Girls Night Out

Queenie was a pretty bird
A crown upon her head
Cheep-Cheep was the kooky sort
Her toes were painted red

Nita was the quiet one
Her thoughts a jumbled heap
Where were all the roosters?
They left without a peep

They all looked at each other
And wondered what to do
The boys had fled the coop
Without leaving a clue

They huddled close together
And clucked all their concerns
Would they be safe without roo’s?
When would they return?

And then they saw the farmer
An axe was in his grip
Xavier and Pecky–gone
They’d made that final trip

The girls knew they were safe
From sharing that same fate
For they’d soon lay some eggs
And fill the family’s plate

So they puffed out their feathers
And strolled around the pen
Ready for a girls night out
Without the other men

Xavier McFeatherington

Pecky Greenleg

Queenie, Cheep-Cheep and Nita

The Stockpot

Sir Hubert was the first to go
Caught by something sly
Then came little Fluffy
Her death made me cry

Then roosters started crowing
And squabbles soon began
We knew we had to do it
So I prepared the pan

The biggest two were chosen
The first to hit the pot
We calmed their nervous shaking
We told them thanks a lot

They lived in ease and comfort
Eating yummy scraps and bugs
We thanked them most sincerely
With kind words (instead of hugs)

*We butchered two roosters yesterday. We take their lives with respect and we thank them for their work on our homestead. In return, we treat them well, feed them scraps and treats and provide them with the safest home we can. Despite the humor infused in my stories and poems, we do sincerely thank our birds for providing us with eggs, meat and fertilizer.*

Operation JBE: Status

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication (JBE)
Date: June 30, 2017

Subject of Study:
Japanese beetles aka Revolting Beasts

Entomoligists:
– Joseph the Bug Hunter (JBH)
– Jacob the Bug Whacker (JBW)
– Issabella the Scout
– Cheyenne the Soldier
– Melissa (Mom)

Report:
Experiment #1: The beetles in the bug house were not as destructive as I thought they would be.
Status: Failed.

Experiment #2: The containers with dead beetles were slightly effective, but by the time we installed them around the perimeter, there were just too many beetles to combat.
Status: Failed.

Experiment #3: We tried a homemade essential oil spray: cedarwood oil with water. We sprayed one row of kiwi and, while there were fewer beetles the next day, there were again too many to combat.
Status: Failed.

Experiment #4: After seeing that they were leaving the chocolate mint completely alone, my niece had the idea of making a “potion” of mint and water. We pulled a bunch of mint and blended it up with water, strained it and loaded up a couple of spray bottles.

The troops were deployed. This time, we sprayed two of the rose bushes, leaving the third as our control.

Again, it worked slightly, but there were just too many to combat.
Status: Failed.

What do we do now? I’m at a loss. Further research will be needed to determine our next steps. Stay tuned.

The Final Experiment

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication (JBE)
Date: July 2, 2017

Subject of Study:
Japanese beetles aka &#%!@?s

Entomoligists:
– Joseph the Bug Hunter (JBH)
– Jacob the Bug Whacker (JBW)
– Melissa (Mom)

The Final Experiment

While I believe that one or all of the natural methods we tried would have worked to manage the onslaught of the beetles, I also believe that, by the time we tried them, it was too late and there were just too many to combat.

So, I am going to try organic Neem Oil in an effort to stop them from completely obliterating what is left of the vineyard, fedge and our young fruit trees in the swales.

We are also going to spread milky spore over the lawn to kill as many grubs as we can in the hope of hatching fewer beetles next year.

The potential problem with both of these methods is the cost.

Beetles are laying their eggs all over the 5 acres we own for the entire 8 weeks they are here. That means that next year Japanese beetle grubs will be waiting to emerge from the soil as a full-grown army of maniacal demons.   

If we wanted to cover the entire property, we would need a ton of milky spore to have a chance against such an enemy. 

Does this mean we won’t try it? Absolutely not. I will try everything withing my power to destroy my insect enemy, but we need to be vigilant and prepared with the other methods we have tried in order to stop–or at least better manage this blight.

They may have defeated us this year, but my team of entomologists will be back to fight the battle anew next year…armed with new knowledge and better weaponry.

Down but not yet out
We learn from all our failures
And come back swinging

Goji Growth

One pair of plants the Japanese beetles have not yet discovered are the goji berries we planted in the vineyard two years ago.

The vines are getting longer and starting to run on the ground, so we’ll be putting a row of wire up soon to make sure they have somewhere to ramble.

I’ve only ever had dried goji berries and the few puny ones that we got off the plant last year. They have a slightly bitter taste. Kind of like a cherry/cranberry/raisin combo. The boys and I like them, but we like a slightly sour berry.

The real benefit of these little pill shaped fruits is vitamins and nutrition they provide. The been shown to boost the immune system, improve brain activity and protect against cancer and heart disease.

They are packed with vitamin C, B2 and A and contain antioxidants like iron and selenium. In short, they are a superfood.

We’ve tried them out of hand. They’d probably be good in cereal or oatmeal too. Many people make a tea out of the berries. We may try that if we get enough this year. The plants are still pretty small, so we may just eat them off the vine again.

Small, delicate and wispy
Quietly growing vines
Leaves not brown and crispy
Flowers and leaves on a vine

Fruit oblong and rosy
Tasty and juicy too
Clumped together and cozy
A delicate, reddish hue

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication #2

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication (JBE)
Date: June 26, 2017

Subject of Study:
Japanese beetles aka Revolting Beasts

Entomoligists:
– Joseph the Bug Hunter (JBH)
– Jacob the Bug Whacker (JBW)
– Melissa (Mom)

Report on 1st Experiment:
The beetles in the bug house are not as destructive as we predicted. It is possible that we have disturbed their behavior patterns by taking them out of their natural environment.

