Friday, January 14, 2005

Snails and Chooks

I’m a green thumb and I prefer to do so organically. The best time to collect snails is at night after it has rained. What to do with them afterwards? I used to squash them right away between two rocks and scrape them into the compost bin. Now I save them in an icecream tub or two and give them to a neighbour who has a chook and three ducks. We minded the birds while the owner was away. I collected and fed them snails.

That chook - I dubbed her Ginger from Chicken Run - is a smart one. She is always the first on the scene when you move the bins or bags around, rake back the straw, ready to peck up revealed bugs and worms. She knows my left foot from my right. I always give mature snails a slight squash to crack the shell and make it easier to eat using my right foot. When Ginger got impatient for the next snail or I hadn’t brought any she would peck my right foot, never my left :)

The birds don’t like too many snails at a time so I hang on to them for a few weeks before they all get eaten, feeding them and washing out their tubs. Very humane, especially compared to what we used to do to snails when we were kids*. In the meantime I have made these observations regarding snails:
- That racing snail in the Never Ending Story was well made in terms of capturing the character and general shape of a snail’s face (apart from the eyes being on the short stalks instead of the long stalks). I can’t help but think of it whenever I take a close look at these buggers.

- If you sit them on a see through surface, as they slide along you can see their ‘foot’ muscles rippling which is pretty cool.
- They love nasturtium flowers more than the leaves
- Their heads are sort of translucent and when they eat orange flowers you can see each mouthful passing through the head and into the neck.
- When they’ve eaten a full meal of these flowers their poo is orange, likewise for any other coloured meal it comes out that colour.
- I’ve always wondered how such a soft bodied, seemingly toothless critter could cause so much damage in the garden. Then I read they have HUNDREDS OF TEETH. So I observed them some more and have seen these teeny weeny teeth. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a squid’s mouth – it has a cartilage-like flexible beak thingy – it’s a lot like that. They seem to have only an upper jaw of mini teeth with which they saw through their food and push it into their gullet with their muscled mouths.

*At least three kinds of torture involving water, sticks and magnifying glasses. Also on the subject of invertebrate torture: Didn’t we all love the popping sound an ant makes right after you’ve sent it crazy in the heat, then concentrated the hot spot to a pin point? Or was that just us? I’d never do that now. I fish stranded bugs out of our bird bath, collect house hold critters with a cup and cardboard to release outside, and I felt badly for the moth that was trapped inside the train carriage on the way home the other day. It wasn’t near me whenever we got to a station so I couldn’t help it.

In Melbourne we don’t have the cockroach problem they seem to have in Sydney. If we did I’d probably engage in warfare with them. ie squash them on sight and hunt them down, with maybe a spray to keep them in check. (the cockies not the people of Sydney)

On the subject of Sydney versus Melbourne, a Sydney-sider was very happy with the level of service I provided her and her boys with at work today. She said something like “You’ve been so nice. You’re obviously not from Sydney.”

'Well chuffed with that I was. Well chuffed.'
Bunty from Chicken Run

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Y'know.... I was hoping to come across some information on insect torture today. Just my luck ;)