Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Good morning from a farm with a GIANT pile of firewood outside to stack! I got some delivered last night! It meant taking half the money currently to my name out of my bank account but I can't tell you what a relief it is to have that to begin stacking! And just in time, too. Tonight there's a frost warning (first of the season) and may be in the low 30s tomorrow AM, which means I will get to wake up and light a fire and it won't just be from the dead fall I've collected from the side of the road coming home from my runs. I still need to get more firewood, but even having that small amount here is a comfort. I also talked to a local farmer about a hay delivery, at least 30 bales, which I can stack in the barn for the horses and pigs over the winter.

So today I stack. And today I plan. And today I get to sigh a little with relief as I start the uphill climb of winter prep and paying bills and working on the projects and goals I have for a better Thursday. I hope you also are waking up with some hope in your hearts!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fire(Wood) Sale!

FIRE(wood) SALE! Do you want to help get an order of firewood delivered to this farm? It's what I depend on for winter heat and so far I have none stacked - the most behind I've been by September. I am offering the next 5 people a painted pet portrait for $50 to buy it! Send me an email or DM on Twitter or Instagram to order!

Friday, September 13, 2019


As we're making our way to the middle of the month I am only thinking about getting firewood delivered so I have some security in my heart and hearth. Slowly I am getting there. It's been such a hard summer and every month feels like I am inching towards just making that stretch of the finish line. It's been exhausting as it's been encouraging. Exhausting because I have never pushed and tried so hard before to make this place work - and encouraging because I *just* make it every month. And when I say just I mean razor thin margins. And the things that keep me motivated are the animals and people counting on me. The desire to keep this particular roof over my head, and the dream I've been holding onto for years. Every day I hope to make a sale that covers the costs of daily feed and hay and the usual gas, groceries, utilities and such and then adds a little more padding to the pot. Yesterday was encouraging. Today has not been. That's how it goes in the world of freelance luck-and-go. But I am working towards that delivery of firewood before I start saving for the mortgage. And once I know some heat is stacked and I'll be okay if a frost hits early - then I can hunker down and focus on the usual work and usual goals. One day at a time. That's how this farm rolls.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hog Dog!

Yesterday morning I was able to enjoy a spike of warm weather and lots of time with Friday chasing these little goobers around the homestead! the piglets have a home base in the barn with their siblings, but this pair of runts - a black and red set of troublemakers - are always leaving the crew and having adventures together. This is fine if I'm home working inside on writing or working outside on fences, but not if I need to leave for town. Free range is fine when it's supervised by humans or canines, but not otherwise. So when I need to leave for the post office or hardware store I need to herd them back to the barn and shut the door to thwart any explorations and let them nurse and nap. This means: FRIDAY!

While Gibson is the Sheepdog in Chief - Friday is the Siren of the Sounder! She has her ears and eyes trained on stray piglets and can always find them in the pasture or woods when I want them back in the barn, safe and sound. She is attentive, never bites, and is fast on her paws. Watching her seek and herd them back is a real joy. Who knew I had a hog dog?!

Between these piglets and the lambs I got to enjoy the type of morning that made me fall in love with farming to begin with - which is working beside animals to raise other animals to produce food I am proud of. It felt good, and Friday got to be useful in ways she rarely is without a backpack and trail map, and I got to let out a happy sigh.

Monday, September 9, 2019

I Will

Last night I started a fire in the wood stove from deadfall I collected around the yard. It wasn't cold enough to need it for heat, but it was nice to have it for comfort. The temperatures were in the low 40s, clear starry skies, some wind. It felt like fall. I was spending time with my good friend Tara, who was visiting for the weekend so we could catch up with each other. Beside the fire she enjoyed soup and tea and I enjoyed some pasta I whipped up, a night of simple food eaten in. She told me about work, romance, her summer. I shared with her all that is happening in my life. It was a lovely visit and a gentle reminder that good friends are worth far more than their weight in gold. Gold is just a rock, a shiny burden. Friends help you carry them.

Speaking of fall and friends! Natalia, a friend from Cambridge, has been riding with me all summer. If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen pictures of our adventures together here on the mountain. She's learning, but naturally comfortable with horses and Friday night she and I went out after her work around sunset. It still feels like summer on the mountain, and she snapped this picture of Merlin and Mabel grazing in the high field while we enjoyed our take-out dinner of handmade PB&J and hard cider. But to sit in a field and talk, watching the sunset and my gorgeous horses that just carried us to that beautiful view... I am reminded why I deal with all this stress about the farm and making it happen - because in a few months everything could change. Because it could get so much better or so much worse - and to hold onto this life with all I got while it's mine to have.

I feel really lucky to have the women in my life I do right now. So many strong, beautiful, powerful women that encourage and support me every day. I hope they all know how important they are to me.

Friday I mailed a house payment, and that is a very good thing.  Barring any complications with ti, the farm has another three weeks to exhale. Also, the truck passed inspection, thank goodness! Now 100% of my focus is getting the cash together for a firewood delivery of dry, split, hardwood on top of the usual feed/hay/bills and other regular expenses. I have the guy on-call to deliver and soon as I can manage that I'll be thrilled to be stocking the woodshed. If I can get a cord stacked every 4 weeks through December I will be okay.

