Wednesday, June 14, 2006

early squash

Let's start this week off with a report on the chicks.

These are the four chicks of unknown origins found scratching and chirping in the garlic patch.

My step-son saw them last week and put them in a box thinking they were misplaced baby chickens.

I looked at them and right away saw that they weren't chickens at all. "They're guineas." I said. Thinking they were offsprings of some of the guineas that, years ago, had flown off to the forest and never return.

Only, within a day or two these chicks' coloring had changed By the weekend they no longer looked like guineas.

By then a number of shareholders had sent me urls of pictures.

PIctures of all sorts of wild birds.

And after carefully studying the pictures I came up with - bob whites. That's what they looked like.

And so I told everyone: 'You know those chicks we found, they're bob whites.'

Only, the chicks kept on growing. On a diet of inhaled hamburger meat, bread and wild bird seeds (they never seem to stop eating) the chicks in a box quickly doubled in size.

Now they are larger than full grown bob white.

So, we've gone back to step one.

What kind of birds are those chicks.

A little bird found foraging in a garlic patch

(yes, I know, the mother was no doubt close by. But I wasn't the one who picked them up and put them in a box. And now, if we let the go, their mother has no doubt gone on to other interests and there are plenty of bird loving predators out there that I doubt our four house guests would last the first night in the wild).

Birds that aren't interested in eating greens. No lettuce, no squash, no fruit, no cherries.

Chicks that absolutely love hamburger meat, Great hunters of insects.

Chicks that will scratch away at seeds but aren't much interested in store bought chicken feed.

What are they?

And while we ponder this question, lets go on to the farm news.

Squash. Several people asked about the squash we had in the shares starting June 9th. "Isn't it too early for squash?" I was asked by more than one person. And my answer was. "Yes, it is, or at least it was.

"But here they are. Early squash."

Up until this year I never have even dreamed of growing squash this early. It's too cold.

Traditionally May (and that's when these squash plants were planted and grew) is much too chilly for squash plants to grow.

Normally squash planted that early would have just sat in the ground, not growing.

But last year, however, a neighboring CSA farmer, a young farmer (someone did a study and the average age of CSA farmers is in their late 40's. The average age of 'traditional' type farmers is closer to my age, almost 60 years old).

Anyway, this young farmer (he's in his 20's) brought me a box of early June squash to show off.

And I said to him, "You can't grow squash this early. It's too cold."

And we looked at the squash and I thought to myself. Hmmm. Maybe I better learn from this kid.

So this year back around the first of May, I started squash seedlings in the greenhouse and put them in the ground two weeks later.

And there they are.

Early June squash.

I don't know what to blame it, the warmer month of May, on. But something has happened. It wasn't but a few years ago squash, around here, wouldn't grow this early.

But now it does.

Maybe the warm month's of May over a the past two years are a fluke.

And maybe they aren't.

So, the common wisdom about no squash in the mid Atlantic region in June, is now wrong.

You are eating proof that it's wrong. Who knows, maybe the next thing we'll see is a ripe tomato before July 4th.

Oh, I got carried away with talking about the warmer climate and forget to mention our current thoughts on the chicks? Here's my present guesses:

Pheasants or maybe grouse?

Both have more or less the same markings as our chicks.

And there are other facts that fit.

a. The mother could have had them out hunting for food in the garlic patch.

b. When young they eat massive quantities of insects.

c. They love hamburger meat,

d. We have the occasional pheasant and plenty of grouse natively living out there in the forest.

The next milestone in determining what type of birds live in the back room is when they start flying. That should be interesting. I told Wenonah she has to quit her job when that happened so she could take care of her baby chicks full time

She laughed.


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