Sunday, March 22, 2015

A lesson from the chickens or easy caterpillar removal

If you are squirmy about wormies, this probably isn't the blog post for you...

 I love to learn new things.   I am open to any teacher, be it 
my 5 year old granddaughter teaching me an art technique, a formal classroom learning opportunity, or
my chickens teaching me how to remove cabbage looper caterpillars from my lettuce leaves.

Last week, being so preoccupied with keeping my lettuce comfortable in the 90 degree heat we were having here in Southern California, I neglected to notice that the big, beautiful leaves of my Black seeded Simpson lettuce were looking more like doilies than vegetables.  I started looking for the culprits.  There was the frass evidence that they were eating and digesting my future salads.   And sure enough, and although their green color matched the lettuce perfectly, I spotted them.  
Cabbage loopers.  

 Being an organic gardener, I began picking the worms off the leaves.  I put them in a box to be delivered to my hens.  Some of the lettuce was so holey, I picked off an entire perforated leaf, with the caterpillars still attached, and added it to the Nellie and Amelia picnic hamper.  I picked 62 of the little gluttons off 18 plants.   (Yes, I counted the smooth, green inchworm-like caterpillars as I plucked them off.  I wanted to tell someone about how many had been on the plants and I thought an actual number made for a more realistic story. Plus worm picking can get boring, so I needed something to keep my mind involved.)  

I delivered the box lunch...
and watched as the girls enjoyed their delicacies.   I also observed that the hens would pick up a leaf and give it a shake before eating it.  The shaking caused the worms to fly off and then the hen would run to eat it before her coop-mate could get it.  This process surprised me, because when I pick cabbage caterpillars off plants they kind of grasp onto the plant and then cling to my fingers with their hairy little feet.  I didn't think a hen head-shake would dislodge them from the leaves.  And how did the hens know to do this?

I was out picking more loopers this afternoon.  I thought about the 
method the hens had shown me the day before.  I  gave the lettuce heads a  tap-tap with my hand.
 Sure enough, the gentle ruffling knocked the caterpillars off the leaves.  They fell off the plants and onto the dirt where they were both visible and easier to pick up.  Teeny-tiny caterpillars I would have never seen on the plants were easily seen on the soil.

I like the saying,

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."    Kalam

It is true and I hope I will always be a student open to all teachers.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

leprechauns don't like our house

posted by:  jennifer

it is the day after Saint Patrick's Day... my youngest went out into the living room first thing this morning and looked around.    (just like she had done yesterday morning, and when she came home from school yesterday)

she came to the kitchen and announced "leprechauns don't like our house."  
I didn't say a word.
then "you know why they don't like our house?   because it's not clean, and so they can't mess it up."

when did Saint Patrick's Day get so out of hand?   I have never particularly like the day.  I hated the whole "you are going to get pinched if you don't wear green" shenanigans when I was in school, and still do. But I think when I was growing up, that is about all involved in the day.
By the way, my kids asked yesterday morning if I was wearing green.  I said no.  and then I said I don't like St. Patrick's Day.... but as I thought about it throughout the day, it is more I don't celebrate it.  

these days though, the leprechauns come into the classrooms at school, and overturn trash cans, leave green footprints all over desks.
I have heard that they even go to houses, pee in the toilet (did you know they have green pee?) and forget to flush.  well, that's the word in the hallways at the elementary school.

now, in all honesty, for a couple of years, I felt the pressure.  The leprechauns did show up here a couple of times... they sprinkled some glitter and left some chocolate coins.

but I think they have got the point.  this is not a good house to hit.  
and it is okay.  Because I don't think ankle breaking size holes, that have been covered with grass, in hopes of trapping a leprechaun, that are dug in the backyard (in the pathway no less) should be encouraged.   

so, long story short, if you want to keep leprechauns away from your house, keep it messy. 
thank goodness they don't like messy houses, because all I need is another creature reeking havoc up in here.