Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hope Springs Eternal

The weather has turned, bringing us a quick shot of some much-needed rain along with fall-like temperatures for the foreseeable future. We’re also heading back into the darkness, and that means that we’re starting to make some final harvests around the garden for the season. The tomatoes will be fussy with the blast of cold nighttime air, and I pulled many of our big storage crops (pumpkins, cabbages, black beans) during my last picking session.

Still, while some things are coming to an end, it’s already time to think about the spring. Our bulbs came in the mail yesterday:

We have three more varieties of garlic: German Red, Spanish Benitee, and Early Italian, and hopefully these will do far better than they did this year — we didn’t have much of a harvest at all, which is why I had to order more to plant instead of using our own extra for seed.  

I also ordered some bulbs for the cutting garden, since many are now too old to produce any blooms. According to the good folks at Burpee, this is what they should look like in the spring:

Photo courtesy of

Fosteriana tulip mix (all my favorite sunset colors!).

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A mix of hyacinths.

I’m actually thinking of moving the hyacinths out of the cutting garden to start a small garden outside my tiny office. That area gets sun in the spring before the maple leafs out, and I’m thinking that a little pocket garden devoted to things that smell good would be nice there.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A New View

It’s hard to get excited about a drought, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s that this was as good a summer as any to work on a pretty intense side project. Since I am now working from home as a full-time writer, Kirk built me a tiny office in the back yard. He started this project back before school ended, and today the interior is finally complete! Here’s my new view of the garden from inside:

That window used to be on the back of the garage, but Kirk salvaged it, closed the hole, and added an 8’ x 8’ room to the back of the garage with its own entrance to the garden. Here’s what that garage wall looks like now: 

That’s a flip-down table that we installed to be a standing desk, plus a few other office-y fixtures to hold my (very minimal) stuff. Mostly I just use a laptop. Here’s the view from the garden:

This office is basically a tiny house with no plumbing. That chair still needs a side table, which we decided to make out of a big slice of the trunk of a red maple we had removed at the Red House years ago. We also still need to put all the shingles on the outside, so I’ve judiciously framed these photos to render that punch-list item invisible. 

I’ll post better photos when it’s 100 percent complete, but it’s done enough to start work Monday morning!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Tale of Two Chickens

This is Lizzy. She belongs behind bars:

You may recall that Lizzy has some issues. She’s a mean old thing who has attacked me in the past and who always throws herself at the chicken wire walls of the run every time I walk by — even when I come bearing gifts, like delightful (if you’re a chicken) beetle-ridden cantaloupe halves

Lizzy has also been pecked at a lot by someone, though we gave up on trying to police the pecking order months ago. She’s actually got some new feathers coming as part of her natural fall molt and is looking pretty good, though she still freaks out about nothing several times a day.

Today was much worse. I brought the chickens the aforementioned cantaloupe for an afternoon treat, and when I opened the door to the run to give it to them, Lizzy straight up attacked me. She jumped on my leg and chased me out of the run. 

Chickens don’t have teeth, but she has some little spurs on her feet and pecks with her beak. Having a chicken jump you will freak you out even when you know they can’t hurt you— there’s a lot of fuss. 

So after I jumped back and remembered I was wearing pants (so there was no way she could scratch or peck my legs), and Kirk ran over.

He finally believes me now when I say Lizzy hates me — she couldn’t be stopped until he ran at her with a bamboo pole. 

Meanwhile, Abigail also came running out of the chicken run, and it took us a few minutes to corral them both back in. Though I was tempted to leave Lizzy out and see if a hawk would come by, she found her way back inside.

Though I assumed at first that Abigail’s escape was merely a crime of opportunity, it turns out that she was actually rushing to my defense. She’s the heroine of our tale:

A bit later I went back to the chicken run to snap these photos, and once again Lizzy got her hackles up and dove at me, trying to peck me through the chicken wire. 

So Abigail jumped down from her perch on the straw bale, jumped right on Lizzy’s back, and grabbed a mouthful of feathers off the back of Lizzy’s neck!

Now when I walk by, Abigail does a slow pace toward Lizzy. She’s got her own neighborhood watch going, it seems. 

I almost feel bad about it, because Abigail jumped on Lizzy again later when I was trying to get another picture. But she did deserve it — that little brat totally tried to peck me again. 

At any rate, it would appear that somewhere along the line this summer Abigail ascended the throne as ruler of the roost, and she’s taking her duties pretty seriously. She also owes me one, and it appears she has not forgotten the debt.