Finished By Flashlight


That is how my daughter and I work……until the job is done.  But let me back up.

When I bought this place in 1986 the farmer on the adjacent land, years before, had put up a fence where he thought the boundary was.  When it was surveyed the barbed wire was about 40 feet into our land, and across the whole narrow end.  The area was completely covered with blackberries so when we carved out the correct fence line, we just left the stuff buried except what we could get to as we put up our fencing.

I had goats on the property for years and they were fed so well that they just used blackberries for a snack.  But this summer I had buck goats out there and I let them feed themselves and they cleared the blackberries out.  They stayed healthy and sleek on the browse and I love being able to see land that I have never seen before.  But it did bring out the possibility of animals getting caught and cut up on the downed barbwire.

It wasn’t high on the priority list…….but it should have been.  I saw a picture of a friend’s horse with the massive cut foot and heard of the struggle in saving her.   Then the danger of that barbwire became so very real.  We have a horse and a filly on that pasture and if I didn’t see it or hear it, we may lose our horses.  So I put it on the top of the list as soon as the ground would thaw enough to free it.

The barbwire was stuck under partially frozen ground, downed trees and limbs and stripped blackberry vines. None of it wanted to move.

Then the battle of the three “B’s” began.  Badass women came along and started to find the wire and haul the lines out of the mess.  Barbwire gouged and snagged our gloves and clothes trying to penetrate to the skin.  It caught onto the limbs and hung on for dear life.  Blackberries fought us off as best they could, grabbing our feet and legs, ripping at our clothes and hair, and hanging onto the wire.

But what is a Badass woman except a conqueror……but even a conqueror comes away from a battle with wounds.  If it were not for the gloves, our hands would look like our arms and legs; scratched, gouged, and bloody.


But that was not the end of the goal for the weekend……..

I hate waste.  And I had not been able to get a manger up for the goats and they were walking on their food and then wouldn’t eat it.  I had the keyhole manger front almost cut out when the blade broke on my jigsaw so the project kept getting put on hold as things like barbwire got dealt with first.

On Sunday we made butter and watched the Seahawks play.  Then we went back to work.


Katrina and I started right after the game.  We finished cutting out the head holes, and then found the wood and cut out the bottom and sides.  We herded the goats out of the barn area to put it together without them under our feet.

But it started to get dark on us.  Did we quit?  No!   Badass women again conquering their world.  With my granddaughter pointing a flashlight, we put that whole manger together.  It took two hours by flashlight but that manger is not going anywhere, even if the goats jump on it.


I love working with my daughter.  She has the same determination to get a job finished that I have.  We get in and get it done……even if we have to finish by flashlight.

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.

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