. I do this fully aware that I may fail miserably and many might shake their heads. But I wake up every morning excited about my life, which to me is worth all the risks, all these and more. There is nothing stagnant or comfortable here, shit I don't even own a couch to sit on, but that's how I like life. I see my life as a moving animal: always hungry, heart pounding, blood hot and looking ahead. Always, ahead.

May your tongue be something wicked
Know your part in the calf and the killing
See straight through the captain you're kissing
Helm loose in his hand

May your words be well worth stealing
Put your hand on your heart when you're singing
The choir's sick of the song but they've still got to stand

Anyway, Sam said it much better in three minutes and thirty six seconds:


Blogger Erica said...

amen, sister. you just keep doin what you're doin.

February 15, 2012 at 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Loved it!

February 15, 2012 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Hugh Hollowell said...

Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to success.

Keep swinging.

February 15, 2012 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Damn right. You go girl!

February 15, 2012 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

That my dear is a manifesto.

February 15, 2012 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read all of the ones to the Merlin post: the cheering ones, the naysaying ones, the ones responding to the naysayers, the ones responding to the cheerers, the sober ones and the exhilirated ones.

I didn't write on that post because I've written you before to say: thank you.

I am 29, dreaming (also Canadian), not quite ready to make that plunge, though I'm getting closer.

My books are not yet in stores; but I am writing them. My farm is not yet found; but I am learning about farming. My garden exists in my head and my heart and reams of paper describing this corner and that; but I have started to look out for where it will be.

I am fearful of change and hate my fearfulness: and you are teaching me to be braver, to be more magnanimous, to dare. I want to write about and live a life of derring-do and high adventure, understood on my terms, which is to say: I will have a house and land and the horse and the cow and the dairy and the library and the garden, oh, the garden, and I will make my way with my writing, though I haven't sold anything yet.

I read your blog every day, and check more than once a day, because I want to learn from you. Not really how to keep a farm -- though I am learning about that, too -- but how to write down the bone, how to write with fire and walk on water, how to face the north wind and revel in it.

You have thrown down the gauntlet for me today with this post.

What can I say, besides thank you?

February 15, 2012 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Tracy P said...


February 15, 2012 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I cried reading this. Thank you Jenna. :) Thank you...

February 15, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Paradise Found Farmgirl said...

You found Merlin on Craigslist? Professional horse people with quality rare breed show animals don't normally use Craigslist. Horsetopia or Dreamhorse, yes. That is interesting to me. Hope all is well with him and it works out for you. He looks lovely.

February 15, 2012 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Melina said...

What an amazing post! You are correct. Recently we were sent an email from our very financially successful relative. I'm going to share it with you.
Before he was wealthy. He once drove a cab because he lost his college educated job and had to survive.

These were his words of wisdom."The best thing to do is keep a positive attitude, keep focused on what is good and successful in your life, and act positively, thinking of the long term as well as the short term. As I get older, I feel I love myself and life more and more and feel more and more thankful for all the wonderful people that I have had in my life. Life has required a lot of patience on my part, enduring lots of disappointments, still enduring lots of disappointments for that matter, lots and lots of effort, and a willingness to change my ideas as I learned more. The best thing that I discovered was to accept myself as I was and am. That took me a long long time to realize but that has made the most difference in my life. And has allowed me feel happier and happier, not financial success. Keep your dreams alive."

Keep your head up Jenna. You have changed my life and you will change others.

February 15, 2012 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Jennifer D said...

Best. Post. Ever. You are an inspiration and I for one so totally agree with you.

February 15, 2012 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go girl. Just the kick in the pants I needed as I secretly look through the real estate listings for my own farm. Don't let other people's fears become your own.

February 15, 2012 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger coley said...

Awesome post! Just remember to keep looking ahead and avoid those in life who wish to bring you and your dreams down!

February 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

I appreciate a lot about this post.

Just want to clarify that saving/being conservative with money does not equal being stuck in soul-sucking jobs or daydreaming forever. Likewise, saving up to pay cash for things does not preclude achieving goals and dreams. They aren't mutually exclusive.

February 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You're a class act! <3

February 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you, Jenna.

February 15, 2012 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

Well said! It's important to stretch or you'll never get anywhere. By the way, my philosophy on two horses, it's the same work as one. Now if you upgrade to three, it will feel like 5 times the work. I don't know why but that seems to be the way these things work.

Good luck!

February 15, 2012 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger polly said...

bravo! made me choke up! encore as much as your bleeding fingers are able!

ps. I am wishing for you & merlin; that he finds a place at caf.

February 15, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger polly said...

pps. good luck to your canadian couple!

February 15, 2012 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger ~Christy said...

Keep on truckin' and keeping the dream alive. :)

February 15, 2012 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger julronimo said...

Love that your realize your dream is this farm, and that my dream may be totally different, and that's okay with you. Keep living your dream, and inspiring the rest of us to live ours.

February 15, 2012 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger ddu said...

Julia Cameron wrote, "Leap, and the net will appear." You go, girl. Best wishes!

February 15, 2012 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Being fearless is an awesome quality, wish I had more of it. However I know many agencies such as and here in VA which are full of pets and farm animals of people who were not afraid to fail and took on too much. Not saying this would happen to you but not everyone is as capable as you are. Its all good, you will make a good decision~

February 15, 2012 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

You said it, girl! I had to go back and read the original post as well as the hundred comments that inspired this post. I think it is wonderful that you are so open about your daily on your farm and so honest with your readers - I mean, farming is hard, right? Many things worth doing are HARD and most choices in life aren't EASY. I think we are in an age where a certain number of people, particularly internet trolls, really get their kicks from sitting in perpetual judgement of others. Especially people going against the grain, living their own self-determined life. The comments about how your manage your financial affairs were particularly inappropriate and rude - nothing gets my goat more than people who count other peoples' money and judge their spending choices. Good grief! Besides, there is a kind way to express concerns or your opinions. I would personally have a hard time deflecting some of the comments you got (even though they were mostly in the minority) so kudos to you for being secure and confident in your choices as well as opening your heart to your readers when you are feeling a bit confused or lost. I will continue to read your blog and be intrigued by your farming efforts.

February 15, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Loved this post so freaking much!! You should squeek it into one of your books some how because it's awesome! You always get it just right Jenna, keep kicking ass!

February 15, 2012 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Sonya --Dime Store Thrift said...

Jenna, I am so damn proud of you. You keep on keeping on baby. Love you from a city in Iowa.

February 15, 2012 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

That'll do Jenna.

(Awesome post!!)

February 15, 2012 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

That was a great post, and I am truly happy for you that your dreams are coming true, BUT... (there's always a but)...when you are handing out free advice, you have to recognize that you have some very special factors that not everyone has.

Being young and single you can afford to take risks that someone with other responsibilities (such as saving for retirement or for their kids college fund) might not. You can live paycheck to paycheck because you are the only one at risk. Missing a mortgage payment can be life altering for a family.

You are one helluva writer, writing about topics that are "hot" right now. This has enabled you, for example, to publish a book about chickens, although I think it's fair to say your level of expertise is below that of the average Storey author.

Most importantly, you have a very compelling blog with lots of devoted and generous readers. When you blog about your trials, compassionate donations come rolling in to help you through the hard times. (I have no idea how much, but I would guess it is substantial since most of your take home pay is spent on the mortgage. Might even be enough to buy a Fell pony and build a new barn.)

Lastly, I recognize that you put a lot of work into your seminars and other on-farm events. Sorry to put it like this, but it seems like folks are willing to pay a lot of money to hang out with you, learn a little something, and have a little fun, knowing that their money will go to support your dreams. I don't know when, but at some point I would think it would get harder and harder to tap into that. Maybe not. You are a bit of an agri-tourism rock star. But for those without a great blog behind them, it will be a real marketing challenge to bring in the kind of revenue you are currently seeing.

Everyone should have dreams, but sometimes before chasing them it may be necessary to make some preparations. What is working well for you, might not work at all for somebody who doesn't have your writing skill or your knack for self promotion.

February 15, 2012 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Wow! Such a powerful, awesome post!!

February 15, 2012 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

And folks say they will no longer read you? AFter this? What are they nuts? I read every post with interest and satisfaction, you are real and it is visible in everything you write here. Keep up the good work, I'll keep asking the universe gives you a pony.

