Saturday, November 26, 2016

Almost Dark

It was almost dark. It seems night comes faster here than anywhere else in the world. I live on the east side of a mountain and in winter around 3PM the sun is gone. Well, not “gone” but on the other side of my hill and fires need to be lit. It was closer to 4:45 when I was walking up my road. I had Aya Cash on my left fist with her hood on and a rabbit in my right hand. Well, most of the rabbit. She had swooped down on it and killed it fast around 3:45, but spent an hour eating its entire head and right forearm before she felt full enough to walk home. So if you happened to be driving down my mountain at dusk you would see a woman with a hawk and a decapitated rabbit covered in sweat heading home.

Still, I was proud of her. The rabbit easily weighed more than she did. While she ate I sat down on my hunting bag among the thorns and read some Harry Potter. When a bird takes her first rabbit (this is like you free base jumping out of a Redwood to kill a deer with your bare hands) you don’t rush things. You let her eat until she is full. That meant watching a hawk take apart a jaw and skull piece by piece while reading The Prisoner of Azkaban and thinking about farm chores. When she was nearly full it was almost dark. I picked up her, the rabbit, and carried both home on the overworked Pineo glove and slipped her hood on. There were serious deer hunters all up and down this mountain today and my “big kill” was the cottontail I planned on splitting with a hawk named after an Actress.

I put Aya back in her Mews and brought the rabbit inside to skin and separate. I only wanted to keep the back thighs. The rest was hers. Aya would feast tomorrow on the rest of this rabbit but I wanted to but out and vacuum seal the thighs for the freezer. It didn’t take long and before I knew it I had written with a sharpie on plastic “Rabbit Legs - 11/26/16” and set them among the lamb chops, hams, and chickens in the freezer. It was the first wild game added to the coffer and it came from a wild animal I had trapped, trained, mentored, released, and hunted beside. I felt a pride that could make a sponge drip.

In other new: I think Gibson has a broken toe. There is nothing for it other than rest and pain meds. But I am without the most important member of my livestock management team. The good news is that Friday is here and ready to step up. She doesn’t have his instinct but the sheep have been trained to see border collies as Authority Figures. If I tell her where to run, lay down, and stay she can work temp.

That is all the dispatch I have for tonight. If you read this, do comment. It makes this mountain seem smaller when strangers paying attention say hello. If you don’t want to comment publicly, just email.

Come Learn the Fiddle!

Come learn the fiddle! A 4-hour private class for you and a friend is on sale for $375 - and that INCLUDES a fiddle, case, bow, rosin, spare strings, and more you take home. NO MUSICAL EXPERIENCE OR ABILITY TO READ MUSIC NEEDED You come here to a small farm, spend 4 hours outside among the animals or inside by the wood stove. I have never had a single student leave without knowing their first notes, scale, and song!

Gift Certificates available too! Email me for details!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Snow Day

A storm is passing through. It came early in the morning while I was still asleep and the farm was still dark. I woke up to inches of wet snow covering everything. It was striking, even in gray morning light, to see the color of my world change. I wanted to creep deeper into the covers and dogs, and pulled Friday under the covers with me. She is limp as a drowned rat when she’s tired and the only protest was a sigh. I gave her a hug and felt Gibson’s heavy head over the covers. He wanted in. By this time Friday was realizing morning was here and I knew I had a fire to light, animals to check on, and a farm to tend.

Today was a surprise day off. The fact that it also was a snow day was luck. I had scheduled the day weeks in advance for the second part of a fiddle lesson weekend with Heather. Heather was coming for lessons from Gettysburg, PA and was planning on spending the night in Cambridge but the weather reports were ominous. She ended up heading home early and I used the free time to rest up. I stoked the stove and watching some Gilmore Girls while drinking coffee (apropos) after all the necessary work was done.

In the late afternoon I stuck a chicken in the oven with some onions and potatoes, put some hardwood in the stove, and grabbed my shotgun. I had shells for small game in one pocket and deer in the other. The wind was finally dying down and instead of gusts of white air and ice like I had experienced during chores, things were calmer. I sat out with my gun on a saddle pad in the snow for an hour and a half at dusk. I didn’t expect to see a buck or a bunny, but I was ready for both. It felt amazingly quiet. Occasionally I would hear the distant gunshot from another hunter but mostly the world seemed insulated and personal. The ground showed prints and promises and I did my best but it didn’t take long for my feet to feel numb and my face turn red. As the sun disappeared I headed home. It was nearly dark when I walked inside to my dogs.

