Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stories Coming Atcha!

It's been quite the week! Since I last posted a new kid has been born, pigs have been slaughtered, sheep have been shorn, Merlin started cart training all over,  and I have hit the road again, running to get back into half marathon shape. My body is tired, my skin is redder, and the farm is cantering into summer.

I'll be sharing detailed stories of pigs, shearing, and cart training this week. I'll also be talking about my hate bakes - which is what I call the act of baking from scratch in this farmhouse, that I constantly fail at because of my inability to follow directions and my absolute disdain for details. All of you out there who enjoy baking will get a laugh out of it, I am sure. So more shortly, but right now this woman needs some coffee.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Kid

Last night a nice couple came to take away the kids to their new home. The two goatlings were picked up and placed in the arms of a grandmother in the back seat of the two-door pickup truck. The older woman had raised goats in the past and when handed the little babes she glowed like a new mother. She knew how to hold a goat and I was happy to see them sold to a farming family that had generations of goat experience on hand. And so last night was the first night in a while without goat kids running around the farm house. It was so oddly quiet and calm.

And then Bonita gave birth to this big boy, just moments ago. Here we are again!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marnie's Knocked Up

Marnie was not happy. The ewe was feisty, just flipped on her rump, and one of her horns was stuck in my bra. This was a very compromising situation for both of us but I wanted to see her nipples. The shearer would be here in a few days and I wanted to know who was and was not pregnant. She had a milk-filled udder and I beamed as a horn sliced into my skin. Within moments I had a new scratch and she was trotting back out to the field to join her flock mates. I shrugged, the trade of a little skin for that information was fair. More lambs were on the way.

The Sunday had been long. Starting at sunrise with milking and chores and plowing onward with extracting honey, feeding bottle kids, farm repairs and a short run. The sunshine was a drug. It had been so dark for so long and now there is grass and it feels like another world.

I had a lovely time with some readers yesterday who came for Chicken 101, a signed copy of Chick Days, and a tour of the farm. As muddy and brown as the mountain is right now, inside the farmhouse was delightful. The kids were bottle fed by the guests. They held chicks in their hand from the warm brooder as we went over feeding and housing and transitions from new homes to new coops. It was a lovely day. But today there was no company - just pregnant livestock and the thrusts of spring.

The hammock is hanging from the King Maple. I was out there with a cider as today wound down, listening to an audiobook when some friends drove past. Trevor and Alex were hiking mount Equinox in Vermont and when the saw me in out there they pulled in to say hello. I was glad to see them and little Malcolm (that’s what the little goat buck was named) ran up to them. We chatted as Merlin chomped hay behind them, the geese honked, and the farm started to turn green as we spoke. v Things feel better.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kids For Sale!

Goat Kids for sale! The kids here are healthy and hardy little dairy kids. They are Alpine(50%), and Nubian/Boer. I have one female and one male right now. All are $100 picked up now as bottle babies, or $150 if purchased post-weaning when they are on grain/hay. Please email me if you are interested. More kids expected soon!

Please share this on social media if you are in the Northeast area!

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You Gotta Have a System

The service at this bar is terrible...
I am getting back into the swing of morning chores. Today the whole drill took an hour, which is a hell of an improvement since the day after the kids were born. It took twice that after the hangover that is winter chores. How is it every single year it takes adjusting into spring? If you're interested in what a morning is like on this One Woman Farm right now, here's the AM rundown.

I wake up in a pile of collies and the occasional cat. Remember that scene in The Lion King where Simba jumps around the pile of lions to wake up his dad? It's like that, only Friday plays the role of Simba by pouncing around me, Gibson, and whatever feline was stupid enough to sleep with us instead of the guest bedroom. Growls and yowling ensue. We go downstairs and I let the dogs outside and let them relieve themselves while the cats bitch for kibble. I feed those two and set up a percolator on the stove. I feed the cats first both for reasons of low self esteem and volume control. The coffee pot is set on stove top and burner turned on. Primary mammals of House Woginrich all have their most-pressing needs met.