February 15, 2012 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna I agree wholeheartedly with roseandphoenix and Melina - thank you thank you - your written words continue to amaze and inspire - you take life by the horns and ride the wild ride - its what made the USA such a great nation - people like you who arrived on its shores, who broke and tilled the soils and made a nation of strong and free people. I too am a Canadian and yes I am hesitant to live my dream not because of the fear of failure as to me failure is just another lesson in life, but the stress of additional responsibilities at a time in my life when my plate is overfilling. But thanks to you I have started slowly to live a part of the dream by increasing my efforts to develop my desire to be a charcuterie expert as well as create a self sustaining lifestyle for me and my family. I joined the 21st century and have now started to blog to share techniques on preserving, curing, smoking, sausage making, and cooking chemical free meals for my family and to meet other like minded people in and around our province. If it wasn't for your blog and the first of your books that I read - Barnheart - and now the other two I ordered from Battenskill I never would have had the gumption to start along the path of fulfillment

You have touched and inspired so many of us - I now tell all my friends out west and colleagues at work about your blog and the life you are leading - and especially your talent for words.



I do very much look forward to meeting you one day

February 15, 2012 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Epic post. I am a jazz musician living in a city and I'm very happy here and don't want to change a thing, so it might look at first like our lives couldn't be more different. but there is probably a lot more that we do have in common than what we don't, really. The section on failure really speaks to me. When improvising solos jazz musician actually make dozens of mistakes every minute, but we know how to fix them right away to the point that they don't even sound like mistakes a second after they happen. Actually, mistakes are what make the music interesting -- if we only played the "right notes" it would sound very dull. We also very much rely on each other to rescue one another when needed. There is a great deal of hard individual work involved, but mostly it's an exercise in trusting your current abilities, your bandmates, and the sound world.

February 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Tealah said...

Well, hell. ;)

February 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Furthermore to my comment - you do what's right for you, I have lived with that motto since I was 18 - if it felt right I did it, if it didn't feel right I backed off. It has led to an amazing career, an amazing husband and amazing children. I have been able to do things and visit places I had only dreamed of because I took the risks but only when they felt right. Things always end up working out - some people might say how can that be when people get cancer, heart attacks etc etc. Well I already had cancer, twice - when I was 34 newly married and again when I was 46 with two children. I survived and I learned from it. My sister-in-law once told me she beleives God/life does not throw stuff at you that he/she thinks you can't handle. She told me that when I miscarried my first child after just getting a clean bill of health from my melanoma. I took that to heart and always believe it.

If down in your gut it feels right its my experience inevitably things work out for the best.
The advise of doinghad it work out for the best.

February 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

ditto what outdoors1968 said! Several time reading this post I smiled and clapped for you! You are such an inspiration to so many Jenna. Keep it up! An absolutely perfect read to end a trialing day.

February 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

and oh this is one of my favorite posts from you! thank you!

February 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger wendyytb said...

Bravo!!! Well said, Jenna!

February 15, 2012 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Bex said...

Well said, my dear. Well said. And I commend you your courage in your endeavors.

February 15, 2012 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

There's a vast difference between being an impulsive fool, and being a calculated risk taker. You my dear are no fool, keep taking risks, dreaming dreams,and inspiring us along the way.

February 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Bravo, Jenna!!

February 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM  
Blogger Irma said...


(gets to her feet and applauds harder.)


February 15, 2012 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

You are the smartest, most insightful person I know. I'm glad to have met you and after nearly 4 years of reading, I know you'll go far, Jenna.

February 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

I have tears in my eyes as I have read this post. Bravo Jenna, you live with gusto and have manifest so many wonderful things to enrich your life and others who read this blog. Keep it up and focus on your dreams.

I just turned 60 and sold my home in California to live on a cattle/horse ranch in Texas/Oklahoma. It took me a while for it to manifest but I say go for it and don't live by the "rules" of others... pursue your hearts desire that is why it is your "hearts desire" you are meant to seek it.

February 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Mindy Smith said...

You and I are very similar, Jenna - relish for making your dreams a reality and an attitude that says if you don't think I will, just watch me. I've been living out my farm dreams ever since I said I was sick of saying someday. Sometimes you never get to someday. I don't own my farm, I don't have as many animals as I'd like or get enough income from my farm endeavors to stop working entirely (I learned that the hard way) but it's happening. Every single day it's happening and it's because I made it happen. I didn't listen to everyone who told me I was crazy to quit a lucrative marketing career.

So I say get that pony if you want him. You'll have the last laugh when you're riding him on the hills of your 6.5 acre farm.

February 15, 2012 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

You are an inspiration to so many and a talented, courageous and honest young woman. This post was wonderful. Blessings and good wishes to you and all those in your life, both animal and human. Merlin sounds wonderful!

February 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

You are an inspiration to so many and a talented, courageous and honest young woman. This post was wonderful. Blessings and good wishes to you and all those in your life, both animal and human. Merlin sounds wonderful!

February 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

You are an inspiration to so many and a talented, courageous and honest young woman. This post was wonderful. Blessings and good wishes to you and all those in your life, both animal and human. Merlin sounds wonderful!

February 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

You are an inspiration to so many and a talented, courageous and honest young woman. This post was wonderful. Blessings and good wishes to you and all those in your life, both animal and human. Merlin sounds wonderful!

February 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Mist said...

This is my favorite CAF post of all time, Jenna. I wish I was better at living it, but I sure as hell enjoy watching you! <3

February 15, 2012 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Jenna, I've been flying by the seat of my pants my entire life and I'm a lot older than you. I also don't own anywhere near the tangible goods you do but I'm okay with that- I've made up for it in wonderful experiences that I wouldn't trade for any amount of things- to each his own. Stick to your guns, girl! (and for the record, I'm another Canuck- you have a big fan club up here in the Great White North)

February 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

And this is why I will always come back. You give me faith that my dreams are possible. From one unconventional dreamer to another, cheers!

February 15, 2012 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

I was more than happy to jump in and support your first fiber CSA. Yet I have yet to receive the share.


February 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Em said...


February 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

Right on, Jenna!

February 15, 2012 at 11:56 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Incredibly well said. I'll be reading and re-reading this post over and over again. Thanks for laying it out clear as day.

February 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

really, really good. Donating for the first time tonight because damn girl!

February 16, 2012 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Always inspiring. Thank you :)

February 16, 2012 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

Jenna, you are so inspiring, thank you for all that you do here and your candid, honest thoughts.

February 16, 2012 at 1:02 AM  
Blogger admin said...

“Live your life with faith in what you are trying to achieve and with the intention of harming no one along the way and you can't not succeed in this world,” like this.

I don’t have your personality or patience needed for the blog/fund raisings thing—I’d never be able to put up with the negative comments and would tell my readers off or would never share anything significant since I’m such a private person and that would be the end of it. I’m always amazed you’re able to pull all this together. I scraped by making under 20,000 a year take home for over 8 years living fearlessly, growing my own food, and teaching in rural schools living in the middle of nowhere and had finally found a place I wanted to spend the rest of my life until the job went away. Had to regroup big time, The Fates had other plans. Made the tough-at-the-time decision to go where the jobs were—honestly couldn’t find a teaching posting in a six state radius and even the grocery store wasn’t hiring the year I needed one. It’s all good though—dream achievement is getting closer every day and I can actually almost see my own place even though it’s not mine even though money isn’t everything I’m enjoying the bank account growing, first time in my life ever so honestly it doesn’t take a huge savings to make me happy. Now at least I’ll be able to throw out the gas money when the time comes to move up North again. I admire you’re creativity and good spirit that is making CAF work, understand other’s caution and whatnot, but glad you are making it work and you shouldn’t ever have to defend any of it to any of us or explain your actions really. You have my support and best wishes just because I like that you’re living live on your own terms—the best way, AND you are a beyond awesome writer. Keep it up.

February 16, 2012 at 2:01 AM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

I am blown away by this post! I am just totally blown away. Tears are streaming down my face, Thanks you, thank you, thank you!!!

February 16, 2012 at 2:26 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

You are one brave soul - brave enough to STAND UP AND BE COUNTED for what you believe in, to share your hopes and dreams with thousands of people - complete strangers most of them - to grasp the nettle and then to have to deal with the flack from Internet trolls of the sort whose own blogs don't even have ANYTHING written on them (hmmm - why bother?!!!)

