Bless the Beasts and the Children: for the birds… and other creatures

In this later part of spring, the birds have already built their nests and are hatching out their young ones.  It’s rather entertaining, watching the cat sneak up on a robin, only to be driven away by two who are fiercely defending their young.  It does become rather annoying however, when the blackbirds insistently bomb you on the way to the mailbox, or during any other endeavor that takes you outside of your door…  It’s these annoying, non-melodic birds that we resent at this time of the year.  Our little boys have caught on, and now carry their plastic rifles around the farm, looking for birds to shoot!  Meanwhile, their mom has been shooting pictures of another bird who has brought his little lady back to the area this spring.  These bright and beautiful orioles love the red hot pokers (flower), which makes for a striking view from our window!DSCN0533b

There are a few things on this farm that we prefer to NOT be for the birds!  Things like our raspberries, strawberries, and chard.  If you have cherries in your yard, no doubt you are fighting the birds as well!  We’ve gone to putting netting over all three of those things, in addition to fencing around much of our gardens, both to keep the chickens out, the deer out, and sometimes even the “little dears” (the helpers that don’t know when they’re standing on top of a baby corn plant).

Other birds in the news – our rooster, which we suspect was dropped here at the farm by a well meaning city dweller, has since met his demise.  He was a pretty fellow, but as he grew, along with his size, he also developed quite the little man syndrome.  And I don’t just mean that he thought he was all sorts of tough stuff, but he really went after our little boys!  We thought this was an excellent opportunity to train the boys in self-defense and assertiveness and teach that rooster a lesson, so they thus ran around the farm with big sticks for awhile.  But they still came running (stick in hand), screaming, and crying, daunted by the multiple attacks they’d endured already.  Thus, our pretty rooster was shown with finality who was really the big man around here; he met la madame guillotine (French around here for “boot”).  The farm now rests in greater peace, as the children no longer run screaming and his ceaseless crow has … well, ceased!  The hens he left behind continue to lay their eggs in all sorts of inordinate places.  When we note that egg production has dropped substantially, we know to look elsewhere.
Besides birds, we’ve had a few other creepy crawly things emerging on the farm!  With the irrigation water back in the ditches, the boys excitedly take their daily trek out to the “big ditch” to check out the water, and look for crawdads!  We haven’t found any big enough to eat yet, and are still working on building the boys’ courage to pick up the crawdads on their own.  The boys are growing quickly, and learning more and more how to help grandpa on the farm.  I’m not sure there is a quicker way to round up all of the grand kids than to start up the four wheeler!  Pretty soon, they’re bailing out of the house, yelling “Bapa!!!  WAIT!!!”  Of course, they’re all pretty excited to learn how to drive the four wheeler too!  The older of the two boys has gotten to be a real help, driving the four wheeler with the pipe trailer through the field as we load/unload the pipes.  The younger one is learning how to run the rototiller with grandpa.
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After rototilling the squash just yesterday, we found another great creepy crawly – a great big bull snake, about 4 feet long!  These beauties can be easily mistaken for rattlesnakes, but we hope you can restrain your rash outburst of fear long enough to realize the difference, and leave their head attached to the body.  The  most obvious difference:  these guys don’t have rattles!

We actually like these snakes around for pest control!  Our more contemplative boy was skeptical of touching that slithery thing, but our little impulsive one has no fear … of much of anything!  We are thankful for these little boys (the older girl is anxiously anticipating the end of school), and the entertainment they bring.  The farm is great fun, but it’s so much more when experienced through the eyes of a 3/5/9 year old!

Here is what is happening in the garden:  With this crazy hot weather we’ve had this week, the squash has been growing like crazy, the tomatoes setting on the vine, and the corn popping up quick!  While the adage says “knee high by the fourth of July,” our corn made it there by the fourth of June this year.  Mr. Hubbard attests that he saw the first of the tassles already emerging on the first planting of corn.  We have opened the doors of the garden shed, but as of yet, have not been selling much more than rhubarb, walnuts, and eggs.  But keep your eyes out; it will soon be more!  Yesterday, we picked this beautiful bounty of beets!  I enjoyed eating some of the green tops for breakfast, and will no doubt have some more beet variations before the day is done.  We also picked the very first of our zucchini and yellow squash (sunburst/pattypan) this week.  We’re not quite ready to share it, but soon!  The garlic are turning the corner, and will be harvested soon; and the onions won’t be far behind.  The broccoli is going to town also!  So keep your eyes open; we expect that the Garden Shed produce will be much diversified over the course of the next couple of weeks!
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chopped beet greens to stirfry for breakfast

P.S.  I realize that some of you got stuck when I mentioned snakes, and probably  haven’t been able to move on from that thought yet.  If those slithery reptile bodies running right through our garden have you on the edge of your seat, skin crawling, and feeling every little tingle, let me put your mind at ease!  Can you imagine what other creepy crawlies we find in the garden?  Or maybe ‘fuzzy wuzzies’?  How about kittens!!  These cuties were found under a tomato bush.  We’re not sure if this was another dump by some city folks, hoping their kitties could have a better life on the farm; or by a mother who forgot where she placed her kittens (tell me you haven’t been there!).  Either way, they fell into some adoring hands, and did not stay at the farm too long.  And thankfully, they did not have to meet the same demise as the rooster!  Before the day was out, we were able to adopt out these cuddlies to some friends.  But isn’t it fun what animals we run into on the farm?!  The dogs found a skunk the other night too! …)  😉farm pics 2016 012farm pics 2016 013
P.S.S.  I’ve been delayed in posting this, and not surprisingly, the garden has grown!  The onions and garlic are out of the ground and curing.  The first of the zucchini and cucumbers are selling in the garden shed, alongside some beautiful flowers and occasional broccoli.  We are ready to roll!!  Meanwhile, the chickens are getting more creative at hiding their eggs, so we’re a little short on those (that and the skunks are finding them before we are!).  We hope to see you out at the farm soon! 🙂

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