Friday, July 6

On Guard

It has been a very discouraging couple of days here at the farm. The drought we are experiencing is making everything in the garden look wilted and miserable, even after daily sprinkler use. Despite the heat, the weeds seem to be thriving and if I look at my garden from a distance I can pretend that all those green weeds are green vegetables. I am calling it my Picasso garden - great from a distance but a huge mess close up.

I went out the other evening to harvest my first batch of lettuce - ever. This is the first year i have tried to grow lettuce in an amount that I could make a salad or two a couple times a week. I put it in one of the raised beds and about half of it germinated. I was very pleased to see some great looking lettuce heads take shape and it was now time to harvest. I marched out to the garden in the evening hours after some of the heat had passed with a clean bucket and some shears.

Someone had beat me to it.

Despite having netting over both of the raised beds, one end of the bed with the lettuce, radishes and carrots had come loose. And someone took advantage of this equipment malfunction. I am thinking it must have been one of the bunnies I have seen hopping around the yard. All the heads were nibbled and sampled down to the point where nothing could be salvaged. And I was not going to serve Roy the bunny's leftovers.

I was extremely disappointed and angry. Roy came out to see how things looked and noticed that something had also been in the peas. The day before I had observed nice rip pods almost ready to be picked. One more day i thought and I would have my first shelling peas.

Again, too late. Something came in and at the tops off the half the beans, some of the peas, and most of the pea pods. Roy could tell I was pretty mad and offered his condolences: "All that hard work... sorry." Trust me, this is Roy at his most heartfelt. (When we lost the chick to the chicken tractor incident he knew how upset I was and offered the sincere comment that my climbing white roses looked nice.)

Completed and totally discouraged, but still determined to succeed, I cut a new section of netting for the end of the raised bed and made sure it was nice and secure. I then went around each bed and made sure that all the clips and nails were in place and that the netting was in order.

Satisfied that I had done all i could to prevent another salad bar give away, I clipped some leaves from the potted spinach and pulled an onion. I felt good in that i was able to harvest something.

Later that evening I went out to take care of the chickens for the night and I knew something was not right. The ladies were skittish and jumpy, even after I offered them their bread scraps. It was then I noticed the wing in the grass pen area.

Long story short, something had gotten two of the ladies. One was still inside the outdoor run on the ground, still mostly whole, but definitely dead. The second chicken's wing and torso were in the grassy area with nothing else left. I called Roy out to help me remove the chickens and to search around for what might have done this - between the time I was in the garden earlier and at present. We did not hear any noise from the coop and had no indication that anything was wrong.

Roy found some "droppings" inside the grassy area. Not only did whatever this was kill two of my ladies, they also had the audacity to poop in the run! Roy said it looked to be fox or coyote droppings - both of which are in our area.

I searched the coop for any signs of loose boards or broken fencing but there was nothing out of place. We think that a very hungry fox or coyote had been daring enough to come out while daylight still hung faintly in the air and catch his dinner.  I checked over the remaining 12 ladies and they were shaken but unharmed. I made sure they had plenty of food and water and shut them in the coop for the night. I also checked on the 6 chicks in the tractor and they were all fine. No sign of anything even trying to get at them.

I'm on my guard tonight!


  1. We had a possum in with our ladies one night. They were very afraid and my hubby went out with a shovel and beat it to death. I think it was actually after any eggs that might be in the nest or some of their feed but hubby took care of it. It took them a couple of days to get back to normal, poor things. I didn't have much luck with my garden this year either. I got potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers out of it but planted so much more. I'm going to try planting a fall garden to see if I can grow some peas and beans and lettuce before winter sets in. Hot weather came too soon this year.

  2. Oh hell, bad news and bad news!! I am so sorry to hear all of this! I am really sorry about your chickens, that stinks completely. I hope you find the interloper.

    As to your garden, yes, that is disappointing. Nothing like unwittingly sharing your bounty.

    And if it makes you feel any better, my husband is great at sympathy, and crap at compliments. "That's nice" to "That's really nice" is all I EVER get out of him.