Thursday, July 30, 2015

Not like this.

Afternoons like yesterday's make it impossible to believe that somewhere, in some climate-controlled office, people are designing iPhone Apps. That isn't a slam on corporate culture (trust me, I've done my time). It's actual incredulousness. It is literally unbelievable that just a few hours away from where I stood, staring at acres of hay - a city like New York is bustling with so much button-pushing activity. What a beautiful contrast. What a marvelous state with a contrary convergence of escape routes! I heart NY.

So type away you the few and proud, app jockeys; out here some of us are in the fields. Yesterday was a 90+ degrees and we'd be moving bales of hay with our bare hands. Most of us volunteers are in long pants, long sleeves, sunglasses and hats. We get rides out to the field and back on one of the big hay wagons and its the closest I ever felt to being a romantic version of a train-jumping hobo woman.I am surrounded by views designed for movie endings, friends smiling and slapping shoulders, and a work out that would make a hot yoga instructor throw up.

I love haying. I love the toil and I love that all day out there all we talk and think about is the river. When the work is done and all those bales are brought into the barn and stacked, we get to swill switchel and then peel (yes, peel) off our clothing and dump it into little biohazard bags in the back seats of our cars. Then we get suited up and enjoy the river. Gods bless the Battenkill - clean and clear and so close...

But long before we get to feel that first dive into the water we hay. That means us of humankind walk out into a giant-ass field where a semi-working baler has managed to lay the new squares out before us. Far as we can see are heavy things to lug and the sun is beating down. 300 to 350 of those bales need to be pickup up by us, stacked into piles of 5 or 6, and then a team of people on a large wagon come out and load them into the giant hauling boxes pulled by tractors that remind me of the cages on the side of a package of animal crackers. The sides are so high and the bars so thick, I expect a pacing tiger to be in there with us as we make our 4th trip back to the field and do it all over again.

We are the tigers. Us women and men out there, all of us helping each other out and earning our complaints and joys alike. We give up a few hours because no one farmer can do this alone, be it stacking into a barn or loading from the field. I never turn down an afternoon of haying if I can help it. It's proof positive that communities like this still exist, and always have.

That fellowship is the reason I am out here, because I don't know if it can exist in air conditioning. Not like this.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Haying Today at Maple Lane Farm!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This is it.

Of all the emails I get sent, one variety is getting harder and harder to read. They are the letters from people who are certain it is too late for them to change their lives and start homesteading. These are not elderly people, disabled people, or impoverished people. They are just people who have made up their mind that choices they made thus far are solid brick walls in the way of something they want. The letters always begin with how they wish with all their heart they could sell their home and move to a farm but their current circumstances make it too complicated, political, and possibly divorce-inducing to up and leave. It's heartbreaking.

And it isn't heartbreaking because these folks are in victim of life's cruel game. It's heartbreaking because of their certainty. It's bad enough to think of yourself as a prisoner of your past, but to write it down and send it out into the world... that's practically making it binding.

I'd like to say this to all of you who are certain your life can't change. It can. It may not happen fast as you like or as easily as you like, but it can.  Because for every letter I get from people who feel it is too late to farm I get three times as many from folks who are making it happen. These letters are celebrations and not one of those letters starts with "So, we won the lottery and..." No, they are all letters of long journeys, ten-year plans, long waits, retirement farms and/or drastic choices that made a lot of friends and family uncomfortable. The only difference between the first set of people and the second set is the ones on farms never bought the lie. They made it happen because they decided it could happen.

If you are in a house you don't want to be in, don't send letters condemning it as a prison. Thank the gods you have a house to begin with. Imagine if you wanted to live on your own farm and you were homeless?  You have a home! And if you have enough spare cash to buy a bag of potting soil and some seeds, guess what, you just started a farm. It may be just one pot of peas on the windowsill but who cares? Imagine if you set aside 20 dollars a paycheck to buy a container, soil, and a plant? In one spring you could have five different types of vegetables ready to harvest by fall. By September you may have a pair of hens laying eggs in your backyard. These are small and inexpensive purchases. You don't need a perfect raised bed garden laid out with gravel walkways or a coop from Williams-Sonoma. Turn a cinderblock on its side and fill it with dirt, instead herb block. Get a few pallets from the warehouse on the corner - get some nails - chicken shelter. If you are reading this, then you have the internet and therefore ALL the information you could ever need to do these things! How lucky are we to live in a time where horse carts can be bought online?! Amazing!

Not everyone can or will live on a farm that wants one. But the luck sure does live among those who don't let their circumstances stop them. Small choice are seeds. They lead up to larger decisions that change lives. Part of making your dreams happen is understanding that it is the hardest work you will ever do but what is the alternative? Regret? I've made a thousand mistakes here, but I regret none of them. What would haunt me is living a life where I never gave myself the opportunity to fail at a dream. Trying is what matters, hope is what matters, and taking that away from yourself is the ultimate tragedy to me.

So you'll never have your farm? Why? Because you won't have a country estate and gamboling beasts in the field tomorrow? Well, you can have a package of seeds today, or a rabbit hutch today, or start looking at the WWOOF page today and instead of going on vacation in Disneyland you can take the family to Italy to pull weeds and eat around the table at night with a dozen new friends.  What are you waiting for?

If you're looking for a sign. This is it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hot Coffee & Raining Apples!