Next the birds in the living room brooder need clean bedding. Got to do this every AM unless I want the house to smell like a barn. (I use hay instead of wood chips - less dust and easier to access here.) The chicks get fresh water and chick feed. They are easy clean up and see to. The brooder has a divider so the new babies from the heroic postal worker (see last story post) are under a heat lamp and the older Silkie Bantams are off-lamp and enjoying some new treats now like freeze-dried mealworms! The ducks are outside, kinda. They are on the porch just outside the French Doors and have hay bedding to refresh too. They also get clean water and feed. This is the fastest way to take care of 40 animals* before coffee.

I join the dogs outside and feed the sheep and horse first. The sheep are mostly in a large pen now to give the grass a chance to grow. They get a bales of second cut  which are waiting in the back of the truck instead of the barn (time saver from the night before).  I make a note to call Othniel from Common Sense Farm about another hay delivery. He was supposed to come yesterday but it's spring at his farm too and he just had a new baby girl! Mazel Tov!

Merlin comes running from the far field at the site of me carrying hay up to the sheep. Gods, that is a beautiful sight. He has the entire 3-acre field to run around on. I was looking at him this morning in the rainy mud and fog. His strong outline on the shockingly green hillside. He was born in the wilds of Cumbria on rolling hills. Now he has found a home with his own space that must feel something like it. I know a lot of horses who spend their days in stalls and tiny turn-out paddocks. Merlin can run full speed across his own mini-moor. It makes me happy.

Next up are goats, birds, and pigs. The pigs are fed and checked in on. Their water and bedding replaced. They are on their way to freezer camp soon, in pairs, by appointment. The two biggest go first next weekend.

My entire flock of chickens are free ranging. They have feeding stations though, and I make sure all the birds have access to a mix of bird chow and scratch grains. No one comes running to it since they are all around the stream eating the small worms brought up from the rain last night. Who wants cereal when theirs sausages? The geese also don't care. They are eating grass by the kitchen garden and Saro is still resting on a large nest of eggs. Fingers crossed.

Aya Cash is in her mews, head tucked back asleep. She was fed yesterday evening and won't need dinner till later. I just make sure she's okay.

Bonita was still pregnant and showing no signs of labor so there was nothing to do with her but get her some hay for breakfast. Ida was ready for milking. Here is where we need to give it up for Ida. She doesn’t even need a stanchion or to be tied up. Right in her pen I set a pail below her, squatted on my haunches, and milked her out in 4 minutes. If I was using the milk for myself or cheese or anything humans would consume it would be a far more intense ordeal of stanchion, udder washing, massage, milking, and then back into the pen. Right now I am quickly getting her bag empty for some quickly-strained kid milk and some soap practice batches. Made the first trial batch yesterday and am happy with them! Now 85+ animals** are cared for before coffee. I really want that coffee.

The years of Goatery involved in that last sentence are astounding. I swear this is why People homestead. The satisfaction I got from that quick chore was on par with the half marathon I ran in September. Why? Because Ida was born here. I bred this goat, raised this goat, trained this goat to be milked calmly, got this goat a buck to breed her, and now she has given me both kids to sell and/or raise and milk in the pail. It took a while to learn to milk well (a season if I am honest), but now this small chore makes me feel like a low-rent superhero.

Only after everyone outside is sated, watered, milked, and settled in does the farm go from rowdy to silent. Everyone is eating now. I can hear the songbirds. A raven from this farm's mated pair flies across the sky above me. Everything is gray and wet I wish it was bright and sunny. I grab my camera from inside and take pictures of the spring flowers. Friday pees on them while I try this. The flowers are still pretty among all this mud.

Chores are mostly done. I go inside the farm house and it smells like sacred coffee. It is amazing.

Before I make my cup I pour the fresh milk into bottles and feed the kids, who are now wide awake. They eat and  jump around the farmhouse. After their bellies are full I put them outside with Gibson to babysit while I take out their pee pads and replace them with fresh dry ones. I woke up an hour earlier. I can feel myself wanting to crawl back into bed. This means finally making a large mug of coffee, which I do with the gratitude of the ages. It tastes amazing and I sip it slowly.

