Friday, October 31, 2014

Dumb Supper

This vlog is all about what some folks do on Halloween Night. Here at Cold Antler friends come from all over to enjoy Dumb Supper, a silent meal in memory of those lost. I made this video to explain a tradition some of you may take part in, and some of you may have never heard of, but it has been around for a very long time. Looking forward to friends, mead, meals, cake and stories tonight. More on Samhain tomorrow morning, the first day of the new year! I plan on welcoming the day with a hunt, though there may be snow on the ground already!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Harnessing A Draft Horse

Here is a new vlog showing a basic understanding of harnessing a horse. Watch me go from grooming to driving down the road. This is in no way meant to be an in-depth tutorial (it is only 6 minutes long) but a way to learn some new agri-lingo, understand a hame from a collar, and get a taste of the temperament and usage of a small draft like a Fell. I should warn that the most informative part: the part where I attach the hames and belly band - wasn't being filmed when I thought it was. So I just talked at a machine like a crazy lady yelling at her DVR, but it still manages to give you a taste of harnessing up.

Oh, funny story! I was sitting in the front yard talking into my laptop and a neighbor came by to get eggs. And he didn't understand why I was talking so loudly at my computer in my front lawn while shaking chains at it... I did explain but I have learned vlog is about as normal a piece of country vernacular as, well, nothing. I just assured him I wasn't crazy, but I guess that's hard to believe from a woman in a kilt yelling at her DVR in the front lawn....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kilts, People! KILTS!

This photo was taken by accident, I thought the camera was recording and was fixing my shirt and instead it took a still. But in this little mistake is a great snapshot of one intentional life, one awesome horse, and one badass albaphile.

You just got to be yourself. That's what it comes down to. What you see here is my usual wardrobe. I'm most comfortable in kilt, sporran, riding chaps, good hiking boots, worn jacket and wool hat. And by wool hat I mean a wool western hat you've seen in many of the vlogs. It has a pewter falconry pin of a raptor on a fist and usually is adorned by one of my turkey's feathers until it falls off while riding that horse too fast.

If you like kilts, I suggest you get a hold of one and start bringing them back as agricultural normalcy. To hell with the overalls and jeans, a good kilt is the best! I wear it riding, working, hunting and hanging out. With a good pair of full-seat breeches cut above the knee they never chaff your thighs. You have mobility, brush protection, pockets, and layers of touch canvas  over your swimsuit places. I'm talking to you, too, gentleman. Man up and wear those kilts during chores!


Monday the ram is in his glory. It is full-out breeding season! After six weeks of flushing the ewes on the green grass on their hillside, minerals, and grain the two available ladies are being bred. I am praying for a lot of ewes in the spring! Monday is one tired and happy fellow these days.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Three Important Things

Merlin walked at a gentle pace down the road and then turned for the dirt path that lead to our trails. The reins were loose, and the speed of the ride would be his choice. He chose to run, and as his neck bunched up into a canter my body did what it was born to do. My thighs gripped gently, my weight leaned forward, my heels dropped low and I molded into his run. I did not have to think about these things, they are now a part of me. I can’t let the moment pass without a smile. It took a while to know this, and love it, and I have both parts now. This is a skill, not a talent. That is the first important thing to know.

Yes, riding horses is a skill. I'm sure some people have a god-given talent to do it exceptionally well, but anyone can learn it. It is not a superpower or an inherit trait. You can learn it in lessons, or from miles in the saddle, or both. Either way if you keep doing it your body will learn.

And yet I remember how little I knew just two years ago and how scared I was on this horse's back. He taught me to ride because I kept riding, and anyone of you reading this that longs for a horse someday but are a little scared to ride one: please know that's okay. The most wonderful things in life are gloriously terrifying, aren't they? Your body will catch up. This is something any of you can have if someone as lost and clumsy as I can. Never let the notion you aren't "talented" enough stop you from doing anything you want to love. That goes for everything from instruments to pilot's licenses.

Merlin sped up to a proper gallop, burning off the last few days of rain and chill. We were chasing the sun together. Cold Antler is on the eastern side of a small mountain and around 4PM the sun is low enough to get lost behind the mountain. But when we ride up the trails we level off on the highest points of our hill and get bathed in the warm shine. We rode just to ride, literally, into the sunset. I needed it. Apparently he did too.

Soon we found ourselves as a hidden pasture, small but familiar. You can’t see it from any roads and need to know the property to find it. There are deer stands and mowed patches, waiting for November. I let Merlin munch on some grass while I look up at the mostly bare trees. How have the Days of Grace found us so fast this season? The explosion of autumn foliage came and left like stolen fireworks and here we were, a copse of skeletons and a sunset on the run.

I noticed Hugin up in a tree, one of the two red tails that live on my mountain. She’s looking good, as always. I wave and she swoops down close enough to see her beautiful tail fresh from summer molt. Past her, high in the sky, is the crescent moon already out to play. I let myself wonder how she gets away with sneaking into daylight like that. You never see the sun at night, now do you?

I asked Merlin to walk home, and he did. Hugin circling above twice before heading towards the bigger fields for a late-day meal. I remembered catching her last year, thinking she was a juvenile and holding her in my hands before letting her go. That was a year ago and here we were again. Holy Crow, I went riding tonight to clear my head, but instead I was filling it. The last few days have felt like the girl from just a few years ago was watching the woman of the present. I think it started with last night’s dinner:

It was Sunday Night and Patty and Mark invited me over for a meal. I had spent the day meeting with Jasper applicants and doing general farm work. I rarely turn down a Livingston Brook Farm meal, and tonight’s menu sounded spectacular. They were serving goose from this week’s hunts, roasted potatoes from their garden, greens still growing from their salad patch and all of this with a glass of bourbon followed by a soak in their hot tub. Would you turn that down!?