I know what it is to step into the unknown and go for the dream. My husband and I moved to Wales 23 years ago - to a part of this country where English is NOT the first language, taking on a delapidated old Welsh farmhouse just because we fell in love with it - had a gut feeling. I believe in gut feelings. For the first few years money was so tight we couldn't carry out the major repairs which we discovered needed doing here. We spent stormy nights desperately hoping that the rotten beams in the - huge - roof didn't give way above our heads. Watched our small field being churned into a sea of mud by my horses because we had to rest the main field over the winter so we had summer grazing. And no, we hadn't done our homework - didn't realize quite how much it rained here, or that every bale of straw for bedding had to be imported in from England as this is grazing land, hill country - too wet to grow even oats. We had a run of bad luck which went on for years, and meant we had to sell my dream horses - a TB broodmare and two youngsters. Even that went wrong, and it broke my heart.

But we have lived our dream, for good and for bad. We have had happiness and fulfilment and lived off our wits, lived hand to mouth - but THIS WAS OUR CHOICE.

You are able to use your skills to hold courses and earn more money that way, and to write books which sell well because there are plenty of other folk who want to live the dream too.

When you wear your heart on your sleeve - or perhaps your dream - there are always going to be people willing to sling mud in your direction. Life is NOT perfect from start to finish, we make mistakes, we sometimes get in too deep, make the wrong choices, have (heaven forbid) to change our minds, to decide that something hasn't worked out. That's what life is about. Life is NOT a dress rehearsal - it is happening now - and you are living it as you want to. Keep at it.

February 16, 2012 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger Tony Colella said...

Best words of wisdom I have read in years on the topics of life, fears and dreams.

Well done Jenna.

Tony in Asheville

February 16, 2012 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Thank you all so much for the kind responses.

February 16, 2012 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

And to those who raise up points of contention, this was not supposed to be a lesson in making money from home with a farm blog. Everyone has different skills, talents, income streams, etc. The point was to encourage people not to live in fear of their dreams, ask for the things they want, live openly, and stay positive.

I shared my life with money and bills to deal with the comments in the "pony update" post, not to tell everyone else to do the same thing.

As for how I make a living, I don't do it through charity, if that is what you assume. Blind donations are maybe 1% of what this farm goes on, for example, in the past week, around 40 bucks. Enough for chicken feed for two weeks.I don't think people are just handing over money either. I think they see it as paying for the blog. Last nights post took 4 hours and it isn't even edited well. That's 4 hours put in post farming, post office, and I think people people see it instantly on a screen they think writing for a living (or trying for it) is easy money. Please do not think thousands of dollars in free money is coming my way, more like 100 bucks a month in 5-10 dollar thank yous from readers, and I pay taxes on all of it.

I am grateful as hell for it, but my income here comes from workshops, ads, webinars, the CSA, etc.

Tami, I tried emailing you but your address blocked me so I will reply from another email. I mailed out half the shares and am mailing out group two by Tuesday at the latest so you will see it soon, expect a total share of 3 skeins of wool and 2/3 sheets of felt. Thank you for your support and sorry about the wait. I am doing my best.

February 16, 2012 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I also don't like having to keep talking about money all the time. At all.

February 16, 2012 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Bluebelle Quilts said...

Doing what makes one's heart sing is what life is all about. Some of us go at it full throttle while others prefer to proceed a little more cautiously. That's okay, too. Life is not a race, it's a journey. As others have pointed out, when you add a spouse or partner to the mix, you have to take their needs into consideration as well. They will definitely impact any action you take or decision you make. Along the way, you also learn that delayed gratification and unexpected changes in the path of life can be a good thing. And that a bit of savings can take some of the scary out life.

February 16, 2012 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

I have read this blog for years and rarely comment. But I do want to thank you for your blog. It is much appreciated and inspirational. I still can not believe the comments from yesterday. Trust your instincts Jenna. If that pony feels like the right choice do it. One thing I have learned in this life, is to trust my "gut feeling". I thnik it is the most valuable sense we have. I have regreted it every time I have ignored it. We dont learn without failure, and we cannot succeed with out trying. Thank you for trying.

February 16, 2012 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

I have read this blog for years and rarely comment. But I do want to thank you for your blog. It is much appreciated and inspirational. I still can not believe the comments from yesterday. Trust your instincts Jenna. If that pony feels like the right choice do it. One thing I have learned in this life, is to trust my "gut feeling". I thnik it is the most valuable sense we have. I have regreted it every time I have ignored it. We dont learn without failure, and we cannot succeed with out trying. Thank you for trying.

February 16, 2012 at 6:20 AM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

Go for it Jenna-you are such a true spirit and your words make my heart sing. I have not been reading comments these last few days but can only guess that some comments are from people who care about you but just don't understand your fearless ways. Independent spirits seem to bring out the worst in some people, that is just a fact of life. Follow your heart, that path has served you very well so far. You totally rock girl-may all your dreams come true. Peace and love to you and your flock-Karen from CT

February 16, 2012 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Thank you. To copy another commenter - Best. Post. Ever.

February 16, 2012 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Jenna, some of us who follow your blog are of retirement age so we've seen a lot. We are post WWII Baby Boomers who have lived through the Cold War, the Vietnam debacle, multiple economic blips, two Iraq wars and Afghanistan to name a few things. In the most recent past, we've seen our retirement portfolios and property values decrease significantly. Who ever would have expected this recession or that its recovery would be so long and the prediction is another 5 years? There were economists forecasting this situation in the midst of the housing bubble and days of uncontrolled spending but they were labled as spoilers and naysayers.
Those of us who are trying to give you advice,albeit unsolicited,are speaking from years of experience. We know that disaster can be as close as one paycheck away.
You are right, if a horse breaks a leg in your pasture a rifle shot will put him down for very little $ but don't forget you will still need to pay the back hoe guy.

February 16, 2012 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


thanks for writing this-it made me smile and remember where i need to keep my head.



February 16, 2012 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Best post I have read anywhere in a very long time Jenna!! Never any more truthful words out there than these! My husband and I had this conversation yesterday afternoon. Were in our mid 40s and did exactly as you have done when we were your age with 2 children. People said we couldnt, just made us more determined to do it and we did!!! Keep it up!

February 16, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Daisy Farm said...

Jenna, please try to open up your mind and see why people who have been following your saga for years may be offering some advice now that you are not appreciating. I am almost 60 years old. Even though I can look back at a time in my 20s where I just followed my heart and ended up fine in my career and other personal choices, time has taught me that as you age and gather more loved ones (people or animals) around you, the need to act more responsibly and with more reserve DOES creep into our lives. So please don't diss everyone who seems to be negative right now. We may just be people who recognize ourselves in you and know that time changes us and you just don't want to leave too many dead bodies along the way. Cheers and continue to meditate on your future ventures.

February 16, 2012 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger karental said...

My goodness. Many still don't get it. If it doesn't work, you try to fix it. If it still doesn't work, you go on to the next thing. Yes, you are writing books and have workshops, but you have made it abundantly clear that one day you want to make your living completely on what you raise at your place. That place has changed a few times over the years and could change again - because you allow for that possibility.

Good on you, Jenna.

February 16, 2012 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Why would anyone take that last post about how I live my life as dissing theirs?

February 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Anke said...

Wow, that was a very powerful post!! Good for you believing in yourself, having faith and jumping in with both feet!

February 16, 2012 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Catharine said...

I used to live my life to please others and it cost me dearly. Now I'm living my life to please myself - it can be scary but it's worth the ride! Love you and the inspiration you bring. Sending healthy and happy wishes your way.

February 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Don't have time to read the other 78 comments before mine, so this may be repetitive...but damn, girl! I was breathless by the end. In between, this is what I was thinking:

a. I so identify with the things worrying you silly in the dark that you know you would laugh at in the day.

b. This post is beautiful, possibly the best thing you've ever written. Probably doesn't surprise you to hear that.

c. You may be only 29, but damn, you've got some serious wisdom between those ears and in that heart.

d. You say there's not careful planning going on here, but there's more than it seems from reading your blog. And I'm glad to know that. You do plan, or at least stop and take stock of your limitations and abilities, but we don't always see that on your blog. In the future, I'll try to remember that--we need to trust that there's more going on behind the scenes than we realize.

e. I'd give you a big hug, or a solid whomp on the shoulder if I were there. Get on with ya; I wanna see what's next!

