Michigan ~ Day 10

Ok, I actually got off work at 6 today, which is not typical, and thus, I do have time to do an in-depth post on what I mean when I say that we ‘go fishing.’

Jimmy drives in with the truck and boat, the Pursuit, at 5am on the dot – or 5:30; he tells us which it is – and leaves promptly five minutes later. He backs the boat into the water, unlatches it, and we’re all in and on our way within 30 minutes or less. While on the road, all our poles are in the bottom of the boat; as soon as we get out onto water, we place the poles – 10 of them – in their respective slots. Jimmy either drives us out, or hands the wheel over to Chris and starts putting spoons/hooks/bait/other-things-I-have-yet-to-learn-the-names-of on the lines while we’re still in the no-wake area. Once we’re out past that, Jimmy takes over driving and we fly. 

Chris takes over driving and Jimmy starts setting lines. He has different lines for different purposes – copper line, for example. The lines go to different depths, so we have the water covered from 30 feet deep to 120 feet, if I remember correctly. Different fish like different temperatures of water, hence the covering the water at different depths.

I personally do not enjoy driving at all. It’s easier to stay straight when the boat is going faster, but when it’s going slow – which, we go pretty slow once we’ve set lines – the wheel is incredibly sensitive, and the waves necessitate a sort of constant zig-zag. The choppier the waves, the worse it is. Your objective is to keep the lines straight; if you go too far one way or another, the lines will run into each other, and untangling is a headache. Fortunately I have not caused this to happen – after the first time, Chris and Jimmy said I did just fine – but I’d prefer to avoid possible occasions of major mess-ups. Haha.

The GPS tracks where we’ve fished before, and the places that Jimmy has marked as hotspots. The dashboard also has instruments which tell us the speed of the boat vs. the speed our lines are going underwater, the temperature of the water, how many feet down the floor is so that we know we’re not dragging our lines along the bottom, and we can even see little grey lines or specks which are fish.

From there, it’s waiting. The drag(?) is set loosely enough so that if a fish bites and pulls on the line, the line will start to go out and we can hear it. It’s a little fast-clicking noise that we’re listening for to indicate a bite. Even then, though, you have to account for the wind, or for the boat speeding up. Jimmy and Chris are much better at recognizing false alarms than I am. After all, you don’t want to be reeling in 120 feet of line at a false alarm!! It takes time to set, and even more time to bring in properly. Two of the lines, you do have to watch, as opposed to listening for; they’re weighted in such a manner that when a fish bites, you actually see the pole come up because the weight has been temporarily relieved, and then dips back down.

While we’re waiting, we share backgrounds, talk about the schedule, bounce ideas off of each other… we have good conversations while waiting for fish. And we also enjoy just sitting there together, quietly, marveling at the sunrise, in awe of the clarity of both sky and water.

When a fish bites, you have to keep a certain amount of tension on the line. If it goes slack, the hook could come out, and if you pull too hard, the line could break, so what you do is you reel in a few feet, then pull the line back, reel in a few more feet, and pull. You repeat this until the fish is close enough to net. If you’re reeling in 120 feet of line, this takes several minutes, and your arms can get really tired if you’re not used to it. Lake trout don’t put up much of a fight at all; steelhead fight a bit more, and salmon you really have to wrestle with. Reeling it in slowly is also a good way for the fish to get tired and put up much less of a fight when it’s time to net the fish. At first, Chris and I would take turns with bites and Jimmy would net the fish, but on our last trip, Jimmy was able to focus on driving and let me and Chris play the respective parts of reeling/netting. The person who reels it in is the one who claims the catch =)

At about 8, we start reeling in lines, pulling the poles out of their slots, putting them back in the bottom of the boat. We’re back at the farm by somewhere between 0830 and 0845. Jimmy drops the boat off at his house, pulls the fish out of the boat and puts them in the back of the truck, and we drive through the fields to Sharon’s. Outside, in the back of the truck, on brown paper and cardboard, Jimmy fillets the fish, washes off the sides, bags them up, and we’re all set for morning meeting at 9.

So there you go, our typical fishing trip.