Soon the kids are back inside and ready for another nap. These early goatling days are just bursts of play, milk, and then another stretch of sleep. The dogs get their breakfast now. They eat bowls of kibble and I refresh my cup. I give myself some time for news, politics, pop culture and videos of last night's Late Night talk shows. I check on my horcruxes. I write this blog post. In a short while a long stretch of design work will follow. I make notes of mechanic & farrier appointments, clients to catch up with, that hay delivery to remind about, and general life notes. I write my to-do list and income goals down on paper, my boss. The day is just starting and I have maintained a kingdom before caffeine. It feels lucky and right.

Thanks for coming along on morning chores with me!

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Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors. 

 *30 chicks, 5 ducklings, 2 dogs, 2 cats, one primate. Goat kids are still sleeping in dog crate.

** 9 sheep, 5 pigs, 2 adult goats, 30+ mixed poultry, and a hawk.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book, Soap, and Art!

Farm Combo for auction! Signed copy of CAF, original drawing of Gibson (which he signed, too) & goats milk soap! Bidding starts at $30! You just leave your bid in the comments and highest bid between here and twitter wins. If you don't want to bid publicly, email me. Shipping is $6

The Heroic Postal Worker

I am not sure if there is much wisdom in leaving a house with two dogs, two cats, thirty chickens, and two goats in your living room, but I had laundry to do.

One of the skills you hone as a feral mountain woman is how to manage April. It's a month of extreme ramping-up on a homestead. Unlike growers who deal with the madness of June here in the Northeast - April is the monster month for small livestock farms. This barnyard was fallow for months. Now it is bursting with new lives, sunshine, and possibilities. It's as exciting as it is exhausting. It's also dirty work and I had some laundry to do. If I put it off any longer I'd stop passing for a human woman.

So I left the house with all that going on inside and I wasn't worried. The chicks were in a brooder with a secure wire cage top. The goats had just filled their bellies with milk and had spent and hour running around - and were now asleep in a dog crate on pee pads. The cats were asleep in an upstairs bedroom, having no interest in watching chick TV with dogs hogging the remote. And Gibson and Friday are adults. I trust them home alone together. I loaded the pickup with a basket of laundry and some Tide, started up, and headed down the mountain.

As I was heading south a small black hatchback came up the road. Seeing other cars on this road is rare to begin with so that raised some eyebrows. And since everyone who lives up here knows the vehicles of the neighbors - this wasn't one of us. The guy inside was making a face usually reserved for telling people there’s a shark in the water. He locked eyes with me and I recognized him, but not sure of from where? He waved at me and stopped in the road. I backed up my truck to meet his window.

“I thought it was you!” He exclaimed. “So glad I caught you, been calling all day, I have your chickens.”

This was a surprise since I had called the P.O. yesterday to check on their delivery and they said no chicks had arrived yet. Confused, I went back into my emails and dug up the note from the hatchery. It said the birds would be delivered on the 18th, and arrive 24-48 hrs later. Okay, so the 19th was the soonest they could arrive and since it was the 18th I had one less thing to worry about today. Yeah! Clean Laundry! Human Woman!

Only it wasn’t the 18th. It was the 19th. I had the date wrong. Let’s hear it for me.

He wasn't able to call me (since clearly it was the 18th), I had unplugged my landline so I could write without interruptions. I also despise talking on the phone to anyone. I'm not alone there, I'm sure. So the calls didn't get through. My landline is rarely plugged in.

But it worked out. Timing is everything, and we caught each other and the birds were just fine. If you never ordered poultry in the mail - know they come in an impossibly little box. This isn’t cruel,—as the birds themselves are so small three chicks can fit in the palm of my hand—but shocking when you know the space 25 adult hens take up. It's a time-travel clown car, chicken post boxes.

They also aren’t starving or suffering in the post, since they JUST came out of their eggs with a full yolk sack. You can read more about the safety of shipping chicks here, if you are interested.