If I have one wish for you, it is that you someday get to walk inside a warm house after hours in a cold wood. That you can dry your boots by a fire and inhale the smells of roasting meat and vegetables. It was such a beautiful moment, that. Sometimes I think this whole farm is about the moments I come inside and know comfort, under its rawest terms. Blankets feel softer, food tastes better, drinks hit quicker, life seems simpler.

It was a very nice Sunday. A reminder what I am fighting for.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Snow is in the Forecast!

Friday, November 18, 2016

November Rain

Folks, Thank you for your readership, book purchases, sharing posts and essays and all you do to keep up with this farm. For six years now this little farmhouse in Jackson has been my home. Through thick and thin, it has been the place good food has been grown, community built, books written, and stories shared. And do you want to hear some good news? I'm not going anywhere.

Since 2014 Cold Antler Farm has been touch and go. It still is touch and go, if I'm being honest but the reason I am certain I'm not going anywhere isn't because of some fiscal luck or fancy opportunity that came my way. It's because this morning I realized I have been running scared for two years, and I am still here.  There is comfort in a track record. Every time the wolf has been beating down the door I rallied and figured it out. Sometimes it was luck. Sometimes it was you. Sometimes it was pushing myself in other areas - like running the Half Marathon or facing some demons. But 6 years at this address has made me stronger. I'm a better farmer, writer, and woman than I was before I signed the paperwork to buy this house. And as I write this the lights are still on, projects are being pitched, the fire is burning, and the animals are fed.

I am working hard on logos, future farm sales, illustrations, Birchthorn, and freelance work. I am getting my voice out online through social media, videos, and platforms yet seen. I am aggressively pitching sales of fiddle classes, pork shares, logos, and artwork. This month has been the hardest on record so far. I think with the political climate being what it is, speaking publicly about politics was a dangerous choice. Some people no longer what to own my books or read this blog because of it. Some are upset they purchased logos from me. Not because they are unhappy with the work, but because of my politics or social media.

So this November I ask those who do wish to support CAF, to do so. If you think a logo, fiddle class, or an illustration would make a nice Christmas gift, do let me know? You can email me for details about gift vouchers and available times. If you are strapped for cash and too far away to attend a class please share a favorite blog post or book rec online - that is just as amazingly helpful. If you want to pitch in five bucks for the words and pictures I post here for free, there is a donate button below in this post. And if you just want to send some words of encouragement - Lord knows I could use them right now.

Thank you for reading, even through this particular November. I'm still here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Let me tell you a story about friendship. Not just run of the mill friendship, but the kind of dedication that deserves commemorative statues or benefit concerts.  Community is the reason this farm still exists and manages to function. At best, I am the Ringmaster of this Circus. But neighbors, farmers, friends, readers, and customers are the ones taming lions and trapeze swinging.

Yesterday was the established pickup day for Chucky. Chucky is the Boer cross buck I was buying from a neighboring farmer. I use the term "neighbor" loosely since the farm is about 30 minutes away from mine. We worked the deal online and digitally shook through Facebook (that isn't a thing, we just agreed). The farmer who was selling me the buck had just been through surgery and was unable to drive to deliver him. Okay, new problem: how to pick up buck in rut without a large enough crate or trailer to safely transport him? I didn't want this guy riding shotgun. A horny goat that regularly pisses on his own face and beard for some caprine eroticic sex buzz wasn't my idea of an ideal passenger. So I could borrow a large crate, trailer, or hire someone to deliver him. I was figuring out the options when the amazing Patty Wesner said "We'll go pick him up. He can go in the back of the truck!"

What she meant was her truck. Her brand new Toyota Tundra. If my pickup was a fox with mange, she was rolling in an obsidian dire wolf. Sitting in it felt like the cockpit of a space shuttle. It was a modern marvel. It was so pretty and new. It was not the kind of vehicle used to transport animals into scat porn.

