Wednesday, July 31, 2019


New piglets were born on the farm, new little guys running about! Auburn the hawk is molting her feathers. The horses are avoiding flies by staying in the pole barn during the hottest stretches and I am doing my best to catch up on art and logo work. Most days here now are a string of chores, running, desk work, and then during the hottest part of the day a dip in the river. I hope for the mail to deliver a long-awaited freelance check or someone emails about a large project but mostly it’s been doggie paddling through the month trying to keep my head above water.

July is winding down and things are precarious. This is the first time I haven’t been able to post mark a mortgage check, with not enough sales coming in and too many bills going out. I hope to make it happen in the next few days and have it slide under the feet of any wolf at the door, but it is what I am thinking about the most right now. No one ever said a farm/freelance life would be stable. And certainly no one said it would be windy successful - but it has so far been enough. When the dates tick by and it isn’t - it makes a woman nervous.

But nerves aren’t a bad thing. They mean you understand the gravity of the situation and the consequences that they entail. I know how on edge this place can be. I’ve made this farm work from that edge, barely keeping balance, but proven myself a capable acrobat in this circus. And the longer I manage to pull those trapeze moves the more I manage to remain optimistic and calm during these most doubtful times. Which isn’t nothing. There’s a real power in learning how to keep life moving a trot - yes it’s frenetic and uncomfortable but it’s still moving forward. I’ll slow down to a walk when I earn it.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sighs Instead of Sweat

The month is almost over and I'm in the usual fraught stance to make it happen, and keep all things moving forward. With August on the way it is time to start planning for winter firewood, which I know seems soon to some of you but not to anyone on a budget with a wood stove. The animals are doing well and I made some choices involving livestock that I think benefit the farm if not my fun - such as declining to take on a horse for a month to help train and work with. It would have been a blast having a new mare to saddle up and ride and learn from but I declined knowing how hard August is probably going to be - even taking on a horse for a few weeks wasn't the best choice. I need to focus on fall. I need to keep my eyes ahead.

July has been an overall wonderful month, at least with my personal life. Lots of running and feeling stronger and more confidence than I have in years. There were not any surprise with the truck (though the month isn't over!) and despite it needing work on some power steering issues that keep cropping up - she seems to be just fine. I went on a great first date. I got to see live music, catch up with friends I haven't seen in weeks, lots of riding the two horses I do wish to keep on the mountain, and yesterday a litter of piglets was born!

I have a few days left to mail off the mortgage check, to keep things safe. I am hoping that with the heavy promotion of sales on social media that I can make that happen. SO far I have, but this is the most behind I've been this late in a month. I know that can all change in an email, or twitter comment, or if a freelance check magically shows up at my door and that's the kind of optimism that has fueled this farm for years between book deals and lucky breaks.

I'm close to a lot of very good things. I can't see the finish line but I know it's around the next few turns. Today, and the next three days of the month, will be about making it there however I can. So I can wake up on August first with a sigh instead of sweat. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Still here.

We're in the middle of a hot one, guys. The heat index says it feels like 108° and my morning chores left me so covered in sweat after mild effort - I believe it. Most of today will be spent indoors in the shade with a fan. I have work to catch up on and orders to complete, but the heat really saps creativity out of me like rolling around in a damp blanket. Which, let me be clear, it's complaining. I love hot weather and practically worship it all winter. But what it does do is make my head a little slower, like I'm two drinks in without taking a sip. I'll keep today's post short for that reason.

I had some guests here from NYC come and take a 2-hour intro to archery class. They were so very nice and seemed to have a good time! All of us got to sweat out the morning on the mountain. I love teaching beginners about archery, and fiddles, or anything really. It's the excitement in their voices, the thrill of hitting the target, the time spent outside. I get to share this small place with the larger world. It is genuinely lovely.

As for the rest of my day: besides an errand in town to pick up some feed and extra water rounds about the place - I am laying low. Not running. Not hiking. Not doing anything that takes too much effort whatsoever. I'm trying like mad to promote sales and support on social media to make what I need to pay the mortgage and this plumbing bill. I am staying optimistic, as much as possible, that I will continue to be able to keep this farm chugging along. That has been the majority of the theme for the last decade. Still here.

Still here.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Every Single Day

Up early to beat the heat, and loving every minute of it. Getting the farm sorted before coffee, before a run, before anything else makes me feel like I am already rolling through the day's accomplishments. I have my to-do list set and off-farm work to dedicate time to. I hay a load of hay to pick up, livestock additions to source, soap fats to procure, orders to ship, and best of all: A TOILET TO FLUSH! The plumbing was repaired yesterday by the fine people of Ed's Plumbing who arrived and got it sorted through the septic system yesterday between rainstorms. I was so happy I scrubbed and cleaned my entire bathroom and may even organize my medicine cabinet and towels today. My thirties are wild.

I don't know the cost for sure, but it seemed reasonable and I'll get the bill in the mail. Most of yesterday was dealing with the house - plumbing and cleaning and restarting the hot water system down in the basement since it's been dormant for so long. Between all that, some minor small engine repairs, and learning how to smack the twin relay boxes on the truck I am starting to feel like a new woman. I'm less and less the woman who needs rescuing from circumstances and now I'm the one rescuing myself - at least most of the time.

