Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Farmer's Thoughts on Farm Sanctuaries...

I never thought I would be saying this...

...but I am preparing for my first Joust on Saturday.



 Hell, yeah.




 That is all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cup Chicken Waterer Song

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some Changes for the Blog and Vlogs

Recreational Authorities

I need to learn to embrace the lush. It’s hard. Yesterday I wrote about how alive things are (and therefore how scrappy things feel) and yesterday I was okay with it. But today it is raining and all that too-high burdock and thistle that needs to be whacked down just has me a little grumpy. I wonder why we do that to ourselves? Why we put on this pressure to have a nice lawn when we live in the middle of friggin' nowhere?! Maybe five cars (and that includes the mail man) drive past my house on a week day. There are no sidewalks. There is no HOA breathing down my neck. And yet I feel the need to tidy up.

Since I don’t have a working mower at the moment, I hire my friend’s 13-year-old son to bring his mower and weed whacker. He can tame the entire farm in under two hours. Once a month is in the budget for such a luxury and I kinda wish the appointment was sooner. I think the burdock is conspiring with the thistle to take over the joint…

In other news: I have a black jungle fowl hen sitting on a clutch of eggs and the geese have started molting. What a thing to have dark feathers all concentrated in one angry nest and an entire lawn of downy feathers. If you drive by it looks almost like the apple trees are blooming again. They aren’t. I just own geese.

I had big plans to ride tonight with Merlin post work and chores, but storms are moving through the area. I guess I’ll finally organize some of the drawers in the kitchen instead. I really am trying to get this place in order but dammit if riding horses isn’t more important than organizing drawers. May the man I someday marry care a little more than I do about order, or this place might just compost itself into the ground.

Friday went to the vet this morning for her shots (round 1) and was a champ. Afterwards we headed to the bank, Post Office, Wayside store, and other odd errands about town. I bring her in and don’t bother asking if it’s okay to carry a puppy in my arms. If you ask permission you risk giving someone else the power to tell you what to do. I’m not a big fan of giving people that authority when it comes to trivial matters like carrying puppies on my shoulder into the Post Office. When it comes to taxes - I have an accountant. We pick our battles.

Anyway, Friday was welcome everywhere and I was happy to share her with some of the retail folks and tellers. They gave her a biscuit at the bank and rubbed her tummy at the Post. I bought some Harry Potter stamps and mailed a mortgage payment today - no small feat for this farm girl. I’m still not caught up but working on it. That work is paying off every day in logos, writing, vlogs, workshops, and farm work. It’s been five years since I signed the mortgage papers and I’m just a little behind. Not perfect, but not too shabby for one woman with a problem with recreational authorities.

Not bad at all.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lush Lists

So June is nearly over and the farm is the picture of lush. That sounds nice, but when I say lush I mean everything is lush. The weeds are lush, the mud is lush, and the biting little bugs are lush! There is a lot of life here and since this part of the world is pretty much a deciduous rainforest - it looks a little scrappier than normal. Not unruly (at least not yet), but scrappy. Those of you out there who manage a household know how easy it is for things to start looking a little rough - if you raise animals, raise kids, balance work and family or make time for your hobbies - sometimes the lawn gets scraggly as a new beard on a 22-year-old ginger. But that's okay. Life isn't about presentation. It's about the things you do when you are distracting people with presentation.

I am going to post a vlog later today about a hang up I have had with the blog. About why the posts have been so damn sparse this summer.  It's nothing to do with anyone but myself but I bet a lot of you out there can relate - especially anyone out there creating content online. But that vlog post will be my gift to myself after all the farm work is done, I got a jog in, cleaned up the house (and myself) and worked on at least three design clients. I need to make these little tasks and rewards daily. I live by my lists. I just finished an ENTIRE BOOK of lists and going back through the pages is like a diary of tasks and hopes. It's a hoot. Lists can be pretty lush as well.

Yesterday I was visited by the Hoff Family, whom I adore. Cathy, Tim, and Taylor came and got to finally meet Friday. Tim brought along two big crates of slightly outdated milk from a friend's corner store and the pigs are enjoying it to the fullest!

Oh, and Patty and I might just be entering a JOUST this holiday weekend coming up.

 P.S. Strumstick giveaway coming up soon! YEAH!