But Patty wasn't hearing it. She was fine with using the bed of truck with its equally-fancy cap on it to bring Chucky back to my farm. And so yesterday we got this handsome fellow into the back of her truck and now my girls have a gentleman caller for the next few weeks. To his credit, he was amicable and sweet the entire time we moved him from one farm to the other. This morning he was wagging his tail when I delivered hay for the little herd's breakfast.

So thank you, Patty. Thanks for being the kind of Farm Gal who doesn't balk at using a truck for farm work. And thanks to the that snazzy Tundra for delivering Chuck to his love nest without issue.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cold Rain

Note: Writing this half awake after a very rough couple of days. Zero editing on all this tonight so expect more typos than usual.

Cold rain gets inside you. Like a virus or an incorrectly fitted thong - it’s going in. Unlike snow, wind, or that lovely petrichor-inducing warm rain - cold rain is a soul sucker. You can have a $500 parka on (I don’t) and a state-of-the-art-heated pickup truck (I don’t) and you’ll still get dragged into the bone chill. That was today in a nutshell - cold rain.

I was running on zero sleep. Sleep has been hard to come by for over a week. It didn’t help that it’s nonstop since Monday morning. Yesterday included herding, catching, and wrestling two sheep into the back of pickup truck for a farmer who was buying some stock from me. It involved much falling down in the mud and we were both out of breath. Getting sheep to walk into a stock trailer isn’t hard. With a dog and some grain, it’s effortless. But this guy had a wooden transport box on the back of a Toyota Tundra - and these sheep were not going to leap up into a mutton coffin of their own free will. So as a team we carried them to the truck and loaded them. You know that scene in Jurassic Park where they are holding the door shut as the raptors slam into it? That was us.

I am purchasing a dairy buck from a neighbor and friend who is moving. He and his wife don’t feel safe here anymore with Trump in office so they are selling stock and leaving the country. We met through this farm and have bartered and work together for years. Being transgendered in rural America doesn’t feel welcome, even in a blue state. We didn’t talk about that. Instead we talked sale details, pickup times, etc and while the conversation was quick and the deal struck easily - it was way more draining than holding back sheep who are trying to escape from plywood.

Feeling low, I took Aya Cash up the mountain for a hike and hunt. I hike, she hunts. But today instead of releasing her right away I sat with her. I found a downed tree overlooking a ravine and I just sat with him. This is another way to hunt together. Sit and watch the forest and wait. I don’t have a cell phone. I didn’t bring my iPod. All I had was her and the cool air and some sunshine. I breathed deeply and took a minute to salve up this week’s burns. She enjoyed the wind in her feathers and a fat mouse saw his end. After an hour I called her back with the lure with a chunk of lamb on it. Getting her back on the glove involved a swipe of talons on my right hand but only drew a little blood. I slid the hood over her head and we walked down the mountain home. A small sacrifice for solace.

Last night the moon was so bright the farm glowed as if it was snowing. Maybe it was the moon that kept me up? It’s been a week of sleeping less then 3 hours a night so I doubt it. Instead of feeling exhausted I just lay there anxious. There is so much going on with winter, the election, family, my work, this farm…

Around 3AM my Kindle beeped to let me know an audiobook I had preordered months ago was available. I lay up listening under the moon. Then moonlight faded into gray and rain. Chores were dealt with earlier than usual, at first light. I listened to the author as I carried hog feed and hay bales. I still had that rush of nervous adrenaline from the night worrying and was partially grateful for it. People call anxiety free cocaine for a reason. I was up and working hard.

Since I couldn’t fall back asleep I plowed through ten clients worth of work. I prepped illustrations for mailing. I corresponded with logo clients and sent changes and emails. I tried my best to catch up with people who requested more information. I almost sold a share of pork. It was the usual punching under water that is self employment. That is not a complaint, for the record.

After morning chores and office work I loaded up some roosters for Common Sense Farm. They do poultry butchering on Tuesdays and for $3 a bird you can drop off any chickens alive and pick them up a few hours later weighed and bagged. I took advantage of this, since I don’t have a chicken plucker or scalded, the $9 to have three fat roosters readied for Freezer Camp seemed like an amazing deal. I didn’t want to waste the trip into town so I got laundry ready, too. By 12PM I had tended the farm, completed work on a dozen projects, did two loads of laundry, and was ready to pick up my chickens.

