Sunday, October 27, 2013


Today I finished taking apart my garden. A series of hard freezes this week finally ended everything, although I was still harvesting broccoli and lima beans last weekend. Actually I left the broccoli, it's semi-hardy and there's still some action there, plus I'm going to try to harvest seed, just for the heck of it.

But otherwise, I spent the morning rolling up the fencing, pulling up the stakes, and putting everything away. Then I ran the mower over the garden to chop up the crop waste. This would be a sad time, and it is somewhat. I'm not looking forward to winter this year. But it's also the time I plant garlic, so I get to look past the winter. I dug much of what had been the tomato patch -- you always want to rotate your crops. This is land I've been cultivating for years, but I still came up with a pile of rocks big enough to crush a mule.

It's unbelievable, they never stop coming. It seems as though the reproduce but what actually happens is that the freeze and thaw cycle keeps pushing them up from deeper down. It's a simple process. When the ice thaws, the water runs down and tends to accumulate under the rocks. When it freezes, it expands, and they work their way up. So every year there are more.

Will it ever stop? Yes, when there are no more rocks above the frost line, I'll be done. The frost line here officially is four feet down, but with the milder climate, it really isn't any more. Maybe next year, I'll be done pulling out rocks. But then of course if I decide to expand my agricultural endeavors . . .

Anybody need any rocks? I've got some.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bird brains

There's a gang of four turkeys that's been hanging around my place lately. They always stick together, and they are disturbingly unperturbed by my proximity. They just stroll around the place lazily, going nowhere in particular. I seldom see them feeding. They're just out enjoying the weather.

Turkey social life is mysterious. You tend to see them much more in autumn than summer or winter. In the spring, you'll say hens with their young. (I don't think you call them chicks. What then?) Sometimes the hens go around in pairs, so the kids have an auntie. In autumn, you can see groups of any size, from a solitary individual to a field full of dozens or a hundred. I think the latter are special events, basically like mixer parties. The toms will be puffing themselves up and fanning their tails, hoping to get lucky. But the rest of the time, why they form the groups they do, how stable they are, and where they go in the winter and summer, I don't have a clue.

For you city slickers, these are nothing like the domesticated dolts. They're obviously smart enough to stay alive out here in the deep dark woods, and they can fly just fine. They don't go long distances, but they can get up in the air in a hurry when they need to.

It's well known that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national symbol instead of the eagle. If he'd had his way, we might have a whole different attitude about ourselves.