Friday, July 29, 2016


If you visit this house, expect to see books. They are everywhere. I have more books than I know what to do with, and sadly, very few bookshelves. It's the one thing I won't get ride of. I just took five garbage bags of clothes to the donation center, but the idea of getting rid of a book is sacrilege.

So I hold on. Books are all over the house, in little sessions and clubs. They don't hang out with just other books either. They are stationed with DVDs and trinkets, novels beside comics, and cookbooks beside antiques. They are in the kitchen, windowsills, cupboards and cabinets. They are in the bathroom, fridge (yes, fridge), bedroom, and closets. They are in my truck, my barn, and on top of the dog crate. I get them as gifts, pick them  up at yard sales and library events, bookstores and online. I love them.  And as much as I love the digital world and the convenience of ereaders and a library in my pocket - I still get a little rush every time a hardcover is in my hands.

I recently got the 4th Installment of the Kunstler World Made by Hand series and I take it to the Battenkill river to read before I swim. I get to read a piece of fiction, and read a scene out of it that takes place in that very same river, and then jump into the water and cool off. It feels magical. And I leave it on the bank as I take off for a half mile or so down the river. If someone steals it, I don't care very much. I hope they enjoy it and I am only out fifteen dollars. I am not losing my digital library downloaded over years or credit card security like a swiped kindle. Each book is it's own little portkey to its own world. If you believe in books, you believe in magic.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Take Friday Home!

This original, signed, illustration of Friday is for sale. Email or comment to make an offer and I'll send her home with a sketch of your own pet!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cold Antler Won!

The results are now public about the Beekman1802 Mortgage Lifter Reader's Choice Award! You can go to their Facebook Page and see the live stream video where they announce the details, but know that Cold Antler was the number 1 voted farm! Thank you to all who voted for me and helped keep CAF at the top of the list for weeks and weeks! When the voting finally ended I was contacted by Josh and we spoke on the phone. It turned out that one of my readers was neck and neck with me for first place, God's Whisper Farm. Realizing how close the votes were, I chose to split the prize money and offer half to Andi and her land! So instead of one reader's choice award winners, there are two farms getting a little lift!

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've Heard of Eggcrate Mattress Pads....

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Get a Logo!

If you are looking for a logo, tee shirt design, print for your home or a unique gift to give a friend - I am offering logos on sale. Email me at about prices and dates for openings in the design schedule. I would be honored to do work for you readers, friends, and farmers out there looking to spruce up your own marketing and support another farmer in the process.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Out of The Woods

{{Hit play to read this post with a soundtrack}}

The last time a thunderstorm barreled through this farm it hit around 3Am. A loud boom cracked into the sky and it jolted me out of bed. Within twenty seconds of it slicing the silence, Gibson had run up the stairs from his post in front of the door and slammed into me, his 55lb body as close to me as possible. He shook madly, his tongue out in a panicked pant. He's always been nervous about loud sky noises, gun shots, fireworks, anything unexplained and possibly dangerous. I reached my around under his front paws and held him close until his breathing went from rapid to calm. I sang to him, a whisper without a hint of threat, like Ryan does.

The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming color
And I remember thinking

Are we out of the woods, yet?

Lightening lit up the room followed by louder and closer thunder. Friday sprawled lazily at the foot of the bed, entirely apathetic. She was on her back with all four paws in the air like a cartoon in a hammock. She has zero fear of thunder, ram horns, or giant pick up trucks but if your 32year old wobbles towards her she hides under a bush. She's terrified of children. Having never even seen one up close until she was around 6 months old, I think they confuse her. But since there were no toddlers, she was content. Gibson fell asleep half an hour later when the storm had exhaled into distant rumbles. He didn't leave my side the rest of the night. I kept singing.

The night we couldn't quite forget
When we decided to move the furniture so we could dance
Baby, like we stood a chance

We all have our storms and toddlers.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded they will pass.