I thanked the postal worker profusely, who had decided to deliver them himself after his shift instead of letting them spend another night in the travel box. (Talk about a good guy.) I turned the truck around and put the new plucky birds in the brooder with the Silkies (who seemed pissed about their spacious digs becoming a nursery) and made sure everyone had food and water and a warm place to tuck in.

Then I did head off to my friend’s home to enjoy some human company and do some laundry. Because managing April is a task I get better at every year, and it deserves clean sheets.

(I will be baking a pie for this post office.)

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors. No chicks were hurt in the typing of this blog post. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Full House

It’s been a long morning. I was up at 6:30, but that isn’t early enough. I was still washing dairy pails and trying to train the kids to take the bottle (one has it down!) two hours later. The farm is now bursting with new life and animals. Chores that took twenty minutes a few weeks ago now take hours. There's so much more to do and while that is exciting — it is humbling realizing how beat I felt by 10AM.

Nothing whips you into homestead shape like April. Brooders, duckling pens, seedlings, kids, feeding schedules, lambing, kidding. I called the post office around 8AM and found out the chicks have not arrived yet, but I was fully prepared to settle in 25 chickens in my living room among nickering goat kids learning how to use their fancy new legs. Life is messy right now. And loud. But as the morning is winding down and I’ve scratched a few items off my to-do list, I feel a bit of breathing room. I'm checking in with you.

The kids are a cross of purebred Alpine does and a Nubian/Boer cross buck. They are big and hearty. They are also for sale, since I don't think I will be keeping a kid going into fall. At least now these two kids. The doe is the one with the erect ears and she is $100, the buckling is $75.

I am expecting Bonita to kid soon. Between office work and chores I poke my head into her pen and can already see she is nesting and preparing for the delivery shortly. In a few days this house will be quite the menagerie.

I have a couple coming for some chicken 101 classes this weekend and besides the chicks indoors and signed books waiting for them - they are going to be slammed with cute overload. Goat kids are adorable, just little deer-like pixie beasts that flop around the house. It's a real happy check I can cash in, every single time I hold them. I hope the sun is shining and they see how amazing a backyard flock can be!

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors. Photo of the very frazzled me taken by Patty Wesner.

Logo and Illustration Sale!

Hey there readers, this farm has got to make some income and fast, so if you are in the need of a logo or want to commission a pet illustration, this is a great time to support the farm and I'm offering sale rates to encourage you! My illustration style is very much like American Animation, which adds some whimsy and fun to the artwork.

Logos and illustrations are on sale and a fun way to give a very special gift. Logos are great for small businesses (the goat logo you see here is custom art by me and on a food truck in California!), events like family reunions, and graduates looking for a special touch to a resume. Rates are flat. I do the work between farm responsibilties (between chores)

Custom pet illustrations are drawn, colored, and mailed to your home and suitable for framing. Gift cards for logos or illustrations can be bought at a lesser expense now and used when you are ready in the future. If you are interested please send me an email.

Payments are made via Paypal and super easy to use!

Also, I have some really adorable goat kids you can buy....

Monday, April 17, 2017


Ida gave birth to two gorgeous twins! A doe and buck, and both are healthy and BIG!

The Big F

Woke up early this morning to get a jump-start on work here at the home office. Proud to say that by 8AM I had finished all the farm chores, got work done with three design clients, and just came in from checking on my dirigibles in the goat pen. The Silkie chicks in the farmhouse are feathering out and growing bolder. The Khaki Campbell ducklings are outside in a little pen. A new shipment from Stromberg’s Poultry shows up early this week with a pile of heavy layers. I am planning on keeping a dozen or so and raising the rest to sell as started pullets for backyard chicken keepers in the area. I find that a lot of people are willing to pay $15-$30 for a healthy and laying young bird instead of the hassle of keeping a brooder and time that goes into raising them the first five months. If I play my cards right that will cover the last bits of the Kiva Loan for the pickup I bought a while back.

All is well here. Well, mostly so. The usual low-grade panic settings are purring along. I have ran out of creamer and am drinking my breakfast black, but besides that I can’t complain. Complaints are rolling in about leaving Facebook, though, but only from my mom.

