Sunday, July 24, 2011

smells great in this house right now...

As I write to you, strangers and friends alike, there is a little cornish hen roasting in the oven. It's one of the birds from early spring, small but plump. I defrosted it yesterday and then today while it rested in the fridge, I dug up what was left of the carrots. I also pulled a few small, new potatoes and a few little onions. I set them on the counter to be prepped for the roasting pan and then looked at the array. To see a white cloth covered with an entire feast you planted and raised is possibly the most beautiful thing you will ever look at on a stove top. That pink, dimpled chicken. The carrots and potatoes, still covered with a bit of dirt. The onions fragrant... I grabbed my camera so I had proof this day in July happened.

I'm feeling good. Just a bit ago I pulled in the driveway from a swim in the river. I was happy to swim when I arrived at the pull off. I had just finished constructing the frame of Gibson's new training pen for herding. In 85-degree heat (cool weather for this week!) I pounded fenceposts and strung woven wire fencing I hauled from the far-pasture to a flat spot behind the sheep shed. It's small, a diameter of 10 t-posts about 4 feet away from each other, but large enough to get started really working with him. After a frustrating lesson this morning with our trainer in Massachusetts, I realized he needed to work everyday here. He needs to practice with his own sheep, on his own farm, to learn the control and state-of-mind necessary for a working farm dog.

These weekend lessons were okay as a beginner, but now as a teenager with good instincts and too much enthusiasm: Gibson needs to learn control and discipline. So The first step it to get two or three sheep in a small pen and have him work outside the pen, following my commands and body. Then I'll expand it and have him work inside it. I stayed for an hour or so, but the barrage of tubers was a bit too oppressive. They weren't the serene, good-natured tubers of Friday. These weekend tubers were either loud, fit, tan teenagers in various levels of intoxication or vulgar, squishy people with sunburns.

One teenage boy realized his brand-new wheeled Coleman cooler was out of beer and didn't see the sense in tugging it down the river now that it was useless to him. So he just heaved it down stream. My mouth dropped. I had seen those coolers at Kmart and they were 39 dollars, perfect for transporting meat to customers or picking up rabbits from Ben Shaw. The decadence of this tanned narcissist astounded me. If there weren't 45 people behind him flowing down stream and playing pong with the "garbage" cooler I would have taken it home, bleached it, put a FarmAid Sticker on it and put it to decent use.

One woman was upset about something that happened at the drop off. She cussed up a storm, just a stream of four-letter words. Now, I am not known for my clean speech, but I do understand a time and place. She was toting a four-year-old girl. "You would think he would have some Mother- #@X%ing DECENCY!?" she yelled to her partner, who ignored her anger. There should be rules about angry cussing on a beautiful river...

You know, writing about other people in a negative way makes me feel both vulgar and squishy. I best stop this fuss.

I watched all this happen while I did my routine. I was on the side of all this action, the tubeless girl with the firefly necklace. I found this spot that is about 4-feet deep, in a weak current about 20-yards long. I can swim a lazy breaststroke with the water, and then fight back against the running water with a cross stroke. It's wonderful. I swim like my mother did (still does) at the Palmerton Pool, my head above water as I do a modified breast-stroke downstream. The view from that alligator position is beautiful. Golden light, green leaves, glistening water. Sometimes I turn on my back and float with the water. Who needs a tube?! My muse is Baloo the Bear, not some aquatic dirigible. When I feel the water pull to hard I stop and swim back. After about 20 slow "laps" I am puffing. Swimming has a way of tricking you into the same exhaustion as jogging. I scurry back to shore as a new boatel emerges from the bend. I had enough of the vulgar and squishy. I am ready to roast a chicken and read under the maple tree.

And so I will. This summer is trotting right through me.


Blogger HLN said...

PLEASE don't make Gibson work sheep OUTSIDE of your round pen. That's one of the most frustrating, damaging things you can do to a keen young dog. If you don't own it yet, I recommend the book TOP TRAINERS TALK ABOUT STARTING A SHEEPDOG, and you'll read what many of the most successful trainers think of that idea. Just bite the bullet and get into the round pen!

July 24, 2011 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

That was the advice of my trainer, who was the president of NEBCA last year.

While I agree this will be maddening if done too much, right now Gibson needs to learn to obey my stay and down commands, my recall, and keep a fair distance and give from the sheep. These sheep haven't been worked by a dog since last fall and are with their lambs. If I let him go out in the big field I would have horns stuck in electic wire, charging at dogs, and jumping down the hill into the driveway (I know this from experience!) so a few days round the pen is good.

good for us for a while. we'll move inside the pen, and then work on a long line outside. All my stock, me and the dog need to warm up to this.

who are you?

July 24, 2011 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Unfortunately, the crop of young people coming up through have no sense of decorum. They use booze and drugs wantonly and ruin so many lovely spots like the Kill with their verbal puke. Try the White Creek.

July 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Unfortunately, the crop of young people coming up through have no sense of decorum. They use booze and drugs wantonly and ruin so many lovely spots like the Kill with their verbal puke. Try the White Creek.

