Letters from the front line

Battle Fly rages on here at the farm. In fact, I think I should be paid to be a professional fly-killing product tester, because every single one currently on the market is now in my backyard. Sadly, the only one so far that really works is the sticky paper, which is coincidentally the most revolting of all the options. If you walk close to a particularly successful one, you can actually hear the flies screaming. The biggest down side so far is that no matter where I hang them, inevitably I’ll hear a loud, agitated squawking, and race outside to find a hen tearing around the yard with a fly-covered tacky strip stuck to her butt. The worst was when one adhered to Sean Paul’s long, beautiful tail. Of all the chickens we have, he and Marley are the only two that will chase you, so removing it was all kinds of fun.

But I’ve been up to much, much more than just eradicating insects this week. Gene and I officially kicked off the canning season by processing radishes and raspberries! He was much more excited about making raspberry jelly than he was about the prospect of pickled radishes, but I actually think the radishes are quite tasty. I think I’m in the minority in that opinion, though, because there were only like two recipes for pickled radishes on the entire Internet. After canning my radish crop, we went to Good Shepherd Farms in Poulsbo, where we picked 18 half-pints of the most beautiful raspberries I’ve ever seen. The best part of that particular U-Pick farm was the free-range chickens that wander through the rows of raspberry canes, eating all the berries that fall to the ground. Besides ours, I think those are the happiest chickens in the world. The jelly turned out amazing; this was our first attempt at raspberry jelly so we were pretty excited.

Another first on the farm this week was an owl sighting! A mated pair of owls, to be exact. I’ve heard the owls every summer since we moved here four years ago, but until now we’ve never actually seen them. Owls are one of my favorite animals ever, so imagine how conflicted I felt when I realized they were responsible for eating 8 of our newest chickens. The chicks are still fairly small, so now as soon as I hear the first owl cry, I run outside and chase everybody into the coop for the night. They are aren’t happy about going to bed so early, but my assumption that owls only hunt at night has proven to be disastrously wrong. So if they decide to start hunting at 7 pm, then the curfew begins, at least until the chicks get too fat to carry off. Which should be in another few days, at the rate they’re growing.

Aren’t they cute?

Gene spotted the first owl, perched on a post directly over the duck’s area. I’ve never put the ducks to bed so fast in my life. Since then, we’ve seen the owls lurking in the trees inside the pasture, and even roosted on a lawn chair! Unfortunately I don’t have a camera that can take pictures at night, so we’re going to have to borrow Abigail’s Game Cam again. I’m not going to do anything to discourage the owls, since they are aiding immensely in the other war waging on the farm – Battle Rat.

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