Life Underground 5/3/24

Life Underground 5/3/24

Posted by Mandy + Steve O'Shea on


 They have emerged.  The ground is littered with holes carved up through the hard clay, spotted like Swiss cheese.  The leaves and branches of every bush and tree are covered in vacuous chitinous shadows of earlier incarnations.  A never-ending crescendo of humming is the soundtrack to our lives.  Gently turning the volume ever upward.  When I reach into a bush to cut a peony, or stick my torso into a small pump house to fix a well, I’m greeted by orange eyes starting at me and orange wings humming past my face, occasionally landing on my clothes.  Bent over the carcass of an old greenhouse table this afternoon, I felt an unfamiliar and slightly prickly presence on the back of my neck.  I swiped at the interloper and saw a flutter of orange disappear into the trees.  They are among us.  Watching.  Waiting.  Plotting.  Just biding their time until the moment is right.

   Okay, I got dramatic for effect.  They don’t bite.  They aren’t pernicious, malicious, or vicious.  They’re just a bunch of singles looking to mingle.  They’ve been on a 13 year dry spell and are looking to get cooking, so they can continue the family name.  I’m sure you’ve all read the headlines by now about the impending Cicadapacolypse.  It is real.  It is happening. They are absolutely everywhere.  Our first year here was 13 years ago and the sound of cicadas that year was near deafening.  We could hear it from inside the cab of our truck, which has quite a loud 8 cylinder diesel engine, with the windows up and the music on.  It sounded like the mother ship was landing.  A fully alien experience for a California boy to be immersed in the thick, wet atmosphere, drenched in sweat, covered in dirt,  fingers stained red from endless strawberry picking, while the earth seemed to vibrate and pulse with a level of life that bordered on overwhelming.
 13 years later, the emergence of Brood XIX in our neck of the woods, audibly began last Friday and has only ramped up every day since.  We have cicadas every year, but this brood is of the periodic variety.  They live as grubs in the ground for 13 years, come up in May, fly around and hump each other, jam their ovipositors into young tree branches to lay their eggs, then die.  The eggs hatch 2 months later and the nymphs fall to the ground, where they burrow in and start the cycle once more.  It really is fascinating and anything but subtle.  You can’t not hear it, so you better make peace with it.  They’re absolutely harmless to people, pets, crops, or anything else.  They’re just loud.  Our friends in bigger towns nearby have not heard them at their houses.  Perhaps due to a lack of grub friendly habitat. They are definitely thriving out in the sticks though. If you’re in Georgia, go for a country drive this weekend and you’ll get to drink in the symphony.  Supposedly there can be over 1 million of them per acre.
   By the way, the noise is a defense strategy.  Thought to be a tactic to disorient predators, like birds and snakes.  They do seem to be a favorite food of every carnivore and omnivore out there.  Lots of folks like to use them as bait to fish with.  Some folks recommend freezing them first.  I think it helps prevent their soft bodies from sliding off the hook too easily.  The Honeypops of the sea, they’ve been called.

 Flower-wise, we just launched a few items of note.  If you are looking for Mother’s Day or Graduation flowers, we’ve got beautiful bouquets available here.  If you are a dahlia fanatic and want to join the month long subscription this Fall, you can do so here. We’ll have flowers available in the farm store today and tomorrow as well as next Thursday-Saturday if you’d like to pick some up for momma.
   We have completely flipped 2 of our greenhouses from Spring to Fall already.  Plants were pulled, weeds were pulled, soil was tested, composted, amended, and irrigation was laid out.  Soon we’ll have double the amount of mums that we’ve ever had planted.  This means a bodacious flower-filled Thanksgiving and just as importantly, this means that for all you growers who didn’t get the heirloom varieties of plants you wanted this year, we’ll have you covered next Spring.  We are planting a ton of all the varieties that turned out to be the most highly sought after this Spring.  There was a lot of desire for a few varieties that we couldn’t keep up with, so we intend to fix that now.  On that topic, we did just add more inventory to our heirloom mum cutting selection here (and dropped our purchase minimum to 2 product selections!), so check it out if you wanna extend your market season with beautiful fall blooms.
 For you Farm Store visitors, the Comer farmer’s market starts this Saturday.  A crew of local folks have taken a big interest in reinvigorating our little market, so they’ve done some construction, courted some farmers and purveyors, and put some new energy into the market. We’re looking forward to seeing our regular farmers (Otis and Chris) as well as seeing what’s new this weekend.  Pop on by if you’re in town.
  This week’s niblet is a sweet song Mandy played for me that moved us both and mighta pulled a happy tear outta my duct as we fell into a hug.  I thought y’all might like it too.  It’s called For You, by Laura Marling.
I hope you have a happy weekend wherever you are.
Steve