It's been ten years of this place, of this farm and the live and cycles and seasons around it. I live it differently. I write about it differently. It's no longer a passion and obsession I am so thirsty to learn - it's every single day of my normal life. The reverence is still there. It's undeniable. But all those things I wrote about with the beginner's mind are now fused in every day choice and life. I feel the real luck of this place has been getting to this point. And while every month is still so touch-and-go—and even today I have no idea how I'll reach my income goals written on that to-do list—I have a decade of proof positive behind my back proving that I can. The data doesn't lie. As hard as it is sometimes the plumbing gets fixed, the lights get turned back on, the bankers stay pacing far from the gate, and I can still mount that magical black pony and ride in the mountains on the same days I used to be waiting for leftovers to microwave in the company cafeteria.

I hear from people every day who just find my books, or this blog, or the old youtube videos. I am always grateful even though I feel the woman I am at 37 is a world apart from the naive and scared girl that started all this. But nothing feels better than them seeing that this life is possible. That you don't have to be married, rich, or marry a rich cowboy to end up changing your life and becoming something new. It takes a lot of small choices, built up every single year, and then one day you realize that you're the cowboy after all. You're the one holding this wealth of experience and stories and hardship and awkward tan lines and new muscles found in the shower.

This place still holds me close every single day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Okay guys, I need to get a plumber to get the shower/toilet working at this house again ASAP. I also got to start getting the crumb together to make this month on the farm. So I am doing a Flushing Sale tonight on art, logos, classes, and soap. Email me for a rate you can't refuse!!!


It's been a hell of a week, and a wonderful birthday celebration to boot. I was able to spend my 37th with such good friends, music, and this little hidden town full of people that have become such an amazing part of my life. I don't think places like Cambridge are normal, and finding a place that I fit into and love being every day feels like the absolute best birthday present there is. There wasn't a day last week around my birthday I was allowed to pay for a meal or a beer and I got to ride my horses, meet some new people, and spend a lot of time simply enjoying a bit of summer.

Then I got thrown from a horse!

I'm fine! It wasn't one of my own horses, but a very sassy little Fjord Horse mare that belongs to a friend of a friend in Massachusetts. She's grown a bit nervous around her, so myself and some horse gal friends went to see her and possibly help with the situation. I volunteered to ride her since she reminded me so much in attitude and size as Merlin. I was warned she was spooky, but soon as I saddled up all I felt was the normal draft-pony goodness I knew from years of being around my Fell. As a short, strong, woman I am kind of a draft pony, too. So after a little groundwork and some tack, I was on the back of a Fjord for the first time.

We rode in a small outdoor exercise area at a walk, trot, and eventually a few lopes of a canter. I was told this horse was a little problematic but all I felt was a horse a little stubborn, but willing. I was feeling confident, even arrogant about the whole thing. Which is exactly why I deserved to be chucked off. Because after a while of feeling fearless, I was ready to end the ride and took off my helmet and threw it towards my friend Patty, right past my mare's head. Something that wouldn't even cause Merlin's withers to rustle. In two bucks she darted left and I went down. I hit the ground hard but got right back up and right back on.

Mares, they keep you humble.

So does plumbing. I am still without drainage and using basins for dishes and everyday washing. It needs a real plumber to help with the main outage clog but that has to wait until I take care of a house payment, the electric bill, and other more pressing needs. It is embarrassing though, when a guest comes and I have to explain the privy in the woods - but that's where the farm is at right now and I'd rather be inconvenienced in 80-degree weather than homeless. So I am forging ahead with the hope I figure out this month somehow, as I've figured out the month's before. I'm a quarter of the way there and have 2 weeks to make it, so here's to that luck.

I've accepted that this farm, the past ten years of it, is trusting my gut. Sometimes choices I make seem foolish. Sometimes they are. But all of them have ended up with a life I am truly happy to be fighting to keep. All of it is becoming this book I am more excited to write than anything else I've done in my entire life. The horses, hawks, winters, storms, dogs, people, town, stories... all of it have made me into the woman I am now and I like this woman, a lot. I haven't always. I've downright hated her at times - but at 37 I have never felt more comfortable and confident in myself. I trust her. I love her. And I want to keep making her proud.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Things here are a mixed bag of emotions. There are things I am excited about, energized by, working towards. For example the book I am hoping to sell and have been working towards all summer may be ready to shop around by Labor Day. That is encouraging. So is the time I spend running, or hiking, or feeling more like myself and active than I've been all winter when things were so glum through into spring. I have more optimism now - which I think is directly related to the light and activity - and I am grateful for it. That said:

But there are also a lot of things making everyday life troubling - like the plumbing still being out of working order. The household feeling out of sorts. The certified letters being sent in the mail reminding me I still am not caught up on my mortgage. It's all stressful and all I can do is work on one problem at a time, taking care of the most important things and then down the systematic list towards a resolution. Between the part-time work, freelance, writing, and the farm I feel like I am doing more than ever to stay behind. This marathon towards my end game - the farm's success and solvency - well I'm hitting mile 19 and feeling my legs shake. I've ran too far to quit and am scared of what'll happen during the last stretch. That's my everyday right now. The combination of energy and hope and this fear that it will all fall apart right before I hit the finish line.

