Taking Life by the Reins: an interview with Jenna Woginrich

JennaWoginrich1Jenna Woginrich is the author of Cold Antler Farm: A Memoir of Growing Food and Celebrating Life on a Scrappy Six-Acre Homestead.

Roost Books: Where does the name Cold Antler Farm come from?
Jenna Woginrich: I originally wanted to name the farm after the Zen poet Hanshan. His name translates to “Cold Mountain”, and that was the original idea: Cold Mountain Farm. But I realized the popular movie had come out a few years before and I didn’t want folks to think I named it after a Jude Law vehicle. So I swapped out “Mountain” for “Antler”, because of the pre-Christian Celtic imagery of nature’s God always adorned in antlers. Seemed like a nice combination of Buddhism, paganism, and me. It stuck!

RB: What is unique about your farm and your story?
JW: Cold Antler is just me, a single woman in the mountains. The fact that I’ve been farming here as one person for so long is a little abnormal for most small farms, but not exclusively. There are plenty of single men and women out in the country. I think what makes me unique is I chose this life without any agricultural background or experiences or much money to my name. Usually when someone gets into this world, they have one of the three! It took some scrappiness to go from backyard chickens on rented land to my own property with my current menagerie, and that story gives hope to others who currently think it is a fantasy. It’s not; it’s really just a priority put ahead of others.

RB: What inspires you every day?
JW: Three animals inspire me every day: my dog, Gibson—a tireless border collie who I’ll bet gets more excited about going outside to chase chickens in the rain than Henry Ford did the first time that assembly line worked, my horse, Merlin—who doesn’t share Gibson’s pluck but is steady and calm as thunder in the distance: and Italics, my hawk—who never loses focus on what is more important: dinner. To be surrounded by such energy, peace, and appetite is a gift that inspires me every day to work harder, breathe deeper, and cook a dinner worth a story!

RB: In just a few words, what is the secret to finding happiness?
JW: Do not put off the life you want. It’s waiting for you now.

RB: What was the last edible thing you bought in a supermarket? When?
JW: Last week! I bought flour and flowers! I don’t grow wheat, and I couldn’t say no to a bouquet of sunflowers. I set them inside the farmhouse and it made me smile all day. Frivolous, I know, but that smile was solid ground.

RB: What did you want to be when you grew up?
JW: I wanted to be a wildlife biologist who studied wolves. Dead serious.

RB: And lastly, what is your superpower?
JW: Stubbornness.