I arrived to their farmhouse early, and picked up Patty. Her neighbor Bob had a pile of decorative pumpkins from their annual Ciderfest celebration starting to turn soft. I asked him if I could take them back to my pigs and he said sure. I was expecting a dozen or so, but there was a truckload waiting for us on some hay bales! Patty and I loaded up my dented pickup with squash, thanked Bob, and then returned to the Wesner’s home with red cheeks and growling stomaches. I was so looking forward to this goose!

When I walked into their home I was struck by home warm it was. That is the thing I associate most with the Wesner's: warmth. My home is not unfriendly, but it is not a warm place. Heat comes from fires tended, working outdoors, physical activity, and most of the time it is easier to adjust to being colder. My home rarely reaches above 58 degrees in the winter, and nights dip down into the low 40’s. But this place, this gorgeous farmhouse of theirs, you could wear a tank top. It’s glorious. I instantly feel a little drunk, just off the comfort and smell of goose and spices. We ate, and talked, and drank and laughed. I love these people so much.

Mark heads off to watch a game and Patty and I watch the stars in the hot tub. I have seen more shooting stars in that tub in the past two years than I had in my entire life prior. People rarely look up, I have come to learn. They miss the day moons, and the Hugins, and the stars.

Accept love when it is offered to you without conditions. That is the second important thing to know.

The unhappiest people in the world are unhappy because they can't accept love. Something is broken in them and they are numb to simple joys. They can accept sex, marriage, or relationships but they can't accept their own self worth. It's happiness suicide. They grow angry and resentful and bitter even if everything on the outside seems perfect. If they could just look in the mirror and love what they see, their whole world would change. And when you love yourself for who you are, you draw folks to you who share that. Homesteading has taught me this. I followed my bliss and discovered my clan.

Patty and Mark love me for me, and that is such a warmer feeling than any thermostat. When people ask me if I'm an introvert or an extrovert I always say "I'm whatever wolves are" because all I want is friends I would kills for, a full belly, and to hunt by daylight. Also, meat.

When our soak was over we came inside and warmed by their large Rumsford fireplace, nearly 300 years old and still keeping that house warm. Mark set a three-year-old elm log in there and quoted a beloved poem as it burned like a new lie, “burns like churchyard mould!” he exclaimed. It was a happy night and I drove home to my warm bed, kind dogs, and blessed farm with a load of soft pumpkins jostling around among the damp hay.

The girl from a few years ago (and she was a girl) was so different. For starters she didn’t flow on the top of British ponies like mercery on a warm plate and she never ate wild geese. She didn’t have pigs to feed pumpkins to and she didn’t know the local hawks by how they felt in her hands. She was often so scared, so insecure, so worried all the time. And here she was a few years later: stronger. So much stronger.

I want any of you reading this blog from a place of uncertainty or fear about your future, to know I was in the same place and am in that place now. I have no secret spells or incantations to get you a farm other than stubbornness and totally apathy of peer opinion. If you don't stop and don't care what people think of your passions you are unstoppable. But know that five years ago I was working for a corporation, disliked myself very much, was pretty scared of horses, and would not dream of training hawks or serving friends bacon I knew on a first-name basis. This all just happened. And if I can have any of this, so can you.

I think that is easy to read, but hard to believe. I know that. So don't believe it, just try it. That is the best advice I can offer. If you think you can't have (or don't deserve) the things that will make you happy - just start doing them and find out if the person you are dying to become needs the process of getting there to materialize. I know I needed that. I really did. And I love the woman that came out on the other side.

Which isn’t to say I’m not highly flawed and full of mistakes. Boy howdy, am I ever! But at this south side of thirty I am learning to appreciate the strong parts more than I feel ashamed of the flaws. For example. For 32 years I felt I wasn’t pretty enough to even look men in the eyes at a gas station. I was too short, to chubby, too weird.  These days I smile and hold the door for them, and you know what? They smile back. For 32 years I let fear be my motivation for so many choices, and it was choosing this life of horses, hounds, and hawks that choices are made out of love instead of fear. Love of friends. Love of the farm. Love for the hunt, the bow, the hawk, the run, the whole damn fight itself.

I am at 32 just learning to love this woman I have grown into. A woman who knows her body, mind, desires and passions so well. A woman who is flawed but able to forgive. A woman who holds doors for handsome farmers. A woman who chose to look up because she is happy instead of lost. A woman looking for the bird and stars that were always there but she was too scared to touch.

In the before times I never looked up unless I was sad. That may be the biggest difference of all. And to know that while still young enough, and foolish enough, to live this ridiculous life seems like a gift worth savoring instead of remembering. And smiling at that good truth?

That is the third important thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jasper May Have a New Home

Today I met with several folks who are interested in buying Jasper. My little POA. Jasper has been up for sale for a while but it wasn't until recently that I got a lot of bites after a recent craigslist campaign. Over a dozen folks emailed, and half that came to see him. Today I think I found his new home, a small Massachusetts farm and family of three. Wife, husband and seven-year-old daughter looking for a manageable addition to their vegetable and livestock concern. They have had horses on their farm before but felt that the large Belgians were a huge expense in all ways, and intimidating for beginners such as themselves. I totally understood that, as that was the exact reason I bought Jasper years ago.

Today those folks harnessed, groomed, drove and rode Jasper. They said they would love to have him and might take me up on my offer to board him for a month or two while they get their homestead prepared for him. They had a check ready to hand over, but I explained that I wanted to meet all the folks coming that day and would get back in touch that evening. My heart is set on these guys though, selling Jasper is not small deal to me. I love the idea of going to a home where he can be of use, be loved, and be ridden and drove by people just getting their first bites of the equine bug.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Winter is Coming

Make A Black Out Bag!

This new vlog is about something very important to me, basic preparedness. This video is mostly about power outages, and dealing with them in calm comfort thanks to the awesome Black Out Box (or bag!). This covers some inexpensive and simple supplies you can gather (or place around your house) to make the next power outage more of a personal vacation than a panic. I’m hoping this kit is the gateway drug to a little basic emergency preparedness for my readership.