P.P.S. I have a special deal for Fall Fiddle Day Camp. Ever wanted to learn to play the fiddle? Love bluegrass or Irish fiddling? The last 2 spots for fiddle day camp on Sept 12th are on sale - price INCLUDES fiddle - will offer both sold to any pair of folks willing to come together for $385 (that's two people and includes 2 fiddles that come with case, bow, and rosin. Event is here at the farm from 10-4 and I would love to have you come see this place in fall!

P.P.P.S So the house needs a plumber and the truck needs to go to the shop - nothing dangerous - just need to repair the hot water and (i think?) the alternator. So you know what that means.....LOGO SALE!

Want to support a small farm and look awesome doing it? I have been doing professional design work for over a decade and have worked for corporations such as HGTV, Orvis, and Coldwater Creek. I create custom logos, tee shirt designs, tattoos, posters, CD cover art, and more.

Regular price: $300 - $500
Sale Price: $225 to the first 3 people who sign up and don't mind waiting till mid-July to see their comps.

Photo by Miriam Romais!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Back Tomorrow!

Thanks for your patience but the blog and vlogs are back tomorrow after a short vacation from both. All is well and the farm is dancing into July, but I needed to sort out some things. I'll be back to regular updating in the morning! But till then know that since Monday I have.

Rode Merlin for 7 miles through Washington County roads while Patty drove Steele. We got ice cream at the Battenkill Creamery. I love that horse.

Sara visited from Canada - what a great time we had! It amazes me how close of a friend you can make because a stranger read your book and decided to pursue a dream. I bet you she moves to Washington County.

I fly fished. A lot.

I am back to swimming in the river! I missed it so!

Mark Wesner bought a tractor and we had a party for it.

I still need to get my root canal.

Friday is amazing.

I'm now an instructor at my TKD school. I teach a class a week. Neat!

Merlin got out of his fence (I forgot to latch a gate -long story) and I woke up to his bum sticking out of the barn while he tried to eat a bag of cracked corn.

I designed logos. A lot. Not a lot of logos, but a lot of computer design time!

Falconry, TKD, and SCA events coming up - oh my!

I'm trying to sell a book to my publisher.

Plumbing and car troubles - if you're on Facebook you heard about that.

Puppy is well! Gibson had to go to vet for heartworm test (negative). He has a cough though.

Annie is fabulous.

The cats still don't care about any of us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Friday!

Growing up farmdog! Here is friday in the arms of my pal, Keenan. Keenan is an amazing 14-year-old blackbelt and D&D player in our regular game. He's not a bad farm hand either! Photo taken by Miriam Romais (also a black belt)!

Arrows & Rivers!

It's a humid and overcast morning and things are finally settling down from the long weekend. Chores are all done and the dairy pails are drying in the sink. Friday is asleep in her crate after a morning of chasing Gibson outside and playing with Annie indoors. I am at my computer for a stretch, the first chance I have had in a while, and am enjoying playing digital catch up with a hot cup of coffee.

So what has been going on here? Well, Saturday and Sunday was Arrow's Rising! A two-day archery event that included teaching five new archers traditional archery with their new longbows. We spent two days in the sun (and sometimes rain!) learning stance, safety, tactics, and instinctive shooting. Everyone was handed beautiful and powerful hand-crafted longbows, and seeing the way a person changes with a bow in their hands gives me a quiet thrill. People attended from ages nine to well into their fifties, all enjoying the weekend of target shooting, range rules, arrow finding, bow care, woodland shooting, demonstrations and discussions. Everyone had a wonderful time and I received some lovely thank yous on Facebook from those who attended. I am tempted to host a single day archery event in the fall as well? Maybe?

So that was the weekend. A happy and tired two days of farming and archery. I also took my first swim in the Battenkill and that clear river was a blessing on a hot and tired body. I know a few people around here have swimming pools but I am telling you they are wasting their money and missing out! A live river with new people to meet, fishing, currents, eddy and stone beaches is wonderful thing!

Yesterday I played hooky. More on that later (and the adventure with two great friends!) after I finish up a morning of graphic design work while the wind picks up and the sky threatens thunderstorms. I hope you are all doing well and had a good Solstice!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fast Friends!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Missing Horse

I got home from Tae Kwon Do class this morning and saw my flock of sheep eating their grass on the hillside. I smiled. Sheep eating grass makes me smile. I had a nice workout, had enjoyed the company of my friends, and had a full afternoon of writing and design work to look forward too. Life was good.

