Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Beaks and Beans

 We had to seek refuge from the heat. In the high 90's, pushing 100 with air so humid it was smothering even before the sun rose. The dog was in utter misery and I was worried like crazy about the young chickens, so we went to the farm and turned on the AC. My husband packed some things from our house and spent the night there. He got heat stroke... in the house. I'll be surprised if any of my seeds in this house are viable.

 We've been pulling bowl after bowl of beans and a few tomatoes every day. A lot of tomatoes are still very green, and I am awaiting to see what some of my mystery tomato crosses will be. So far.. quite a mix. Seems the yellow pear has crossed with ???  The plants are covered in light bulb shaped tomatoes, but much bigger than the standard yellow pear parent, and they are still very green. I have to say... I am excited about the Goldman's Italian American tomatoes. Massive rippled tomatoes.. RIPEN ALREADY!!! Seriously not getting any younger here.

   Now.. July and August are when the tomato horn worms come out. To be quite frank, I totally wasn't even thinking about them. I wasn't even thinking to look for them until about a half dozen tomato plants totally disappeared to nothing but a stem. I'm still training the chickens.. (yes.. training them).. and so far behind on weeding, laundry and basic functions that checking on the tomatoes was pretty far down the list.
 The Japanese beetles are fabulous for chicken training treats. "Izzy" knows her name, so does "Karen" and "Kate" and "Roy".  The beetles appeal to the chicken's 5 senses.. crunchy and shiny. After shiny, not much else matters.

  I... armed to the teeth with my trusty never-to-be-used-again-for-people salad fork.. went to wage war in the pathetic tomato patch. You can sorta pop horn worms off if you *use the fooooork Luke... use the fooooork!* place the tines to get the last 2 sets of legs off the plant. These wriggling juice bags went right into a container to be fed to the chickens.

 These are the 3 amigos..
 Horrible picture of them, I know... but my husband had the camera. The crocs are worn strictly to torment the fashionista poultry. These 3 follow me everywhere. The brave, the daring.. they are the few that will go into the garden. So I didn't think much about these boogers when I was picking beans.. until I heard the squeals of excitement by the 3 little dorks as they went tearing back to the house. You could just hear what they were thinking.. "Omgomgomgomgomgomg lookit what I have!!!"

 When one of my chickens has something new.. it must show whatever it is off to the other birds. Their reaction determines if what they have is any good.. desirable... so the initial "run" plays out like the OJ car chase. Really slow, with everyone watching.. still processing what is going on.  If they know they have the goods.. break-neck speed right to the cop.. through the masses.. 

 They thought they had horn worms, until they got to the coop and paid attention to what they snapped up. Several minutes later they are back in the garden.. then sqeals as they zoom back to the house. It takes a chicken quite a few times to figure something out. About 1/2 a bowl full of beans before mine figured it out.

 If you like silence.. listen to Pioneer Preppy and do not get a guinea fowl. When they are content, it is like a bunch of 6 year olds with kazoos saying "Doot-dah-doo" over and over. When they are not making that sound.. they are screaming repeatedly. When you go inside to hide from their commotion, they seek you out and express their dislike of your relocation.. right after they crap on the patio.
  At first, a loud sound of any sort would surprise them into silence. Then they caught on and it would force me to reach for desperate measures... old songs.


Then came disco...  oooowwp   ooowwp!  and imitations porn...  bow-chica-wow   No pride left.. I just wanted a few minutes of blessed silence. Nothing was safe, nothing was sacred.. songs learned in CCD to pop songs.. a nursery school song in German, advertising for dog food, theme songs to TV shows.. all fair game.

 No pride left I tell you. A fact I completely realize when I have to get them back into the temporary coop at night. When I hear myself mutter things like "please get in.. sleepytime.. please don't make me use the jazz hands..."

 The chickens meanwhile.. just hop right in.



    I so want chickens. Oh and if your area is anything like here this is the minor hornworm crop. I get them in early to mid July of which I think I got rid of all of this crop so far this year I haven't seen one now in over a week. About the second week in August will come the real crop of them and you will need to check your vines a few times a day for them.

  2. Those chickens and your take on the guinea hens...too funny.:) Good luck with the heat, sounds miserable. Nice beans!

  3. Your fowl stories always crack me up!!

    I almost wish I just had tomato hornworms...they seemed easier to catch and eliminate than the inch worms I have now, that are tearing up everything BUT the tomato plants. But then, hindsight is 20/20. If I get hornworms this month or next, I'm sure I'll remember hating them too.

  4. The Stew Pot Gang.. thankfully they nap a few times during this heat and we get a little peace! We've had to resort to essentially super sized sipee cups while working outdoors.

    I wasn't expecting these guys to be so... interesting. I wish I could video tape them.. I also wish I could keep them out of the beans. The guinea fowl have developed a ravenous taste for them.

  5. I have a lot of chickens but no Guineas. I wish I did. I remember them from when I was a kid.

  6. OMGomgomgong! You had me ROTFLOL! Love it! And the "Doot Da Doo!" to you! I've heard major rumors about Guinea Fowl! Definitely not suited for us city folk.

    I had inch worms eating up my tomato plant behind the fig tree this year (semi-shaded) so I would sit there and stare and stare until I found some big ones, then I'd run over to the goldfish in the 35gal transhcans filled with rainwater, and pop 'em into the water. Boy, the fish love those wormies! Oh! and I found out what the tomatoes are called! "Black Plum Paste Tomatoes!" hehe

  7. Guineas are quirky.. and very noisy.

    @ Arsenius .. maybe next spring have some chickens hatch out some guinea eggs! My 6 think they are chickens, so they don't wander too far. They stay in the far. Then again.. their "leader" is a rooster.

    @ AJK.. I can't wait until you get chickens! I really wanted some buff Orpingtons too, but they were sold out at the time.