Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016

It was a few days before Christmas when I was sitting in my Dentist’s waiting room. I need to paint the picture here, because it isn’t what you are thinking. My dentist in Arlington, Vermont is an old New England farmhouse turned into a Dentist’s office. It is small, carpeted, and painted in shades of stone-ground mustard. There are no flat screen TVs and the appointments are made in a book. I adored all of this. The rooms are small and cozy since it was someone's home at a point. There are low country windows and wainscoting accompany dental chairs. I love it.

I was sitting in this office when the receptionist walked through with a wrapped present about the size of a toddler. She set it on the carpet.  Soon a woman came in through the front door, all bundled up (it was very cold out there) and hefted it with viking-woman efficiency. I looked at the receptionist quizzically. She explained the woman who just left worked at the Inn across the street and she had the gift mailed and hidden here until the holidays as a surprise. So, the Dentist was in cahoots with the Inn to hide a present. I heard my dr's voice then, saying hello in full winter gear like he was ready to clean off cars or go for a walk. “Don’t worry I’ll be right back, helping this gentlemen to his car on the ice.” Seconds later an elderly couple came out and he assisted them down the sidewalk.

I love living among small towns.

Yesterday, while in Cambridge I was getting into my truck after running some errands in town and I heard my name. I turned around and June, who runs Black Dog Wines, explained that she could get my favorite brand of Mead in stock. We had talked about it briefly last time I was in the shop and I assumed the closest place that carried it was New Jersey. She said to stop in and pick out what I wanted.

I love living rural in 2016. I know this is the last day of this wretched year, but here in small-town New York it wasn’t so awful. Places without booming economies know how to be resourceful, depend on each other, be kind. No one ever treated me different or poorly for my religion or politics. No one made a scary comment about my truck’s stickers and I wouldn’t dare do the same to someone with Trump stickers. We may pray and vote different but like the wise Garrison Keillor says (I paraphrase) “You don’t care much about politics of the person helping you install storm windows.” Agreed.

I was invited to go out on a horse-drawn sleigh ride yesterday (I was working and had to decline, but only around here is that a common invitation) and to two friends' homes for dinner. Tonight is New Year’s Eve and I am certain I will sleep through the ball dropping, hopefully full of rabbit pasties courtesy of my hawk and winter’s bounty. I have been getting this new kind of exercise which those of you who hike or trail run already know, but me (a road distance runner) am not used to. I can run without stopping for miles at a constant pace - but the combination of sprinting in snow uphill after a hawk, bushwhacking into thorns, moving for hours over terrain - it uses so many calories. It makes me want a hearty meal at the end of the day and no snacking before. I feel like some character out of Game of Thrones at night; beside my fire with my perched hawk watching me bite into a thick stew or chicken leg, a horn of mead in hand. You really can be whatever you want when you grow up, ladies.

So I end this year in gratitude, with the resolution to blog more about small, everyday, things. To be kinder to myself and listen better to those I love. And to most of all, know the joy of living in this ten-mile radius of magic that is Dentists hiding presents and invitations in one horse open sleighs.

Good luck in 2017, for us all.

*now edited. Sorry guys I am a writer, not an editor. Do you want more posts edited poorly, or less edited well?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rabbits Lucky Day

The Holidays were a blur of friends, excessive calories, and hunting. The past few days have been getting out of that routine and back into the normal schedule of farming, hunting, and work. I don't consider farming (chores, feed pickups, hay hauling, water buckets, etc) work. Work is what is has been most of my life - sitting in front of a screen. That is where I write, design, or watch something while I illustrate. But that time outside - the checking on pigs and goat hoof status - the hay deliveries, farrier visits, and praying the chickens get back to laying eggs - that isn't work. That's my love affair.

I have discovered falconry might be who I am cheating with farming on. I have never had a bird this good. She comes when called, every time (so far) and seems to trust me. This week she was chased off by a mature red tail and I was certain she would never been seen again. Then she came back to me, first just a small dot in the distance and then landed gracefully above me in a tree branch. She knows where her bread is buttered. The second time another bird harassed her she simply came right to me. Who needs to be scared of 4lb hawks when you have your very own primate bodyguard ?I try to take Aya Cash out to fly several times a week. Today we went out twice - over three hours of exhaustive hiking, thorn scars, talon marks, and chasing rabbits. She dove after seven cottontails total. Today the luck belonged to the rabbits. Everyone got under cover or thorns before Aya could snag them.

A serious snowstorm is coming mid-morning tomorrow. I am mostly ready for it. I could have more firewood inside. It will be morning work to get everyone extra hay and feed, but I have what I need to get through the storm. I might even take Aya out to try again before it hits. That really depends more on weather than anything else, but even here on the mountain a few flights before coffee might be the energizer I need to face the storm.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mending Shirts

I was in the pig’s pen digging the snout-height electric wires out of the fresh snow. The sun was out for few blessed minutes and it made the farm sparkle. As the pigs snuffled at their feed (and spilled their water for the 20th time that hour) I took a moment to in the view. God the place was gorgeous. Not perfect, and certainly not magazine-cover material, but gorgeous. Feeling invigorated by the Vitamin D and optimism, I got up too fast and heard RRRrrriiiiiiipppp. It was my shirt. The sleeve of my (new this year) red flannel had a gash in it the size of a toddler’s fist. Oh well. I had needle and thread inside and it wasn’t a chink in the armor bad enough to bother changing out of.

