I hope y’all missed me. As I explained in my quick check-in post last week, I was on a full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal coding jag that lasted nearly three weeks. An idea for solving a big problem at work got ahold of me and refused to let go, so I had to deal with it.
I’m prone to occasional insomnia anyway, and inspiration only makes it worse. I go to bed, try to sleep, but can’t stop my brain from zooming ahead to the next idea. So I accept the reality of the situation, get out bed and continue working. At one point last week, I wrote code nearly non-stop for 26 hours, finally slept for five hours, then popped awake with another idea and started another marathon session. Probably doesn’t do my cortisol levels any good, but it is what it is.
The coding marathon is over (because the BIG IDEA worked), and I’m finally back on a sane, normal schedule. I took Chareva and the girls out for a relaxing dinner on Friday night, then spent much of the weekend just cooling my heels and catching up on some TV shows I follow. During the coding marathon, I hired a crew to cut those back hilly areas I normally prefer to cut myself, so I didn’t have that task waiting for me.
While I was face-down in a pile of C# code, the farm carried on … meaning, of course, Chareva kept busy out there with no help from me. The chickens are still producing plenty of eggs:
Unfortunately, the flock is smaller by one — again. Some predator got in and killed a hen last week. Normally I’d set a trap for the critter. Trouble is, we have another critter out there we don’t want to trap. Namely, a skunk.
Chareva noticed the skunk some weeks ago. We think he may have taken up residence under one of the coops during the winter. Well, why not? The coops had heating bulbs. No point freezing your skunky tail off at night when you can wander into a cozy coop and curl up in some warm hay. The skunk also helps himself to an occasional egg for an easy meal.
Surprisingly, none of this seems to bother the chickens. Chareva once saw the skunk waddling around inside the coop, and the rooster (who was still with us at the time) was nearby and apparently unconcerned. So I’m guessing skunks don’t attack chickens, and chickens know as much.
Our dilemma now is: what if we set a trap for the raccoon or whatever’s killing chickens, but trap the skunk instead? Chareva kind of likes the little feller (from a safe distance) and would rather I not kill it. Even if she had no objection, killing it might just raise a big stink.
A co-worker told me he once shot a skunk he’d unintentionally trapped, and for its last act on earth, the dying skunk sprayed its scent over a good-sized chunk of the county. We don’t want the chickens and gardens perfumed by Pepe Le Pew. And I’m sure as @#$% not going to walk up to a trap with a live skunk inside and open the trap door. I still have memories of that episode of The Partridge Family where everyone had to take a bath in tomato juice.
So for now, we’re not going to set a trap. I’ll have to put on my (non-coding) thinking cap and see if I can come up with another way to get rid of the chicken-killing predator.
Meanwhile, Chareva’s gardens have been producing food faster than we can eat it.
That’s especially true for the okra, which has become the new zucchini. I’ve even had to alter my “Bubba from Forrest Gump” description of Chareva’s meals: Fried okra, roasted okra, boiled okra, okra stew, okra gumbo, okra salad … The girls have both requested that no more okra appear on their plates. Chareva has taken to harvesting and dehydrating the excess so she can annoy the girls with okra well into the winter months.
Chareva tells me okra should be harvested when it’s the size of a thumb. She missed the window on this one:
But there’s more to the garden than okra. Back when we covered the chicken moats with cattle-panel arches and nets, Chareva had a vision of walking beneath those arches and plucking beans. I don’t know why the overhead-bean-plucking vision was so important to her, but it was. Well, I’m happy to say she’s now living the dream.
She’s also been harvesting green peppers and chili peppers.
The eggplants aren’t big enough to eat yet, but they’re getting there.
This is buckwheat. It’s a cover crop, but people also grind the seeds it into a gluten-free flour. (Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t a grain.) I don’t know yet if we’ll try that or not.
These are sweet-potato vines. We’ve already harvested quite a few red potatoes, which are delicious when they’re farm-fresh. The sweet potatoes won’t be ready for harvesting until later in the autumn.
During my coding marathon, I stopped for dinner one night and took a moment to appreciate what was on my plate. The roasted okra came from our garden. The sautéed green beans came from our garden. The roasted red potatoes came from our garden. The meatloaf was beef, pork and eggs – and the pork came from the hogs we raised last year. Some of the herbs in the meatloaf also came from our garden. Everything was nutritious, and everything was a delicious treat … even the okra, despite the girls’ protests.
That’s why I love living on a mini-farm – and it’s why I’m glad Chareva is happy to handle all the farm chores when I’m up to my ears in programming work.