Some people swear by dogs, others say there’s no finer watchdog than a guinea, but my girls do a pretty good job of alerting me to questionable scenes when they are out on patrol. This garlic/tomato bed, for instance- someone got in and dug up the whole garlic bed. You can see a few bulbs lying around in the dirt.
I know what you’re thinking, because Scott thought it, too- the chickens obviously dug up the garlic while they were dusting. To which I reply How? Because the whole reason we put that mesh up was because they kept dusting there, and it wasn’t until after the fence was up that suddenly garlic bulbs are laying around on top of the dirt.
What got my attention in the first place was the sudden “I’ve just laid an egg” sounding cackle right under my kitchen window. How? Why? And they had never cackled in that little bed before, even before there was a fence and they could dust at their convenience. Had one really laid an egg? My chickens are prone to such habit that I’ve never found an egg outside of the Quackerdome, so either she couldn’t get back and therefore couldn’t help laying an egg in there, or something else must be going on. I never did find an egg, so maybe I translated wrong and it was a whole different cackle.
I asked the girls how they got past security, and we had to walk the little fence before we discovered a hole big enough for a chicken to squeeze through. They’d already lost where it was and were trying to get out by the time I got there. Took awhile to find the hole because it was so hidden by tomato bush, no wonder the girls couldn’t find their way back out. They were all on alert for some reason, though, and I think it’s because they could see all the changes in their old dusting spot that I couldn’t. Chickens are super detail freaks, in high gear noticing change because it can mean life or death. They don’t like something being different from the way they left it when they come back to it later.
Something as big as a chicken forced its way underneath a part that wasn’t staked down, spent quality time digging up all the bulbs (probably found a load of grubworms), and then left before dawn. My chickens have dusted in there plenty of times and never once dug up garlic bulbs, so they found fresh holes very disturbing. Anything that can dig can also get into chicken pens. It would be like you coming home to find your stuff moved around- would you feel safe? Of course not. Scott wanted to blame the chickens for the garlic bed being all dug up, even though chickens aren’t very smart about muscling their way under fences (stuff like that is like math to them, iz hard), until he caught a big armadillo in a catch ’em live trap a couple of nights later. Armadillos love digging holes all over looking for grubs.
So I have a bunch of garlic on my hands now. I’ve already used a bunch, this is still on my counter.
I’ve also got tomatoes showing up along the deck railing nearly every day like magic, so I bring them in and they pile up on the counter, as well. Other people I know can their own tomatoes and sauces, but that’s a lot of work and I’m busy and tired. I found another way to process that’s super easy.
I line a cookie sheet with foil, quarter a pile of tomatoes, and clean up a couple heads of garlic, like so.
Then I drizzle a little canola oil over the pile and toss it up with my hands until it all looks oily. I used canola because it handles high heat really well.
That goes into a 400 degree oven for 30-60 minutes. I can’t be more exact because I don’t really look at the clock. I go by smell and how it looks. When it starts looking like this, I pull the pan out to cool.
After it’s cooled off, I spoon the mushy maters n garlics into little snack bags and put them into the freezer. They keep really well, and the flavor is fabulous when I add them later to other food I’m cooking.
I don’t know anyone else who can say they get help harvesting and cooking from armadillos and chickens. I think we make a pretty good team.