The Vole Truth and Nothing But the Truth


[ Dale and the tiller ]

October 29 – So what’s the latest on our list of “jobs that were just begging to be done?” Well, you’re about to find out! First of all, while Dale has been out out tilling up the garden spot, well, half of it. And there was a lot of work to be done. After pulling up all of the tomato plants and cleaning up the cages before setting them in their usual area next to one of the fences, he filled in some of the big holes left in the garden by a large crop of huge white sweet potatoes and some very big pepper plants. Those two vegetables really took over this summer and almost pushed one row of tomatoes out of existence.


[ Green tomatoes ]

We picked all of the cute little pearly pink tomatoes, surprised that they had lasted so long since their first couple began early this summer. Just a few green ones were large enough to pick before pulling out the vines on which they grew and prospered for so long. Dale is not so keen on fried green tomatoes, but I well remember them way back when Mom used to serve this tasty dish, and each of us kids managed to make an entire meal of the tomatoes that just didn’t have time to ripen before the frosts came.

When I mentioned having some green tomatoes, I think just one person, a little older than most of our friends, even remembered eating them. One lady turned up her nose and said, just a bit surprised, “You eat GREEN tomatoes! I never heard of such a thing. Just let them ripen for tomato sandwiches!” Well, I agreed with her that it would be nice to continue eating those sandwiches, but it’s pretty hard to turn a green tomato into a red one if the weather doesn’t cooperate!


[ Vole in a bucket ]

Unfortunately, some voles had fun this summer digging down to the sweet potato level and helping themselves to the vegetables that they seem to enjoy very much. Since they would come up out of the holes while Dale pulled up the very heavy stalks of grass (especially strong and stuck securely in the dirt this year), it was hard for me to get a vole picture with the sweet potatoes. I had the camera ready, and stood right by the next batch Dale was digging up, but I just wasn’t in the same place as those guys were, no matter where I stood. We did see a very unusual sight, though. When Dale dug up one hill, out came three voles! A mother with a baby hanging on either side of her! We still wonder how in the world she managed to push up through the hole with the added weight! I looked all over the area, but never could see that threesome scooting for safety!


[ Farewell, Pearly Pinks ]

When Dale started pulling up the tomato vines, all tangled and entwined not only in the cages, but also reaching across to other vines in other cages, he had to cut them out because it was just about impossible to pull up the plants. Over the summer, some of them had grown to well over my height of five feet. As he continued to cut and pull, I cleaned off the debris from the cages before piling them together in an area beside the compost pile. When I asked Dale why that should be done, he said the dry leaves and bits of weeds might carry the spores for leaf blight! My reaction to all of this kind of thing is, “Well, I don’t get it, but Dale knows so much about anything that has to do with gardening, I believe him and just do the job!”

He also said that he would be carting the pulled-up vines off to the burning pile instead of dumping them onto the compost heap. Sure, you might know! The compost heap is about 20 feet from the tomato patch, while the burning pile is easily four times that distance. Oh, well, that was good for a little more exercise! When he came back with the wheelbarrow, I began picking up sticks and some pretty large branches that had fallen from the trees that border the garden. With winds gusting up to 60 miles an hour the day before, I was not surprised to see lots of branches lying on the ground. The wind also took care of a great number of the tent caterpillar nests that are so common this year up in the trees. Most of those nests are down to nothing as far as the caterpillars are concerned because they have hatched into moths and finally flown away. – CHRIS

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