Back to that cold rain. It was now pouring. The gang at Common Sense was outside under a tarped area of trees in the woods. They had crates of chickens, turkeys, and ducks and were efficiently dispatching and preparing the birds for customers. Mine were almost ready, and I was told I could go wait in the seedling greenhouse. Othniel pointed to a small plastic poly tunnel that had a wooden shack attached to it. Out of the shack’s roof was a small smokestack of a wood stove. It looked like heaven.

Heaven was right. I walked into this small, bright, greenhouse and my mood changed so fast I got emotional whiplash. Outside was cold rain, blood, death, exhaustion, and anxiety. Inside was rows of green seedlings and the embrace of a wood stove so big I could crawl inside it. This was such an upper. The plants were so fat and happy; kale and lettuce starts on tables. In the center of the warm greenhouse was a wooden table with a crock pot of cheesy potatoes and some mugs of tea. This was the break room for the workers at the Poultry station. It was dry and around 65 degrees and I sat next to that stove on a cement block and closed my eyes and listened to the rain. It was like sitting with the hawk in the woods. Quiet and alone. But it had the added kick of being a refuge in a harsh few days. I spent a lot of time trying to take it all in. Appreciating the stove and the seedlings, but also the dirty jackets arranged nicely on makeshift hooks in a row. The used clear-doored mini-fridge that held coffee creamer and half-eaten sandwiches - running off one of the many extension cords. It was a club house. I felt safe, warm and suddenly very very tired. I would have slept in the corner happily if I didn’t have more work waiting at home.

Right now things are tiring. As much as I need to curl up into a ball there is still much to do for winter preparations. I will have a whole winter to curl up between farm chores. I can write in chunky sweaters and hock logos under the covers - but today there was more work to do.

My chickens were done. Othniel let me know as he warmed his hands by the stove. Back out into the rain and home.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pork for 2017!

I currently am raising five pigs for prepurchased shares of pork from co-owners of said pigs. They are doing well and should be ready for pickup mid winter. But I am getting ready to plan ahead for spring. If you would like to purchase a quarter, half, or whole pig to be raised in 2017 on this farm - contact me now! My prices are very reasonable, possibly the lowest for farm-raised pork and INCLUDE the professional traveling butcher, smoking, and packaging of meats. References available. Four years of customers. Let me grow you good meat! If you are interested email me at

Your consideration is appreciated!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Am Living Your Dream Life

This morning I walked outside to the crisp, autumnal, flow of an upstate New York morning. I tended to my small farm, a farm I bought. This is my land, and I walked outside my little white house like a proper Hobbit about to start on her adventure. I was adorned in a red plaid flannel and hand-knit hat. A hat knitted from my very own sheep! I grabbed hay from the red barn and fed it to those woolly beasts and my handsome horse. The same horse I could slide a halter on, tack up, and ride up a mountainside with a hawk on my fist and coffee in my thermos. (That is a real Saturday morning possibility here.) Instead, I fed the dairy goats and the chickens. I tended to the pigs and refilled the water tub their noses had turned cafe mocha I inhaled the air deeply. It was a swirl of wood smoke and ice-tipped grass. I smiled at the ten-thousand choices that lead to that hard-won attar. Then came inside and cooked a breakfast of bacon and eggs I knew by first names. Food grown right here fortifying me for a day of stacking and splitting firewood, mending fences, and sharing my story. What a dream. What a magical, lucky, life I live.

This is all horse shit. You know that, right?

The most common thing I hear from people who discover my book and blog is that I am living their “dream life” or they are living vicariously though me. I am flattered and understand the sentiment, but that is never easy to hear. It gives me far too much credit. It assumes my life is heroic and not compulsive.  Words like dream life and the mantle of your vicarious astral projection is a fucking terrifying responsibility. Mostly because what sounds like a fantasy in print, isn’t. It isn’t magical or lucky. It’s the combination of white privilege, stubbornness, naiveté, and the accumulation of ten-thousand selfish decisions that put my lifestyle above any other alternative realities. Everything in the above paragraph is true — that all happened just a few hours ago — but it is not the whole truth. The whole truth would read like this:

