It is quiet now, at night, without chickens. And what to do with all of my kitchen scraps? I am back to the old composter, which was novel when I first got it in 2007, but after having chickens do a much more entertaining job with my scraps, I stopped using it...until now. There's just not the same excitement when I toss the old bread ends and potato peels.
While walking to the composter, with the darkness illuminated by my headlamp, I glanced into the fountain looking for the pretty goldfish, and what do I see - a big toad soaking up the H20! Pretty scary when you see a big grey blob moving fast through the fountain water when you're not expecting it. Felt kindof like a sci-fi movie at first. It was actually a mild toad (or bull-frog?) encounter, some summer nights when I was shutting the chickens in, the toads would leap out of the water troughs as I walked by, like slimy land mines!
All in all, the toad was pretty neat, so we brought the kids out to see our uninvited swimming guest. Katherine wondered if he would eat the fish, I don't know... Probably does, since that's what I've learned about nature out here, if it's smaller than you and you're a carnivore, and you can catch it, then yup, you eat it.
Something else that I learned this weekend, but this time it was about gardening, from our friend Jenn Wheeling at the James Ranch in Colorado. Gardening isn't just about killing and cajoling, it's more like giving an advantage to an introduced species who wouldn't ordinarily live in such an environment; you create very inviting conditions for the 'regulars' to join in the party. So that's why you must spend so much time preventing anything but exactly what you want to grow, growing in your garden. So yes, it is about killing and cajoling, but you can say it in a much more, shall we say, enlightened manner, but it's pretty much like my chickens, everything either wants what they have or want them.
That's nature, baby, most people don't really experience it, for better or for worse, and no matter how much you romanticize it, it's pretty tough out there in the real world. Thoreau didn't stay in his cabin much longer than it took him to write "Walden," and I don't wonder why anymore.