It's a homesteading festival, it's a weekend in the woods, it has nosy turkeys and a border collie pup and fresh apple cider donuts- what's not to love about Antlerstock??
This was my second trip to Cold Antler Farm in Jackson NY. Held over Columbus Day weekend, Antlerstock makes no promises for the weather, but this year was gorgeous- warm and sunny and at near-peak for fall color.
Farmer Jenna gathers friends that have unique skills and holds this 2 day event to offer demonstrations and talks about topics like felling trees, using draft horses for farm work, keeping small livestock, making soap, spinning wool (sheep-to-knitting needle!), preparing for storms, and generally relying on yourself.
It's a fun weekend, with people from all over that have varying levels of interest and ability to homestead where they are. This year there was a couple from NYC and another from Long Island, someone from Ontario, a few of us from PA, some more local to Jenna- in all, about a dozen hardy souls ready to experience small farm life for a few days.
Saturday night we had a bonfire and read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow out loud, mere miles from where it's set. Jack o'lanterns surrounded us, the wind blew, and it was delightfully creepy!
All week, after I returned, I was telling my pilates clients stories- about how Brett cut down a cherry tree and I took my turn learning to split it into firewood, about how BIG Steele the Percheron draft horse is, about the 2 turkeys who followed us around all weekend, puffed up and huffing to attract attention, about the goat eating my ponytail holder off my pigtail... But really, I kept saying, the best part was being around so many people who are seriously living their dreams. It's not always rainbows and cupcakes by any means, but everyone I met was so inspiring.
As I settle in for winter, I'm really glad I took this weekend off to go do something that makes others raise their eyebrows at me but that fills me with ideas. I have lots to think about and work towards as I snuggle into my little apartment. My pilates and herbal work, this wellness work is in my soul, and I just got a weekend full of reminder to make sure I'm feeding my dreams as well as my soul. There's two fluffy blankets waiting for daydreaming on my couch!
October is fast becoming one of my favorite months, what with all the fun stuff that's happening!
The first weekend of the month brings the Mid Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference in Kempton PA. Kempton is a a map dot outside of Allentown, and just happens to be next-door to the village that houses HQ for the children's theater I worked with during high school and college. Coincidence? I dunno, there are a LOT of map dots in PA and it just so happens...
This was my third year attending the MAWHC, and maybe their fourth or fifth year in existence. It's a small conference, held in fields and under tents. The teachers are fantastic, women who love being close to their students and close to the land. So far I've met and learned from Rosemary Gladstar, Deb Soule, Rosita Arvigo, Kate Gilday, and many others.
This year the weather was wild, in the 40's (Fahrenheit) and windy. The previous Monday it was 80 degrees! As the week passed I continually refined my clothing choices until I was in full winter gear, including down coat and 3 pairs of thermal pants. Hey, it kept me warm. :)
I heard lots of interesting bits from the keynote speakers and the workshop teachers. Some were thought-provoking and profound, others were articulations of unconscious choices I'd been making myself for years. This was the first year the conference organizers tried recording the teachers, and I hope they worked because there are many moments I would like to revisit and re-hear, and re-think about.
The company was great, too. Three of us carpooled early in the morning, my friends Kristen and Linda. During the day I got to see old friends and chat with many new faces. There was a lot of friendly chatter- what classes did you take? Where did you travel from? Which soup did you have? (Chicken and cashew chili with pineapple. Twice.) Yes it was cold and windy and damp and yucky, and I didn't hear anyone lamenting it. Although I have to say, the best part was when Kate Gilday played her flute for us under the Black Walnut trees and the wind didn't blow on us for the next hour. That was a special kind of magic.
Thank you, Charis, for again hosting such a great conference. See you next year!
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
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