Friday, December 26, 2014

How I Get By

So in a few minutes my good friend Chris will be coming over with a piece of brake line to replace what has rusted out on my truck. He's also coming with a hundred pounds of feed since I can't run to pick up more at the store. Waiting for him when he arrives is a large cast iron skillet with three large potatoes (quartered, length-wise) and a roasted chicken. The taters and the bird all came from Stannard Farm and they are all braised with an equal parts mixture of honey, bourbon, and butter - melted over the stove and then brushed all over the bird and vegetables. It is all sprinkled with chicken rub spices and the house smells amazing. Chris refuses to let me pay him for repairing the truck (and Brigit knows I can't swing a mechanic) so he and his family have a gift basket waiting of jam, pork, lamb,and honey and other odds and ends. He may not accept payment, but he sure can accept a bit of this farm's bounty!

That is just one example of how much community matters around here. Skills are swapped, barter is king, and friends are a wealth far beyond money. I am cash poor but I am the richest woman I know when it comes to people in my life. Last night Tyler and Tara (of picked me up for Christmas Dinner over at Livingston Brook Farm. I brought my basket of jam, honey and the hearty wheat bread and dinner was amazing! Turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, cranberry sauce, coffee and dessert! My bread was just the thing for mopping up gravy and we spent the night just talking in front of their fireplace. Dogs and kittens in laps, no tv or movies, just good drinks, full bellies, good friends and some gift giving and story telling. Perfect. I am so grateful for these people!

And oh, the people! On Christmas eve a neighbor and Apprentice Falconer named Jeremy (this is his first year!) came by and as a thank you for giving him some old gear that didn't fit Italics he handed me a pair of handmade jesses and a piece of Kangaroo Leather for hood making! It's so soft and supple, maybe too much for a hood but for anklets, repairs, flying and hunting gear it is perfect. He drove me to the Falconers' Christmas Eve party where lots of friends and happy faces were toasting nog and talking birds. They are the folks who took me out into the wild with a hawk on my fist. They are the ones who taught me to hand sew hoods and work leather with my clumsy hands. They are amazing, and another gift.

This is how I get by as a single woman with a passion for a ridiculous life here in the North Country, my fiends. These are the people who have made my life worth living, worth sharing, worth learning and teaching and being more and more. They are the people I fight beside at Taekwondo and I ride beside on horseback into the mountains. They are the ones who taught me to hunt, to take hawks out of the sky and train them, and to cook bourbon basted birds in a home warmed by wood fire.

Community, experience, frugality, and a happiness and peace with being right here at home - that is how I get by. Over the past two years the person this farm has changed me into is 180ยบ different than the woman she once was. There is less wanting and more fight in the dog for keeping. There is more joy in a chicken dinner and board game night with friends than a free trip overseas to eat in a restaurant in another country. There is nothing wrong with that life, nothing at all, but do I ever love the reality here at home. I would give up every plane ticket and vacation for the rest of my life to keep a pony, saddle, hawk and dog in my life from here on out.

I make my living in a couple dozen ways, working harder than ever before at any 9-5 gig. There are no weekends, there are no days off. I raise pork and teach classes. I write freelance and design logos. I hand in magazine articles, books proposals, and speak at local schools and colleges. I barter. I don't buy things like clothes, restaurant dinners, or spend time in malls for fun. I'm giving up more and more of the fringes - like my smart phone and data plan. I have learned to re use coffee grounds, shop in thrift shops and tag sales, and eat more food grown at home. I would rather spend a day hunting than at a concert, unless that concert is friends around a campfire playing homemade music with hunting stories, ale, and roast beasts! I am more a homesteader than ever before if only for the many many ways I try and pay the bills. And for that every day is a quest towards keeping my hobbit hole mine. I am so grateful for the animals, the people, and the meaning I find in all this. Life matters more to me than ever before.

And of course, and arguably as important as any neighbor here in Washington County, is YOU! The readers of this blog are what make my life possible as a writer. You following along, sending messages, holiday greetings, watching vlogs and leaving comments (which I strongly encourage now!) YOU are also how I get by! I just wanted to write a bit to share that gratitude, which is nearly impossible to share on a one-on-one basis. So I thank you, and feel so lucky to have you all, and I hope you will follow Cold Antler Farm into her best year ever! 2015!


P.S. On Christmas Day I was able to sell Merlin's Meadowbrook Cart, an amazing blessing to this farm, even if it is a sad thing to give up. But it means the farm can catch up on one more late mortgage payment and keep the wolves from the door for a few more weeks! So I am thankful for that as well! I don't need a cart, not really, and I'll find one again someday. But I do need a roof over my head and that - and a creative life here at CAF, is a worthy mission to fight for every morning!


Blogger Dana "Aurora" Johnson said...

It sounds to me as though you're celebrating the true meaning of the season!

Also, have you thought about offering webinars as another means of income? You already teach classes, and you make vlogs - it's a combination of the two! Your local audience is important, but your web audience might be interested in paying for some dulcimer lessons too. Both live chat lessons or pre-recorded ones are a possibility. Just an idea!

December 27, 2014 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

The bartering way of life is such a wonderful way to be. What a gift that you are able to share skills with those who have focused on other areas of their lives and can aid others in there quest for independence. Skills are indeed, more valuable than money. So glad that you are able to live your life on your terms. Continued blessings in the New Year, farmer.

December 27, 2014 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I have recently come across your blog again after not having the web for quite some time. Re reading your struggles and accomplishments is refreshing and inspiring. I am on the hunt for the land and you are truly living the way I see myself living in five years. My husband and I are so eager for the land, the farm, the chickens, the home grown ham and turkey, the days in the garden. Your posts remind me of my own goals each morning and I so appreciate that! As a baker, knitter, leather worker, wood chopper, water hauler, bus dweller... I have also made big changes just in the last year. I look forward to an even better 2015 and am excited to hear about what is coming up in this next chapter for you! Happy New Year!

December 27, 2014 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger becky said...

Thanks for everything you do and just for being you. I found your name while reading a book I borrowed from the library at college when I first started 4 years ago. I was so thrilled to have a wider selection of homesteading type books gorge on. Anyways there was a little bio of you and your farm. I was so intrigued by it that I googled you and have been reading your blog ever since. I can't thank you enough for inspiring me to follow my dreams no matter how crazy they neighbors think I am for raising meat birds in my front yard or laying hens in the back.

December 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

No, no...its not how you are getting by, but how you are living so well!

A large bank account does not ensure a full and meaningful life.

December 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Happy holidays too! Great post... Did you ever vlog about your house itself? Always wanted to see the inside, or maybe a few pics? I love old farmhouses...

December 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Awesome:) We all need each other and a sharing of our talents and skills! Glad for you.

December 28, 2014 at 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know, I'm with Dana Aurora Johnson--I live in Austin and there's no way I can come up to Veryork for a workshop....but I'd still love to take a "class" from CAF! Maybe something interactive? I don't know what it'd look like, but there's definitely some interest down here in ATX :)

December 29, 2014 at 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a truly wonderful life, a powerful life. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit envious. I'm tied to my 9 to 5, at least while the kids are young and at home. Thanks for the excellent post.

December 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Webinars, with the added bonus of meeting some of your critters!

December 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Ginny said...

The chicken sounds wonderful... equal parts butter, honey, and burbon? What kind of spices do you rub on it? I wonder if I can do that in the crock pot...

January 12, 2015 at 2:26 PM  

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