Now, the B.O.B is not my invention, at all. I’m not sure whose it is? But I do know I heard about it on one of my favorite podcasts, TSP (The Survival Podcast). I know what many of you are thinking.

“Oh great, that nice Jenna-Farmer-Ladyperson is one of those Doomsday Preppers Dipshits. Honey, honey, hand me the clicker so I can go see what Pioneer Woman is doing with cornmeal today...”

No. I’m not some whack job Doomsday Prepper and neither is Jack Spirko, the voice of the TSP. That podcast changed my life. It really did. It was one of you fine readers who suggested it to me a few years ago and since then it has helped me burn down my debt (still a work in progress), get the balls to quit my job and start my career as a self-employed woman, and learn about everything from the uses of comfrey (that was an entire hour one day) to bowhunting deer. Mostly, the show is about what is really going on in the world today. And when I say that, I do not mean politics (Jack despises politics, in general) and the show is not for the right or the left, but people who are aware everything isn’t super and maybe they would be happier if they didn’t have to worry so much about money, failing health, and constant stress. It’s about homesteading, permaculture, and farming. It’s also about personal defense, food storage, and community building. Below I’ll post a link to a great introduction to his show which (even if you think all this sounds insane) I strongly urge you to listen to. Play it on your phone, at the office, on your jog, or driving to work. If you are rolling your eyes consider it a bit of recreational anthropology about Libertarians. C’mon Ron Swanson would be proud!

Enjoy this video, and please suggest topics or ask questions for future episodes! Long as you watch these I’ll make them!

Resources for this Vlog:

Ready Candles, Mini Stove, Stove Fuel, & NOAA Radios, etc.

Great First Show to Listen to of TSP. FREE! STREAM IT!

Just in Case by Kathy Harrison

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spring Fiddle Camp 2015!

March 28th and 29th, a Saturday and Sunday, will be the date of the next two-day Fiddle Camp. This is a workshop for people who love the sounds and songs of the country fiddle and feel they could never learn. It is for people who have never held a fiddle, can't read music, and feel they are too hopeless to even try. Nothing could be further from the truth! In three years of hosting this workshop I have taught many people (left and right handed, to boot!) to begin playing tunes for themselves at home. You will not leave sounding like Charlie Daniels, but you will leave knowing your first scale, your first song, and all the tools you need to teach yourself at home without expensive lessons. If any of you out there did attend a camp in the past, please share your experiences here for those who aren't sure they are suited for it!

Fiddle Camp comes with a fiddle, too! A student instrument that will get you started and not break the bank. The cost of the two 6-hour days of lessons and fiddle is the same it has always been $350. If you buy the season pass (on sale now for $300) you can reserve your spot at fiddle camp and I'll throw in the fiddle for FREE. So, you pretty much get a season pass and a fiddle. Not a bad combination, so why put off the dream of making that wonderful music any longer?!

All you need to bring to camp is yourself, the textbook (Old Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus by Wayne Erbsen), a spare set of fiddle strings, and an electric guitar tuner (I suggest snark tuners). The book costs around twenty dollars, strings are cheap online, so is the tuner. It's the least expensive way I know of getting a jump start on finally learning an instrument!

Sign up via email:

P.S. Antlerstock is still half price for next year for folks who attend this year, but sale is over Friday night!

Wool Drying by Woodstove

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My first-ever sheep were named Sal, Marvin, and Maude. They were a gift/barter, an exchange for fiddle lessons when I lived in a small rented cabin in Vermont. I picked them up from a farm over the state line in Hebron, New York. I loaded all three into the back of my Subaru station wagon. On the way home to Vermont I past a man and some workers loading hay into the back of a wagon along the side of the road. I needed hay and made the deal right then and there to return with an empty station wagon and buy a few bales. That man was Nelson Greene and I have been his customer ever since.

That was five years ago.
When I think of that first day driving home a shepherd, my eyes start to tingle.

Because of those sheep I started the adventure of acquiring a sheepdog, having fallen in love with the majesty and magic of sheepdogs and their trials. I visited trials, trainers, attended clinics and emailed breeders. I found a dog that needed a home and realized I was not the home for her. She was returned to the kennel I adopted her from, a failure on my behalf. Instead I moved myself and three sheep to a farm I bought, our own home. Gibson was flown from Idaho and I picked him up at the Albany airport in a little red truck I bought for 2900 with a check I earned writing a chicken book.

That was four years ago.
When I think of him asleep on my lap as I drove north to Jackson, tears start to form.

As novice farmer and puppy, we learned as a team of beginners. So many achievements and mistakes were made. Lambs were born on this mountain for the first time in a hundred years. With the joys of new lambs the flock grew and shrunk. A stretch of bad luck and mistakes as a new shepherd claimed the lives of three beautiful Blackface sheep. All through these years, the ebb and flow of the flock, my three sheep from Vermont remained. They never grew ill. They only grew old. They offered wool, warm backs to lean against while spinning wool or reading books. They escaped, they bleated, they danced, and learned my voice. Gibson grew into a scrappy and resourceful partner, if a little soft and naive when it came to being taken advantage of. I can't blame him, after all, I am the one who raised him.

That has been the last three years.
When I think of all I have learned, loss, regretted and celebrated, tears begin to fall.

Four days ago I stepped outside shortly after dawn and found Maude, my oldest ewe, one of the originals, cast on her back and bloated as roadkill. I was certain she was dead. A friend was with me and together we ran to her side and realized she wasn't dead. We righted her and sheep burped out some gas. We carried her into the barn with fresh hay, grain, and water. I treated her the best I could and she started to recover. She went from bloated to relieved. She went from refusing food to eating. She went from eating to eating well. I have been checking on her every few hours and I don't think she will be with us much longer. I found her on her side. She was barely alive. I sat with her, my hand on her neck. I thought of how many years she would not let me touch her. I felt her wool and stroked her head. So much has changed in five years. My entire life turned in circles, a past life left behind, heartbreak, mistakes, stories, five books...Maude has been there for all of it. I told her how sorry I was. She didn't flinch at my touch. That is how I know she is dying.

