Dear Farm Journal,
Well, we hurried away to the homestead this morning, leaving the lake behind, and within a few hours, there were already two farm moments which made me feel a little unsettled. First, Rufus and I walked the farmstead gardens, fields, and greenhouses to assess the damage of our two day absence. When we came to the potato field, I spotted a potato bug, then another, then…oh shit. So when my brother and I were kids, my dad would give us a penny for every potato bug we picked out of the garden. I’m pretty sure it was my first paid occupation, and if my dad was willing to shell out some cash to a couple of young grade schoolers to get rid of them, I thought, they must be dangerous. However, as a child gardener, I never actually completed the act of killing the bugs. I just turned them into my dad for payment and went skipping away with my candy money. Today Rufus said, “Start squishing them” as he squeezed a juicy bug body between his fingers. Oh, hell no. I’m not doing that. I collected the bugs, they secreted various liquids into my palm and I handed them over to Rufus to do the crushing. He was not impressed, called me a baby, and splattered potato bug juice across my arm in jest. I don’t know how I didn’t just puke. Gross. I still didn’t squish them though. I don’t like to take part in killing things in the first place, and pinching dripping bugs to death was not my idea of a diverting Sunday afternoon. Anyways, we got through that and moved on to “the chicken problem”. We have come to a point in our chicken journey at which we must make a change. The laying hens don’t really pull their weight in eggs and we need to prepare the chicken coop for meat birds soon. We talked about putting them back onto the Craigslist circuit where they came from, but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Rufus’s solution, which I initially protested with stern conviction, was to transition the hens to free range, relocating them to the compost trench, where they would have plenty of red worms, bugs, and food scraps to eat. Now, I am all for free range, but there were two major flaws in this particular plan; no safe place to roost, and nothing stopping them from wandering into the greenhouses and gardens to help themselves. Rufus had unwavering confidence that the chickens would remain in the trench. I was filled with abiding doubt. We put eight out of thirteen birds in the compost trench…we’ll see what happens.