It rained today, and that was the good part. Great, actually. We NEED it.
Today was not a good day for the farm. The morning began well enough, for once ahead of schedule on chores, much-needed rain in the forecast, and almost ready to head to work, not late but early! Feeding the chickens, I didn’t notice Goldie and her usual squawking, scolding self, and thought… maybe she’s laying an egg? For once? Because in spite of or because of the oppressive heat yesterday, and the hot-weather indicated Chicken-ade electrolyte boost, we got THREE eggs from the elder matrons in 24 hours, including a hard-shelled one from the mostly-retired and paper-shell layin’ Barred Rock. I opened the coop door to find Goldie sprawled out dead in the nest box; a fly buzzing around her closed eyes. F*ck.
I went inside. Made myself more coffee, wrote about it, called the fellah, who said what I knew he’d say… go get some rubber gloves on, get a trash bag and woman up- you wanted the chickens and you’ve gotta deal with it. Sigh. Ok. I know. I psyche myself up, and finally do the thing, using a broken half-shovel to sort of scoot her limp remains into a trash-bag lined bucket and throw the lid on lickety split. A real farmer would have eaten her months ago, and we were going to… but she was so nice and friendly albeit useless it never made it to the top of our things to-do list. Good meat, gone to waste, and I can’t even bring myself to skin her for the dog. I get ready to head to work and it starts POURING. Which is amazing, because it’s so dry and we really need the rain, but I bike. And I’m not made of sugar and I won’t melt, but heading out in a torrential downpour if you don’t HAVE to is dumb. I do the dishes until it’s just sprinkling, stop at the community garden to plop in some transplants in the empty drought-killed spots in my two raised beds of (free)
rock-hard clay muck soil there, ride the 7 miles to work, stopping on the way at the grocery store, which is out of distilled water, which my intern needs to clean the nutrient testing probes at work, and which was the main reason I stopped… luckily she also picked some up on her way in.
So, I’m about to head home when I finally remembered to consult the interwebs about the leaf-curling and burn that’s affecting, oh, almost all of my garden, especially the parts that I heavily top-dressed with *mostly* composted horse manure that I got delivered for a song from some guy on Craigslist. It was eight months old delivered, at least a month ago, but (I thought) just still cookin’… I expected to affirm this, and be told yep, just hold your horses (manure) and everything will be fine. Instead I find this…
It’s not that that compost wasn’t done… just that the pasture that the hay those horses were eating in the stable where they craigslist dude picked up his free manure that he composted to sell to unsuspecting “organic” gardeners was probably sprayed with a persistent herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds. Could take months or years to break down- a season or three if we mix good soil in with it, up to 5 years if it just sits in a manure pile as is. Dow chemical, you are F*CKERS. F*cking f*cker f*cks.
Honey, can we move to the country? Where we can raise our own good clean manure from good clean pastures? Sigh. Cue “when I was a kid” speech: we got rid of thistles with a pair of post hole diggers and leather gloves and old-fashioned hard work, not by spraying toxic-tomato-killing persistent nasties. That’s what farm kids are for- we didn’t get grounded, just had to dig holes in the ground instead. Builds character.
My tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and anything planted straight into this stuff or a 50/50 or so blend of it looks like this… and some stuff that was only top-dressed does too. Fiddlehead fern-burn city. Luckily I didn’t put much around our lettuce, which is doing fine except that it’s all bolting in this insane heat-wave. I feel better now that it was probably bioterrorism, and not poor husbandry on my part that murdered so many of my seedlings and sowed crops (including ALL my leeks) this year… but only a tiny bit better. Mostly bitter.
I particularly like their own advice to worried British gardeners who had this happen to them via contaminated bagged compost from the store:
“The data shows that using worst case assumptions the residues would not cause concern and while the product is not authorized by UK regulators for use on food crops, these crops can be eaten.” Thanks, Dow. That makes me feel SOOO much better. I like, totally trust you, man.
“Crops known to be sensitive to picloram, clopyralid, or aminopyralid:
Beans, Carrots, Compositae family
, Cotton, Dahlias, Eggplant, Flowers, in general, Grapes, Legumes
, Lettuce, Marigolds, Mushrooms, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes
, Roses, some types, Spinach*, Sugar beets*,Strawberries*, Sunflowers, Tobacco
, Tomatoes, Umbelliferae family, Vegetables, in general
Up until that last one, I thought… at least I can grow corn? That’s grass, right? Because what the world needs now, is more corn. I want to f*cking murder the chemist who came up with this s*it.
On the up or down side, the folks who stole the last yard or two of unspread compost in the side lot it turns out did me a favor, and karma really is a PITA.
No more cheap dirt for me. Would have been better off taking my chances with the lead that is probably in our actual soil.
I’m going home to pack for a night away, and not a moment too soon. We’re headed up to our buddies place in Wisconsin tomorrow, along with a dozen or so city-folk friends, for some much needed woods-walkin’, 22-target shootin’, beer-drinkin’, bonfire, cookout, grillin’ and other serious chowin’, rompin’ doggies fun-time campout…in that order. Thank Gaia, I need it. Catch you kids next week…
Some snaps from our last trip up to WI in the fall when the creek was a’froze…
I can’t wait to get back there.