It’s been a mix of highs and lows at this farm all week. The holidays are tough. I still haven’t managed to get the plumbing fixed and won’t until I make a mortgage payment. As much as I want flushing toilets and drainage I need to cover that first. I am gaining ground a little each day but things like dental bills and emergency visits to the Urgent Care really were a sieve in this month’s income. Not the most uplifting of news but the truth.

As rough as things are here, I have enjoyed the nesting that is candles and a wood stove and Christmas lights. In the evening this place turns into a Hobbit Yuletide Special. I have been knitting (or mending shirts) and watching childhood favorites like Beauty and the Beast and Muppet Family Christmas. I don’t have the tolerance right now for hard-hitting drama or injustice in Documentaries. It’ll be December before I check out Black Mirror, for sure. Maybe it is how much darkness there is in the cold months, but to know that home is this warm and glowing place of comfort has been a balm.

Hunting with the hawk has been exceptionally good! She is unstoppable. The last time we went out rabbit hunting she caught 2 and dove five times! We were granted permission to hunt on the back fields of Common Sense Farm that has generations of established warrens of cottontails. It is a North East Falconer’s Dream! I have been letting her eat her fill of whatever she kills but am going to start teaching her to trade off. This means when she kills something I cover it with a tarp or cloth and hold out something tasty in my hand - like a piece of dark meat already boned and unfunny. Shell hop off her game and take the easy meal and quick as a whippet I take the game and slide it into my bag. That is how we can take another head of game in one hunt. She has the drive for it!

The animals here seem okay in the cold. I haven’t ridden Merlin in ages. I miss it. The dogs have become my tireless friends and follow me all over the house looking for biscuits or scratches, wanting to go outside and run in the snow. They put up with many hours of me sitting in front of the computer designing or illustrating. The irony that I left a desk job to farm and can’t farm because of desk work - it isn’t lost on me. But that’s okay. I am honored to work on the projects I am given, and grateful to be close to my own fire. There is far more to be grateful for than not.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fight The Cold Winds

The cold came and the cold left. The past few days were mostly about that here at Cold Antler. Thursday into Friday was the worst of it, with intense winds and temperatures below zero. (That’s Fahrenheit zero, mind you.) The entire day Friday was spent defrosting stock tanks, feeding extra calories, checking on animals, making sure livestock was comfortable and kept. I am happy to report not so much as a pullet was lost to the cold snap. No frostbite on the pigs' ears or black combs on the roosters. I brought the hawk inside to sleep on a perch (old lamp) near the daybed by the fire in the living room. Did I lready share that info here? Maybe the cold stole some brain cells.

So yes, the cold! It means such presence on a farm like this. This is a farm heated by firewood, worked on my human lungs and horse collars. No tractor carries bales to the fields - just forearms. No thermostat turns up the heat at 2AM when the world goes numb - alarms are set to restock my stove.  But the house and the animals are my job when real cold comes.

I rarely worry about the poultry, sheep, or the horse - if they have the calories and wind protection they need and their body condition is good - they are golden. It is the comfort lovers I worry about - pigs and goats. But the trio of goats tucked into their corner of the barn with grain-fed tummies - well out of harsh winds. The pigs had burrowed in their forest home several feet deep with hay and three walls of wind block. When I came out to check on them at first light Friday they popped their heads out of their deep bedding with steam rolling off the, little scorched fields on their black bristled backs. All was well. It felt good.

Well, mostly. The pipes did freeze in one faucet and are in the process of unfreezing. The plumbing is still an issue here (calling for some creative resourcefulness I’m certain you don’t want to hear about). Also, the antibiotics stopped my toothache. If I can afford the trip to the dentist I will go Tuesday. Things are touch and go right now. 

I am happy and tired as I write this. It’s dark outside and I spent the morning frantically working on artwork and commissions for Christmas gifts folks ordered. I drove in the snow to the Post Office and waited in a very long line to mail the stack out to 5 states and 2 different countries. After that, I got Aya Cash ready for some hunting and we hiked for miles in the snow together. She flying above me, and I hiking below in the drifts. I was grateful I made that 2-egg omelet before we left. I needed the energy. Without snow shoes hiking in the snow is exhausting, but a great workout. We stopped to make tea in the woods. It was lovely. I took out my Kindle Fire and listened to My Favorite Murder while sipping some Lyons with a dram of whiskey in it. I looked over my snowy land and said a little thank you to the local wights, swirling about seen and unseen. I poured half the tea out for them, a thank you for keeping an eye on this feral place.

