To often the world of blogs, pinterest and instagram depict the garden or urban farm as cheery, rainbows, and everything is perfect. And sometimes things are just absolutely wonderful. But not right now. Right now, I’m feeling very frustrated.
Why? Because of roly-pollies. Also known as pill bugs or sow bugs, they are a touted as a helpful, or at least a benign, garden bug (actually, they aren’t a bug, but a crustacean, but whatever) because they are decomposers. Gardening books and blogs will tell you they won’t eat your plants, and to just leave them alone. Well, I’m here to tell you that is a big fat LIE. They may be decomposers, but they also eat EVERYTHING. I can’t blame it on slugs or birds- I’ve seen them in action- swarming over newly planted seedlings like a B-horror movie and eating the life away of young plants. I’ve lost a whole seeding of beans. Several of my asparagus spears were stripped away. My amaranth is raggaded and struggling, all of my delicata squash were devoured within a day, and most of my zinnias that have been reduced to just the veins. And they have gotten to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY STRAWBERRIES!
I worked hard on planting out my strawberry bed. And we are now in peak strawberry season. Daily I walk around the bed, observing the almost ripe and perfectly formed berries. I know that by tomorrow, or maybe even that afternoon, they will be perfect! Except when the time comes comes, the bottom half of all those berries are pot-marked, gnawed on, and covered in roly-polies. Often I’ll find the damn things all curled up in the little munched cave that they created, as happy as can be. My strawberry harvesting has been either reduced to picking not quite ripe, or I have to cut away half the berry and eat within minutes to escape the inevitable fast tracked decomposition these decomposers have created.
And another thing I’m frustrated at? My chickens. For some background info, my flock of 15 have access to the fenced off back half of the property, that they access via a tunnel from their pen. This gives them free range area, but keeps them out of the garden. One bird, however, has decided that walking her fluffy ass back to the hen house to lay eggs is beneath her, so she started laying under a bush. It was cute the first time, in a “oh how pastoral, the hen is laying out in the meadow (which in my head is spoken with a Downton Abbey old-school British accent)” kind of way. But the second time, when I forgot to check and found a handful of eggs, I was not amused. So I recently moved their tunnel to a different fenced off section of the yard, in hopes to break the habit but still give them free range access.
But yesterday we found this bird in question out of the fenced off pasture area. We thought she had just flown over the fence. It happens sometimes, I didn’t think to much of it. Except this morning, while inspecting and swearing at above mentioned strawberry bed, I found cozy little circular indentation, with a brown egg right in the middle. This fucking chicken made a jail break out of the new pasture area to lay an egg in my strawberry bed.
I have no solutions. I’m just here to tell you the truth. Sometimes homesteading sucks. Thank you for listening to my rant. Carry on.