February 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger ScottS said...

Passionate energy is scary to people that don't have it. It shows them what they might become, if only they had the courage to do so.

Don't apologize for it, and keep your head high.

February 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

I agree with most of your post - especially the part about NOT being afraid of failure, after all, Lincoln wasn't. I have plenty of safe city folk in my life who tell me they have serious concerns that what I want to do is not feasible. Well, I guess the pioneers did it.

But the realistic part? There is definitely something to be said for knowing what you're getting into. Being realistic doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't do something out of the "norm", it just means you should go into it with eyes wide open.

For example, you want to raise pigs for meat. Well, some hippieyuppie with no experience will look at them and say, how cute. Then they're going to be shocked when they realize that pigs have to DIE to become meat. I realize this is extreme, but that's about the size of it.

Ok how about another example? When I move to my land this spring, there's nothing on it. And I mean nothing. No well. No house. No garden. It is surrounded by a barbed wire fence - a rusty, barbed wire fence with serious gaps that the deer jump through. And there are coyotes. We're going to have to tent it. I will have to haul water to heat over a campfire for sponge baths. There will be no tv, no internet, no refrigeration, no nice comfortable bed, no conveniences. If I went into it with just a hazy dream of having a house up after a week with running water and electricity, I would have a nervous breakdown 8 days in. Same goes for my son.

So be realistic, it's helpful. Just don't be defeatist and don't listen to those who are.


February 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I like the saying that even if you're going slow, you're lapping the people still sitting on the couch.

February 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I like the saying that even if you're going slow, you're lapping the people still sitting on the couch.

February 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

I'm yet another Canadian chiming in with support for you Jenna: I respect you mightily for wishing to live an alternate lifestyle in a "have not" rural area that you love - without people like you, these areas will die and without people who try to counter the push from big banks, big business and world trade we will go down the primrose path that much sooner.
I'm looking at life from the other side of 70 and have survived those years and raised a daughter of whom I am very proud with very little money.
We as readers have no right to ask you to provide details of your financial arrangements, business plan or any other aspect of your private life. I'm happy with what detail you choose to provide and will hope that when I offer any suggestions they are coming from a desire to be sure you've considered all the angles, and not from a 'holier than thou' place in my spirit.
I hope you publish your 'personal manifesto' to your blog as a stand alone page - it needs to be before us to remind us of your life plan when we start to talk about what you should do - we are NOT you!!

February 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

Wow. Just wow. That was the best post (or almost anything) I've ever read. Cheers to you Jenna, for simply having the balls to live your life as you see fit. :)

February 16, 2012 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Lee Ann said...

Damn right!!!

February 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

@ Louis, she's not suggesting that everyone do exactly as she does. Furthermore, the young and unattached do not own the market on risk-taking. I'm middle-aged with a family and still take risks. The difference is that we decide what those risks will be together. I am not a "rock star" and do not have published books or a widely read blog, yet I make my farm work just as well in other ways, chiefly because I'm NOT AFRAID TO TRY. That's the point here.

February 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger ladyfarrier said...

Jenna, that was an amazing post and it did a great deal to help clarify to me why I was having trouble understanding some of your choices.

From the beginning, I read that you wanted to live on a farm and have the farm sustain you. An absolutely lovely dream and one I can appreciate, being a 3rd generation farmer myself.

But the difference in our viewpoints is that you are a person who lives on a farm who works. A farmer is one who works on their farm and depends on the farm for his very existence.
Every single choice is made with that in mind.

I know you are saying, "but that's what I do", but it's not....not quite. A farmer has little to nothing on the farm that does not serve a purpose. Does it cost more to own than it contributes to the farm's existence and prosperity? No? Then you won't find it on the farm. At least not until their farm is so successful that there is margin for error, and that takes a very long time .

How to achieve goals..."ask for it"? Never happen. A farmer does not ask for help nor hope things will somehow work out and nothing is left to chance that can be controlled. Too risky. If you lose the farm, life as the farmer knows it is over.

Farming is an extremely tenuous way of life, based on the vagaries of Mother Nature, the commodity markets and the premise that a farmer will always be physically able to do the work himself.

The differences in watching my grandfather and then my father farm as I grew up and working with my brother the farmer now are astounding, but the mindset and lifestyle are the same. As they always will be.

Because to do differently courts absolute disaster. Part-time farmers don't exist here in the corn belt.

I'm sure that many who read this who are not from a rural background may find this offensive, and for that I apologize.

Your last message helped me to understand your philosophy, and I admire you for what you take on and do. Having the differences in our points of view spelled out helps me to understand many of your decisions.

I wish you the very best of luck.

February 16, 2012 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

For all of you older folks trying to give well-intentioned advice: It's true that you mean well, and believe me, I feel compelled to do it myself, and often. Frankly though, we should know better. Time must teach all of us, and if we're really being honest, we'd admit that we didn't always listen to advice in our youth either. ;) As much as it may pain us to see someone make the same mistakes we've made, we have no choice but to stand by and watch and hope for the best.

It's also instructive to understand that certain people really thrive by living close to the edge. I am like this to a certain extent (although not to Jenna's extent). My husband is the complete opposite - VERY risk averse, prone to researching things to death. It has taken some rather heroic meeting of the minds for us to learn how to work together. I force him to try things, he forces me to think them through perhaps more than I would on my own. Neither of us is right or wrong in our approach, just different.

February 16, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I do not know of a more adaptable, changing or varied profession than farming. it doesn't bother me if you think Cold Antler isn't a farm. Doesn't bother me in the slightest! thhink whatever you like.

Most Northeast farms here are part-time and still provide a nice amount of income.

February 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I know a lot of farmers who turn to prayer or their community in times of need. When I say, I ask, sometimes I just pray.

My farm runs on my faith that all will be well. Trust me, please.

February 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger E said...

You are brave & strong.
I admire your attitude, even tho I've failed too often to go forward as full of faith as you are.
You really have built you life and farm on a remarkable vision.

February 16, 2012 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Great post, Jenna. Also enjoyed what Ladyfarrier had to say. Her post reminded me why our property is named The Phony Farm. Many of our neighbors farm for a living. I am a homesteader, using our products at home.

I have considered teaching some classes on food preservation but am usually too busy, especially during canning season. Most folks here in Tiny Hamlet, TN have many "country" skills. They would say "Classes to learn WHAT?" and then LOL. Glad you have students and I would love to attend a CAF workshop if I lived close by. Our household is very skilled but one can always learn.

February 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger E said...

To the readers questioning if Cold Antler is a "real farm" I suggest you read this post by Sharon Astyk:

February 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Amazing :) Thank you so much for that. I am at a crossroads in my life and I am so filled with hope that I can overcome my fear of uncertainty and change after reading this post.

Thank you!!!!

February 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Brittany said...

It's in the valley that we grow sista.
Great post.

February 16, 2012 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I just can't believe all this was over the possibility of a horse changing hands. Lord have mercy...

February 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

I am sorry that you feel that you have to defend your decisions. I am grateful that you share your life with us (readers) because your words give strength to our own convictions. You really are amazing to me!

February 16, 2012 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that "farming", like many things, cannot be defined as just one way. I think you are doing just fine. And I love that you have exactly what it takes to do it- and to do life in general.
Get kicked- get up.
The only thing that is the end of the world, IS the end of the world.
This , from one of the "elders" who read and enjoy your blog.
Thanks for letting us into your life.

February 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Jenna,

I wanted to let you know that the reason that I read this blog is because you pour your heart and soul into your work and you are a unique inspiration. Let this stand in contention to all those you stop reading because of your personal posts and who make you feel that you have to defend your decisions. I can look up information on farming in the library. I read your blog to know what the life is actually like and because I like you as a person, even through the virtual veil.

On another note, I've noticed that all the people who tell me I'm wrong to put my family before my work or spend my time ordering my spring seeds (Annie's is awesome!) are the same people who waste hours of my life complaining about how unhappy they are. I do things they think are wrong everyday and yet I can honestly say I'm the happiest I've ever been. Stay strong! For every nay-sayer, there are 50 of us who completely behind you.


