Friday, October 23, 2015

Hot Water

I had my first hot shower today in months. It was glorious.

I should explain. I had my first hot shower in my own home, in my own bathroom, in months. My furnace stopped heating water back in March and I don't have a bathtub yet, so it remained fallow for half a year.

Please don't think I was neglecting my hygiene. I had plenty of solar showers in the woods after long runs, showered at friends' places, and swims in the river. I know people with hot tubs and have the agency to just hunker down for a good sponge bath — I was mighty clean — but it's not the same as enjoying a hot shower up in your own home.

I gotta say, it was orgasmic.

So why did I go so long without it? The reason is the same reason I wrote, deleted, and rewrote this post four times already today; because I have learned that being honest about money online receives punishment. If I talk about not having hot water or a flushing toilet for months people will think I am using hardship for donations. And the people that would help me without question, sadly their kindness pales in emotional comparison to the emails and comments I would get from people who hate me. Why accept a pat on the head when there are people out there ready to kick you as hard as they can in the stomach at the same time?

So I didn't write about it.

This summer was a rough one. Bad things happened.  If I wrote about those issues people would want to reach out and help me, which is very kind but I honestly would not have used their help to get hot water again. I would have used it to just pay the mortgage so the bank stopped sending that creep who takes pictures of my house every month from the road to prove it is "occupied".  I would have used it to stop the people from the Electric Company from literally driving up to my house and banging down the door to turn off the power unless I wrote a check right then and there. I would have used it to stop the bank from repossessing my only vehicle that was so broken down it was unsafe and illegal to drive anyway...

I wouldn't have used a single penny to fix luxuries like hot water and flushing. What's the point of hot water and a bathroom if the bank takes the house it's in?

I don't want to be that girl. I know in the past I have been that girl. But now it goes against my faith. It goes against everything I have learned in the past ten years. It goes against everything homesteading and farming has taught me.

So I figured it out.

This summer I designed my ass off. If you follow me on Facebook, you know this. I was ruthless in marketing logos and design work. I bet some of you got sick of the constant sales and promotions but know that Facebook was my Farmer's Market. It was a way to reach people and not only make some money but honestly help others make their own farms and brands better.  Facebook let me reach thousands in moments and those efforts saved this farm.

Thanks to logos I was able to make a mortgage payment every 4-6 weeks (still behind 2 months as of today, but as a solid payment maker I think the farm is okay). I found a reliable replacement truck that actually runs and got it financed through Kiva. Guys,  I have the title in hand! I did this because I had no way to travel off farm without it and knew if the bank repoed the broken-down Dodge I still had wheels. I got my root canal, finally. I have three cords of seasoned firewood outside and three more on the way, plus a woodshed being built to hold more! (A barter with a local guy who wants logos for a sawmill/horse business). I paid off the last of my credit cards! I got more time from the Government on my student loans. I paid off all of last year's hay and have zero hay debt going into this winter.

This is all the silent, uphill, crawling you don't read about but is happening in this little house on the mountain. If you think my life is playing with animals, listening to music, and riding a pony you have no idea...

And you know what? I was okay. All this time I was showering in the woods and using an outhouse the lights never got turned off and no animal ever went a single missed feeding. I raised a puppy. I got Gibson's split paw healed. I earned my black belt. I got my runs up to 8 miles an outing. I lost 20 pounds! I trained a new hawk. I got my tooth fixed without health insurance. I got the plumbing fixed and the hot water flowing from the taps again and most importantly - I stopped apologizing to strangers for living a life that makes them uncomfortable. If you don't like me, don't respect me, or don't want me in your life - go away. Stop bothering me. I have shit to do.

And I am so sick of Agents of Caution. Spend your energy elsewhere.

Guys, I got through it. I got through it and that hot shower tonight was a baptism. Just a few weeks ago that shower was flooded with backed up septic waste but tonight on a new shower mat and a bleached basin it was holy. It was healed. It had seen the worst I could do to it and was made whole again. Joseph Campbell just came. THAT'S a hero's Journey!