It never gets old, that feeling of walking into the farmhouse after morning chores and smelling coffee on the stove. I always am pleasantly surprised at my own groggy preparation. Without thinking, as automatic as getting dressed and letting out the dogs to pee, I put some fresh grounds in the percolator and set it on the stove. This place is a wonderful contradiction of old and new. There is no drip coffee maker here, no espresso machine or Kuerig. There's just the old, flat-bottomed, stove top perker and I love it. There is no better way to enjoy a cup of coffee.

It's been hot this week and forecasted to get hotter. It'll be nearly 90 degrees but the hotter it gets the more I am reminded about winter preparations. I am in the process right now of trying to sell a new book, finishing up a novel for editing, and doing as much design, workshop, indie day, ad sales, lessons, and side projects as possible to prepare! The post below shares ways you can possibly help if so inclined. I'd sure appreciate it. But I have learned over the years that focusing on what stresses you out is the number one way to perpetuate it. So while I am advertising these workshops, lessons, etc a lot and hoping for the best response I am also enjoying the reason I work so hard to keep this farm: moments like this one I'm about to share.

This morning after the chores were done and the coffee had sated my morning roar - I went outside to walk into the sheep/horse pasture without the dogs. They were inside enjoying kibble and naps, but I wanted to give the ovine/equine side of things a morning treat. The apple trees are BURSTING this year in Washington County and I wanted to grab a heavy branch and shake a few dozen apples down for the gang. I walked in through the gate, where MOnday was standing to greet me. As far as bottle rams go, he's a star and seemed to nod to me as I passed him. I ran my hand down his back, checking for his condition inside that thick wool (he's a brick house, no worries there) and to say hello. I patted my side and he followed me uphill, knowing exactly what was to come...

I grabbed a particularly lush branch and shook it, hard. Out on the pasture apples rained and thumped about. The sheep baaed and bleated and ran to me in a happy stampede! Merlin backed out of his residency in the sheep shed and came trotting over. God's Body, may I never see a prettier sight in my life than a black draft horse coming towards. Everyone munched and mawed and I sat down there took in the moment. A girl, her flock, her horse, a bounty from her own trees. The view of the white farmhouse with a humble pile of wood already stacked. The lawn recently mowed, the water tubs all filled. I had a lot of work ahead yet today - farm, writing, and design - but what a pleasant burden that is? So I sat next to Sal and watched him chomp those apples in half. I scratched his ears and thought about the day I drove him to that rented cabin in Vermont in the back of my old Subaru. Almost a decade later, here we are.

And by the Gods, here we will stay.

Winter is Coming!

Winter is coming and this gal needs to get important truck and house repairs ready going into fall. A lot of life has stacked up at once and so I am in the process of getting things back to a civilized place. There is also firewood to stack, chimneys to clean, and hay to buy in bulk. Want to support this small farmer giving it her all? Well I am here asking for your support! The farm needs it, more than ever. How can you do that? I suggest one of these things things!

1. Hire me for some graphic design work! I specialize in branding. Get a custom logo for your farm, event, tattoo, whatever! Rates are on sale to strike up more business! Email me to sign up!

2. Come to a workshop or event at the farm. Here is a list of ALL the events coming up at Cold Antler Farm! Join us for one, or for them all. You can pay per workshop or get a Season Pass on sale for $250. That pass lasts a year and includes Fiddle, Archery and weekend long events like Antlerstock (bows and fiddles are extra).

Can't come to the farm and don't need a logo? How about buying a workshop for a local who can attend, scholarship style. How about a logo as a gift for a friend starting her own business or small farm? Logos and workshops make great gifts and keep the farm humming with activity!

Full list of events here!

3. Put up an ad on CAF! Do you have a small business or want to promote your own blog? Buying an ad gets you eyes of my audience and is a great way to support CAF. Ads on sale as well.  Email me to sign up!

5. Choose to become a Clan Member, Clan Cold Antler is the folks who sign up for a monthly subscription, a voluntary way to compensate me for what you see here writing and video wise. This blog and the vlogs will always remain free but some folks like to offer payment as a way support the creator. If you do sign up as a subscriber and send me your email address I will invite you to a private Clan Blog which includes additional content. This month it included the outline and intro of the new Merlin book I am working on as well as extra photos from the Cantrip Concert.

6. Not in a place to do any of these things? Well that is fine, your readership is such a gift in itself! But there are ways to still help that cost you nothing at all. There are ever-changing ads here you can click and learn about the sponsors, some of them offer a small financial kickback. Write a sponsor of a permanent ad who has been on the blog a long time and thank them, via email. You can share the blog with friends, like and subscribe to the videos on youtube. You can just stick around, say a prayer, and keep watching to see how I do here in Veryork.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sae Will We Yet

I got an email from the guitarist of the band Cantrip early last week. He wanted to let me know that there would be another small house concert over in Arlington, Vermont. This email was a quiet thrill. I was so happy one of my favorite bands was going to be back here to play live. I immediately contacted Patty and Mark over at Livingston Brook Farm and told them about it. If there was one event not to miss, it was seeing these gentlemen playing the fiddle, pipes, and guitar right in front of you. The last time they performed it was amazing and I wanted to share it with the folks I love. I knew Tara and Tyler had already gotten the word (they were also sent the email via the band), and my hope was that all of us would get together for the small potluck and music on that fine night. Did, we, ever.

