Saturday, November 26, 2016

Almost Dark

It was almost dark. It seems night comes faster here than anywhere else in the world. I live on the east side of a mountain and in winter around 3PM the sun is gone. Well, not “gone” but on the other side of my hill and fires need to be lit. It was closer to 4:45 when I was walking up my road. I had Aya Cash on my left fist with her hood on and a rabbit in my right hand. Well, most of the rabbit. She had swooped down on it and killed it fast around 3:45, but spent an hour eating its entire head and right forearm before she felt full enough to walk home. So if you happened to be driving down my mountain at dusk you would see a woman with a hawk and a decapitated rabbit covered in sweat heading home.

Still, I was proud of her. The rabbit easily weighed more than she did. While she ate I sat down on my hunting bag among the thorns and read some Harry Potter. When a bird takes her first rabbit (this is like you free base jumping out of a Redwood to kill a deer with your bare hands) you don’t rush things. You let her eat until she is full. That meant watching a hawk take apart a jaw and skull piece by piece while reading The Prisoner of Azkaban and thinking about farm chores. When she was nearly full it was almost dark. I picked up her, the rabbit, and carried both home on the overworked Pineo glove and slipped her hood on. There were serious deer hunters all up and down this mountain today and my “big kill” was the cottontail I planned on splitting with a hawk named after an Actress.

I put Aya back in her Mews and brought the rabbit inside to skin and separate. I only wanted to keep the back thighs. The rest was hers. Aya would feast tomorrow on the rest of this rabbit but I wanted to but out and vacuum seal the thighs for the freezer. It didn’t take long and before I knew it I had written with a sharpie on plastic “Rabbit Legs - 11/26/16” and set them among the lamb chops, hams, and chickens in the freezer. It was the first wild game added to the coffer and it came from a wild animal I had trapped, trained, mentored, released, and hunted beside. I felt a pride that could make a sponge drip.

In other new: I think Gibson has a broken toe. There is nothing for it other than rest and pain meds. But I am without the most important member of my livestock management team. The good news is that Friday is here and ready to step up. She doesn’t have his instinct but the sheep have been trained to see border collies as Authority Figures. If I tell her where to run, lay down, and stay she can work temp.

That is all the dispatch I have for tonight. If you read this, do comment. It makes this mountain seem smaller when strangers paying attention say hello. If you don’t want to comment publicly, just email.

46 Comments:

Blogger Robin-Taine Brownell said...

Hey Jenna, reading this from the city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. I also start turning on the lights around 3 pm this time of year. I tend to dread this time of year, much preferring the warmer weather and longer days of spring and summer. However, I guess we'll all dig in and enjoy each other's company (even if it is a virtual tea party).

November 26, 2016 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I was happy to see a post up from you. Though I haven't eaten meat in years, I spent a good part of the day cooking up & canning turkey meat and broth for my pups... 14 pints. After seeing my SIL throw away everything that wasn't eaten on Thanksgiving a few years ago, I started requesting the remains. It seems the least I can do to honor that life.

November 26, 2016 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger ddu said...

"Strangers paying attention" may not be a good idea in other contexts, but this outsider always feels a friendly vibe reading your blog. Brava, Aya, on her first, um, dissection. And best wishes to Gibson as his paw mends. Hope he is not humbled and annoyed watching his young protege do his job for a few days. Strength and courage to you, Jenna: a full larder, a full heart, and a feather quilt. Keep writing, even when strangers omit to drop in to remind you -- you are worthy. DDU

November 26, 2016 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Thanks for the post! I've been missing the updates all week. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2016 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Cindie said...

I so enjoy reading your blog.

November 26, 2016 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

I was outside reading in the dusk today too - first day in a while I've been at home in the daylight, and it hasn't been snowing or tipping down with rain, so I let the 4 chickens out for some free range time.

As a red shouldered hawk pinned one of our girls down and tried to eat her when we were just 15 feet away earlier this year, we tend to stay close when they are out of their run now, but can relax with a book as the light drops and they move close to the coop. Seems strange to write of a hawk attacking the chickens as you celebrate Aya's first rabbit while hunting with you!?

It wasn't too cold, but still, as you mentioned in a recent post something so wonderful about coming in from the dark and feeling the heat of the fire immediately blanket you with warmth.

So that's how my evening went in Western NY - about 5 hours from your mountain!

November 26, 2016 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Kasi S. said...

What a proud moment! Go Aya! :)
Solstice is getting close. Soon there will be more light again. Enjoy the dark for now.

November 26, 2016 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hooray for Aya's first catch! What an accomplishment for both of you.

November 26, 2016 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Jennie said...

