Friday, August 29, 2008

Peacocks Will Eat Just About Anything

I imagined, when I planted the zucchini at the side of the cabin, along with the tomatoes, peas and beans, that I was planting veggies for my farm stay guests. I never imagined I was planting a feast for Fred.

I think I have mentioned before how I am challenged to grow just about anything. If it was only that I forgot to water, then it would be my fault, but between the wildlife, the slugs, and Fred, I am more challenged than most. Of course, I never realized Fred was part of the problem until this summer when, in one day, I caught him ripping out the newly forming nasturtium flowers from my cabin's veggie bed, then rounded the side of the cabin to find only stalks remaining on the zucchini plant!

Where I had visions of large leafy vegetables, red and orange flowers, and runners filled with food pods, Fred saw dinner in the tender plants. Where I saw self-defensive greenery with spiney leaves or smelly stems, Fred saw an opportunity to prove he didn't mind. It sometimes makes me want to cry out in frustration. How could such a beautiful bird wreak so much havoc in an incredibly short amount of time...and so quietly?!

Because he cuts a regal figure, with iradescent feathers and a haughty look, Fred gets away with a great deal of mischief. Our guests love the fact he roosts on the deck railing outside the cabin. If you sit on the sofa in the living room and look out the window, first you see Fred and then you see the hay field, so it is more than picturesque. The old milk bottle filled with dry corn on the deck steps serves as a healthy treat for Fred, but I suspect he also begs for chips and crackers and anything else our guests have at hand. He does seem to use his good looks to his advantage.

I am not so easily swayed. This week I caught Fred in our fenced garden hacking through the broccoli and moving on to the lettuce. I waved my arms and brought the dogs in to help me herd. I am not sure how, exactly, he got into the garden, but I suspect he either squeezed between the gate or flew over the fence. He clucked at me as I started to chase him out. He is worse than herding the chickens, as he darted back and forth and in and out, and I yelled and the dogs barked. He turned and clucked at me one final time as I pushed him out the gate almost in a dare.

I haven't seen Fred today, mostly because it is raining and I have stayed inside. The rain never stopped that bird before and I probably need to hop out to the garden just in case he has gone to work on the tomatillos. Fred is a bird of opportunity that, like a cat, couldn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks...because he is a pretty bird and he knows it...and he knows we would never eat him...and that is the trump card on a farm!

Photo: Fred in all his glory

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