Today was good. I spoke with the bank and arranged enough payments to get this farm out of any imminent threat of foreclosure. I can not tell you how amazing that felt. I let out a sigh I was holding in for what felt like years. Every day, for the past few weeks, I was fearing the mailbox. When the white truck puttered up the mountain I knew that it could be the day I found out I was out of time. But thanks to the Going Postal campaign the farm is safe, and tomorrow the first ten pieces of art get mailed out to people all over America and Canada. Thank you.

I hope to be entirely caught up on the mortgage by August. And then ahead of it.

I feel really good, guys. I really do. This dedication to marathon training has changed me. My body, my head, my heart is different. I stopped drinking a few weeks ago, not forever, but giving my liver a break before it slides out in protest. I have never slept better, fit better into my clothing, or cared more about my well being. Taking care of myself this way is changing things. It's changing the entire farm. I'm not going back to donuts and pasta. I'm currently hurt, dealing with a heal injury, so I didn't run today but I tried. It hurt in the first few strides so I went home and did a couple hundred pushups and sit ups, yoga, and stretches. A previous version of me would have poured a bourbon and picked up a pint of ice cream. Now I just want to feel better. The fifteen minutes of bliss eating some vanilla ice cream isn't worth the two hours of feeling bloated and guilty about it. I don't associate ice cream with those fifteen minutes anymore. I associate it with those two hours. Pass me the watermelon, baby. I am never going back to feeling that way again.

Remember when we couldn't take the heat
I walked out, I said, I'm setting you free
But the monsters turned out to be just trees
When the sun came up You were looking at me

Thunderstorms and miles. River swims and horseback riding up mountain trails. Holding loved ones close and making payments. This story keeps going. Nearly ten years of blog posts now, and as I grow into the woman I am learning to love more and more - it's harder to take certain things seriously. It's harder to be scared. It's easier to feel strong. It's necessary to be grateful.

I am still in love with all of this. You just can't know.

Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?

In the clear yet, 


My Girl Friday

Last night I was standing in a dark road outside my house. It was around 11PM and without street lights, everything was black. My flashlight battery was dying, and all I had was some flickering light and the occasional burst of a firefly by the stream. In the distance I could hear the sound of a ewe somewhere in the woods, outside the fence and away from the rest of the flock. The ewe was panicked and I wasn't sure where she was. Gibson and Friday were beside me, waiting for my decision. Or rather, Gibson was waiting for my decision - Friday was beside us in the ditch with the stream trying to eat a firefly every time it lit up. She played while he nearly shook with anticipation. I told him to get the sheep and his black form teleported head into the darkness.

Friday saw Gibson leave and perked up, no longer interested in luminescent snacks. She dropped her tail and slunk into that Border Collie crouch. She doesn't really know what to do with sheep yet but she knows the import, and wanted to know where the Hell Gibson had ran off to. I watched her best I could in the flicker of the small torch.

A few moments later the ewe and her lambs came scampering down the road, Gibson behind them. Friday flanked them and helped keep them from taking off to the left or right. I smiled to see it. She is just a year old and mostly wants to be a pup, but she's learning the ropes as a farm dog by and by. Gibson and I had months of classes with respected sheepdog trainers, but Friday came into my life when all was a whirlwind and money was tight as could be. There were no three-hour round trips to farms for classes, at least not yet. That doesn't mean her instincts are shining through. I'm proud of the dog she is becoming.

I named her after my favorite movie, His Girl Friday, which stars the amazing Rosalind Russell as Hildy. Rosalind is a force to be reckoned with in all of her films, but something about her rapid-fire banter, the timeless comedy, and her spark stuck with me. I never get tired of that film. And as I watch my girl grow up I am seeing how much she has turned into quick the firecracker herself. She's a lot klutzier than Gibson, and alot more foolish - but she's got a bravery he's never had. Friday will run right up to a 200lb ram and bark in his face. If he lowers his head at her, she dodges and ducks. In the same scenario Gibson would back up and try to circle farther out. Gibson has the literal balls in this couple, but she's got all the brass when it comes to putting her paw down. Which is some what comical at her 38lb size.

But small girls can be mighty.

Photo by Miriam Romais (I cropped it)

Postcards Coming Your Way!

