Forced Child Labor!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh Mr. WalMart Recruiter???? I'm ready for my high-paying Executive Position now!!! What's that? Can I force people to work long hours for little pay?


Yes, the grand ol' tomato harvest continues at the Bird Heirloom Tomato Farm in North Natomas. But, to be brutally honest, what more can I say about heirloom tomatoes on this blog without boring you to tears? What will the title of the blog posting be? LARGE HEIRLOOM TOMATO HARVEST # 442! Suffice to say, the picture to your immediate left will prove that our harvests continue -- and in large numbers. Suffice to say -- the wife that is Venus and I are getting "pickled" on Heirloom Tomato Martinis. And -- suffice to say -- we have enough canned salsa and tomato sauce to last until 2050.

There -- I've bored you to tears already. You're probably itching to switch over to Hank Shaw's blog because you know that he shot Bambi and Bambi's entire family over the weekend -- and want to see what venison jerkey looks like. I can't blame you -- although I will admit that I'm not wild about venison jerkey. However -- wild game turkey is quite another matter.

We had a rather interesting weekend here to say the least. The State Legislature is officially out of session. What does that mean? It means that the Senator that I work for is not in the office. He's in the district instead. What does that mean? It means personal staff at the State Capitol can take a few well-deserved days off. I took advantage of the opportunity -- and I'm coming off a non-relaxing four-day weekend.

Four day weekends mean PROJECTS in big, bold, beautiful letters at our North Natomas home. I've been itching to get some ground cover in and around the main planter beds -- but never seemed to have the time or the right opportunity. Both arrived this past weekend.

I've got to remind myself to STOP using Redmond's Building Supply in North Highlands. They are the people who I normally turn too when ordering large amounts of landscaping bark or soil. But they also inevitably screw up the order. Case in point? I ordered seven yards of bark. Six yards of bark arrived -- AND -- at a higher price than what I had been quoted over the phone. Arguing with these people is akin to masturbating with a cheese grater. They don't seem to understand the difference between six yards of bark and seven yards -- therefore Venus and I will give our landscaping business to someone who understands that two-plus-two equals four.

But -- enough said. The bark arrived -- and so did some rather unexpected help in the form of a three day visit from one of Venus' closest childhood friends and a later classmate at UC Berkeley. Audrey is married to Pete Morris -- and both Audrey and Pete have quite the family in two young boys.

That includes a 9-year old boy named Tony who found that gigantic load of bark in the front yard to be quite interesting.

As it turns out -- Tony loves wheelbarrows.

Can you see where this is going? Oh Mr. WalMart Recruiter -- are you listening???

If you're about to ask that I have absolutely no shame at all in putting a 9-year old boy to work in MY backyard on HIS summer vacation no less -- the answer is an unqualifiable YES! There! I'll admit it! I have no shame! I also have a backyard gardening area filled with six yards of pristine -- raked out -- bark. I'm telling you -- it just brings a tear to my eye.

Little Tony took to that gigantic load of landscaping bark like a fish takes to water. As it turns out -- the kid really did love wheelbarrows. He loved every minute of shoveling bark. He loved every minute of moving said bark to the FURTHEST part of the Back 40 backyard. And he loved dumping that bark in the exact spot I told him.

"So," I told Venus. "This is why people have kids."

Now -- to be honest -- there were several times during the day when I told the kid that he was "overdoing it" and to slow down or just take a break. In response, Tony would give me this hurtful look -- shrug and walk away. He would then complain to his mother -- Audrey -- "Bill is making me take a break -- can I ride my bike now?"

Oh -- to have the energy of a nine-year old boy again. By the time the day ended -- Bill Bird was nursing numerous aches and sores. Pete Morris -- Tony's father -- was also treating various aches and pains with Tecate Therapy (so was I as a matter of fact). And Tony? Well, after he had finished dumping the last load of bark and spreading the last load of bark -- he was doing wind sprints on his bike.

That's the problem with youth. It's wasted on the young.

But -- the education wasn't over. It was just beginning. Tony's mother informed me that her son had also spied the Mantis Rototiller in the GarageMahal. "I've seen those on TV," Tony told his mom. "Do you think Bill will let me use it?"

Would I let him use it on MY garden? This kid was from heaven.

And so -- the very next day -- not only did I drag the Mantis from the garage -- I let Tony "walk it" over to the garden bed in question while it was running. This was big stuff for a 9-year old kid. I've been told that he gets to brag to his classmates that HE got to use a Mantis Rototiller during his summer vacation and I have to post the photos to prove it.

I am only too happy to oblige. There is the kid tearing up the potato bed with the Mantis Rototiller. And that rather svelte gentleman watching over Tony in the background? That's not Mel Gibson -- but rather MOI.

The backyard garden full of bark will allow Venus and I to actually access the garden area this winter when rains turn our hardened Natomas clay soil into a mucky quicksand. The freshly tilled and amended bed will allow Venus to plant and harvest yet another whopper of a potato crop just in time for Thanksgiving.

Tony meanwhile -- gets to brag to his classmates about hauling bark and using the legendary Mantis Rototiller. Plus -- he's got the photos -- and a cool $5 bill in payment to show for all that hard work.

Bill -- meanwhile -- is still in Tecate Therapy.


Greg Damitz said...

Where are you finding your seed potatoes? Everywhere I checked is out until September.

Fred Hoffman said...

Good stuff. Finally, mulch! Get a price quote from Hastie's if you need more.
and the image of masturbating with a cheese grater is now permanently etched in my brain. thanks.

Cindy Shea-The Vintage Vignette said...

Sounds like it was was a win win situation for all involved. I too have been up to my ears in tomatoes but come January I will be crying the blues for some fresh summer tommies. :)

Bill Bird said...


This isn't the first time I've heard this complaint. I understand all Sacramento nurseries are out, and so is Peaceful Valley up north yonder in Nevada City. You may want to query Farmer Fred Hoffman. Hank Shaw is also suggesting the use of organic potatoes purchased at any Farmer's Market. In our case, we appear to have more than enough leftover from the first crop to plant a second crop.

Greg Damitz said...

Thanks Bill. I've tried all over on line etc. I'll get some baby organics from Trader Joes so I can grow some All Blues and Reds again. I failed to keep any seed stock from what I grew and I'm afraid if I wait until September for Ronnigers it will be too late

Brown Thumb Mama said...

Ha ha ha! You can't make me laugh like that while I'm at work. I'll get in trouble!

Wish my little peanut was big enough to do all that work. All he does now is eat his way through the garden.

dave said...

Good stuff, Bill!

Sue said...

Tony's so cute!