Yesterday was a big day out for me. I was gone from the farm before light till after dark, and that doesn’t happen very often. The day didn’t turn out as originally expected–but it turned out to be fun and interesting in unexpected ways. I had been expecting my cousin to be there with his corn grinder, which gives him a place to sell his cornmeal at the festival along with his demonstration. I was planning to put my apple butter out there. Unfortunately, at the last minute, he wasn’t able to go. This was disappointing.
I decided to go anyway. After all, I’d told readers I would be there with my apple and pear wares, and I had to make my best effort. I brought Gwennie with me because I didn’t know what else to do with her. She’s an escaper, and I haven’t yet figured out how to keep her in a field. Fields where I can contain Coco, Chloe, and goats do not contain Gwennie. There’s no way I can leave a dog in the house alone for 12-14 hours. I’ve never taken Gwennie out in public before, so I wasn’t sure how this would go, but I had no other choice since I haven’t yet had time to resolve the confinement issue for times when I need to go out for extended periods. (I didn’t like the idea of putting her in a crate for such a long time.)
And by the way, I’ve never gone to the festival “by myself” before, so this whole thing felt a little weird. The teenagers were out and about, but busy with their teenage selves most of the time. I don’t think I need a man to run a farm–do I need a man to go to a festival? Seriously.
I’ve never had so much fun at the festival–or talked to so many people! Nobody is a stranger when you have a dog! (I should have strapped pints of apple butter to her back. Too bad I didn’t think of that before!) Gwennie was a hit with every step I took–when I could take steps. We were stopped constantly by people who wanted to pet her. She lapped it up. From babies reaching out from their strollers to senior citizens sitting on benches, everyone wanted a piece of her. Nothing fazed her, not the crowds, the noise, the yelling, the bands, even the carnival–which we walked through several times, with its swirling, swinging overhead rides and loud sounds. Some people said, “Can I pet her?” beforehand, but most people just dug right in, assaulting her with scratches and pats. Some people just called out, “Dude, that is a gorgeous dog!” as they walked by, while other people launched into long conversations with me about how much they love dogs, asking what kind of dog is she, and telling me all about their dogs. All of the other dogs we came across at the festival were little dogs, and she didn’t make a single growl or bark at any of them. She let me have black walnut pancakes in the morning then I shared a corn dog (without the stick!) with her for lunch. I also brought dog food and water, and I took her back to the Explorer periodically to snack/drink.
Gwennie’s day pretty much looked like this (from early before the crowds, through the crowds and parade, and to the livestock barn):
I’ve never had a “goin’ out” dog before–and I love it. I think Casper would probably like to go out, but his excessive excitability would scare me a little. He loves loves loves people, so that wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m afraid he would be over-excited when he saw other dogs, and he also scares easily, so the noises of the crowds and the carnival and the parade would probably make it not a good idea, at least for a festival atmosphere. Coco and Chloe have the same backbone of zen composure that Gwennie has, of course, but they are cut from different cloth to some degree. I keep them in the field, and while they would be great with people if I took them out, I’m also afraid of how they would interact with other dogs in public. Keeping them in the field with livestock hones their instincts to view other dogs as threats. By nature, they are the same dogs, but by nurture, Gwennie is different.
Some readers did find me–I wasn’t too hard to find walking around with the center of attention–and I sold apple butter out of the back of my Explorer.
For the afternoon/evening, I went over to the livestock barn to put in some master gardener volunteer credit hours with the extension service. Gwennie came there with me, too, of course, and in a crowded barn with animals and kids and an auction, she was just the same, calm and sweet with everyone. She sat at my feet while I manned the buyers signup table, taking down people’s info and assigning numbers on auction cards. The 4-H livestock auction is an interesting place, a kind of crossroads between farmers and the local high-profile denizens. A lot of the people who are at the auction aren’t there because they actually want the animal. Often, the animal is donated back after the bid is won. The 4-H’er gets the auction price (often, they’re saving up for their college funds) and then the animal is put up on resale (essentially, sold twice) and the second sale is someone who actually wants the animal–and that sale price goes to the 4-H scholarship fund or other things, depending on what the original buyer designates). The original buyers are most often there to support the 4-H program and the community, and they like to frame a photo of the 4-H’er and their animal that they bought to hang in their store, office, etc. So, lots of local business people and politicians, etc. Some of the prominent farmers are also there, buying animals they plan to keep, just to support the 4-H kids. All that to say–it is an interesting job to man the signup table for the 4-H auction. I also sold some apple butter out of the back of my Explorer in down times at the ag barn because some readers found me there, too.
Some days don’t end up the way you expect, but yesterday made me remember that it’s a good thing to be open to whatever the day brings. The best days come by surprise.
If you missed me at the festival yesterday–or couldn’t go anyway because you don’t live around here–I will have my apple and pear wares up on my Farm Store page soon! I’ve got lots left and need to sell it!