Speaking of stories - I have the winners of the audio book! Email me please Delayne and Fungus Queen - and I will email you your download from Audible soon! Thanks to all who entered.

At the end of this long day I feel like celebrating. I am tired, but it doesn’t take much fuss to play some music. Usually it’s the fiddle I grab but lately it’s my little uke, A beloved sponsor sent to me that instrument and the book that taught me how to play it in DAY. I must talk about these chaps at Native Ground more, because they are the same books that taught me and hundreds of CAF students to play the fiddle over the past six years or so. That little ukulele has been tuned up and in my lap a lot on these cold days. I think because the somewhat tropical and bright sound is emotional warfare against the cold. I have found all sorts of Yuletide music to play online, too. Some songs learned in minutes with simple tablature and strumming. I sat down mentally, physically and creatively exhausted today from farming, illustrating, and hunting - but it doesn’t take a lot of brain power to strum some chords on that little buddy. It took me minutes to learn Away in the Manger - and I added some Jenna Flair to it with faster strumming on try 3. In the comments of this post I will put details of the combo package they sent me of Uke, book, and CD. It was under sixty bucks. Not bad for fighting the cold winds and low spirits.

I hope you guys are looking forward to the holidays and keeping your farms, families, kids (human or caprine), flocks, horses, sounders and more safe as the days grow darker. Light comes back soon, or has every December for quite some time. Let's hope for the best together.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thank You!

Thank you to all who are sending along cards, little gifts, and kind words! I have mailed at least a half dozen back. They are cards of the local artist, Will Moses. Well, some of them are. What I have in my card box is what is being mailed out. But it is fun going to the mailbox! I hope you are enjoying your winter holidays and time with friends and family. Stay warm!

Jenna Woginrich
Cold Antler Farm
Jackson, NY 12816

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Yesterday I got home from late from hunting. I got swept up in the chase and the drama of it all. What was supposed to be an hour turned into two and as I crawled over fallen logs and ran to catch up with a flying beast - I was grateful I wolfed down some leftover bacon and chunk of cheese. I was using calories, all right. It was in the thirties and I was covered in sweat. The energy from those was four pieces of thin bacon and slab of sharp cheddar (the chunk about the third the size of my palm) - was perfect fuel for cold-weather slush scrambling after rabbits. Aya swooped after three different rabbits (caught none, these guys have an established warren with escape  hatches every 3 feet it seems), she finally found the ass-end of another hawk's rabbit in the crook of a tree. I called her and she was gulbing down a rabbit foot. "Where did you get that?!" I hollered. I watched her eat a leg - lucky furry foot and all - in a gulp before calling her back. After her take-out it was time to go home.

We stopped at the mansion on the property that belongs to the Common Sense Commune here in Cambridge. I visited with friends in their apartment inside the mansion, had tea, talked farming and realized how late in the day it was getting!

When I did get home it was nearly dark. Maybe an hour of light was left in the day? I took off my leather boots. They are not anything special, but they are the best shoes I own so I try to take care of them. I don’t wear them for chores anymore - just riding, hawking, hunting and the like. I set them by the fire to dry. Before bed they would be brushed down with a stiff-bristled horse brush and coated with mink oil. They need that level of care after what I put them through. In the last 2 days they have been crossing freezing streams, leaping fallen logs, ankle deep in snow, mud, and ice. I have owned a pair of these boots before and after one winter of Jenna-level=wear they had cracked oven at all th stressed areas. The boots are designed for being on a horse - not hiking - so they protect the inner calves with reinforced leather and allow ultimate flexibility of the foot for the saddle. This is great for walking through the woods like a cat with a hawk on your fist - lets you walk on the balls of your feet and silently creep up on squirrels. The downside is zero ankle support. Ankles need to be shock absorbers on a horse and to be held tight while hiking. So if I demand my horse shoes do triple the work as hunting boots - they need some TLC.

So when chores were finished and the farm was content I sat down with my brush and oil and treated my boots and hawking leathers by the fire. Gauntlets and jesses, also rubbed down with oil. When it was done I set into my first knitting project in year. My hands have been hunting, butchering, baking, and farming - but the delicate finger tango of knitting had been neglected. Last night I started a simple casting on of a hat. I was using the black wool sent from Ireland. It came back as easily as humming and old song. It will be a few nights before the hat is done but I am excited for it. I mean, it doesn’t take much to excite me these days. I did just write two paragraphs on boot care?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I woke up thinking about sex. Not for me, but for the girls in the barn.

Chucky the Boer/Nubian cross buck has been here for a few weeks. The entire reason for his occupancy is to knock up my Alpine does so come spring there are kids to sell and udders to milk. Some people breed their does once and keep milking every day for years. I don’t. Me and the goats have the coldest months off and I think we both prefer it. I don’t want to be out in a snowstorm in -10 weather to milk a goat in an unheated barn in the dark. I also love kidding season and having those tykes around a few weeks before they are sold. So I stop milking in the fall, the dry girls spent the winter eating and enjoying their gentlemen caller, and if I have an intense chèvre craving I remind myself that goat milk and their soft cheeses freeze great.