Patty and Mark picked me up at my place the night of the concert and we were off. We drove the twenty minutes over the state line in this little shire that is Veryork and ended up finding a dirt road with a hand-painted sign that said "CANTRIP" on it. We turned with gusto. I was so excited and more for Patty and Mark than for myself. I have never heard music played so well, with such love for the story and song, so close and I knew it would be a hit with my friends. We parked, were greeted by a happy mutt named Chloe (who looked like a flatcoat retriever but was a golden/black lab cross) and we made our way to the little yellow house in the clearing. There were off and on showers and sunlight and it made for a magical feeling to the whole night. Outside was a campfire blazing and tables and chairs lit by Christmas lights. It was one happy scene.

What followed was a night to remember. A fabulous and intimate performance by Eric, Dan and Jon. I was sitting about 10 feet away from their voices and instruments, Chloe curled up at my feet being scratched, as the music came out of them. The house was warm and wood-paneled and the sound was just as warm and inclusive. There were maybe 50 people there, a small show. I wish I could convey the smooth clarity, the bright guitar, the howl of the border pipes and the absolute magic of Jon's green 5-string fiddle. Mark and Patty were slapping their knees, clapping, and tapping their feet. Tara and Tyler were there in the front row smiling wide as Cheshire cats. The band played their entire new album, The Crossing, and included stories and jokes. That's a skill in itself, talking to a crowd of strangers well and making them feel part of something.

We all left inspired and happy. All of us picked up their new CD and on the ride home Mark blared Tom Tom, his favorite tune of the night. We had such a wonderful time and if you get a chance to see them as they tour about New England this time of year - do so. Their music is exactly what the band calls itself - a cantrip - a bit of Scottish magic. They're masters at what they do and it's a tragedy to women across the nations of this green earth that none of these men are single.

Keep playing guys. You make me want to learn the pipes!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Learn the Fiddle!

Ever dream of playing the fiddle? Love old time music, bluegrass, or celtic playing? Well why not learn?! This is an ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS COURSE. Looking to fill the last spots of Fiddle Camp on Sept 12th ASAP. It's a full day of beginner fiddle lessons here at the farm, outdoors in the fall color with animals all around! COMES WITH FIDDLE, CASE, and BOW. Price is $225 a person but will offer discount if you sign up as a pair!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Perfect Night

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

One Day at Cold Antler Farm

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Just Do

I'm just back from feeding all the meat birds in their tractors, checking on the pigs, and making sure that the goats have had plenty of feed and fresh water. This was a chicken/pig/goat chore trip. That's one way to make sure those three things are settled in for the evening without feeling overwhelmed to take on all the chores at once. I'm back inside to finished some writing goals for the day, including updating this blog, and then I'll be back outside to check on the sheep, horse, and rabbits. I like this system of small jobs and rewards outside when work is done inside. It's a balance that suits me.

The farm can be overwhelming at times, but only when I let my whelm take me over. When I plan, when I do things one at a time, when I cross things off the list in my head - things get done. A lot of people confuse the dread of work that needs to be done with the actual doing of things. It's a lot harder to fret about tasks than to do them. So I stopped fretting. I just do.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Library Talk Tonight! Scottish Music Thursday!

Tonight at the Bennington Free Library there will be a talk about my book, One Woman Farm. I'll be there to do a reading and share stories from my homestead. It's at 7PM and hosted by the Bennington Bookshop and Library alike. It's probably air conditioned, too, so there's that.

Thursday night in Arlington Vermont is also a big night out! The much adored Cantrip, a Scottish group I saw a few years back at a little house show/potluck is returning for a repeat performance and once again it'll be a house show with a table of food made to share. It's a CD release party.
Details on their Facebook Page!

Goats and Soap! What a day!

Yesterday's Goats and Soap workshop had a bunch of new faces and friends arrive at Cold Antler. We spent the 85-degree day outside here under the shade of the King Maple - learning to make milk-based soap from scratch and meeting the goats that make it happen. The photo above show's Yesh, my goat mentor, telling stories from her own experiences of the caprine kind.

I love teaching these classes. I like speaking in public, telling jokes, and sharing stories. And being able to do it here at my farm is something the 22-year-old version of me could never believe would be true a decade earlier. Lucas, if you look to the right, is right with us all. He can't turn down a crowd either.

It was a kind and lovely crowd! Folks coming from Vermont, Mass, and New York to see just how tricky, expensive, and hard it is to make soap this way. Making soap is information they could get easily online for free, but they don't come to Cold Antler just to learn a skill. They come to see the place they read about in books. They come to meet the animals. They come to see lye cook milk in person with the safety of distance and observation from someone who did it before. They come to pet Merlin, scratch Friday's ears, and maybe hold a throwing axe, fiddle, or bow for the first time. I hope Cold Antler remains a place of learning new things for a long time.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The 50th Vlog...

The 50th vlog is coming up next. I can't believe it. Almost a year in and over a feature film's worth of editing - all on youtube. I ask you readers, what do you want to ask me for the 50th Vlog? Please submit questions here. Leave them in the comments and I will pick some to address. I want this vlog to be about you guys - the community. Why do you follow a girl in NY scraping by? What do YOU want from the blog/vlog? Has this site ever helped you? Please leave a comment if you have a minute. Your feedback is needed.

Girl's Day Out!

