Monday, August 04, 2008


8/4/08 Monday
It’ll be another hundred degree day. I’ve been out getting as much done as I can before it gets so hot I’m only good for an hour or so before I must come in. Then it takes an hour or so to recover. There was a time this kind of heat wouldn’t bother me but that was thirty five years ago. I’ve been watering the plants, which takes three hours anymore. Still have the pumpkins to do but that will take a while due to the squash bug infestation. They have destroyed the spaghetti squash. Here’s a picture showing what they can do.

We are counting on the pumpkins to bring in a decent amount of money around Halloween so I must keep after them. I go through each plant one by one, checking the bottoms of each leaf for the eggs they lay. In the process I usually find a few adults, which I squash between my fingers. I know it’s gross but it’s pretty much the best way to do it. Mark, the friend we made when we met his wife, Pam, at the farmer’s market, told me a good way to get them. He said put a piece of wood under each plant and during the night the squash bugs will congregate under it. Then get out there when the sun is coming up and you can catch them and throw them in a bucket of soapy water. I haven’t tried that yet but certainly will. The spaghetti squash is pretty much done for and I am sure that the squash bugs are coming from there now that they’ve destroyed it. So I will go through all fifty pumpkin plants today. I had carefully mulched each one with the rye I mowed just for that. Now I must remove it all as I have learned it just provides a great place for the squash bugs to live in. In desperation I had sprayed the spaghetti squash with Sevin, despite my great dislike for using any kind of poison and determination to grow everything organic. It didn’t seem to have an effect at all. So it’s back to doing things the old fashioned way. I’ll put on a pair of the neoprene gloves and squash away. The squash bugs are related to stink bugs and you can sure tell it. When you squash a squash bug it puts out a distinctive unpleasant odor.

What else should I write about? Oh, Gretchen, our new dog someone abandoned here, is doing well in a heart wrenching way. She was so badly abused that even after a week she is afraid of everything. With much coaxing I can get her to come close and then slowly and carefully can pet her. It’s strange how she is sometimes not afraid and will come up playful and eager to get a pet, but then can become spooky in a moments notice. I’ve found that when she sees me petting Rascal and Trixie it assures her that I am safe so she runs in for her share of love. Trixie and Rascal are jealous and often will growl and bark at her when this happens but they are getting better about that.

When it gets dark Gretchen really gets spooky and afraid. I was able to give her one of the dog treats Rascal and Trixie love last night but that took a lot of cajoling. When it’s dark she won’t come close at all unless I turn the porch light on. I held the treat out in my hand and talked her in. “Good Gretchen, Good girl, You’re all right, I won’t hurt you…” I would croon but when she got within five feet of me something would spook her so she would run away. Then she got close enough to sniff the treat but jumped away again, running a safe distance of twenty feet away in a dark shadow where she felt safe. The second time she gave it a tentative lick before she jumped away. The third time she carefully picked it up with her lips and hurried away to crunch it.

In the morning we are always anxious to see if she is still here when we open the door and relieved to find her just as anxious to see us. At this time she is playful and will jump up on me for attention. I love to see it but Rascal and Trixie aren’t too thrilled at this interloper hogging my attention. Gretchen follows me everywhere, staying behind me about three feet. I hold my hand out behind me as I walk and can feel her occasionally get close enough to nudge it with her nose or give it a little lick. Training her will be harder because when you correct her it brings up so much fear it breaks your heart. She has a bad habit of rolling on her back on some of our plants and has taken out melon’s, tomatoes, and some blackeyed peas. I wish I had a shock collar because it would be the most effective way to train her with that. When I say “NO” she doesn’t comprehend why, just sees that I’m not happy and runs. With a shock collar she will get a shock when she gets in the garden plants and will quickly be able to equate doing that with the shock. I caught her rolling on the plants three times this morning.

Gretchen is becoming accepted by Rascal and Trixie and now runs and plays with them just a little bit. I suspect she has spent much of her time tied up or in a fenced in back yard because she doesn’t run very well at all. Plus she had no muscle tone at all and was a little fat when she first showed up. It’s great to see the improvement she has made in just a week. Her muscles are firming up and she is getting more active every day. Overcoming the effects of abuse will take a lot longer and will probably always be there. I think the reason I feel for Gretchen so much is the years of rejection and abuse I experienced as a child. Bruce Springsteen has lyrics in one of his songs that refer to the trauma of the Vietnam war say “till you end up like a dog that’s been beat to much” or something similar.

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