What a week. Rivers of rain came down, really everything died, and we started harvesting potatoes.
One morning I went out to release the chickens only to find a huge toad lying in the path, next to the total jungle of chard, sugar peas, corn, fennel, Borlotti beans, and cauliflower that it had almost certainly been living in. I’m pretty sure it was the mighty hunter (our neighbor’s cat Little Man Paul) who had dragged it out, ripped the skin clear off of its thigh, and then decided it tasted too foul to finish killing (and I couldn’t bring myself to finish the toad off, so it sat there for four or five days, slowly dying, which was probably horrible of me). Then, when I went to feed the chickens, I started reaching my hand into the clear plastic bag with the chick pellets in it and then YIKES! I really did yelp. Because I nearly stuck my hand into a rat, who was equally surprised.
I said Shoo! and it did (Spouse was not impressed with this, when I told him).
Then I went outside with the chick food and there was Spouse, standing there at the chicken fence and he asked me, what the hell is that there, dangling from Destructo’s mouth?
Well. It was the bottom half of a rat, legs, feet, and tail dangling as Destructo ran around the chicken run with it, trying to stay far enough ahead of the others that nobody else got a bite of it.
The sight was sick and hilarious at the same time, like the most twisted of scenes from the Coen brothers’ films.
But that was about the time that the little penguin chick started to ail. It had started out the middle-sized chick, but it quickly dropped back to the smallest and never got any bigger. It ate, but not much and not enthusiastically. Then it had trouble getting out of the coop in the morning and trouble getting back in in the evening, or when it rained. Then it just started spending all of its time sitting in the grass peep-shrieking for its mother, who by that point had totally disowned it.
At which point I stepped in, to at least hold the little thing and keep it warm. And then things went downhill fast, just like with the mouth. Within an hour, it had stopped peeping. Then it got too tired to keep its eyes open. Then it started gaping for air. Then it got too weak to hold up its own head, at which point I was holding it in a way that supported it and allowed the poor thing to breathe. Then it just died and out came frothy ooze.
I have two (possibly related) best guesses here. The first is that because even after a week, it’s belly button wasn’t anywhere near closed, it may have gotten an infection that way or even had innards that weren’t quite properly arranged. Or that this was just part and parcel of it being a weak chick and then, when the deluge of rain came, all the Coccidia in the lawn woke up and became infectious. Although the chick feed has an anticoccidial in it, it’s not clear that the chicks have been eating enough of it, because Mama Hen doesn’t recognize the chick feed as food, and so has been feeding the chicks worms and other things she digs out of the lawn.
Poor little chick. 8 days old. Although, since I suspect he was a rooster (it had already started to grow a notable comb), that was 7 days more than most rooster chicks get in this world.
Then we found a giant dead rat, clearly having died vomiting whatever it had eaten. Which I think means the alpaca people have put out rat poison. Which means now I have to be paranoid about finding and disposing of all the corpses before the cats, the chickens, or any hedgehogs or owls other other birds get their maws on them. The alpaca people resorting to poison would surprise me, although it would explain why the explosive mouse infestation in our half of the barn that occurred just after the alpacas moved in to the other half (there is a solid wall in between, on the property line) also one day just evaporated.
But on a happier not, potatoes! Two fields out of three (or roughly half the total area) have now been harvested and we’re up to something like 35 kilos (about 80 lbs). Spouse thinks we’ll hit 50 kilos. Which would mean we will need to eat nearly a kilo of potatoes a week for A YEAR.
Here are the “black Hungarians”, although it is fairer to say they are purple.
The something-or-other pine cone potatoes turned out to be a funky bunch that grew in very funky bunches.
They have a certain Take me to your leader, Earthling! quality to them