Tag Archives: garden

Garden chicken

I have accidentally domesticated a chicken.  Well, she’s a very unusually wired, different chicken, to start with, and since I am a softie, she is now a pet chicken, and I carry her around between work sites.

Apples my companion chicken and I have been making garden rounds.  I’m hammering all the remaining warm weather seeds in now that I really believe the frost is over (June 10!).  My hands are sore and I got the backs of my hands painfully sunburned.  That’s a new one.

In the greenhouse, five rows of six are in.  The basil is very slow this year and not ready yet.  The cucumbers are downright sluggish, stalled out for nearly a month since transplant, in this weather.Apples finds a new spot each time.  This time she tucked in against the wall by the cukes for a good writhing.  She’s not exactly outgoing, but she’s not as paranoid as she used to be.

In the second garden (greenhouse adjunct), I suspect she’s not above teasing the roosters, prancing along the fence.

I was planting corn, and the hens outside the fence went nuts.  Excuse me, you forgot to let us in, you are clearly providing a snack!  And why’s she in there?!  The preferentially treated Apples showed actual enthusiasm, chasing the corns before I covered them with dirt, getting a few in her.

In the first garden, she just toddles off, finds some shade.Disappearing into the rhubarb.

Cosmic cloud

I have a cloud of cosmos.  It’s truly the best feature of my garden.  It almost distracts from the untamed  strawberries disrespectfully sprawling, and the weeds I haven’t got to yet, and the aisles that used to be woodchips now growing up in weeds.  Almost.

The bees love them!  They seem more pretty than substantial, but the bees are crowded on them, so they must offer some abundant nutrition.

Garden plan!

My brain is melting!  I’ve been working on my garden plan for 2017.

What do I want to grow?  When do they go in? (Work backwards from last spring frost date- a wild guess semi-informed by the average of the last 7 years)  When do they need to be started inside?  How much to I hope to produce, therefore, how many plants?  How many starts should I attempt to be sure to get enough, and how many square feet do I need to allocate?   Gah!  I’m not even at examining crop rotation and where they will be placed this year yet.  I don’t have a clean system for that yet.

After a page full of tiny digits, math, and an eraser, I’m sure this is the sort of thing I should definitely do a spreadsheet for.  Then all the dates will adjust to an input frost date, and the square feet will output from a desired quantity.  But it just feels wrong to do it with a spreadsheet, and I don’t need to spend any more time staring at a screen.

This is the right time to be doing a garden plan, since the first seeds need to start inside on Feb 2, apparently, and I know for sure that if I don’t do this possibly too-meticulous planning, that half my starts will be ready to go out too early, the other half not early enough, and I’ll get not enough potatoes and far too many spaghetti squash.  What is up with spaghetti squash?  They grow like zucchinis! 

If I do do this detailed planning, then climate change will sweep through to put me 2-4 weeks off; slugs, rabbits, and other emergencies will happen and it will be all thrown awry anyway, but, it won’t be my fault:)

Strawberry snack

Going back to strawberry season….

I’ve got a chipmunk helping him/herself in the strawberry beds.

Every so often I hear a surprised “Eeep!” when I’m working in the garden, but I rarely see the culprit.

However, I see the meal interrupted on his table, which is the cutest part.

She is carrying the strawberries from the bed up onto this old chair, and enjoying a strawberry supper with a view.

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He’s picking the strawberries at the stem.  I knew I’d seen a few berries that appeared picked, which I thought odd, but I guess I interrupted the picker before she’d carried them away.

This is so cute, he’s allowed to keep it up.

From toads to hens

I love toads.  I’ve always been crazy about them.   For some reason.   I used to build elaborate toad mansions under the back porch when I was young, hoping to entice the toads that got trapped in the window wells to stay.  Occasionally, they obliged.

Grown up, I’m happy to learn that toads eat slugs and are therefore a gardener’s best friend.  This is good, because I’m already friends with them.  I like their simple, clumsy toad ways.   And the grumpy faces.  I have to reprise some mansion-building in the garden to make it more comfortable there for them.

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I tossed out some rhubarb leaves, expecting the hens to definitely not eat them.  Surprise!  Later on, the leaves were completely skeletonized.

Edit: Rhubarb leaves are super poisonous!  The oxalic acid can kill animals, or us, if we eat many many rhubarb leaves.  Put it on the list, with styrofoam, of proof that chickens do not know what they should and shouldn’t eat.

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The Robin is not nesting in her usual spot.  We saw her earlier, and now she is conspicuously absent, so she is likely sitting on eggs at the moment.  When they hatch and she has to feed them, then we will know where her nest is.  She acts all sly and sneaky when she’s feeding her chicks but totally gives away where they are.

I’m hoping that she has finally moved out of the Robin Shed, so called since she has raised at least one clutch of chicks every year we’ve been here in a  nest above the door.  Perhaps she has finally deemed it unfit for avian habitation, and we will finally be able to tear it down.

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The Silkies are soooo pleased to be outside.  I feel guilty for not getting them outside much sooner (they stayed late in the greenhouse this spring).  Suddenly they spend all day outside poking around, and lounging in this corner where the grass is longer.  I see this photo makes it look like they are wistfully looking at the greener grass beyond their entrapment, but that’s not the case.   Someone must be passing by.  A nosy red chicken.

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I like the walnut trees with their early leaves on the tips of the branches.  They are exotic and kind of ornamental.

Woodpile snake

This guy’s lounging in the sun in the early morning right at eye level.

We have so many snakes!  So many different colours and sizes; acid lime green, many shades of brown. I see several snakes every day.

I think I may have seen a ribbon snake the other day in the garden.  It was tiny, and flashed away when I disturbed the hay bale it was on.  It was hard to tell, so fast, but it was a striped snake that’s not familiar to me.

First potato

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I was digging with my hands hoping for enough young potatoes for a meal, and this big one came up!  A little bit on the creative side, but a nice healthy potato.

The potatoes, beans, strawberries, and cucumbers are all thriving this year on the unamended soil we dug in the spring.  The greens, beets and carrots are best not mentioned.  Next year, we will probably plant only the former crops in the new-dug beds, and the latter and anything else finicky in this year’s beds, which will have had some building/amendment.

The cucumbers are just out of hand, like zucchini
The cucumbers are just out of hand, like zucchini

Chickens Make Mulch

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Yeah, we do. We made this!

Since our laying chickens get to roam wild and free wherever they want, we are hardly putting them to work in every way we could.  Sure, they make manure compost and lay eggs, but we haven’t asked them to kill sod for garden beds, or put them in a tractor for deliberate fertilizing.  They make mulch for me, though.

Before
Before
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During

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After (two feedings)
After (two feedings)

All I have to do is feed them twice in the same place, by scattering their breakfast grain in a grassy place.  They are so vigorously committed to finding every last crumb that they tear up the grass, it dries, and I collect it with a rake.  Clean, soft, dry garden-ready mulch.  Maybe with a little bit of bonus chicken poop.  Could not be easier.

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Chicken approved