Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Three Hen Quiche!

Few meals are as satisfying to a flock keeper than a savory quiche! I have shared this recipe in books in the past, but I wanted to share it again as the (hopefully) colder nights are coming in and fall will make us want good meals to warm our bones. October is on our doorstep, so have a proper meal ready for him!

Three Hen Quiche - Taken from my recipe on The Splendid Table's Website.

Over my first ever girls’ coop, a sign reads: team quiche. That’s because each of my three original hens would lay an egg a day, and three eggs are exactly what my favorite recipe calls for. Quiche is easy to make, great to share, and keeps well in the fridge. It tastes just as good heated up in the oven the next day. You can customize it, adding whatever you prefer. If your add-ins include breakfast meats such as bacon or sausage, make sure they’re precooked before mixing them with the other ingredients.

  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 broccoli crown, chopped into inch-long pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheddar and Jack cheeses
  • 1 piecrust (frozen or homemade)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until browned and fragrant; set aside in a small bowl. Pour the water into the skillet, and steam the broccoli over medium-high heat. Sprinkle a little salt over them while they steam. When the broccoli is tender, set it aside in a small bowl.
2. Beat the eggs together with the milk. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Toss the onion and broccoli together and spread over the piecrust (in pie pan). Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top.
3. Bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife tip poked into the center comes out clean. You’ve now got yourself a quiche.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Dog Days of September?

This is the face of a horse that doesn't understand why it is 85 degrees in late September. And you know what? I can't say I blame his incredulity. There are leaves falling off the trees in all the prettiest Autumnal colors. The local pharmacy is stocked with Halloween candy and costumes. I have an orange pumpkin on my doorstep - yet it feels like late July. It's humid and dry at the same time. Moisture is thick in the air, but not a drop of rain has fallen in a long span of days. Which makes going outside feel like being in a sloppy tundra with imposter syndrome. I look forward to chillier nights.

But the heat has also been encouraging. As someone who is tied to a woodstove all winter it is kinda freeing to know all my fire work has been stacking and sorting wood on piles and not bringing it inside to burn. I'll be trying to hold out on regular use of the stove for a while.

Around the farm things are moving at the usual happy panicked pace. Morning chores are a flash of black dogs and chicken feathers. I haul water and hay, feed and grain, and tend to the indoor kids' breakfasts of kibble and cat food. The rest of the morning is for design and illustration work and writing. Afternoons are for running, riding, and errands of all sorts. With the last cuttings of hay coming into barns and fall slaughter dates of livestock it seems every few days I am in a barn or butcher's office of some sort. At the end of each day I am tired and focused, like a draft horse with blinders on taking a nap in her stall.

I have been slowly but surely adding to the winter larder. Every few days a few new items are added, sometimes just a can of beans or a bag of rice - but always something. Every winter making a living here gets harder so I am trying to cut out as many extra costs as necessary with the plan being to eat 95% of my calories from the farm to save cash for the mortgage and utilities. If I get lucky and sell a book contract or get some lucrative freelance work I can set some aside for savings. My goal here is always to just be solvent. To stay put.

I'm heading back outside to soak in the sun while it lasts. It is hard for me to be too grumpy about it. There will be February mornings here so cold I could cut glass with the sharpness of my prayers for sunshine. And on that note, I am heading outside to carry water again.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Aiming Towards Winter!

The good news is that Cold Antler Farm is in the best shape it has ever been going into winter! Firewood (1.5 cords) is already stacked. Winter food stores have begun. Hay is set aside and in banks (larger barns close buy) to gather and load to the farm all winter long. I am not in any danger of losing the farm and bills are up to date. It feels good.  This is how I want things to remain.

But every day is another day closer to the next bill, the next month's mortgage. I am still working (with one week left) to pay this month's mortgage so I am not behind come September 1. So I am offering a 2 for 1 sale on logos and illustrations. You can pay one price and get a flat-rate logo and illustration - or any combination there of. You can buy it and receive 2 gift certificates - a way to support this farm and get your holiday shopping done early! The gift certificates are PDF emails vouchers you can print and put into cards. Give the gift of a portrait or logo to a friend or yourself!

I am also still taking soap orders! I have loose bars and custom made batches that come with a signed copy of One Woman Farm!

If you want to support the endeavors of Cold Antler Farm, email me!