So right not the girls aren’t milking and the buck is with them, but I haven’t actually seen him breeding Bonita and Ida. I assume he has, but I’d feel better witnessing the congress. It lets me write down an estimated kidding time five months down the road. It also means I can start deciding Chucky’s fate. Im not interested in putting him in the freezer - being a buck of several years - but he is so sweet he’d do great as the live-in-lover at another small farm. For me it is a lot cheaper and easier to rent, borrow, barter or buy a buck a few weeks a year then create separate facilities and feed indefinitely. As sweet as Chuck is, this isn’t a petting zoo. Animals are eaten, sold, traded, and moved when needed if they are herbivores that don’t wear saddles. This is definitely a show ran my carnivores (who occasionally eat potato soup).

When I started this farm I avoided dairy animals. It was a fear of commitment, not work. The idea of getting up every morning with a milking pail and making cheese, soap, and the like was wonderful - dream life material really - but the presence needed seemed impossible. Things change. I stopped traveling to PA for the holidays. I quit my day job at an office. When you grab your life by the horns with such decisions you have a lot more time to do things like milking goats.

Back to sex. I hope Chucky is performing for the ladies. I may have just brought him when their cycle wasn’t in sync with his desires and a few head butts to his belly made him cautious? Right now I am cautiously optimistic about May kids. The idea of going a summer with the twice-daily spring milkings and spreading soft cheese over toast sounds barbaric at this point. Gods willing, he's packing heat out there.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Win The Wind, Enter Now!

I love waking up in a house not yet warm. I know that sounds contrary to what I wrote a few days ago, but note the subtle phrasing there - “not yet warm” is different than cold. Waking up to a cold house is a bummer. It’s all panic and hollow. But waking up to a house with still-hot coals under the ash in the stove? To a home in which Yesterday Jenna did all the dishes in the sink and pre-loaded the coffee maker? Those tiny choices make a morning shine. My house was 55 degrees and humming with potential for comfort. Hard-earned comfort is my favorite thing in this whole messy world.

Well, one of my favorites. Good stories are another drug of choice. When I am home by the fire on this farm I want to fall into stories. Who doesn't want to feel effort behind them, a warm bed ahead of them, and the present of firelight, good food, and an amazing book? In celebration of this amazing Snow Day at home. One of coffee, farming, good work and a new skein of yarn to knit after sunset (Thank you Zwartbles Ireland!) - I want to give away something for all of you out there prepping your homes and farms for the holidays.

 The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. (Click that link to see a review.) People will be chosen and emailed an online gift vouched from to download the ENTIRE 27 HOURS of story. Listen to it on your smartphones with the free audible app. Listen while you feed the horses, stack wood, drive to work, ride the subway, whatever you do. I want more people to experience this world. If discovering this series through my blog is all you get out of it, it  honestly makes ten years of blogging worth it.

Leave a comment in this post to be entered to randomly win an unabridged audio book download of

Please enter, tell your friends to enter, enter twice, thrice, I don't care. No strings attached this is just a lady sharing a favorite story on a beautiful day. 

*If you already own this audio book, enter anyway for the sequel or pre-order of Day 3.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Potato Soup Day

It was around three in the afternoon when I added some yeast and honey to a bowl of hot water. I whisked it quickly and set it on the counter before heading back outside to stack firewood. I did it without thinking. Baking bread isn’t something I consider any more than using turn signals, it's automatic now. The actions of water, yeast, honey and stirring were done because I had four minutes and because I knew I would want warm bread in four hours. It seemed like a smart investment.

By the time my next cartload was stacked the yeast would be activated, frothy are ready for action. (By action I mean flour and salt.) I’d mix and knead it after the one more stacked load. I did this between chores. The dough would rise in my warm house while I prepared for the coming snowstorm.

There was a lot to do to prepare, but all of it familiar which meant it was more effort than thought. I appreciated that. Loading firewood onto a cart and pulling the 150lb cargo to the stacking area took about fifteen minutes a load from ground to stacked. Between these loads (I did this roughly twenty times today) I made sure to get the animals ready. Bales of straw-like first cut hay were carried up the hill to the pole barns. There are two little shelters on the hill and each got lined with fresh bedding. People say sheep don’t care about this but I disagree. It is a soft barrier between cold ground they can snack on if the wind howls too rough to walk down the mountain to their feeding station. No matter what blew in tonight - these sheep had feed if the snow came heavy.

The same was done for the goats and pigs. All got extra fluff to nest in for the snowy night ahead. Every beast, be they equine, ovine, porcine or caprine - all got fresh linens and new buckets of well water. The same water I would soon be boiling three potatoes in. I had soup on the mind all day.

