Rat Attack

We decided to take the Merc down to Altamonte Sunday to meet friends for dinner. Having had the nest fire in the Camray and the Merc having sat under the carport for almost a month, I made sure to open the hood before cranking the engine. Good thing – there were several nests but this time the culprit was still in residence. Turns out the perps are rats; not mice, not squirrels. Along with the nests and acorns this guy had actually dragged a fresh tangerine peel onto the engine for a later snack. At least now I have a line of attack – rat poison around the carport. One good thing is that I have a good use for the nests which are made from the fiber that forms at the base of palmetto fronds – where the frond grows from the trunk. I use it as a base for orchids and other air plants- it’s airy and holds moisture fairly well. New input. On the way home from Altamonte, the check engine light came on. Nancy dropped it off at the mechanic on the way to quilting and the guy called and said that something had gotten up under the hood and chewed through a vacuum hose; that would be a $50 assembly from Mercury. Also the radio apparently no longer works so the rodent probably also chewed an electrical wire. Now I’m pissed. This month is turning out to be a very expensive vehicle maintenance month. First the gas tank on the pick-up decides to leak, needing full replacement, and then a rat(s) decides to make a meal of the car.

The de-mucking job is really keeping me busy. On day one I rake the muck off the lake bottom into a pile to drain then on day two, haul the drained muck up to the garden area where I spread it – either onto the compost piles or directly into the garden. I’m not counting wheel barrow loads but am sure I’m over twenty at this point. What I’m finding is that the muck collection is a shoreline thing and once I work my way 8-10′ from shore, it turns to nice hard sand bottom. So the particular area I’m working seems to be maybe 25′ long by 10′ wide by 3-4′ deep and I’ve worked my way through about half of it. So I’ve got a large commitment and hope the results are what I expect. What a bummer it would be if this stuff turned out to kill off veggies.

The broccoli and cauliflower are pretty much playing out on schedule. Ditto the Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi. Next to go is the spinach which will be packaged away in the freezer probably by the end of the week. Kale and collard greens show no sign of fading away and the brussels are still a few weeks away. Pulling carrots and onions on an as needed basis and have enough to keep us humming for another month at least. One thing I’m doing differently this year as a result of attending that small garden seminar is to cut off the spent plants at ground level rather than pulling them out. I used to pop them into the compost pile so the old roots eventually made it back but according to this expert, they decompose faster by just leaving them in place. Then I’m just spreading 2-4” of compost or muck right on top of the cut stems – no tilling.

Nancy saw a recipe on TV and decided to try it. It was a pasta dish using a style called Orecchiette, which it turns out is not all that easy to find. The pasta is shaped like small , thick shells. The dish incorporates a load of swiss chard, cannelloni beans, fresh parsley, some lemon, some cheese, and Italian sausage. I have to admit I had my doubts but it was really, really good.

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