Friday and I hit the road today, a girls' dat out. I wanted to take her to the Merck Forest Trials in Rupert, Vermont and then take a trip into Manchester. The plan was to do chores, pack the car, and head out for a day with a puppy. That's what happened. We got to the trial around 10AM and while we didn't stay long, we did stay long enough for her to meet plenty of people, dogs, and sheep and I got to meet two artists from the Sendak Fellowship. My relationship with ex-neighbor Maurice Sendak is the fact I go deer and turkey hunting on his old farm on Scotch Hill, but it was cool meeting artists and realizing we had mutual friends.

After the trials we went to the Northshire Bookstore, a real treat for me. The Northshire allows well-behaved dogs so Friday and I went browsing together and I got to buy a fancy cup of coffee and talk books with people from all over the world. Since Manchester is hosting a HUGE horse show with people attending to compete from Brazil to England - I had many accents and smiles loving on my little girl. She was so well behaved! I was proud of her, even if her benign mood had to do with being tired from a morning of illustrators and sheep. My only purchase, besides a cup of coffee, was OK Computer on vinyl. I love all types of music and especially Folk and Bluegrass, but OK Computer is the most perfect record of all time to me. It's been with me my whole life, and I still think listening to Let Down in your car in a snowstorm at night is the closest you get to transcendence. It'll sound great on the record player.

Let's just reflect that I live in a place where you can exit a sheepdog trial and buy Radiohead records within the same hour. With your dog. This is where I belong, bitches.

After the store we went to Orvis, just to putz around. We didn't buy anything but I got to meet some folks and so did she. It was fun to check out the fly selection and look at the giant trout out in the pond. I miss that place sometimes, it was 4 years of my life.

I came home to chores, work, emails, a 3 mile run taunted by deer flies and a jump in the river. I'm writing now with my Westinghouse Fan, river-wet hair, and a smile from my living room. Tomorrow is Goats and Soap - biggest attended workshop of the YEAR so far. I am pumped to teach it, and to show off the goats and all they do for this farm.

I hope you guys are well and kicking out there. This gal is tired and happy.

No Surprises.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Jenna Effin' Woginrich

I'm so street.

Dark Horse

I have fallen in love with writing every morning all over again. All this week I've been diving head first into this new manuscript, one I haven't even sold yet, because I have such a crush on it. It's all about what Merlin did to me - the changes he helped create in me. What he showed in me that turned me into the woman I am today from the confused and scared girl who bought him. I feel like I'm writing a screenplay, the images and story is so vivid in my mind. I work on this, on finishing up Birchthorn, and the blogs and it never feels like work. I am a writer. It's a compulsion I cant help.

Yesterday's ride with him was perfect. When the laptop was tucked away in the saddlebags and we were just moving, it feels like my own legs are carrying me. Perhaps this is where the myth of the centaur came from? It doesn't seem so far fetched when you know the animal so well. The road to becoming this close was backwards and twisted - so many idiotic beginner mistakes. I'm so proud of all of them.

The book I am writing about him and I is not for horse or farm people, it's for women scared to become. While Merlin is the reason I was able to change and grow so much in the past three years (note, also the past three years I was learning to be self employed, dealing with anxiety and body issues, and terrified of losing my farm) He was the most solid part of that time. And learning to ride a thousand pounds of black horse is what always showed me I could overcome the next obstacle. So far I have. And for those people who would read the book - perhaps their Dark Horse is something entirely different - but the story should carry. I hope so. It's the most important thing I've wanted to write so far, the most raw, and the most real.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Highland Riding

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Win a Strumstick!

I am so happy to announce this giveaway from Cold Antler Farm Sponsor, McNally Strumsticks! They are giving away one of their instruments to a U.S. reader/viewer and all you need to do to enter is leave a comment on the youtube video or here on the blog. Winner will be announced next vlog episode (49). So watch, enter, and hopefully win this beautiful and down-home simple instrument that ANYONE can play in a few minutes.

Lifestyle Porn

Tonight I sat down to a dinner of farm-raised chicken breast fried up in a pan with garden kale, oil, and herbs. It was a simple one-pan meal but exactly what my body craved. I feel like I am learning to eat all over again. Portions and ingredients are a little different these days but the food is rich and savory. Mornings of coffee and bacon. Evening meals of salads coated with creamy dressings and goat cheese. I'm following the Keto diet these days, and the type of food you eat on it doesn't make you very hungry. So instead of starving for dinner and whipping up something quick I am taking it slow with food. Tonight's simple dinner still took a while to prepare but I took it easy eating it. The chicken was tender and flavorful. The Kale was just the right kind of bitter. I made some iced tea and that shock of ice and caffeine sent me smiling to a content stomach. The meal was mostly from this little farm and I think pride is a good sauce.

I had spent the day half at my desk, and half out and about. I worked on a logo for an Australian client, wrote a couple thousand words on an exciting new project, and did all the farm chores when my legs needed stretching. I got in a nice four mile jog and milked the goats. All the farm and farm animals seemed to have settled into summer and so have I. Friday is growing up so fast and strong and has mastered sit and comes when called (most of the time), but has a long road ahead to sheep 101. She's a firecracker and a challenge compared to Gibson. Right now Gibson is asleep at my feet as I type and Friday is in the living room fighting a pair of sweaty running shoes. By the sound of it I think the shoes are winning.

I haven't made a sale in the last three days and that is slightly troubling. There is always an erratic, but constant, interest in graphic design, workshop, or such work and I am behind several days on my goals. Not a huge deal but enough to make that run necessary to calm the nerves, or at least tire them out. Someday I won't be so worried about money, but today isn't that day. Right now money is the bitter ingredient in life. Something I need to attain just to exchange with the banks and bills that let me live my life. I've changed my attitude about it a lot, and have changed my priorities to match my financial reality - but a girl stills gots to pay her bills. It's a keep-the-lights-on-and-truck-in-the-driveway kind of month, this July.