February 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Awesome post

February 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I have two things to say.

1. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2. You are f-ing awesome.

See you Saturday.

--Elizabeth from the Berkshires

February 16, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

The universe works in some very cool ways, when you open yourself up to the infinite possibilities of existence.

Seriously though, thank you for posting this, especially today. It's a cold, wet day in my adopted hometown, and I've had teaching people about gardening on my mind. Been holding myself back from doing it, but not any more.

February 16, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Jenna so well said. Good for you. Very inspirational! Keep following your gut and keep on smiling.

February 16, 2012 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Jenna, I'm with you, girlfriend. There's no reason why a single Mom with four children should be able to raise most of our meat, eggs, and milk - but I am! You and I are like bumblebees - don't bother telling us it's impossible to fly, we're busy!

Your Fell Pony is on the ALBC 'Watch' list - did you know?

February 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I applaud your philosophy and your courage to follow it!

I am coming up on 74 years old and during my life I have always felt that when a door opened up ahead of me I should walk through it,no matter how scary, or live my life cowering in one place. This has given me a rich and varied life with no regrets.

I have entered and left a convent, been a missionary in Peru, traveled across country with a pup tent and a second hand VW, become a wiccan and a lesbian, and moved to the country in a place I had never been to to start a more self-sufficient life.

Looking back, I am glad that I didn't recoil from any of these opportunities.

I follow your life, and admire the way you go for it, and the deep thought and spirituality with which you approach your decisions.

Most of us who are enriched by what you share with us support and encourage you, but would never presume to tell you what to do or how to do it--other than those folks who told you to get a sump pump last year--that kind of sharing from experience is valuable and I know you can tell one from the other.

Keep it up. We are enjoying your advetures vicariously.


February 16, 2012 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Erin Frase said...

It's refreshing to actually hear somebody talking about the money, Jenna. Americans as a rule do not like talking about it, but needing to deal with it is one of the fairly few things we all need to deal with, so thanks for it and all the rest of the sharing you do. It's a privilege to follow your adventures.

February 16, 2012 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Victoria Nidetch said...

Jenna, G-g in heaven is smiling at you and feeling nachas (pride)at what you have done so far with the life he has given you. I wish I was half as brave.

February 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

I can't wait to read this sucker through again when I'm not at work. Sing it, sister!

February 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

one thing i've never questioned is your motivation or skills in word smithing.

what i do question is this:

Since our Freedom Rangers are a slower growing breed, they are naturally better suited to the higher welfare and all true natural rearing systems (full pasturing, free range, organic, certified, backyard etc.…). In the United States most modern poultry industrial production models use fast growing breeds (hybrid white synthetic Cornish crosses).

Natural instinct and behavior is preserved in the selection and growing methods of our Freedom Ranger breeding stock. It goes without saying that our birds love foraging in pastures, free ranging outside, always looking for natural sunlight and fresh air, as well as ground scratching and dust bathing.

At J. M. Hatchery Inc. we strongly believe in traditional, sustainable, and environmentally friendly farming methods, and we are convinced that allowing the chickens to do what comes naturally ensures an incredible meal for your table!

Unless you have already slaughtered some or moved their living quarters, you have 29 eight week old freedom rangers selectively bred to retain natural foraging behaviors in this:

while adding more bedding all the while.

tell me how that is any better than this

your pork and rabbit raising aside, how can you honestly say you are doing the best you can to provide for the animals in your care?

February 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

The Freedom Rangers use the coop as a coop, they are free to walk around the farm during the day and go back to their hay coop at night. They were only confined as very young birds growing in feathers and getting used to the out of doors.

You know nothing about how I run this farm. You assume everything based on pictures and paragraphs. Several people who have been here have testified to the animals welfare. Stop bothering me.

February 16, 2012 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Good to hear. I'll assume your rabbits have also seen the outside of a small crate and the pigs experienced life out of a small stall.

February 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Just a post that one has to love and that includes me big time.

February 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I dont have pigs right now, and when I did they lived in a pen in my barn. Same place my pig lived last year. On clean bedding every day with plenty of natural light, food, clean water, room to nuzzle and burrow and be real pigs. Both the vet and butcher said it was fine and while it wasn't Pig disney land never were they treated poorly, regardless of your standards.

The breeding rabbits live in hutches all year round, the growing kits are in movable pens. I have no problem with this at all. Hutches are how I raise rabbits.

And I am done with you. That was your last comment on this blog.

February 16, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Tracy P said...

Shut her down Jenna!! I must repeat what I have read over and over in these comments: You f@#$ing ROCK!

February 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

I think she asked you to stop bothering her!

February 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Kpatt said...

Yours is the first blog I have ever read regularly. I own your three books and have recommended them to others. I mailed, "Made From Scratch", to my niece in California. I have enthusiastically spread the word and held you up as an example. I have agreed with your choices and was moved enough by your pig disaster to send a small donation. I am are hard nosed small business owner and it was the first time I ever did that.

And then you lost me when you went gaga over an animal that looks like the, "My Little Pony" toy that they sell to little girls.

Many of the readers who urged caution in their comments were older. We are the ones who are, "just asked" by others (friends, relatives,employees and even bloggers) to bail out their foolish mistakes.

The success I have at 53, I have clawed to get. At times I have taken risks. I have worked very hard and I have had some luck. I have seen others fail and I have learned a lot. I know that the margin of victory is not that great and that life is hard and that you don't get a lot of, "do-overs". I have seen others stubbornly defend bad choices.

The emotional reaction some of us have had is born of disappointment. If we did not care, we would not read every day or offer our advice. The reaction is greater than the issue of whether or not you buy the pony. The reaction is because we thought we knew you and now realize we may not.

It is true that fear holds many people back from the pursuit of their dreams. You have to let go of some fear and take some risks or you will never get anywhere. On the other hand, only a fool blindly blunders though life with no fear constantly risking everything they have gained. Those people don't become self sufficient or independent, they just end up broke and looking for a handout.

My father drove a coal truck from a mine to a power plant. He didn't hand me success. What I have, I have mostly earned. I am not a corporate titan, but I do sign more than one million dollars per year of employee paychecks and my 190 acres (hobby) and business are paid for.

Weigh everyones opinion and make your own decision. We care about you. Best of Luck.

February 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Jenna, live your life, do what makes you happy, and don't listen to the negativity. If readers don't have something nice to say, they shouldn't say anything at all. Keep your chin up!

February 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna - wish I could be there to give you a big show of support (i.e. hug).

Live your dream girl and please don't stop writing - you have received over the past week way more positive comments than negative ones (like way way way more) - please dwell on those and not the negative ones.
Again I (and I am sure alot of us) wish I could be there to show you support with a bunch of hugs and twacks on the shoulder ( I think that's what one of your readers/commentors said as a show of support)


February 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna - wish I could be there to give you a big show of support (i.e. hug).

Live your dream girl and please don't stop writing - you have received over the past week way more positive comments than negative ones (like way way way more) - please dwell on those and not the negative ones.
Again I (and I am sure alot of us) wish I could be there to show you support with a bunch of hugs and twacks on the shoulder ( I think that's what one of your readers/commentors said as a show of support)


February 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

and as a show of GOOD JOB doing what you're doing...

February 16, 2012 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

Jenna, thank you for being done with Meredith A. I'll never understand why she stayed here anyway? 99% of the time she is way off-base (for years I've watched you endure it). We can all handle dissent, that's NOT what she was doing so I hope nobody even tries to go there. There's a difference between dissent and what she was doing.

February 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Bex said...

There will always be naysayers and haters, Jenna. How you manage to deal with so many of them I'll never understand. Bravo to you for doing so civilly and maturely.

February 16, 2012 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

Well done Jenna, beautifly said, you are one of the few brave people I know, I was never as fearless and willing to go for what I wanted when I was 29 much less now. The only thing age brings us is more years to look back on and hindsite is allways clearer than forsight. We all wish if only I knew then what I know now. And I hope the advice you get comes from that and not from fear, jelousy and spite.
So with everything take it with a grain of salt, (there are good reasons for those sayings our Grans said!) and f*ck the rest of them if they cant hack it. The universe is lining things up for you and I hope the pony is part of it. You'll work it out and if not, something else will come along. And if it wears on your soul, dont bother moderating or reading comments, just live your life and write what you want. I wish I had to courage to do so over the years. Best wishes.

