Friday, July 25, 2008

dogs and blogs

Tomorrow at the crack of dawn I'll be driving to Massachusetts for class. Herding class. Dan Sykes, the famed British Shepherd and Sheepdog trainer is holding a clinic in Greenfield. I'll be going to Tanstaafl Farm to observe the dogs and their lessons, chat it up with sheep people, talk dogs and join in their potluck dinner. I'm new to this sport and just starting out. I have no sheep, border collie, hell I don't even have a barn. But these people will help me get started when I do. Meeting them, learning and observing, and hanging with their dogs will help me be more educated when those first three ewes show up at my farm and my border collie pup is asleep by the fireplace.

While hooves and sheep dogs aren't currently in my life, I am a bonefide member of the organization. Being new to New England - it'll be nice to hang with a club I belong to. It'll also be interesting to see what they think of a twenty-something without a dog in their midst. I have no idea how the shepherds will feel about me, but I hoping to win these titans over with pie.

In other news, you can now find a running blog column of mine on the Huffington Post. There's a link to it on the right sidebar. I'll be in their green section writing about homesteading and the environment. It'll be a mix of content from this blog and new stuff you'll only see there (like the long thanksgiving turkey post). Please feel free to check it out, comment, "buzz up" articles, and read it. You know, support your local writers and all that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

hazy morning

I slept in this morning.I didn't get up till 5:45. The sun was up though, and in the streaming light of the cabin's bedroom Jazz was sprawled out beside me, his paws against my sternum and his mouth open. I wake up to two dozen white sharp teeth inches from my eyeballs. Sometimes I wonder if it's normal to wake up to wolf jaws and smile? But I do and scratched Jazz on the head. His big yellow eyes opened up, he yawned a mighty yawn, and then curled his head deeper into the pillow and went back to sleep. Somewhere in the kitchen I heard Annie's nails scratch against the cork floor as she stretched and sighed. She wasn't getting up either. My dogs are not farm dogs. Without snow on the ground or a harness on their chests they are as useless as house cats. I love that about them.

I however, had a lot to do before work, so I was getting up. I let my roommates sleep in. I slipped on some jeans and crocs and went outside towards the coop, grabbing a bale of straw from the porch and throwing it up on my shoulder as I went. I knew the birds needed fresh bedding after all the mud and rain from yesterday's storms. It also couldn't hurt to reline the nest box. I forgot to perc some coffee and cursed under my breathe. What the hell is happening to my priorities?

When I got to the coop and hutches I checked on the rabbits and then went about the business of sorting the morning poultry. Geese, ducks and turkeys spend the day outside so the chickens had the coop to themselves. Inside they were safe from hawks and predators and would lay better without the stress of loud goslings (the other poultry was way too big to be picked up by raptors) so I let them spend the whole day waddling around the creek and trying to break into the garden. So far all attempts have been thwarted. Let's hear it for old fences.

When everyone was fed, watered, had a clean place to sleep and was pecking in the sun--I went back in to check on the dogs. Both of which were now up and ready for a walk. We went out into the field and watched the hazy clouds sit on the mountains. It reminded me of Tennessee. I don't know if I can make it back this fall for the mountain music festival (and heat my house this winter) so it tugged at my heart a little. It also reminded me to work on All the Pretty Horses on the dulcimer that night. If I nailed it on the dulc I could record both the fiddle and dulcimer parts together for kicks. I am a very exciting young person.

Starting your day like this - with animals and misty mountains and good dogs beside you, makes getting ready for work harder and harder. Every weekday I get in that car and drive the ten miles to the office. I do it with loud music and plenty of coffee, so it's not too depressing. But the deeper I get into the world of small farms, sheepherding, animals, and gardening the more it starts to feel like a farce. A front I put up to pay rent and buy dog food. Something that drains energy from the real work of growing food, collecting eggs, planning a sheep farm and learning to shepherd. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful. I have a good job I enjoy. I work with fine people with manners and perfectly normal haircuts, but if I could find a way to support myself at home and still be able to walk into an emergency room insured, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Or, you know, marry rich.