A few more loads to go of firewood and then back inside to do kitchen work. I made dough and skinned and cut up the taters. They were boiling and dough was rising in no time. By this point my body was weary from the combined workout of farm, firewood, and bread. Kneading dough is one kind of muscle group - Carrying buckets and hay another. I was thinking about my dinner with a wolfish mind. The dogs chased sticks in the yard and removed their favorite pieces of kindling from baskets while I separated and stacked. So helpful, them.

Another load of wood stacked and I ran inside to check on the boiling chunks of potatoes and felt them with a fork. They were soft. I drained most of the water, leaving a bit in the base of the saucepan. I mashed them up and added enough milk to turn my mashed potatoes into more of a porridge. I set it aside. More wood to haul. I tried to remember where I left the fence tester? Before the storm I had to double check the pigs were well-kept behind live wires. It wasn't a priority though, in this weather all I would need to do to catch them would be to open the barn door. Pigs are comfort loving fools and would all be asleep in the dry hay for certain come morning. Thinking of this I remembered I had bacon in the fridge, an onion in the cupboard, and some sharp cheddar in the crisper... Oh man, this would be a soup to tell stories about.

Around 4PM I had finished all the animals' care and feeding for the day but I still had piles of wood to go. I listened to the audiobook of Name of the Wind as I did this. Every listen gets better.

Earlier in the day, sometime around noon, I had headed into town to visit my friends at the Commune. Othniel and Yeshiva are part of a Messianic Jewish Commune in Cambridge. I know people there well and even though we aren’t the same faith we are the same religion - farming. I struck a deal for some of the second cut hay in their barn and loaded it into the back of my truck. (I wasn’t out at home, but getting close. I would feel a lot better knowing there was plenty of good grass inside when the fields turned white.) They offered me lunch but I politely declined, as I wasn't hungry yet. I drink a pot of coffee every morning with cream. It holds me over well into the afternoon (longer if I skip sugar). But really, I wanted to savour something delicious. I wanted to make a meal from scratch and adore every bite. To eat it in that holy lightness of being tired, hungry, and grateful.

Making the soup was pretty basic. I had my milky potato base set aside. In another small pot I melted some butter and once it was liquid, added some flour to it to make a roux of sorts. This would thicken the mash up into more of meal that porridge. In a second skillet I fried up three slices of thin bacon and once they were done, chopped them and added them to the potato pot. That’s pretty much soup, guys. Oh, because I love onions I chopped some up and fried them in the bacon fat left over. The fat-fried onions, bacon, butter, salt, pepper and mash made a perfect cold-weather soup when all mixed together. I tasted as I went - never being stingy with the butter or salt (secret to cooking anything, really) and then preheated the oven to 400 for the bread.

I baked a small loaf and let that smell fill my home. I don't eat grains like I used to, but when I do eat them it is like this - a holiday meal. Once done and cooled, I cut a hole in it and filled it with the wonderful soup. I ate by candle and lantern light. Every bite special. Every bit of it worth squeezing into the spaces of the day. Because of the tooth issues it wasn't easy to eat fast or eat much, but what I did manage made up for it. And I am pretty sure even a small serving was a bajillion calories so no worries there! 

The snow is just starting to fall now and I am very tired. Looking forward to calling this good day, done. May your beds be warm, your dogs be kind, and your morning be bright.

Better Winters

Snow is coming and today is all about being prepared for it. I am going to stack the rest of my huge pile of wood (a cord+) today, pick up hay from Common Sense Farm, grab extra feed, and figure out a simple pot of something warm for dinner. Potato soup sounds grand and I have all the ingredients on hand to make enough to pick from whenever I need a boost.

I am happy to report this morning I woke up warm and comfortable by the fire. I slept downstairs with my dogs, cats, and the hawk roosting for the night indoors. I was ready for it, and it was a happy preview of a better winter. The medication from Urgent Care let me sleep through the night and I feel rested and excited for this morning. My work is set before me - both for farm and freelance - and I have creamy soup to look forward to at dusk when the snow starts falling. I will tuck into that and truly enjoy the tiny accomplishments of a farm content, a body tired, work done, and another cold day met with a toothy grin. I have some yarn from a friend in Ireland to start knitting with, too. And that is what I hope for from this day - work, luck, rest, and potato soup.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Cold weather has blown into Veryork. Very, very, cold weather. Here is today in detail. How one woman and a pair of dogs prepped a farm (and a red-tailed hawk) for harsh cold with some interesting roadblocks along the day.

I woke up in my bedroom and that was my first mistake. I should have spent the 15-degree night in the living room on the daybed. I would have been feet away from the wood stove and kept it roaring into the grey dawn. However, I wanted my bed and fluffy dogs and thought it would be fifteen degrees warmer outside. The cold surprised me. For someone addicted to the weather report I either read the wrong day on the NOAA screen or had a mild stroke. Folks, it was COLD.

