About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Raising Caterpillars


     Apparently I have been raising caterpillars. I left my cabbage and broccoli plants alone after their initial harvest. Over the course of the summer, a healthy population of caterpillars, probably of the cabbage white butterfly, thrived by eating the brassica leaves. I felt silly watching the leaves become dotted with swiss cheese hole and ridiculous by the time I realized they had eaten leaves down to the skeletal veins. I didn't really mean to breed insects that will eventually raid the rest of my garden. But it is hard to find time (and the heart) to kill all those caterpillars. Especially when you don't use pesticides. So I just let them be.
     Yesterday, I found a wonderful new use for my garden pests... chicken food. Bugs make chicken eggs taste great! I began collecting them in my hand while the baby slept and kids played nearby. I routinely watch children for my friends, and this was a day when the house was full. One of the little boys I was watching followed me into the garden and asked what I was doing. I explained I was taking caterpillars off the cabbage plant they were eating and I was going to feed them to the chickens. The little boy seemed very amused by the caterpillars. He gathered a few with me. Then he decided he could not bare to sacrifice his little friends. So he plucked a cabbage leaf and made his little caterpillar friends a home. For the an hour he carried caterpillars around the yard. Periodically he would say he lost one, and more than once we found it up his sleeve. Eventually he lost all of them, but I think he enjoyed their company.
     As for my caterpillars, the chickens said they tasted amazing and they would be happy to help me out any time I don't know what to do with all the pests in my garden. It is a delightful circle... the caterpillars that were eating my garden vegetables are fed to chickens who in turn create a delicious food. I think I am really going to love having chickens!

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