Friday, January 18, 2013

Bugs Are Good- (Except the Bad Ones)

Oh! how we have been dreaming of warm, sultry days! When we awake with the excitement of a new day!

The possibilities are endless--what for breakfast?  Should we try that new egg dish made with feta cheese and roasted fennel? Or perhaps that coffee cake made with fresh buttermilk and brown sugar?  Or, maybe we are not that hungry and will just gulp down that beet and greens juice, because we know that we need to eat something, and we haven't been feeling our best- so whatever we put into our gut, it better be healthy!  BUT- after that, we can go out and plant those wonderful seeds we ordered in the winter, while we were dreaming of warm, sultry days...

...wait...we STILL are there, smack-dab in winter, and ONE of us has a nasty COLD-- caught from a nasty BUG!  A BAD bug!  Yep, sniffling and sneezing, tons of balled up wet tissue next to the bed, no appetite and no energy.  Sigh.

However, when we think about the gardens, we also have to consider bugs.  And, there are good and bad bugs.  There is so much research you can do about the subject, but good old-fashioned experience is sometimes the best.

When we built our house, we started from scratch with a wooded lot that had never been built on.  After we moved into our home, we wanted to get going on putting in a garden.  There were so many grasshoppers and crickets! 

But we did not want to start putting chemicals and synthetic fertilizers on this virgin land...what to do?  What to do? After much research, we decided to get some chickens.  Chickens LOVE grasshoppers and crickets, (among other nasties) and give great fertilizer and, not in the least, eggs.

Mamie  picked out a few breeds she wanted to try, and we put in our order.  But a few nights after that, she woke up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat, full of anxiety.  (Of course, at our age....)  So worried about the responsibility- "What are we doing getting chickens at our age? What if it is too hard?  We want to SIMPLIFY our life, not complicate it!"  But, after Poppy calmed her down and said we would talk about it in the morning, Mamie calmed down.  Sorta.

After waking and talking it over, we both decided to give it a shot.  Let us just say, we have never been sorry.  It has been about six years, and our chickens have earned their keep.  They have greatly reduced the grasshoppers and crickets, fertilized our yard and compost, and kept us in wonderful eggs.  And with all of the research, we have learned a lot about nature and growing things.  And bugs.

You want bugs in your yard and garden.  Good bugs, and- believe-it-or-not, bad bugs.  There are so many bugs that are good for your garden.  They tramp around with their ungainly feet, all around your plants.  They pick up pollen, which helps your plants to thrive and produce.  But, they need food.  Many of them eat bugs.  Other, succulent, delicious, swollen-from-gorgeous-veggie bugs.

That is why you need some bugs for them to eat.  In a nutshell, if you allow bugs to come into your world, you have to account that some of your beautiful, hard-earned produce will be munched on.  By bugs.  But then, other bugs will hone in on the buffet, and eat those bugs.  It is a win-win situation.  We still are more than willing to grab a bad bug that has been missed at the buffet, and squish it right between our fingers; (we have toughened up our eeww-factor over these last few years), or toss them to the grateful chickens, or hunt down egg sacs on the back of leaves and use sticky tape to pull them off.  Yes, it is work.  But when you sit back and survey the fruits of your labor- a beautiful garden and yard, a coop full of happy chickens, and a pantry bursting with a rainbow of colored mason jars, you cannot help but go to bed happy and looking forward to the next adventure.

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