February 16, 2012 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger rabbit said...

Jenna, I just wanted to let you know a little something, I've been hit with the flu bus since Monday evening and used some of my waking hours to re-read 'Made From Scratch'. The copy I have has "questions for Jenna" in the back and one struck me as rather poignant:

"What is your one-year goal? Your five-year goal?"

Jenna: My one-year goal at this point (early 2010), is to either buy my own small farm or be well on my way to doing so. I've never owned a home before, so it's been a ride of confusion, realtors, banks, and research. With any luck, fare will land me in the right place for the right price, and I'll finally have my own land, hopefully here in southern Vermont.
My five-year goal is to be writing and farming as much as possible, as well as selling lamb and wool from Cold Antler. Becoming a shepherd with a staff of working border collies is the only thing I truly want to accomplish in the next half decade. It's an uphill crawl, but every month I feel a little closer to reaching my goal.

Now go watch your video "firstyear", it always makes me feel better.

February 16, 2012 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger rabbit said...

aaaannnddd of course 'fare' should've read 'fate'....

February 16, 2012 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

To cheer you up and to show you how you do inspire - I play the guitar and the piano - I jsut ordered a fiddle beacuse of a comment your wrote - you can easily strap a fiddle on your back - try doing that with a piano eh?

My daughter is all excited because she to wants to play it - we will be figuring our way through it but it was your writing about having music in the house and in the outdoors as you walk - so if you can picture a 40 something stumbling over the ice packed roads in NE Ontario, dressed to combat the windchills, fiddling away and not giving a hoot how it sounds but full of joy that I am making music wherever and whenever

You Jenna, and you alone, inspired me to do go out and get it and thus made two 'girls' happy (Just cause I'm old doesn't mean I too don't want to act young, footloose and free sometimes like my daughter still does naturally)...

February 16, 2012 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

Haha, I had to laugh when I read the comment..."And then you lost me when you went gaga over an animal that looks like the, "My Little Pony" toy that they sell to little girls." ...because your enthusiasm for things like the Fell is what WINS me over. The comment also reminds me of my father who, although I am in my 30's with a successful career and independent life, manages to give me advice that also includes comments equating me to a "little girl". That stuff just shuts my ears OFF

February 16, 2012 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Best. Post. Ever. Loved it, Jenna :)

February 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Colleen Mole said...

Jenna, if i wasn't a woman, straight and married already, I'd be on a plane in a minute! (Sorry that sounded creepy!)

Thanks for inspiring me and my family to follow our dreams!

February 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

I am printing this post right now and putting it in the top drawer of my desk. It is going to be read over and over again everytime I get sad or feel stuck or scared.

Thank you for your honesty and integrity!!!!!!!

Good riddance to Merideth A.....a bad apple to be sure.

Keep on living YOUR life and being generous enough to share it with us.

February 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey MeridithA...Get a life, put some content on your, "blog", quit smoking around your animals, (quit anyway), and keep your poison to yourself. Jealous, jealous, jealous...sickening to watch.

Jenna, you rock....keep your eyes on the prize, girl, and live your dream.

Susan from NYC

February 16, 2012 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger admin said...

I want to know how can you not go gaga over a horse?!

February 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

This probably a moot point since she's now banished but I really wanted to know what made Meredith so hostile so I read her entire blog. (I'm a fast reader and she posts very short posts). It was very enlightening and these are MY observations: First of all she's young. Second of all she rescues dogs- fosters them, teaches them socialization and rehomes them so she's got a big heart in there somewhere. Third- she rents her farm and is very small scale - some chickens (no horses) and she only just got her first 3 pigs at the end of Nov. And that's where it all seems to go funny/wrong. First of all she went to buy 2 barrows and ended up also taking the runt female because she couldn't see it left behind. Then she named them. Previously she made a very strong point about how animals (other than the dogs)remain nameless in her world, but the pigs changed all that. From all the pictures she's posted it's obvious that she's fallen in love with her pigs and treats them like pets. She's posted more than once about dreading when they will be butchered and I think this is where the nastiness comes from. To me it seems that the girl is incredibly conflicted and rather than deal with her own issues she's lashing out at Jenna, probably because Jenna represents what she isn't, not yet and maybe never will be. I suspect once it comes time to butcher her pigs she will have either a revelation (hopefully) or a breakdown. Either way a rest from her comments is a good thing for all and maybe she'll learn something that allows her to contribute in a less negative manner in the future.

February 16, 2012 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I realize this is off topic, and that our dear Meredith A has apparently been run out of town, but just for the record:

I've raised Freedom Rangers and frankly they didn't forage any better than the Cornish Crosses I've raised. They didn't forage worth a damn, in fact. We would watch them sit and stare blankly as juicy crickets walked right past their faces. Still very nice meat birds, but that whole point is immaterial.

February 16, 2012 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

If anyone wants to discuss Meredith, please do it on her blog. I'm not angry, just done with her. I wish her luck with her pigs, dogs, chickens and anything else she desires.

February 16, 2012 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger jules said...

You go girl! You, and what you are doing, are an inspiration to me.

Everyone gets to make their own choices and chances. Everyone gets to live their own consequences.

You're a smart girl Jenna. Just keep doing what you're doing and you'll do great, even when it doesn't work like you planned.

I admire you.

February 16, 2012 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Epic post Jenna, thank you!

On a similar note:

I do find in my farming travels that many people take the defense when I tell them what I'm up to. The phrase "well I could never do that," comes up a lot. Even though I was never saying they should. It seems if I am doing more than the person I'm speaking to it comes across as "they aren't doing enough" and I am not sure why that is. Tara said it much better than me. You do have some awesome followers.

I love reading your blog, successes and failures. It's what makes you so approachable.

Oh and thank you for blocking if you can Meredith A, she is such a troll. But hater's gotta hate as they say.

February 16, 2012 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

As with everything you write, your post was very interesting. It also scared the living crap out of me. Yeah I was your age once and had too many dogs and lived paycheck to paycheck and had trouble listening to the advice of older folks but I never, ever put the roof over my head in jeopardy. However it sounds as if you’re fine with the possibility of losing your home if it should come to that as long you’ve had some short-term happiness in the meantime. I was surprised to read that, but as Kpatt said I guess I didn’t “know” you as well as I thought. I do wonder however, if very many of the 1.7 million foreclosed homeowners in the US would share your sentiments.

Just keep this in mind: even if you enjoy living on the razor's edge, there can come a point when not even wishful thinking and faith will make the math work.

Tara (at 9:49) is absolutely right. We old fogies should have just kept our mouths shut. It is an unfortunate fact that we all have to learn life’s lessons the hard way.

Good luck, Jenna.

February 16, 2012 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

Good for you.

February 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I'm not going to lose my house or put myself or the animals in any sort of danger. I think people took my attitude about lack of attachment to tragedy as apathy.

I made it clear I would do whatever it took to keep this place running, successful, and strong.

There is no point where faith, positive thought, hard work, and good intentions will not work. Maybe not the way you expect, but it will all work.

February 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

I have a couple of comments.

First, who are these people who, by choice, read the generous sharing of your life with readers, then have the audacity to write back and give unasked for advice, or worse, to criticize? I must say, I don't understand that practice at all.

And second, WHO ARE THESE CANADIANS??? I'm green with envy that they're coming to your workshop. I'm actually in Plattsburgh in May, but not at the right time, according to the workshop schedule. Wouldn't it be great if all of us Canucks could know each other, and possibly help each other with our farming dreams, (realizing that Canada is a very wide country). Canadian couple, if you're reading this, I live in southwestern Ontario.

Love your blog, Jenna!

Oh, and I'm jealous about the possibility of the new pony, too. But in a good way. :-D

February 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger kringsrud said...

Oh. My. God.

That was, hands down, the most honest and inspirational blog post I have ever read from anyone. Ever. Ever. EVER!

I'm speechless.

February 16, 2012 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger jules said...

You know, all you people who have 'advice to give' or are older and think you have wisdom or criticism to share, why don't you do it in a private email to Jenna instead of putting it out here in a world wide comment? Just like you would take an offending employee into your office to reprimand them instead of doing it in front of the entire office.

