Showing posts from June, 2015

The Eating Season

Despite everything that has made this spring kind of sucky, we have managed, as we somehow always to do, to have food. The rains came, the sun shone, and we are finally in the eating season. Do they give prizes for broccoli? This might be the best head ever. Now we just need to find time to cut it and eat it (or freeze it ) before it blows open in the heat. Timing is everything. The peas are filling out their pods, and are super sweet. We've managed to stay on top of picking them for freezing, but I'm hoping to enjoy some fresh as well. Our snap peas are doing really well this year. These are a variety called "Shiraz," which we like because it's so easy to see them among the vines for harvesting. They aren't quite as sweet as green ones, but when you eat them young, they're great. We had trouble getting the lettuces started, but now we have a bed of really beautiful butter crunch and romaine heads. Almost too pretty to eat!

A Fragrant Garden

Back in May, I decided to revamp the little daffodil and hosta border in front of our three-season porch to be filled with more fragrant flowers. The idea here is that these plants are right outside the screened jalousie windows where the furniture is on our porch, so we could enjoy plants that smell nice right outside the windows. The challenge is that this area is also shaded by the sugar maple , which makes choosing flowers tricky. There are lots of leafy plants for shade, but not many flowers. Luckily, not all of the area is in darkness. The left is the shadiest; the right has more sun: So as you can see, I moved the hosta into the shady section, and set out a new hydrangea in the partial-sun portion. Hydrangeas don't smell like anything at all, but I love blue ones, and wanted to create a little vignette of my summertime favorites: blue hydrangeas, white daisies, and orange daylilies:  That should look better in the future when everything fills in and bl

Animal Adaptations

Since Dolley's death , there have been a lot of changes for all of our animals. We had been worried that she, as our pluckiest chicken, would be all over the new chicks when we tried to integrate them into the flock. Because of that, we were really taking our time introducing them  to the hen house and chicken run.  But now the rival groups of chickens are even in number: three big girls and three little ones. Louisa Catherine had already jumped the fence and lived to tell the tale, so we knew were getting close to bringing them together. Enter Cooper. We let him out of his acclimation cage  some time in the middle of last week, since he seemed much calmer. (Well, he was calmer until we tried to leave after feeding him: Then he would throw himself around our legs and hang on for dear life. This was cute as long as you weren't wearing shorts and sandals.) On Saturday, after he rolled over and let me rub his belly as a thank you for his breakfast — totally

Elegy For a Chicken

The Most Difficult Spring continues: I came home today to a changed hen house. First, I checked our younger chickens in their section of the run , only to find that Louisa Catherine was missing. Dolley too, but the big ones were in and out of the hen house, so it was confusing. Louisa Catherine wasn't in the oven either, but I finally found her hiding under the ramp into the hen house, crouched down in a hollow left from the big girls' dust baths. She must have hopped over the loose "ceiling" chicken wire and into the big run, where she promptly was pecked at until she hid. Actually, the others weren't being all that mean. Only Martha would give her a little chase and a few pecks every now and then. No blood, no missing feathers. Just regular old pecking order stuff. Once I had that sorted, I looked around. No Dolley. I found her in the hen house, lying under the watering fount. Sigh. It's hard to describe the silence left behind by an animal

Mini Hen House

Lizzy, Rachel, and Louisa Catherine are too big for their brooder box now. They had been in the garage for the past couple weeks, using the heat lamp just at night (since it's been down into the 40s). That was going okay until yesterday, when Tiegan went into the garage to put away a watering can and discovered that the birds had gotten out of the brooder and were roaming around the (messy, dangerous) garage. It was no fun trying to round them up in there, so today Kirk made them a mini hen house: Remember, the little girls need to stay separate from the big girls until they get used to each other. We'd been carrying the young ones back and forth from garage to their spot in the run each warm day, and that is a huge pain. So to be able to keep them outside, they need a temporary hen house in their section of the run. Kirk repurposed an old play oven that he built for Tiegan five or six years ago. He drilled some ventilation holes in the sides, added a roost

Meet Cooper!

It's been two weeks since Fletch has been gone, and the family felt ready to adopt a new barn cat. We went to the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society , which is the group who helped us find Fletch a few years ago . They take all comers, even ferals and cats with behavioral problems that other shelters won't take in. Because of that, they are willing to place tough cases as barn cats where they can be as active and aloof as they like. Cooper was one of those cases. He's a two-year-old boy found out in the streets of Woburn, and the shelter there couldn't keep him because he was too "cage aggressive." He wasn't having a great time up at the MRFRS, either. The other cats picked on him, and he was mean right back. So they were looking to find him a barn and a job to keep his high energy in check, and that's just what we were looking for. So, after a lot of yowling (he had to be netted to get him into the crate), he was in the car and coming ho