If you were one of the postcard supporters at the first level of pledges for Going Postal, your postcard is in the mail soon! Those that donated at the custom level, you have been contacted via email asking for details of what animal you would like drawn and sent to you in a protected mailer!

I am so grateful for the support on this art project. There is still time to support the farm through this and get either a random piece of artwork (like these shown here) mailed to your door with a thank you from me - or a custom piece of your choosing. Click the link above and know all funds from this Artwork for the Farm Project go towards the future of Cold Antler. I hope you enjoy the postcards and keep an eye on your mailboxes!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Thursday

It was magic hour, that time before dusk when sunlight seems the warmest and the world gets saturated like an Instagram filter. I was doing my best impersonation of Baloo the bear. I was on my back, floating down the river without another human being in sight. It was the end of a long day. A day that started with a seven-mile run and (just an hour before my bear impression) was spent on the back of a horse on the top of a mountain. in-between those heroic events I did what most professional do all day - sat in front of a computer working. But at that moment the world was just that river, tired light, and cold water. Heaven.

Brown trout jumped out of the water to my left and I took a mental note, maybe in the morning I’d come back with my fly rod? Maybe. I smiled, knowing that in the morning all I would do is run, stretch, and then see to the animals. By the time the piglets were fed, goats milked, sheep watered and horse hayed I wouldn’t want to go fishing. I’d want this: the river. And not to fish for brownies, but to do absolutely nothing in. The calm current swept me downstream, under the dappled light of Sycamores and songs of cedar waxwings. My salad didn’t need trout in it tomorrow night.

I floated around a bend, and the river picked up her pace. I know this 1/4 stretch so well, every rock and deep pool. So I didn’t think twice about letting it scoop me away and push me out into a swimming hole near a gravel beach. This was a very crowded swimming spot on the weekends, but those of us luck enough to dip in on the weekdays, it was empty. Or nearly so. Because as I was swimming towards the beach (to walk back to my book and towel up river), the most beautiful thing started down the path. Two girls were on the back of their horses, an Appaloosa and a Chestnut mare. They had on tank tops and shorts and their companions (two teenage boys) rode alongside them on their mountain bikes. The boys ditched their bikes and hung around the beach, but the girls lead their horses right into the river - to the shallow areas that dipped into pools so the horses could swim and splash.

I felt lucky as hell. Here I was floating and splashing, my companions teenagers on summer break. I loved their pluck. I loved the bravado of the boys and the fearlessness of the girls - who of course had no helmets and simple tack. They just wanted to ride their horses to the river, because everyone was hot and they could.

I walked out of the water dripping wet and grinning like an idiot. How the hell did I end up here? How did I collect the loose change of luck and scraps of fate to end up in a corner of the world where children ride horses into sunset rivers? A place where I had tended a farm, cantered a draft horse up a mountainside, and ate better than the fanciest restaurant fare in New York City. I mean, when you milk your own goats the cheese is really fresh. When you grow your own bacon and tomatoes - no amount of Michelin stars can beat those BLTS on homemade bread. And to savor that with river-soaked rain, on a piece of land you somehow managed to keep? It’s witchcraft.

Things are far from safe here.

Things are perfect here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

193 Miles and Counting

I am officially training for a half marathon in Vermont in September. This is week 6 of training, which started yesterday. I am running between 20-50 miles a week out here in the back roads of Veryork. So far this body has ran nearly 200 miles in a little over five weeks. I'm proud of that, but even more proud of how much I am starting to enjoy running and grow as a runner. It make sense, I suppose. This whole farm dream has been a marathon, hasn't it? You keep going. You don't give up. You don't listen to the people making fun of you as they drive by in their pickups. You don't make excuses about rain, heat, or being tired. You keep going. The fact that I am training for this race (to simply complete it, not win it) at the same time I am trying to keep the farm going - the metaphor isn't lost on me. I feel stronger and leaner than I ever have. I may be short, and I may have the stride and build of a Hobbit - but there's something fierce in there. I'm proud of that reflection.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cheap Thrills

The days are hot and the farm keeps on going. That's the story this July, or at least the part I am willing to share. Right now this farm's future is as up in the air as a deck of cards chucked into the wind. It's all luck and a hunch right now.