And I didn't see Merlin anywhere.

Merlin weighs about a thousand pounds and is pitch black. When I pull into the driveway he whinnies, his deep brasso profundo version of a whinny, that is. It's one of those sounds you just get used to. You know, the way you get used to a cars engine when you turn the ignition. But Merlin didn't whinny at me today and I didn't see him anywhere? It was as odd as that first time someone drives you off in an electric car and that engine hum is gone.

So I walked the whole 3-acre pasture. I looked in his pole barn, I looked up at the sheep shed windows, and I looked under all his favorite shade trees. No sign of Merlin anywhere.

I yelled out his name. No whinny. I grabbed a pail of grain and shook it. No whinny. Then I walked all around the property with that pail, shaking and yelling his name. Still no sight or sound of the dark horse. Now panic was setting in. I heard a neighbors lawn mower and headed over to their property. I waved hello and asked if he'd seen my horse and he shook his head, somewhat bemused. I was now really worried. I had not seen Merlin on the road or in any of the roadside fields or horse paddocks. There were several horses on this road. Where had this animal gone? Was he stolen? Did he head for the Highway? A list of fear ran through my head. I grabbed a lead rope and halter and my grain pail and started combing the area.

An hour into my search finally found him. I had all but given up the foot and was coming back to get the truck to drive in circles around the mountain. As I opened the door to my truck I saw his giant black ass backing out of the fairly small sheep shed. He had broken into it and had been napping inside in the shade lying down on the black dirt. So I couldn't see him when I looked up at the windows...

Horses are assholes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Aim Well

It's a rainy day here on the farm and June is already past the halfway mark. That point in the calendar always lights a fire under my rump. I am here working on some logos and drumming up some business on this cloudy Tuesday.

I am offering my logos on sale, extended and have discounts on some big workshops coming up. If you are at all interested:

I am looking to fill the last 3 spots for Fall Fiddle Day Camp (Sept 12 2015) today. If you sign up with a friend, spouse, or teenager (ages 12+) for the day I will discount it very, very, much to get the spots filled. This class COMES WITH A FIDDLE, case, bow, rosin and you leave knowing how to play it. All you need to bring to class is an inexpensive book and CD, a guitar tuner, and a spare set of 4/4 violin strings.

Regular cost: $225 a person

Sale cost: $200 a person or $375 for 2 people signing up together!
That INCLUDES the fiddles.

Arrow's Rising, a 2 day archery workshop that comes with a handmade 25lb longbow has one open spot this weekend. Come for both days or just Saturday for a lower rate! big workshops coming up. If you are at all interested:

If you can't ever make a workshop due to distance or time, I of course understand. If you still want to support the farm there are many ways to do so that cost you nothing at all. Sharing the blog posts in social media, clicking on Adsense ads, sharing and watching Youtube videos and subscribing to the Youtube channel... just being a part of the community is encouraging.

For those who want to support this free blog and get some extra content, anyone who subscribes through monthly paypal donations of five dollars or more is welcome to join the Clan Cold Antler Blog - Which is updated less frequently than this blog but talks about much more personal, spiritual, and challenging things. When you subscribe just email me for the invitation to read the private blog. The goal is to keep updating it weekly (Wednesdays) but it is a few weeks behind. Clan members also get discounts on regular workshops, season passes, etc. Basically, it's a way to kick a little towards my writing efforts here if you want to. Some folks see it like a NPR subscription - paying for a form of news and entertainment offered freely. It's totally voluntary but every little bit helps keep this place going between writing projects and is so appreciated.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My parents are up visiting from Pennsylvania. The past few days have been spent with them out enjoying the local fare that is my Veryork. We went to local places like Gardenworks for flowers and shopping and Jackos in Salem for sandwiches and ice cream. We drove to Saratoga to meet friends from Tae Kwon Do for dinner at Druthers. We got caught up on family and stories and so far it has been a good visit. We don't spend much time on the farm because it's not their thing. (My mom puts on special shoes to walk from the car to my front door - 16 feet - in case of poo.) So there are no farm meals, rides in the carriage with Merlin, picnics, chore sharing, goat cheese snacks or such. It's just not their thing and I respect that. And frankly I don't get to spend a lot of time just eating out and seeing the local city life so it has been fun all around. They leave tomorrow morning and will probably return in the fall. I'll keep half and half from Stewarts on hand for her coffee since she called it "real milk" compared to what it hand milked from my goats. Oh, well.