I think talking about the reality of just getting by is important for a blog like mine. You can spend all day reading blogs that only show gorgeous photos, knitting patterns, and lifestyle porn for the homesteading set but here you get to read about dead sheep, Pitbull dance parties, fear, debt, and making it a day at a time. And you know what I think? I think most of you out there are struggling with the same things I am. A lot of us are juggling money, responsibilities, bills, care taking, animals, and more and we rarely get to hear a peer talk about just how hard it is. Well folks, this week is really friggin' hard. I'm a little scared and have moved my root canal appointment back another month, but that's okay. Like all roller coaster rides this one dips back up eventually. Yeehaw.

When I was jogging back up the mountain home today I saw two crows watching me from a dead tree. I felt the firefly pendant on my chest and felt strong. I spent the morning making art, telling personal stories, caring for animals, and being the woman I dreamed of being. I crushed a four mile jog. I really have no reason to complain and I hope you don't read this as a complaint. I'm just a little edgy today. I'm here writing because writing to you has been my free therapy for almost a decade. Thanks for that.

There's a big workshop this weekend. BIG. Goats and soap - staring Bonita and Ida. We'll be making soap, talking kids and udders, and learning about everything from hoof care to lye. New folks are coming for the first time. That is exciting for a gal whose kept the dog and pony show going for over three years since quitting her day job.

Alright. Time to head outside and let the pups play while I sip this tea.


Someday there will be an interview I will do where I will talk about weeks like this one, and how scary they could be if I let them.

I will tell them I learned that needing to be resourceful and fighting to keep the life I loved was the biggest gift I ever gave myself.

I will tell them that scary things can become amazing challenges. I will tell them I always figured it out.

I'm Jenna Effin' Woginrich. I tell myself some days with my coffee.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sleep Naked: (Updated for 2015)

The best lessons I learned in the past few years:

If you have the urge to correct someone for a statement that makes them happy or excited and isn't hurting anyone, don't. All it does is make them feel embarrassed and you sound like an asshole.

Silence is better than 99% certainty.

Everyone is going through a different kind of hard time. Never assume the poor are scared, the rich are happy, the married are in love, or the loners are lonely.

If Sriracha is an option - opt for it.

Most people would rather be hurt than bored.

Every single hero you ever have will disappoint you. Because they are human beings.

Nothing could be less attractive to me than a man who doesn't let a dog or taco in his car.

Every single thing people say to you is not a reflection of you - it's a reflection of them. How you react is the reflection of you.

Confidence and arrogance are not the same thing. One is sexy.

When people tell you you can't do something that doesn't harm yourself or others picture them saying it while buying adult diapers.

Stop asking for permission.

Frowning people driving past you in air conditioning should make you jog faster.

Mistakes leave scars, regrets leave wounds.

Community seasons 1-3 is the best comedy writing on network television, ever. Do yourself a favor and watch all of that.

Nice derives from Latin, it means ignorant.

People want sex, food, sleep and hope.
They need encouragement.

If you're going to hit someone, make sure they aren't getting back up soon.

Look up. You never look up.

Fools rush in, but at least they moved forward.

Love what you love without apology.

Love who you love without apology.

Actually, stop apologizing all together unless someone is bleeding or crying.  Own your actions.

Don't trust men whose only obligations are pets that can be left alone for the weekend.

It's okay to lose friends to entropy.

It's better to be able to pick up a 50lb bag of dog food than walk in heels. If you can do both - I fear and admire you.

You don't have to do everything you say you want to do, but you better do some of it.

I'd rather be known for admitting mistakes than avoiding them.

Cat litter: you get what you pay for.

Anyone who tells you violence and suffering should be avoided at all costs are more dangerous than most people realize.

Get hungry.


Smile at strangers.

Forgiveness is a good first choice. A right hook is a decent second, but always follow up with the first choice.

Running is bad for your joints. Diabetes is bad for your everything.

Liberals and conservatives are people that haven't realized yet that punching under water is distraction from the sharks.

Saying you're going to stop eating meat to prevent animal suffering is like saying you're not having children to prevent child abuse. Pacifism doesn't create change. Ever.

Gay rights matter.

You do not have the right to be recreationally offended. You have the privilege, dick.

Don't be a snob about music. It's the worst.

Critics who create nothing but reviews are proof demons exist.

Make the locals nervous.

Sex is not dirty, shameful, or bad - it was made by the creator of stars and thunderstorms.


Bourbon is important.

Vodka is important.

Kale is important.

Put down that goddamned phone.

Guns don't kill people. Lannisters kill people.

If you think public speaking is scary you are grossly underestimating the public's apathy.

Most people who enjoy gory movies have no idea what the inside of a freshly-killed pig smells like.

You have no idea how terrified most people are.

Hug your lover from behind when they are making breakfast on the stove.

Entertainment costs money. Having fun is free.

If you can get a horse, get a horse.

Tennessee is the best state in America. Hands down.


Money and time isn't stopping you, but that excuse is.

Speed walking is the cat person of exercise.

Food tastes better if you grow it.

Don't hang out with people who don't let dogs in their car. Christ. Just don't.

Happiness is a choice. You need to make it every single minute.