This morning I woke up alone. The house was cold since the fire went out around 2AM and I had slept until 7:07. The first emotion I felt was guilt for sleeping in. I walked outside to the crisp, autumnal, flow of an upstate New York morning. I tended to my small farm. The same farm that keeps me up most nights scared I will not manage to keep it. This is my land, for now, and I walked outside of my little white house like a proper mess. I was in the same red plaid shirt I had been wearing all week. A hand-knit hat covered my greasy, unwashed, hair. I grabbed hay from the red barn and looked up at blue sky though the holes in the slate roof. I paused and worried it wouldn’t make it through another winter. I fed the hay to those woolly beasts knowing that two of them are sold, four of them were slaughtered, and the rest need enough feed stored to make it through winter. Oh look, my very own horse is standing next to them. I need to call the farrier because he is due for a trim and is standing in the soft mud that makes hooves chip. I sigh and let out a weak smile. He’s the same horse that turned half my readership on me because he was seen as idiotic to buy after just quitting my corporate job. The same horse so few people know saved my life, a story too hard to admit. Sure, I could slide a halter on him, tack up, and ride up a mountainside with a hawk on my fist and coffee in my thermos, but that idea seems so overwhelming right now I wouldn’t believe it if I saw it in a movie. What I really want to do is crawl back into bed as soon as the animals are fed and watch a marathon of Orange is the New Black under the covers. (That is a real Saturday morning possibility here.) Instead, I fed the dairy goats and the chickens. I tended to the pigs and refilled their water tub their noses had turned filthy. I inhaled that air deeply, because I don’t want that feeling of sleeping-in guilt to pile on with an anxiety attack. I count 4 deep breathes and smelled wood smoke and ice-tipped grass. Ice? Smoke?! Shit, winter is almost here and I don’t have all the hay and firewood I need. My eyes go wide. Breathe, woman, BREATHE. I force a smile at the ten-thousand choices that let me huff my drug of choice - resourcefulness. Then go inside and cook a breakfast of bacon and eggs. I feel guilty for eating too much in one sitting. But at least I’ll work it off because I have a day of physical labor paired with design work. I will not have the binge session on Netflix. I might be selfish but I’m not stupid. I have too many clients to catch up on. Maybe I’ll catch a lucky break. Maybe by 3pm I’ll have a bill paid or book a fiddle lesson? I better get to promoting more. Are Facebook ads worth it? If I need to listen to another person on Facebook tell me they are no longer reading my blog or buying my books because I voted for Hillary I am going to snap. Where is the hand cart for moving firewood? Does it still have air in all the tires….

Listen, there are plenty of times I fall into the romance of my own story. I am proud of it. When things are on the upswing I do feel like that first paragraph. A little fiscal security and a new book deal or magazine article and I am residing on cloud nine. If I write something like that it is because that is what I am feeling.

But you know what? I am even more proud of that second paragraph because even with the starker reality; it’s still what I want. I might wake up alone, guilty, and cold in a place I struggle to keep - but there isn’t anyone else or anywhere else I’d rather be. My life is messy and anxious, but all that mess was my choice. I own it and wear it and it fits me perfectly. Every morning I wake up with the real fight to keep this dream, our dream, alive. All I want is to get better at it and feel more comfortable in my own skin. That's my dream life.

That wasn’t a joke up there, my biggest thrill really is discovering my own resourcefulness. This spring will mark five years of working on this farm full time. FIVE YEARS! I have driven past storefronts that have open and closed in that time. I have seen neighbors foreclosed on. I've seen constant evidence that the struggle is pointless and I should give up. But I am still here. And without depending on anyone but my own wits. Of course, I make a living from book sales,  blog ads, graphic design, farm goods, and such - but that is how I make my money. I don’t get any government assistance or tax break. There isn't some trust fund or 401k to fall back on. It's just me and my big mistakes and little victories. I am still open for business.

I am lucky about some things. I am not up to my ears in college debt or maxed out credit cards. And even at my most stressful of times I would rather be shaking alone here than in some heated loft with a person I wasn’t in love with. Maintained comfort scares the shit out of me. Pass me the slate tiles, please. I’ll figure out the roof or buy a blue tarp. I am not quitting today.

Maybe someday I’ll become the woman in the first paragraph for longer stretches of time. Maybe I won't. I don’t know. All I am certain of is that working for this life is what gives me purpose. If I am honest about my story, I don’t see how I can fail as long as people will still listen. My success has very little to do with how many readers I have and with who those readers are. If I can cultivate a community that believes this is possible - that encouragement is priceless. I feel you expect me to be honest and would rather cringe at my blunders than get day after day of paragraph one. Writers like that can give you diabetes. My words might be harder to swallow but even a bad meal tastes better than horse shit.

