Friday, October 24, 2014

Winter is Coming

Make A Black Out Bag!

This new vlog is about something very important to me, basic preparedness. This video is mostly about power outages, and dealing with them in calm comfort thanks to the awesome Black Out Box (or bag!). This covers some inexpensive and simple supplies you can gather (or place around your house) to make the next power outage more of a personal vacation than a panic. I’m hoping this kit is the gateway drug to a little basic emergency preparedness for my readership.

Now, the B.O.B is not my invention, at all. I’m not sure whose it is? But I do know I heard about it on one of my favorite podcasts, TSP (The Survival Podcast). I know what many of you are thinking.

“Oh great, that nice Jenna-Farmer-Ladyperson is one of those Doomsday Preppers Dipshits. Honey, honey, hand me the clicker so I can go see what Pioneer Woman is doing with cornmeal today...”

No. I’m not some whack job Doomsday Prepper and neither is Jack Spirko, the voice of the TSP. That podcast changed my life. It really did. It was one of you fine readers who suggested it to me a few years ago and since then it has helped me burn down my debt (still a work in progress), get the balls to quit my job and start my career as a self-employed woman, and learn about everything from the uses of comfrey (that was an entire hour one day) to bowhunting deer. Mostly, the show is about what is really going on in the world today. And when I say that, I do not mean politics (Jack despises politics, in general) and the show is not for the right or the left, but people who are aware everything isn’t super and maybe they would be happier if they didn’t have to worry so much about money, failing health, and constant stress. It’s about homesteading, permaculture, and farming. It’s also about personal defense, food storage, and community building. Below I’ll post a link to a great introduction to his show which (even if you think all this sounds insane) I strongly urge you to listen to. Play it on your phone, at the office, on your jog, or driving to work. If you are rolling your eyes consider it a bit of recreational anthropology about Libertarians. C’mon Ron Swanson would be proud!

Enjoy this video, and please suggest topics or ask questions for future episodes! Long as you watch these I’ll make them!

Resources for this Vlog:

Ready Candles, Mini Stove, Stove Fuel, & NOAA Radios, etc.

Great First Show to Listen to of TSP. FREE! STREAM IT!

Just in Case by Kathy Harrison

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spring Fiddle Camp 2015!

March 28th and 29th, a Saturday and Sunday, will be the date of the next two-day Fiddle Camp. This is a workshop for people who love the sounds and songs of the country fiddle and feel they could never learn. It is for people who have never held a fiddle, can't read music, and feel they are too hopeless to even try. Nothing could be further from the truth! In three years of hosting this workshop I have taught many people (left and right handed, to boot!) to begin playing tunes for themselves at home. You will not leave sounding like Charlie Daniels, but you will leave knowing your first scale, your first song, and all the tools you need to teach yourself at home without expensive lessons. If any of you out there did attend a camp in the past, please share your experiences here for those who aren't sure they are suited for it!

Fiddle Camp comes with a fiddle, too! A student instrument that will get you started and not break the bank. The cost of the two 6-hour days of lessons and fiddle is the same it has always been $350. If you buy the season pass (on sale now for $300) you can reserve your spot at fiddle camp and I'll throw in the fiddle for FREE. So, you pretty much get a season pass and a fiddle. Not a bad combination, so why put off the dream of making that wonderful music any longer?!

All you need to bring to camp is yourself, the textbook (Old Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus by Wayne Erbsen), a spare set of fiddle strings, and an electric guitar tuner (I suggest snark tuners). The book costs around twenty dollars, strings are cheap online, so is the tuner. It's the least expensive way I know of getting a jump start on finally learning an instrument!

Sign up via email:

P.S. Antlerstock is still half price for next year for folks who attend this year, but sale is over Friday night!

Wool Drying by Woodstove

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My first-ever sheep were named Sal, Marvin, and Maude. They were a gift/barter, an exchange for fiddle lessons when I lived in a small rented cabin in Vermont. I picked them up from a farm over the state line in Hebron, New York. I loaded all three into the back of my Subaru station wagon. On the way home to Vermont I past a man and some workers loading hay into the back of a wagon along the side of the road. I needed hay and made the deal right then and there to return with an empty station wagon and buy a few bales. That man was Nelson Greene and I have been his customer ever since.

That was five years ago.
When I think of that first day driving home a shepherd, my eyes start to tingle.