I made my way downstairs from the 35-degree upstairs. While going I made silent notes of gratitude for my knock-off Ugg slippers and the door Patty had installed. Opening it to the living area downstairs welcomed ten degrees of preserved heat from the night before. I let the dogs out to pee and went into the bathroom. There was ice in my toilet. I wondered then just exactly how many readers still think I am living their dream?

I shut the bathroom door and plugged in the little heater to help coddle the pipes in case they were considering freezing. Then I got a fire started and filled up the stove-top percolator with fresh coffee. Deathwish or Stumptown is my coffee of choice when bills are getting paid. This morning it was generic from a plastic can, but hey, hot coffee in a 45-degree house is still a blessing.

Slowly the house was coming to life. Th dogs came back inside with frosty noses. The cats were fed. Candles were lit and music was put on. I don’t know how anyone with a pulse starts their day without music and coffee? I was listening to Countdown (what? 2011 was good year) and singing along while doing a little dance in the kitchen. I was feeling good until the “microphone” (spoon) touched my right cheek and I winced.

Sleep was a fitfull bitch. A tooth infection hit hard around 3AM and I found myself up battling it through the night, trying to find a position to lay my head in that kept me both warm and out of pain. I ended up watching Pete Holmes and John Mulaney specials on my Amazon Fire under the covers to help me laugh until the pain died down. Those two men never fail to make me laugh. Sometime around 5AM i was able to sleep again. I made it till 6:45 when the dogs demanded we start the day and the cold made me realize the heavy responsibility outside.

Cold means more work, and urgent work. It can mean frozen water and thirsty beasts. It meant a hawk that dropped weight. It meant more fire. It meant I wasn’t sleeping in till 8AM. It meant get to work.

So downstairs I was, holding my cheek and realizing that this was beyond numbing toothache pens and Advil. This was some antibiotic-needing pain. It wasn’t as bad as an infection I had a few winters back, one that made me actually howl. But it was not good. I knew I had to get it treated soon and I knew that meant going to Urgent Care in Cambridge. My dentist wouldn’t be open till Monday. I do not wait to treat infections inches from my brain.

I armored up. I had on a thick red flannel shirt, lined pants, a thick vest, hat, gloves. My rubber muck boots were used instead of my Dublin boots, which were just rubbed down with mink oil the night before and still soaking up the treatment near the fire. Gibson raced beside Friday, and I am happy to report his foot healed fine. It must have just been a sprain and not a broken toe as I had thought.

The farm seemed okay. All the sheep were accounted for and so was fuzzy Merlin. They got hay and water hauled, the few inches in their trough left from the night before was frozen solid. The pigs were comfy in their nest and happy to see the extra cracked corn with their feed. Their water was also frozen and replaced with a more fitting liquid form. The goats were hearty as always. The chickens had all the calories they could scoop near their feeding station. All that was left to check on was Aya Cash - who I would have fed more to had I known how cold it was. She was fine though, her head tucked behind her shoulder blades and asleep. I grabbed a hood and glove and brought her inside anyway. Her tail was frozen from her bath pan. Sometimes she perches on the edge of it and the water gets on her tail tip and it can break important feathers there. So I brought her in to defrost on her perch in the living room. She tucked right back into sleep once settled there.

With the farm okay and the hawk defrosting I fed the dogs and started with emails. My tooth hurt but the warm coffee I was now drinking actually helped. I sipped it and made a list of my first three clients of the day. I had a blacksmith’s family from Canada to draw, a Maryland Crab logo to make changes on, and some other odds and ends. I needed to at least get through three clients before I took a break. My work station was a flurry of paper, music, twitter, Facebook, the usual chaos I work best in. The dogs were napping. Aya’s tail was dripping now so I squeezed out the water like it was a towel. She didn’t even budge from her sleep. This bird is used to me.

I got the work done. Then I put Aya back into her Mews, Friday in her crate, put out the candles and loaded the stove with wood. I needed to get this tooth checked out.

I was happy to be one of the only people in Urgent Care. It was just moments of checking in with the spunky receptionist and a few pages of Backpacker Magazine before my name was called. This was my second day in a row in a medical office. I was at Planned Parenthood the day before for blood work and a checkup. Now here I was hoping to convince the nurse the pain was bad enough for antibiotics and not just some pain meds. I spent a total of six minutes with the nurse and she sent an Rx to my pharmacy. The pain bills and antibiotics were $31. The cost to drop in at a walk-in clinic to get said drugs? $250. Great.

The money was a blow but I was far more grateful to have the care and drugs a few miles from my home. Cambridge might be small. Okay, it is tiny. But this town of 1800 people has a Rite Aid, Urgent Care, and a book store so I am one happy woman. I got my pills and the guy behind the counter explained how using them might effect birth control if I was on it. I was just thrilled anyone assumed I might be having sex of any sort - looking about as put-together as farmer with a toothache on a 15-degree morning does.