One month at a time. I will make it.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

All I want is to mail this mortgage check. Get a cord of firewood stacked. And watch a scary movie with a cup of coffee on a rainy fall night knowing I get to stay here and be warm. That's all I'm thinking about.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lesson Embers

The biggest decisions of my life were made out of fear. I used to see that as a flaw. It felt like something to be ashamed of. We’re taught that broad gestures and risky life changes are acts of bravery made by strong people who know exactly what they want and exactly what they’re doing. That was never the case for me.

Not one year of this farm came from swagger, it all came from varying degrees of panic. Everything I chose—from buying a farm alone at 27 to quitting my safe day job to training my first hawk—was a combination of self preservation and regret management. I needed to distract myself from what I wasn’t ready to accept while remaining vigilant of the dream that I had centered the entirety of my self worth around. I ran away to a farm to hide from myself, and the place I was hiding in defined who I was.

That said, it was never a cage. It was always a secret garden.

I chose to hide from the world for years on this farm because I was so afraid of myself, and being isolated meant I didn’t have to deal with it. That is what I convinced myself I was doing. What actually ended up happening was the opposite. That isolation became a pressure so intense it forced atomic changes. It was in the act of remaining here, on this farm, for nearly a decade that forced me to be a stronger woman. And it wasn’t a fairy godmother waving a wand and turning my rags into a sparking dress - it was violent and awful, a writhing werewolf transformation from a terrified girl into a powerful woman.

But now I howl.

Ten years on this farm has been a gift. The most important being the work of caring for animals. When you make yourself a caregiver,  every single day, for nearly a third of my life - it changed me. Being distracted by the needs of a hundred other small lives meant I could never allow myself to sleep in, or have a sick day, or ignore the work outside in all weather. It meant no vacations. It meant no travel. And it meant every singe day I was avoiding my demons by playing farmer I was instead forced to dance with them.

When you raise animals you are forced to constantly deal with life as a reaction. An animal became sick? Either heal it or you’ll be disposing the body. A storm is coming over the mountain and tearing down trees and removing power - start up the propane stove outside for hot coffee and start sawing limbs and repairing fences. The bank sends someone to talk to you about your third month behind on the mortgage threatening a short sale if you don’t pay up fast - pace and sell whatever you can offer legally to make at least one payment to keep the door only covered in scratch marks instead of bite marks.

Those knee jerks and panic attacks, the constant resourcefulness and fire-smiting… do that for a decade and when you turn your head to look back you realize that the forest fire that you’ve been running away from for so long has started to consistently return to pasture. You can squint past the smoke and charred earth right behind you and see green. Those years that were hell and now scarred over and healing. The fraught moments that made sleeping past 3AM impossible are now lesson embers.

Homesteading changed from the passionate novelty of my twenties into the everyday work of my thirties. I stopped writing about it as if I was crushing on the new girl in town sauntering in a sundress. Now I write about it with the certainty and security of a hard-earned marriage. The work of the farm stopped being a blog, books, and workshop vehicle and started becoming an actual brand. And by brand I mean literal, burned, permanent marking on who I am, invisible runes tattooed up and down my spine.

I was playing dress up with authenticity and stumbled into the back wall of my wardrobe into Narnia. One day it was real. It was mine. Finally.

These are the thoughts that take up most of my time these days. The book I am working on selling now is about who this farm made me into, what it taught me, how I needed it to become who I am today. It's a love story about realizing happiness isn't something you get from travel, or religion, or love - but from accepting who you are and where you are at the exact moment you are in. I am starting to find that in myself and be kinder to myself because of it.

It's September and I just want to mail this mortgage check so I can exhale for a few days. I don't know if I can pull that off without the luck of a freelance check coming in ASAP. I still have no firewood stacked for winter, so no heat at all. And I am constantly waking up worried. But I have a lot of faith in the woman that's carried this with her for the last decade - and knows worry the way some people know regret and that's the better option. At least for me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Trucks & Trials

Happy to report that the truck is going into the shop today for all the repairs and surgery it needs to pass inspection. And that is only possible because I got very lucky with a Hail-Mary small loan offer. But it does mean that by sunset today I should be driving home in an inspected, road legal, 1989 pickup truck that is safe and sound from danger and the law. I had it's registration, insurance, and such all updated in August so this is the last hurdle in the most pressing issue on the farm right now and the sigh of relief is long and real! Without a truck I can't do any of the other things I need to keep this place lit, fed, and solvent. It picks up hay, feed, runs orders of meat to customers and soap and art to the post office. She's the roaring heart of this small farm. I am so grateful and happy she will be okay to drive again soon.

In less good news, I am three days into September and didn't manage to take care of August's most important bill (a mortgage payment) or get firewood delivered. My goal is to make both of those things happen as quickly as possible, for my mental health and peace of mind above all other needs. Then I need to focus on a hay delivery of at least 25 bales to start stocking up for winter since my usual hay banks are not available like earlier years and I can't just buy-as-I-go through the cold months. So planning is different this year, but the good news is all I need to focus on is 2 horses and piglets going into snow fly. There won't be sheep here through the winter again this year - both to save costs and to satisfy lamb customers and clients.

More news as soon as I have it. Today is about catching up on work after the Holiday Weekend, making soap, writing for my agent's deadlines, hope, force, and gritted teeth going into some hard trying.