Connections and Organic Farming

Connections can be nurturing.  For example, when I dig into the soil in my little olive garden and discover earthworms and feel the rich crumbles of well-composted earth between my fingers, I feel connected, soil and spirit.  That is not to say that my olive garden is productive with olives.  Being there has no monetary value. What one finds there are actually three olive trees and two wine-type grape plants.  There are survivors.  Who can say what the future holds for them or for me, but I feel connected and content.

They are survivors; therefore I am connected because, I, too, consider myself a survivor.  They have survived and continue to survive because they are within boundaries and have a good gate. True, one time someone (a very disconnected person) opened the gate for the sheep.  That caused an unscheduled pruning.  Fortunately the trees and five grape plants bounced back.

But this had given the sheep a taste for more than adventure. For instance, Athena, my otherwise sweet little brown ewe, is a fantastic escape artist who would give a Houdini-wanna-be pause.  She quickly mastered the art of crawling under the wire field fence, eating her way through her choices, then crawling back out.  She left evidence.  Besides leaving fertilizer, she left clumps of fleece in the wire.

The gate problem and the gap under the fence have been taken care of.  No more attacks on the olive garden are here to report. However, I can now connect my feelings of loss, because the olive trees are now smaller than when I first planted them and there are only two grape plants, both German.  Alas for the lovely Zinfandel!  Alas for the Ruby.  And so on and so forth for whatever else it was.

I worked hard.  I planted, fertilized, weeded and watered.  Each tree and grape was inserted into a gopher basket at the time of planting.

I don't particularly like gophers but I won't trap them or poison them.  If I want any kind of a garden, then it goes into a container.  If it is a fruit tree, its roots are clipped to fit into a tree-size gopher basket.  Building containers for outdoor-vegetable growing is expensive, but it should be a one-time expense.  And the container should have a concrete-poured foundation.

Just kidding.  There are alternatives out there.  Keep looking.  I haven't found any yet.  Gophers are connected.

In fact, they are very in-tune with the universe.  Slugs must be their best friends, though I have never known a slug to leave anything left on a plant for any other creature to eat.  Once I had an entire flat of curly parsley wiped out by slugs.  When I mentioned that the slugs had eaten everything to a friend, her six-year-old son said, "That was rude of them!"

But slugs are definitely connected.  They love to eat decomposing material.  I find them occasionally in a compost bin or under a bed of mulch.  If they do become a problem, I get a couple of ducks.  Ducks love to eat slugs.  I used to gather buckets of slugs in the evening when they came out in hordes in the garden. I dumped them into the duck's quarters.

Ducks are connected.

From my experience, they make good mothers, at least for a time.  I had a mallard named Bubba that was hatched on one of my birthdays in an incubator on a table.  She thought I was her mother and followed me everywhere.  So I bought another duckling at the feed store.  This one turned out to be a white Pekin that I named Blondie.  She was never as smart as Bubba but the two were great friends until Bubba decided to lay eggs and become a mother.  By then, I had a few other mallards, one of which was a male.

Bubba made a nest in the middle of my driveway, which was fenced.  She made a hole and sat in the middle of it; then she proceeded to gather materials, such as leaves and hay, and buried herself along with her eggs.  From time to time, she poked her head out of this nest and gave everyone and everything a piece of her mind.  My big Livestock Guardian dogs were terrified of her.  When her 11 ducklings hatched, her charming personality was a thing of the past.  She and Blondie fought constantly.

Blondie was a disabled duck.  When she was at the feed store, she had a band around one of her legs.  This band should have been immediately removed, but because it was flesh-colored, it was not noticed until Blondie was taken to a vet because she was not walking right.  Her duck walk was off.  The vet removed the band but the leg never fully healed.  Thus Blondie was always at a disadvantage, although she was larger than Bubba, who was becoming more aggressive with motherhood.

Blondie was moved away from the other ducks.  She was free to wander with the sheep.  Every morning she quacked when I came out of the house and started banging feed pails.  One morning I did not hear her and looked around.  She had died during the night in a terrific hail storm.  She could have taken shelter.  But, she was a blonde.

Meanwhile, Bubba was connecting more and more with the hens. Her ducklings were growing and leaving, in spite of my remonstrations not to go down to the creek.  My warnings against raccoons were not heeded.  I tried to lock them up at night with the hens, but only Bubba seemed to understand.  Sadly, so I thought, a duck's life is numbered, and shortly only Bubba remained.  She became fiercely protective of the hens. Eventually this cost her her life.