Right now the sheep are out in the back field enjoying their dinner of freshly-stormed-on pasture. The goats are nibbling hay in their pen, their evening milking well over and their udders empty. The chickens are roosting, new chicks are on order, and hopes at the farm are high. like I said, luck and hunches.

By the by, there are five new little piglets here! I picked them up a few days ago from West Wind Acres. They are a home brew of many different heritage breeds, and pretty young. They all fit comfortably in a large crate on the ride home, covered with a shade cloth in the back of the pickup. Now they are enjoying a diet of chow, goats milk, scraps, and bolted garden greens. While these guys are so little, they are in the pen in the barn, but soon they will be out in the woods in the usual pig digs. I'm not sure how many pigs this is for Cold Antler, but I am certainly getting a hang of the pork train. Proud to raise them, proud to provide them to folks I raise them for, and always happy to share the spoils of the work with friends.

Last night after a swim in the river, my friends Tyler and Tara and I enjoyed BLT wraps. Fresh chard and bacon from the farm made us all content as we tucked in for a movie. It was a perfect night, and before they headed back to Vermont on their motorcycle we hugged goodbye. I'm not a hugger, but those two and I share the kinship of being self-employed, woodland, 30-something, weirdos and I love them. We were floating down the Battenkill earlier that evening, had all spent the day earlier earning a living from our businesses and dreams, and were still young and foolish enough to keep it up. If you are the people you surround yourself with, I am going to be fine. I hope, at least.

But back to those pigs: I had never driven those roads before, and with two border collies sharing the cab with some great music it was a bonafide field trip. Gibson, Friday, and I all put on our aviators and cranked up the stereo and listened to a whole lotta jams as we drove around the hillsides southwest to Rockwood's place. I roll without a cell phone, and the only directions for the 46-mile trip were written by hand in a notebook from a conversation Josh and I had in Facebook. At one point the road I was on had a weird turn in the town of Stillwater, and I was lost. So I chatted up locals at the Stewart's and within ten minutes I had an iced coffee, two farmers, a biker chick, and a map all gathered around the hood of my truck, which I have been calling Taylor regularly (It's a 1989). Together, we all found the route to West Wind together. I loved that. People are great, and thanks to the kindness of strangers I found my way.

I swear music, running, this farm, good people, and those dogs are the reasons I wake up with sharp teeth and a wry smile. And that's the attitude you need to have to keep a crazy dream like this going strong. You need to outwit the odds. You need to keep inspired to create the life worth writing about. You need to care more about the whole than any single piece. You need force, hope, friends, collies, biker chicks, and bacon wraps.

Wish me luck, guys. This month I'm all in.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

More Mail!

Last week that application came in the mail from a Troll. Today, after my morning run, I opened the mailbox and found a pile of letters from people just reaching out with encouragement and kindness. One was gorgeously hand written in fountain pen. The other was a short note with a beautiful crystal. The other was a simple note, mailed to just let me know we need more Jenna's in the world. I can not tell you how uplifting that delivery was! And how it made my day to see such things. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Album of My Summer

This is the album of my summer, Strange Trails, and I wish I could write the words to explain how important it is. This is what I have listened to while running over a hundred and fifty miles. This is what I am hauling water buckets, bales, and driving to. This is the album I have written my best words to and fascinated about things I would never dare write about. It is a crime I don't own it on vinyl, but recreational spending is on hold. The whole album is available to listen to above, and song by song on Youtube. If you love rock, Elvis, over thinking, indie rock, and force and hope - listen to it. It is meant to be listened to as one thing. Every song blends perfectly into the next. It is exhilarating in it's composition. It is fun, sexy, dark, hopeful, and when you are done listening you feel stronger.

Guys, if you stopped caring about new music because of children, work, life - start again. Listen to this. Get it on iTunes or on CD for your car. Listen to it and soak. You can work out, eat well, dream, meditate, and do anything else to improve but nothing is as influential and invigorating as good music you never heard before. 