So what is there to do? Just the day in and day out work of moving forward. Try to make sales, make soap, make art, land more work. Take advantage of part time opportunities that arrive and always make the choices that best serve the farm. That is why I'm still here, almost ten years into purchasing this place, and I know to trust my gut. My house's digestion might be off but mine remains intuitive enough to make it this far.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Lifted Up, Torn Apart

July has started with a bang, all puns intended. The farm is a little hairy - less landscaped and a little off track towards some goals, but all the big things are in place and so far every month the lights have (mostly) stayed on and the bills have been paid. The heat of summer is making me so, so, so happy. To wake up and have the light and energy to run a few miles before I even make coffee is something Winter Jenna couldn't even tolerate the dream of. Now I'm feeling lighter, stronger, tanner, feistier. I was able to mail in a mortgage check at the tail-end of June, cover the butcher bill, work out a payment plan with the electric company and my student loans. I've cut out so many costs I used to think were necessary in life. I'm broke, but feeling beautiful. I'm hustling, but feeling happy. I'm promoting this farm's wares and my skills to the best of my ability and without apology. Oh! And yesterday I applied to join the team of an online magazine that might open the door to a new stream of freelance and audience. What I am saying is things are tight but things are good. Hands down I am the happiest woman you know this Sunday morning with $65 in her checking account.

The new hawk, Auburn, is slowly improving as we spend time together. We aren't into real fall training yet since she is molting her feathers and that means a steady, rich, diet and not the weight-control of training season. So what we do together is simply spend time. Time on walks with her on my fist. Movies inside at night. Getting her used to me being in her space. It's a slow burn towards something lovely.

I'm writing you while my friend is asleep in the guest room. I've been up since 6, having done the chores around the farm, ran a quick 5k, made coffee, scoured social media for news and pop culture fixes - and now I am settling in to paint pet portraits and work on a logo client. I try not to do work on weekends like this, but I also need to catch up. Mailing out 5-10 orders a week is the only way to keep the flow moving and make room for new sales. I have soap to make today, and weeding to do to keep this place looking sane. But all of it is good work. All of it is a promise and luck. All of it is moving into a better place.

The lambs and piglets are doing well. I need more of both, though. Fall is always just around the corner and I need more stock here before the end of the month to stay on goal. It's a good post to set and something to wake up and work towards every day. Which is the best thing about this farm - the need to always be on top of what the farm needs. It never lets me slack off. It never lets me give in. I am the woman I am today because this place lifted me up, tore me apart, and let me start all over again. It means the world to me, it is my world. And I am going to do my best to keep it the plates spinning long as I can hold them.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Good Things!

Sunshine and warmth, what a beautiful thing. This morning the horses are grazing on new pasture, the lambs are starting to wean off their bottles, and the dogs are in from morning runabout and sleeping in sun beams in the living room floor. I have made the Monday List and am checking off "blog post" first because there are somethings to catch you up on! So far, none of them bad!

The new hawk, pictured here, is doing so well! She is getting trained from scratch and we are spending a lot of time together. She has a very nice mews set up, and expansion of my old set up, and it's been so wonderful having her here as well as building on my own falconry career. This fall I am considering a small falcon, to learn a new species - a kestrel or merlin. I'll be trapping wild birds, not purchasing any from breeders. While that costs me nothing by gas and time, it does mean there's a chance I won't get one at all. And of course who knows what the future will bring. Maybe training Auburn for release will turn into a whole season of hunting side by side and I won't have time for 2 birds. But just the whole thing of it is exciting. Something to look forward to!

I handed over a second outline to my agent, an overhaul of the last book idea, which was the bulk of my week's work. Planning out how a book goes is like building a hiking trail out of wild forest. You know there's a way to get your idea through, but the winding and switchbacks and need to cut down debris and find your route is harder than bullet points. At least for this book it is. I want to write about what was going on with my heart and mind the past ten years. I want to explain why and how I was hiding and how I was finding myself at the same time. At this point it's a book I feel I need to write, mostly to get the past decade from inside my ribs out for all of you to see. And while this is the baby stages of that process it is IN PROCESS and it lets me wake up feeling like an author again. It's a goal, and it'll be along hike to get there, but I get to wake up excited to make it every single day. Makes a woman feel very lucky.

I've been riding more, running more, hiking more - generally being out in the world moving as much as possible under the sun. It is amazing how much that and music can change my entire world. Miles fly listening to songs that inspire on the road. Trails become more saturated and magical, like the forest is a place for secret stories and hidden doors. I am feeling more like myself than ever and mind and body both seem to be letting go of a huge amount of stress. The kind of stress I want to write about in that book, not the regular farm-stress of making the place solvent and whole. But the stress of hiding who I am, or being ashamed to like what I like. It's been let go.

I hope you are all enjoying this summer as we start this month from jump. Wish this farm luck in keeping on, miles and mortgage, and I wish you the same in return!