Friday, October 16, 2015

You Gotta Do You

I've been blogging here for nearly a decade, sharing my story of going from a wide-eyed wannabe to a full time homesteader on my own land. It's been a hell of a ride. The entire time I've been a single woman, without a trust fund, scratching by to live the life of her dreams. That's both a fun and terrifying sentence for me to write, because while it sounds romantic it means that the struggle to keep what I love never stops pacing. That's a tiger I'm used to looking at, though.  Now, in my thirties, I accept that my choice to live a life of constant resourcefulness is a blessing and not a curse. Tigers, after all, are goddamned beautiful.

Blogging has exploded over the years, with websites showing perfect farms, perfect families, and perfect lives. These blogs have giant audiences clamoring for recipes and picture-perfect homes. I get that — I understand the attraction and need for it — but we all know CAF has never been one of those sites. This is an uncomfortably personal story of one woman's life. It's messy and imperfect and there are pictures of broken down fences and stories of mistakes and misfortunes (though, these days, a hell of a lot less, thank you).

My goal has never been to get you to update your Pinterest accounts. My goal is to get you on your own horse, or on your own farm, or taking risks and chances that the 17 jillion Agents of Caution in your life tell you not to. The line between feeling constantly excited about my life and being a responsible adult will always going to be a razor's edge here. I'm ruthlessly optimistic and unapologetic about it.

That said, there is some refinement needed on this blog. I would like to move it to a more modern design and make searching and navigation easier. I would like to upgrade my photography and video skills, and it'll all happen in good time. Right now life is about living - not how to best curate my life to the public.

The real Jenna, if you ever do meet me, isn't refined either. I write from the heart here and often fall in love with what I am writing about at the time. Read a book like One Woman Farm and you'll think this is Walden Pond but if you swing by you'll soon discover I swear like a sailor, my interests are a constant contradiction to my lifestyle, and my house is never as clean as I want it to be. I still hold fast that the best bits of Cold Antler are shared in person. And if you come here you will not see white walls and perfectly adorned end tables with a single vase and some hand-woven scarf dangling from a shaker chair, but you will see some taxidermy-cum-hawk hood holders wearing sunglasses and enough books to stress the floorboards.

You gotta do you.


Blogger Cheyenne Miller said...

A college professor once told me, "Do what you are." That simple statement has resonated with me for years!

October 16, 2015 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love your blog! I enjoy the Pinterest-perfect homesteading blogs that are out there too, but I really appreciate your honesty about all your hard work! I think there's a lot to be said for that. Have you read Josh Kilmer-Purcell's Bucolic Plague? His descriptions of how he and his partner struggled so much with the stress of keeping things "Martha [Stewart] perfect" all the time really made me think. I'd rather have a less-than-picture-perfect life that makes me happy and fulfilled but still affords me time with my family and to persue my hobbies and interests, ya know? :)

By the way, if you ever have an interest in moving to a self-hosted WordPress blog, I'd be happy to help. I'm a professional web developer -- I do .NET development by day, but freelance in PHP and WordPress development in my off time. I'm sure we could work out a trade or something :) [at] gmail

October 16, 2015 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Yours is the real life version, theirs are sanitized.

And I suspect they have better means; therefore, the are working a kajillion little jobs to get the mortgage paid. Pay the mortgage, the cat will eat the flowers in the vase...real or fake. (yes fake)

Besides a clean house is the sign of a boring person. Its waaay overrated.


October 16, 2015 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Amen to that.

October 16, 2015 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Melinda Ruth said...

Hi Jenna:

I've been following you for a couple years and admire your lifestyle. In fact, it's helped me enormously as, at age 54, I retired from a job I was "meh" about and moved from California to Georgia. I've never been outside of California but knew I needed to go.

As you explain to your readers about what motivates you to wake up and fight for your life everyday - I take your writings in, process it and apply some to my own situation. You have a "no regrets" way of living and I applaud you. You go out, do and try everyday. You learn from what doesn't work and try again while finding joy in the process. You show you have feelings. You share that you hurt or are scared or are tremendously happy and that those feelings are a big part of your life. You explain that, in the end, it's all worth the ride!

I've lived a life of self-editing to fit into the little world in which I lived. I'm in Georgia now, feeling a little lost but happy. I took that first step ... I'm scared but it's okay. I see it's part of the fight. I see that I can make a life I want and be happy during the process. There will be highs and lows but in the end it will be my life. In me, you have met your goal of changing a person's life. I may not have acquired a horse or farm but I might!

PS. There's no wild woman inside me screaming to get out. It's just me, a kind and gentle person who wants to live!

October 16, 2015 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we wouldn't have you any other way. Love ya sweetie!

October 16, 2015 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Josh's book was mentioned or brought up in one of Jenna's blogs either by her or by a reader. This is what caused me to read the book. (*it was great, wasn't it!?) I think by now, Josh's lifestyle is more Martha than perhaps what it was in the book.

Jenna, guess where I am moving? Oh, yes. That's right. At least for the winter. I am being swept away. By an avalanche.

Thanks to my going to see Joel Salatin in Aspen, and staying at the hostel in Aspen, and having a guest there tell me that the very best place to go in Aspen is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I randomly applied there, and have secured my spot in the town. I leave this weekend. OMG. I don't know if I'm "doing me" but I'm adding to me. That's for sure.

Here I come Aspen. (*luckily my animals will have a nanny while I figure out what to do.....)

October 16, 2015 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Lilbitbrit said...

Thanks' Jenna, all the rest is so superficial and not real, just a mirage, that seems attainable but in reality is not.

Love your down to earth sharing.


P.S. Give your Blog that makeover with that all white freshness and you might be surprised what that will do

October 16, 2015 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Valerie Willman said...

I love this. And as far as I can tell, I was meant to read it this morning. I'm in the process of refining my own blog, and am doing an exercise of looking at the blogs I like to read and why. Yours was one of the first that I turned to, and it's because of *this*--this "tell it like it is" approach. I value your honesty and valuable information. And also the window to an interesting world that I hope to one day be a part of. "Made From Scratch" is still one of my favorite books--both for its content and its structure. Well done.

October 16, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Mel Baker said...

Thanks for keeping it real, Jenna.

We love you for it.

October 16, 2015 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Jenna, I love your blog because it is real! Your struggles are similar to what happens to everyone. You have a great writing style and so does your expression in your blog. I have been following you since you started blogging in Idaho, with 2 dogs and a few chickens. You love your is that plain and simple.
I look forward to all the changes you have planned.

October 16, 2015 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

And we love you for it!

October 17, 2015 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger Debbeezz said...

What a great weekend take away "You gotta do you!"

October 17, 2015 at 5:19 PM  

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