Saturday, June 4, 2016


A friend left my home after a visit with a box. Inside it was a bottle of fresh goats milk, some garlic chèvre ready to spread, a bag of salad greens, and a half dozen eggs. I thought nothing of it at the time, mostly because there is such an excess of those things here that I am just glad when someone else can enjoy them. Milk is for drinking, gardens are for eating, eggs collect in the fridge like fungus taking over shelves and crispers if not taken away. Anyway, he left and he left with food and I was reminded again that my home is a place you can get things.

My life is different and I like it. I like that my home is lived in and comfortable, with little plastic and little modernity. I like that there’s no dishwasher, microwave, cell phones, flat screen TV, tractors, air conditioning, or drip coffee makers. Instead there’s a sink, a stove, a rotary phone, a computer, a draft horse, window fans, and percolators. And that isn’t some quasi-luddite (can you be a quasi-luddite?!) stance of superiority. It’s just what I like. It’s how I prefer to be in the world. I have plenty of shortcuts and modern conveniences in my life I never want to go without. Things like my old iPod, my pickup truck, my internet, and services like traveling butchers with power winches on their trucks. I like modern medicine and I like modern booze (same thing) and I like learning about pop culture at the same time I am learning about falconry. The point of all this is: be yourself. What a cliche, right? But it’s a mantra that terrifies us all. What if “myself” isn’t what people want, or like, or approve?

Well, then you end up on a farm in upstate NY. You could do worse.

So my home is this weird place and you can get things here. You can place orders here. Friends and neighbors can get in on some bacon, chicken, eggs, lamb, milk, cheese, wool and honey here. They can join me fly fishing or horseback riding or go hawking or shoot arrows with me. We can hunt, we can watch Pitch Perfect, we can get dressed up in heels and eye shadow and go to Saratoga for Karaoke. I subscribe to Black Belt Magazine, Countryside, and Vogue. Allow yourself to contain multitudes.

Most women, hell most people, spend most of their life apologizing. We’re so used to being scolded and accepting that behavior from other adults as okay. We don’t speak up when someone tells us they were ahead of us in line when we weren’t. We don’t accept compliments without explaining why we don’t deserve them. We let people assign us rolls. We let people happen to us. Not around here. I don’t let Candy Crush happen to me, much less people.

I spent the past ten years learning to homestead. Now this farm is thriving. This morning at 7Am I met the slaughter team and helped take care of some large pigs. By 9AM all the chores were done, water hauled, hay moved, goats milked, dogs fed, and I was in the Battenkill River fly fishing with a friend. It costs nothing to fly fish, which is good these days when money has never been tighter at the same time I never felt wealthier. This June marks 4 years of self employment.

I know what I am doing and that is not something I am ready to apologize for, not anymore. I know that horse, those sheep, my dogs, the goats, the bees, the rabbits, the chickens, and the pigs. I know my fiddle. I know how to make bread and cheese and a killer deep dish pizza. I have plenty to build on and there is always room for improvement, but I am no longer a beginner at these things. As of tonight the lights are still on and the wolves are pacing far away enough from the door I can exhale between the sharp inhalations. I made it four years on my own in this house and I figured it out enough to remain. Tonight that is all I need to know to fall asleep a little less afraid.

I am still here. Wish me luck.

Also, you can get things here.


Blogger Vicki Alderman-Watt said...

Wishing you all the best on the next four years. I'm at it for 10 years and I love every day of it.

June 4, 2016 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Congratulations on a remarkable milestone! Keep pluggin' away, farmer.

June 5, 2016 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger edie batt said...

Congratulations, Jenna! You are doing an amazing job and inspiring thousands to continue doing the best they can to have the life they want as well. Thank you for continuing to blog and vlog. I always gain knowledge and inspiration!

June 5, 2016 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

I do wish you luck! Congrats on making it to 4 years living the lifestyle you love.
I was way behind in the blog posts (had family visiting from the UK) so sorry to read of bee stings and broken computer, hopefully the new bees have settled in now, and the computer was able to be repaired.

I had noticed photo credits to Miriam over the years, the Hersteading photography exhibit, author talk, and art show in Saratoga Springs looks amazing, I would love to attend, sadly not looking possible though as its 5 hours from home and I have to work that day and the next. I'm hoping it's a big success for both of you, who knows maybe a future collaboration on a photo book is a possibility?

Was glad to read shearing went well, and you were able to keep the fleeces dry, even if it did make the house smell 'sheepy'. Did you manage to sell them all during the 'fire sale'? Hopefully another mortgage payment made. If there are any left would you list them again, may be just the excuse I need to process some fleece and get my spinning wheel out.

Great to hear you are harvesting from your garden already, our rainbow chard is looking good, as well as the tomatoes grown from seed, and pole beans. After the recent heatwave - got up to 92 here in Western NY recently - today is warm and a gentle rain has been falling all morning, just what we need to soak into the soil which was already rock hard and cracking open.

Did the geese ever hatch any eggs?

Thanks for some great recent posts, enjoyed a catch up this morning.

June 5, 2016 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Thanks for the kind comments, guys. I am keepig it going!

None of the items sold during the fire sale, though I did get an email about the kettle and did catch up with some previous blog sponsors and the computer can't be repaired. Can't win them all. When I write posts like this I am trying to cheer myself on as well.

June 5, 2016 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Jenna, "Allow yourself some multitudes" What an wonderful idea!! You and I are worlds apart...BUT have so much in common.I met you several years at Battenkill Books.I read your blog and enjoy it so much.I do not expect you you to remember me. Hope at 62 years old my skin is not that thin. Are common ground is this,pick the life you want AND persue it. I apologize when it is necessary, not for an imagined wrong. Call me nuts but i enjoy my work and plan to work until I'm 66. I also know how to have fun.Life IS NOT static.Good times bad times all included in the package.I live in a small town in PA about four hours from you. I have a WONDERFUL field bred English Springer Spaniel(my canine of choice)but love all breeds.Maude is on my feet as I write.Ihave a small garden in my backyard. Got brave this year and joined a local CSA farm this season. You should see the beets!What I want to say is this,I may not know you but I appreciate you, your tenacity and talents.Keep persuing your life. Cathy Miller/Maudesmom

June 5, 2016 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Mountain Walker said...

How's Birchthorn coming along? I.CANNOT.WAIT.

June 6, 2016 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Birchthorn comes back to me this month from the editor, and then it will be gone through again my me as I work through the edits, then laid out, prepped for ebook and paper publishing and sent out. I hope soon as possible!

June 6, 2016 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Pilates Paula said...

Happy Anniversary! That means it's about 4.5 years since I discovered your blog and started waking up to my own Barnheart... you've been such an inspiration! Thanks bunches.

June 7, 2016 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Thank you for telling the truth about what a farmers life is like. Thank you for being honest and working so very hard to maintain the dream. I believe in you. Take care and keep being the amazing woman that you are.

June 8, 2016 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Vermont Grand View Farm said...

What a great post Jenna. I am so tired of feeling like I need to apologize for and explain my chosen lifestyle. Here's to "candy crush" no more!

June 13, 2016 at 7:54 AM  

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