April 25, 2008

It’s amazing the things I see, now that I work at home almost every day. If I haven’t already mentioned this, we have a free-range red-fronted macaw that flew in here about 6 months ago. It lives here now. Its former owners came on several occasions to try to reclaim it, but fortunately for the bird it had more brains than the whole carload of its owners, and eluded all sad attempts at capture.

So, I looked out my bedroom window today and watched in fascination as the macaw followed a large turkey tom around the pen, waiting for it to turn around, whereupon it would try to bite the turkey’s tail feathers. This went on for some minutes. I have dubbed this macaw "The Inspector". No name really seems to fit, but whenever anything at all is happening in the yard, there he is….inspecting. On other occasions, I’ve seen him raise his wings and open his beak while chasing confused young chickens. We really need to film some of this and get it on YouTube, no one would believe half of what goes on.

This week we lost something like 40 of our young meat birds to a fox. Or a fox and dogs….I still can’t know for sure what happened. It was the final straw for a project that has had just about everything possible go wrong from day one. We’ll have about 30 birds left for meat, but any profit we might have seen for our investment of time and feed was already gone, and that was before the depredation happened. I suppose it’s a tax deduction, but that isn’t making us feel better right now.

Today I transplanted tomatoes and asters, and sowed seeds for squash and okra, and tore out cardoon plants. I’ve allowed at least 5 garden rows to be taken up by cardoon, a winter vegetable we haven’t been able to get anyone enthusiastic about….so out it goes. We had a minor greenhouse disaster in which dozens of pepper plants were fried, but fortunately we were able to score about 60 plants el cheapo from local stores. While "Sweet Red Pepper" isn’t exactly my idea of knowing what varieties I raise, as long as it makes peppers I suppose it’ll work.

I decided this year that everything south of the poultry pens will "go organic", no more Roundup. I’ve been making heavy use of my weed flamer. It’s hot, nasty work, but there is a certain satisfaction involved in setting things on fire. Tomorrow morning I’m going to lay waste to the orchard again….it’s taking several passes to exterminate weeds, but it does work.

Lastly, I am finally getting to where I am having halfway coherent conversations in Spanish. I’m learning lots of new words. It’s actually disturbing to think of how many vegetable names I can now say in Spanish. It’s not good Spanish, nor is it social. It’s stuff like shovels and hoes and rows and compost and turnips. But, I guess that’s where one has to start when the task at hand is to communicate with farm workers. A lot has been happening lately, and their work is pretty integral to any success on my part. Lately we’ve been all talking quite a lot about food, and what is happening to prices in the stores. I make sure to send them home with surplus produce. If I worked all day for someone else’s farm preparing vegetables for sale, and had people to feed at home, I know I’d appreciate being able to share in the bounty. In turn, people are appreciative when they’re treated decently. It was the workers who learned about all my chickens being killed and they hunted down the fox that did it, saving me from losing hundreds more dollars. It’s a different culture than what I’m used to, but at the end of the day we’re all people and we all need the same basic things. Muy bien.



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