Sunday, May 22, 2011

200 watts

If you sprinted behind sheep for twenty minutes straight—you'd appreciate a tub of cold water too!

Gibson had a herding lesson today down at Tanstaafl (There aint no such thing as a free lunch) Farm in Greenfield, Massachusetts today. Between lambing, Jasper, cash flow, and the work weekends of pasture expansion: herding lessons have been on the decline. This isn't such a big deal, as G is only a year old and still a baby in the world of working sheep dogs. He has plenty of time to learn the ropes.

Today was a warm, muggy, overcast day. My lesson was in the late afternoon, and I was expecting my pup's usual amount of tom foolery. Gibson did not disappoint. He was so excited to be around sheep he lost most of his sense and was all high tails and bravado for the first fifteen minutes in the round pen. We work on a long line, with flags on sticks and training staffs and do our best to get him to calmly balance sheep between my movements. At a fast walk, if I move left, he should move right. If I turn last, he should turn to always match my choice and balance the stock between us. We do our best.

Gibson's 49-pounds, was no match for the little, prick-eared, 35-pound, sprite Emmy, who has three-years under her hide and takes commands practically at a whisper. When Denise sent her up the field to gather and fetch the three hair sheep we would be training with, I watch in confused awe. How do you get from Gibson to Emmy? From Jenna to Denise? I have no idea. I just listen to my teacher, and trust in the process. Like a car can drive cross country in the dark with only seeing the 100 feet of headlights in front of it—I train my dog a step at a time.

I have a clunky way about me, and a clunky young dog, and watching me in a herding lesson is watching a confused woman with a stick yell "LIE DOWN" 70-jillion times. But then by some point in the lesson Gibson calms down and moves sheep like a proper dog and I beam like I'm made of Tiffany glass and my heart's 200 watts of pride. Denise thinks we can start working on our out run next lesson. Just the idea makes me a little weak in the knees.

I have more to update you on. I brought home my ram lamb from Denise's farm tonight, and he is gorgeous. He'll be this fall's ram (and possibly this winter's roast). And three Bourbon Red poults are chirping away in the brooder box. (They were on sale at the Salem Agway, at a price too good to turn down), but that needs to wait till tomorrow. I need a hot shower in ways you don't want to understand, but let's just say bleach-scrubbing the ram crate for an hour and you get the picture. I know a lot of people say they put up with a lot of shit in their lives, but few of them have the laundry to prove it.

Also, I named the Milk snake Trevor.


Blogger Paula said...

oh cool. you named the snake. i never thought of maing the garter snake that keeps scaring me, but i thing that once you name the, they're kind of part of the livestock. makes me want to name mine.

so why trevor?

May 22, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Trevor is a great snake name.

May 22, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

that should be 'naming the garter snake'

May 22, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Agreed. So what should I call my garter snake?

May 22, 2011 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...


May 22, 2011 at 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, just gotta say that that exchange in the comments made me actually laugh out loud - awesome. I look forward to hearing more about lessons and rams and Bourbon Reds. the snake naming totally made my day, though.

May 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

I bet Gibson sleeps well tonight!

May 22, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

No snakes around here. I did name the steer skull Elmo however. Kevin and Trevor are great snake names.

May 22, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Kevin is my ex-husband's name and he definitely was a snake in the grass (and not in a good way). I'm laughing outloud about "the laundry to prove it" and I really needed a good laugh today - thanks!

May 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

I love Trevor and Kevin for snake names. If another shows up, though, you have to name it Jeremy. My kids had crickets when we were in China and they were named Jennifer and Jeremy. I love the incongruity of those names.

I'm impressed with how cool the chicken was with Trevor. Although maybe it's because she is a Rhodie (guessing by the color)? My Rhodie is either unbelievably brave or unbelievably stupid. Or both. Her name is Ruby.

May 22, 2011 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Trista Hill said...

I love all the names you pick for your animals.

May 22, 2011 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Genevieve said...

