Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Drippy Elbows

It's just too bad. You can't eat a peach in this place without getting a bath in peach juice! It runs in a little river from your peach-in-hand, down your arm to drip off your elbow. Sticky stuff. You have to sponge it off or attract flies and hornets all day long. Don't you wish you had this terrible problem?

I went to the orchard today and (in a moment of wild optimism) bought a box of peaches and a box of nectarines. It's time to get serious about drying fruit! The farmer was a chatty soul and when he learned I was buying the fruit to dry said he dries fruit himself. He showed me his drier which he was filling with slices of peaches.

He offered me boxes of "seconds", fruit with a flaw on the skin, for $5.00 a box. A box contains 22 lbs (10 kilos) of fruit. So I came home with 22 pounds of peaches, 22 pounds of nectarines and five pounds of perfect "sunrise" apples for the amazing sum of $11.00. Good grief. I have NO PLACE to put all of this fruit! I have NO IDEA what possessed me!

We'll eat a good deal of it. I'll make room in the fridge for several pounds, and this afternoon I will go through and separate the ripe from the not-yet-ripe, and begin drying the ripe. (Oh boy, oh boy oh boy!)

On other fronts, things like this magnificent shrub with its gorgeous purple flowers continue to bloom like mad and the Rusty blackbirds now have a dozen or so youngsters in the flock. We had 25 Rusties in the yard this morning, diligently eating seeds and digging out grubs and other insects. They have begun to be aggressive towards the smaller birds, which I don't like. They rush at and peck any small bird that comes within a couple of feet, and I saw one Rusty grab a baby sparrow by the wing and shake the bejabbers out of it before turning it loose. But sparrows are aggressive too, and one little female, pecked by a Rusty five times her size turned on it and gave as good as she got! She had the Rusty on the run in a hurry.

The most exciting news, as far as I am concerned, is that my favorite pair of quail, Maud and Emmett, are NOT childless after all! They are both very small. Maud walks with a limp and a wobble, and they are obviously at the bottom of the pecking order as all the other quail chase them away during the covey's prime feeding times in the early morning and late afternoon. So they have come to the feeder mid-day all summer. They are always together, and they have grown pretty tolerant of my presence in a chair nearby.

A couple of weeks ago they started coming at different times, Emmett would come around by himself and feed, an hour or so later Maud would show up, alone. This continued for several days until about noon several days ago they came together, with two tiny chicks! They were hardly larger than sparrows, and in fact to start with I thought there were three chicks, until the third one turned out to be a sparrow.

The chicks are a bit bigger now, the size of baby chickens, but with longer legs and skinnier. I am so tickled that Em and Maud have their own little family. The babies are so cute, scratching in the grass under the feeder for seed. I have tried to get a picture but so far haven't been in the right place at the right time. I'll keep trying, because I want to share them with you.

Now I have to go sort peaches and nectarines and get to work!

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