Hard to believe it’s already July. The month sneaked up on us so quickly, Chareva and I both forgot our anniversary on July 1st, at least until my mom called to wish us a good one. We can both plead extra busy-ness as an excuse. I worked a lot of overtime in June. Chareva spent two weeks in Chicago (along with Sara), helping to care for her parents, who both had medical issues.
That left me to look after the dogs, the cat, the chickens, the egg stand and the garden in addition to working overtime. Fortunately, I had a helper for the chickens and the egg business.
Back in April, we installed arches in one of the chicken moats (using cattle panels, of course) so we can walk around in there without ducking. The arches are now covered with netting, and the chickens love running around in the moat and finding fresh bugs to eat.
Unfortunately, we have four fewer chickens now. Some critter found its way into the chicken yards and killed three of them within a week. I set up and baited my raccoon trap, only to learn that whatever was killing our chickens wasn’t particularly interested in sardines. The bait sat there untouched for a few days, then disappeared one night … with the trap door still open.
Two days later, Chareva found our last remaining rooster torn up near the fence. My guess is that he was doing his rooster duty and trying to take on the predator to protect the flock. Chivalry isn’t dead, but the chivalrous rooster is.
So I moved the trap, tested it, and baited it with a can of chicken-liver pate cat food. Two days later, the pate was all gone, the trap door was closed, but nothing was inside except some critter poop. I was half-expecting to find a note reading Thanks for the chicken-liver pate. For future reference, I prefer the turkey giblets.
After experiences like that, I have visions of sitting out by the chicken yard in a camouflage tent at midnight, my hands gripping a rifle with a night-vision scope. Come on, critter, I dare ya. It’s you or me. Then rationality kicks in and I decide I should probably get a good night’s sleep and go to work the next day.
So for now, the chicken-killing critter is still at large. Chareva reinforced a couple spots where she thought a critter might have burrowed under the fence. So far, that’s worked. No more dead chickens.
Her garden has wilted somewhat under the 90-degree heat of the past few weeks, but we’re still harvesting some good stuff.
We’ve had several good bunches of kale, and Chareva has turned me into a fan of roasted okra – which I didn’t think was possible. I’ve always suspected okra was created by a mad scientist who didn’t think were enough slimy creatures in the world and thus decided to create slimy vegetables. Roasting the okra removes the slime factor, and what’s left is actually pretty tasty.
Chareva had some zucchinis growing, but they became infested by squash beetles, so she had to yank them up and feed them to the chickens. This made the girls happy, because during a typical summer, we end up eating fried zucchini, roasted zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini stew, eggs with zucchini, zucchini surprise, etc. My dad once warned me that if I left my car unlocked in the summer, people would leave zucchini in the back seat.
Chareva and Alana harvested some potatoes last week. Just like with greens and tomatoes, the difference in flavor between what we buy at a grocery store and what we pull from the garden is amazing. All these potatoes need to be delicious after cooking is a little salt … not that I’m averse to adding butter and sour cream now and then.
Fresh food is one benefit of living on a small farm. Another benefit is being legally allowed to shoot off fireworks on our own property. Last year we set off a bunch of little bottle rockets and two bigger rockets. This year we decided to put on a more impressive show for ourselves and stocked up on some big boom-boom makers. Unfortunately, it’s raining as I write. I guess we’ll save the show for next weekend.
To our American readers, Happy Fourth of July. To everyone else, Happy Monday.