Monday, June 07, 2010

Gardening is in my blood

I absolutely love gardening. The spring holds such promise of an abundant harvest. But this year, instead of feeling like I have a green thumb, I feel more like Eddie Albert in the old TV comedy series Green Acres.
In early spring, our young peach tree had hundreds of blossoms. As I surveyed the progress daily, my mind often drifted to the thought of eating summer peaches right off the tree. I could almost taste the sweet juice dripping down my chin.
But just after the peaches set, a tornado came through and it was much too close for comfort. It didn’t do any structural damage, but it blew all but one peach off our tree.
It looks lonesome hanging there. Jilda and I are trying to figure out who gets the peach. I could probably arm wrestle her for it, but with all the yoga she does, she’s curiously strong now and I’m not sure if I can take her. Maybe she will consider sharing it with me.
We planted cabbage this year, but we were about a month late. The plants seemed to do fairly well until one day, when I was inspecting the plants, I saw a few small holes that had appeared almost over night. Upon a closer look, I saw a tiny worm munching happily away on our cabbage. I gently picked him off and thumped him into the compost pile.
We went out of town for a few days and when we returned, all the cabbages had more holes than a flour sifter. This time when I picked the worms off, I stomped them with my tennis shoes.  But more worms came back and soon, our sad little cabbages whistled when the wind blew.
I pulled them all up by the roots and threw them in the compost bin to put them out of their misery.
We’ve had even worse luck with our chickens.  A month ago, we had a yard full of chickens. We’d wake up each morning to the sound of Henry the Rooster telling us the news. I’m guessing our late-sleeping neighbors called him something else, but we loved old Henry.
Then out of nowhere one morning, Henry disappeared. There were a few feathers near the fence, but other than that, not a trace of our rooster.
We had a mama hen with a brood of chicks that were still in the nest. The next morning, we found that our hen had been mauled and all the chicks, save one, were gone.
The next two days, the varmint ate all our chickens, except for one.
I did some research and narrowed the predator down to a couple of suspects. I was certain it was either a possum or a raccoon.
I bought a humane trap and the next night the puzzle was solved. I caught a raccoon that was as big as a Ford Focus.
Those critters have cute faces, but when I picked up the cage, it lunged for my hand from inside the cage. It sounded like a Bengal Tiger. I promptly dropped the cage and went to the shed to fetch my leather gloves.
I relocated the chicken slayer to Cullman County near the Mulberry River.
I felt so good about my conquest, that I went to Jasper Feed and Seed and bought six more baby chicks. 
The next morning when I went down to check the crib, all six chicks were gone.
Apparently, my striped friend had other family members who had heard about the Watson Chick-fil-a. 
I bought sardines and cat food for critter bait. The next morning I had Rocky Raccoon No. 2.
Jilda asked, “Is that the same raccoon?” I wasn’t sure if he’d found his way home or not, so, to be sure, I took a can of spray paint and painted some nifty blue racing stripes on his butt.
I’m not buying any more chickens until I’m sure I have relocated the entire family somewhere far away.
Even with all my mishaps, I’m still living a dream. Last night, as we sat down to our first meal of fried green tomatoes, squash, and new potatoes with fresh peppers, a gentle rain began to fall. By the time dessert was on the table, a “gully-washer” had swept a row of purple hull peas away. 
The Oakridge Boys summed it up well, I think, when they sang, “If you’re ever gonna see a rainbow, you got to stand a little rain.”

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