Because of those sheep I started the adventure of acquiring a sheepdog, having fallen in love with the majesty and magic of sheepdogs and their trials. I visited trials, trainers, attended clinics and emailed breeders. I found a dog that needed a home and realized I was not the home for her. She was returned to the kennel I adopted her from, a failure on my behalf. Instead I moved myself and three sheep to a farm I bought, our own home. Gibson was flown from Idaho and I picked him up at the Albany airport in a little red truck I bought for 2900 with a check I earned writing a chicken book.

That was four years ago.
When I think of him asleep on my lap as I drove north to Jackson, tears start to form.

As novice farmer and puppy, we learned as a team of beginners. So many achievements and mistakes were made. Lambs were born on this mountain for the first time in a hundred years. With the joys of new lambs the flock grew and shrunk. A stretch of bad luck and mistakes as a new shepherd claimed the lives of three beautiful Blackface sheep. All through these years, the ebb and flow of the flock, my three sheep from Vermont remained. They never grew ill. They only grew old. They offered wool, warm backs to lean against while spinning wool or reading books. They escaped, they bleated, they danced, and learned my voice. Gibson grew into a scrappy and resourceful partner, if a little soft and naive when it came to being taken advantage of. I can't blame him, after all, I am the one who raised him.

That has been the last three years.
When I think of all I have learned, loss, regretted and celebrated, tears begin to fall.

Four days ago I stepped outside shortly after dawn and found Maude, my oldest ewe, one of the originals, cast on her back and bloated as roadkill. I was certain she was dead. A friend was with me and together we ran to her side and realized she wasn't dead. We righted her and sheep burped out some gas. We carried her into the barn with fresh hay, grain, and water. I treated her the best I could and she started to recover. She went from bloated to relieved. She went from refusing food to eating. She went from eating to eating well. I have been checking on her every few hours and I don't think she will be with us much longer. I found her on her side. She was barely alive. I sat with her, my hand on her neck. I thought of how many years she would not let me touch her. I felt her wool and stroked her head. So much has changed in five years. My entire life turned in circles, a past life left behind, heartbreak, mistakes, stories, five books...Maude has been there for all of it. I told her how sorry I was. She didn't flinch at my touch. That is how I know she is dying.

That was ten minutes ago.
When I think of how much I came to love that awful sheep, I can not stop crying.

Turning Wool Into Yarn!

Here is the newest vlog! A simple introduction to turning wool into yarn using only some dish soap, dog brushes, and a homemade drop spindle. If you never were sure how that curly wool off a sheep's back turns into yarn, this is a basic (but complete) story of wool cut off a sheep's back turned into actual yarn in minutes. Thanks for watching it, and please do subscribe to the Youtube Channel!

Now, in a few weeks (November 22nd!) we will be doing everything you see in the video, but on a larger scale. Instead of watching jump cuts you'll actually be with me in the sheep pasture, learning to flip and take wool from a sheep with minimum stress or fuss. Then we'll wash, dry, and turn wool into yarn with both drop spindles and a spinning wheel. It's a wonderful day-long workshop held right here at the farm, inside by the wood stove. An annual favorite and there are only five spots left. To make it even more enticing, I would happily make this workshop (or the Wheel of the Year workshop in December) buy one get one. So sign up for either of these workshops and come to another regular one-day workshop within the next calendar year for FREE. Join in with this local community of farmers, friends, and family and go home knowing a little more and supporting the One Woman Farm!

Wooly Weekend!
November 22nd 2014
Here at CAF

Join me at the farm this November for a comfy workshop inside by the wood stove. We will talk about all things sheep, wool, and spinning! The workshop will begin outside with the sheep and go over the basics of what Living with Sheep is like and what to expect along that journey. Then a sheep will have some wool sheared off and brought inside to begin the wonderful story of yarn! The wool we cut will be washed, dried by the fire, carded by hand, and spun with a drop spindle. Watch and help turn the hair off the back of an animal become a clean, warm, and beautiful piece of hand spun yarn.

Bring your knitting projects and share your own work with wool with other workshoppers. Try a spinning wheel out. Sit and listen to stories of my own flock, lessons learned (good and bad) and what having sheep in your life can mean and be to you! This is a workshop both for fiber fans who love the art of knitting as well as people considering adding a trio of sheep to the backyard.