I got home and back to work. The drugs helped and after emails were done and some more clients lined up for the afternoon check list I headed back outside. Water already had to be replaced or ice-broken. I brought extra straw to the pigs and goats for bedding. I stacked a couple cart-loads of firewood from the front yard. Sunday night real snow is coming and the cord and a half I have been slowly stacking needs to be undercover SOON. I did all this listening to The Name of the Wind on audiobook for the millionth time. That book and its sequel are my favorite novels. I fall into them like old friends, or medicine. I listened to Kvothe at the University Admissions and smiled. My tooth already felt better.

Nearly dark now. I spent the day like most days - a mix of farm work and computer work. I didn’t get everything I wanted done but I managed to get the min requirements for productivity checked away. I am my own tyrannical boss and proud of it. I got Aya again and brought her inside to her perch. We wouldn’t have time to hunt today, thanks to the doc appointment, but she could be more comfy indoors napping than outside. I got some mice out of the freezer for her and set them in the little glass-domed cheese platter so the cats couldn’t steal them. This is a real classy gin joint, guys.

Actually the house does look nice this time of year. The tree is lit and decorated. There are white lights around the rooms, candles, and stockings and decorations out and about. Pandora has a great Celtic Christmas station and I listen to that and it makes this place feel like a tavern from days of old with the fire crackling and guitars in the background. I boiled some water to make a quick pasta because it was nearly dark and I hadn’t consumed anything but coffee. I made half a box of thin septette and split it with the dogs.

Now it is dark and I am ready to tuck into bed early. Today was all about getting things comfortable and prepared. The trip to Urgent Care was a financial slam but I am grateful for the access to care and since I will fall asleep without pain, it wasn’t a loss at all. My dogs are asleep on the daybed and in a few moments I will go upstairs to get some sheets and blankets and prep this place for our bed. I think Aya will spend the night inside, too. Ten degrees is the low being guessed by the experts and as the day warms up tomorrow there will be snow. I’ll be doing chores and stacking firewood, working on freelance and spoon-singing to Beyonce over too many cups of coffee.

Just a Saturday in Paradise, guys. Thanks for being there.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Look Up

There is snow and scrappy pride in the air at Cold Antler Farm. The forecast is only calling for a dusting today, but earlier this morning - sometime between farm chores and preparing Aya Cash for a morning hunt - the wind picked up and a small burst of flurries circled the mountain. It felt like I was inside a snow globe. I took in a deep breath and looked around this little farm.

The sheep were eating hay and I had more to pick up later today from good farmers. I would load it in the pickup truck I adore, still running and who I have learned its quirks and rubs the way you learn old friends. Merlin was covered in his mastodon coat and not at all bothered by the chicken on his back enjoying her horse-hair slippers. The dogs ran around me. The goats bleated to the buck. I had firewood, hay, and had fixed the oil boiler by myself this week. (I use firewood for heat but depend on the boiler to heat my water for showers/kitchen). There was  plumbing snafu as well, and while it isn't fixed I diagnosed and diverted the drainage problem. Now water drains into a metal basin in my mud room instead of the floor. Things aren't perfect but trotting into my fifth year of self employment I am a much more capable woman. More disciplined and less deterred. The girl who bought this place would not recognize me today, but she'd still look up to her.

Who were you five years ago? How about ten? Do you miss the past or like yourself better now? I hope that you are happier in the present. Yes, it means aging (something women are told is worse than death on a daily basis) but when I look back at how terrified and emotionally-driven I was I don't envy my twenties. I'm not scared anymore and that feels amazing. And while I am still plenty emotional - they don't take the wheel anymore. My emotions aren't the ones making choices these days and I think that is the main reason I still have this land in my name. Cold Antler Farm went from being a place of growing fantasy to a maintained daydream. This is not a bad thing, by any means. I'm not distracted by new hobbies or additions to the farm. I like my life with the animals, horse, hawk and hounds. I like my work of design, illustrations, farming, and pop culture. And I really like that when things literally fall apart I don't break down and cry - I suck in some air and fix them.

Lessons come to us in all sorts of different ways. Mine mostly come from out-stubborning myself and keeping on. So this post is mostly acceptance and celebration. I'm still here. I'm happy here. And when the snow falls and winter truly hits with the full brunt of his force - I will stand up to him with axe, wrench, and sump pump.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

We're Not From Around Here

This originally was posted years ago, but I am updating it for Jenna 2016. I'm not the same girl who wrote it. But I am the woman who loves that version of me. And much of it remains the same.

We're Not From Around Here

We're not from around here. I know you see us all the time, but trust me, we're from another place. We lived our whole lives right next door to you, but we left some time ago.

We found another place and it suits us just fine.

It's not far or hard to get to. Chances are you pass it all the time when you're driving too fast to work or throwing another frozen dinner in the shopping cart. You can't get to us that way. We aren't there.

We're the ones in the next aisle buying yeast, flour, sugar, and coffee. We buy provisions, not groceries. We learned that food tastes better when you grow it yourself. We started with just a few recipes then learned to chew at a trot and now the idea of Lunchables and drive-thru hamburgers makes us tilt our heads a little. We're not above them, not by a long shot, we just don't have those where we're from. Or maybe we did and forgot about them? I can't remember. It's easy to forget about such things when you hop the fence to go where we went. There isn't a lot of shrink-wrapped circular ham there.

