bunn (bunn) wrote,

Asparagus, Anglo Saxons, Obedience v Intelligence.

Yesterday was a Successful Day. I FINALLY weeded the asparagus patch. This has needed doing very badly for about 6 months, and had really reached crisis point. I managed to get practically all the buttercups out while only managing to fish up one asparagus crown of the 14. (I suppose there is an outside chance that Something Awful has happened to the rest of them, and that was the only one left, but they all came up last year, so I'm hopeful. Not sure I have the patience required for asparagus: it does need so much weeding! If it stops raining for an hour or so this week I'll finish the job and apply a goodly mulch of compost, as I have half a heap finished, and another full one that must be very nearly there by now.

The weeds are now sitting in a rubber tubtrug full of water: I record this so I can look back once they have drowned and see how long it took.

Read Francis Pryor's "Britain AD: A Quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons", It's a most entertaining book on Roman and post-Roman Britain. He thinks the whole Anglo-Saxon invasion/migration thing never happened. I'm kind of out of date on this stuff and will have to read some of the work he cites, but he made me want to know more, which has to be a good thing. I think he actually makes quite a good case based on the archaeological record (he's a Bronze Age specialist, but I'm prepared to accept that he knows a bunch of stuff about British Archaeology generally). I've always felt that the way early British history tends to get presented in a chopped up manner Iron Age | Roman | PostRoman and never shall they meet is a bit unfortunate, and I really like his views on the early Celtic Church - it *does* seem unlikely that the conversion of Pagan England was a solely Irish and Roman job, if one assumes that the early British Church was in good health towards the end of the Roman period.

I love the stuff about the east-west divide in Britain - I know that's taken from what'shisname, the highlands-lowlands guy, but it just seems so right to use it to explain why 'Celtic' Britain is different from 'Anglo-saxon' Britain - not because the right hand side of the country had its population replaced, but because for geographical and cultural reasons, it always *was* different.

He doesn't really tackle the biggy though - the place name and linguistic stuff. If an entire nation of people decide to rename the entire countryside and start speaking another language, I do think you need some sort of reason for that, and he doesn't even try to guess one to replace the traditional population shift idea.

Molly & I did a little training in the local country park and she surprised me by learning how to do a 'down' at a distance on the second attempt. That is *so* fast: I'm sure it took much longer to teach our family collie-lab Kim that, and even then it didn't really stick.... Molly also did some very good 'stays' even though there were a couple of Springer Spaniels watching and lots of rabbity smells about (we did the walk first, then the training: I'm not daft!)

And yet, on Saturday we found that she's decided that she will only come if *I* call her: Polo even with a bag of treats was having to call several times before she would take notice. We've been through this so many times now! She definitely knows him: she greets him joyfully and seems to be looking for him and listening for the car if he's away for the night. She just doesn't seem to think she has a reason to obey him - or rather, if we don't walk and train together for a week or so, she forgets it. Must be more consistent...

I'm still impressed by how fast she learns, but it's being driven forcibly home to me that intelligence and obedience, even in dogs, are not at all the same thing. She quickly worked out that stealing the butter when we were around to protect it didn't work, so now she is a stealthy butterthief. The other day I left some treats in my coat pocket, and she ignored them completely till I went upstairs and couldn't hear the packet crackle! But her response to commands is often a bit 'OK, I'll think about it': my memory (if I'm remembering correctly) is that other dogs I've taught have either not understood what was wanted, or have been quick to respond because they want to please/want a treat: this houndy 'maybe' is new to me.

Patch (another collie-lab) used to get bored (he'd do the task, whatever it was, perfectly twice, then think 'sod this' - I can relate to that! But this is less like boredom, more like what you might expect from a human being ("Ok, in a minute"). Most interesting.
Tags: books, dogs, garden, history

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