IS IT REAL? A BLAST FROM THE PREHISTORIC PAST? A BIRD, PLANE, OR SUPERMAN?

How many of you know what this is:

male silver guinea bird(see a video here)

The head of a dino, body of some crazy speckled fish-like-thingy, legs of a chicken – runs like the wind, but never seems to be going in a straight line (loves spinning in place with several others at a time). It’s a Guinea Bird/fowl.

We purchased our first ones a little over 10 years ago and got the surprise of our life. The first came to us as babies, looked almost like the baby chickens until tguinea babieshey started to “form”. Early on their heads looked strange – but, as they grew, the noise they made was even worse than their head. The eggs are not very good for breakfast but, like duck eggs, make great noodles. They are shaped like a huge upside down teardrop, short legs but man could they cruise!

 

It’s a summer Saturday evening, cocktails by the fire pit, and then it happened. We have a huge circular driveway around our house, of which the guineas took full advantage of – the race was on!

Sun setting, frogs having a party down in the pond croaking away, faint call of a coyote in the distance (yea – stay there!), and the guineas were at full speed. Three of the dino-birds started racing around the house via the driveway. They would run around about 3 times then stop in the center of the yard/drive and start spinning in circles! WWHHAATT?? I had never even heard of a guinea before we bought them, but they were supposed to be good pest controllers. So what was with the racing and, more important, how could they spin around like that without falling over? They looked funnier than a dog chasing its tail – and that’s funny! It was a mystery.

guinea fowl

Of course, we never once tried to stop them. It didn’t seem to be hurting them, they actually seemed to like it (could tell by all the squawking they were doing) so no harm no foul (ok, bad pun). We also had the issue of not being able to stop laughing at them (biggest reason why we didn’t stop them). Then, of course we all picked a bird and watched the races till the sun set.

When the sun was finally down low enough for the yard light to come on, they finally settled down. This also meant another oddity of them – they flew up and perched in the tree at night. Chickens do not do that! They like to perch on racks we built in their barn, but you would never find them up in a tree. The biggest reason why not is that they can’t get their butts up there. Well, take another look at this silly bird – how does it get off the ground shaped like that? Have no clue, but they do.

There are a couple of great benefits to having them. 1) They are better guard dogs. Anything odd and they sound off – person, vehicle, or critter – doesn’t matter. If it’s out of the norm and they will let you know. 2) The best at pest control! You should see them rip apart a mouse, snake, or a grasshoppers doesn’t matter to them. If they can catch it, it’s theirs. They will beat the snot out of it till dead. Grab it, throw it in the air, stomp on it, or split it (literally) with a fellow guinea….ahh, bonus protein meal.

guinea-fowl-vs-rattlesnake

Rattle snakes are in Colorado, but we have never (knock-on-wood) seen one on our property. We love our guineas. Think we will keep them in stock (pun intended).

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ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES?

Time has finally caught up with us. Okay, maybe I should say the weather has finally caught up with us. Our first major frost is due tomorrow night, and I’m not ready – eeekkkk! The exterior garden is pretty much demolished – so no problem there. The decision now is do I want to keep the greenhouse tomatoes going through to next year or break out my Edward Scissorhands clippers and have at it?

My major concern is not devastating the bush, but how bad the bush will devastate me. The darn thing is from the nightshade family. Very poisonous prospect, and an oxymoron if you really think about it. How did anyone ever come to realize that a tomato was edible? I know that most of what we eat is from watching critters. If they eat it, must be ok – however- nothing will eat the tomato vine. The fruit (yep it’s a fruit) is, to me, outstanding! So many varieties of uses – ketchup, sauces, Pico, and best to me – raw!! We put them in tons of things from eggs to meats to noodles. When you combine several together you get an amazing flavor (that’s how we make our pasta sauce).

So what am I so worried about – the vines. Years past I was able to tear at them with minimal body covering (ok, clean it up, I’m talking shorts and a tank top then)…but not now. Now I need full body armor! Pants, socks, ankle high boots, long sleeve shirt or at least a long sleeve jacket, gloves and most important – a clean rag.

The rag came about when I found out that I could no longer deal with the treacherous monster without full body armor. I make the mistake of taking out the outside vines 2 years ago by simply hacking away at them. I knew what they were back then, but at that time they did not infest me. Well, on this fateful day it happened to be bright, sunny and on the warmer side. As I worked I began to perspire (women perspire – men sweat – what a crock but that’s for another day) and subconsciously wiping the wet from my face – using my hands which were not encased in gloves. I believed that gloves were for sissys that were afraid to get their hands dirty – also, not anymore!

