By Laura Mae Isaacman
Roost Books, June 2014
If you’re like me, you hate waking up to an alarm, work-appropriate fashion, crowded subway commutes, loud teenagers, rude adults, and secondhand smoke at every turn on your lunch break. So it’s a good and important thing when people like us can pick up a book and experience an entirely different world—not just through a fictionalized story, but the actual day to day events of a life dissimilar to our own: a farmer’s life. There are no crowds in Jenna Woginrich’s Cold Antler Farm, only six acres of pure, organic nature with chickens, pigs, goats, horses, dogs, bees, and sheep. Between stories of escaping livestock, old traditions, new friends, festivals, farming and hunting, Woginrich shares some of her favorite recipes and a whole lot of wisdom.
Turns out, Woginrich’s life used to be similar to my own; she spent many years as a web designer before leaving her steady paycheck to take a chance on a farm, because “waiting to live the life you want is a ridiculous and dangerous luxury.” After years of seeing so many people “schlep through their day jobs with dead eyes and broken hearts” Woginrich decided to change the direction of her life in order to do something that thrilled and fulfilled her. She moved out of the city and onto a farm. Her story is one that examines what it means to be happy in an age where success is measured by material things:
Why is it that today, a successful life means possessions and purchased experiences and not actually succeeding at sustaining your own life? Why are Indian vacations and handbags more sought after than learning to play the mandolin in our own backyard? I feel like we’ve been tricked. Convinced to want more than we need and to covet the approval of others the whole while.
We have been tricked. And we need these reminders once in a while, these encouragements. A good book will do that. This book does that.
Let me leave you with a short piece Woginrich wrote for the Huffington Post, because I can’t not include it. Maybe it will inspire you as it inspired me.
Let your children grow up to be farmers. Let them know what it is like to be free from fluorescent lights and laser pointer meetings. Let them challenge themselves to be forever resourceful and endlessly clever. Let them whistle and sing loud as they like without getting called into an office for “disturbing the workforce.” Let them commute down a winding path with birdsong instead of a freeway’s constant growl. Let them be bold. Let them be romantic. Let them grow up not having to ask another adult for permission to go to the dentist at 2 p.m. on a Thursday. Let them get dirty. Let them kill animals. Let them cry at the beauty of fallow earth they just signed the deed for. Let them bring animals into this world, and realize they don’t care about placenta on their shirt because they no longer care about shirts. Let them wake up during a snowstorm and fight drifts at the barn door instead of traffic. Let them learn what real work is. Let them find happiness in the understanding that success and wealth are not the same thing. Let them skip the fancy wedding. Let them forget four years of unused college. Let them go. Let them go home.