June 28 – beetlemania and chanterelles

A typical Virginia summer day, fairly hot and sweaty but nothing too extreme.  As usual on Friday, I was taking care of the chickens, which as always involves several trips to and from the chicken yard over the course of the day.  Walking down the road, looking up at the clouds, thinking this is for sure a classic summer sky:Image

Later in the afternoon, I had more serious work to do– getting rid of some damn Japanese beetles!  These wretched beasts have been multiplying like crazy, eating our fruits and the leaves of the fruit trees and bushes, and have no place in  my backyard garden. Image

Here they are swarming a ripe currant– so nasty!Image

There are so many of them.  It’s time to do something about it.  Image

Several years ago, we had a massive outbreak of beetles that stripped our cherry tree to a withered brown skeleton by midsummer.  That year, my housemates and I went on an aggressive campaign of picking them off of the trees and drowning them in soapy water several times a day, every day.  I’ve been wanting to get on it while the cherry tree (below) still has some green leaves.Image

One of our newly planted persimmon trees, with cute little unripe persimmon and beetle-damaged leaves.Image

So here’s what I have been doing this past week:  I took a one-quart plastic measuring cup and filled it with an inch of water at the bottom.  The beetles, when disturbed, have a funny habit of dropping straight down before flying away.  You can put the cup below them and tap the leaf that they’re on, and they all fall into the water.  Here’s how many I was able to collect in about 15 minutes.  They’re actually kind of beautiful (but the mess they make of the fruit trees is anything but).Image

This year, instead of drowning them in soapy water, I’ve been keeping them alive in non-soapy water and walking up to Tupelo, where they have a mini-flock of 8 hens.  The hens are used to seeing me approach with the beetle cup, and when they see me, they all come running because they know I’ve got some tasty treats for them!Image

They like to pull a whole clump of beetles out of the cup with their beaks and peck and peck until they’ve got them all, then do it again.  The beetles are delicious candy for these hens!Image


As I was walking back, I noticed something a little ways off through the woods.  Could it be…. it was…. chanterelles!  Oh joy the chanterelle season has begun at Twin Oaks!  Oh how my belly will celebrate the return of these tasty tasty fungal treats.Image

Look at the bottom of this chanterelle.  Such a beautiful looking–and smelling– mushroom.  I’ve heard the scent described as apricot-like.  It’s a pretty subtle odor when freshly picked.  Once you’re cooking them in a bit of butter or olive oil, the apricot scent fills the room and sets your mouth watering in anticipation of the deliciousness to come.Image

Went up to Tupelo with a cupful of beetles, returned with a cupful of chanterelles– not a bad trade if I do say so myself…Image


One response to “June 28 – beetlemania and chanterelles

  1. I love these posts and they’ve inspired one poem so far. I sent it to your Yahoo email.
    Thank you!

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