Friday, September 22, 2017


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Have Smial. Will Travel.

I spent a lot of time this week in quiet awe of my college roommate’s Instagram updates from Paris. Dear lord, the pictures and the city were beautiful. She’s beautiful. Her life is beautiful. And I looked at those videos and pictures thinking about the life I had when I used to travel more. How clean and new a hotel can feel, even a humble one. How carefree it is to know not a single dirty towel is your responsibility. Add to that amazing food, sights, interesting people - her life is amazing. And I am thinking all this the same day I am trying to wash diarrhea off a lamb’s butt on the same farm I haven’t spent a night away from in six years.

Those images from France felt exotic because they are. To be fair, pictures from the Target in Saratoga would feel exotic these days. Travel is something I can’t do and do not do. I recently joined some dating sites and let me tell you, travel is the one thing every single man and woman out there says they are looking for in a partner. Not one person said, "I'm looking for a Smial." Which is frustrating, as I give great Smial.

Forget Target, some days even driving to visit a friend seven miles away is out of the question if weather is bad, gas money is tight, or the farm’s needs are more pressing than my social needs. You can’t tell a pregnant goat to hold it in while you meet friends at the train depot for drinks.You can't leave for a movie marathon and hot tub when it's -6 degrees and your house is heated by a domesticated fire in the corner of the living room.

My choices have given me a freedom my college self's wildest dreams couldn't believe. I wake up with the kind of agency of time that seems criminal its so my own. Without a spouse or kids, my day is 100% dedicated to my farm, my income, and my passions. It's a dream and one I work damn hard to live as my daily reality but it's also my nightmare. Having all this is only possible because it's selfish as hell. If I ever want to incorporate any other human being's life into it; it means big changes. I'm okay with changes in the name of love. I'm not okay with them in the name of boredom or everyday companionship.

There was a time I felt the need to write in defense of farming and my choices when I saw peers experiencing their own. There was a time I’d wax poetic on the simple joys of staying in one place and the wealth that surrounds a life of gardens, saddles, and Sunday roasts. I wrote those things because I did believe them, but also because of guilt. The guilt that I was more interested in feeling safe and nesting than traveling. I will forever be the dog circling three times before lying down. That act itself is my spirit animal. And as a young(ish), worldly,woman the guilt of staying put feels like a chosen ignorance at times. Young people are supposed to want coffee in Paris. They are supposed to envy passport stamps and towel delivery services. Yet here I am, alone on a mountain, content washing lamb butts. So to those out there considering a Woginrich in their futures, know this:

Have Smial. Will Travel.*
*Eventually, and for love and hunger.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Come in, sit down.

Welcome new readers and old friends, I often post this: Come in,  Sit Down, which means introduce yourself here on the blog by your name and location, and maybe share a little more about yourself as far as homesteading dreams or goals are? If you don't feel comfortable giving your name online, you could always just leave your location and perhaps a suggestion for the blog. It's a way for me to see who I am writing to and say hello. It makes the place a little more friendly on this side, as you know so much about me, but I know so little about you. A simple introduction makes it feel like I'm talking with a group rather than writing to the sky. If you never comment this post is an exception worth making. You might even make a friend or two...

It's also a way for you guys out there to connect with other folks with like interests. If you're sitting in your Sausalito apartment dreaming of mini angus bloodlines and rototillers you might just see another name from Sausalito a few comments down dreaming about coop plans and explaining his container gardens.... and before you know if you've made a farming friend. The internet is great—you'll never hear me say otherwise—but it keeps us inside a little too much. It should be a tool to network and learn from, not a replacement for three dimensional conversations and relationships. (I am talking for myself right now as much as anyone) and by saying hello here you might just spark book clubs and dinner potlucks, meetups and work parties, farm visits and advice, or just someone to grab coffee with in the Philadelphia Barnes & Noble and pour over the new issue of Hobby Farms together while chatting about why your husbands think chickens are ridiculous.

So come on inside, pull up a chair, and say hello.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Happy Friday! (on a Monday)

Yesterday I planned on mowing the leaves but the mower would not start, so I went about raking for a few hours. When the lawn was cleared I let out a sigh of accomplishment and took in the view. It should last about thirty minutes before it was covered in brown, yellow, and orange maple leaves again?

