Garden and birds

Our garden is humongous this year. I stepped it off, and it measures 60? x 36?!--purt?near the size of our pole barn. We planted ?cukes,? pole beans, peas, early and late corn, giant ?punkins? to run in the corn, radishes, Caesar and butter-bowl lettuce, beets, carrots, turnips (poor-man?s potatoes?Ginnie despises!--almost as much as she does peas), green onions, sweet onions, sweet, beef-eater and cherry tomatoes, green, red and hot peppers, ?mushmellon,? strawberries, asparagus, zucchini, potatoes, hollyhocks, rhubarb, rosemary, and basil. Never one for moderation, I usually overdo everything. Ginnie will have a lot of produce to give away at work, along with brown eggs from our soon-to-be laying hens.

Buddy has been getting a lot of walks in lately, with our trips out to check on the baby chicks, and then to see how the garden?s doing. He enjoys these walks immensely, and is always on the lookout for rabbit nests and baby birds?this time of year there being an abundance of both.

On one of these walks I spotted a brown thrasher. They are called ?thrashers? because they ?thrash? each piece of straw or nest-building material thoroughly before inserting it in their nest. At least that?s what I surmise. Actually, Wikipedia says the thrasher is named after the thrush. I doubt it. If you?ve ever seen a thrasher busy ?thrashing,? you?ll agree with me.

We have two double rows of Colorado Blue Spruce for wind breaks. These spruce trees are full of birds. One morning Buddy and I saw the thrasher hop up into a blue spruce and disappear. ?Aha,? I said to Buddy. ?I believe that thrasher is nesting in that spruce. Let?s go see.? Buddy agreed wholeheartedly, shaking his head, tongue lolling out.

We approached cautiously. I gingerly parted the branches and could see a smidgin of a nest. There was a buzzing sound. I withdrew my hand and the buzzing stopped. I stuck my hand back in, and the buzzing resumed. It sounded like a baby rattlesnake or bumblebee. I believe that mama thrasher was imitating the sound of a rattler or bee to ward off would-be nest robbers. In consulting Wikipedia again, it says the brown thrasher is a great imitator. Now, a black bird or dove will simply fly away upon someone approaching its nest. The dove might do a broken-wing act to draw you away, but they both abandon the nest. Not mama thrasher. She sits tight and threatens. Sometimes nature just takes my breath away.

Further down the row of trees, we saw a gang of red-winged blackbirds viciously attack a lone sparrow. The sparrow probably got too close to a nest. Nature can be both cruel and beautiful at the same time?the red splotch on the black wings fluttering like battle flags.

Our chicks are growing like weeds. We did lose one, to heat possibly, so we?re down to 23. Ginnie broke her own rule about no chicks in the house. We brought it in for some TLC. To no avail. Ginnie cried.

However, both Ginnie and I get a charge out of the chicks. They run around and face off, even the little hens up against the bully roosters, beak-to-beak, bumping chests, for some imagined affront. Then they just seem to forget what the dust-up was all about. It reminds me a lot of humans, politicians and the news media in particular, get?n all puffed up over something or another, only to find another thing to get worked up about the following day. Am I anthropomorphizing, saying baby chicks are like politicians and the news media? Yep.


Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm, in Mt. Pleasant, at 319-217-0526, email him at, or find him on Facebook.