Monday, May 23, 2011

When It's CD Hangin' Time in Chico

The cherries are ripening, so I went out and hung old CDs on the trees to scare away the birds. Birds will do a number on ripe cherries. I don't mind them getting a few up at the top where I can't reach, but I sure don't want to find beak marks in every other cherry on the tree.

CDs work great. I use old CDs---damaged ones or ones from defunct computer programs. I throw them in a drawer during the year, and in the spring I get them out, tie a loop of yarn through the center, and hang them on the trees. They turn and flash and scare the birds away. More cherries for me!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Casaba Melons

This afternoon I planted casaba melons in a big empty patch in the middle of our orchard. This is the second year that I have planted casabas---they were such a favorite with General Bidwell that I had to try them. I would have planted them sooner, but the weather has been too cool up until now for the seeds to sprout.

I got my seed from Seed Savers Exchange.  I don't know of any other catalog that carries it. They are wonderful melons, juicy and delicious, with a heady aroma, but they take a long time to grow, which is probably why they are not favorites anymore.

Casaba melons are native to Turkey. Bidwell's original seed was sent to him by the Department of Agriculture, who knew how he liked to experiment with new crops. The melons were such an outstanding success that Bidwell decided to devote 10 acres to them the following year.

Casabas take a lot of water, and my husband asked me how Bidwell managed to grow them during our dry Chico summers. The answer comes from his ranch foreman George Moses Gray.  He recounts:

"The next year, 1882, we planted ten acres of casabas on newly cleared ground on land between the flume and Humboldt Road. . . The ground was very rich and we had plenty of water from the flume and of all the melons I ever saw growing those were the best."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a Bird!

Our fine feathered friends--birds--was the theme for today. Our books were Birds, by Kevin Henkes, and The Baby Beebee Bird, by Diane Massie. This is an old title in a new edition, with illustrations by Steven Kellogg. It's a fun book to read aloud, because the baby beebee bird says "beebee bobbi beebee bobbi" over and over and over, and the kids can join in. But beware! I read this book to two Head Start classes back to back and nearly lost my voice.

I also told the story of Old Mother Hubbard on the flannelboard. There are many verses to this old rhyme, and some of them sound a little odd to modern ears. "She went to the hosier's to buy him some hose," "she went to the fishmonger to buy him some fish," and even "she went to the tavern to buy him some beer." ! But the kids thoroughly enjoy the antics of Old Mother Hubbard's dog, who stands on his head, sits in a chair, plays the flute, and reads the news.

We made birds, of course, and the birds look like this:

The body is cut out of colored scrapbook paper. (I found a good deal on scrapbook paper at Ross.) The beak is just a little piece of construction paper glued on.

The wings are made by coloring a half-sheet of paper, then fan folding it and inserting through a slit cut in the bird's body.

The children had fun scribbling all over the paper with makers and crayons. They needed help with folding though. Fan folding is a bit tricky, even for some grown-ups. But the kids could push the paper through the slit and fan out the wings. Then just punch a hole and thread a piece of yarn through, and you have a pretty little bird.