Potato Tower Update - July

I've been helping out at the Bountiful Sprout co-op this month, filling in for the gracious Cindy while she takes a well-deserved vacation. I noticed that several of the farmers were selling fresh potatoes, and it got me to wondering, are mine finally ready for harvest?

The tops have taken a beating with the sudden & continued onslaught of heat this season, but keep re-greening. Despite the remaining green, figured I'd go ahead and check out at least one tower. If the contents looked good, I'd harvest the rest.

The growing medium - nothing but pure compost - has done some settling, like a box of cereal or bag of chips. It was easy to dig through with my bare hands (like I'd take the time to find gloves anyways, right?). Besides, using hands to harvest the tubers would be much gentler on the potatoes - much less chance of nicking or gouging the tender 'tater - than if I used a garden spade.

The harvest itself? Kinda disappointing. Two large and one small seed potato yielded slightly less than two pounds of potatoes, of which most were very small. Looks like I should have left this tower alone for a few more weeks yet. I'm also wondering if I should have blended some topsoil into the compost. Potatoes can be heavy feeders, but too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorous might have affected tuber development, and I really don't know what the balance is/was in that particular batch of compost. Ah well, two more towers of 'taters await in the wings, and we'll see what the harvest is like for those in a few more weeks.

An enterprising chicken, digging through the remains.


Duck versus Chicken

The chickens were unsure of the ducks when we first let the ducks range the property unattended. There were attempts to assert some sort of pecking order, which was at first befuddling to the ducks ("hey, why is this bird pecking on me??") to then outright annoyance (duck: *chomp!*). The Pecking Order Fallout faded within a few weeks with the ducks holding no grudges, and the chickens giving it up but remaining a bit confused over these short, squatty little birds.

The one grudging exception: Moe ("she's The Queen!") Duck. She remembers Feisty (The Bloodthirsty) Chicken. Feisty is a flighty, ornery little Egyptian Fayoumi who even our veterinarian doesn't like.  [Once while getting checked for an illness (yes, I take my girls to the vet), Feisty attempted to tear into the veterinarian, and in the process tore a chunk of latex glove off his hand. She also tore a chunk or two of skin from my own hand during the illness recovery, but heck, I'm used to goose bites, so no biggie.] 

The Queen, Tugboat Moe
Feisty the Bloodthirsty.

If Moe sees Feisty approaching within three feet, Moe gives chase. Moe will chase Feisty across the yard, under bushes, through flowers, past trees, on and on until Feisty finally gets out of eyesight. I've seen Moe chase Feisty a good 30 yards, full-out and non-stop, which is pretty impressive for a tugboat on webbed feet. If Moe ever gets ahold of Feisty, there will be a massive CHOMP! and feathers flying. "Pecked to death by ducks" indeed.

One thing I learned while practicing martial arts, of which Feisty never had the benefit: NEVER underestimate the short ones. They have a lower center of gravity, and WILL hand you your @ss on a platter.

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...