I discovered this week that there is something lacking in the intelligence of sparrows.
Last week on Sunday James was testing the heating lamp for the chicken coop and when he went out he chased several squirrels and a bunch of sparrows out of the run. The squirrels were no surprise, they sneak in there frequently when the door is open and the chickens are free-ranging. They like to eat the chicken feed. Apparently, sparrows have now discovered the “bird feeder” too.
When I got home from work Monday afternoon I had no plans to open the run to let the chickens free-range because it was so windy and bitter out. We were expecting snow later that night, and it just seemed better to leave them in their protected run. But I looked out the window and across the garden and could see sparrows flitting about the chicken run. At first I thought they were outside of the run, but then I realized they were inside it. What the heck?
I went out, and as I got closer the sparrows really freaked out. Human! No escape! They frantically bashed themselves against the wire of the run. I opened the run door as fast as I could, and about a dozen sparrows zoomed out. The chickens, of course, came out too. They were unconcerned and couldn’t have cared less about their uninvited guests for the day. I was baffled. How did James manage to close up so many sparrows in the run when he closed the coop door the night before? Had the sparrows been roosting up in the rafters of the covered run and he just didn’t see them?
I told James about the sparrows when he got home a little while later. He was certain there weren’t any sparrows in the run the night before when he put the girls to bed. He went out to look at the coop and run, and discovered a small opening in the run wire at the peak of the roof. Maybe they got in there? Maybe, but why? And why wouldn’t they know how to get back out the way they came in? James made sure the run was sparrow-free that night when he put the girls to bed.
Tuesday James got home before I did, and went out to the chickens to find about three sparrows in the run, freaking out. He let them out and then covered over the small opening in the wire he had found the day before. That did the trick. When I got home Wednesday afternoon there were no sparrows in the chicken run. Clearly, sparrows are not as smart as I gave them credit for if they can manage to squeeze in through a small hole to eat chicken feed, but then not know how to get back out. It’s not as though they had eaten so much seed that they got stuck like Pooh Bear in Rabbit’s door.
But I really wish the chickens could tell me what they thought about all of it. They were so wholly unconcerned about all the freaked out sparrows flying around their run. Did they not mind the company? Were they annoyed at first and so kept the sparrows from landing on the ground to eat their food, forcing them to cling to the wire and rafters? Or perhaps the Dashwoods set the tone of polite condescension towards their uninvited guests and were quietly relieved when they finally left
Monday night we did get our snow; 1.8 inches/4.6 cm to be exact. A nice Halloween trick, that. I didn’t believe it would actually snow, or if it did, I figured it would just be a dusting. But there was enough sticking to the street that I had to make a quick change of bicycle and rode my snow bike instead of my little Brompton to work. Wednesday the snow was gone but for a few shady places, so I was back on my Brompton.
Halloween/Samhain being a time to remember our ancestors/roots, we have a meal of food that reminds us of people who have died. This year we had tacos for dinner. We had planned on lighting a little fire outdoors and enjoying cinnamon toast by firelight, but it was too cold and windy. So we lit a candle and enjoyed our toast indoors.
The snow and wind finally knocked most of the leaves off the trees. Today was rather balmy in the mid 50sF. James got the plastic sheeting up around the chicken run. I think this might be the first time in all these years we managed to do it on day that wasn’t either freezing cold or outrageously windy. Yay James!
While he was doing the chicken run, I was stripping the nettles I cut last weekend of all their leaves and laying them out on top of the garlic bed for their winter ret. I also raked up all the leaves from the sidewalk in front of the house. I don’t rake and bag the leaves and get rid of them like everyone else does. I rake them into garden beds and pile them up under the trees they fell from. So getting the leaves off the sidewalk basically means raking them into the yard where they compost back into the soil and feed the trees and native perennials like they are meant to.
I did fill one small “trash” barrel with leaves though and took them into the garden in back and poured them out onto a vegetable bed that needs a bit of extra nutrients. Judging from the horrendous and irritating sounds of leaf blowers bombarding me from all directions, I was not the only in the neighborhood out playing with leaves.
