humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, PSAs

An Udder Fail

Go Jules Go An Udder Fail Title Graphic_9APR19

It’s mud season in rural Maine.

I know this because, despite being a New Jersey native, I’m spending most of April in one of my favorite states.

I mean come on. This doesn’t even have a filter.

I can do this because I quit my job and now my life is filled with rampant lawlessness.

Did someone say “lawlessness”?

When I arrived in rural Maine, intending to volunteer on a friend’s farm sanctuary for two weeks, I didn’t immediately realize my cell signal had given out. A half hour earlier.

I diligently followed my friend’s instructions to “look for the next driveway after the sanctuary’s entrance,” where my cabin was located. Instead I saw train tracks and a sign that read, “Pavement ends.”

Say whaaa…?

Being from what you might call a New York City suburb, I interpreted that to mean, “TURN YOUR CAKE ASS AROUND, JERSEY.” I did so happily, heading back towards the sanctuary’s driveway instead.

Big mistake.

Farm Sanctuary driveway Go Jules Go
What I should have done, and soon learned to do: Park at the foot of the driveway and make the mile-long, uphill walk by foot.

“Mud season” wasn’t just a cute saying. My non-all wheel drive sedan squealed for mercy as I attempted to haul her up the hill.

“Oh my GAWD are you f*@#&$ kidding me?” I imagined her saying. “I am sooooo going to need a pedicure after this.”

I had gotten AAA before the trip, though, and felt cavalier mildly confident. (Until later, when I realized I wouldn’t have even been able to call AAA if I HAD gotten stuck.)

Once I made it to the sanctuary, the owner looked confused. I explained that I couldn’t find the cabin. Apparently I was supposed to charge past the “Pavement ends” warning and go another mile or so to “the next driveway.” I felt silly explaining that in Jersey terms, “the next driveway” is usually measured in feet. Sometimes inches. I kept quiet and accepted her gracious offer to lead me there – something I knew she didn’t have time for.

Running a farm sanctuary is No. Joke.

“Thank you so much. Just a warning that I’m going to keep a safe distance from you going downhill.”

She smiled knowingly, casting a glance at my mud-spattered pansy car.

We soon reached the small cabin, which was clean and well lit, warm from gas heat and equipped with the basics. Except internet. Which, I quickly began to realize, was going to throw a wrench into this whoooole plan. I checked my phone; still no service whatsoever.

Hello…? Is anyone out there…?

“This mayyyy be a problem,” I said, feeling the panic start to rise in my throat, the extent of my remote location settling in.

Let me just text… No.

Let me just look up the nearest… No.

Let me just check the weather for tomorrow and… No.

I waited until she left to execute what would come to be the first of many, many strategies to try to make the next couple of weeks work out.

I’m just going to drive towards a town, and see when my service picks up. I didn’t even bother unpacking, just loaded Uncle Jesse (the dog) back in the car. As I made the first turn, my stomach flip-flopped, trying to memorize my surroundings. Holy god I miss Google maps. The sun would set in less than an hour, so after just a few minutes, I decided to give up and turn around in a church parking lot. The last thing I wanted to do was make the situation worse by getting lost.

As I did a U-turn, I noticed the church’s sign.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

I decided to go back to the sanctuary -walking from the bottom of the driveway this time- and borrow someone’s phone to let my family know I had arrived safely. A volunteer was sorting vegetables and happy to offer her phone, so after I successfully texted Babs (mom), I helped sort produce for the next couple of hours, chatting and feeding Uncle Jesse stray bits of cauliflower.

Go Jules Go farm sanctuary sorting vegetables
One for the bin, one for Uncle Jesse, one for the bi-Uncle Jesse…

Thankfully, my phone still worked as a flashlight, and we made it back to the car and our cabin. It was pitch black. As I unpacked the car, I caught a glimpse of the stars twinkling brightly – the way they only could when not overpowered by street lamps and cramped houses. I stood still, and for the first time in hours, took a deep breath.


Maybe this will all work out…

I finished unpacking, popped some potatoes in the little oven for Uncle Jesse, and cracked open a bottle of wine, deciding to make the most of my off-grid night. I’d sort out my phone issues in the morning.

Microsoft Word and random downloaded iTunes songs from 2016: entertaining spoiled New Jerseyians since…I don’t know when, because my phone doesn’t work and I can’t look anything up.