If you and your family would be dead if you were forced to stay home for 2 weeks without electricity or running water you are doing this all wrong.

Religion is not legislation. Legislation is not safety. Law and comfort don't listen, they are reactions.

Don't confuse acquisition with accomplishment.

Play more.

Sleep naked.

Leave the light on.

Visit Elkmont.

Don't prefer to be comfortable. It ruins everything.

You're not a coward if you don't jump out of a plane with your friends. You're a coward if being called a pussy is all it takes to make you.

Eat more meat - less bread.

If there aren't fireflies where you live, move.

If you can get a dog, get a dog.

Moving to a new place isn't personal growth, but if it grants perspective it's a start.

Instagram is not required validation, for anything really.

Drink more water.

Never hold back kindness.

Expect good.

Take risks.

And remember to look up. You never look up.

Support CAF if You Fancy It!?

If you're a fan of Cold Antler Farm and would like to show your support, here are somethings I offer as goods and services in exchange for your patronage! Custom logos, workshops, and one on one skill sharing. All of this is on sale as I work towards saving up for a much delayed root canal. I ask you to offer me the chance to do some quality design work for you, or to open my home to you as a place for homestead fellowship and skill swapping!

Logos! get a custom designed Logo for your farm or small business for $250 - on sale from $300-$500. Email me at to get one, or any of the offers below.

Season Passes - (renewal or new passes) Come to all workshops for an entire year from date of purcahse - including Antlerstock 2015 for the price of about two workshops! Fiddle Day Camp and Archery Day Camps included in that price - you just pay a little extra for the instruments/bows. These are on sale for $250 (down from $350) and if you and a spouse/friend sign up at the same time it is even less.

Indie Days - Come for a private full day on the farm to country living or musical skills. You pick the day that works with your schedule, see the farm, enjoy Cold Antler with me!

428 Pieces of Sunday Candy

Four hundred and twenty-eight bales were put up in the Wesner's barn Sunday. What a fine number that is! A number I know intimately, since I had my hands on every single one of those 428 bales. So did every other stalwart worker out in the fields. We started working around 2:45 in the afternoon and our scrappy team of seven moved three loaded hay wagons well into the evening, well past dinner time. We didn't jump into the river until 7PM. The hours between walking out to their barn and swimming were filled with the efforts of a tight community I consider family. Mark and Patty, of course, and four of their neighbors. Each bale weighing a minimum of forty pounds and personally handled by each and every one of us as it made its way from the giant hay wagons and into the barn, stacked neatly as legos. It's a feat I never tire from taking part in. We get sweaty to gloriously disgusting levels. The kind of sweaty that make jumping into cold river water a baptism. Masochism doesn't have to be a bad thing, folks. Us out here in the fields, farms, and furrows know that exquisitely.

My gig all afternoon was out on the wagon, climbing up as high as twenty-five feet in the air and grabbing and throwing down bales to then hand to Patty, who was stationed at the chute of the hay elevator. So after throwing and grabbing them off the pile I would deliver each one over to Patty to send up into the barn on a borrowed, beloved, elevator that then spit them into the barn for the stacking team to deal with. Some of us took turns going inside and outside but I loved being in the full sun, dripping, smiling, and singing. I had the hook from Sunday Candy stuck in my head. The elevator was too loud for anyone to hear it, but I sang for the baling twine anyway.

You gotta move it slowly 
Take and eat my body like it's holy
I've been waiting for you for the whole week 
I've been praying for you, you're my Sunday candy 

Things are going pretty damn good around here. I have no amazing news, book deals, or imported horses to announce to you fine people. I'm just keeping on. Things are tight but that will change and I always figure it out. I have a lot of projects in the works and am writing a lot to try and sell a new book about Merlin and Me, as well as finishing up Birchthorn (new chapters posted this week, by the by). So much fun terrorizing those people. I get it, Joe Hill. I get it.

It's summer. I'm writing. I'm creating. I'm riding my horse. I'm singing. I'm laughing. I got amazing friends. I'm wearing jeans I didn't fit into for the last 4 years. I'm running. I'm rocking out. Last night the border collies and I had a dance party to Pitbull's Timber which lasted a good triple repeat worth of singing/barking at the top of our lungs. Feel however you want to feel about pop music and celebrities with dollar signs in the spelling of their names but if you can listen to that song and not start dancing in your living room you are an android and should be melted for parts for us among the living. It's no Sunday Candy, but we can't all be so damn sweet.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Level 33 Has Been Achieved!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes and kind words, guys! Just wanted to share one of the gifts that found me this year - a professional Timber Sports Throwing Axe! Pretty effin badass. Weapons over diamonds any day, gents.


There are a lot of things to look forward to on a sunny, Sunday afternoon but maybe none as much as haying. I love it. It’s the closest I ever get to an Amish barn raising and the workout makes my hardest Taekwondo class seem like a stroll down the lane. It’s community and dripping sweat and all of it takes place either perched on top of a mountain of bales in a hay wagon or inside a barn swirling with chaff and dust. At nearly 90 degrees today I’ll probably lose and inch off my waist in the few hours we’ll be handing, stacking, chucking and passing the fifty-pound bales. I’m seriously excited.