The poison weeping from the vines as I hacked away at them was doing its dastardly revenge from the moment I touched them. It leaked all over my hands and arms, I lifted both to help remove the moister from my face and eyes and the damage was done! The killer tomatoes had gotten vengeance. They were stealthy – doing injury when I least expected it! This was a year, after all, just like the previous years so why should I do anything different? Ha, ha, ha, silly me! NOTHING ever stays the same!!

I did my dirty deed on the gardens. I took everything down for the winters’ rest, as it should be. I went to bed that evening feeling like a hero! I had accomplished every fall cleanup item on my “to-do list” in record time. I showered after a hard days’ work but it was already too late. The sneaky tomato was enforcing its revenge upon me without my knowing it.

I woke the next morning looking like a blow fish!

pic of blowfish

WWWHHHAAATTTT???? I was swollen from my eyes to my feet with the worst being on my face (of course!). I was awake, but my eyes were thin little slits to peek through. My sinuses were so plugged that I had to hang my mouth open to breathe a heavy breather on a nasty phone call. And the facial skin itself was so stretched from the attack that I could not see a single wrinkle (bonus!? Hee hee).   My fingers were so swollen I could not make a fist and a burning rash had broken out almost everywhere. The first think (yes think) I did was yell for help.

Well, help came but not before laughing hysterically for several minutes first! Very funny – not!!! My sister then reminded me about the nightshade family in the tomato. So that was the culprit. She continued to laugh while helping to rub aloe lotion on me, also reminding me of all the time I teased her about her “sensitive” skin (she breaks out in a rash at the drop of a hat). Now I was to learn exactly how she felt – in the most painful way!

The majority of the swelling went down after a couple of days, the rash took a bit longer. But I did learn a very valuable lesson. The tomato doesn’t care what your skin type is. It doesn’t care that you may have killed it in the past without feeing its agony. It only cares about the first moment you DO notice it. That moment when it can come out on your unsuspecting self and seek revenge!

So, now I know that I will attack the monster with full body armor, but I will display my kinder side. I will allow part of the plant to remain in the plot. I will cover it with extra protection and even add a small space heater so that the temperature will remain above freezing in its mini-tunnel. I will allow it to continue to provide us with fruit in a slower manner throughout the winter.

In turn, I believe, it will not decide to attack me. At least not until the next time I get stupid and try to clear it jungle style! It had better remember that revenge is sweet, especially served up in a pasta sauce!

Now, my older friends, you know where they got the idea for that wonderful “B” movie from back in the 70’s – Attack of the killer tomatoes. Enjoy!!  (oh, and of course don’t forget that great theme song )

WHERE DID THEY ALL COME FROM?

Attack of the killer Monarch’s – eeekkkk! OK, so they don’t really attack, they don’t bite or tear your flesh off (maybe a zombie butterfly would? Hmm??). They don’t really hurt anything in their butterfly form. But looking at our blue mist bush in the corner of the yard gave us a moment to pause and ponder…where did they all come from?

We have always had Monarch’s passing through, but this year the hoard is awesome! They were clinging to our elm trees when first spotted. We just thought it was nice of them to see us as a rest area. By the next morning we had this:DSC_0015 This looks like just one single beauty – but look again:

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The bush was invaded by butterflies! Monarchs first caught my eye, then when I followed them, I found the bush covered in butterflies. I don’t know what all the names are, there is a smaller version of the monarch (in color) but with grey fringed edges. A smaller yellow with bits of green, and I also recognized the cabbage moth (often mistook as a butterfly) floating around the bush. The honey bees were also going crazy sucking the nectar off the flowers. My belief is that this must be the best time of year for the blue mist to give off sweetness. That would explain the insect coverage.

I stood and stared at it for several minutes, then I thought, “I don’t care why there are all here, just glad they paid us a visit!”

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We have seen farmers spending decades on getting rid of weeds in their fields. Unfortunately a lot of those “weed” are food sources or habitats for a number of other creatures. The milkweed pod plant is a favorite of the Monarch but, until this year, we didn’t have many around. Now we have bunches! Even our county road crew was nice enough to leave them alone in our ditches. There are a number of things that love the milkweed pod plant. It also has the added benefit of creating a great dried little cup type form that works great on a number of crafting projects (makes great Spock-type ears for our pumpkins – hee hee). This year (if I can collect enough) I want to try a wreath out of them.

I don’t know where they all came from this year. I don’t know where they are going to (Mexico I think?), but I am very thrilled that they used us as a pit-stop for several days. I hope that we gave them enough rest and food for energy to get them through the balance of their journey. Can’t wait to see what surprise we get next year! Monster Monarchs Munch Mexico?? Enjoy!