Sunday, December 30, 2012


This place right now is a winter wanderland, and yes, I mean wander. I have been wandering all over the place, both in my own mind and on foot. Lots of walks with Annie, lots of visits to friends with long talks and open minds. I am thinking a whole lot about this idea of escapism and every time I sit down to write it feels too personal (and you know that must be pretty intense since you guys know nearly everything about me), but it does. I have been thinking about what Cold Antler really is to me.

I can say I love how things are turning out. That's more than most can state in writing. My life may be a little more complicated and wandering than I would like but there is no place I would rather be on this Sunday morning than inside this 1860's farmhouse covered in snow with nothing to do but pick up some hay when the roads are a little better.

I sold three-quarters of a pig yesterday. Not too shabby. That covers the feed for the current pigs. The mortgage has been paid every month since I left Orvis and so has my transportation payments and insurances. I still manage to cover my meager hospital insurance, car insurance, and while I do get behind on some bills from time to time I have a plan of attack and prosperity ahead.

It's not perfect here, not financially or emotionally, but it is always climbing uphill. It feels like I am working towards something big. Every month gets a little easier. Every mortgage payment made (even a few weeks late) shows me I can do this. It does require constant resourcefulness, I can't let my guard down. I need to constantly be figuring out the next bill, the next workshop, the next event, the next book deal, the next ad sale, and so on. I used to not sleep because of that, worrying about how the hell I was going to stay here. But then one day a friend said to me, as confident with his tone as if I asked him to tell me what C-A-T spelled, he said, "I would be fine."

I asked him how he knew that?

He said, "When have you not been?"


Blogger kelly b said...

Good morning Jenna! I have been reading awhile and thoroughly enjoy hearing about you. You are what I wish I was at 30 and now at 50 am being inspired to be! I have 4 boys ages 21,20,18 and 16. I constantly tell them about you and the funny thing is my one son had Brett as his Woodsman team coach! He left Paul Smiths this fall-it wasn't for him. Now my youngest is intent on going there and can't understand why his brother didn't stay! I told him we all have do what is best for us and you are a wonderful example of that Jenna. Keep living your authentic, inspiring life!! Best wishes-Kelly Barbolish

December 30, 2012 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger kelly b said...

Good morning Jenna! I have been reading your blog for awhile now and wish I had done at 30 what you are doing! I am 50 now and am inspired every single day by you. I have 4 boys--21,20,18, and 16.I am constantly telling them about you. My 20 year old went to Paul Smiths but decided college wasn't for him and left this year. He is happy with his decision - college is not for everyone! It is fun to see Brett on your blog because he was my son's Woodsman team coach! My youngest is intent on going to Paul Smiths so Brett may have another Barbolish on his team!! Keep living your inspiring and authentic life Jenna. Best wishes and God bless you--Kelly Barbolish

December 30, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger kelly b said...

Sorry Jenna It seems I have commented twice!!I thought my first try didn't go through!! I am new at this!! KB

December 30, 2012 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

I truely believe that you will be fine too. Many of the things you do by rote, ie.not buy new, grow your own food/meat products, help your lifestyle. You are rich in life experience and knowledge. While that doesn't pay the bills, it is an invaluable resource for you to tap into for ideas that will generate income. You hang in there 2013 will be a year of good tidings!

December 30, 2012 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have an insightful friend. A very valuable thing to have.

December 30, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Tana Mc said...

Dear Heart....... you are doing just fine. Are you predominantly happy? Worse case scenario is that sometimes you might have to pick up a "regular job" for a while to make ends meet. Big deal! Just another part of the adventure. People have really bizarre ideas of just what successful is. Those of us who value the simpler,richer aspects of a life well lived ruffle up their expectations and make them uncomfortable with their idea that more stuff is successful. The idea that your life at Cold Antler is an escape is just hysterical! You are a published author and paid speaker who hosts classes and workshops plus the audience of this blog is quite impressive. If you are content--- escape away!!

December 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Such a lovely picture this morning. I think we all have those times of doubt and fear. I know I do. Mostly when I wake up in the middle of the night. I long for security but there really is no such thing I think. I think of my Grandmothers who lived through the same fears and somehow managed. You and I will too I bet.

December 30, 2012 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna, you have surrounded yourself with like minded people (your true tribe) and others who wish you well and take an interest in your well being - each morning across the world people tune in to learn from you, grow with you and sometimes challenge you - you are rich in the things that really matter and 2013 will be an awesome year

December 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Josh and Haley said...