Guys, I deactivated my Facebook account for my own mental health. It was too much. Too many people to keep track of, too many groups, clubs, conversations, and updates. I was spending too much time on social media and was starting to get creeped out by the weird messages from guys, people monitoring when I was online, and the politics of strangers. It got to the point where every single time I signed on to Facebook I was gritting my teeth hoping to just check my messages and sign off fast as possible. Also, Facebook was a place that made me feel bad by the constant comparisons I was forcing into my head. I would wake up perfectly happy and content with my lot in life and then fifteen minutes of scrolling through people's life advertisements and I was questioning my choices. Enough.

I am a little nervous about the audience there not coming here to check in on the blog, but not enough to sign back up. Nothing gets me more defiant than someone threatening me, and Facebook felt like a threat these past few years. This abusive partner explaining that if I leave I'll end up up alone and broke in the street without the constant updates of random pregnancies, dead dog announcements, and vacation photos. I'm active as hell on Twitter though, and urge you to follow me there for many daily updates, farm photos, etc. I'm @coldantlerfarm

So I'm off the addiction that is The big F. I’ll build up my readership on other platforms, get more work published in larger media formats, revamp this site instead of neglecting it for the dopamine rush of Facebook, a keep going. I am nothing if not a master of keeping on. 

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Good Things

I snuck this photo of Gibson, watching the goat's pen in the barn. He is looking in the direction of the sounds of grunts and nickering from Bonita and Ida on the other side of the wall. We spent an hour there this morning. I sat on a bale of hay in the warm light of spring. Gibson lay at my feet, his tail wagging softly. I brought my banjo, a gift mailed to me years ago by a sweet reader. She saw I had to sell my old banjo when things got tight, and wanted to replace it. There was a catch, though. She made me promise to never sell it. We both kept our word. It's one of my most treasured things. It's older than the dog in the photo, I believe.

In that sunny barn I played waltzes and old-timey tunes. They were not perfect but the more I practiced the easier they came. The goats couldn't stop watching me when I started to strum but about ten minutes later they made nests in their straw-lined pen and chewed cud. Any moment a kid might be born to the sounds of songs as old as this farm.

As I was playing. As my dog lay beside me. As the goats chewed. As the sun warmed my back. As the music swirled from the barn - as all this happened an Ameraucana hen was laying an egg in a nesting box a few feet away. I could hear the grunts of the pigs in the distance. The sheep on the hill baaed. Merlin snorted. My small world felt safe and perfect.

I have set up my entire life to facilitate moments like this - and I am telling you even with all those ten-thousand decisions - perfect moments are rare. All the more reason to love them, pray they come again, share them here.

I hope your Sundays are full of good things.

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors.

Learn The Fiddle (and take one home) for $200

Have you always wanted to play the fiddle or shoot a bow?  I am offering one-on-one classes here at the farm. These are half or full-day events meant for complete beginners in archery or fiddling. You can come not knowing how to read music or nock an arrow, (in fact I prefer it) and leave with a your new instrument or bow in hand. The point is to come with an open mind and a sense of humor. I have yet to have a fiddle or archery student not leave this farm being schooled enough to play a tune or hit a target. This is a chance to learn a skill, support the farm like me, and come see the beautiful mess that is CAF. Right now, you can sign up for a half day with fiddle or bow for $200.

Both day's cost includes the tools needed -  fiddle (plus case, bow, supplies) or longbow (for your right or left hand, string, 3 arrows). If you buy a workshop as a gift in the next few days I'll overnight you a hand-painted postcard to give to the receiver. Classes are set up by you so a day in the spring, summer, or fall you wish to learn and travel here is up to you. Can be set up after the holidays!

If interested email me!

Bitches & Honey

Life aint nothing but bitches and honey
Woke up early and excited to run to the barn and check on the girls. The sun was out, the weather was warmer than it’s been in weeks, and yesterday I managed a 10k without blisters causing me to limp around the farm for a few days. (Which is what happened earlier in the week when I ran five miles last weekend without the right socks. Guys, I was feeling good and I didn’t even have coffee yet. Magic happens.