My bank account tonight is negative and I can't even drive to the local gas station to get some diesel for the furnace, but I am still proud. I am still here.  I have remained self-employed, kept this farm, paid my taxes, lived the life of my dreams, and improved my health and home while barely scraping by for FIVE YEARS. As far as I'm concerned Cold Antler Farm is the closest thing we have these days to the American Dream. A place where you get to punch self doubt every day in the face in the name of actual liberty. That's the kind of truth worth going a while without hot water for. That's the kind of fuel that keeps me running on vapors and gritted teeth.

So, I am okay. I'm broke but I'm rich. I'm single but I'm loved. I'm scared but I'm excited. I'm feral but I'm trained. I'm living life in a way that lets me wake up each morning howling. If I forget that there's a dark horse and a smart dog that will remind me. I'm a luckless slinger and a hard charger.

And yes, I know I'm always in hot water. I like it that way.

I fucking love it.


Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna, You are so honest about the life that you are living. I don't need any apologies. I completely understand that owning a farm takes money, things happen, and it can be hard to afford the many items it takes to live the life of a farmer. Take care, Brave Girl.

October 23, 2015 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

"If you don't like me, don't respect me, or don't want me in your life - go away. Stop bothering me. I have shit to do." Absolutely love this. Being born and raised in NY all I can say this is a NY state of mind! Proud of you Jenna and always have you in my prayers!


October 23, 2015 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes,yes, yes! Thank you for speaking the truth. People are too accustomed to having everything and going into horrendous debt to keep it. It took me a long time to realize I could live without cable tv (my husband is not there yet though). This is how we are supposed to live, and that way, we can help others when we have the opportunity. And for those who think you are "hinting" for charity, f' 'em!

October 23, 2015 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger treebeardshollow said...

well said, my old gram used to say, at 92 years old if people dont agree with your life, well, then, fuck 'em!

October 23, 2015 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

You kick ass, Jenna. Seriously. Their negativity is a reflection of themselves and has nothing to do with you, you're just their outlet. Thanks for your honesty. It really is appreciated.

October 23, 2015 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep kickin ass, Jenna! It takes a badass to know one!

October 23, 2015 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Purl2562 said...

You are awesome. You are strong. If someone has a problem with how you make your life work, they can kiss your ass AND mine!

October 23, 2015 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

You're doing it. Your way. And that's truly all that matters. Congrats.

October 23, 2015 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger nan_nc said...

Jenna, you are a WARRIOR! Beat your drum and put on your fiercest paint. The craven dogs who snap at your heels will disappear into the shades where they belong.

October 24, 2015 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Bitha said...

Jenna we all have struggles! Anyone who berates you because you share yours is a jerk. Personally when I hear your struggles and your plans to overcome them, it gives me hope and strength to tackle my struggles! Thank you for writing this.

October 24, 2015 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I relate on so many levels. No car, no water, no phone... all at once. Not for any reason other than life happening. Thanks for sharing! I would avoid talking about that kind of stuff because I didn't want to hear folk's nasty opinions. Those crazy times made me appreciate the life I chose and prove I can surviv some wild stuff!

October 24, 2015 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

You still inspire me all these years later Jenna- long time check inner from VA. I have different goals but your fearless attitude and way of life helps me to stay focused on mine~ You rock!!

October 24, 2015 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Mountain Walker said...

"So I figured it out" your best words ever

October 24, 2015 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Nushi said...

Jenna you are truly heroic. You know when to ask for help, we've seen it, but you also know when you can handle things yourself (even when it gets tough). You are such a truly inspiring person and you are the reason that I signed my mortgage yesterday on a 740 square foot house on 145 acres of beautiful wooded countryside. This post didn't scare me, it encouraged me. No matter how tough things get, with the right mind, you can make it. Thank you and keep looking up!!

October 24, 2015 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Keep kicking ass! Love your determination! You are proof that hard work a positive attitude is what life is really about.

October 24, 2015 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Great post! You inspire my 80 y.o. self to keep on truckin' - so what if I have to give up my car b/c my eyesight is diminishing? There is still a municipal bus! I can still walk! Would be funner if I could train/launch a hawk or watch the ram have at the ewes, but everything has its time, and its season. This is my season for watching hummers at the feeder and the kids walk to the h.s. across the way.