It’s good to be done with the garden and ready for the cold and dark. Time to rest and dream for a little while. Of course, the seed companies are already sending me emails to be on the lookout for their 2024 seed catalogs that will be in my mailbox soon. My imagination is already off and running after reading an article in the Global Bean Network newsletter about a woman in Spain and all the gorgeous beans she grows. I, of course, had to look up the beans she names and whether I could grow them in the cold north. Some of them I can and I want to give them a try—some of the lima bean varieties and the succotash bean, which is from the Narrangansett people of what is now Rhode Island.
The garden has barely been put to bed, and I’m already dreaming of next year’s garden full of beans, beans, and more beans, squash and herbs and flowers—flax?—potatoes, garlic, and probably a quince tree. My natural food co-op had quince yesterday when we were shopping—expensive!—but we bought a small one to taste it to see if we’d like it. It smells lovely. The fruit itself is rather dry and fibrous, but it does have a pleasant citrus-like tang. We tried a small slice raw, the rest of it we are going to cook up into a compote to put on top of pancakes and oatmeal. How it tastes once cooked will produce the final decision, but at the moment, I think it’s a yes. And since the fruit really does need to be cooked, it helps that it ripens after all the other garden fruit, then needs to cure for about a month before using. Apparently the fruit will also keep for two to three months as well, which means it doesn’t have to be dealt with in the midst of all the busy end of season preserving. More points in its favor!
- Book: Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism by Silvia Federici. A slim book of lectures given over the course of several years in the 2010s. Full of insights and thought provoking ideas.
- Article: Judith Butler: Palestinians are not being regarded as people by Israel and U.S. What Hamas did is unacceptable. What Israel is doing in response is also unacceptable. The Jewish philosopher Judith Butler is on the advisory board of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the group that has been protesting and calling for an immediate ceasefire. The article is a conversation between Butler and George Yancy, a professor of philosophy at Emory University and author of several books about racism in America. No matter what you think of the war, the article is quite good at providing context and lots of things to think about.
- Podcast: The Great Humbling: The Ruined Church. This is the first episode of season five of the podcast, and Dougald Hine and Ed Gillespie chit chat about what they’ve been up to and what they have been reading before setting up the topics for the upcoming season. I just started listening to this podcast recently beginning with their first episodes that were recorded just as the COVID-19 pandemic was getting going in spring of 2020. I have lots of catching up to do, but Ed and Dougald are smart, caring voices to listen to in the midst of breakdown. Their podcast asks “What if our current crises are neither an obstacle to be overcome, nor the end of the world, but a necessary humbling?”
It wasn’t much of a week for watching
Sadness comes when we continually postpone what is to be achieved to a future that we never see coming, and as a result we are blind to what is possible in the present.Silvia Federici, “On Joyful Militancy” in Beyond the Periphery of the Skin
James’s Kitchen Wizardy
Lacto-fermented hot sauce. We got the red jalapeños in our csa box along with the ferment recipe. James followed the directions and we ended up with a quart of hot sauce. It is so hot, that it’s not something to wildly spoon onto your burrito or anything else. It is being used sparingly in various dishes to add a bit of flavor and kick. As such, this stuff is going to last us a long time. Here’s the recipe in case you want to try it yourself.
3/4 cup of salt
3-4 garlic cloves
Roast the peppers until blistering. Remove the stems and chop into halves or
thirds if desired.
To make the salt brine for fermentation: Dissolve 3/4 salt into a gallon of
Place the jalapeños and garlic into a wide-mouthed mason jar and then cover
the peppers completely with the brine. Use a clean rock or a glass weight to
make sure they remain completely submersed to prevent mold growth. Place
the jar on a counter where you can keep an eye on it and make sure the chiles
stay submerged. Allow the chiles to ferment for a week or two. You should see
bubbles forming. Once the ferment is at a point that you like blend the mixture
and store in the fridge.