I feel about haying the same way I feel about running. It’s not exactly fun to be in the act, but the feeling of having accomplished it is so worth it. Yesterday I went for a three mile jog after the Chicken 101 Workshop (and thank you to the six wonderful people who came to the farm for it! Three for the first time!) and the way it feels to sit on cool grass in the shade after that is more heavenly than the finest scotch. Having Done Something Tiring is my drug of choice., you see, and I’ll be doing lines over at Livingston Brook Farm all afternoon.

I’ll pack swimwear and a towel and clean clothes to change into. When you hay you don’t wear shorts and a tank top - you wear thick boots and socks, jeans, long sleeved shirts and work gloves. You wear all this because while you may not realize it it - hay is sharp. It’s wicked sharp and cuts into soft, sweaty skin fast and hard. If you aren’t protected you end up looking like you ran through a briar afterward and suntan lotion and lake water stings like alcohol. So besides being hard work on a hot day you’re dressed for a pumpkin patch jaunt in October. Clothing is literally peeled off afterwards and the icing on the cake is jumping into Patty and Mark’s lakeside property to swim until all the hay is out of your hair and mind.

After that - drinks. We are only human. Also, I'm a writer.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Got Trees?

I am so proud of my friend Brett, who has just published his first book titled “The Woodland Homestead”. It’s out from Storey Publishing and he is launching the new title right here in Cambridge NY. The book is for folks with a little bit of land who want to use their trees in the best way possible. Think of it as a beginners guide to understanding the assets in your own backyard, the kind of assets some of us fail to consider in the midst of raising animals and vegetables. Using your wood lot smartly adds fuel for your home heat, fence posts, lumber, shade, fruits, and a more beautiful piece of property.

Join us tonight at 7pm for a free event, a celebration of this book as well as an opportunity to ask questions about your own forests and their usage? How often to you get an afternoon with a bonefide lumberjack? Well, tonight can be your night to talk all things axes and pruning and forestry.

Event Details Here!
7PM Battenkill Books

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Half The Spots Gone! Antlerstock 2015!

I wanted to announce that Antlerstock will beheld once again, this October, Columbus Day Weekend 2015! For those of you new to the blog, Antlerstock is a private Homesteading Festival held right here at CAF.  It is a Celebration of like minds, music, stories and skills. It's a taste of everything from draft horses to small livestock butchering.  Last year there was a blacksmith demonstration with Living Iron Forge , traditional timber farming and harvesting with Brett McLeod, Draft horse demo from Livingston Brook Farm, backyard livestock classes (me), Herbalism 101 with Elizabeth McCarty, Sourdough Bread Baking with WindWomen Farm, and more! There were timber sports, archery for beginners, and soap making - just to name a few events. As the spring and summer continues more events will be added but right now for certain there will be:

Draft Horse Harnessing and Demonstrations
Traditional Horse Logging 101
Small Holding Livestock Classes
Soapmaking with lye and fat
Archery 101
Prepping 101
Mountain Music Demos/classes
Barter Blankets
Cider Making (hard)
Campfire Potluck & jam
And More!!!

The cost to attend this two day, all day-long, event is $200 a person if purchased after July 2015. It is $150 a person if purchased before. However, if you sign up now the first five people who sign up can attend for $250 a couple. AND I will include an Indie Day with that price. So, you could come for Sat and Sun and stay for Monday to cover anything else in detail. Or come this summer as a couple, and return for Antlerstock in the fall. Email me at to sign up

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Going Places

There are a lot of reasons people get horses. My reason was always about this. To load up saddlebags with a meal, a drink, a book and ride away to a quiet place. I love being taken places, to ride with a destination and goal and then return home again. I feel the same way saddling up to visit neighbors or to ride through Washington County for an ice cream cone.

To me a horse is another way to move across the landscape. They are transportation with a soul. And while using a horse to go from point A to point B might be the oldest reasons us humans have been riding them, it has fallen out of favor. Most people today ride for form, for contests, for racing, or for looped trails. I get that, and have done most of it myself, but nothing is as satisfying to me as using a horse instead of walking or a car to go to a place.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Things about me you may not know

I still think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still the best Television Show of all Time. So does the creator of The Wire. So...

Six Feet Under, close second.

I curse all the time. I do it well.

I am terrified of heights.

 I hate olives.

I hate seafood and other bug meats.

I love any paranormal horror movie.

I don’t like being touched. No hugs, please.

I watch makeup tutorials on youtube.

I am 99% okay with the apocalypse.
To get to 100% I need to take in Anna Kendrick and Dan Harmon on my farm. They can bring their significant others and dogs.

Favorite Novel: The Name of the Wind.

I respect stubbornness above all things.

I wouldn't only date a musician. But it would be hard to find him attractive.

The Lion King and Braveheart might always be my favorite movies. Which means 1993-94 was a real brainsink year. But they pretty much sum me up.

Still haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, but I will. Oh, I will.

I have had panic attacks since 5th grade. Less since I started farming.

I never have sex dreams. All my dreams since I was a kid were of needing to survive some sort of disaster - from plane crashes to monster attacks.

I secretly want to dye my hair red. My mom does and I’m 99% her.

I have never been pierced or tattooed.

I don’t care about outer space. At all.

If you handed me 20,000 dollars I would fix my truck, pay down my mortgage, and buy a 1957 Gibson J-45. You know, basic human decency.

Favorite dinosaur: Deinonychus

GoT House I root for: Lannister. 100% since 10 year olds out the window.

I miss Gilmore Girls, a lot.

I am tired, presently.

I hate bars. I love booze.


New Vlog: Thinking About Pigs?

War Horses!