That was ten minutes ago.
When I think of how much I came to love that awful sheep, I can not stop crying.

Turning Wool Into Yarn!

Here is the newest vlog! A simple introduction to turning wool into yarn using only some dish soap, dog brushes, and a homemade drop spindle. If you never were sure how that curly wool off a sheep's back turns into yarn, this is a basic (but complete) story of wool cut off a sheep's back turned into actual yarn in minutes. Thanks for watching it, and please do subscribe to the Youtube Channel!

Now, in a few weeks (November 22nd!) we will be doing everything you see in the video, but on a larger scale. Instead of watching jump cuts you'll actually be with me in the sheep pasture, learning to flip and take wool from a sheep with minimum stress or fuss. Then we'll wash, dry, and turn wool into yarn with both drop spindles and a spinning wheel. It's a wonderful day-long workshop held right here at the farm, inside by the wood stove. An annual favorite and there are only five spots left. To make it even more enticing, I would happily make this workshop (or the Wheel of the Year workshop in December) buy one get one. So sign up for either of these workshops and come to another regular one-day workshop within the next calendar year for FREE. Join in with this local community of farmers, friends, and family and go home knowing a little more and supporting the One Woman Farm!

Wooly Weekend!
November 22nd 2014
Here at CAF

Join me at the farm this November for a comfy workshop inside by the wood stove. We will talk about all things sheep, wool, and spinning! The workshop will begin outside with the sheep and go over the basics of what Living with Sheep is like and what to expect along that journey. Then a sheep will have some wool sheared off and brought inside to begin the wonderful story of yarn! The wool we cut will be washed, dried by the fire, carded by hand, and spun with a drop spindle. Watch and help turn the hair off the back of an animal become a clean, warm, and beautiful piece of hand spun yarn.

Bring your knitting projects and share your own work with wool with other workshoppers. Try a spinning wheel out. Sit and listen to stories of my own flock, lessons learned (good and bad) and what having sheep in your life can mean and be to you! This is a workshop both for fiber fans who love the art of knitting as well as people considering adding a trio of sheep to the backyard.

I hope that Patty Wesner will join in with us as well, talking about her experiences with her first ever flock of sheep she raised as feeder lambs. She will be harvesting their fleeces, but as sheepskins for the farmhouse and not wool. Another approach, and one that comes with some amazing lamb masala in the end! So join us here in the farmhouse to get a broad introduction to sheep and wool production at home.

Yuletide Cheer
December 6th 2014
Here at CAF

This is a new event here at Cold Antler Farm, one I never thought to offer until my last two books came out. This is a workshop talking about farming within the traditions and mythology around the Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is a general term for the pre-Christian practices of agricultural Europe. In my case: the Celtic Tradition. Since it is so close to the Solstice and the farm will be lit with bayberry candles, fresh fir branches, and a small tree inside the window we’ll start at Yule and talk about each of the eight festivals of the Wheel and how the farm life dances along with them, in music, story, and myth!

This will be a workshop taking much on farming and faith, finding meaning in mythology and ancient traditions and why I chose this path. I hope that folks interested in the Wheel will come and share their stories. There will also be open discussions on spirituality and farming in general, the importance of feeling connected to your land, and how spiritual groups and communities in general are a part of life here in Washington County. So it’s a little deeper, a little more introspective. But if your faith and your farm are connected you may be interested in joining this discussion.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Antlerstock was WONDERFUL!

Another Antlerstock has come and gone and it seems like we just beat the true chill of late fall. This morning the farm is 26 degrees! Luckily this past weekend wasn't so cold, but instead just a little soggy. That didn't stop the teachers and attendees who made the event as wonderful as it was though. Saturday folks worked outside between the raindrops as they learned traditional woodsman skills, cut down trees, learned about draft horses and harnessing and watched a ton of horse move a 25-foot log up a country road. We cut wool off a sheep's back and learned to wash, card, and hand spin it (And all that before lunch on the first day!). Over the course of the next two days three authors, seven teachers, and a pile of excited folks tackled everything from learning to tend sourdough bread starter to chainsaw safety. There was small livestock butchering demonstrations, herbalism for beginners (which made an amazing cut and scrape salve) and beekeeping naturally under the tents while the rain came and went.  Greg of Living Iron Forge set up a blacksmithing demonstration and showed us how he made a knife with nothing but hammer, anvil, and fire! Some folks shot arrows for the first time on a hillside.  Folks spread out items for barter on quilts and traded everything from homemade quilts to herbal teas and chicken feeders. This might have been the most informative, put-together, and fun Antlerstock so far! People did things that surprised them and myself, including getting their hands between the skin and fur of a rabbit, throwing axes over their head at a target in the forest, and considering a backyard pig for the first time in their lives. I thank all who attended, taught, and gave their time, spirit, and smiles to my favorite festival of the year. Antlerstock is small, but mighty, and a club worth being a part of! I will certainly do it next year, and if you were one of the folks who attended this year and want to reserse a spot for next fall (Columbus Day Weekend, this time) you may do so for half price if you email me about it soon! My thank you for traveling from Canada, Ohio, Jersey, Vermont, Tennessee, and beyond.

Well, folks. Right now I am inside with a hot cup of coffee and a fire roaring. I am tired, very much so, but so pleased. For two days the farm, roads, forest, and fields around Cold Antler were full of a grand scene. And that little wool demonstration I did in a hour inspired a new wool to yarn Vlog I'll post this week and has me all excited for the workshop in a  few weeks where folks will really get to talk in detail about handspinning, sheep, and the amazing world of fiber arts that can live in your own backyard (while mowing your lawn, to boot).

So that was this weekend. I'm back to writing about a monster, updating The Birchthorn Project, planning new workshops (dates are set for Spring Fiddle Camp! March 28-29 2015) and some folks are already signing up!