I made a big pile and before I moved it to the compost area by the pine trees, I let Friday play in it. She loves nothing more than to jump, dig, scratch, shake up leaves, and then chase around whatever she jumped in/dug up. She can actually dig a hole, flick a rock out between her hind legs, then spin on a dime and jump to catch it before it lands. This is her joy. Gibson watches, in eye-rolling frustration. I laugh. If Friday prefers some rock tossing, that's her bliss. Have at it girl!

I'm recovering/trying to figure out what I am down with right now. I rarely get sick, so when I get dyspeptic in my transmission I assume it's time to cut back on all the fun stuff (coffee, sugar, booze, etc) and eat a plan diet, rest, and hope it washes out fast. I focus less on adventures involving saddles and arrows and more on indoor work like illustration. I stick to my daily to-do list. I keep it manageable. Be it training horses, dogs, or Jennas - make success easy and end on a good note. I plan on tackling three clients and ending on yogurt. Life's not always riveting.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Months of Coffee

Part of my plan for a frugal winter is buying in as much of my winter food as possible. I want my income to 90% go towards the mortgage, bills, and emergency needs and not need to worry about many extra expenses. That also includes winter drinks, like coffee. I figure a half pound a week covers my addiction and company, or at least I hope so. Right now there are around ten pounds stored up, along with a lot of powder creamer (in case things get tight and running for half and half is a luxury down the road). The whole point of this prep isn't to just live out of my cupboards, or to prepare for doomsday - but to know going into the hardest, darkest, and most anxious time of the year for me and this farm I have the peace of mind knowing months of meals are safely set aside. A loaf of bread can be baked every other day (100lbs of flour already set aside with yeasts/sat). Stored meats, spices, grains, beans, eggs, cheeses, canned goods and more are filling up my larder and it feels good.The farm house feels more like a farmer's house than ever before.

Winter on My Mind.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Art and a Bar!

Today on Twitter I posted this 9x12" image of Bonita, the old' goat of Cold Antler Farm. She's still going strong and drawing her munching on fall leaves was a fun project this morning and a break from commissions and design work. I'm offering it for $50 and it comes with a bar of her soap! And if it sells out, or if you want a custom image of another goat (like your own), another animal from CAF, a pet, or any custom illustration and soap - do send an email to

This is a pre-made piece of work and not custom, so the price would be higher for a full color ink and watercolor piece like this of your pet or animal of choice - but I can offer a sketch and bar for the price of $50 in the US. Thanks for your support and interest!

Friday, September 15, 2017

If You Bake It...

It was around 4PM when I was just about ready to set the first Jackapple Cake of the season into the stove. I was so proud of it—not only because it’s a family tradition—but because the apples I had diced for the pie came from a tree I planted the year I bought this farm, 2010. It took that many years for the small tree to grow and beat fruit. That apple tree made it despite the winters, the sheep eating at her bark, and the thousand mistakes a new farmer makes... Still, the apples were strong and crisp and green. They made it to the family cake. I was about to slide it into the oven when the phone rang.

My phone is old and loud. It’s a big yellow, rotary, wall-mounted device that the prop department for Stranger Things used, exactly. Only mine has the bell tensions permanently set to the loudest setting and actual clanging bells roar when it alerts. It is right by the stove. I jumped. It was Mark.

Mark and his son Wyatt were having dinner and wanted to invite me over. Mark and Patty Wesner are family. Patty met me at a book reading years ago, around the same time I planted that apple tree - and it’s the only place in Washington County I feel as home at as my own. She taught me to ride and drive horses. Mark taught me to hunt turkeys and all the names and music of the songbirds that were background noise before I knew the musicians. They mean the world to me and right now while Patty is in California with her new granddaughter (Congrats!!!!) Mark is running the farm mostly by himself. Looked like he wanted some friends in the farm house.

I explained I was JUST setting a cake into the oven and could I bring it as dessert around 6? He said that was fine but they were pouring drinks at 5 so I better hurry. With the cake baking and the house starting to smell like seven years of delicious passive planning - I called the dogs and we headed outside.

Evening chores are a delight in the fall. There is none of the stress of evening dairy work - since the does are being dried off. The weather was too warm still to worry about bedding a fire down or stoking a new one if I wanted to leave... 

