Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backyard Bender

Hey hey out there. Long work week around these parts, but headed to a wedding tonight and tomorrow B. and I have a date to hike in the Arboretum, ‘cause every spring thing is blooming like crazy, like our columbines above and below.

Lesse. The garden is growing along, although much slower than our first garden last fall. I am guessing that this is because the soil has not been warmed all summer, thus providing a super toasty germination temperature, not to mention the whack everything took when things got nippy a few week ago. We also need some mulch, as I ran shy of straw and my beds are drying out too much during the day. B. started some leaf mulch for me, but since it’s mostly oak and pretty fresh I am not sure if it is mulch suitable. Anyone? I have been reading a lot about soil lately, which is kind of late since everything is planted, but I have big plans for next time the beds turn.

Speaking of mulch, B. recently did one of his numbers on the back yard. I swear that guy just kind of goes on these benders out there. First he trimmed the hell out of the pines that run along the side of our backyard. We have talked a lot about wishing those pines would dig themselves up and walk over to someone else’s yard as they are super tall and very gangly and their long lower branches were just starting to take prisoners back there (think here of lilacs cowering in fear). Not anymore though, I just up and came home one day and our yard seemed twice as big. Fantastic, and now we are going to run the chickens down this side of the yard. Not content to stop there, B. wrangled a retractable clothesline for me, which made my damn day. Few feelings as lame as turning on a big honkin’ dryer when it’s a beautiful day outside. Plus, hanging wet laundry and folding dry laundry fall into the category of house tasks that I enjoy. Last but not least, B. created our very own mulch yard behind the garage. Take a look:

So, er, in case it isn’t immediately obvious: from left to right: hot compost, ready to use compost (we have a lot of that since we bought several cubic yards for the garden last fall, but B. is going to make me another bed and most of it will go there), chopped up and beginning to break down leaf mulch, and all the other leaves that dropped off of the huge black oak we share with a neighbor, which we will eventually chop up and add to the third bin. Pretty pro, no? One of the things that I love most about our garden is that neither one of us would have gotten our act together without the other. We kind of trade the enthusiasm baton around, if you know what I mean. I am much more of a get out there every day and examine every little thing kind of gal (I pick Cabbage Looper eggs almost every day, I know the neighbors think I am a freak out there with my face about a foot away from the seedlings), but B. is totally the guy who will dig you five gaping holes for new blueberry plants the very second they arrive in the mail (plus, he thins and prunes, which I suck at). Pretty damn swell. In fact, here is some proof of his superior thinning/pruning, a big glass of blueberry blossoms, which I KNOW we have to pick off in order to promote root growth but I still hate to do it!!!

Lastly, holy cow, the chicks are growing every day. Their tiny little wings are popping out and they are getting puffier and puffier, and they have not stopped being hilarious for one second. Lessee, they finally discovered the roosting stick B. put in, so now they hop on there, sit for a second, and kind of hop/fly off. Reminds me of how my childhood best friend Rachel and I would jump off the front porch while holding an umbrella for, er, hours. They have also all discovered the Turbo Charge, as B. calls it, where they run really fast and then flap their wings some and then usually crash into each other. Awesome. The best though, was last night when B. went out into the garden and gathered up a bunch of mealy bugs and started tossing a few into the box. First, they were all very much like, “what the…?” and would all gather really close to it and then suddenly all run away from it like they had decided that it was Just Too Scary. After a lot of this, one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks finally went in for the kill. And oh my god, panic prevailed after she finally got the sucker in her mouth. All the chicks suddenly wanted some of what she had, and they chased her around and around until she finally dropped it in the corner and gobbled it up. But when another one arrived, same thing, everyone thinks the bug is scary, our brave girl finally grabs it, they chase her, etc. I think she ate about 10 mealy bugs, although I think the Buff Orpington and the Rhode Island Red might have gotten one by the end. The entertainment just does not stop.

Hey, this is really long and I’m not sure if anyone is even reading at this point, but I have started trying to research making our own chicken feed. Since we don’t have the room to grow our own grain, we will need to buy it, and from what I can tell, organic feed grain is definitely cheaper than organic humans-are-gonna eat this grain but I am not sure where to get it… Anybody out there tried this before?


Nancy J. Bond said...

Your mulch yard bins are so smart! That first columbine is extraordinary. :)

queenbeehoney said...

OF COURSE we're still reading! We're hanging on every damn word. You guys are nesting nesting nesting and it's so darn cute. You're gonna have a totally self-sufficient little farm there by the time you're done. Since I buy my eggs at the farmer's market, I asked every person there what they were feeding their chickens, and it turned out that only one woman there was grinding her own "laying mash". She has her own recipe ~ shall I get it for you?

Love reading about your life. It's so great of you to take the time to do the blog.

Heather said...

Hey Mom, the folks that were buying feed, do you know if it was organic? We have enough info on making our own (thanks to your chicken books!) but it's sourcing the ingredients at an affordable price that we don't know about...