I'll leave you with the best cake ever to grace this farm! Homemade by Tara Mattison, a barter for a few pounds of honey and worth every drop. A custom Merlin cake! Shared with friends by the wood stove in my little home on the mountain!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jasper for Sale!

Jasper, my POA (Pony of the Americas) is for sale, and only because I am not using him to his full potential. Through Merlin I have learned that draft ponies and horses will be my equine future, so I would like to find a good home for this splendid little guy. He is 11.3 hand pony, and has as work harness (collar is Amish made, nylon and metal harness, and collar pad). If you are looking for a great first equine to actually earn his keep, Jasper is it. He is wonderful being lead by a halter and lead rope in harness and hitched to a cart or stone boat can carry firewood, light logging, and drive carts. Speaking of carts: I have a small red cart for sale as well that needs a shaft repaired but fits him!

So this guy. He rides and drives. He stands for the farrier, trailers, and is also a great companion pony. He is 12-13 years old, gelded, and barefoot. I am asking $750 for the pony and $1200 for the pony, cart, harness and assorted tack. If you are interested in buying him but not ready to take him to your farm, you can buy him now and I will board him here for you through winter and into spring for a very low price (cost of his hay and 2 farrier visits). Please let me know!

NOTE: just because he is a pony does not mean he is for little kids! He is a working horse, Amish trained, and needs an experienced and confident rider. The rider in these photos is 5'4" and 111lbs. I say experienced not because he has any interest in bucking you off, or is in any way dangerous or mean spirited. Jasper is a lamb, but ponies are stubborn and sometimes need riders more stubborn than they are! If you just want a pasture pal or horse-powered ATV for yard work lead on halter, he is fine in any beginner home. But if you want to ride him you need to have some horse sense because Jasper is always happy to do what is asked once he understands you are leader. An understanding of natural horsemanship, a flag, and five minutes is all he needs to be in your pocket.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Send a Card for Samhain!

It's almost Samhain, and this farm will be celebrating the way it always does, a special dinner here at the farmhouse with close friends. I know some of you also celebrate Samhain, others adore Halloween, and some have banned both festivals from their homesteads. Well, this farm looks forward to October 31st all year, and this month is a celebration of love, light, life and gratitude. I urge you to send a loved one (especially those who have lost someone this year) a card telling them how grateful you are they are in your life, and to maybe even light a Jackolantern with the memory of someone you no longer share your life with. It's a day of reflection, repose, and memories for myself and many others.

If you wish to send this farm a card, please do! I'll try to send some back in return! Send it to this simple address and it will most likely find me.

Jenna Woginrich
Cold Antler Farm
Cambridge, NY 12816

New Vlog: Money, Family, Fear

I filmed this vlog yesterday to address a question I asked on Facebook. I asked which of the following things are holding back your farm dream the most? Money, Family, or Fear? A few people admitted to fear, others admitted to unsupportive souses, but the overwhelming response was money. I can certainly relate to that! SO I wanted to post this to encourage people to start small, start where they are, reach out to local farmers, volunteer, workshop, and basically move from a passive day dreamer to an active seeker towards the life you want.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Arrows Risen!

This weekend was the autumnal event Arrows Rising! Ladies from Canada and New Jersey traveled to learn the basics of traditional archery, and by the end of the weekend were shooting a timed round through the woods (three forest targets over 200 combined yards of varied terrain in under 30seconds!) and one even chose to mount up on Merlin and shoot horseback! We covered the basics of stance, safety, instinctive shooting, and mixed up the practice time in the field with small contests, timed rounds, and such. Basically: it is a weekend where a beginner lives, breathes, and sings archery for two days. You get sore, you get frustrated, but you go home knowing your bow well. You can string and unstring it at a moments notice. You have a bit of lanolin or beeswax in your pocket now, to care for the wood and tension. You understand distance, direction, and your own body better. For two days this is all we did, and it was wonderful.

Come Saturday night I invited everyone back (it was a smaller group) for dinner at the farmhouse and a Game Night. Oh my goodness, what a great decision that was! We ate slow-cooked pork that spent ten hours in a bath of hard cider, honey, and barbecue sauce over rice. We drank cider (tis the season!) and played two games of Forbidden Island. We even won the first game, and since FI is a co-op game (we all play as a team to win, not against each other) I bet it even made our shooting as a group better! One of the folks who came was a fellow falconer and I got to meet her new jack Merlin, which was a treat. I am so used to Italics and his big feet and fierce ways, that the little falcon was like someone shrunk a monster. Pokemon made so much more sense after that.

The weekend flew by for me, and I hope it did for the attendees as well. Sunday afternoon we stopped by the Bedlam Farm Open House at Jon Katz's farm. It was great to see him and meet some of the readers who also check in with me from time to time. By 4PM on Sunday everyone was packing up. Two days on our feet in the woods, out in the weather, and shooting hundreds of arrows - all of us were due for a good rest. Sara, one of the guests, was staying in the area an extra evening and decide to stick around after the workshop to help with chores, and I think she may have regretted that choice. I'll come back and explain why after I get back from picking up a load of hay, but let's just say this as a teaser:

It doesn't matter how tired you are when the sheep AND a goat decide to escape!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pigs for Sale!

