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.


Blogger Sharon said...

I saw that there is a terrible winter storm there. Be careful to keep the bathroom warm. Some friends left their house unheated, and their toilet froze solid! I am certain that won't happen to you. Stay warm and keep up the hard work. I know that the expenses for your tooth are not in the budget, but think how much worse it would be if you didn't take care of it.

December 10, 2016 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

Oh my goodness! Another tooth problem??! Girlfriend! How did you get so "lucky"??

December 10, 2016 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey, what's the Pandora station? I'm looking for some fresh Christmas tunes.

December 11, 2016 at 12:47 AM  
Blogger sash said...

I'm old enough to be your mom. Sometimes I wonder if your parents are reading your blog how much they must worry about their Jenna. I'm a Aries, quick to everything, impulsive, etc. and I know how much my own mom still worries like crazy about me; and I have heat!
Anyway. You're a survivor, like I am. I've been on the brink of homelessness, on food stamps, you name it, but I am still a survivor, too with my dog by my side.
Blessings! And i hope your tooth is better! Been there, too. Nothing worse.

December 11, 2016 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Seagoddess, yes my mom reads these and she is not into it. And so far the antibiotics and pain meds are helping, I am so glad i am not dealing with pain and storm prep in the same day.

December 11, 2016 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Rebecca - it's just called Celtic Christmas Radio - should just plug in.

December 11, 2016 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

My teeth are not great, but they are all still there and mostly straight (if coffee stained) I see a lot of rural people (sadly) who gave up on their teeth. I am not giving up on them.

December 11, 2016 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

And Sharon - my toilet was not frozen this AM!

December 11, 2016 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

It sounds like you navigated the day well, despite it's challenges. The tooth challenge sounds familiar, & being without insurance. Been dealing with a small tooth abscess for over a year, managing it with herbs. Thankfully, mine has never been painful, but it also hasn't fully gone away, so I may need to do something else in 2017. My man has been telling me about growing up in a house that would freeze the toilet. It froze and cracked once, which was a major mess. After that, his Dad put antifreeze in it every night severe cold threatened to repeat that scenario. I'll check out the Celtic Christmas station. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the snow & stay warm!

December 11, 2016 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Charlotte Boord said...

Jenna, I've always thought you write really well about your life on your farm, but this post definitely stands out, for three things: "There was ice in my toilet", "I do not wait to treat infections inches from my brain.", and "I got some mice...and set them in the little glass-domed cheese platter..." No one could make this stuff up! Love it!

December 11, 2016 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger EZ said...

Boy, am I glad to have reasonably good teeth.

December 11, 2016 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Logcabinlady said...

You have a great life for yourself there, I love following you and reading about it, a great little homestead!

December 12, 2016 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Logcabinlady said...

You've built yourself an amazing homestead, I love following you and reading about your progress!

December 12, 2016 at 8:38 PM  

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