Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Well, the truck won't start. I tried. Friends came to give it a jump. It looks like it needs some mechanic TLC. I'll get her towed and to the shop soon as I can but for a while I am homeward bound.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Storms On The Way!

I would like to start off by boasting. It is 65 degrees inside this farmhouse and 26 degrees outside. That is something to brag about when you're one lady heating a home with a woodstove! But in fairness, today was a day spent largely at home tending fires, cooking meals, and teaching. The only adventures off-farm happened around 8Am for a run into town for hay and some feed. Annie and I headed to Cambridge in the Ford and after the bales were loaded and feed was stacked in the bed we stopped at Stewarts for coffee and an egg sandwich. (Annie gets the cheese and bread, I get the egg.) For a near-16-year-old Annie still seems like the same ol' girl, if a little slower and longer napper...

Anyway, I got the hay put away and the feed set. Chores were already done and coffee was perking. I was getting ready for an Indie Day with Gina to learn the fiddle. She's up here visiting family for the holidays and heading back south to her gig in Kentucky in a few days. It was great to meet her, and to talk about music and instruments and life over a hot mug in this farmhouse with puppies and mud on the boots. She did amazingly well! She not only learned her first tune but learned to drone and shuffle and she played a PERFECT Ida Red with shuffling before we called it a win! The fiddle suited her, and I hope she keeps playing. She had the knack.

So I was home to feed the stove, prep the farm, and tend to things like a chicken dinner. The stove feeding was easy and piles of firewood are inside right now around the Bunbaker, ready for their work. Fuel is here and the wood outside is all stacked, tarped, and safe from snowfly and roof runoff. The roof rake is ready to go, too. The animals all had an extra hearty mealtime this afternoon to add some calories to deal with the new snow on the way. I'm just inside from doing Night Round with an oil lantern and the collies. Every pig, chicken, goat, and horse is tucked in. Now it's my turn.

But I think I should probably play a few tunes before bed... That's the thing about falling back in love with my fiddle. Our affairs are sporadic, but intense. I'm off to see to just that.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saddles and Scales

After two days of oddly mild weather around here, things are starting to chill out. Christmas Eve through yesterday was downright humid. I saw the biggest, brightest, rainbow of my life in December and outside the farmhouse it felt a lot more like September than just south of January. So I spend the time I could spare riding Merlin, hawking with Anna, and enjoying the company of good friends and bad food. Bad meaning, "bad for you" not of poor quality. I drank egg nog and ate cookies. I had warm homemade raisin and cinnamon bagels with a vanilla-honey whipped cream cheese. I had roasted meats, honey glazes, stuffing and chocolate. I had aged mead and cheap whiskey. I didn't have all of these things at once, but if I did... Man, what a way to go!

Tomorrow is one of my favorite things hosted here at the farm, an Indie Day. I sell a Four-Hour Fiddle Class Package for absolute beginners and a reader is coming by to hold her own fiddle for the first time and learn to teach herself. Her instrument is in the case, the strings and bridge set, tuned, and waiting to meet her. The bow is rosined, the book is ready, and I will be putting on a pot of coffee and heating the house up to a toasty level by the time she arrives. I know she's excited, but probably not as much as I am. Teaching people about this instrument is a quiet thrill. It's something so many people think is hard or complicated, but in reality fiddles are not violets - small and frail and fragile - they are beaming sunflowers as large as your own head. They are tough, powerful, hearty and have a range few other instruments can match. Tomorrow Gina will learn to tune, care and feed for, play her first scale and song before she leaves. She'll have all the tools one needs to take on mountain music! If she lets me post a video of her progress, I will! It's something you just have to see to believe, folks. That progression from befuddled beginner to easy sawing on those metal strings. It never gets old, and bringing new fiddlers into this world is fine work.

If you want to come for a one-on-one fiddle lesson (comes with a fiddle) email me at dogsinourparks@gmail.com!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Making Mead: Part 1

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I walked into the mews and Anna Kedrick watched intensely. I guess that is the only way hawks watch anything, really. Her eyes darted from my own to my right hand and then to the outstretched left hand with the heavy leather gauntlet. No food could be seen and she relaxed. I set my left hand behind her and she stepped backwards onto it, the way hawks are most comfortable moving. I took her to the little scale and weighed her. She was 50 grams too heavy to fly free. Bummer. I had planned for a Christmas Hunt with her on the mountain but her heavy weight and the oddly warm 60-degree day would just mean I'd lose her. She'd take off for a thermal and sore in the best of circumstances but more likely she'd end up being chased by one of the resident red-tails that would certainly be up in the air this Holiday. I told her we could watch a movie together later. Oh well.