We're from this other place. It's just like yours but the naps are better. We came for a bunch of different reasons but we all set up shop in the same community. It's not a physical location, of course. (It's much better than that.) It's a place in our actions, our decisions, our conversations, our hope. It's a place in our hobbies, our skills, and our secret desire to know what a warm egg feels like in lanolin-wet palms. It doesn't matter where we came from or who we were before. This new place kinda took us all in and showed us how to calm the hell down.

What? You're confused? Oh, well, you probably saw us there and just didn't realize it. Remember when we didn't answer your texts because we were in the garden? Or that time we gave up a weekend in Nashville to make a chicken coop? Or last Saturday when we spent the whole day at that indoor farmer's market talking to the people at the wool booth we'd never met before, but felt like we knew while you kept telling us the movie was starting in thirty minutes... That's where we left to go. Sorry we missed the previews we were talking to our neighbors.

You can spot us pretty easy. Our men aren't afraid of facial hair and our women have been known to grab goats by the horns. Our children go barefoot and so do we. We're the quieter ones, in the corner, feet propped up on a second-hand coffee table in a fourth-hand wool sweater. That's one of us, right over there. See him? The one with the guitar slung over his back, and the black dog following his bike? See him now? He's the one with the saddle bags on the back wheel overflowing with a half bushel of tomatoes. No, he's not a tomatoes fetishist - he's canning today. He'll be eating fresh organic marinara in January pulled off the larder shelf. He'll let the black dog lick his plate when he's done. Yes, I'm sure. He's from where I'm from. We know our own.

See, where we come from people aren't scared of dirt—not even mildly abashed by it. My people will spend an entire August morning with a potato patch. We'll also spend an entire October night in front of a bonfire with home brew and fiddles. My people know how to darn a sock and bake a loaf of bread. They know how to cast on and be cast away. Sure, we'll join you for dinner in a restaurant, but we'll probably opt for pasta. Where we come from food animals know what sunlight feels like and have felt grass under their hooves. We don't eat the animals from your place. We saw what they saw before they died.

We're not from around here, but you'll see us everywhere. We're walking down the streets of Montreal, Chicago, Seattle, and L.A. We're waiting for a Taxi on the Lower East Side. We're mucking out goat pens, chatting at farm stands, jumping on the back of our horses and riding the L Train. We're everywhere and right next to you all the time, but we left that place and now we're gone. None of us are going back.

We thought about it. It passed.

HOOOO! You should see this place. Man, it's so beautiful. I mean a Wednesday afternoon at 3:47 is fall-down-the-stairs stunning. We learned to see this. We watched the fireflies come out on the porch and missed Trivia Night at the bar. Truthfully, we barely go out anymore. It's a side effect of the new place—there's just so much to do and we're scared if we let ourselves get distracted we'll miss the fireflies. We can only take so much tragedy, you see.

And hey, this place we went to—it's yours too. To be perfectly honest we're getting a little tired waiting for you to show up. Yeah, what you heard is true. The work is hard and the hours long, but I promise it's the best quiche you'll ever taste and the coffee is amazing. When you're ready we'll show you how to hop the fence like we did. It starts with a mason jar or a day-old chick in your palm and the road map kinda unfolds from there. Somewhere past the cloth diapers and the raw milk we're hanging out, yes there, over past the used trucks and beat tractors. See the bikes and carts along the barn? Keep going and you'll find us.

We know when you start coming to our place you'll get it. You won't want to leave either. And we'll wait. We've got another saddle in the barn. We planted an extra row of beans. We put aside a few spare jars of tomato sauce and let the hens know there's more breakfasts on the way. We'll make room. There's always a place for you at the table. (And just between you and me, If you want to get on the black dog's good side, let him lick your plate...)

Photo by Miriam Romais

Monday, December 5, 2016

In the Spirit!

It is snowy here and I hosted a little Yuletide Gathering this past weekend, so I am in full December Mode people. I have a wreathe on the front door, fir boughs in the house, a Scottish Pine decorated with crows, antlers adorned with twinkle lights, and the Celtic Christmas playlist on shuffle. I dove deep and I am loving it.

Which means I should be thinking about cards, right? If you want to send a card to CAF, do! If you email me your address I'll pick a few at random and send along some cards as well. I'm not handing out my actual address on here but 99% of mail finds me if you just mail it like this, since I think I am the only Woginrich in the entire state.

Jenna Woginrich
Cold Antler Farm
Jackson, NY 12816

More updates soon. Right now I am scrambling with a couple of issues with the house (furnace broke down that heats the hot water, pipe burst, room flooded, toilet isn't flushing, etc) and if I'm not dealing with that I am working on freelance, farming, or hawking that bird that needs to spread her wings.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Be Your Own Disney Princess