This weekend was either spent recovering from my four-hour long black belt test Friday Night or preparing for their visit. I was so sore I rubbed Tiger Balm all over my back and arms and went to bed smelling so strong from the muscle rub that the dogs wouldn't share my bed. But all the aches and pains were worth it. I started martial arts as a pre-teen and studied on and off for years never making it to black. Now that I am home with my life on the farm and choices have been made and savored - I was ready to commit to getting my black. Now I am a certified Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do with the Kukkiwon in South Korea. It's a life-long goal finally achieved and now I am a full-fledged instructor at my school. It's my job to teach more people in the sport and it's a rush and an honor.

The farm continues on into the summer. The fireflies are out, the meat birds are bulking up, and I am preparing for the Arrow's Rising Workshop this weekend with eight people total. I am so excited to hand some folks their bows for the first time. Two days of learning to shoot, coursing through the forests and ridges here, learning the sport as I learned it. It's also a rush and an honor. I adore all things martial, I really do. Which is easy to say when archery is for targets and hunting and fighting is for tournaments and none of it is for actual warfare. This is a luxury of this time and place in the world.

There's not much new here but there is a lot I want to address this week on the blog. I have been stewing over a piece on Farm Sanctuaries for months. I want to share some new recipes and stories of the routine here every morning. This is the busiest time of the year and it shows in the constant presence the place needs. I think that is the hardest thing for guests to get used to when they visit the farm - our tether to it. When you have dairy animals, feeding routines, water carried in buckets, hay in bales, moving fences and puppies - you just can't be gone for the day in the city. Not when you run a joint by yourself. Some day I won't be alone here but right now it's just me and my promise. So I stay.

Friday is growing up wild and strong. She is a handful in ways Gibson never was as a pup. Even in crates where you think she will be totally safe she finds ways to destroy her bowls or rip up the pieces of floor she can get to through the coated metal crate walls. She's a nut and hard to hold. That said, she is becoming part of this home and she reminds me of me as a kid - pain in the ass that never listened. I turned out okay. She will, too.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Made it to Black!


Friday, June 12, 2015

FIDDLE CAMP!

I am looking to fill the last 3 spots for Fall Fiddle Day Camp (Sept 12 2015) today. If you sign up with a friend, spouse, or teenager (ages 12+) for the day I will discount it very, very, much to get the spots filled. This class COMES WITH A FIDDLE, case, bow, rosin and you leave knowing how to play it. All you need to bring to class is an inexpensive book and CD, a guitar tuner, and a spare set of 4/4 violin strings.

Regular cost: $225 a person
Sale cost: $200 a person or $375 for 2 people
signing up together! That INCLUDES the fiddles.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Vlog! Meet Friday the New Puppy!

Sketching Dreams

This is wild! I found this old notebook from my first year working for Orvis. On 8-26-09 I drew this sketch of a horse. I wouldn't even touch Merlin until 2012.

Five years later and I am on my own farm, with the horse I drew, and no longer working for that company. My point? Never be scared to dream about what could happen in your life. Never stop doodling, painting, writing, and creating. Every act is a prayer. Sometimes they even happen.

Farm Update!

So much has been happening at this little farm and I think a full-on farm update is in order. It is June and the place has never been busier in its five-year history at this location. How busy is it?! Well, on 6.5 acres I am raising a small flock of sheep, dairy goats, pigs, rabbits, meat birds (chickens), turkeys, geese, dogs, cats and a cart horse! Morning chores take about an hour and a half now to make sure everyone is set for the day and my evening everyone is ready for another feeding. I'd say 4 hours a day are spent outside on the farm doing the work of keeping all the animals (well over 100) happy. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer them all.

Goats

The dairy goats are becoming such an important part of this farm and that is only notable because I put them off for so long. I was intimidated by dairy animals and scared of the commitment. Now I am in love with my udder marriage. I get 1.5 -2 gallons of milk a day from my two Alpine does - Bonita and Ida. I am making cheese, soap, and enjoying their milk every day! This spring they gave birth to three healthy kids this year and all three were sold to other farmers. One couple came up from PA to get Bonita's twins and it was so nice to meet them! The whole family came and since the pickup they have kept me up to date with messages on how they are doing. Thanks Chris!