I hope that Patty Wesner will join in with us as well, talking about her experiences with her first ever flock of sheep she raised as feeder lambs. She will be harvesting their fleeces, but as sheepskins for the farmhouse and not wool. Another approach, and one that comes with some amazing lamb masala in the end! So join us here in the farmhouse to get a broad introduction to sheep and wool production at home.

Yuletide Cheer
December 6th 2014
Here at CAF

This is a new event here at Cold Antler Farm, one I never thought to offer until my last two books came out. This is a workshop talking about farming within the traditions and mythology around the Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is a general term for the pre-Christian practices of agricultural Europe. In my case: the Celtic Tradition. Since it is so close to the Solstice and the farm will be lit with bayberry candles, fresh fir branches, and a small tree inside the window we’ll start at Yule and talk about each of the eight festivals of the Wheel and how the farm life dances along with them, in music, story, and myth!

This will be a workshop taking much on farming and faith, finding meaning in mythology and ancient traditions and why I chose this path. I hope that folks interested in the Wheel will come and share their stories. There will also be open discussions on spirituality and farming in general, the importance of feeling connected to your land, and how spiritual groups and communities in general are a part of life here in Washington County. So it’s a little deeper, a little more introspective. But if your faith and your farm are connected you may be interested in joining this discussion.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Antlerstock was WONDERFUL!

Another Antlerstock has come and gone and it seems like we just beat the true chill of late fall. This morning the farm is 26 degrees! Luckily this past weekend wasn't so cold, but instead just a little soggy. That didn't stop the teachers and attendees who made the event as wonderful as it was though. Saturday folks worked outside between the raindrops as they learned traditional woodsman skills, cut down trees, learned about draft horses and harnessing and watched a ton of horse move a 25-foot log up a country road. We cut wool off a sheep's back and learned to wash, card, and hand spin it (And all that before lunch on the first day!). Over the course of the next two days three authors, seven teachers, and a pile of excited folks tackled everything from learning to tend sourdough bread starter to chainsaw safety. There was small livestock butchering demonstrations, herbalism for beginners (which made an amazing cut and scrape salve) and beekeeping naturally under the tents while the rain came and went.  Greg of Living Iron Forge set up a blacksmithing demonstration and showed us how he made a knife with nothing but hammer, anvil, and fire! Some folks shot arrows for the first time on a hillside.  Folks spread out items for barter on quilts and traded everything from homemade quilts to herbal teas and chicken feeders. This might have been the most informative, put-together, and fun Antlerstock so far! People did things that surprised them and myself, including getting their hands between the skin and fur of a rabbit, throwing axes over their head at a target in the forest, and considering a backyard pig for the first time in their lives. I thank all who attended, taught, and gave their time, spirit, and smiles to my favorite festival of the year. Antlerstock is small, but mighty, and a club worth being a part of! I will certainly do it next year, and if you were one of the folks who attended this year and want to reserse a spot for next fall (Columbus Day Weekend, this time) you may do so for half price if you email me about it soon! My thank you for traveling from Canada, Ohio, Jersey, Vermont, Tennessee, and beyond.

Well, folks. Right now I am inside with a hot cup of coffee and a fire roaring. I am tired, very much so, but so pleased. For two days the farm, roads, forest, and fields around Cold Antler were full of a grand scene. And that little wool demonstration I did in a hour inspired a new wool to yarn Vlog I'll post this week and has me all excited for the workshop in a  few weeks where folks will really get to talk in detail about handspinning, sheep, and the amazing world of fiber arts that can live in your own backyard (while mowing your lawn, to boot).

So that was this weekend. I'm back to writing about a monster, updating The Birchthorn Project, planning new workshops (dates are set for Spring Fiddle Camp! March 28-29 2015) and some folks are already signing up!

I'll leave you with the best cake ever to grace this farm! Homemade by Tara Mattison, a barter for a few pounds of honey and worth every drop. A custom Merlin cake! Shared with friends by the wood stove in my little home on the mountain!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jasper for Sale!

Jasper, my POA (Pony of the Americas) is for sale, and only because I am not using him to his full potential. Through Merlin I have learned that draft ponies and horses will be my equine future, so I would like to find a good home for this splendid little guy. He is 11.3 hand pony, and has as work harness (collar is Amish made, nylon and metal harness, and collar pad). If you are looking for a great first equine to actually earn his keep, Jasper is it. He is wonderful being lead by a halter and lead rope in harness and hitched to a cart or stone boat can carry firewood, light logging, and drive carts. Speaking of carts: I have a small red cart for sale as well that needs a shaft repaired but fits him!

