Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jenna Woginrich: Learning the Ropes

This month, we're honoring the importance of community: the people who walk through the seasons with us and from whom we draw strength and nourishment. This is something Jenna Woginrich knows all about. Don't let the title of her new book, One-Woman Farm,  fool you:  Jenna's passion and commitment to farming life is fueled in part by the many people who share in her days, both good and difficult. In this post from her blog, the folks just down the hill provide a powerful reminder of the rich returns of living a connected life.

The gang down at Common Sense Farm (the commune three miles down the hill from me) have recently taken on some draft power in the form of two donks. It was a slow start, getting the right tack and learning to work with the clever equines but over the past two months they have really started to perform. Here is my friend Othniel's son learning the ropes of ground driving with Ramona. It was the first time they worked her in a full collar/harness/bit rig and I was floored by how well she did. I expected the donkeys to panic, or balk, or perhaps just stand there looking bored but they did everything they were asked with purpose. I can't get that out of Jasper most times in the cart, so you can understand the smile on the boy's face! 

Rob from the Washington County Draft Animal Association was there, as he was the guy I put them in touch with to outfit their donkeys. Othniel is exactly where I was when I started with Merlin, excited to drive but in need of gear, lessons, and practice. Rob was there to help show him how to train up the donkeys and outfit them correctly since he specializes in ponies and had plenty of extra harnesses, collars, and lines to sell for a good price. So a deal was struck and Othniel now has two harnesses for two very encouraging donkeys! If that wasn't cool enough, Rob also brought his wagon team and gave all the kids at Common Sense a wagon ride while he was there. That's 38 rides, folks. Talk about customer service! 

I was touched to see this all happen. Touched to see neighbors working with neighbors, touched to see a pre-teen with driving lines in his hand instead of an iPhone, and touched to hear about all the laughter and smiles the kids got riding behind a team of trotting ponies under the fall foliage, which is AMAZING this year. I am so grateful to have the Common Sense community in my life. I really am. While I'm not cut out for their church or regulations, seeing a group of people living in voluntary simplicity warms me. Their life, like mine, isn't easy or always pretty but somedays it is. Somedays there are good animals working in harness, and beautiful blue skies, and children laughing behind the clip clop of a pony cart on a weekday morning. This is a place where those things happen, and I am awed and honored to get to share in the effort and the rewards.

Photo and text reposted from Cold Antler Farm.
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Jenna Woginrich is a homesteader and the author of BarnheartChick Days, and Made from Scratch. She blogs at Cold Antler Farm, as well as Mother Earth News and The Huffington Post. A Pennsylvania native, she has made her home in the mountains of Tennessee, in northern Idaho, in rural Vermont, and most recently in upstate New York, where she lives with a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep, a border collie in training, chickens and geese, a hive of bees, a horse, and several amiable rabbits.
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Want more Jenna? The ebook of One-Woman Farm is available for just $2.99 for the month of October through Storey's Fresh Picks, a selection of ebook titles on sale for a limited time. Want great Storey content you can't get anywhere else, including announcements of Fresh Picks titles the moment they're on sale? Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.

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