I have so much to update you folks on, so so much. Starting with attending my first ever Equestrian games at the SCA Saturday morning. Patty Wesner and Steele tried it out as well and it was one of the coolest things we ever did with our horses.

The Society of Creative Anachronism is a Medieval reenactment group, kind of. It’s the best parts of the middle ages, really, but not the Ren Faire you might be thinking of. Renaissance Faires are all about Shakespeare and entertainment. You attend as a passive consumer - maybe you chomp on a turkey leg or dress up, but you pay an admission price and stay a few hours and then go home. The SCA isn’t a Ren Faire. It’s a several day long event where everyone is in costume all weekend and actually doing the activities they love from that time period. Everything from embroidery contests to mead brewing to full armored combat. I got involve with my local SCA Shire years ago when I wanted to take up archery in a serious way. Now I am a card carrying archery Marshall in the Society. But this year at War Camp I wanted to bring Merlin. I wanted to try the Equestrian Games.

So Patty (seamstress and teamster extraordinaire) sewed up garb for our horses (dagging for the reins and cool saddle pads) and we trailed up our steeds to enter the games at the local fairgrounds. When we arrived as saw a tent city, people in historical clothing, pigs roasting, horses, and men in armor getting ready for the day of battles and contests even though it seemed to threaten rain. I should admit right now and without apology that seeing incredibly physically fit men in leather and plate armor is one of my favorite parts about the Society.

We tacked up our horses and rode them into the arena. There was a special obstacle course of sorts, meant to test the skills of a horse that would be used in this time period for both hunting, events, and jousting. There was boar target to throw a spear at off horseback. There were posts to weave through with “heads” you knocked off with a wooden blade. There were mounting and dismounting blocks, side passing, and small game targets. It was a blast and while Merlin wasn’t thrilled about spears and horse-eating-styrofoam boar targets be was game enough to try. Patty and Steele however SHOWN bright as new stars and she passed not only the SCA’s riding authorization but got a martial authorization! Which means she can wield weapons on her horse at SCA events. Merlin needs to get used to spears a little more for that. I’m not rushing him. I was just thrilled to try the course and be mounted on my pony at a place I once only shot arrows at targets.

There was a large event of announcements and awards around 10AM and so after our morning on the field we got to ride right into the main building and attend Court from horseback. Few times have I felt as cool as I did riding into a royal court at a reenactment on the back of my Fell Pony. My saddle pad was a black sheep skin. I was in kilt, puffy shirt, and chaps. I felt great from head to toe and Merlin didn't even mind the hollering and celebration. What a day!

The best thing about the weekend is that we got to meet and talk with all these other cool ladies that do this for fun. Within a few hours emails and ideas were traded and it looks like patty will be hosting practices at her farm. Which is WILD! I mean, we show up just to try something new at our local fairgrounds and now we’ll be hosting East Kingdom Equestrian Game practices right here in Veryork?!

I wish you could see the size of my smile as I type this.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Everything Chickens
An All Day Workshop - July 11th

This is a full day workshop at the farm, covering all things backyard chicken. The workshop will run from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM and have an hour lunch break. The day will cover all things poultry from small backyard to sprawling fields. Interested in a few backyard layers for eggs? Perhaps you want to add a small meat bird concern to your already content laying flock? Want to start raising pastured poultry in chicken tractors this year? Perhaps you are just chicken curious? All chicken inclinations are welcome here!

The morning will begin with raising chicks -information vital to both egg and meat birds. We will talk about chick care, brooder design, temperature control, feed and feathering out. There will be chicks here to learn to inspect for common diseases and ailments. When the brooder section is completed there will be a discussion on getting new birds used to their new coop or other chickens and assimilating them into your own spaces, lifestyles, and restrictions. What works for a sprawling backyard in the suburbs is not the same as what works for chickens in your rooftop garden in NYC - but chickens belong in both places!

The afternoon will focus on PRODUCTION. Why do we raise chickens? For eggs and meat of course! First topic to cover after lunch will be a healthy laying flock and the responsibilities therein. How to choose the right birds for your needs? Should fancy breeds stay in show homes? What can handle a Maine winter or a New Jersey seaside summer? All of these chicken questions and more will be answered.

The later afternoon will be about raising meat birds, and will include a slaughter demonstration from bird to freezer wrapping. If you are not interested in meat birds you can leave and that is fine, but for those of you interested in learning this skill you can get a step-by-step process from harvest to thawing for recipes.

Cold Antler Farm is all about making animals part of your normal life. I want folks to know how to raise a chick, slaughter a broiler, or run a small chicken tractor operation of 10-30 birds a year in the backyard for your freezer storage. No eggs are healthier or better for you than homegrown eggs! And no roasted bird tastes better than one you knew as a chick in your palm!

The day will end with a serious discussion on the importance of having food at home, both with uncertain times ahead and your own personal health and responsibility. Nothing involving tin foil hats, but a realistic talk about the rise in food prices, the morality of chickens being flown to our grocery stores from overseas, and the GMO animals filling every fast food corner store. Take back some of your health and make the world a better place for feathered and human friends alike!

Date: July 11th 2015
Location: Cold Antler Farm
Price: $100 a person
Spots: 15

Photo by Miriam Romais

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Farmer's Thoughts on Farm Sanctuaries...

I never thought I would be saying this...

...but I am preparing for my first Joust on Saturday.

 Hell, yeah.

 That is all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cup Chicken Waterer Song