Saturday, October 9, 2010

The goats' gourds

Earlier this year I noticed something unusual growing in the goat's pen -- squash.  The plants were growing from the 'compost' pile next to their barn.  I used quotes in the last sentence because it does not in any way actually qualify as a compost pile -- it is just a place where I put random vegetable things and muckings from the goats.  Someday, maybe ten or twenty years from now, it will all have broken down and I can add it to my garden.

The goats didn't eat the squash plants, for some reason.  Maybe because of the prickly stems?  When I made this discovery I thought, hurrah!  I have a bonus patch of winter squash, growing in a place with lots of fertilizer and four-legged weed control.  My happy dance was short-lived, however; it turned out that these were not, in fact, squash plants -- they were gourds.  Rats.  Cancel the order for homegrown pumpkin pie.  The seeds must have grown from gourds I chucked out into the pile last fall, from gourds I received in my CSA box.

The plants grew well throughout the summer.  Then I noticed something a few days ago -- the goats had started eating the gourd leaves.  Also, they had been taking a few experimental nibbles out of the gourds themselves.  So, if I wanted any kind of a gourd harvest,  I figured I should probably pick them fairly soon.

So, a few days ago we picked the gourds.  The monkeys were my hesitant accomplices.  Hesitant at first because 'harvesting gourds' sounded too much like work.  After we got out there, and they realized it was more like a treasure hunt than a chore, they got into the spirit.  Many of the gourds were still green and difficult to spot until too late.  We stepped on more than a few in our searching.

I think some of the seeds are actually a cross between gourds and another kind of squash. I'm sure the CSA farm didn't isolate the gourds from the other Cucurbits.

The mouse tired of picking after a few minutes and sat down near the fence.

We ended up with almost a feed bag's worth of gourds.  I'm not really a gourd person myself.  I'm generally too busy (or too lazy) to decorate in the fall.  Plus, I like my garden vegetables edible rather than ornamental.  What on earth am I going to do with all of these?  Are immature gourds edible?  How about their seeds?  Should I convince my hubby to try his hand at gourd carving?  Or should I hand my kids a slingshot and a bag of rocks and say, have at it?


Mama Pea said...

Take a bunch to work and see how fast they disappear. Lots of people pay $$ for the darn things to use as decoration. [Like me. :o)]

Put a bunch of them in a basket or bowl for decoration inside your house. Won't take but a minute and it will add a "fallish" flavor to the decor without a lot of trouble.

How 'bout a 1/2 bushel basket of them as decoration on the porch?

(The strange car driving into your yard this afternoon will be me with some empty containers.) ;o)

I'm surprised also that the goats didn't eat the vines long ago.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea is right, gourds do sell as fall decorative items. It's interesting your goats didn't eat the plants. My goats don't mind prickly stuff at all. They adore blackberry leaves and vines, also wild roses. Not sure I'd ever choose to grow gourds though.