Friday, November 13, 2009

Crazy Animals

My mother raised turkeys for food when I was growing up. They were always stupid birds. I figured it was a domesticated turkey trait. I figured the wild turkeys that grace our yard occasionally were smarter. How in the world can they survive if they are as stupid as a domestic turkey?

It turns out they are just as dumb. I was mowing my leaves the other day and happily filling my leaf bins. I noticed the turkeys were out and about. The turkey flock is huge. It is usually about 12-14 birds every year. Most of the flock was in my neighbor's yard, but two were still in my yard. Between the two yards is a fence. Towards the front and side of the house it is a nice pretty cedar fence, but way in the back it turns to chain link. I've seen the turkeys fly over the cedar part many times as I come close.

This time however the two turkeys were having a fit. They were walking back and forth along the chain link fence and calling plaintively to their brethren. They couldn't figure out how to get over the fence. I guess since they thought they could see through it, they ought to be able to walk through it. So I was walking back and forth on my lawn. As I got close they started freaking out and making a big ruckus. As I left for the other side of the yard they would calm down.

I finally couldn't take it anymore. I had to put the poor turkeys out of their misery. I herded them down the fence to the cedar part. As soon as they couldn't see though the fence they flew right over to their friends. Turkeys are really stupid.

Sadly I hadn't brought my camera with me. I didn't even think about it so there are no photos. The next crazy animal was also not photographed. I had the camera in my pocket this time, but I was so shocked by what happened I didn't even think to take it out and photograph it until it had disappeared.

I wanted to put a layer of compost on a couple of the lower beds that will be seeded very early in the spring. I had just finished using up last year's compost. I needed to start with some made this year. The best compost is on the bottom of the pile, so I started turning the compost over. After the first couple of shovelfuls a mouse ran out the bottom. He leapt up to my leaf bin and climbed to the top. I went over to have a closer look and he leaped to the nearby tree and started climbing.

It isn't the first time I've scared small rodents in my compost piles. Once I found a family of voles living there in the spring. But I've never seen a mouse act like a squirrel before. I was just shocked at this crazy mouse climbing the tree when there were plenty of leaves closer to hide in. As soon as he zipped over to the far side and I couldn't see him any more, I remembered the camera. Too late. He was gone.

The compost had its own variety of weirdness. I often have huge worms in my compost. Worms are common. This time I had a plethora of baby worms all through the compost. I coudn't believe how many there were. The baby worms were strange though. They were quite colorful and their middle band was orange. Usually I just get the typical pinky purple worm color. Instead I had brighter red and orange worms. Has a new variety of worms found my compost?

I took photos of those worms, but only with the camera in my pocket not my husband's camera with the nice macro lens. All the photos came out blurry. All I can show you is my garden beds newly limed and mulched with compost. The browner areas are my old compost that had dried out. The dark black is the worm ridden compost. It looks really nice from a distance, but it is pretty clumpy. I used a lot of newspaper in this batch since I didn't have enough leaves. Newspaper it turns out is very sticky. Ick. At least the worms appreciate it. Hmm maybe the newspaper is why my worms are different.


  1. Fun read, Daphne, lots happening at your place.

  2. Wow, what gorgeous compost, Daphne! (Both old and new.) Enough to make any gardener drool!!! I, too, wonder about your earthworms. As for the turkeys, all I can say is that Ben Franklin would be outraged by your description of wild turkeys as dumb! Everything I've read says they're really canny. The only one who ever turned up here, Tulip the Turkey, followed me and our dog all over the yard whenever we went out, perched on our deck railing, ate chicken feed, and returned faithfully for a couple of weeks every spring and fall for years. I'd have said that was one smart bird! As for the weirdest critters I've ever seen climbing trees: I once saw a groundhog sitting calmly up in one of our mimosa trees back in Tennessee. Nothing had scared it, it was just up there. I had no idea groundhogs could climb! But then again, our cocker-springer mix liked to climb up into our huge old redbud, where I as a child often climbed to sit and read. I guess there's just no telling!

  3. Daphne,
    This was a fun read, shame you did not have the camera.

    As to wild turkeys I have been scared out of my wits twice maybe three times by walking up onto a wild turkey next in a field. They wait until you almost step on them before they fly out and scare the bejesus out of you.

  4. Oh, that's funny about the turkeys ! now that's what I call small brain behavior !

    You're compost looks great. My worms are the regular kind too (pinky purple) but I have also noticed the baby worms often tend to be brighter in color. Diet could very well be the reason.

  5. Oh, oh, oh! I love beds all tucked in under compost for the winter. I got my pea bed ready last weekend, and I just kept thinking of the day when the snow pulls back, and I can dibble into that fresh soil and kick off the new season!

    Silly turkeys! My girls would have loved to see that show!

  6. That's a funny story about the turkeys! I've found them to be clever and evasive, in their own habitat, hiding from the dog. Your compost does look gorgeous. I hate running into voles, etc., small rodents quite terrifying.

  7. Your compost looks fantastic. I'd hate to have to deal with mice, etc.

    You have done lovely work readying those beds.

  8. The turkey story was a hoot! Climbing mouse was funny too. However, those brightly colored worms would be a head scratcher. Nuclear power plant anywhere near you?! LOL!

    The garden beds all snugged in with compost look super.

  9. Your black gold looks very nice!

  10. Your beds are looking really good. I've been neglecting mine for the past couple of weeks. I agree with Dan, your compost looks really good. I'll be curious to see how my first batch turns out next spring.

  11. Daphne! I was just over at Modern Victory Garden and read you had Chicken & Biscuit pot pie for dinner. Well I made the exact same thing tonight and am going to post a photo of it on harvest monday. So we compost on the same day and cook them same thing on the same day, ha!

  12. Barbee. thanks

    our friend Ben, I didn't used to think they were dumb, but you have to admit these two were not the brightest bulbs in the bunch. I think you outdid me with the climbing groundhog and dog. I've never seen the likes of that.

    Randy, luckily the turkeys have never scared me. We don't have tall grass in the woods where they hang out and they are always in a huge flock. So you can't miss them. They are big things though. Those two didn't want to move. I was a little leery of them deciding that they would fight me for the spot, but they didn't.

    miss m, maybe that is it. The worms are just babies. It could be the newpapers and coffee diet though. I forget to mention that I added a lot of used coffee grounds in that batch. I'm getting them from my husbands work and I get a lot.

    June, Now you are making me wish I could plant peas right now. I miss them so much.

    Lzyjo, ours wouldn't hide from the dog they would just run. Once the dog had them so riled up that they flew over the neighbor's house to get away. I didn't know they could fly that wall. Now that the dog is gone, they come into the yard a lot more.

    Stefaneener, the mice outside don't bother me much. I hate them in the house though. I've heard other gardeners complain about them, but they never seem to damage anything in my garden, so I don't mind them. I'm hoping they are eating my insects (like slugs and sowbugs). The pile it was in was finished compost so nothing to eat there except insects. If they start bothering other things, I'll start trapping them.

    kitsapFG, no I don't have a nuclear power plant around here. It would explain the weird color though. Hopefully they will grow up to be regularly colored worms or turning over my soil will become a very colorful experience.

    Dan, thanks. Ha it must be some strange gardener connection. Are your biscuits cheese biscuits too? Mine were flavored with cheddar and thyme (English thyme from the garden).

    Thomas, I'm sure yours will be great. Is there such a thing as bad compost? I think not.