Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life and Death in the Garden

The vegetable garden is certainly a place of life and death. 
Chard, spinach, and peas.
Select plants are carefully tended and protected, seeds saved.  Others are ruthlessly ripped out by the roots and destroyed at every appearance.  Flowers are planted to attract certain insect friends to your garden while potato beetles are plucked from leaves and killed without hesitation.  I've watched a sharp-shinned hawk devour a house sparrow in our garden beds.  I've watched our spinach plants devoured by leaf-miners.  It is certainly a place that illustrates the ebb and flow of life and death. 
That said, I was still surprised to find a dead baby bird, all naked, blind and pink, in the strawberry patch. 
Do you see it?  Lower right.
It was a sad discovery as all dead babies are, but also an interesting opportunity for me.  I always find wildlife corpses to be like that.  Dead animals are generally much, much easier and safer to approach and thoroughly examine than living ones.  In fact, I strongly recommend against it with living wildlife, but I say go nuts with the dead ones.  Use a stick or gloves if you are squeamish about touching it directly or if it is a bit of an...aged...corpse.  The wee bird was so tiny and delicate and perfectly formed.  It was stunning really.  A perfect little beak and wing and foot stuck out of the partially intact shell.  Its shell was mostly white with a slight hint of blue-green to it and covered with brown speckles.  It is so helpless looking...and I suppose really was just that.
We estimate this to be the baby of a house sparrow, but our guidebooks are fairly lacking in the egg identifying department so don't quote me on that.  How it got in the garden is still a bit mysterious as there is no nest in the overhanging bush that we can see....but perhaps it is just a well hidden nest.  It is a tiny egg and baby so it probably is a tiny nest, too.  We left it there for some other critter to take care of.  The circle of life is like that.  One critter's loss is another critter's gain.  I wonder how long it will take before someone has carried it off somewhere...

3 comments:

  1. Once again, I have to ooh and awe over your garden pictures. Do you know your elevation? (You can find it by looking up your address on Google Earth.) Here at 4000 feet, so close to the mountains, our season is so much shorter than yours. It always amazes me to compare the growing seasons of different areas in our big state.
    Your nights tend to be warmer too, which is probably why field corn grows in your area.
    I love seeing corn fields, especially on the drive between Billings and Laurel.
    I could ramble on and on. It's a spring thing.
    Have a wonderful week.............Denise

    ReplyDelete
  2. I imagine some predator bird or animal had the little bird and dropped it. I have seen this lots. It is sad, indeed.

    We have to be a little hardened to accept all the losses. However, I don't think even people who handle death and loss on a farm are not saddened a bit. I have heard sadness for anitmals in the voices of men who have handled hundreds of losses over decades.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Beth, I'd love to send you some Amish paste tomato seeds, as I have extra to share! Not sure if it's too late for you to start them, but maybe it's worth a shot. Anyway, if you want to email me (ngofamilyfarm@gmail.com) your address, I'll send them out to you this week :)
    -Jaime

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!