Hi Jenna - just saying hello from Connecticut. Spent 40 minutes this morning out in a high field owned by my daughter and son-in-law's landlord with my children and grandchildren for our annual family photo. My son is home from school and is a terrific photographer so her took the pictures. The landlord owns a small herd of "beefers" and they followed us on their side of the fence bellowing constantly in hopes we would give in and bring them some hay. I love cattle so was taking as many pictures of them as I did of my family! For me, a native Connecticuter who has seen so much farmland in this state go to urban sprawl over the years, I just felt so thankful there is still farmland here and that my children and grandchildren appreciate it as much as I do. It is night now, but the thoughts of our time out in that field add "light" to this evening. Thanks for your great blog.

November 26, 2016 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger kbrow said...

Congratulations! Glad you made it home before nightfall.

November 27, 2016 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Nerissa said...

It sounds like a good arrangement between you and Aya. I really like rabbit meat but am always annoyed with dealing with any bits other than the legs and feel guilty if I don't find an enjoyable way to eat them. You have a great solution & get to learn all sorts of things & have a hunting partner along the way. Keep writing, just over a month til solstice & the sun returns.

November 27, 2016 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Hello!! Congrats to you and Aya on such an amazing hunt. We're in a little valley here and get to watch the sun setting behind the western mountains, giving us light until about 4:30. When I worked outside my home, I hated the early darkness - now I don't mind it so much :) Hope you have a restful night!
-Jaime

November 27, 2016 at 12:38 AM  
Blogger lemontreelane said...

Hello! Hope Gibson heals quickly and Friday steps up her game. (He is handsome, but her face is fantastic, like a yin and yang symbol.)

November 27, 2016 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Elina Bank said...

Thank you for sharing, Jenna. That is an amazing story! Your writing always reads as the best memoir ever; you're really, really good at it. I have Barnheart next to my bedside bookshelf. Boy am I feeling Barnheart tonight. I hope you enjoy your rabbit thighs!

November 27, 2016 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Janna said...

Congrats on Aya's kill! That's great.

Sorry to hear about Gibson's toe. Ouch. Like you said, Firday can take up the work. Sorta, kinda, anyway.

All the best ffrom frosty Germany

November 27, 2016 at 3:56 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

We lived 10 years in the hills of Chenango County. In winter, the sun rose late over the hill on our east and set early behind the trees to our west. Now we are in western Michigan, nary a hill in sight, but we are surrounded by tall trees. Our winter sun clears their tops near noon and is sunk a few hours later. I've never liked the cold or snow but the darkness is soul sucking. I look forward to the solstice.

November 27, 2016 at 6:00 AM  
Blogger Shanda said...

I'm not a frequent commenter just because I'm a quiet kind of person but your "please leave a comment" left me wondering if indeed you needed to hear some encouragement. I loved the image of you that was created in my mind of you reading outside while Aya consumed her reward. There is just something about reading outside isn't there? Sometimes I see the life that other people lead and realize how blessed we are to live close to the land. I know that it's not for everyone and it's not without its struggles and heartache, but it's oh so worth it!

November 27, 2016 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger S.e. Hardy said...

Hi from north central NC :)

November 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Charlotte Boord said...

Great post. I was wondering, do you ever worry about getting accidentally shot by one of the hunters in your area while you're wandering around in the woods?
I hope Gibson's toe heals quickly.

November 27, 2016 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger aart said...

Congrats on your first hawk kill!(I think it's the first?)

November 27, 2016 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Thank you all, and this isn't our first kill or kill with a bird, but it is the first bird I trained that would take on big bunnies!

November 27, 2016 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Congrats to you and Aya, what a rush!

November 27, 2016 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

hello!

November 27, 2016 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Amos said...

Hi!! I love reading your posts, even though I don't comment all that often. :)

November 28, 2016 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Hope Gibson heals up quick!

November 28, 2016 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Congrats to you from Wisconsin for all the good, hard work you're doing!

November 28, 2016 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger elsie said...

Hello from Charlottesville, VA. I read often but rarely comment. Congrats on the rabbit and hope your pup heals fast!

November 28, 2016 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Hi from Washington. Spent the long weekend building boxes for raised planter beds, inspired (at least partly) by you, to plant veggies in the spring. It gets dark early here too (plus it rained all weekend), but that makes spring sunshine so much sweeter.

November 28, 2016 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love your posts as well. I hope Gibson is better very soon. Aya is a real wonder to me.

