Saturday, June 30, 2012

fences up!

My alarm went off at 4:34 AM and no part of me wanted to get out of bed. I was just tired, not resistant or ungrateful, just plain tired. The last two weeks of heat and labor have whipped me into a kind of pace I am getting used to, but just. I'm getting used to it the way a doggie-paddling labrador chasing a college crew team down river gets better. If 12-hour days of summer farm labor are elegant rowing, I am hell at doggie paddling.

I was getting up early because the night before Brett Arrived from New Hampshire (on the way home from his graduate program, he lives up near Lake Placid) for the Greenhorns screening and panel discussion, and offered to help spend some free time of his putting up Merlin and Jasper's new fence around their new pole barn. the catch: his free hours were 5-8AM and if you think I am turning down help from two grown men to put up rolls of field fence, well, I'm not.

The second grown man was Ajay, of course. I called him from bed, at 4:45 AM and our conversation went something like this:

oh, Hey...

Ughmm huh?

youstillwannacomegiddupfences? membbe?

uhhh huhhh MMmhuh

5:05 - 5:15. ish. i bethere

yupyup ugh huh..



Ajay was at the front steps of Common Sense's main house, a huge mansion three miles of the farm in downtown Cambridge. We stopped at Stewart's and got coffee and breakfast sandwiches for all of us, and I told him Brett was already bracing the fence posts we put in last week and getting the site prepped.

We arrived and slammed into the work. It was a fast-paced, buggy, three hours of pounding in t-posts, stretching fence wire, rolling 300+ feet at a time, installing gates, and cleaning out old metal and wire trash. Brett was a machine out there, a farming workaholic. Watching him with a roll of fencing over his shoulder or nailing in fence staples on an old locust tree is like watching some sort of animal in his natural habitat. British voiceovers could narrate his actions with a telestrator. "And here, we can see a native Lumberjackitus Adirondackus maneuvering his way through the timber. Notice his intent. Stunning." I once told Brett on an earlier work day that if people could be categorized as animals, we would be Dire Wolf people. Out dated, stocky, feral, and carnivorous. That or Badgers, but if I was a Badger People I would be wearing a Dire Wolf tee shirt and really mean it.

And this Badger can howl, son.

Ajay has lost at least 10 pounds since he arrived from his new lifestyle up here and has quit smoking cold turkey. He glows when he works now. It's another person. The combination of intense physical labor outdoors, clean lungs, and organic food from the farm has turned his body so fast into a machine of work. He loves the life in the Community there, the buzz of a big house full of people, non-stop interaction. He craves community the way I crave my quiet.

Both the gents at the farm were friendly and goofy, both know me well, and it was a treat to spend the morning working beside them. By 8:15 we had the job done, and Brett was off to Livingston Brook Farm to work on Patty and Mark's barn floor. Ajay had an ultimate Frisbee game back at Common Sense, and I had an archery tournament an hour north at War Camp. We all hugged and parted ways. I could not thank them enough.

Tomorrow when I head down to see Merlin it will be the last time I hand over a boarding check. Within the next two week's he'll be living here at the farm full time. Him and Jasper will be paddock-mates, and I must admit it is a nice spread. A full 1/2 acre of woods and hillside and pasture, attached with a gate to even more pasture. And I stood out there, looking over it tonight in earnest awe. Just four months ago Merlin was a pipe dream and internet argument, now he's the horse I know better than any other, my own. He's going to be on my farm in a brand new barn and paddock and the Sheriff across the street agreed to let us use his ATV trails in the morning to trail ride on. He owns nearly 100 acres of woods and pasture and it is literally 100 feet from my farmhouse front door. All I had to do was knock on the door and ask.

Do you know what this means? By October I will be able to start my mornings, even weekday mornings, here at the farm stoking the woodstove to fight off the morning chill, and then pulling my favorite flannel or wool sweater on and tacking up my Fell for a quiet morning ride through the forest? By then my current manuscript will be completed and turned in, and my new work will be planning Antlerstock and fiddle camps and figuring out the next adventure.

Fences up. Friends at arm's reach. Farm is thriving.

Life is good.


Blogger Cathy said...

Glad for you! It was nice meeting you the other night at the Greenhorns screening. A woman there told us we might want to volunteer to work on a farm similar to the kind we want to have. We're looking to have a self sustaining farm - chickens for eggs/meat, turkey(s), a cow and pig for meat. If you hear of anyone who might be looking for an opportunity to mentor could you let me know? Our email is Looking forward to the soap/candle workshop next month. Take care!

June 30, 2012 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 30, 2012 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Up near Lake Placid? *perk* I was raised in Gabriels NY--my Dad taught at Paul Smiths. He's from near there???

June 30, 2012 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Indio said...

That's great that you are making so much progress on the farm. It's always satisfying when it feels as if one project is done so you can move on to the next one.

June 30, 2012 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Such funny thoughts of your helpful men and such sweet thoughts on good fences and friends. I love me some summer, but that thought of you pulling on your woolens to take a morning jaunt is very enticing. Good day, Jenna!

June 30, 2012 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

I am so happy for you Jenna. It sounds heavenly. Good for you, way to go!!

June 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Neal and Laura said...

Excellent! Farm life sure can be draining, but it's certainly fulfilling in many ways.

June 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Do you have a back up plan just in case the two horses don't get along at first?

June 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

How was archery?

June 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much good news, so much work done. What great friends!

Do horses need pastures to rotate trhrough like sheep? Will you need to feed them hay in the summer at all?

July 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM  
Anonymous cowgirl said...

Fencing must be in the air. I've been fighting the lack of fence in a pasture I'm trying to keep in paddocks so I've been using electric fence as an interior divider. Ha. My girls snort and roll their eyes at electric fence, then ignore it, go through it or over it AND have the gall (or would it be the bolus??) to instruct their recalcitrant calves to do the same.

Anyway...a real 5-wire barb fence is going up later next week! Hurray! And some highway fence will be replaced by 7-wire! Yes!! Good fence gives peace of mind.

July 1, 2012 at 12:53 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

It sounds like it's all coming together for you on the horse front. All organized to have your lovely boy home with you. Then you will pinch yourself and wonder if you're dreaming!

As one who had to do her fences with just a husband and no machinery other than a manual post-knocker, I know just what hard work fencing is and how relieved you must be to have it done.

Great news about the trail riding on your doorstep too.

July 1, 2012 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Cathy, you guys are so close. Come over here if you like, so much to do.

July 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Brett lives up north at Saranac, he is a professor at Paul Smith, too!

July 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

CJ: horses will be separated by a fence at first, but I do not expect much drama. I think Jasper will be thrilled and Merlin will adapt easy. Jasper lived with 20+ horses before and Merlin has moved all over the world.

July 1, 2012 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Elizabeth, it was hot and I only was there a few hours. The site was weird, state fairgrounds sliced in two by a highway. I'm so used to these events hidden in state parks or private property, that when they are out on highways it feels less like a historical reenactment camp and more like ComicCon: backwoods style.

July 1, 2012 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

I've got to start visualizing more regularly. Look where it's gotten YOU! So happy for you, farmer.

July 1, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Daisy, it really does work. Just being positive and expecting good things to happen to you, it draws them into you. I never thought Merlin wouldn't work out. I never thought he wouldn't cart or live here. It takes that absolute faith, but it has never failed me.

July 1, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your energy level is something I admire always. I'm so impressed.

July 1, 2012 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger downeast becka said...

thought of you and your fell when we took the kids to see Brave...that girl on her Fell made me think of you and your fierce tenacious spirit, keep rocking!

July 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM  

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