Saturday, July 15, 2017

Japanese Beetles - A Chicken Treat

I hold the bright red plastic bowl in my hand as I move slowly along the grapevines. At my feet, a couple of hens follow, eager to take advantage of the “ones that got away.” My eyesight has never been anything to write home about, but the coppery gleam in the setting sun allows me to spy my quarry easily. At this time in the evening, approximately an hour before nightfall, they are more sluggish than they are in the beating heat of the overhead sun at midday. Still, with the temperatures in the high 90’s and the humidity approaching 80%, I battle the need to mop the sweat from my face, as I grab a leaf upon which a pair or a gang of them is having an orgy. With a quick flick of my wrist, at least 50% of the coppery interlopers find themselves doing the elementary backstroke in my red bowl of water.

My combing of the grapevines and fruit trees each evening this time of year, takes about 30-45 minutes. When my bowl is wall-to-wall copper and green, I make my way into the chicken yards. There, just before taking to their roosts for the night, the chickens enjoy a bed-time snack of Japanese Beetles.

Now, I won’t pretend I love the idea of picking bugs off the grapevines. I won’t pretend I am crazy about the one or two that fail to fall into my red bowl, but somehow happen to find their way into my shirt, where I feel their pinching little legs as they try to find another of their kind so they can continue their orgy. But I do like the idea that I can get free chicken treats, while allowing the grapevines to retain at least a few of their leaves until harvest.

Tonight, after feeding the older chicks their helping of these chicken delicacies, I took the red bowl into the coop of the brand new babies (born Wednesday and Thursday). I put the bowl on the ground to see if Mama wanted any. I was surprised to watch as she picked the bugs out of the bowl and tossed them to the chicks, who immediately fought for them. They worked the bugs into manageable pieces, and gobbled them up.

Farm chores come in all varieties. This one has definite rewards, and I find myself actually looking forward to “going japping,” as we refer to it.

Oh, and for the record, our upstairs AC unit is on the blink, and the AC guy who said he’d come by or call today did neither. So, we keep cool downstairs, when we aren’t sweating outside working or sweating upstairs working and sleeping.

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