Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Desperate measures, fighting hens, new seeds

The pear crop has been decimated by the birds.  Look at this pile of ruined fruit!  They peck out a hole just large enough to make the pear useless, then leave it to rot and fall off while they move to the next one.  I kept leaving the pears on the tree, figuring I would share the bumper crop with the birds, but apparently they really don't want to share, and every day another 4 or 5 pears were destroyed.  All the apples had already been destroyed.  In desperation today I picked 19+ pounds of still green pears.  Pears are supposed to be picked before they are fully ripe and then ripened off the tree (that reduces the number and size of the gritty stone cells inside).  Most of these, however, were not yet to the proper stage (when the background color of the pear goes from green to yellow-green, but the pear is still hard).  The birds were not waiting, so I figured it was worth a try to just harvest what I could and see if they ripen over the next few weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  If I get any edible pears the early harvest will have been a success.  I need a plan for next year:  either tent the tree or bag the individual fruit.  A few fruit are still on the tree, maybe I will try bagging them.

Look how calm and lovely our pretty black Pauline looks here, pecking away beside Lou.  Don't let her fool you.  Pauline has been just plain nasty mean this week to Lena and Expresso, who have moved to the big coop.  She doesn't just peck, she grabs and pulls and keeps chasing and following for more attacks, no matter how hard the kids try to get away.  It is hard to watch, but so far there are no lost feathers or blood, so we are trying to let them just work out the new pecking order.   Because Expresso, who is a rooster for sure now, will be leaving us before too long, I needed to get the youngsters introduced to the existing flock.  If I waited, poor Lena would have been all alone against the big hens; at least now she has a friend to hang out with while they work out the kinks of the new social order.

Finally, here are the seeds that are going in the garden as soon as the temperature drops below a thousand degrees.  (OK, just a little exaggeration there.)  Although kales and collards are usually transplanted as young plants, I am going to try direct seeding them.  Why?  Because it is fast and easy and I am all about doing things the easiest way.   If it works I saved a little money and time.  If it doesn't, I go ahead and put in some transplants.  The squash you see there is an Italian variety that is supposed to taste alot like a firm summer squash, but have the keeping qualities of a winter squash.  I think I have enough time to mature some before frost, so I will try a couple of the seeds now.  Lettuces and other fall plants will come later.