Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Hostile Work Environment

I started this entry on Friday and here I am, 2 days later, still trying to finish it!

So excited to get to go to the garden and pick these Friday.
first strawberries

We've been watching them closely for the last 2 weeks. I've been asking them very nicely to please ripen. I ran out of homemade jam in February (I made it a month longer than usual) and eating Smuckers Jam is something I just can no longer do. I need homemade jam in my pantry!

I've been taking really good care of the plants since last fall and it looks like it's going to pay off. I'm even armed with my big ol' box of diatomaceous earth and ready for the slugs that ravaged last year's crop. You're not supposed to inhale DE so I was a good little gardener and wore my mask when I dusted the plants last week. What I didn't plan on was what happened when the rain started pouring. For those of you who don't know about DE, it's kind of gruesome. It's crushed fossils of freshwater diatoms (basically finely ground sea shells.) You can use your imagination and figure out what happens when a slug crawls over shards of sea shell. I now realize you aren't supposed to use it when there's rain in the forecast. Especially 5 minutes down the road. I had the misconception that this stuff was larger particles and that the rain would help move it from the tops of the thick foliage down to the soil. So as the downpour started, I grabbed the box, my mask, and the camera and took off running. I fumbled the box and a massive amount of DE (which actually has he consitency of corn starch) poured out of the box. Most of it landed on my camera, quickly setting in every nook and crannie. That made me gasp dramatically which also meant I dramatically inhaled the DE. Classic.

first strawberries 2
This is what we picked Friday. No, the leaves of my plants do not really look like they've been exposed to radiation. That Incredible Hulk green is easily achieved when you get over-exuberant when using Photoshop.

first strawberries 3
And my picking buddy. Speaking of picking, he informed that your finger is the only finger that will fit perfectly up your nose. Nice. He wouldn't test that theory with his finger and my nose!

powdery mildew on rose 3
Next we moved on to the rose bush I bought when I was in KC two weeks ago. Between the rain and the more pressing tasks in the garden, I haven't had time to get it in the ground. It's been sitting on our covered porch which is bad. Very, very bad. Since it had no sun, it's developed powdery mildew. See the white spots developing?

We removed all the diseased foliage (thankfully not much) and sprayed it down with a solution we made combining 1 gallon of water, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and a squirt of dishsoap. I'm trying to do as much organically as possible this year so I really hope this works and I didn't just spray voo-doo potion on a $25 rose bush.

broody hen
And then came the most challenging of our chores for the morning. We have a broody hen. That's just a really ugly term for a poor little lady who has an overwhelming instinct to be a mama. We've had hens like this before and normally, when they start sitting on a nest, we leave a few eggs and let instinct take over. Unfortunately, this one doesn't quite understand how this whole egg hatching process works. She sits all day on a clutch of eggs (the 7-8 that the whole flock lays) which is perfectly normal. But the next day when they all lay again, she moves over to the new clutch, abandoning the eggs she sat on the day before.

broody hen 2
She's been doing this for over 2 weeks. When a hen sits, she only comes outside once a day to eat and drink which takes it's toll on her body. She's lost quite a bit of weight and was showing no signs of giving up so we had to find a way to break her of her instinct. Confinement away from the nesting boxes for 4 days is the best solution. She wasn't too keen on this idea.

broody hen 3
Fortunately for her, neither was her representative from the Farm Animal Union.

broody hen 4
Her union representative adamently protested the treatment. When management came home to discuss the treatment, he agreed with the union representative and the hen was moved to roomier accomodations. She's spending her confinement in the union representative's lock-up facility which looks identical to this one only considerably larger.

I don't belong to a union so I don't have anyone to protest the considerably larger mess she's making. I know Management won't be sympathetic to me. Anyway, I have a feeling this hen's ransacking of her quarters runs deeper than confinement from her nest. I'm certain it has more to do with us placing the strawberry plants in a gated community where she can't reach them. Farm politics can get very nasty.
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Kristi Smith said...

HA! I love these pics, esp. the one of Will with the hen. And the hen in her Pet Taxi.

Poor little broody hen.

Michelle said...

Hi Kendra,
Will you do a post listing all of the plants you are putting in your garden this year? Great post. I didn't know you had hens also, this is really interesting.
You can also put beer in pie tins buried even to the soil level and the slugs will crawl into the beer and make then easier to "remove". You can use flat or old beer.
Looking forward to hearing more about the garden and your organic solutions.
Hope you had a great Mother's Day, too.

LollyChops said...

I am completely laughing over here! First you get me with the voo-doo potion on the rose and then the story of the broody hen just about did me in!!!

Tell her she can come stay with her auntie Lolly. I'll teach her right!

Kendra said...

Will do, Michelle! I did the beer/slug thing one time when I lived in the city and I could never do it again. I can't think of another creature that grosses me out more than a slug. Finding a bowl full of beer and dead slugs is more than I can handle! But thanks for the tip. Hope it helps someone else!

Lolly, will you teach her how to crochet cute little sweaters while she sits on her nest?

Michelle said...

ha ha - I thought the slug and beer thing was gross, too, but I thought I'd pass it on anyway Kendra !

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