November 28, 2016 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I just found your book "cold antler farm" on the new book shelf of our local library , and I have only read the first few chapters but I just love it. Your "leap" from the rocks over the waterfall is a wonderful story that nudged my soul. I texted my sister right away and suggested that she read the book. And just now I looked though a few of your blog posts--busy at work so I didn't have time to do more than glance through right now. I think you mentioned in one recent post that you made political statements and "offended" some readers. That makes me sad, and I want to comment about that. First of all, please remind yourself that, as far as I can tell from what I have read of your work so far, you are not a judging or "I have the only truth" kind of person. You write in an inviting, accepting way, saying, "here is my truth, here I am trying to live my truth" and you don't attack or reject anyone. So it is sad to me that others would do that to you. Try to ignore them! And secondly, I think people with a variety of opinions and beliefs should listen to each other with open hearts and minds. Anyway sorry for a long-winded comment. You bravely and generously put yourself "out there" in the bloggosphere--thank you for that! Don't let cranky or angry people get under your skin. Their loss.You're doing great!! Go girl!

November 28, 2016 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger A.L. M. said...

Thank you for sharing that amazing moment in the woods with your hawk. Fascinating! It gets dark early here too, so I can't imagine how it must look being on the dark side of the mountain like you are. No wonder I feel like I need to curl up in a blanket and listen to the wind at 6 p.m. with it getting dark so early. Sometimes I think about banning artificial light from my life for a day and seeing what time, and how peacefully, I fall asleep. Maybe tomorrow....

November 28, 2016 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger hart said...

Poor Gibson, a broken toe and you can't even tape it to the next toe like people do..

November 28, 2016 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Jacquie said...

Sending you lots of cozy from Baraboo Wisconsin. I have enough fiber, yarn and fabric to see me through the winter. Hot chocolate with Baileys is my winter drink of choice. Stock some up girl, it's fabulous.

November 28, 2016 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Jenna...dark here early in Wisconsin today. I love the cloudy days, though, and all they bring. Blessings....

November 28, 2016 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

hart? why the hell would you assume that my dogs aren't getting medical attention? Because I didn't write about it in detail?! Creeps.

November 29, 2016 at 1:08 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

And thank you all, the rest of you, for the kind words of support, emails, Facebook and twitter messages. It is true encouragement!

November 29, 2016 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

You are a kind, caring, loving dog owner and its obvious each time you mention them. Hug them from me!

November 29, 2016 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Charlotte Boord said...

Jenna, I don't think 'hart' meant to say you weren't giving Gibson medical attention. I might not have thought about taping a dog's broken toe to the next one either, at least that might not have been my first thought. Maybe she didn't realize that that's how you treat dogs, too. Anyone who reads your blog KNOWS you take care of your animals.
BTW, I loved all your October posts, I wish it was October every month so we could read more from you, but I also realize you have other work that also must be done to keep the farm going. So, I'll be patient, and happy when you do post something.

November 29, 2016 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Kim Saylor said...

I live on a river with a Palisade directly behind my house, so I sympathize with the "winter sun gone around 3pm" syndrome. Loved the story of your first significant (i.e. not a mouse) hunt. Was thrilled for you! These are the moments that make life exciting. You put a lot of effort and patience into working towards a goal that ultimately relies on the will of another being. That moment when they work with you is golden. You have good reason to be proud.

November 29, 2016 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Stevie Rodriguez said...

Hello! I usually check in every few days to see what you're up to. I'm in Grafton, and it feels like it's always dark this time of year. My chickens (which I own only because my husband and son saw you speak about chicken ownership at a library a long time ago!) go in around 4:00 now.

Our Dobie is always hurting her feet from running and hiking with me. She's had two broken toes and ripped a toenail off last summer. They heal up pretty quickly. Wishing Gibson a speedy recovery. :)

November 29, 2016 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Hi Jenna, still reading up here in Montreal. I hope Gibson feels better soon. Congratulations to both you and Aya for a job well done!

Now I am off to go and read 'The Name of the Wind'...again.

November 29, 2016 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Hi from the Seattle area! I've been reading your blog for years now. Thank you for sharing all the ups and downs and for taking me along on your journey.

The sun disappears early for us, too. :)

November 30, 2016 at 1:47 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

The only good part of the early darkness this time of year is in 22 days, the amount of daylight begins to increase although very slowly.
One of my GSDs had a broken toe and she never slowed down. I guess it was high pain tolerance.

November 30, 2016 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Tara_LB said...

Reading on the otherside of the world. OUr days are getting longer and longer.
Happy hunting to you and your Feathered Acress xx

December 1, 2016 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Darkness closing in here in the UK as well. I am curled up in blankets by my Rayburn, as you are by your woodstove. My hairy Welshie dreams with frosty whiskers as your beautiful fell does. A world apart, but a winter in common. x

December 1, 2016 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Hart, if I did jump down your throat up there because I read it as "Jenna didnt tape the toe, poor Gibson" and not "dogs don't have thumbs" I am sorry. Someone called me on that and I just knee-jerked because the comment had an anonymous profile. WHich to me is a red flag.

December 2, 2016 at 7:58 AM  

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