So this guy. He rides and drives. He stands for the farrier, trailers, and is also a great companion pony. He is 12-13 years old, gelded, and barefoot. I am asking $750 for the pony and $1200 for the pony, cart, harness and assorted tack. If you are interested in buying him but not ready to take him to your farm, you can buy him now and I will board him here for you through winter and into spring for a very low price (cost of his hay and 2 farrier visits). Please let me know!

NOTE: just because he is a pony does not mean he is for little kids! He is a working horse, Amish trained, and needs an experienced and confident rider. The rider in these photos is 5'4" and 111lbs. I say experienced not because he has any interest in bucking you off, or is in any way dangerous or mean spirited. Jasper is a lamb, but ponies are stubborn and sometimes need riders more stubborn than they are! If you just want a pasture pal or horse-powered ATV for yard work lead on halter, he is fine in any beginner home. But if you want to ride him you need to have some horse sense because Jasper is always happy to do what is asked once he understands you are leader. An understanding of natural horsemanship, a flag, and five minutes is all he needs to be in your pocket.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Send a Card for Samhain!

It's almost Samhain, and this farm will be celebrating the way it always does, a special dinner here at the farmhouse with close friends. I know some of you also celebrate Samhain, others adore Halloween, and some have banned both festivals from their homesteads. Well, this farm looks forward to October 31st all year, and this month is a celebration of love, light, life and gratitude. I urge you to send a loved one (especially those who have lost someone this year) a card telling them how grateful you are they are in your life, and to maybe even light a Jackolantern with the memory of someone you no longer share your life with. It's a day of reflection, repose, and memories for myself and many others.

If you wish to send this farm a card, please do! I'll try to send some back in return! Send it to this simple address and it will most likely find me.

Jenna Woginrich
Cold Antler Farm
Cambridge, NY 12816

New Vlog: Money, Family, Fear

I filmed this vlog yesterday to address a question I asked on Facebook. I asked which of the following things are holding back your farm dream the most? Money, Family, or Fear? A few people admitted to fear, others admitted to unsupportive souses, but the overwhelming response was money. I can certainly relate to that! SO I wanted to post this to encourage people to start small, start where they are, reach out to local farmers, volunteer, workshop, and basically move from a passive day dreamer to an active seeker towards the life you want.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Come in, sit down.

Welcome new readers and old friends, I often post this: Come in, and 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.

Arrows Risen!

This weekend was the autumnal event Arrows Rising! Ladies from Canada and New Jersey traveled to learn the basics of traditional archery, and by the end of the weekend were shooting a timed round through the woods (three forest targets over 200 combined yards of varied terrain in under 30seconds!) and one even chose to mount up on Merlin and shoot horseback! We covered the basics of stance, safety, instinctive shooting, and mixed up the practice time in the field with small contests, timed rounds, and such. Basically: it is a weekend where a beginner lives, breathes, and sings archery for two days. You get sore, you get frustrated, but you go home knowing your bow well. You can string and unstring it at a moments notice. You have a bit of lanolin or beeswax in your pocket now, to care for the wood and tension. You understand distance, direction, and your own body better. For two days this is all we did, and it was wonderful.

Come Saturday night I invited everyone back (it was a smaller group) for dinner at the farmhouse and a Game Night. Oh my goodness, what a great decision that was! We ate slow-cooked pork that spent ten hours in a bath of hard cider, honey, and barbecue sauce over rice. We drank cider (tis the season!) and played two games of Forbidden Island. We even won the first game, and since FI is a co-op game (we all play as a team to win, not against each other) I bet it even made our shooting as a group better! One of the folks who came was a fellow falconer and I got to meet her new jack Merlin, which was a treat. I am so used to Italics and his big feet and fierce ways, that the little falcon was like someone shrunk a monster. Pokemon made so much more sense after that.

The weekend flew by for me, and I hope it did for the attendees as well. Sunday afternoon we stopped by the Bedlam Farm Open House at Jon Katz's farm. It was great to see him and meet some of the readers who also check in with me from time to time. By 4PM on Sunday everyone was packing up. Two days on our feet in the woods, out in the weather, and shooting hundreds of arrows - all of us were due for a good rest. Sara, one of the guests, was staying in the area an extra evening and decide to stick around after the workshop to help with chores, and I think she may have regretted that choice. I'll come back and explain why after I get back from picking up a load of hay, but let's just say this as a teaser:

It doesn't matter how tired you are when the sheep AND a goat decide to escape!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pigs for Sale!