Me thinks it would get a better reception and response if you were only thoughtful in your 'helping'.

February 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this post!

February 16, 2012 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I thanked Jenna for one terrific open, honest post. It stays with me. I am refreshed in the knowledge that all things are possible.

What I find a little, um. "unsettling", comes from an "us" vs. "them" tone. "Us" being the younger generation and "them" the older.

Having embraced this blog, this community, I don't think that age has a place center stage. Isn't the real issue closed mindedness vs. open mindedness?

While I'm certain that a majority of this community skews younger. There have been responses from the older generation encouraging Jenna enthusiastically.

Perhaps I'm just hearing the clock ticking in my own universe, but Jenna's post proves our lives on earth are much, much more than we realize and our learning, passionate lives don't stop at 50. [And, please know my intention is not to stir things up.]


February 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

We are on the decision fence about moving to be closer to our jobs! Should we wait for market to get better, do we wait for youngest to graduate college,..on and on. What are we waiting for?

This post makes you realize that waiting sometimes isn't the is too damn short! Keep doing what your are living!

February 16, 2012 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Karen Rickers feel free to send a fellow Canadian an email and that goes also for all of you Canucks out there -maybe we can organize a convoy sometime this year and head down to one of Jenna's workshops enmasse - :)

I'm in NE Ontario and envy you southern Ontario folks for your weather and longer growing season -but my part of ON does beat Manitoba

Jenna I'll be writing a tribute to you in my blog tonight (now if only I could figure out how to show your link -oh well still a newbie at this)

February 16, 2012 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger - said...

I'm not "retirement age," but I've over a decade's more time than Jenna on this earth, and I have to agree with Kathy P. Jenna, I think it's great that you have such faith and a strong work ethic, but to say that "I'm not going to lose my house" is rather cavalier. You never know what may befall you, and making the salary that you do, with what seems to be little left over each month, doesn't bode well if you *do* encounter disaster. As to the poster referencing that advice should be e-mailed privately, I think you're not understanding the way the internet works. If someone writes a blog post and opens up the comments, then of course most anyone has the ability to respond. If Jenna is only looking for ass-kissing sycophants in the comments section, then she should state so, but I don't think that's how she rolls.

Anyway, I second what several have already said - that the vast majority of us are merely speaking from the wisdom that comes with time and experience in the hopes of helping someone else to not make the same mistakes. (As an example, we bought a house for much less than we were approved for because we didn't want to be house-poor, and when the housing market crashed, it quite frankly pissed us off that so many people who *should* have known better about what they could afford *didn't*, thereby creating a bigger burden for everyone else.) <-that's not in reference to Jenna, btw, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch. ;-)

February 16, 2012 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Anyone can comment about anything. And you are welcome to say anything angry or even mean as long as their real name, email address, and blog or website (at least 2 of these 3) are visible to all people.

I think this email made people who are more cautious think I am foolish, and made people less cautios excited. I wasn't trying to egg either side on. I was stating how I live my life.

These past two days have brought up a lot of anger in comments and that makes me sad, but I'll get over it in short order.

I don't plan on living tight forever, and expanding the farm forever. I am sure savings will grow, they always do, and things will mature and evolve. I am not waiting to get there, is all. Security could come in a variety of ways and my heart is open to all of them.

Right now I don't have security, but it will come. I think what bothers people most is this optimism. I do not expect things to not be hard, or fall apart, or bad things to happen. I do expect me to handle it, and land on my meet.

I am very happy to see more people energized by this post than not!

February 16, 2012 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

* I mean, I expect bad things to happen. Money problems, heartache, disaster. It just isn't something that will crush or stop me.

February 16, 2012 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

Thank you so much. Words can never describe what an inspiration you are to me, and to so many others.

Lois- I'm young, single, and still living with my parents. I have been dreaming and trying to buy a small farm (in part, thanks to Jenna) for over a year. BECAUSE I'm single, I can't apply for a mortgage BECAUSE I don't have a second stream of income coming in. I have near perfect credit, I have successfully run my own business for nearly 5 years, and the income to the business could afford a small farm. My debt to income ratio from business bills and the change in tax laws (thanks to the shithole the banks left us in) are what is preventing me from fulfilling my dream.
Those with another person to help make payments can afford to take a higher risk because if one loses their job, the other can still bring in some income, giving time to make needed changes and decisions. (I know from personal experience, so don't naysay). If single home/farm owner loses their income, the entire life is lost.
You also say that people are happy to "pay a lot of money to hang out with [Jenna], learn a little something, and have a little fun". As one who participated in her meat chicken workshop last spring, and has also signed up for Antlerstock 2012, I take a little offense at that. Do you think I used the meat chicken workshop simply as an excuse to drive 7+ hours to visit Jenna for a day? I don't think so. (No offense, Jenna. If I lived closer, I would love any excuse to visit you and your farm more frequently.) I went to learn from someone who IS new to farming, from someone who is my age and had the balls (more than most) to do what I now dream of doing (thanks to said person). Not necessarily from someone who worked out all the kinks 30 years ago and who is so separated from someone who doesn't "know it all", they make you feel like you're meeting the President, and that they feel they can charge an arm and a leg for a few hours of instruction. I signed up for Antlerstock 2012 because she is bringing together a lot of wonderful, "regular" people like herself, who share her same passion, and the passions that many of us dream of experiencing and who are bringing together a lot of complementary experiences for those who wish to partake in said passion. I got a lot out of her meat workshop, and not just from her verbal instruction. I expect to get a ton more knowledge from Antlerstock from the instructors, and just by being surrounded by like-minded people.

On a different, lighter topic-
Like several others, I got choked up the farther I read your post.
Beautifully written and a wonderful peak into your kind soul.
I have never taken your words to ever mean lack of compassion for your home, your animals, your dream, your readers' opinions, nor your life. You simply have a much better understanding than many of us that there is a cost to benefit ratio that must be kept balanced when something goes wrong; whether it be a sick animal, the sale of an instrument to make a needed payment, etc. Not everyone can spend $10,000 or more on a pet who has cancer, only to find it needs to be let go a few months later anyway (I know people who have and will never do it again because of the cost to benefit ratio, for the animal itself as well as themselves). Anyone who thinks that not paying for a "life extending" surgery is cruelty to animals has probably never lived paycheck to paycheck. My goats don't have run of our little 2 acre property, but they are all healthy and happy. I hope to someday remedy the space issue, but for the time being, I work with what I have and love them just the same.

Keep being who you are, Jenna.
Your words continually shape my dream. I now have a dream, thanks to you. :)

February 16, 2012 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Patterson said...

Jenna, your writing moved me to tears.

February 16, 2012 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Erin at Being Poetry said...

You are my new hero!

February 16, 2012 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Sue at Sweetgrass Ranch said...

Wow and WOW. I loved reading this post. You are so right about our "perceptions" of what is safe and what is not. When you get right down to it, everything is a gamble and nothing is a given. I admire and applaud you.

February 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Um, does anyone else miss when this blog use to be about homesteading and substainable living?
Spring is almost here, where are the garden plans? What's going on with the bees? Where are the simple, made from scratch living ideas? I'm losing interest fast....

February 16, 2012 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Diane in VT said...

Jenna, I love you. That's all there is too it. I wish I had the courage to live like this, but first I need to figure out what my dreams are. Much love,

February 16, 2012 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger Nancy McKinnon said...

If you take in roommates, let me know. I can ride, knit, garden, and I'm an RN. I'd have to apply for reciprocity in NY, I guess. no homo.

February 16, 2012 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

"Live your life with faith in what you are trying to achieve and with the intention of harming no one along the way and you can't not succeed in this world." LOVE THIS! Cheering you on from the midwest!

February 16, 2012 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

Thank you Jenna for that truly inspiring post! You re-ignited my fire for the "screw it, I'm gonna do it" approach. It's always worked before. He he he!!

February 16, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

@pawsfurme - I apologize for offending you. But you prove my point! I just bought a house with a few acres, and raised my first flock of chickens and ducks this year. If I put an ad on craigslist, do you think anyone would drive 7 hours, or pay whatever you paid, for my poultry workshop? (hmmm, prices are rarely shown on the blog it seems.) But wait, there's about if I let you go to the coop and gather the eggs for the complimentary farm-fresh free-range pasture-raised omega-3-enhanced chicken-and-duck-combo omlette? Now how much would you pay? (Seriously, my eggs are awesome. I'm not joking.)

