Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, Monday....can't trust that day....
Today was not the best day I have had in a while. First of all, I overslept this morning and missed my chance to go to the DMV to get my driver's license renewed. If you don't get there early (like by 7:15) in our little berg, you have to wait a reeeeaaaalllyy long time, which I didn't have any to spare today. I already went once and got everything done and then there was some question about my name on my license and the name on my Social Security card not matching exactly. I gather that even though, for more than a decade, I have filed my taxes, gotten at least 2 driver's licenses in 2 states with this name and a host of other official items, none of that matters. I had to get a copy of my marriage license so I could get my name corrected with the Social Security people and guess what they wanted as the second piece of ID? My driver's license....with my misspelled name on it. And the marriage license people didn't even ask for any ID, just $10.00 and a form saying what I wanted an official copy of, which is kind of scary. I think maybe Homeland Security should have thought some of this stuff through a little more....
Since I missed my chance at the DMV, I spent the morning catching up on chores like cleaning chicken pens, feeding chickens and disinfecting picking paraphernalia. I spent some time answering emails for the Farm and working on a grant proposal. Did some laundry and cleaned the shower. Ho-hum, boring.....
Another fun thing I did today was pick okra. If you have read the entry on okra, you know the rigors of picking this wonderful veggie. It was actually pretty pleasant today, so wearing a long sleeved shirt was nice, instead of swelteringly hot. Only problem was that a bug landed on the back of my neck and before I thought about it, I reached up and brushed it off, which rubbed okra spines all over me and then I had to finish picking while itching like crazy. I had some pruners with me and I used them to scratch so I wouldn't aggravate the situation, but almost stabbed myself, so I just suffered through it.
In the afternoon, I decided to sweep off the porch because the chickens love to get under the boxwoods that line the front of our house and scratch up the leaves looking for bugs. Of course, they throw the mulch and leaves all over the walk and porch and make a big mess. Definitely this is a downside to having free range chickens. Free range at my house means I never know where I am going to find a chicken. There is an interesting theory among paleontologists that the dinosaurs weren't killed off by an ice age or giant meteor but rather that they simple evolved into modern birds. In fact, there is pretty good evidence that the T-Rex is now the chicken. I believe this theory because I have 14 tiny T-Rex's running around my back yard. Of course, they are decked out like rock stars, strutting around, with their bright red combs and their flashy colored feathers and always courting the "ladies". The picture at the top of this post is our alpha rooster, Rod Stewart.
We also have several guinea fowl, which is an African species that is not known for its smarts. They are the real evidence that convinces me of the correctness of this dino-to-bird theory. They have this big bony knot on top of their heads, fleshy flaps of red skin on either side of their heads and huge, strange feet. Their overall shape is kind of hard to describe but I posted a picture of a pair of them at the top of this page. We call them the "Helmets". And they are not, in a conventional sense, the brightest creatures around. They are very instinct driven, which in their native habitat serves them well. They have this raucous call that when one takes it up, they all join in, which would totally take away the element of surprise for most predators. This can be pretty unsettling at 2 a.m. because they don't sleep all night like chickens and they roost in the tree outside our bedroom window. Guineas are fascinating creatures, though and many people keep them for their entertainment value as well as their main tour d' force, which is eating ticks. In the years when we have not had guineas, there were ticks everywhere. When we have guineas patrolling the property, even the dogs don't get ticks on them, which is a minor miracle.
Guineas also lay the most incredibly nutritious eggs, with more protein then hen's eggs because there is a nice fat yolk and a lot less albumen. They are also eaten as a delicacy in Europe, tasting a lot like pheasant, but we prefer to use the guineas exclusively for tick control, gathering the eggs when we can find them. Since you can't put them in a pen to control ticks, they are totally free range. Unlike the chickens, who rarely stray more than 200 yards from the house, guinea fowl are wide rangers, sometimes covering the entire farm in a day.
Guinea hens tend to lay their eggs in a hidden spot, with several of them using the same nest. (At the moment, we have a hen setting on a nest of about 16 eggs.) Whichever hen ends up setting on the eggs becomes mother to her own and surrogate to the others. Last year we had a hen who hatched a huge brood and raised all of them to maturity, only to have most of them succumb to predators. Unfortunately, guineas are creatures of the African plains and it is their nature is to seek open spaces for foraging, with some cover like bushes or grass close by so that they can hide if a predator threatens. Sadly, they like the sides of roads and are totally unaware that that big, yellow school bus is probably the most dangerous predator in their world. Yesterday afternoon, one of my girls met her fate with Bus #302. As with many things here on the Farm, she will serve another purpose and become food for our Red Tail Hawk, Pteri ( he's legal, of course.)
I weeded a bit yesterday. We have all kinds of stuff planted for the fall season, but the only thing growing really well are the weeds. I am dead set against genetically modified food plants, but if the bio-tech researchers want to do something to really benefit mankind (instead of making more money for corporations....) they should figure out what in the genetic make up of most weeds make them so resistant to chemicals, heat, cold, drought, etc. and splice that DNA into a tomato plant.
Basically, yesterday was one of those mundane days on the Farm where nothing exciting happened. It was just another day in the life. The next posting I do is going to be a montage of pictures from the Farm with little or no commentary. Type to you later.
Posted by The Artful Omnivore at Monday, September 17, 2007