Still no kids, but possibility is thick in the air. The does are at the point where they are rubbing and biting their bellies, grunting, leaking viscous fluids and have udders tight as drums. In my years of goat breeding experience with Alpines, I have learned this means kidding can happen in fifteen minutes or two weeks.

I have some good news to share! This month I have been working my tail off acquiring design clients and a few illustration ones. Thanks to that and some budgeting I have been able to catch up on some bills this April. That is a BIG deal and a sigh of relief. I am now just one payment behind on the farm, and when I can manage that I will officially turn into Wonder Woman and ascend to a higher astral plane. Well, probably not, but I won’t have as much trouble sleeping at night. It all feels close enough to touch.

March and April were emotionally exhausting here. The combination of the end of a long dark winter, bad news, and the very shaking state of the farm caused enough anxiety to make cocaine look adorable by comparison. (I’ve never done cocaine, but from what I hear it’s expensive self-absorbed anxiety on-demand.) I was fraught. I am still focused and promoting logo sales, fiddle lessons, archery classes, and illustrations like mad on Social Media. Also - I am deleting my Facebook account as soon as I gather the courage to do so, so please do follow me on twitter @coldantlerfarm if you want 5-20 updates, quips, farm pics, and such a day. There’s a lot more about the farm there. Like this pic I posted of Friday with a small frame from the hive. The bees didn’t survive the winter, but they will be replaced and honey harvested for mead!

If you need to contact me outside facebook please use twitter or just email me. Easy!

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It really helps. You have no idea how much it helps.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Waiting on Kids

Right now I am keeping a close eye on my does. This back of Bonita shows you how ready to pop they are. I am hoping for 2 sets of twins. I just got back inside from my night rounds of the field/barn/mews and both ladies in the goat pen were laying down on their straw chewing cud, absolutely not giving birth. Today was sunny and kind, weatherwise, and I was in that barn between freelance work and breaks to ride and run. Still no kids, but it should be soon.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring's Inside

Outside this farmhouse it has been gray and muddy and unpleasant as can be. April's always unpleasant. It's a month of messy transition and as far away from October as possible. I always feel a little lost in April. I decided to bring spring indoors. Why wait?

There is a happy little brooder with chicks and ducklings. Khaki Campbells and Silkie Bantams. A few weeks ago I planted some snap pea seeds in a large container near the glass windows.I cleaned up, restrung, and tuned my banjo and I have learned it is nearly impossible to feel down when you can hear the chirping of babe fowl beside bright banjo rills. There's new life, seedlings, music and a house no longer in need of constant fires to keep it warm. Hunting season is over for my hawk and she is enjoying this pre-molt feast in her off season. There's a rumor next week will bring sunshine and days in the 70s. If that is so I will celebrate with some longer runs out in this beloved county of farms and fields. Everything is coming back to life.

Still waiting on the rest of the lambs in the flock. But while I wait for them, looks like Bonita and Ida are ready to start having kids in the next few weeks, perhaps even sooner. I don't want to anticipate it too soon, but I am washing to milking pails and getting baby bottles prepped. Kids will be such a fun thing to have in the house and if they arrive before the big Poultry Swap in May - will be easy to sell. I am toying with the idea of keeping one male to castrate as a pack animal trained for hiking. Just toying. But the combination of mountain breeds and sturdiness of Boer, Nubian and Alpine will create a very handsome beast indeed.

Also, just a note. If you want to see daily updates, three times as many photos, and lots of other stuff about my interests and personality - follow me on Twitter. I hope to phase off of Facebook soon. I'm @coldantlerfarm there.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Getting It

Goals aren’t stories. This is tricky because we so want them to be. Books, movies, marathons - we’ve been trained to see all of our achievements as ending points. Doesn’t matter if it’s your everyday life or a TV show you’re watching to distract yourself from it; we see a goal met and want that to be the stopping point. Kill the bad guy. Kiss the crush. Happily Ever After or a morality play - we don’t care. We just want to know how it ends. We worship ends.

If you’ve been reading my story for a long time, you’re rare. Most people stopped once I bought this property. Makes sense. Act 1: Girl falls in love with farming. Act 2: Rented Farm is threatened! Act 3: Girl figures out how to buy her own farm. The happy ending.

