Saturday, September 21, 2019

Picking Pawpaws

Look what I found on my morning walk.

As a child, I sang about "picking up pawpaws and putting them in my pocket," but I never picked one up. I had no idea what a pawpaw looked or tasted like.

That's because you can't find pawpaws in the grocery store. They don't store or travel well. They should be harvested when ripe, and then eaten within a day or two. Otherwise they turn into dark-colored mush.

Pawpaws grow in Ohio, though few people grow the trees in their yards. Years ago, I discovered several pawpaw trees, or a pawpaw patch, growing in the nearby woods.

Since that discovery, I made it my mission to find the fruit. It finally happened this year.

In August, I went into the woods and studied the trees. What I found, though, was that many of the trees are still in that sapling stage and too immature to bear fruit. One tree was larger and had four pawpaws on it.

Pawpaws ripen in September in our area. So, this morning, I detoured on my morning dog walk and went in search of the pawpaws.

I brought back loads of spider webs (what is it with the spider webs this year?) and two pawpaws.

This is what they look like inside:

Their seeds are quite large; their texture is soft and creamy; and their fragrance fills a room. Their taste is quite sweet, and almost has hints of banana. They taste like no other fruit I've harvested in Ohio.

It was definitely worth the detour, and walking through all of those spider webs.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Who's Smarter? Me or the Fox?

We've had chickens for 20 years, and until this year, had few problems with predators.

The husband would credit Llambert, the now deceased llama, for keeping them at bay.

I always thought that nothing would come near where the Border collies tread.

This summer, though, a red fox got into our chickens one night.

And, then she came back during daylight hours and snagged a hen. I know, because I saw her.

So, I locked up the pullets in the pullet house and the four remaining hens in the hen house, and pondered how to allow my chickens to roam outdoors while still protecting them from the fox.

While I was researching electric poultry net, a friend told me of another threat: she saw a red-tailed hawk swoop into the horse paddock and carry off a pigeon.

So, I pondered and researched and pondered some more.

In an ideal world, the hens would roam the pastures, ride the occasional sheep, and generally be everywhere. But leaving them roaming now means they'll be picked off by predators.

So, I spent the past weekend building the chicken fortress: an enclosed coop and yard, surrounded by electric poultry netting.

I'm almost certain I'll get shocked on a daily basis. Will it keep the fox out and the hawk at bay?

Time will tell.