If you're also on a farm "living the dream" or doing anything that others assume is lovely and perfect - I am sure you can relate. No one's life is perfect. Some of us are just better at faking it. If my life was perfect I might go insane from how boring that would turn out to be. I like my flawed, scrappy, life because it's my honest life. I like waking up with the hope that possibilities are swirling and love could be just around the corner. I like treading water and feeling restless. It's real. It's mine. It's now.

Now go out there and forgive yourself for being a goddamn mess and work on making your dream happen. The decisions you make today can lead you to some wild places. Just don't forget it's a fight as often as it is a dance, and if you can be just as happy punching as you are waltzing you may have this life thing figured out.

Anyway, I am working on it.
Thank you for being a part of it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hay Pickup

I picked up a truck load of hay with Friday. The sun as bright and the sky was blue. When all was loaded I went into the farmhouse and had coffee with Mark and Patty. We talked about the election. We talked about You're the Worst. We just talked as friends over coffee. It was a nice change for me having spent most of the time since the election running, doing push ups, or sit ups. I just wanted to be exhausted and feel strong at the same time. If that makes sense.

I love my friends, my dogs, my farm. My goals over the next few months are highly personal, but the import of them seems even moreso now. I have a lot to get off my chest and I'm really lucky that I found writing as my way to feel less alone in a very turbulent world. Expect to hear about most of that here. Expect the next two years to be a wild ride if you keep following my story. 

In related news, I found a buck for my does. He's a nubian cross and ready for pickup soon as I gather the funds to purchase him. Sadly, he is being sold to me by a local friend who happens to be Transgendered. He and his wife are leaving the country. They don't feel safe anymore. We were talking this morning and it was heartbreaking. You know what he was most upset about? It wasn't the hate or the fear he's experienced - it was the apathy. The fact that so many people didn't vote, don't care, and won't be bothered to consider how that affects people outside their own social bubble.

Sun bright. Blue sky. We're not alone. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


4:47AM and I lie awake. The two dogs next to me are deep asleep. Their limbs akimbo, their breathing steady. They are the picture of ease and I am overwhelmed. Everything has gone into safe mode. I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel tired, or hungry, or drunk, or scared. I don’t feel guilty, or privileged, or victimized, or sad. Right now there is only shock and I am as electrified as I am numb. My mind is reeling inside a coma patient. The election results have swallowed everything, like distance.

That’s phrase comes into my head and I grab my beaten copy of Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. I am well aware how horrifically pretentious that sounds, but it’s the only book of poetry I ever bought. It is ten years old, chewed on by dogs, thrown in countless moving boxes across America, and somehow made it to this nightstand in upstate New York. I pick it up.

It feels familiar and dishonest in my hands. I bought it to impress a guy right after college. A guy in the “real world” of desk jobs and 401k plans. I don’t think I wanted him as much as I wanted to intellectually excite him. I never read any of the love poems, anyway. I’ve always been more of the Despair Type. Love is private and vulgar. By its nature it is special because it is exclusionary; a reliquary for lucky assholes. But despair is something all of us can get behind. It’s for the masses. Come and get it.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

I reread that line for the jillionth time. It’s probably my favorite thing a human has ever written. Whatever that says about me, I’ll own it, but in bed I read The Song of Despair as if it was about America. About the country I thought we were. I read it as if the relationship was the election, as if the excitement and flirtation was the hope.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force

Hope and Force I knew intimately. I quit the 401k Desk Job Life four years ago to run this farm. I did it on impulse, thinking that was romantic or heroic. I should have planned better. You need money to run a farm and keep a house from falling apart. A lot of money and the most money I ever had to my name couldn’t buy me a gently pre-owned Volkswagen. But I’m still here. I figured out how to scrap up a living from raising livestock, freelance design, fiddle lessons, and the occasional book deal. The farm’s lights haven’t been shut off yet nor has it ever been foreclosed. (There have been threats of both.) I’m always broke. I’m never bored. I am usually happy.