Cold Antler Farm is a blog-based reality show. I mean that in a good way. Jenna is reaping the rewards and living the dream. There is nothing wrong with that. She worked very hard for it. But she also has skills and abilities that not everyone has. That said, I am a big CAF fan. Maybe I will visit someday.

February 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Catcoco said...

Like so many others, I found this post amazing ! Great work, Jenna !

While I do understand what the more conservative ones are saying, I also know for a fact that if I was waiting for the perfect circumstances, I most probably would not be living on a farmette with my husband and four children, our cats, dog, goats, chickens, ducks, quails and gardens and our slowly but steadily growing business. We would probably still be renting a suburban house. Our banking account would probably be fatter, we would probably be getting more sleep, but I am pretty sure that we might have become sour if we had not taken the risk to live our lives the way we really wanted to. (And once you have children, there are even more well meaning friends and relatives to tell you you are not doing the right thing. That you should be thinking of your children first - which is exactly what you feel you are doing).
I do hope that what you hope for does happen. And I do hope that the opportunities to make more of your dreams come true keep coming your way. I wish I could give you a hug right now...

February 16, 2012 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Go get 'em Jenna. Bitchin' post. Kickin' life in the ass one day at a time....

February 16, 2012 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Hey Karen Rickers, where are you from? I live in Uxbridge. I'm with you on the canucks all getting to know each other! :)

February 17, 2012 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Jewel said...

I found your blog a year and a half ago and got hooked, I was captivated by your writing and how you brought to life your desire to farm.

You have encouraged so many to want a farm and music and animals. Your "just do it" attitude and passion is contagious. It inspired me to hold a fiddle a few weeks ago, and I thought maybe, just maybe even at 42, I could learn to play. My daughter has now been in guitar lessons for the last few months, even though money's tight, time doesn't wait it marches on.

Most of us follow your blog even though we don't know you because we are so darn amazed at what you're doing and we keep coming back to see. I read everything you post, and love the long essays you write. My husband thinks someday they'll be making a movie about you!

I hope you get the Fell pony, it sounds like it's part of your destiny. Thank you Jenna for taking the risk to let us into your life and your head. I love this amazing post, it makes me want to stand with my arms out wide and "ask" for my dreams to come true. Thank you for taking the time to write from your heart. To write well takes time, that is a gift you have been given, and you are using your gift and blessing others along the way. You will be rewarded!


February 17, 2012 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger Jo Griffith, Len Smith said...

Lovely post. Someone told me recently, "We all walk the same road, we just wear different shoes."

February 17, 2012 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

YAY!! Jenna, thanks for yet another superbly written inspiring post. I am home sick with pneumonia right now and feel lousy and reading that has lifted me up and helped me to feel a little better. Thank you, again. :)

February 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger crashdown said...

Let me add to the chorus--really beautiful post, Jenna!

February 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Kpatt said...

Dang! Looks like the BrooHaHa is over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. On to the next thing....

February 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Toni_F said...

"[Failure] gets thrown in our faces by the other people safely watching from the docks while you set sail for a dream. Docks are miserable places, get off of them. You'll drown dry and standing."

I am painting this on a plaque and hanging it in my house.

February 17, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On paper, I shouldn't own a horse at all. Off paper, when people look at me I know they see an old, fat, out of shape woman, and they try to talk me out of riding and training my large, athletic green horse. I'm finding ways to reclaim some of that fearlessness, the last ten years have been hard on my body and confidence. But I'll do it, it's who I am. I'll help him be the best horse he can be.

You're right, failure is easier the younger you are. So, follow your bliss now and do everything you can to live your dreams. They aren't much good if they remain only dreams.

February 18, 2012 at 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just ... wow!
We made the leap of faith. Not much money. Familial disapproval. Clear across the country where no friends or family waited. Me in ill health. No job prospects for husband.
We're still scritching along, happy, and often financially freaked out, but hanging in there with our cats, dogs, sheep and chickens! We've 'failed' at many things farm-related, but hey, we're trying!

February 18, 2012 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Jennifer & Chris said...

It is posts like these that keep me reading and keep me going. Thank you.

February 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen!

February 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger downeast becka said...

i had tears in my eyes many a time in this post: you. go. girl. i do not doubt you one bit. very articulate and powerful response to maybe well meaning but downer folks...can't kill the dreamer!

February 18, 2012 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Hetty said...

I've read some of your earlier entries, but this one was very special. Thank you. fyi, I linked to it from here:

February 19, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger kathie said...

Thank you Jenna!! We are cheering for you!Just watched your 1st year video.You seem to have more than 24hrs. in your days! Those being negative need to go rain on someone elses parade.

February 19, 2012 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Susannah of Cricklewood Farm said...

You have reminded me of the importance of having faith. But also that naysayers are most forceful when you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Why is that? I'm trying to understand it, but I don't.

This was your best post to date. I think you are following your path, and that can only lead to success.

February 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Macrobe said...

You remind me of myself in my younger... hell no, even older years. :) Keep on going. You only live once.

February 20, 2012 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Sassidy Sparks said...


I think you are awesome. No matter what you do, the decisions you make are Yours and I respect that. Sometimes it hurts to read your blog. I know I could have been where you are. I know it is only my chicken-y nature that stops/ped me. But then I take a deep breath and see what I Do have, that I should be more grateful for. I have a husband who loves me, a baby on the way, and a place of our own. Is it in the country? No, but I am learning to speak up and show the man how it could be and I think he is finally listening. I can't have chickens, but there isn't anything against rabbits! Plus thanks to you I checked craigslist to find all kinds of things for rabbits to make it more feasible. I am going to garden this year like never before and I am joining a couple CSA's (Meat,Dairy, and supplemental veg) so I can be who I truly want to be (thanks to your authentic post). You make me think and reconsider my plans all the time and I love that about this blog. One day I hope to meet you. You are awesome, you make me dream about what I can do in the here and now, not the fantasy land of my "future". You help me get off the couch.I couldn't ask for more, and yet you constantly deliver, and You are always in my "grateful for's" list. Thank you.

February 20, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger edengold said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 21, 2012 at 3:28 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I think I should reread this post at least once a week for the rest of my life. Thank you for writing it.

February 23, 2012 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jenna,
I am awed and inspired. After picking up your book, "Made from Scratch", simply because it spoke to me, I was led to your blog, and now it all comes together. Thank you for this wonderful post. So often do we find ourselves worrying over the 'how' of getting there and getting past the fear of it all. We're so afraid of failing that we don't realize that the true failure is never beginning in the first place.
I am inspired. Keep on keepin' on, girl.
With LOVE!,

February 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best post ever, Jenna.

Nobody ever lay on their death bed wishing they hadn't tried to pursue their dreams. I'm quite certain many have regretted not doing so.

Failure is how we learn. Some people should keep that in mind before they get all "practical advice" on you.

And Louis, what the hell was the point of your post except to come across as jealous, bitter, and mean?

March 2, 2012 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger 2 Punk Dogs said...

Reminds me of that saying "Make Your Own Luck"! It's not so much luck as figuring out what you want and how to make it happen, which you definitely do. :)

March 10, 2014 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I needed this as I get my ducks in a row to quit the job I hate and live my passion~ thanks Jenna

March 11, 2014 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Interesting post. I guess it depends on how close to the edge you are comfortable with. Also depends on the gifts you were born with. A talented writer is fortunate in that they are able to live just about anywhere they please. Chutzpah is a big plus as well. There is a lot to be said about going after your dreams, but planning and foresight are also important. There are two sides to this coin and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people will succeed, some will not. Best of luck to you.

March 12, 2014 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

It's called resilience. And you've got it. Thank you for your words. I'm working on the resilience - of getting up after failures. I've got the fight, but the failures are hard for me to swallow sometimes. Two big dreams of mine have come true - we got a house with some land and my husband is building us a chicken coop. I've wanted land and chickens since I was a girl. It took some time, but the time is here and it sure feels good!

March 12, 2014 at 8:35 PM  

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