If you are within a drive of Cold Antler and would like to buy a quarter or half share of a pig, please email me at These shares are for the live pig, which you co-own, and I raise, feed, and care for until slaughter time. Your money covers their purchase, feed, and butchering costs and are presented with the frozen and smoked pig weight (not hanging with bones weight) upon pickup. These shares are for pigs raised in early spring through next fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raising Meat Rabbits

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Brew Season

Homebrewing is something I always get excited about in the fall, and this year has not dissapointed. What you see there is my first ever all-grain pale ale. I made it with organic ingredients, a small batch, and it turned out just the right blend of bitter and refreshing. It carbonated beautifully, and every time I took a sip I tried to think of a reason anyone who drinks beer wouldn't want to make their own? Brewing is like making music, some folks need to create and not just listen. Even a basic or simple song brings such joy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Annie's Adventure

Tonight my pigs dined on the insides of freshly scooped jack-o-lanterns, some too bitter home-brew, sliced turnips and cracked corn. They are all falling asleep on beds of fresh straw, and I hope they appreciate it. Tonight the temperatures will drop into the low thirties and I am grateful for a warm fire here inside with the dogs and cats. It is rare that all five of us are in the house together. The main pack of three, Annie, Gibson and I are always together but the cats come and go as they please, spending most nights outside hunting and returning at daybreak for their cat chow and a nap indoors. But the chill brought everyone in and I am happy about that. Because one of us was nearly lost.

Annie, the eldest, ran away today. She literally ran off. She used her nose to pry open a sliding glass door and made a run for it. She headed into the woods in a pure Call-of-the-Wild bliss only Siberian huskies know (even 15-year-olds). It took an hour to find her, me and Gibson in the pickup truck driving up and down the mountain. I finally found her at the chicken feeders eating chicken feed, covered in mud, looking blissful and tired. I called to her and she ran to the truck and jumped inside. I was never so happy to hug an old bad dog...

So now we are indoors, looking forward to a movie night with good friends and then tomorrow is two days of Archery for the fall event: Arrows Rising! I have folks from Canada, New Jersey, NY and PA coming and I look forward to two chilly days of archery and woodland shooting. It's going to be a sunny (but cold) spell of days and look forward to it! And since Annie has already scared away all the deer and critters on her adventure, I don't expect any casualties of that sort. Just the usual fat and happy pigs, turkey gangs, and chilly mornings with hot coffee. Here Here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall Foliage by Horseback!

This is the tenth vlog, and all I have to share is a little postcard of today in Washington County, New York. See the places I get to ride Merlin whenever I wish, across the road from my own little farmhouse. The views of the Taconic Mountains and Vermont, a good black pony, and the colors and spirit of the season. I hope you enjoy this short video, as it was a joy to make and film. Merlin didn't even mind carrying the macbook in his saddlebags.

P.S. If you like these videos, please let me know! So far the feedback has been positive, but sparse, so if you watch these and enjoy them let me know (and let me know if you don't like them, as well) and any suggestions for future topics?

P.P.S. Check the Birchthorn Webpage for updates and a new chapter (updated every Tuesday, or more) and if you live within driving distance of CAF, shares of live pigs are now on sale for next spring! Reserve your 1/4 or 1/2 today, just email me for details.

Season Pass Sale Through Sunday!

Season Passes are now on sale, just through to the end of the weekend! If you would like to buy a season pass for a FULL YEAR of workshops and classes (or renew your old passes) They are on sale until Sunday Night for $275. If you buy one of the remaining passes it will INCLUDE ANTLERSTOCK in two weeks, and gives you the ability to return for ANY events (save the cost of instruments or bows, etc) for a full year. So buy a pass and come to Antlerstock, then return in November to learn about wool and sheep! Or come for the Wheel of the Year talk near Yuletide. March Fiddle Camp will be announced soon (always sells out) and plans for new workshops are in the works, with author and guest speakers coming to promote new books and events! So Support CAF, expand your homesteading horizons, and be a part of the family of friends and neighbors that make this place as magical as it is.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Five Reasons Women Should Start Hunting!

Cannons & Guns

The last few days I have been fairly quiet on the blogging and video fronts: but for good reason, my parents drove up from PA for a visit! They came up Sunday night and joined me and a small army of friends and neighbors for a Game Night and homemade pizza celebration. They got to meet a pile of farmers, falconers, and friends and we drank cider and home-brew and laughed around the table while playing a game of The Resistance.  My father ended up being one of the spies! The cad!

The next day we traveled to Fort Ticonderoga. We are all history buffs (my father is a war veteran and my mother a history teacher) and to see 200-year-old cannons (close up of one of those beautiful monsters above), uniforms worn by British officers, and the same sabers wielded by Scottish horsemen....amazing! I was so close to the red wool jacket I could have tried it on. The view of Lake Champlain and all the forests around was breathtaking, the weather perfect, and I don't think anyone could have painted a better vision of Autumn than Mother Nature did with her leaves for them. It was a great time and I tried to spend as much of it as I could with them. I miss them a lot and try to be a decent daughter (and tour guide) when they are guests of my county.

When they did say their goodbyes and head south I headed into the state game lands for some bird hunting. I didn't see any pheasants or grouse but I did get inspired for the next vlog: Five Reasons Women Should Hunt! It'll be uploaded later today. I hope it gets some of you out there already willing to raise a broiler or pork chop to consider taking on the wildness and wonder of the hunt! I'm a passionate (if, unlucky) hunter and think more women should take on their local whitetails, turkeys, boars, and birds! So check back for that later tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunset Ride

On Friday afternoon, Patty and I tacked up our mounts and headed to the Merck Forest and Farmland center for a ride at peak foliage. It was stunning! And the 3 mile ride scaled up and down trails, past ponds and fields, and gorgeous gravel and grassy paths. I caught this shot of Patty and Steele taking in the sunset, and it captures the beauty of the entire day and this entire season of a world on fire.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Scary Stories

Today was constant rain. It never thundered or grew too windy. It was not too cold or too harsh, either. It was just a good rain. The kind that makes the whole day feel like a tired 3PM, from post-morning chores all the way through till dark. I wanted to do a video about meat rabbits but didn't want to film outside in the rain, so I set up the camera indoors and decided to do the best thing I could think of for a gray and soggy day: tell a scary story.

I love a good ghost story. I really do. No part of me can watch slasher films and enjoy them. I don't care for reckless murder as entertainment, but a good piece of mythology gets me all excited. It can be campy or pop art, it doesn't matter. I'll get just as excited watching the Paranormal Activity movie as I will reading Lovecraft. It's that spooky fun that gets your eyes wider and makes you curl up in a sweater under a covers and quiver a little.

