Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Peeps

Our garden is now in full vegetative bloom, complete with kale, beets, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, lettuce, onions, radishes and sunchokes. And in the very near future, we will have an abundant crop of insects that eat kale, beets, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, lettuce, onions and radishes. Last year, we discovered that no living creature will eat Jerusalem artichokes. They are tasty and nutritious, no doubt about it. But they also require a major realignment of your digestive track to process. All animals seem to know this. Still, if the big one hits Burkeville, they are a likely path to survival. The plants, members of the sunflower family, take enthusiastic hold anywhere you plant them. We have been told that the only way to get rid of them is to move.

This spring, we have decided to add to our little flock of chickens. We already have hens that lay brown, white and blue eggs. So to keep our refrigerator interesting (that is, if you don’t consider what’s in there now interesting enough), we opted for two more groups that will lay green and dark brown eggs. I say “groups” because the first four pullets are a cross between the lovely Buff Orpington and the tailless Araucuana. We purchased these as started birds at six weeks old. They are gentle and attractive and will probably lay eggs that are either green or pink.

We brought the second little troupe home yesterday. They are six little Marans of several color varieties: Birchen, Blue Copper and Black Copper and they are about three days old, not a lot bigger than our dust bunnies. We won’t go there. But Tom and I spent the first few hours of their arrival watching them investigate their little enclosure, peeping and rolling over in little fluff balls when their large, unfamiliar feet wouldn’t get out of the way. We had some concern over the little black one, who was suffering from stress and seemed unusually subdued. This morning, however, he was considerably brighter and we think he is on the road to recovery.

Watching these tiny creatures taking their little stumbling steps into the world reduces it in size a little. We don’t know what the national economy will look like tomorrow. They don’t yet know whether we will eat them. They are, after all, nature’s little snacks. Their concerns seem bigger than mine. But when I reached my hand in yesterday to give them food, one of these tiny, half-ounce birds puffed himself up and with all the deadly intensity of a pit viper, lunged and pecked me. I was impressed. Of course, one of these days, about half of these birds will be 12-lb roosters with spurs. At that point, I will be even more impressed. But for the time being, watching these fragile chicks bravely facing an unknown world makes me want to buck up and stand tall. Sometimes, problems are just a matter of your perspective. For example, a bumper crop of ravenous bugs will look entirely different to me than it will to these little guys. To them, it will look like a crawling smorgasbord. Who knows? Maybe we can all learn to eat Jerusalem artichokes.

Welcome Home: Speckled Jim, Willow, Bob, Amber, Tattoo, Sasha, Little, China, Carrie and Brighteyes.