Gardening Gargoyles and Other Musings

Wait-a-minute: Somebody plugged in the wrong set of eyes!
Wait-a-minute: Somebody plugged in the wrong set of eyes!

Today we’ll can more beans, even though Ann discovered two dozen quarts hidden on shelves in upstairs storage dating back two years. We’ll be eating a LOT of green beans in the next 11 months to eat up what would otherwise go out of date.

And today we’ll pull up the Turkey Gizzard bean vines that quickly collapsed under their own weight; next year, I’ll have cattle panels for them to run on, four 16 foot sections are in the barn waiting.

Later today or tomorrow, the hen house comes from our neighbor who built it. I’m not bullish on the venture, but the local SWMBO insists, though it will end of being largely my responsibility since I’m on site far more than she is. Call me a skeptic, I can’t imagine bonding with chickens. And we really don’t eat as many eggs as we’ll be getting by the spring. The costs will take decades of “free” eggs to recover. I’m wasting my breath.

The Sierra Club event last night was a welcomed positive validation of the book, the writing and the photography. The crowd was very receptive to the multimedia images with essays package, and there will likely be other Roanoke opportunities to share in the future if I follow up on the offers from folks who spoke to me after the program was over.

Check out this critter discovered on said bean plants a few days ago. It is less than a quarter inch long so easily overlooked. I know I’d never seen this fellow before. But check out the proportions: fully 1/3 of it’s body length is EYES! If I was similarly proportioned, my eyeballs would extend from the top of my head to the bottom of my breastbone!  It looks like a mix-up in the parts department–somebody plugged in the eyes from an insect parts draw of a species 6 times this size!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Re: chickens. I’ve had lots of them and can’t say I ever bonded with them very much though I did appreciate the eggs and meat and their bug eating capacity. I hope that house is tight; losing chickens to critters was the yuckiest part. However, my friend Deborah has had “trained” chickens that were good pets, go figure.

  2. Thanks, Chris…I needed the nutrients that come from a successful event. I think it’s a matter of finding the right channel and then pressing hard into it. The next few months will be better for increasing those odds than summer, usually a low energy time for books from what I understand (and have experienced.)

  3. Actually one can bond with chickens…I still remember my two fine white roosters that once were pink and blue Easter chicks. The granddaughters will love watching mother hens and their babies.

  4. Your presentation is great, we loved your images and your words. I look forward to the future when you might be able to publish a book with Appalachian/ Blue Ridge images.
    Fresh range eggs are wonderful. I have a friend that has been doing that for years now and during surplus egg season she will sell and donate some.

  5. I hope you get a lot of pleasure out of donating those eggs to a local foods bank, church, or nursing home. And open your heart to those chickens! My best friend raises about 30 of them for the fun of it on her Tennessee farm.
    I bet thoses Sierra Club members were totally thrilled with your photos and thoughts. I hope the leads you got for more presentations are just as rewarding.