The paranormal has always been pretty normal for me, meaning my interest in it - not my experiences. I have had one truly horrifying experience and that is talked about more in the vlog post below, but first I want to talk about the scary stories you think of when October turns rainy and the mind wanders.

So, I don't have any creepy stories of growing up, I just always remember a love for folklore and mythology. Both my elementary school and public school libraries had decent occult sections and I remember a book called "How to find a ghost" a children's guide to paranormal investigation that fascinated and terrified me. It had cartoons and charts in it for drawing chalk lines around chair legs and such, but what intrigued me was the authors frankness for what I considered extraordinary. So I remember that book, and the infamous "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series. Watching "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" on Snick and memorizing the first segment of Poe's The Raven. This makes me sound like Wednesday Adams but I was more of a little hobbit, always in the woods. Always going on small adventures. Always around dogs.

It's late and I'm not sure what the point of this post is besides the observation that rainy days heading towards colder weather make me crave a good tale, and they remind me how much I always craved it. I feel lucky to have grown up in my own version of Sunnydale, with great reference and just enough small town superstition to make this month a little magic. In the video I say I don't celebrate Halloween, but that doesn't mean I don't savor the 31st. Samhain is a big deal and matters very much. There's a special dinner here with friends, and it is beautiful. It's an important day for sure but you won't find rubber masks, fake blood, slutty costumes or tombstone-shaped cookies on a platter while The Monster Mash plays. Samhain is a different vibe, more of a harvest festival mixed with a wake, but special. And while I don't expect ghosts to show (nor will I be tracing chair legs), there's a little spark of my childhood reading habits that makes me believe they could. I'm okay with some whimsy in my life, even if I'm hiding under the covers when it happens.

So here is a story about ghosts on this farm. And I hope you enjoyed your rainy days, wherever they take you!

P.S. If you like stories of the unusual, there are some great podcasts out there. My favorite of all time is the now debunked, Hometown Tales. That podcast is still available to download and tells urban legends and folklore from all over the world. Gene and Bryan, of New Jersey, do an amazing job and I can't recommend them enough. The new Jessica Chobot show (of Nerdist News) is called Bizarre States and I enjoy it a lot as well.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Lights Up Everything

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to Make Hard Cider!

This vlog is all about home brewing, hard cider in particular! I want to encourage anyone interested in small batch brewing to give this a shot. It's not expensive, hard, or troublesome - but it does involve some minor purchases and gear. The fine folks over at Mountain Feed have everything you need to brew online. Tell them I said hello!

This video is entirely for small batch brewing, only one gallon at a time. A gallon jug costs around 5 bucks, a stopper and aerator, a few dollars. Yeast is a couple of quarters. It's an inexpensive way to start a new hobby and a great barter item for the homestead! For this video you also need to get a gallon of soft, fresh-pressed, cider and a  pound of honey. It will ferment around a dozen standard beer bottles worth of cider, which you can bottle at home.

Some essential tips:

Set your cider on a countertop the night before, so it isn't cold for brew day.

Keep yeast in your fridge when not in use!

Once in fermentation jug, set your cider aside in a place around 60-70 degrees.

Start collecting beer bottles with pry (not twist) tops, you can wash and reuse these!

Buy new bottle caps and bottle capper. You will use these in a month to bottle!

The Lucky Limper

If you watched the last vlog, you may have noticed a limping turkey in the background. That is Bob Fedell! Bob Fedell does seem pretty pathetic, hopping about, but don't feel bad for him for one second. He is the luckiest limper in the county. Here is his story:

Two years ago at the annual spring poultry swap, I bought three tom turkeys from the back of some guy's pickup truck. They were lifted from a large dog crate in his pickup and placed into a crate in the back of mine. We shook hands, I handed over the cash, and headed home to Cold Antler three turkeys richer. I never thought to ask the seller if the turkeys could walk.

When I got home and let Bob and the boys out into their new home (I named the others Lucas and Brendon, after my pal Tom's best friends) I noticed one of the birds could barely walk. He was the handsomest of the trio, his body big and feathers bright. Yet he could barely drag his body across the farmyard? Seeing no tangled string and feeling no broken bones, I assumed he strained it or had broken it. It made sense to me, that someone was trying to sell a bum bird, no questions asked. I decided if he didn't turn around and heal soon I'd eat him. Harsh, but hey, this is farm country. I wasn't about to call the vet for a twenty dollar turkey I could turn into 14 meals!

So Bob limped about, much slower than the high stepping Brendon and Lucas. But every day he seemed a little better, the limp became much less of a hop and more of a saunter. Come Thanksgiving time he was still limping, and on that rainy and cold morning of slaughter, he just seemed too dang pathetic to eat. Brendon became the meal for a dozen people instead (Lucas stayed to be a breeding Tom) and I figured he could be the Yule meal if he healed by then.

Yule came and we had ham and lamb. Bob Fedell was just too much like Tiny Tim, sad and needing a crutch. Or he was swaggering around like a drunk. At this point he was totally fine, despite the limping, and his molted feathers came in better than ever. I still didn't eat him. And now it has been two years and while his leg has healed up a lot since those first few weeks here, he has never had full mobility. He follows Lucas and the new birds, roosts in the barn on the ground hay, and is the eldest turkey I will probably ever own.

So that is Bob Fedell's story. He will not be eaten, at least not by me. He hops around and looks shabby, but don't let him fool you. He knows his bum leg is the reason he stays out of the oven and surrounded by a harem of new turkey ladies. Bob is here to stay. He's the luckiest, gimpy, turkey in the whole dang state! And next time you sprain an ankle or loose your high stepping, think about this: You may end up old surrounded by young women and endless corn. Life could be worst!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Farm Memoirs I Adore!

This Weekend!