July 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

I love swimming in cool, clear flowing, sweet tasting new england rivers. I grew up swimming in one nearly every summer day and I miss being able to do that. I have encountered MANY obnoxious teenagers who temporarily ruin the experience, but don't give up. A swim on a hot hot summer morning is truly a luxury and can sometimes be a less crazy time to visit the swimming hole :)

July 24, 2011 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

The river sounds delightful, minus the asses of course. Its 102 here. Wish I had a cool, crisp river close. Your meal looks fab...

July 24, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger HLN said...

There's really only one instance in which a good trainer would recommend the outside-the-round-pen technique, and that's with a dog who has very little natural feel for the stock in the first place. It's something that can work with "off" breeds (non-border collies), because they can be (and probably have to be) trained mechanically. But I doubt that Gibson is such a dog, and asking a dog who can feel is sheep to see and not control is inviting a nervous breakdown. The breeder of your dog, Patrick Shannahan, is known for his very natural training methods (he learned from Jack Knox, who was a master at letting a dog learn by feeling his stock). Riggs, Gibson's father, is an extremely natural dog. I know for a fact that Patrick's head would explode into a million little pieces if you asked him about putting your dog outside a round pen. On the other hand, if you're also attempting to train by having him work ewes who are still nursing lambs, perhaps it's better that he doesn't get too close, at that. Yikes!

July 24, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Working with Gibson, on my pasture, with my sheep is good. I'm not building a Trial dog, I'm building a working farm dog, and a few days learning to lay down outside a pen where high strung sheep can't run into the road or butt him is okay by me.

July 24, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Such a gorgeous dinner! And I bet it tasted great too.

July 24, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

So when you said "barrage of tubers" I had to read further to realize you didn't mean potatoes. :)

July 24, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Jburd said...

Makes me ready for fall down here in Georgia!

July 24, 2011 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Beautiful picture...I'm sure it was an even better dinner!

Sorry your river trip was ruined. We don't go to the lake often here because of the same issues. It's really sad because it's so damned hot down here that I'd like to just live in the water.

July 24, 2011 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger candisrrt said...

I was touched by your feast! I love the times that my whole meal comes from my garden. I don't have chickens yet but hope to.

July 24, 2011 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

The bear necessities of life, they'll come to you.

July 24, 2011 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

After a heart attack at age 37 I swam a mile every day for years until I torn the tendons in both my forearms - what a great work out. Now I settle for walking as much as I can and just swim for the fun of it.

July 24, 2011 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger daisy said...

That swimmin' hole looks heavenly!

July 25, 2011 at 5:07 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Unfortunately, the teenager you encountered is very, very typical - by no means an exception. He's been so indulged and has developed such a sense of entitlement that he sees himself as the center of the universe. The world revolves around him and his "needs".

The sad part is that he and his generation are going to face very, very tough times ahead. This new normal economy isn't going to make life as easy as it's been for the first couple of decades of their lives. But instead of sucking it up and earning their way, my fear is that they'll simply take what they want as resources continue to diminish. They don't have the skill set to do anything else. Sad and scary.

July 25, 2011 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Kathy, what do you think will come to the Justin Bieber Generation if the economy tanked?

July 25, 2011 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Ivy Mae said...

When I was little (and I'm only 31), nobody I knew cussed in front of women or children. Now, I have a two year old who goes everywhere with me, and I'm amazed at how many people will just let loose all sorts of bad words right in front of him. Once we were in a restaurant where a bunch of guys were cussing in front of him, and a retired school teacher got up and lambasted them right in front of everyone! It was awesome.

July 25, 2011 at 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when my grandmother tried raising meat chickens. Although they tasted wonderful, they were weird!

I feel disappointed that someone my age just threw away a forty dollar cooler because it was empty! My generation can be such a disappointment.


July 25, 2011 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Autumn, how old are you? You are pretty wise for someone still in high school. Good for you. You have a very sensible head on those hard working shoulders. Stay on the right track and you will do all those things you talk about. I sure wish there were more like you.

So how was dinner, Jenna? And how do you find a trainer? Do you know of any in the Chattanooga or North Ga. area? I will be needing one soon.

July 25, 2011 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

What a lovely picture of the river. I am so envious of you Jenna to have such a clean, clear river to swim in. All our rivers are muddy and probably full of snakes. It's so hot here even the swimming pool water is hot. A cool 85 degrees there yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon the thermometer on my back porch was 110 degrees and yes that's in the shade. If anyone wants to send some cooler weather or rain our way....

July 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Hey Jenna ~ know the frustration, immaturity shows itself at all ages. Anyhow, I was wondering ... when to start plating fall crops? Ilive along the Route 22 corridor in Central PA, plant my garlic in Sept., but would like to try fall/winter crops. Help me out, when do I start, what do I start with? Would like to try root vegs and lettuces. It is so dry here. Worst in area since 1930. (My regular garden is perishing even with watering from the hose.) Already lost squash, cucumbers, tomatoes skins are tough, but share your thoughts on late season planting. Thanks ahead of time ... love those Dragon carrots with the Chicken!

July 25, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris, I am 16!


