Predator update. No chicken deaths last night. So, here is what we did, the good, the bad, the ugly. Husband put more boards up, so that there was a barrier of 12" all the way around the growing pen. And then we sprinkled urine around the outer lying edge of the animal area, closest to the forest. Yes, we took Mini's little potty, filled up, because she's doing a great job with the potty training, and marked the territory. I don't know if it worked, if that even works on raccoons, but I recalled some "old timers" telling me of taking their morning or evening pee out in the fields, to ward of predators.
So was that too much information? Did it work? I don't know, on either count, but I happy my kid is mostly potty trained, and that there were no dead chicks this morning.
So the last time I went to hear Eric Sideman Speak, he mentioned nematodes being a great solution for grubs and cut worms. Nematodes are specific parasites that do not harm good bugs, not even earth worms, but for larvae, like the cutworm, and grubs, it inserts itself into the critter, releases a bacteria that it lives well with, and then uses the host to hatch it's young. The host is eaten by the nematodes and the bacteria, and left, dead, as the nematodes hatch, mature and move on. That is the basic gist, and I'm sure it's more technical than all that, but that was the bite sized bit that I could process, hold onto, and thus realize, when I saw cutworms while digging in the dirt the other day, that I should go and buy some parasites.
Green Spot in Nottingham, happens to be a great place to purchase these helpful bugs. The company sells their critters nationally, but we are very fortunate to have them in our own back yard! I purchased a pack of them for $11.99, which was enough to do my whole garden. I lucked out, as today it's raining, and nematodes need to be applied to wet soil. This means I didn't have to pre-wet the soil, or water them in afterward! I just had to put them into a garden sprayer, spray them on then go to bed!
I did all this after arriving home from my second Eric Sideman talk. I'm a firm believer, that when you are learning something new, you need to give your brain hooks. A place to hang information. Going to the first talk, game me hooks. I heard words I'd never heard, I made a couple basic connections, took lots of notes, then processed the information, after the talk was over. So today, when I listened to pretty much the same talk, I had heard the terms, read my notes, looked some things up, and had hooks to hang the information on. The hooks are by no means full, I still have tons to learn in the area of organic disease and pest control, but I have a lot more tools in my tool box, and I'm excited to understand the systems these diseases and pests work in, a bit more.
The talk was amazing, and I'm so thankful for Seacoast Eat Local, Slow Food Seacoast , and Seacoast Community Gardening Network for sponsoring these two talks. Both were very full, and this time the room was quite large. It was very exciting to see so many people turn out on a cold rainy evening to learn alternatives ways to protect their gardens, and still not harm the environment.
There is really a lot that goes into farming, and even homesteading. It's not a simple as buying some chickens, or plopping some plants in the dirt. All these animals and plants are part of a larger system, with their own physical needs. It's really amazing, and with as much as I've learned, I still have a lot left to learn.
For all the very local folks, if you haven't checked out the Northwood Farmer's Market, I'm finding it to be a fun little option. It's close to my house, which is nice, and today I purchased Sugar Snap Peas, Strawberries, Ground Beef from Scottish Highland Cattle (the furry cows!), Carrots from a very industrious guy who planted seeds during the warm spell in March. Brilliant. A couple Pepper Seedlings, to round out my home grown pepper options, and some cookies!
The market had gourmet mushrooms, chicken, eggs, dog treats, plenty of baked goodies, including some gluten free options, soups, body products, jams and jellies, syrup, other veggies, and some Maine grown oats and whole wheat flour. The selection was very nice, and there other others that I've seen before, but were not there today, including a guy who sells very yummy honey. So if you have some time on a Thursday afternoon, I recommend a stop in Northwood. It's right at the corner of Route 9/202, 4 and 43. Across from the Library, and Northeast Credit Union. Very simple to get to!
I hope my little nematodes are making their way to the cut worms, as I sleep, and the raccoon leaves my little birds alone, again, tonight...not something I would have imagined hoping for in my previous life!