Saturday will begin at 9AM, with introductions, farm rules, and sign in right in front of the farmhouse. At 9:30AM workshops will start. You will need to come prepared for an entire day outdoors, in all possible weather. (More on that below in the notes.) I suggest you also bring a notebook and writing tools, as there will be many topics covered and some speakers will not have hand outs. Cash is good too if you want to buy any vendor goods from various speakers and stations

Set up Time will also include barter blanket set up! Bring a blanket and homesteading/farming/hunting/etc related items you wish to offer for trade. The blankets will be on display all day and you can haggle with others, in a moneyless exchange of goods! A great way to meet new people and get acquainted. Small livestock is okay - I can provide water and shade of course - but confinement is up to you. So BYOC.

It is $200 a person for both days, you learn a lot, meet a lot of folks, and help support CAF going into winter. Join us for all of this below in a small festival setting with plenty of teacher time to ask questions and interact with animals, tools, and gear.

Note: topics may be added or changed, but far as I know this is the most up-to-date list of events


Backyard Forestry and Traditional Timber Harvesting Methods: Brett McLeod
Brett will do a forest walk, and take down a tree with the help of some volunteers. Using tools such as the crosscut saw, axe, and removing logs by horse. Learn about why trees are harvested, how to fell a tree, and traditional woodland harvesting for fuel and lumber.


Harvesting Wool and Hand Spinning: Jenna Woginrich
We'll cut some wool off a sheep, wash it, dry it, and learn to hand card and turn it into yarn using a drop spindle. Meet the flock and Gibson!


The Blacksmith's Forge: Greg Clasby
There will be a blacksmith's tent this year, and greg will talk about his craft and how he got involved in the ancient art. He will have some wares for sale as well!

Head into town for cafe lunch or bring a packed lunch!

ALL DAY EVENTS INCLUDE: Pumpkin Carving station, Barter Blankets, Small Farm Stand of CAF books and gear, farm antiques and goods.


Frugal Kitchen and REAL Food Preservation: Cathy Daughton
A mother of four, homesteader, sportswoman and seasoned preserver - Cathy will discuss making your homegrown foods (and your budget) stretch farther. Great Q&A session for sure!

Archery 101: Jenna Woginrich Learn the basics of traditional archery equipment and techniques. Shoot at targets, and learn stance, instinctive shooting basics, and safety!

2:15PM Beekeeping 101: Meg Paska
Thinking about bees? Meg is an author, teacher and speaker about honeybees as well as an accomplished farmer in urban and rural environs. She will talk about getting into the honey business! She'll have her book for sale, and will happily sign it!

3:30PM Intro to Draft Horses! Patty Wesner
Meet Steele, a ton of horse! And learn about how one harnesses, works, and gets started in working with these gentle giants.

4:30 PM - Daily Wrap Up. Thanks! Everyone leaves Property for a few hours to relax, shower, eat dinner, nap, etc!

Return at 7:30PM for optional campfire and after party. It's not an official event by any means and meal is potluck! BYOB. Bring your instruments though and join in casual conversation and song, and reading of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by firelight!



Optional Yoga Morning with Jess Shepherd!
Come early if you aren't afraid of an October Sunrise. Morning meditation on the high pasture with Jess and a morning stretch. Bring your own Blanket, as yoga mats in a livestock pasture are a no go.


Chainsaw 101 - Brett McLeod
The basics for safety and usage, come knowing nothing about chain saws and leave knowing what size fits you, how to operate safely, and the pros and cons of different models.

Intro to Milk-based Soapmaking: Jenna Woginrich
Talk and demonstration of a simple soap recipe. Learn about safe practices with lye, simple hand tools for mixing, and adding herbs, oils, and fragrance. Soaps from the farm will be for sale. So thank Bonita when you see her!

10:15 AM

Herbalism 101: Elizabeth McCarty
Grow your own medicine cabinet! This is an introduction to using herbs in tinctures, salves, and more.

11:00 Sourdough Bread Baking! Kathryn Jones
The most intimidating part of making sourdough is learning to make the starter. Kathryn is a pro and has been doing this for years at WindWomen Farm! Learn this art and all about starting to bake bread at home.

12-1 Lunch

1:15 PM

Intro to Mountain Music
Get your hands on a fiddle, dulcimer, or banjo. Try out these instruments and learn how to teach yourself and get started on the dream of being a musician of this beautiful music of American Heritage!


Raising Pigs! Brett Mcleod
A talk about porcine 101 and some value-added ways to make a killing on pork. Brett knows about portable pig roasts, CSAs, and home use pork and will be talking about forest and barn raising of the mighty pig.

Livestock for Beginners: Jenna Woginrich
Thinking about the gateway livestock? It's time to meet a bird or two and see what it takes to go from egg consumer to egg producer! Will also cover meat rabbits for urban or small spaces.

3:00PM Prepping for The Rest of Us: Jenna Woginrich
A serious talk about being a more responsible citizen when it comes to your own safety in an emergency situation. Tin foil hats will not be worn, a real talk about reasons you should consider a preparedness lifestyle for storms, financial challenges (job loss, death of spouse), blackouts, climate change or even worst case scenarios.

4PM Afternoon Wrap Up, Thanks, Closing of Barter Blankets. That'll be the end of another great festival!

Rules and Notes:
No dogs or small children allowed at Antlerstock, for their safety and the safety of others and my animals.

No smoking on property, period.

Expect to be out of doors all day. The farm house will be not for public use, and there will be an outdoor porta-jon.

I tell folks coming to such events to back like they are going backpacking: bring a change of clothes, extra socks, snacks, water, and any personal medications or needs. Have good boots, pants that protect you from forrest stickers and thorns, and bring a chair to sit in. There will be bottled water and hay bales, but nothing beats your own stash of snacks and a good chair. Bring raingear! Umbrellas are not good for the woods or barns, so focus on a hooded rain jacket if you want.

October is Here!

October is here, the best month, the time I wait for all year. I'm so glad he's back, you just can't know.