Fresh Earth Farms - CSA

The Crow Bar

They’re back!

This week I’ll examine another of the pests we find here on the farm. But first a few important announcements.

As I mentioned last week we were looking into providing a fruit add-on share to our veggies. There seems to be a lot of interest so we are moving forward with this product. To refresh your memory, FruitShare is nine weeks of certified organic fruit not grown here on the farm (Minnesota’s climate doesn’t provide the necessary weather to grow a lot of the fruit we consume). I added the item to our store. Please order it soon since our first week of FruitShare will be the week of June 24th and we have to get our order in the week prior. See last week’s newsletter for more details.

We are still planning on starting the season the week of June 17th. I hope to get the pick-up instructions out soon (today?). ‘ShroomShare starts the week of June 17th as well and goes every other week. CoffeeShare will also start the week of June 17th and will follow monthly after that. EggShare and FruitShare start the week of June 24th and go every other week. FlowerShare start day is still to be determined. WinterShare is many months away.

You can still order shares of everything that are still available. Check the store.

Farm News

One of our most diabolical pests we have here on the farm are the crows. Don’t get me started on crows. Ok, now you’ve done it. You shouldn’t have asked but here we go.

The potatoes are looking good. Thank you fellow potato planters!

The first frustrating thing crows do is pull up newly planted transplants and bulbs. Why? I don’t know and they aren’t talking — at least in a language I understand. One of the first times I recall seeing this was when we planted garlic one fall. Back then we would shove the garlic in the ground and cover it with some dirt. Basically planting it by hand. For some reason this particular year we figured we’d skip the covering it part and just let the weather bury the cloves. We cover the garlic with straw mulch to overwinter so at the very least it gets covered by mulch.

A day or two after we planted it that year I looked out at the garlic and there is a crow poking around. It was at a bit of a distance so I wasn’t sure what it was doing. Eventually I saw it fly off with a white thing sticking out of its beak. “What the heck is that?” I wonder. So my curiosity kicked in and I walked on over to where it had been. And what did I see? A number of garlic cloves laying on the ground! What the heck indeed! I have no idea what the crow was doing with the garlic he took and why he had to pull a bunch of them out of the ground to find just the right one. Like I said, he wasn’t talking.

Another time after we transplanted sweet corn I noticed a crow in the corn walking around and pecking at the ground like crows typically do. Again, looking closer I realized he was pulling up some of the newly planted corn! “What the heck!” I thought. Why is he pulling up all the corn we just transplanted? Well, this time Google was helpful and I learned (though who knows if this is true) that crows have figured out that if they find corn that has recently emerged at the bottom of the emerged stalk is a tasty, sweet treat. So he was pulling up the corn to eat the seed remains at the bottom of the plant. Diabolical!

The lettuce is looking quite tasty!

Another time I was walking through the flower area and noticed a bunch of gladiolas corms lying on the ground. “What the heck?” How did these glads pop out of the ground? Then I saw the telltale sings of crows — bird footprints. And then I recalled the garlic incident. Aha! Those damn crows again! Why? I don’t know.

Lets see. Then there are all the times they ate watermelons and cucumbers. The first time I found a hollowed out cucumber I was flabbergasted. Was it a mouse? Did a bunch of insects do this? What the heck? Then later I saw a crow pecking at one of the cukes. If I recall correctly they damaged around 80% of the cukes in that planting. We still got more cukes later so it wasn’t a total loss but it was frustrating. I figured in this case since it was a very dry spring that they were looking for water and found it in the cucumbers. I suspect the same thing was going on when they attacked the watermelons.

One of my least favorite things about crows is they chase away the hawks and eagles. Why is that? I never see hawks go after crows. They just seem to be looking around enjoying the day. Then of course the murder of crows comes around and starts harassing the hawk which of course drives the hawk away. With the hawk gone, the mammalian critters like ground squirrels and chipmunks have the run of the place and get into all kids of mischief like the time the chipmunks ate all the ornamental corn! I’d rather have the hawks around than the crows.

Not everything crows do is harmful to the plants but frequently it is irritating. The other day when I was cultivating the tomatoes I saw a bunch of grafting stakes on the ground. These are small, cocktail straw sized white stakes we use to hold up the grafted plant while it is healing. We tend to leave them on until the grafting clip naturally falls off. We gather them up and reuse them for the next season. But this year the crows seem to find the sticks interesting. Maybe it wasn’t the crows since I never really saw what was pulling them out but I’m placing the blame there since this newsletter is about crows.

Some day it will stop raining…

The one positive thing about crows — well I think it is positive — happens when I am tilling the soil to get it ready to plant. Almost every time I run the tractor the crows come around. If they see I’m tilling they land in the freshly tilled soil and start pecking around. They seem to be eating something though I can never get close enough to figure it out. My hope it they are eating grubs — which would be good — but they may also be eating earthworms — which is better than eating watermelons. It is interesting to me that they know when to come around. They are quite clever that way.

Anyway, that is enough about the crows. As always, let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, jokes, etc. And don’t forget to order FruitShare!

Joke of the Week

What do you call a group of crows hovering over your watermelon patch? A tempted murder.

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