But it wasn’t the end. That one goal was met before I even knew myself. The following seven years on this land and what has happened within them have changed me more than everything and everyone who happened before it.

The Getting It isn’t us. It isn’t our story. Think of something you worked your ass off to accomplish? Congratulations on getting it. You graduated from that school. You landed that job. You married that person. You earned that tax bracket. You named that baby. You signed that deed. Then what? Did credits roll the theater lights come on? Of course they did because even when a part of your story is neatly tied up and notarized, life goes on. It's called Tuesday.

Goals are called milestones for a reason - they're just marking points. I don't care how large or small your dreams are - they're chapters at best. Your story is never what you did, it's what you're doing next. It is always what's ahead. Sometimes it's tangible things like plane tickets and sometimes it's a sum of intentions. A goal can be a passport. It can also be forgiveness.

Take everything you ever did that you are proud of and write it down in order as it happened. All those goals - intended or imposed - can probably be contained in one word. That's what I think the point of this messy life is, to learn your book's title as a trait noun. What do all those little movies and chapter titles add up to for you? When you close the book what one word could tell it all? Victim? Leader? Outcast? Cynic? Charmer? You only get one word for a book title and you don't even get to pick it. Other people do. It's how you're going to be remembered.

But if tonight was it? If this was when your book closed - what would your title be? If you're honest with yourself, really honest, it means you have the ability to still change it.

Over the years I have watched my own title change from Dreamer to Fool and now it is deeply embossed as Fighter. There is pride in that but mostly fear. The pride is in resourcefulness. It's in the quiet thrill of still being here on this farm living a creative life. But the majority of it is fear. Fighting is fucking scary. It's knowing you are going to get hit over and over again and at any moment I could tap out. I don't know how much more of this Endurance Test I can take.

The main sense of comfort I get is from realizing anyone who has ever made it in any of the arts did so by not stopping. Few people get lucky. "Overnight sensations" have been auditioning for ten years or have enough rejection letters from publishers to insulate their bathrooms. And my bar for success isn't anywhere near that lofty. I just want to get to a place in my professional life as a farming writer that going to bed means excitement about tomorrow instead of the gut punch fear of losing it. Solvent would be a dream book title.

All I know is tonight I want to keep Fighter and there's some serious comfort in that. It means that even alone and late into the evening, I'm not folding.  It means success, however defined, is more believable than failure. That's the only reason to fight, isn't it?

If every goal I make from now on is riddled with claw marks, so be it.

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution.

Stand Off

Gibson and the turkeys are NOT getting along this spring. I blame hormones. On the look out for some hens to add to the flock!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sunshine on Strings

Spring is in the air at Cold Antler Farm. Right now the windows and doors are open and sunshine is pouring in. Amazing how a day of nice weather can change your outlook a bit. In spent the morning working on chores and design clients, but after a few hours of that and a short trip into town to take care of some signed copies at Battenkill Books, I was ready to soak up the sun.

We have a few days of rain ahead. But today was vitamin D to the max. I haltered up Merlin and brought him to the post to really get into that spring shedding. With the help of some shedding blades and brushes he is a little less hairy. We did some ground work as well; the kind of natural horsemanship my farrier Dave taught me. A few days of ground work is necessary before the first spring ride. I also like the mountain ground a little firmer on our trails. I was just on them hunting with Aya Cash a few days ago and downed logs, ice, and deep mud have a ways to go before firming up. So today was mostly a brush down and some lunge line work. After I was done grooming the beast the ground looked like a mastodon exploded. It kinda did.

Also today: I took my dusty banjo off the stand in the corner and cleaned her up with the detail work of a used-car dealership. I put new silver Gibson strings on her, too. Once she was tuned it only took a few moments to relearn some favorite songs. I played out in the sun while the dogs ran circles around the turkeys. A nice moment in all the muddy chaos around this place right now. I am continuing to remain positive and productive as I can. Things are more uncertain then they have ever been.

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Could you keep me in the sound