Fast forward two days, and my phone -even with a new, more expensive carrier- still wasn’t working. Nor were my pseudo, DSW-purchased “muck boots,” which I managed to puncture by repeatedly tripping on a sharp rock while cleaning the rabbit houses.


Thankfully, my $900 paperweight phone’s camera still pulled through.

Every two minutes, I thought of some reason I needed to use my phone, or get online. Upcoming bills I had to pay, friends with momentous events I had planned to check in on, ASMR videos on YouTube I needed to watch, travel plans I’d yet to make…

Shame washed over me in endless, sickening waves. I am so fu@*#^% soft. Here I thought, with my tiny living and frugal spending, I’d become so flexible! So strong! So adaptable! But 48 hours without a phone broke me, and after Sunday’s full work day, I fled back to my comfort zone, checking into a pet-friendly motel 90 minutes south, in one of my favorite parts of Maine.

And near one of my favorite people, Darla from She’s A Maineiac.

“Does the dial go all the way up to ‘donkey’?” I asked Darla when I stopped by the next day to do laundry.

Laundry donkey setting Go Jules Go


How would you fare if you were unexpectedly off-grid?



33 thoughts on “An Udder Fail”

  1. Love. This. Post!
    Welcome to Maine Jules…. pansy car, DSW wannabee work boots et al.
    Mud season is not for the faint hearted, least of all Jersey girls on a rural farm. I applaud your bravery for even trying!!

  2. I have great wi-fi, fantastic, but phone – not so hot. I am 1/2 off-grid all the time. But if I were all off-grid (electric out for hours), I first read and play solo games on my tablet,then read real books, then sleep.

  3. And hey, from the looks of your cabin you’re living in the lap of luxury there. Our neighbors farm across the street offers a cabin that used to be a chicken coop to his workers. Tres chic!

  4. And we so hoped the wonder walk would prepare you!! I’m SO SO glad I got to see you before you fled my dear Jersey Jules. And, btw, now that you have the Internet, can you please go back and change “farm” to “sanctuary” in this hilarious piece? Peace Ridge is not a farm! #humaneeducationdegreeOJJ.

    1. Ahhh I knew I’d miss something! Just fixed! #onceastudentalwaysastudent (Ironically, I just got the letter 5 minutes ago about paying back my tuition. I’m going to tell them I can’t afford it because I spent all of my money on corkage fees.)

      LIKEWISE! I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of our dinner! I think that waiter had a harder time than even I did being off-grid.

  5. 🤣😂🤣 I hear this, totally. It’s great to find we really still do have some boundaries in life, no? If you didn’t, you’d have nothing to guide you and far too many options.

    I promise Duluth will have zero donkeys….. but our hike may not have cell service. But we will run into plenty of beards with all-wheel drive so you’ll have nothing to worry about!

  6. Hi Jules, So glad to are at Peace Ridge! I bet the fresh snow was a bit unexpected as well! Go Jules Go!

    1. I left before the snow came, but wow, I could not be more impressed by PRS and all of the heart and soul everyone puts into making it such a sanctuary, in every sense of the word.

  7. What if it was the WiFi connection that gave you cheap entertainment to keep you occupied, and offered ways to save money (inexpensive recipes, discounts, apartment rentals) that actually made it possible – or easier – to live frugally with fewer material possessions?

  8. The first thing I thought of when you mentioned Maine was, Darla! I’m so jelly that you guys met up. Awesome!! As for going it without a phone or the internet, I’m old enough, that after a day or two of jitters, I’m actually fine. Smoke signals, reading the weather and birds keep me informed enough. Sounds like your off to a grand adventure, learning all sorts of things about yourself.

    1. Me too. I am fine after a day of no internet when camping. I love the peace and quiet of no technology…just waking up with the birds and sunlight and sleeping under the stars. Heaven! (But only for a short time then I miss my own bed)

    2. “Learning all sorts of things about yourself” – TRUTH! I’m not sure I like everything I’m learning, but, c’est la vie. (I am actually learning French, so at least that goes in the ‘pro’ column.)

  9. See, this sounds like my kinda place! I’d literally be in hog heaven. Just think…I managed to get through half my life with no internet at all because it didn’t exist yet. I drove across country twice in my 20s getting by on nothing but a wrinkly old AAA map and my good looks. Hell, I didn’t even have a cell until 5 years ago!

    But yes…dammit I’m udderly (heehee) lost without it now. Sigh. We are slaves to technology…the cycle is complete and the robots have won.

    Enjoy the rest of your time here BS and I’ll be here waiting for your donkey laundry.

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