Love to read about you keeping on truckin' too:)

October 24, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Yep I get you, don't have the farm but am still self employed and alone and some days are joy and some tears, but the cats are fed and so am I. So hang in there, ignore the asshats, and kiss that ponys nose for me. Best smell in the world.

October 24, 2015 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Suffering builds character" as my grandma would say so some of us have a whole lots of character! Yeah! (your cheerleader) no your not perfect but none of us are Wear your battle scars with pride. it shows your sense of strength after everything you still trucking on i will light a candle for you and your guardian angels which are probably working over time.

October 24, 2015 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

Sorry to hear you are still being bothered by trolls. You are an inspiration to all of us who love you and love to hear about your life on your farm, your wonderful friends and your animals. I hope you keep on telling it like it is, it is refreshing to read about real life instead of a polished version that just looks pretty but has no substance. People who hate on you are unhappy people who obviously are not living a passion filled life. I hope you are never afraid to ask us, your true friends,
for help if you need it. Ignore those who do not get who you are. Those who do get you love you just as you are. We are all a work in progress and need support from those who know and love us. That is the glue that binds us all together.

October 24, 2015 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Far away from you here in Belgium, but proud!
Proud of what you are doing out there, living your dream, keeping your head up and working hard for it. It is not easy, but it is wonderfull to see that folowing a dream is possible in a honest way. Warm greetings, Kathleen

October 25, 2015 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Bechie Boo said...

You have my utmost admiration. Please ignore those who are mean and nasty. They are not worth your time and effort. Be true to what you believe in and do not let others derail your joy in your chosen life.


October 25, 2015 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Pilates Paula said...

Good for you, Farmer Girl. Good for you.

October 25, 2015 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Good for you. My mother always used to tell us that the things that are hard earned are the sweetest. It is good to be reminded of that from time to time. I think that is partly why some of us read your blog. You write about appreciating simple things and also about having to work hard and sacrifice for those things. Too many people today do not have the courage to reach for their dreams and are jealous of those who are courageous enough to do so. Either they are used to having things too easy, or they are simply unwilling to get their hands dirty. These people are not worth your time. Don't let them distract you from enjoying what you work so hard for.

October 25, 2015 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna, my best friend once told me when I was having some fun times on my farm,"there's nothing tougher than a country girl". He should know, he's an original country boy, so don't give up!

October 25, 2015 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna, a good friend once told me" there's nothing tougher than a country girl", and I believe it with all my heart and stubbornness, so trot on country girl, trot on!

October 25, 2015 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You never have to worry about judgement from me. I absolutely feel inspired and braver because if you can do all this then I can face my own worries. Go Jenna. I love reading your blog. I love your little farm and all that you do! Keep doing it! Never give up!!

October 26, 2015 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger jules said...

"Stop bothering me. I have shit to do." I LOVE this! Yes!

October 26, 2015 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I think there's this guy down the road from you that once said "my life is not an argument". He's very wise.

October 26, 2015 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

Every now and then, I like to hear about the struggle. It gives balance to my farm-envy and it adds heroism to what you do.

October 26, 2015 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger cjbstar said...

The harder the fight, the sweeter the victory. Don't lose your fire and determination. You inspire me on my bad days.

October 26, 2015 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

So happy for you. Sorry to always be part of the (likely) silent chorus that are cheering FOR you! I enjoy your honesty on the blog, good or bad, and I don't know why people would even read if all they have to do is criticize. Huzzah!

October 26, 2015 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Kasi said...

Rock on, Jenna! More power to you. I think more people need to be honest about the financial realities of their lives (especially homesteading); stories like this help other people a lot in gaining perspective and not feeling alone. Thank you!

October 28, 2015 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Tattooed and Crafty said...

I think hate and malice come from places of regret, envy and a lack of control over our own choices/destinies.

I think you're right to say you're living the American Dream. More importantly; you're living *your* dream. What your doing makes you happy and you share in that happiness with others. Never once in watching your vlog have I ever heard you rag on someone elses choices, lifestyle, or practices. You always pay respect to others means and reasons.

I wish in life that people had less time to throw fits of hate at each other. What does that give anyone, minus a crappy time hearing it, and then a crappier time getting worked up about it.

I love your blog. I'm so happy to watch all the little pieces of it from an outside perspective.

November 6, 2015 at 2:57 PM  

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