So instead of hawking I grabbed by black horse. I brushed him off, picked his feet, tacked him up and headed up the trails we know so well. It has been weeks since I have ridden him. The land I have permission to trail ride on was lousy with deer hunters for weeks and the land owners requested I not ride there during that time. No arguments from me. I didn't fancy being mistaken for the large buck in the brush and I didn't need to know what it would be like to be on Merlin's back when a gunshot fired within range. I cut that trail a wide berth for weeks, only riding Merlin up and down the paved road. Paved roads are okay, but it's the woods I crave when I'm with him.

We rode today like old dancing partners. Up the trails and across streams. We jumped over fallen logs and galloped across the fields. I saw the big female red tail on the highest bluff. She took off from a tree above us, screamed out her call, and beat her heavy owl wings to the north. I waved. I named her Huginn and have caught her once a few years ago when I started out as falconer. I remember how large and beautiful she was, her perfect eyes and red tail. I let her go like fireworks from my hands and instead of flying off like some end scene from a movie about to roll the credits, she just flew twenty feet to the ground and turned around to look at me. She had no idea what to think of the big primate that tricked her, caught her, and let her go. She flew off after that and we haven't dated since. She looked great today, though. I meant that wave.

While riding Merlin I noted the places with the most active game and squirrel nests in the trees. I watched the grass (yes, grass in Christmas in the Southern Adirondacks) and the places where rabbit, coyote, and bear scat littered about. I took notes to not hunt with Anna on this mountain if it's Huginn's time to use it. I didn't want Anna to be killed in 30 seconds by that pterosaur.

It had been a lovely holiday. The night before I had a ham dinner with Tara and Tyler at their off-grid home in Vermont. We stayed up late watching movies, talking, eating, enjoying each other's company. I drove home in the truck I have fallen deeply in love with under the full moon. I was excited about Christmas, maybe the most I have been excited since I was a child. Not because of presents or parties but because I knew there was a dark horse and a broad winged hawk waiting for me. Because I had left a warm home of friends I loved. Because I felt lucky, dammit.

And now I am going to get Anna, sit down in my under-stuffed chair that came with this house when I bought it, and watch a movie. Friday is chewing on rawhide. Annie is asleep on a sheepskin on the floor. Gibson is curled up at my feet as I type this (always by my side) and that horse has long since been set loose in the pasture with his flock of woolies. I am ready for a glass of mead and a well-earned rest. Tomorrow is a day of design, writing, and coding but tonight...

All is calm. All is bright.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Still Time!

There is still time to buy a gift certificate for a logo! It is instantly emailed to you and supports this small farm! I am offering MY LOWEST PRICE EVER and since I will be earning off-farm income soon prices will never be as low for logos, designs, business cards, home signs, tee shirts, etc as they are now. Message me for the special pricing!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Yule Goat!

Dash, the buck got to wear a ring of sleighbells today and romp around the farmyard at the Yule Gathering here at the farm today! We feasted on chicken and lamb, veggies and bread, cookies and cake! There was a campfire lit at dusk and a horn full of mead passed around wishing each other love, health and wealth. A great gathering all around. But the real fun was watching this guy run and jump and jingle about for a while!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Yuletide Cheer

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I missed the Civil War

So, I missed the Civil War. I never got to share a cigarette with Picasso and I never got to live in a world that was only as large as your horse could run in a day. I never got to sit in a dark corner of the Algonquin, eavesdropping on quips at the Round Table, and I have no idea what it’s like to be the first person with a television on my block. I never got to pull Tolkien aside and ask him about the Voluspa, and I never got to smash a mountain with Kerouac and a bottle of cheap port. I’m sure the Renaissance was wild ride of open eyes and fat asses, but I missed that, too. I never got to feel what it’s like to be one of the first people to travel cross-country on a steam engine and I’ll never know the feeling of that first take off across the Atlantic. Hell, I even missed the day Kurt Vonnegut came to visit my High School. I’ve missed mostly everything exciting or artistic that has ever happened to the human race.