I created this life as a single woman. I built this blog and community over a decade as a single woman. I published all my books as a single woman. I bought my house and my vehicles as a single woman. I learned to hunt, cook, and grow vegetables as a single woman. I earned my black belt as a single woman. I learned to shoot a bow, become a goddamn falconer, and ride a draft horse as a single woman. Yes, there was community, friends, teachers and neighbors - but I became the woman I am today without spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family. And I was certain yesterday morning I was voting for the first female president of the United States as a single woman. God forbid I’m proud about any of that. I am constantly told how selfish I am for doing any of this while not being someone's wife or mother. Accomplishments you don't share are unbecoming.

the hard cold hour in which the night fastens to all the timetables

My friends left around midnight. There was no point in staying up and we had reverted to our phones and tablets. This was supposed to be a celebration. They arrived with bottles of wine and bourbon and we hugged and whooped up at the stars, but as the numbers came in our diaphragms disintegrated. Our hearts and lungs sank into dread and the weight of that turned our party into a wake. You don’t want to raise a glass when it’s still your ceiling. The numbness came on when I saw them drive away down the road towards their home just over the state line in Vermont. The consolation our states were blue, wasn’t.

Sadness stunned you

There is just the rising chest of a border collie and the rain I can hear falling outside the open window. Occasionally I hear gunshots. I assume they are celebratory and I try to imagine what they are celebrating? My whole life felt like it was proof positive women could accomplish anything these days. That even the most unreasonable dream can be grasped if you’re stubborn and dedicated enough to claw uphill for it. I am an idiot 90% of the time and I managed this fantasy. Surely someone as smart and qualified as Mrs. Clinton could handle the tweets of a sloppy Hotelier.

But she didn’t. Not because she couldn't, but because she wasn't allowed. And I don’t feel proud, or scrappy, or capable anymore. Not on this unimaginable morning. I feel like someone turned the houselights on in the play I was in the middle of acting. And in the audience all I can see are so many angry people that do not want me on stage. How dare I even stand up there. Who do I think I am? 

It is 4:54AM. Even sleep feels selfish now.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Six Weeks for One Second

I had no idea where Aya Cash was. Not really. When you let go of your bird to hunt the only remaining tether is your relationship. You hope it's enough.

The last place I saw her was only a couple dozen yards away but the woods were thick and the trail wound in steep slopes. I was walking on the clumsy human part, the ground. She was up in the air. I whistled her four notes which I stole from a childhood movie; Iron Will. In that dog sledding movie four notes got the team motivated and ready to go. I whistle that to Aya and wait.

I heard bells.

They are bright and sound like silver. I turn around and she is coming at me. I put up my glove hoping she'll land on that instead of my hat (sometimes she lands on my hat) but as soon as she sees there isn't any lamb in it she Top Guns some insane maneuver at the last minute and lands in a naked birch branch above my head. She lands and her new jesses look too new, like a kid wearing jeans the first day of school. She shakes her tail and looks down at me. Her look is easy to read. "So you going to put up some grub or what? I am waiting..."

I find a thick branch about the length of my body (all 5'2" of it) and start hitting the brush below her. Now she is watching intently, seeing things I can't even imagine. If a rabbit is within 100 yards she will know. Then I hear the explosion of wings and cloven air and silver brightness. She is in the bush and her wings are all akimbo and awkward. She looks like a preteen trying out for water polo = but he hawk version in a bush. For a second I think something amazing has happened, like she caught a black squirrel or grouse. She pops up her head and regains some semblance of balance and in her feet is a fat white-footed deer mouse. A mouse. What noble quarry. I whoop like she took down a ten-pointer.

We just started hunting together. I am thrilled with anything she eats that she associates with hunting alongside a person. We can work up to larger quarry. The red tail was caught on September 22nd. We spent two weeks learning each other entirely indoors. Then she learned to fly to me in open spaces on a long leash called a creance. Two weeks ago she started flying free. Now we were in hunting-partnership mode. She ate the mouse in a gulp and I put up my fist and called her. She flew to me.

Six weeks of work and it all comes down to that second a hawk makes a decision. Six weeks of weighting, training, time, measuring, fields, leashes, talon scars.... six weeks of my life for on second. My heart swells and pushes against my ribs. I feel it hurt, not sure if it is happy anxiety or relief. We are doing this, two species connecting impossibly.