July 25, 2011 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

in a society full of pale squishy teens its refreshing to hear there are some fit river goers left in the bunch, no matter how distasteful they may seem.

July 25, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Looks like you got a nice crop of potatoes and carrots after all! I'll be roasting the first of my home-grown chickens tonight, with a big pile of green beans from my garden. I think I'll leave my root crops in a little longer and eat the veggies that are demanding attention.

July 25, 2011 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger - said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 25, 2011 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I removed the last comment. it was a dig at me, and annonymous.

You are welcome to call me whatever you want, or say whatever you want about me on this blog, but not without using your real name and email address and profile link to your own website or contact info. I will not allow annonymous comments that hurt anyone's feelings.

July 25, 2011 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

Ughhhh, the internet is full of cowards like that. You rock Jenna!

July 25, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

@ Autumn, I think you are well on your way to 100% free thinking. Well done.

I think the Justin Bieber generation are still being shielded by parents who are keeping up with the jones' for dear, I am willing to forgo wants and stick to needs. I would have swam for that cooler for as good as I good give. We are going to see 3-4 more years of hard times here. These folks may be forced to learn thrift before long.

@Jenna, there is so much ugliness in the world, I don't mind being shielded from it for whatever reason. It is nice to enjoy a little slice of entertainment that is uplifting and pleasant to read. I can go back to the real world tomorrow where people cannot unsay what they just said. Thank you.

July 25, 2011 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Advice is such a funny thing. One of my boys has some mental issues and you would be AMAZED at how critical/ugly/downright mean people can be even those who supposedly care about him. And I cannot count the times someone has told me to IGNORE what his doctors are telling me. Why would I spend the oh so big bucks to see doctors if I was just going to 'ignore' them?
If the trainer you are using tells you to practice sit and stay doing such and so, well, gosh, isn't that why you are hauling Gibson and yourself to her place week after week? You don't have better things to do on your own place???
I am so enjoying learning how you train a working dog. My Howler is great but if you asked him to round up the chickens in our backyard or the cows for the milkman, buddy, he would hightail it for the tile floor where it is nice and cool and no one bothers his mid-afternoon nap. Thanks for all you share, Jenna.

July 25, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

I am more than willing to hear views, criticisms, even angry yells from people who use their real names or profiles. But hiding behind dashes or periods is not acceptable. I like getting hit where I can see the punches. It's why I love it when MeredithA or E slam me with a wake-up dig or what have you. they Have been around forever. I love those two.

July 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Kaichai said...

Haha! I kept thinking about all the sorts of tubers I know... potatoes, yams, mandioca, taro, rampion, and sweet potatoes. It took me a while to register that it was a descriptor for the people there!

I tend to disassociate myself with people my own age. Most kids at my university don't knit or even know how to cook dinner. They find it odd that I can spin my rabbit's fibres. (But my good friends just find it amusing and interesting.) At this point in my life, I've had so many unusual experiences that I find it very difficult to relate to the constant binge scene and don't find it enjoyable to go out partying night after night. (Especially as engineering is a very time and energy intensive subject.)

They find it odd that I want to have a farm (or two!) in the future even though I want to pursue a PhD. But, there was one professor at my last university that was a farmer in Verde Valley, AZ and taught full time two days a week. He and I got along very well.

July 25, 2011 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Coco said...

I remember tubing down the Apple River in Wisconsin many, many moons ago. There were jerks then, too.

Just to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger award over at my place if you´d like to pick it up.

Enjoy your summer!

July 26, 2011 at 4:30 AM  
Blogger CarolG said...

Sadly, the jerks are so much more high-profile than the quietly nice ordinary people. I love the way you showed us your dinner! It looked wonderful. I'm really enjoying learning about how you are training Gibson. You know your goals and are willing to work so hard to achieve them. I love reading your blog. So many people dream the dream, you are making it come real one shovel full at a time.

July 26, 2011 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Campbell Kids said...

I have NO patience with thoughtless, self-centered people who ruin a perfectly good spot in life with foul language. Never have and never will. As for the lazy, spoiled kid who tossed the $39 cooler in the river, I'm afraid his time will come. Let's hope.

Hopefully, next time you go to the river it will be serene and quiet...

July 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Campbell Kids said...

I also wanted to congratulate you on a meal well done! Not many people can say they produced such a feast!

July 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger jennifer said...

I am so glad you enjoy the beauty you have close to you everyday. I think too many of us don't really look around and see what we do have close by. We live such hurried lives and the key to our contentment is to take these moments. I enjoy reading about your adventures.

July 27, 2011 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

"When the economy tanks"???

I believe it already has, but I do fear it's going to get worse. Much worse. Wall Street is continuing to strip the U.S. of any and all funds, including tax payer dollars.

Also, more people = fewer resources. Not a good combo.

I just hope they keep their grubby hands off Social Security and Medicare. I'm 53. This isn't looking good.... retirement? Ha!

Hopefully I will be able-bodied enough to grow some food and work enough to pay down my mortgage and not have to "sell the farm"!!!

July 30, 2011 at 6:48 PM  

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