I woke up early yesterday morning. I’d like to say it was the rays of a new day on a bright, sunshiny dawn peeking through the curtains and warming my face that did it, but, the truth is, I had to pee.  It was kind of drizzly and grey out actually – not a good hair day. After the bathroom, I put a bathrobe on, slipped on a pair of flip flops and went to the Chef’s Garden to pick some strawberries.

I have been hitting traffic every morning and so have been leaving earlier and earlier each day – taking away my favorite garden time. I’ve also been working late each night, so, alas, poor garden has been neglected by me. It is overgrown with weeds (or are they beets, carrots and parsnips? See here for more on that) and I figured there were a few strawberries I could pick before heading to work.

I guess there were a few strawberries! There were  over 100! Some did have slugs on them, but the DE we’ve been using really seemed to do the trick, I think, because last year, every one of them would have been munched on by a slug when I picked it. These are beautiful, right? Then why am I like, “Shit!” instead of “Hooray?”  Well, lately, we’ve discovered that Keith has an allergy to strawberries. He gets a rash if he touches them. That means that these strawberries are not going to magically turn into jam some day while my back is turned (he does that, I’ll pick up ingredients and then come home late from work to a freeking masterpiece that he just “made up!”) My sister is coming over to visit this afternoon and she’s staying until tomorrow. I’ll wash them up and I guess we’ll just pick at them as snacks while I kick her ass in a game of WAR.

The parsley has gone to flower already. Not a big deal, we don’t use parsley that much, I still have an entire ziploc bag of dried, crushed parsley from last season. (If you do not know about my hoarding habit, you must start at the beginning of this blog and catch up, I have quite a penchant for stocking up.) After picking the strawberries and bringing them in the house (still in a nightgown, bathrobe and flipflops I might add), I went back out with a pair of scissors to cut the parsley flower stems and found this creepy crawly visitor. That is about actual size.

 Oh, and 6 of his brothers, all hanging out on different stems of the parsley. I don’t know what it is, but I can bet they were eating the plant. Great. We have another problem, I don’t squish bugs. I don’t. It’s gross (insert involuntary shudder here). It goes back to my childhood days in New Jersey where we had these fat, black crickets, (not those skinny green ones, these were very fat). They would get into the house and chirp and chirp and chirp. Well, one day, I squished one with my bare foot. I didn’t mean to, but it was in my shoe. There was white bug goo mixed with black bug legs and uck in between my toes. (Insert involuntary GAG right here and throw in an involuntary sphincter clench for good measure, that is how fresh and how gross the memory of this is with me.)

So, needless to say, I do not squish bugs. That is a problem. If you don’t kill them, they’ll come back. So, what did I do with these 7 caterpillers? I cut the branch of the plant off, carefully carried the branch with said bug still hanging on, over the the compost pile and threw them down the hill into the pile. I then looked the other way and did that 6 more times.

Ok, all you gardener followers are shaking your head at me, while my non-gardener followers, especially those of you with a low creepy-thing-tolerance are thinking that sounds like a good plan. Well, I am not naive.  I know these things will 1) come back and 2) lay eggs which means 3) make more. Guh. I started looking through the “Insectipedia” to figure out what it was and how to kill it organically, but the site is listed alphabetically by name of bug, so I had to open the link to each bug to see if it was the right one. Yah, that isn’t happening, ewww. So, if I see another, I’m going to drown it in something. Or, maybe I’ll put it on a rock and then, from a distance so I don’t hear the squish, I’ll throw big rocks at it until I think I got it. Gross, I am so skeeved right now, I have to change the subject. If anyone knows how to kill it without a squish, please do let me know. Moving on…

After moving said buggies into their new home to happily munch away on my discarded food scraps (THAT’s the solution, keep feeding them, Jenn! Shut up.) I decided to head out back to check on the tomatoes and husk cherries. Keith had mentioned that some husk cherries had ripened (almost a month early, thanks to starting them indoors early! Look at us!) and he had eaten a few, so I wanted to see how far along things had progressed back there. As I head down the side hill toward the back yard, something moved in the distance. (It’s a small yard, it wasn’t too distant, it was basically at the back of our property, but I’m building suspense, work with me here.) Just beyond the trees something very large was definitely moving. Thankfully, it was moving away from me. Now, remember, my wildlife interactions usually happen when I am poorly dressed and today was no different. How am I going to outrun a vicious coyote or a rabid raccoon in flip flops I ask you? I wrapped by bathrobe tighter, and crept in closer with a strong predatory instinct, playing with danger because that’s the kind of girl I am – brave, bold, MIGHTY! (It was still a bathrobe, but it may as well have been a cape, really. I think I will knit myself one. My friend bought me a kit for superhero goggles, perhaps I will make those up and have them at the ready next time.)

The beast still rustled through the woods. It was large, I could tell it was as tall as my waist. It made no noise except for the sound of the earth and twigs being crushed under it’s weight. I just couldn’t see what it was. The hair on the back of my neck raised up in tense alert. Danger was only feet away. (Where’s my gun? (Read here) Oh right…)

Then I heard it, “BABE!”  The good neighbor was walking through from his yard calling for Babe, his pig who had gotten out of the barn. It was Babe the pig, cute Babe, the piggie I had fed kitchen scraps and scratched behind the ears. Babe was in the backyard. Of course. “He’s over here, I yelled.” Making sure the bathrobe was cinched (greeting a neighbor is not the time to have wardrobe malfunctions), I met him at the back of our property and pointed to where I had last seen Babe. “Do you have a rope? How are you going to get him home?” I asked, memories of using Daisy’s leash as a lasso the last time Babe got out. (My niece and I chased this same pig, much smaller a few years ago, across the street and up the hill, trying to keep him from getting onto the main street. We finally caught up to him and looped Daisy’s leash around his neck and kind of led/trotted him back to his barn.)  “Food,” he answered, holding up something from a take-out box.

I told you he wasn’t a small pig! We tried to gently convince the Good Neighbor, when Babe was still young, to have our friend Popper (www.poppers-sausage-kitchen.com) take care of him when it came time. He looked at us in horror, Babe had already become a pet. I understand, he is all cute and cuddly in that, “Please don’t step on my toe or you’ll crush it” sort of way.

Anyway, who knows how far Babe might have gotten without my keen senses and predatory instinct. Now, if only I could be that brave around bugs.

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