My timing, frankly, is shit.

And I don’t think I’ll be here for the Big Show either. You know, when the world falls apart? I won’t lead people to freedom from a post-apocalypse hellscape and I won’t see us beat cancer on the Jumbotron. I won’t make it to the Hologram Peace Treaties in the Middle East and I’ll never know a world where it isn’t terrifying just to live alone as a woman. Plastic is here to stay. It literally can’t go anywhere. And honestly, the fact that a six-pack ring will be blowing in the wind on some trash island in the ocean long after I’m dead is fucking depressing. I wish I could say I didn’t think about that all the time. But I do.

I know my life appears selfish and foolish, I know that. But I also know that it looks that way to people who don’t waste their time thinking about how they never got to charge down Little Round Top or scrap together rent with Lena Dunham. My whole life I’ve thought about the heroes and artists I’ve missed out on, am missing out on right now, and the cruel circumstances of being mediocre in a world humming with genius and art. So, that's the first problem.

The second? Get this. Every morning I wake up I think, really think, this might be it. Everyone knows on some level they are going to die, but once I learned about that as a child I never stopped expecting it. It’s changed me more than any heartbreak, horse, or cross-country drive. I’ve been expecting my own death so long that I won’t even confirm casual plans with friends when they ask if I’ll be at their parties the following week. Who could possibly know how long we’ll get to keep our imaginary infinities? Why jinx it? So when someone asks me if I’ll see them tomorrow or meet them for lunch I always say the same damn thing.

“That’s the plan.”

Saying "thats the plan" is safe. It doesn't assume or hope. It reminds me that there is a very good chance some vital organ could quit,  a drunk driver could side-swipe me, or any other of the endless cold opens from Six Feet Under could befall. I'm a bag of electricity and meat that wishes more than she has any right to; to matter to strangers.

I’m lucky though. That I'll admit. I am alive. I’m here, now, in this weird moment in time when anything is possible. When a woman can live alone on the side of a mountain milking dairy goats and then vlog about it to thousands of people in the same day. I get to be this new kind of asshole, a Selective Time Traveler. My home office is littered with draft horse collars and falconry equipment next to laptops and iPods. A government employee delivers records to my door I ordered from a small robotic rectangle that that connects to the internet in my sheep pasture. This shit is bananas.

And I get to be alive the same time Patrick Rothfuss is writing Day 3 and Anna Kendrick sang Still Hurting in The Last Five Years. The American Empire is still kicking in full force. I can buy a pony or percocet in the same day, which you could not do in any pinpoint on the timeline.  I get to watch Jennifer Lawrence dance with Bradley Cooper and know with absolute certainty that in this same lifetime that I am able to rewind their memories on flatscreens, they are both living the same small life —sitting down tonight in their respective homes or hotel couches—just as scared as I am of being surpassed by six-pack rings. They missed the Renaissance, too.

I’m nobody compared to the heroes and history books. I’ll never get to buy Rossalind Russel a drink. but unlike most of the people immortalized in ink or film, I’ve still here. I’m here and in this freakish time where war isn’t being waged outside my house and I don’t have to worry about being eaten alive by a saber-toothed tiger on my way to the bathroom.

My timing, frankly, is perfect.

I hope I get another day tomorrow. That sounds so corny, I know, but the fear is real. My fear of a small, short, life is exactly why I am trying to live a larger one. It's why I am on this farm. Why I am trying to keep it so desperately.  It’s easy to fool people into thinking you're brave when you’re just terrified of regret. Anything you ever thought I did out of courage was done because I can't stop seeing that six-pack ring floating in red water. Do not confuse that for fear. I do not fear death, but it is the avatar holding up the carrot on the stick.

I am grateful I don’t share the pride that haunts people who think they’ll live long enough to be thought less of by strangers. It’s why I didn’t hesitate to ride the horse I didn’t deserve and love a man that didn’t deserve me. This mess of a woman, who is writing to you sober as a judge, is the only person I ever want to be. If I’m lucky I get a little more time and I’ll stumble into the magic people who value all the hollow pieces inside me at the same time they make them go away.