Side note: I know some people are perfectly okay with having a roaring fire in their homes left unattended - but I am not that person. If I want to leave for any extended period longer than an hour in the cold months I won’t do so unless the fire is down to coals. I share my house with two un-crated border collies, 2 cats, and depending on the season - chicks, lambs, kids, or Lord Knows What else and adding a raging fire to the unchaperoned mix seemed like a bad decision.

...So there was no fire chores, no dairy chores, no extra house work as the dishes were done while the oven pre-heated. So the dogs and I went about feeding evening hay and grain, checking animals and their water and bedding, and then half an hour later the cake was out to cool and the animals sated. The cake felt like a prize because it was.

Over at Livingston Brook Farm mark was skillet-frying up some Highlander burgers, from a shaggy steer our friend Brett raised near Lake Placid. Tomatoes, lettuce, and onions from his garden were set out on a beautiful plate. Bourbon was poured and we talked and caught up. I’m 35 and this is an ideal evening, hell and ideal day. I spent the morning doing the work of helping turn lambs into meat - humbling and tough work but the traveling butchers were kind and the animals a respectable weight.

After that I worked on design, on making soap, and the other errands and chores a life piles up. Point is the day included hard work of farm, mind, and craft. I ended it with the celebration cake and planned on just having a slice in front of a movie to wind down the night. Instead I got a full meal with close friends. If you bake it, dinner invites will come.

There is still a lot of winter prep ahead. I need to get in firewood, stove repairs, more animals butchered and delivered to customers, hay packed, and the regular bills and responsibilities paid. As of today the farm is solvent - my loftiest goal for years. But until a landfall of luck falls it’s scrappy work making it every month. What I can celebrate is that I am getting better at this - at the time management, budgeting, self promotion, and quality of work and words. More importantly, I have not given up. I don’t plan to. I hope seven years later that tree is still bearing fruit and the home and my life is healthier, happier, and makes me feel ever safer and more proud.

And there’s still cake.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jackapple Cake Season is Here!

I’ve been baking my father’s famous apple cake recipe for years and have published it in past books. It is as much a sign of fall as any other in my home. and adding my own little experiments with it. I think this one takes the prize, try it this weekend, you won’t regret it!

Jackapple Cake

3 large farm eggs
2 ¾ cup flour
3 large apples (go with braeburn or gala, if you get fuji use 4)
No red delicious apples, bake like garbage
¼ cup fresh press cider
2 cups sugar
¼ cup honey, heated
1 stick butter (half melted)
1 ¾ cup vegetable oil
Tablespoon vanilla extract
Tablespoon baking powder

Peel and dice apples and place in a large bowl with 1 ½ cups sugar (set aside other half cup for topping), sprinkle over them a light coating of cinnamon, and mix into a cobbler, then dribble warm honey over and mix that in as well. Set in fridge for 2 hours to let cure. Do not skip this step. 

When apples are cured, add all wet ingredients (half melted stick off butter, eggs, oil, extract) and mix with large wooden spoon. Add in tablespoon baking powder. Add flour half a cup at a time and stir in batter more than you think you need too. Batter will seem wet and yellow. Good. Pour into greased cake pan.

Now melt other half stick of butter, add to it the sugar and some cinnamon and mix them into a wet paste. Use a pastry brush to lather it over the batter, making a sugar crust to bake into the cake. Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. Check after 27, when knife comes out clean it’s done. Serve warm with stove-top cider.

Pig Tails and Apples!

So many apples this year! Every tree that has fruit to offer is spilling over, half toppled by the weight. Every day the pigs get a bucket full of green or red apples. They snarf and chomp and chew and the piglets race each other around to snag the best pieces. A farm without pigs is a quieter farm, and it might be a prettier one, but it isn't a wealthier one. They offer so much I can't imagine not having some sort of sounder on this land.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Buck on the Brain

The goats are nearly dry. Milking is now sporadically done every few days. Soon the work of morning dairy chores will be replaces with morning fire chores. There's still a long road between here and there, though. The wood stove needs a serious repair and professional chimney sweeping. The goats need a few more weeks of random milkings to be dried off comfortably. But once firebox and doe are content - I need to start looking for a buck again. It's time for some fall romance, ladies.