If you are within a drive of Cold Antler and would like to buy a quarter or half share of a pig, please email me at These shares are for the live pig, which you co-own, and I raise, feed, and care for until slaughter time. Your money covers their purchase, feed, and butchering costs and are presented with the frozen and smoked pig weight (not hanging with bones weight) upon pickup. These shares are for pigs raised in early spring through next fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raising Meat Rabbits

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Brew Season

Homebrewing is something I always get excited about in the fall, and this year has not dissapointed. What you see there is my first ever all-grain pale ale. I made it with organic ingredients, a small batch, and it turned out just the right blend of bitter and refreshing. It carbonated beautifully, and every time I took a sip I tried to think of a reason anyone who drinks beer wouldn't want to make their own? Brewing is like making music, some folks need to create and not just listen. Even a basic or simple song brings such joy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Annie's Adventure

Tonight my pigs dined on the insides of freshly scooped jack-o-lanterns, some too bitter home-brew, sliced turnips and cracked corn. They are all falling asleep on beds of fresh straw, and I hope they appreciate it. Tonight the temperatures will drop into the low thirties and I am grateful for a warm fire here inside with the dogs and cats. It is rare that all five of us are in the house together. The main pack of three, Annie, Gibson and I are always together but the cats come and go as they please, spending most nights outside hunting and returning at daybreak for their cat chow and a nap indoors. But the chill brought everyone in and I am happy about that. Because one of us was nearly lost.

Annie, the eldest, ran away today. She literally ran off. She used her nose to pry open a sliding glass door and made a run for it. She headed into the woods in a pure Call-of-the-Wild bliss only Siberian huskies know (even 15-year-olds). It took an hour to find her, me and Gibson in the pickup truck driving up and down the mountain. I finally found her at the chicken feeders eating chicken feed, covered in mud, looking blissful and tired. I called to her and she ran to the truck and jumped inside. I was never so happy to hug an old bad dog...

So now we are indoors, looking forward to a movie night with good friends and then tomorrow is two days of Archery for the fall event: Arrows Rising! I have folks from Canada, New Jersey, NY and PA coming and I look forward to two chilly days of archery and woodland shooting. It's going to be a sunny (but cold) spell of days and look forward to it! And since Annie has already scared away all the deer and critters on her adventure, I don't expect any casualties of that sort. Just the usual fat and happy pigs, turkey gangs, and chilly mornings with hot coffee. Here Here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall Foliage by Horseback!

This is the tenth vlog, and all I have to share is a little postcard of today in Washington County, New York. See the places I get to ride Merlin whenever I wish, across the road from my own little farmhouse. The views of the Taconic Mountains and Vermont, a good black pony, and the colors and spirit of the season. I hope you enjoy this short video, as it was a joy to make and film. Merlin didn't even mind carrying the macbook in his saddlebags.

P.S. If you like these videos, please let me know! So far the feedback has been positive, but sparse, so if you watch these and enjoy them let me know (and let me know if you don't like them, as well) and any suggestions for future topics?

P.P.S. Check the Birchthorn Webpage for updates and a new chapter (updated every Tuesday, or more) and if you live within driving distance of CAF, shares of live pigs are now on sale for next spring! Reserve your 1/4 or 1/2 today, just email me for details.

Season Pass Sale Through Sunday!

Season Passes are now on sale, just through to the end of the weekend! If you would like to buy a season pass for a FULL YEAR of workshops and classes (or renew your old passes) They are on sale until Sunday Night for $275. If you buy one of the remaining passes it will INCLUDE ANTLERSTOCK in two weeks, and gives you the ability to return for ANY events (save the cost of instruments or bows, etc) for a full year. So buy a pass and come to Antlerstock, then return in November to learn about wool and sheep! Or come for the Wheel of the Year talk near Yuletide. March Fiddle Camp will be announced soon (always sells out) and plans for new workshops are in the works, with author and guest speakers coming to promote new books and events! So Support CAF, expand your homesteading horizons, and be a part of the family of friends and neighbors that make this place as magical as it is.