Life

Hose water

Curt and Ginnie are calling this bird a killdeer. The killdeer are quite entertaining on the Empty Nest Farm!
Curt and Ginnie are calling this bird a killdeer. The killdeer are quite entertaining on the Empty Nest Farm!

I made an uncanny observation the other day while watering our garden. Hose water tastes EXACTLY like it did 60 years ago.

I ‘spose it makes sense because not that much has changed in the hydro world. Oh, hose tends to be plastic or fabric now as compared to rubber, and water is treated instead of pumped from the well. On second thought, it’s amazing that hose water does taste exactly like it did 60 years ago.

Another observation: hose water tastes better than any other water, but it does not quench your thirst. You drink a face full of hose water and you’re back a minute later for more, and more until you get a gut ache.

Ginnie had her granddaughter, Aria, with her and was showing her the ropes of “farm life.” Grandma gave her a ride in the Gator, chasing chipmunks around our acreage (Aria loved watching them dive into holes), showed her how to cut rhubarb and asparagus, and let her help water the garden. When Aria saw me drinking out of the hose, she wanted a drink also.

I held the hose in a kink to slow the flow and toyed with the idea of blasting her in the face with a shot of water, like I did my sister 60 years ago. But I was a nice Grandpa. Aria loved drinking out of the hose, her little pink lips sparkling in the sun and water. And she was back a minute later for more. And a minute after that. The life lesson may be: “What tastes good does not always satisfy.”

For having to replant three times, our garden is doing remarkably well. The volunteer pumpkin plant that has been there from the get go, is doing the best of all. It has completely taken over one end of the garden, maybe making up for poor performance last year. I thought that being a volunteer, and a hybrid, it might not bear fruit. Nope. There are baby “punkins” all over the place. Life lesson No. 2: nature will find a way.

We always try something new each year. This year it’s acorn squash. Ginnie told me not to plant so much, that it would explode. Did I listen? Nope again. (I’m an all-or-noting type of guy.) The acorn squash is taking over the other half of the garden, engulfing the tomato plants, sweet corn, pepper plants and anything it can get its tendrils on. A friend is raising zucchini. We told her we’d swap acorn squash for zucchini. She wholeheartedly agreed, as it would save her a trip down Main Street, tossing bowling pin size zucchinis in unlocked cars. Life lesson No. 3: Zucchini and acorn squash are a lot alike, a couple a year is plenty. (We will be offering free acorn squash, I’m sure. We may even pick’m for you.)

I noticed a strange bird in our farm yard. It was fanning its tail like a quail or turkey flirting with females. On closer look, it’s a shore bird, what I used to generally lump into the category of “sandpipers.” They run ahead of us when we pull in the driveway, screeching that mournful shorebird cry. After examining our “Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds,” I believe we have identified them as killdeer, and they “display near nest.” Ah, ha!

They’re a sight to watch and quite entertaining. One evening we watched a group of four young ones, playing in our driveway and chasing each other like rabbits. They formed a circle, screeching the whole time, and ran at each other, with one jumping over the head of the other. What a hoot, or screech, I mean. They kept this up all evening. Life lesson No. 4: Pheasants and quail might be disappearing from southeast Iowa, but killdeer, also known as plovers, are a close second for beauty.

Last but not least, the Japanese beetles have attacked again, trying to level everything in sight: aronia bushes, grape vines, roses, weeping cherry, apple tree, peach tree, rhubarb, asparagus and lettuce. It’s a plague that has to be dealt with, like COVID-19. It takes its toll then moves on.