Some goat folk keep milking all year. I do not. I like having the winter off from dairy chores and making the cheese seasonal. This year I have stored gallons of the milk (for soap making in the winter) and about ten pounds of the chevre I love! The white ziplock bags in storage are hard frozen bricks now. They are stacked white and serious and look like some sort of illicit material at first glance. When a guest goes to the freezer for ice and sees the stacked, white, bricks I say "IT'S CHEESE!!" I don't want them to think I suddenly became a lot more interesting.

So if you're around Veryork and have an Alpine or Nubian buck for rent or sale, let me know. I'd like to have him in pen with my girls by November at the latest. Email me here!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Tiny Murder Dragons

I have chosen a life that means getting emails on a Saturday afternoon of recent Merlin captures. (Merlin meaning the small bird of prey, not my large draft pony.) I saw the email and smiled. A falconer friend a town over had just trapped the small jack, a male Merlin. It's trapping season for falconers new and seasoned and we are all on the lookout for our new tiny murder dragons.

The first four days of the month I was helping a new falconer from Half Moon, New York. We trapped her a nice juvenile female red tail hawk and since then she's been manning (training) the bird for hunting and getting along well. I'm proud of her. Yesterday I shared about helping friends get into horses, well, I feel the same way about hawking. It's the new, bright, eyes of the beginner that encourage me to become better at the passions I have. Riding along in a mini van for hours at a time, looking up, hoping for a hawk and the random circumstances of luck and chance that mean you actually capture it - it's intoxicating. There is so much horror in the world right now - from floods and fires to hurricanes and injustice - the escape to just think about one wild animal is needed. Not because I want to forget the troubles of the world and pretend they do not exist, but to find a place to exhale and feel safe in a life that is never certain.

Here's to hawks, hope, and calmer winds soon.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Home Again!

This morning was cold enough to see my breathe and need a sweater for morning chores. I had already lit a small fire in the stove and started the coffee, and while my infusion and firebox warmed up I headed outside for the first section of chores. While making the hay rounds on the farm my feet crunched over newly-fallen leaves. I could smell and see the smoke from the chimney. Autumn is here. It feels good to be home again.

I have been joyfully distracted by a few things, and that’s why the posts have been sparse. My new age and I have completed a new book proposal (worked on it all summer together) and it has been sent out to a list of publishers. Now we wait and I hope. When not editing and rewriting that I’ve been about the usual work of tending this farm, preparing for winter (food, hay, firewood), and making soap. I mean, a lot of soap. I have been making out between 4-8 pounds a WEEK of this stuff. I am proud of these soaps and their travels around North America. For a simple recipe they soaps lather well, last long (post-curing), and are made with the goats, milk, and hands of this farm. My days are mostly a rectangle of farming, design, writing and soap. It’s a good place to be.

Yesterday afternoon some friends from Troy (a city just south of me near Albany) came up. David and Allison wanted to spend some time at the farm and start learning to ride. I’m no instructor but I was happy to show my friends how to groom, tack, and understand a horse a bit. David has ridden before and feels at home on the back of a horse. Yesterday was the first time he cantered comfortably and I was so happy to see it. Allison (who hasn’t ridden ever, really) learned to sit, hold her body, use her legs, and ask the horse to walk forward, stop, turn, and back up. I was beaming. I love sharing what I learned with others. What is the point of learning a skill just to hoard it? Skills are for sharing, celebrating, and passing on.

Writing is also important to share! So I am using Sundays to pre-load some posts so your weekday gets plenty of Cold Antler goodness. Thank you for checking back in and do follow me on Twitter and Instagram for a lot of daily photos, updates, and stories.  Especially, Twitter.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Trapping & Work

I realized this morning that with all my time online, over on twitter and Instagram - I have been talking about trapping season and new falconers, the farm fall prep, and working on design - but have not updated here recently. I have a lot of thoughts about being in my thirties and the life I chose. I want to talk about wealthy vs rich. I want to share stories of potatoes, lambs, and today's ram delivery later on. But right now I am waiting for my ride from some new apprentice falconers in Clifton Park. Every morning we have been going out looking for hawks for them to trap for their first falconry hunting seasons. That's been the stretch of things recently: wake, farm, trap, work, farm, sleep. With hints of social events like game nights or movies with friends in the evenings. I'll be updating more later today and I appreciate you reading this and checking in. Fall is here!