I don’t wish that any of you reading this start waking up tomorrow scared or anxious. But I do hope you realize we’re all just dancing on borrowed time, in the slot we’ve been given by a drunk lottery, and it’s all wrapping up pretty quick. And I’m going to get up in the morning and figure out what it will take to keep the lights on, the house warm, the words loose, and the liquor cabinet stocked.

At least that’s the plan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Vlog: New Off-Farm Job

Monday, December 14, 2015

Warm Luck

It is pouring outside, not what you expect here in the North Country in Mid December, but there it is. I am indoors, listening to the sounds of dogs chewing rawhide and sighs of Gibson, sleeping beside me. I am sore all over from hours of volunteer time at Merck Forest. I was there with some friends helping to stack their firewood for their staff, paint cabin doors, and clear debris. It felt like the right thing to do after friends stopped by Saturday to help stack all the wood here at the farm. It is a good feeling, that. Knowing that months of heat was protected by friendship. If there is a warmer way to live in this world than kindling collected by the sweat of loved ones, let me know?

I have spent most of this week working and hawking. Spending time with kin and friends and animals. I am grateful for it. Tomorrow I head back to my old offices at Orvis for some part time seasonal work. What a gift that is! I am just a few logo sales or fiddle lessons away from making another mortgage payment and getting this farm on solid ground. This job is a real nod in my favor, and some true luck. It feels earned and needed. It is as warm as the firewood.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Give The Gift of Design - Support CAF!

GIVE AN AWESOME GIFT this holiday season and support a farm that really needs it! I still have three spots left! For those of you hesitant to purchase a $200 logo, but still interested in giving the unique gift to a friend these holidays - If I can get five people to commit to buying a logo for $50 off - I would sell these at $150. You get a voucher (pdf format) to print and give to a friend as a gift to redeem anytime after January 1 2016. You can also use it for your own gift, just postponing the actual work until 2016. Please email me at dogsinourparks@gmail.com to sign up!

Home is Where Your Weird's At

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cold Antler Farm Notecards!

My dear friend and amazing photographer, Miriam Romais, has been a large part of this farm over the past few years. She has photographed Cold Antler through the seasons, activities, and stories. Her photos bring out the best of this little farm and she manages to capture my homestead and animals in ways no one else has. I'm grateful she's a part of my life and proud to announce these cards!

Miriam is selling sets of her notecards at the large, framable size, of 5" x 7" and each print comes signed by myself and her. They come with envelopes as well. These cards are printed on professional archival paper. They are ready to save, send, or frame and a part of the sale goes to help support Cold Antler Farm.

Price for set of seven, 5" x 7" cards is $30 plus $5.75 shipping (US customers only). You order through Miriam's website by clicking here! Only ten sets have been printed so order fast!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Vlog: 10 Signs You Might Become a Homesteader

Collecting References! Win Signed Books!

Good morning from a very wet and muddy December here in upstate New York. I know it is supposed to be a time of Yuletide cheer but outside it looks more like a haunted bog. But I am fighting against the gloom with Wilco on the record player, candles lit, a little living room dancing with some muddy dogs, and a hot shower. After that I am going to get dressed up good enough to pass for a first date and film a new vlog where I talk about that last top ten list I made, in a little more detail. I'd film it outside with the sheep, but they are wet wool and mud right now. A gal's gotta stay clean at least a little while, self esteem and what not.

I am going to create a website for Cold Antler Farm and all it's offerings. I think the blog will remain exactly the same, but this site will link to it for folks, but this new site will be about me the author and speaker and also feature my graphic design work, (since it is a growing part of how I make a living). What I would like is to collect any recommendations from folks who have attended workshops, camps, received logos, basically spent time here on the farm or worked with me. You are also welcome to ad book and blog reviews, particularly if this website has helped you in any way realize your own dreams. If you do so I might use them on the site with your credit and permission. Basically, readers and clients are references to folks who do not know me.