But I suspect something more diabolical.

They are up to something. I just know it.

New Observations:
– With high winds in the early afternoon, subjects behaved as they do in early morning and twilight hours. They were hanging on tight to their green victims, but they did not flee when approached.
– They are moving onto the blackberry leaves in force. I find more congregating there everyday.
– There are no Japanese beetles on the blanket of mint growing on the vineyard floor. Is the scent too strong?

They are increasing in number and becoming more destructive by the day. We must figure out how to stop them before it’s too late.

Experiment #2:
In further studying natural methods of disposing of the revolting beasts, we have decided to strategically place containers of drowned beetles around the perimeter of the most attacked areas of the homestead.

Other beetle battlers have reported success with this method. Apparently, the smell of rotting beetle bodies deters others from coming into the area of destruction.

Results pending. (I’ll believe it when I see it.)

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication #1

Operation Japanese Beetle Eradication (JBE)
Date: June 23, 2017

Entomoligists:
– Joseph
– Jacob
– Melissa

Subject of Study:
Japanese beetles aka Revolting Beasts

Appearance:
– Six legs
– Oval in shape, 1/3-1/2 inches
– Metallic green with coppery brown leaf covers
– Five patches of white hair on each side of the abdomen and 1 patch on the lower abdomen

Life cycle and Known Facts:
– Egg, grub, and adult stages.
– From early June to late July they emerge from the soil as pupa, become fully grown adults and begin their attack.
– They have an 8 week lifecycle during which they are laying eggs every day.
– The females live for a couple of weeks feeding on trees, shrubs and roses in the morning.
– They hide during mid-day and return to the desecrated plants in the afternoon.
– At this time, they carry out their true objective: they lay more eggs.
– They leave their scent on the leaves they eat as if to tell their cronies “this is a good spot”.

Observations:
– The beetles seem to be sleeping during twilight and the early morning hours.
– Cool rainy weather makes them lazy and depressed.
– In extreme winds, they have a tighter grip on the leaves they are desecrating.
– They are beginning to go after the early fruit as well as the bright green leaves.
– They love roses and are VERY fond of hardy kiwi and grape leaves.
– They are starting to attack blackberry, seaberry, aronia, cherry, blueberry and raspberry leaves.
– They seem to enjoy healthy plants as they are leaving the unhealthy ones alone.

Experiment #1:
– I caught four of the fiends and put them in my son’s bug house for observation.
– In this first experiment, we will make note of how long it takes 4 beetles to devour a leaf.

Results pending.

Crowing Contest

The roosters are crowing
A contest of sorts
They crow in the morning
They’ve made it a sport

The newer ones start it
Then Pecky joins in
They crow at each other
They cause quite a din

The ladies all flutter
The girls fluff their wings
At four silly roosters
As they crow, call and sing

They started out quiet
Uncertain and muffled
And when they got louder
Some feathers were ruffled

Now it’s a battle
Between old and new
Who can crow louder
The white or the blue?

Survivors

When we moved in 5 years ago, we brought a blueberry bush from Michigan.

This very sad shrub sat on our deck in Michigan for 3 months. Then, it lived at my mom’s for a month or so while we waited to close on the house.

Then, it sat on our deck for another 9 months.

In all, it was neglected and forgotten for a little over a year.

Yet, still it survived. So…we planted it along with a few more in our new fedge.

None of the blueberries did well that first year, or every year after for that matter. In fact, we didn’t even know we still had blueberries until we started removing cages from the fedge.

We were certain that the cages were just protecting dead plants, so when we pulled them and saw live plants with actual tiny blueberries on them, we were amazed.

The Wonder Plant – Survived a winter in Michigan, a winter in Illinois and 3 years of neglect.

Another neglected plant we put in the fedge in 2013…it lives!

We ended up pulling three bedraggled but very much alive blueberry plants from the fedge. We potted them up and fed them acidic fertilizer and now we’ve only to wait to see if they will finally produce to their full potential.

I’m hoping that placing them next to the thriving one I bought at a bargain will encourage them to grow.

Bedraggled berries
Tired, worn out but not beaten
Forgive my neglect

Vigilant

This year, I won’t get angry.

I won’t throw a fit and stomp my feet.

I won’t let the Japanese beetles get the best of the homestead.

We’ve learned from our mistakes.

1). Using a “trap” to attract the beetles away from the plants ends up doing more harm than good.

Sure, the traps work as advertised, but they draw even more beetles to the property than would otherwise be there.

Last year, we filled several 5 gallon buckets due to the traps, but it made little to no difference in the damage they did.

2). Waiting until the beetles have overtaken every tree, bush and shrub means having and overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and frustration.

Last year at this time they were horrible. So far, they haven’t been as bad.

We are staying ahead of them this year. Every beetle we drown is a beetle that won’t reproduce.

Each morning and evening we go out on patrol. It is a family chore. We work together as a team.

Ray and I are armed with buckets of soapy water.

Joe and Jake are the spotters.

We are ahead of the game, at least for now.

Looking at pictures from last year, they are not as bad. There are fewer beetles and the damage done has been minimal…so far.

We will be vigilant.

We will stay the course.

We will win.

Back to the battle
Japanese beetles invade
We will win this fight