Monday, 6 August 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

The summer is arguably the busiest season in gamekeeping. With 16 hours of sunlight a day, you feel obligated to make use of them all. Young poults are going from their brooder houses to large outdoor pens in the woods. Now they face rain, wind, and potential predation from buzzards, sparrow hawks, and foxes, but they feather up and learn to hide away when danger approaches. They grow much better out of doors.

The keeper's days are long and monotonous; tipping bags of pellets into feeders, topping up drinkers, sitting by newly released pens of birds until dark, to make sure they settle (you can at least bring wine and a book for that last job; I often volunteer). Stalking deer is done very early or very late. And of course I still have to find time to manage my vegetable garden, work the dogs, look after the sheep and horses, and go to my own jobs (paid and volunteer).

In the face of all this work, I decided to go holiday. Or what passes for a holiday when you have livestock and commitments. Two hours before sunset, I put up a tent in our field five miles away, brought a kettle and tea bags, reading material, and a few dogs for company, and slept out overnight.


It's from the "A Change is as Good as a Rest" school of vacationing. 

Ahhhhh....

Like the pheasant poults, I do better outdoors. The view is bucolic; in my opinion, sitting and looking are two very underrated activities. I finally got a chance to catch up on a backlog of New Yorker magazines without people constantly dropping by unannounced - my personal bete noire. Our house is like Grand Central Station and, quite frankly, my nerves can't take it. A vacation from my own house was necessary.

Pip and Dakota hared around the ten acres until dark, excavating field mice nests and generally bothering the local wildlife. It was like Disneyland for dogs - if Disneyland encouraged kids to chase Donald and dig up Mickey. Pip found a badger latrine (another attraction lacking at theme parks) -


I had to give her a bath in the trough with hand soap before she smelled tolerable enough to be allowed inside the tent. 

In the morning, Mike showed up with a fresh pot of coffee and croissants, and we had a peaceful breakfast together, just the two of us. Mike was relieved to find a much happier, more relaxed wife. He's suggested I go every Saturday night.

I readily agreed.

20 comments:

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Some people just don't get how necessary this is. I don't trust those people. I like how your husband thinks. ANd that he brings coffee.

Casey said...

You're an inspiration for us busy folk! Even small breaks like this do wonders - time to schedule mine. Thanks for sharing.

Poppy Cottage said...

You might wake one Sunday morning to find another tent pitched!!!

Sounds bliss. (even the smelly dog!!)

Seester said...

Did you have a gun with you? I think that is the only way I could sleep in a tent like that. I am so very much built for the city. I don't fear walking around San Francisco at night (with headphones in, no less) but I cannot sleep in a tent without fear of being murdered. Too many 80's horror movies, I reckon. But give me a weekend away in a fancy hotel with a pool and a fluffy duvet and I am in heaven!
Glad you found some solitude -- that is so important to maintain sanity. I think unannounced guests are probably what turned Jason Voorhees and Angela Baker into camp-going homicidal maniacs.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind pitching a tent on the beach! I would be scared to death of snakes camped out in a grassy wooded area! It does look quite relaxing though!

Wanda

Jennifer Montero said...

He definitely earned some brownie points - what in our house is called "the thinking man's foreplay".

Jennifer Montero said...

Casey, write back and let us know what you did on your small break - we're always looking for new ideas.

Jennifer Montero said...

I'm considering setting up a women's temporary outdoor refuge after all the requests to come along. Dogs welcome of course.

Jennifer Montero said...

Wanda - you are safe from snakes here I assure you. We only have 2 types in Britain, the grass snake and the adder. Only the latter is poisonous and it prefers heathlands not hayfields. But the beach is only 15 min from here, so you're in luck!

Jennifer Montero said...

Seester - I learned from 80s slasher films that only the slutty camp counsellors get "Jason-ed". And not to go into the basement because you heard something, or hang your laundry out in the dark. Or assume that your crazy brother is still safely locked away in the mental asylum on Halloween night.

I think I see now why I never found time to read all those classic literature novels.

No gun, but testy german shepherd that barks at strangers is enough to make me feel safe. Still happy to join you in a swanky hotel anytime.

Sara said...

That's a great way to catch up on New Yorker's! Glad you found some much needed solitude. You deserve it!

megan said...

awesome, on all counts.

megan said...

if I could fly the dog, we'd be in.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

The night before last, Kevin and I took the boat out to Cotuit Bay -- just a stone's throw, really -- and slept on it, for the same reason. That, and because we wanted to get the jump on some early-morning fishing.

It was good, but it would have been way better if Mike had showed up in the morning with coffee and croissants. Can you let him know, next time we go out?

Patti Skorupa said...

Perhaps you could loan (rent/lease) a dog along with the tent and coffee and croissant breakfast (berry jam would work, too), for all the women who need to get away but live a bit too far to drive or fly their own dogs. I would pay extra for Spud snuggles.

Jen said...

Love the dog attractions. One time when we took our dog camping, she found bear poop to roll in. The rain did nothing to clean her off, but it did add wet dog to the smell.

Jennifer Montero said...

Patti - dogs come free with every visit, along with a year's supply of dog hair to take home with you on your clothes.

Jennifer Montero said...

Mike says coffee and croissants in return for some early morning fishing? DEAL!

Jennifer Montero said...

Oh yeah. Any of those musky poops like bear and badger just linger, don't they? There is a cologne sold in the UK called 'Wet Gun Dog'...

Patti Skorupa said...

No worries, Jen. I would be bringing my own three-month supply in my suitcase.

You do know that dog hair is considered a condiment in my house?