This is indeed going to take some of your time and I don't want to appear ungrateful! So I will pick a random blog comment to win a Season Pass to Cold Antler Farm events or three signed books of mine (your choice!) if you can't attend events here at the farm. I thank you in advance for this early Yule Gift and hope you are ready to enjoy this season, full force!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

10 Signs You Might Be a Homesteader!

1. You Love Animals and Nature
Your whole life you’ve been drawn to animals. You love your pets like family, admire wildlife with awe, and if you had the means would certainly have more animals in your life. In fact, if you won the lottery tomorrow that money wouldn't go towards a premium 50-inch flatscreen; it would go to a new barn! You would like more land and the free time to raise livestock, learn to ride a horse, or raise up your dream hunting pup. Part of you will always feel like Heidi’s Grandfather and you love that about yourself.

2. You Love Food
You love food, but not just eating it - all aspects of food. You love gardening and farming, but also hunting and foraging. Hard-earned meals you know intimately are celebrations and you study recipes like an Oxford Scholar. You find more satisfaction in a venison steak covered in morel sauce you got from the forest than any 4-star restaurant fare. You’re not scared of raw milk, farm fresh eggs, home brewed booze, or fish from the river. You’re probably not a vegetarian. (And if you are, you won’t be for long given the chance to raise and hunt for your own protein!)

3. Accomplishments and Goals Are Your Favorite Drugs
You are a list maker and checker-offer. You find that finishing something you started is one of the best feelings in the world. A lot of people like making goals set for them by teachers and bosses, but you find that work compared to the true satisfaction of accomplishing your self-assigned tasks. This translates from morning chores to creativity. You are a maker, be it knitted sweaters or carpentry projects - setting to a task and finishing it is a huge part of who you are and what you love.

4. You’re Fiercely Independent
You are your own person. You are drawn to other strong minded people, and get uneasy around hive minds and group think. Politics frustrate you, as do people who cling to one side or another of a political debate. You find comfort in being set apart from the crowd and would rather own your own diner than be the manager of a team of twenty people in an office for four times the income.

5. You’re Nervous About the State Of The World
You may or may not follow the news but it doesn’t take a foreign correspondent to see the unsettled state of the world. Be it climate changes and weather patterns or war zones; you know that our comfort and safety is not certain. Something as fragile as society has and could fall apart again. You’re not wearing a tin foil hat or digging a bunker in the backyard but you see a lot of sense in storing a few weeks of food in your home, having heat and water not dependent on the public grid. I bet you own copies of your favorite books in print even if you already have them in ebook format. Just in case!

6. You Don’t Consider Money Wealth
You know money is a reality with being part of the modern Over Culture, but money itself means little to you. It’s a rate of exchange used to acquire things of actual value - things like dairy goats, laying hens, good lumber, land, and warm clothes. Real value is learning skills, not buying toys. You’d honestly rather make a 1/4 of your current salary while living in a small cabin you already paid off on land you own than rent a loft apartment in the city with a six-figure paycheck. You’d sleep better, too.

7. You Hate Working For Other People And Do it Poorly
Enough said. I feel you.

8. You’re Okay With Being Different
People think you are crazy for spending your vacation interning at a local farm, and think raising a pig in your garage-turned-pen is borderline crazy. (You know they have no idea how good that bacon is..,) You aren’t really interested in other people’s ideas on fashion and fun - you are your own person and rock that homemade dress and handknit scarf, goodwill jeans, and new tractor with the same gusto as anyone in the glossy ads in Vogue. Work it, girl.

9. You’re More Stubborn Than Logical
You’ve been called stubborn a lot, and don’t care if your dreams are “unrealistic”.  You know that given enough determination you can get to your own little plot of land. It's a possible dream and many people get there every single day. (I get emails about it. Trust me it is happening.) Never let anyone tell you that stubbornness is a bad trait, ever. It's the most important quality a self-employed homesteader can have.

10. You Can’t Stop Dreaming About It
Trust your dreams. It took me half a decade of being farm-curious to have the guts to leave my day job and take on the scrappy life I have maintained on my homestead for nearly four years now. I went from security and soul-sucking boredom to the excitement of constant resourcefulness. It meant making a lot of changes and a lot of mistakes but I have zero regrets. It got me home. So if you can't stop reading backyard chicken forums at your office, or have a stack of home dairy books by your bedside table in your one-bedroom apartment - good. Keep planning, dreaming, hoping, being unreasonable, unrealistic, stubborn and nuts. Those are the only people who wake up to woodsmoke, horse hair, fiddle strings and sheepdogs.