I love this post Jenna. I can definitely see how this topic can seem too personal. When I read the first post, asking opinions about escapism, I think it hit a stronger nerve of mine that I realized existed. Although our farm life is still in the works for us - we made a similar (but not so similar) decision as yours 1 1/2 years ago. That decision was for me to give up my public school Science teaching job and stay home to raise our children. We felt that home was a better place for our children to be than the alternative. We felt that we could teach our children more valuable lessons than what they were picking up in society. We wanted to raise our children ourselves - not have them be with daycare workers more during the week than they were with their own family. We faced puzzled looks from friends and family - (i.e. daycare and working 9-5 is great for us - why isn't it good enough for you??). Everyday is financially challenging and SCARY! Not to mention the emotions that come with such a challenging decision. But, we believe that this is the first step to creating that wonderful life for our children that we dream of. One that is self sufficient, full of REAL community, truly depending on family and friends for everyday getting by. A life like you write about every day!

December 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You know, this farm life you've chosen is not escapism, it's your reality. It's not any different than anyone else who has quit the rat race to become self-employed. You are a farmer, I'm a seamstress, my husband is a painter. We are all WORKING at doing something that is fullfilling to us. Just because someone else doesnt approve of the profession you have chosen, doesnt mean that they have the right to critisize your choice. You could say they are escaping the reality of where real, healthy food comes from. You are living your dream of being self-employed and like most of us, you live paycheck to paycheck, constantly worrying that there will be enough income next month to pay the bills. We are all struggling through this life, some of us just enjoy it more than others!

December 30, 2012 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

You are faith manifest. You are living your life from the space of success. You are doing it and you have surrounded yourself with a generous community. Yeah, you'll be fine. No matter what, you've got your wits.

December 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

I think our society could really stand to let go of the idea that living paycheque to paycheque or not having savings is somehow bad. Security is not in having piles of money (which should just be a medium of exchange that circulates, not stagnates, just like everything else on this planet), but in knowing how to live in partnership and co-operation with the other beings around you, so that you can generate gratitude from them whenever you offer them gifts. Then they will offer you gifts back when you need them (including sometimes their bodies, so you can eat). On this front you know you're already doing splendidly.
Our current money/economic system is collapsing, as it should. Everybody hates it. Through the collapse there will emerge new ways of getting our needs met and new understandings of money.

December 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger foffmom said...

Lets see. An unsustainable existence, dependent upon complex food supply chains, beginning half a continent away? An existence where meat comes shrink wrapped from an animal that never experienced sunlight? An existence spent dependent on fossil fuels, indirectly and directly as you spend more time in a car commuting than outdoors?
Who wouldn't want to escape? I think what you are doing is healthier and more sensible than most.

December 30, 2012 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger foffmom said...

Lets see. An unsustainable existence, dependent upon complex food supply chains, beginning half a continent away? An existence where meat comes shrink wrapped from an animal that never experienced sunlight? An existence spent dependent on fossil fuels, indirectly and directly as you spend more time in a car commuting than outdoors?
Who wouldn't want to escape? I think what you are doing is healthier and more sensible than most.

December 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

You probably ARE working toward something big. And you can do this.

December 30, 2012 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Despite the ups and downs, you have always made it through...and that gives me hope. Unfortunately post-Christmas saw a major credit card payment, my mortgage payment and $350 worth of oil wiping out my savings and checking, and my last $12 went toward cat food and milk. But I know everything will be alright. I have chicken put away, made 4 loaves of bread, the chickens are still laying and there is a freezer full of garden veggies. I thankfully have money coming in on Friday, but its good to know that I can go two weeks without going on a full grocery shopping trip! When things get tight like this, your blog is a comfort to me! Thank you!!

December 31, 2012 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna, I understand you. I know this to be have what it takes to do this life you are creating. You may have to muddle thru some difficult times, but it will all work our for you. Be Brave Girl!! Sharon in Oregon

December 31, 2012 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jenna, Anyone who has read your blog would definitely know that you are not escaping anything! On any given day, you probably work harder than many people that I know. On cold, snowy days like this, you don't even have the option of calling off work or hoping that your office is closed. You still need to care for your animals, no matter the weather. My belief is that the comment was made out of jealousy. They are jealous of the fact that you have been able to go toward what you want, not escaped a life that you didn't want. Please keep on doing what you are doing! It is your life, and by the way, you have become my mentor in following your dreams! We have to show everyone else how to do it!


January 1, 2013 at 5:44 PM  

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