In Those Eyes

I sleep with dogs. When someone else is in bed with me, they sleep with dogs too. It's a matter of seniority as well as farm management, because whenever a certain type of sheep baa or a fearful chicken squawk breaks the silence I want to be up instantly. Having a border collie in the bedroom is, by far, the most intense alarm clock.

This morning Gibson and I were snuggling, since it was just us and Friday was downstairs in her crate. We had been up around 5Am with a raccoon scare and when all was well I fed most of the animals and headed back to sleep for a few hours. Friday got breakfast in her crate and G and I went back up to bed. He usually sleeps beside me, just like a person would, with his head on the pillows and his back to me. And as I was enjoying our morning cuddle I heard the sound of Sal, my oldest sheep, balk in the front lawn. This meant that someone broke the fence (Hannah) and the sheep were out. Gibson was up and at the window in an instant. The box fan blew in his face heroically. He looked like Lassie if Lassie was a fighter pilot.

Then he ran downstairs, having estimated the problem and the amount of canine panic it required. He barked and whined and went to the front door. Friday was already howling backup from her crate. I was getting dressed and as I left the bedroom to turn towards the shallow staircase he was already heading back up to check on me. He stood there on the stairs and let out a sound that was unmistakably a question. His eyes looked right into me, with such fire I felt it rattle my rib cage. This was not the eagerness of a stick about to be thrown or the desire for a biscuit. This was something else entirely. Inside those eyes was the story of six years. The story of growing up a working animal in a specific place with a specific job. It was the plea to act and the prayer for permission.

He looked at me with decision. His choice was made. He was demanding joy, and I was the one he needed to turn the ignition. So I nodded and hurried downstairs to open the front door. In five seconds the sheep were back inside their fence.

This is the reason I am so in love with these dogs that so many people write off as insane or hyper. They aren’t. They just know exactly what they want. They are driven by instinct and obsession. They are so in tune with sounds, routines, animals, and their tasks it can be equated to canine Asperger's, but it's far more complicated than that. A sheepdog raised with a job on a farm is a song. They are rhythm and force, complex and beautiful. They aren't necessary like oxygen and sunlight, but the world is better with them.

And so are we.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Have a safe and lovely Holiday, folks! Make sure to take some time to just sprawl on the grass, like these two pros!

Sunday, July 3, 2016


So,  a woman named Judy emailed me. And let me say this up front, all of you can email me. I appreciate it, sincerely. But I gotta say, Judy is a master. She didn't care about current events. She didn't care about my fear, money, or story-not really. What Judy cared about was reining me in. She told me that she loved my posts about individual animals, neighbors, and friends. I have neglected these updates. So expect a lot of Judy Posts about sheep, goats, geese, piglets, and more this week.

Thank you, Judy.


Friday night a severe thunderstorm came through the county. I am glad I was home. Gibson, my six-year-old, Border Collie is still terrified of loud bursts of sound. When a thunderstorm comes he doesn’t jump into the bathtub (I don’t have a bathtub); instead he pants heavily inside his crate or comes looking for me. Since I was home, he wanted to be beside me through the storm. So while I was drawing and watching new episodes of Chelsea Handler's Netflic Talkshow, I put down my pencil and embraced him.

I don’t know how common this is, but Gibson uses his front paws the same way you and I use our arms. He doesn’t set his paws onto my lap but wraps them around my hips in an embrace, or loops them around a calf to grasp me, literally holding on. When he is scared he wants to be close because he doesn’t understand; but he knows that so far every time he was confused by sky violence he made it through if he was close to me.

I believe in tough love when it comes to primates. I don’t believe in it when it comes to canines. I’ll ignore a person to teach them a lesson, but if a dog asks, I am already hugging back. And through the wind and hail, the thunder and lightening, I held that dog. I felt his breathing go from rapid to calm. I watched him fall asleep in my arms from the exhaustion of panic. I know that transition far too well. He's such a complicated and beautiful thing, but he gets so confused by the noise. He just wants to know he will be okay, and he'll accept the lie of a hug if it gets him through twenty minutes. That's addiction culture in a nutshell.

That's love in a nutshell.