She landed on my fist. I wrapped the jesses around my fingers. I feed her some lamb from my pocket and I can see the crop she is starting to gather. I smile. I slide on her hood and we walk down the mountain home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Homemade Pierogi Recipe!

Yesterday was Samhain, a holy day on this farm I have celebrated with friends since college. The main event is a silent meal called Dumb Supper. Friends come and sit around a table only lit by candles and oil lamps. Music is playing, but always something meditative and calming. (Here that means songs like Iron and Wine's Dead Man's Will or the like.) Everyone brings their own meal, but it isn't potluck style. The meal is made in memory of a specific person - so it's their famous dish or favorite food. Sometimes it is elaborate, sometimes it is simple. I have had guests bring nothing but an orange soda or a bag of oyster crackers. The point is less of the food and more of the story, because after the candlelit meal is eaten in total silence, everyone willing shares what they brought and why. Memories of the dead are brought back to life through the culture of food. It's a beautiful way to keep them alive.

I decided to tackle the pierogi, a food my Slovak grandmother and her parents before her grew up eating. I also grew up around a lot of Ukrainians, Polish, and Germans and everyone seemed to know some version of this perfect treat. The filling is what always changed. I always had them with a basic mashed-potato filling. They were usually boiled and served with brown butter. Growing up this was one of my favorite foods and I associate it with home above all other dishes. It was so popular that during our town's annual festival local churches sold them frozen by the dozen so people who didn't want to make them from scratch could have them for big holidays ahead.

How to make Homemade Pierogi. 
The pierogi is an Eastern European potato dumpling. You can boil them or fry them (I suggest both actually). This is an adaptation of a recipe I found online and failed at because I am horrible at following directions. Today I retried it and nailed it using my gut, tasting everything as I went, and adding more egg, butter and oil. The recipe is two parts: filling and dough.

8oz container of Sour Cream
2 tablespoons of butter (melted)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons veggie oil.
3 eggs
4 cups of white flour
salt and pepper

5-6 medium sized potatoes
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper
optional: diced onions or cheese

Make the Filling First
For the filling just make some basic mashed potatoes. I skinned, diced, and boiled 5/6 medium sized white potatoes. I strained them when soft, mashed them up, added a whole stick of butter and salt and pepper to them. Taste the mashed potatoes when you make them. It is okay if it feels too rich, it is meant to be a filling inside dough in small tablespoons at a time. If you're crazy add some diced onions or cheese to this. I don't suggest adding meat. This is a killer vegetarian dish (not vegan), and hearty enough to satisfy a carnivore like me. Stick this in the fridge to cool down while you make the dough.

Take the sour cream, the melted butter, veggie oil, and 3 eggs and whip them together in a bowl and set them aside. In another, larger bowl take the 4 cups of flour, about 2 teaspoons of salt, and the baking powder and mix them together. Add the whipped wet stuff to the dry flour bowl.  Mix by hand until you have playdoh-textured dough. Set is aside for 15 minutes to think about its life choices. Pour yourself a drink and forget about yours.

Making the Dumplings
Now all you need to do is get some of that dough in your hands. You need to roll it flat - and while you can take it all and use a whole table making a sheet of dough ready to cut into circles to make the dumplings - I suggest taking a ping-pong sized handful of dough and rolling it flat one at a time. Take those little circles and place a spoonful of your mashed filling inside. Fold them over like tiny calzones and pinch them shut. I use a fork to decorate and seal the edges as well. This is an important step to make sure they don't open up later.

Put a lightly-salted pot of water on the stove and get it boiling. Drop in just one or two dumplings at a time. Let them boil just until they float to the top. I am talking like 2 minutes. If you let them soak like a murdered lobster they become slime balls. Take out with a slotted spoon. Set aside boiled dumplings. They can cool for a little and dry off.

Get out a frying pan and put some veggie oil in it. Turn up the heat and get the oil hot and poppin' and GENTLY add the (now cooled and dryish) dumplings and fry till lightly browned. Set aside, once cooled you can freeze them for easy fast-food later this winter or eat them all like a possessed werewolf like I do.

If you are ready to eat, set on plate, salt as desired.  Want to do it right? Pour browned butter over them serve with fried onions! Your life is now changed forever. You are welcome.