Sheep

The flock is made up of six now. I have three ewes, a ram, and two older wethers. All are Scottish Blackface save for the two older wethers - Sal and Joseph, who are Border Leicester crosses. This is a good size for this little farm and this year four lambs were born, three made it, and all three were sold to fellow farmers. They are on grass here on the hillside and share a pasture with Merlin.

Horse(s)

Just Merlin and he is doing so well. I could not ask for a better friend, teacher, and trail mate of equine kind. We are riding and driving several times a week! He's in amazing shape but starting to go a little white in the cheeks now that he is 20 years old. He still has a lot of years in him, but I am hoping to find him another small draft to be his buddy but right now I am waiting for the right animal at the right price.

I almost got an Icelandic Horse earlier this month because the owner needed a new home for him and was asking a crazy-low amount for him. However, the horse had special needs and an allergic reaction to bugs and needed special fly gear, a stall, and looked like a zombie from all the scabs. So I passed on that horse. He was the right breed, size, training, age and close by but I can't have a hard keeper here. Hoping for a Haflinger, draft cross, type horse. I would love another Fell but right now that isn't in the cards and I won't do another payment plan on a horse. Totally worth it for Merlin but not again.

Rabbits

So far just the Giant Chin and not a single successful breeding all spring. I must admit this is discouraging and I don't know if it is the female, male, or something else entirely. Besides not creating more rabbits they both have escaped their hutches and destroyed the garden and were NOT easy to catch and return to their hutches. So to be frank, the rabbits are not on my best side right now and have eaten all of my broccoli, turnips, and baby lettuce so I might eat them.  I'm 67% kidding.

Pegs!

The four little piggies are doing well! They are small at just 12 weeks old and in the barn right now where they get a steady diet of goatsmilk, scraps, pig chow and fresh water on clean hay. Since the barn's remodel this spring it is so light and bright in there and at night that barn is the place all the new laying hens, geese, and goats hunker down for with NPR on the radio.

P.S. If you have not read Name of the Wind yet, you won't get the pegs reference. You should read that book right now.

Poultry

There are about seventy-five meat birds outside the farmhouse in three different tractors! They are doing well and I could not be happier with my birds from Freedom Ranger Hatchery. I started with a hundred, handed out 25 of the chicks to neighbors and friends (The Hattons and Wesners) and the rest are here being raised for friends and family. They get moved twice a day, morning and afternoon and so far I haven't had to mow my lawn once thanks to their managed grazing. They are around 3lbs each right now and will be taken to a local poultry butcher in a few more weeks when they are a good size. I am ordering another 50 going into the late/summer fall. I think this year I will raise ALL of my own chicken! A big deal!

There are three turkeys here - two toms and a hen - and one little poult that was hatched out in an incubator. That poult is being raised with a small group of eight laying hen chicks (Speckled Sussex) and so far is doing really well!

The geese (Cyrus, Saro, and Ryan) are all doing well and going strong. Geese live to be 40 years old, did you know that? No one told me that when I bought my first pair in 2008 and they are still here and living it up in the fields and streams of Cold Antler. Having a trio of geese adds a sense of royalty to the place, since no other critter seems to walk around looking so stuck up. They waddle around eating mostly grass and some poultry feed.

Dogs

Old Annie is doing amazingly well and nearly 16 years old! I can't believe it, the 4-year old I adopted in Tennessee is still running and jumping on the daybed and enjoying daily walks and still kills the occasional chicken that gets in her path. She loves it.

Gibson is a tried and true farm dog. He never became the trial dog I dreamed of (money and time were too constrained to travel to lessons) but he is the farm dog of legend around here. He herds all stock, from chicks to turkeys to sheep and is wise around horses and lambs alike. He is now five and still curls up every night with me in bed. I have never been this close to another animal before, being the first and only dog I raised from a puppy and have never spent a single night apart from him.

Little Friday is wonderfully insane. At 9 weeks old she is a pile of energy but has learned to sit and is getting used to going on morning chores with Gibson. Her crate training is going okay, as is her potty training. She is pure joy to be around and is already a regular at my Tae Kwon Do class with Gibson.

Cats

Cats are sociopaths and don't care what I write about them or what you think about them.