Saturday, August 22, 2020


One of the things I am most grateful for about being a homesteader right now, is winter prep. The work of hay and firewood, saving money and stocking up on winter goods is a timeless and necessary tradition. I know it’s the 21st century. I know that I can order a can of crushed tomatoes on Amazon and get it shipped to my door in days. But the work of growing tomatoes here, harvesting, preparing them, and setting up in the freezer in marked bags feels like panning for gold. It feels like the entire process is safe, because it is mine, done here, and stays here. There is nothing wrong with cans of tomatoes from the store in your larder. Nothing at all! But to be making lists, stacking bales, ordering firewood, and planning sacks of flour for winter loafs is the distraction that has grounded me and became a salve for uncertainty.

So many people are learning to make this winter one to prepare for. Between the pandemic, jobs lost, climate change, and winter storms - all certainly going to complicate things. But here at Cold Antler Farm, I’ve been dancing with uncertainty since 2012 when I left the office and became a full time freelancing farmer. And if you’ve read along that whole time you know how hard and long that road has been at times, how scary, how lonely…

But I made it through. And I’m heading into this winter with some of the earliest prep and the lightest heart I’ve had in years - despite the pandemic and continued uncertainty. Some of that is falling in love and knowing I won’t be going through it all alone again. But mostly it’s the ten years already passed, all of it. The good, the bad, the mistakes, the success, the friends, the trials, the animals, the weather. When you’ve tested yourself and remained in the life you’ve wanted to live, year after year, there is a hard-won confidence in that. Not an arrogance. Not an expectation. Nothing like that. But the constant sting of tiny proofs you can do this, that you did it with a harder lot, that you made it through all that. I will again.

If the hay delivery comes today it’ll be the third 25 bale order this August. Slowly that barn is getting more and more full of that saved green grass. The meat birds we raised as chicks are ready to fill our freezer, and soon a second freezer will join the farm (I hope)! So many summer squash, beans, peas, and other garden goodies have already been canned or frozen. Firewood is stacked for half the winter, and soon as I can swing another order I will. My goal right now is to may the August mortgage soon as possible and then focus on more wood and hay. But progress is coming, and the work of making this small place safe against a scary world is the distraction I need from it. It’s given me a sense of purpose, power, and control in a world we have very little of any of those things. So I am grateful I’m a homesteader. I’m grateful I’m still here. I’m grateful you are reading.