Today was a sleepy day on the farm. It was storming when I woke up, and it stayed cloudy all day. Before morning meeting started, Scott pointed out to the rest of us that Jimmy looks out at the rain and says, “Isn’t that beautiful?” because he’s looking at it from the perspective of that the rain just saved him some six hours worth of work. That made us all laugh, but also think and try to be much more appreciative of the weather. We had a guest, Lindsey, who was representing a recycling company and has been friends with the Spencers for some time. She ran us through all the containers that we typically run into here at the farm and clarified what was recyclable and what wasn’t, gave us tips on how to optimize space, make the most of our respective dumpsters, and provided us with posters so that we would know which things went with what. It sounds like it ought to be common sense, but when you go through as many containers daily as we do, it’s important t to know that things that are a mix of cardboard and metal – example: a Lipton can – isn’t recyclable, or waxed cardboard, or styrofoam, or plastic bags which are ‘crunchy’ (not recyclable) vs. plastic bags which are stretchy (recyclable).

We went through the usual task list, a couple things about last week… It was announced that we were getting our peach cider in today – came in at just before 6 – and Chris and I looked at each other with *super excited* expressions. More sheep are pregnant and we’re anticipating having to put them in the pen where Speckles was when she was about to have Brownie. I believe a goat is looking pregnant as well, which everyone was puzzling over because the supposed mate has been gone for 5 months… that conversation was interesting.

I think I’ve been forgetting to mention that farms have their own strain of humor, much like kitchens have their strain. When you’re dealing with animals and having to do things like castrate calves, well… the guys have fun making jokes about that… Not anywhere near as dirty as kitchen humor can get. Honestly, it’s pretty funny stuff. Example: Jimmy was saying that he didn’t like to do it right after the birth, because the thing’s just getting used to the world. He likes to give it a day to get used to its feet and stuff, so that it’s not like (and I quote), “‘Oh hey, wow,’ and then ‘oh w..oww…’” Hm. I’m laughing as I type that, but I think it’s tons funnier when you’re actually there for the conversation… Ahem.

We’re expecting our shipment of 200 chickens in this week, and… BARN DANCE!!! this Friday!!!!! I am not scheduled to work during the dance, so I am going to be dancing my heart out and sleeping in the next day =)

As morning meeting drew to a close, Scott started giving me things to do. He told me that his plan was to check in and look over my shoulder here and there, but that he was going to try and leave me alone in the kitchen as much as possible so that he could take care of other things on the computer and whatnot. And that is pretty much exactly what happened; the line was mine today. Service-wise, it was slow, but Scott had me do a bunch of small projects in my downtime, like portion stuff and shred kale and whatnot, so the day still flew by, and I am far from exhausted.

The comfort level grows; Scott and Ben and I are constantly snarky with each other, and there’s plenty of laughter all day. I love it. Oh, I met one of Scott’s kids yesterday, Jake, who is 9. Jake was telling me and Kelly about his birthday last week =) Too cute.

I can’t believe we’re more than halfway through June already. The other day, when Scott got back from Taste of the North,  I came into the kitchen, and he starts yelling, “I thought you were going on the hay ride!” “Wh-whaaat??” “Go! Go! Screw the apron! Get on that hay ride!” I ran out laughing and jumped onto the trailer just as KK was starting the tractor. Kelly, Jill, and Emily were already there. “Why are we doing this???” I yelled over the motor. “I don’t know, they want us to take a break!!” Kelly yelled back.

All the seed is out of the ground, and we stared happily at the rows and rows of vegetables and berries just waiting for us. We’ve got major plans – mostly me and Jill. We’re going to make a blueberry/strawberry/dried cherry/dried cranberry crisp with our maple smoked almonds in the topping. It’s going to be insanely awesome in every way possible. Our strawberries are amazing. They’re small, but oh so incredibly juicy. I’ve been told that Tim goes out with a popcorn bag and picks himself a bag of strawberries to munch on throughout the day.

I’m in the winery by myself tomorrow; Scott and Ben are both off. I’ve had my dinner and it’s early yet, so I think I’m going to work on that cover…


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