What an adorable picture of Gibson!

May 22, 2011 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Best of luck with the Bourbon Reds. The adage that "if there is a way to kill yourself a turkey will find it" is absolutely true. This is the third year I've had turkeys and I've experienced attrition from stupidity every year.
You may find that the chickens peck Trevor into leaving or death. When mine were free ranging they ate more than one snake.

May 23, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gibson looks almost happy in the photo! We had a garter snake that lived in our shed for a really long time named Harry.


May 23, 2011 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"I know a lot of people say they put up with a lot of shit in their lives, but few of them have the laundry to prove it." I LOVE IT! My husband and I had a conversation along these lines this weekend. I picked up a couple of cute shirts at the thrift store this weekend that I could wear whilst doing chores. I asked my husband "Why do I need new clothes if the chickens are just going to poop on me?" He agreed! :)

May 23, 2011 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

"I know a lot of people say they put up with a lot of shit in their lives, but few of them have the laundry to prove it."
This is great and I think this should be made into a Tshirt. It could even have images of various styles of barn yard droppings on one side and the quote on the other. One of you geniuses out there should be able to do it.

May 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Oh Kevin is a great name for a snake! Makes him less threatening. I am soooooooooooo friggin terrafied of snakes. But I agree that naming them makes them a part of the farm. Just do your job and stay out of my way!!!! Now I am horrified to reach for eggs under my hens. I havent had that pleasure yet, thank god. But I did have the pleasure of going to reach in and almost grabbing a sleeping opossum! Holy crap I screamed as loud as I could and almost pissed myself! Then just laughed at my response. My husband came out to remove it.

May 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger euclid314 said...

The comments are nearly as much fun to read as the entry itself. Naming the critters does somehow make them less intimidating.

May 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Cat K said...

This is one of my favorite photos you have ever posted. And that's saying something.

May 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Love the picture! Life sounds busy and full. Love how you share it with us.

May 23, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Plant City Homestead said...

Love the photo of Gibson. That is farm dog personified. So glad you found the time for a lesson. I have started Oliver with the ducks, and that is a major challenge. I can't imagine trying to have self-control around sheep.

The t-shirt idea is great. My laundry is bad enough with just ducks, ram sized poo is an entirely different story. Extra rinse cycle? :)

Hope Trevor keeps his mouth off the chicks and eggs.

May 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger karental said...

The water snake who lived in my self-watering containers last year was called "Ralph". He stayed with us for the whole summer when there was no water to be found anywhere. One day he was gone. I hope he found a lovely culvert to call his own.

May 23, 2011 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


May 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

Hehe, Trevor is my cousin's name, and "Kevin" reminds me of the movie Up. ("Kevin's a GIRL?" - Russel)

So what did/will you name the ram, if at all?

And what should I name my Boer buck? lol. You all have good suggestions. :)
So far I have Tansy, Cinnamon, Honey, Buckshot, Sugar, (Tomahawk was Sugar and Buckshot's dad)... I'm at a total loss.

I love the picture of Gibson too, he looks as if he's REALLY enjoying that tub of water after a hard workout.

May 23, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I always wanted to name a Buck TinType.

I think I'll name the new ram Atlas. He's the whole world to these ewes now.

May 23, 2011 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

I rescued a little brown snake from a rather detirmined robin yesterday. Wish I'd had my camera to capture that - I don't know what was more funny, the robin attempting to pick up a snake that was twice the length of itself or the completely resigned attitude of the snake who would just go limp knowing that the robin couldn't fly off with that much weight in it's mouth.

I didn't name the snake tho, just released it into my aunt's garden.

May 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

Jenna, I hope you don't mind but I downloaded the pix of Gibson to share with a fellow farmer who provides my eggs and beef for my family. He is a real animal lover and will get a blast of joy from this picture. You can just see the ahhhh coming from his mouth! Peace-Karen from CT

June 22, 2011 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Of course Karen!

June 23, 2011 at 6:32 AM  

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