By LYNNE IRONS
Is it the end of the world? Aside from the unusual weather, I had three experiences recently which have given me pause. I thought wild animals were supposed to be afraid of humans!
I keep pigs in an open area — so open, in fact, I needed to provide shade for them in the form of an enormous beach umbrella. In the last week or so, when I feed them, an inordinate number of seagulls show up and basically dive-bomb the pen. It is positively Hitchcockian.
Secondly, the other day I pulled into my yard at the end of the day — broad daylight, mind you — to find a large buck in the garden. I pulled up less than 10 feet from him; he looked at me and continued eating my hostas. I yelled at him and waved my arms around wildly with no success. He simply stared at me. Finally, slamming the truck door a couple of times caused him to wander away aimlessly. I know I disturbed his lunch, but please humor me and run off. I know he’ll be back after dark. The dog used to keep the property safe but, sadly, he is getting too old to be on duty at night.
The third and far more disturbing event happened just about dawn at 4:30 a.m. I was awakened by a big ruckus in the meat bird pen. I have them totally encased in hardware cloth, so I knew they were safe from intruders. Nonetheless, I grabbed the old .22, with a single bullet, and headed out in my nightclothes and untied work boots. (Before you ask — yes, I have a gun permit.) I found my most loathsome creature — a big raccoon — trying his best to get at the Cornish game hens. We chased each other around the pen for a while until he stopped and stared at me. While loading the gun, I dropped the only bullet and he immediately charged me. (If I were kidding, this would be way funnier.) While searching (frantically, I admit) I had to swing the rifle back and forth between us to keep him at bay. I finally found the tiny bullet and loaded the gun — but the moment I cocked it, he ran away. I’m fairly brave, but it took about an hour for me to stop shaking. There was no doubt he would have attacked me.
What could this possibly have to do with gardening? We live in a much more rural area than August traffic would indicate.
I have spent most of my gardening career trying to avert one thing or another. If it is not the critters, it’s the bugs and, boy, do I have bugs. Since my new plot has poor soil, it doesn’t have a proper immune system, if you will, to defend itself from the onslaught. I admit most of the blame because I did not set to work controlling them from the get-go! I noticed a few beetles here and there and neglected them until a massive explosion happened. I mentioned last week that the green bean crop is a total failure. Luckily, I got enough of a first pick to process a couple of canner loads of dilly beans.
Talk around the vegetable gardening community has it that several people have the late blight on potatoes and tomatoes. At the first sign of it — destroy the plant. It starts with gray spots and, once established, will remain in your soil . . . we’re talking Irish potato famine here!
I penned a letter to President Obama. I included a check to the U.S. Treasury with the memo “affordable health care for all.” I’m sick of Congress bellyaching about how much it costs, so I decided to send in some. I realize shame and humiliation doesn’t work on those people. Did you know that a one-term representative in the House of Representatives gets government health care the rest of his or her life?
I am also put off by all the fearmongering about socialism. What do those people think about Medicare and Medicaid? To Lyndon Johnson’s great credit, he pushed that and civil rights through the Senate 40 years ago. Go get ’em, Mr. President, the time is right. I’m willing to pay more taxes — there! I said it.