In over four years of farming now, we occasionally have what I refer to as “roller coaster weeks”. This week has definitely been one of them – really good things happened, balanced out by really terrible, horrible things that happened. I’ll start with the bad, just to get it out of the way. In less than 48 hours, a mink came in and killed all my baby turkeys, then came back and killed Condi and her eight chicks. Walking in to the shed this morning and discovering the carnage was one of the most horrible things that’s happened here to date. We spent the day reinforcing the brooding area, and now it’s secure enough that we could rent the space out to overcrowded prisons. Nothing’s getting in, and nothing’s getting out. I’m sure the mink planned to come back tonight for the two broody mamas and their ten chicks, which is why Gene’s sitting out there with a gun, a flashlight, and a beer, waiting for what has got to be a really fat mink to come waddling into sight.
But on to the good, which is where I like to dwell. Gene came home from the grocery store the other day to find a tiny baby duckling nestled into some spilled straw in the driveway right by the garage door. Well, actually, Ceri the German Shepherd found the duckling, but Gene was able to get her to spit it out before any actual damage was done. Abigail said word has gone out that I’m this neighborhood’s Duck Whisperer, so naturally the abandoned duckling would find itself drawn to our house. My sister Bess Bess immediately named him Lucky, which I think totally fits.
Bess Bess is here for a weeklong visit, and I have more than taken advantage of the fact that unlike me she has two working hands. Instead of the relaxing, sit on the couch and enjoy a good book type of vacation she was no doubt expecting, poor Bess Bess has found herself gardening in the rain, pulling fence line, and repotting whatever we couldn’t fit in the garden from the greenhouse. She said she was starting to feel like we picked her up at six am in front of Home Depot and put her to work. In my defense, I’ve been bribing her with a steady stream of ice cream cones and Gene’s amazing cooking. With her help, I planted the entire back garden, then demanded Gene build me more raised beds in the front to accommodate the fifty or so plants I couldn’t fit in there. I really couldn’t wait to plant things any longer because the tomatoes and squashes were getting root bound in their tiny little pots. Most of the tomato plants already have blossoms, and I have several zucchinis already.
Bess Bess was quite impressed by my collection of citrus trees and tropical plants, including a Casabanana vine, which promises to grow fluorescent pink bananas, several spikey Litchi fruit trees, multiple Luffa gourds, and two huge normal banana trees. She inquired as to where I was planning to keep the full-grown versions during the cold Washington winters, but I told her I don’t cross those particular bridges until I’m forced to by spatial considerations. Tomorrow we plan to find a nice sunny spot for Senor OneTon, the enormous pumpkin plant. It’s already set two fruits, so I’m pretty excited about the prospect of that much pumpkin. It also means Gene’s running out of time to figure out where he’s going to start parking the cars, because the driveway is basically the only gardening space I have left.
I wish Bess Bess could stay until June third, because that’s when both the duck eggs and Cinnabun are due. I have my doubts about the duck eggs, because I candled some of them today and they just don’t seem far enough along to hatch four days from now. This time I can’t blame the incubator, because they’re all nestled underneath a broody chicken. I’m beginning to think the universe just doesn’t want me to have more ducks (or more turkeys), but I have a long history of not listening to the universe so you can bet I’ll be stuffing some more duck eggs under whatever feathered butt is willing to sit on them for 28 days if they don’t hatch. Besides, Lucky needs a friend. He’s set up in the garage brooding box with a private pool, but I’m pretty sure he’s lonely.
I’m seriously considering moving Lucky’s brooding set up to the greenhouse, because then he would be in the company of the 400 baby preying mantises that just hatched today. At first I didn’t notice them, but as I went to grab a Litchi to repot, I noticed that the leaves on the avocado trees looked odd, almost like they were moving. Upon closer inspection, I saw they were covered by cavorting mantises, celebrating their new found freedom from the two eggs sacs I had hung from the avocado trees. Naturally, I ran into the house yelling for Bess Bess and Gene to come see, and bring my camera with them. I can’t wait until they turn bright green and get huge bug eyes.