Rain, and lots of it, was promised once again for the weekend. I arrived at Chickory wednesday afternoon to find the mountain laurel in bloom as well as the phlox, tiny blue flag iris, native azalea, solomon's seal, "maypops", the airy river ferns, and the tail-end of the trillium.
what the locals call "may-pops"
a stand of trillium out by the barn
Out my bedroom window the pines were lush and full and looked formal with the new growth. the tips are a pale yellow and they turn upward like candelabra which made them look like victorian christmas trees.
With the good came the bad. The ticks were plentiful and the gnats tormented me while i worked on the garden plot. I dusted myself with sulfur powder to keep the chiggers off and sprayed bug spray on my hat and directly on my face. thats how bad it was. The temperature was pleasant. each day the clouds built until the big puffy whites rose upward becoming thunderheads.
its lovely to be outside all day and mark the passage of time with the subtle changes in light and wind. i am already back to telling time by light and sun position. I dont hear anything other than birds and the rush of the waterfall, grasshoppers clicking and large UFO's buzzing by. When Dusty let out a mighty crow, it startled me out of a zen-like focus on making the dirt as perfect as i could to receive seeds.
i thought of Dovey often and still miss her so much. she was such a good little hen and a big personality. I took the new chicks out with me each day to the field. they instinctively stay in the hedgerow, working themselves into the grasses as they pecked around at seeds and grassy pods; stretching out their wings like solar panels to receive vital D for strength.
they looked safe among the blackberry brambles and if the blooms are any indication, we will have a bumper crop of berries this summer.
They havent caught on about how to hang out with me while i work on the garden -that way they are sure to get a treat. when i found a small and tender grub i would take it over and whoever got it would run with it making sure to deny the other even a taste.
When i needed compost i put the chicks in the wheelbarrow and they rode with me to the pile. 5 years ago when i had some trees taken down i saved the mulch and it is so rich and friable now i just marvel at how easy it is to shovel up. I found some termites frantically moving their pupae and showed it to Dusty and Easter...but they didnt know it was something good to eat.
I remember once i found a hole in the driveway and kicked at it. all these termites came flying out and when Red and Dovey saw that they ran over and started eating them. it was hilarious because they would fly up and catch them in the air. you know, i dont think one of those poor bugs made it out alive. the chickens were so efficient it reminded me of when bottle-nosed porpoises feed on a school of fish- the frenzy of it.
when it was time to rake up pine straw to cover the seed beds, i took the chicks with me and put them up in the branches. soon, they will not put up with this, they will become independent and want to do what they want to do. but while they are chicks i can protect them.
its been fun to think of all the things i have handy to use in the garden that i don't have to spend money for. Raking up pine straw is one of them. Today, since it is too rainy to work in soil, i will hunt for strong and relatively straight branches to use for my bean teepees. I am following the square foot gardening technique that my mom taught me in high school. i have sectioned out 40 4x4 foot growing zones interlaced with paths so that as i keep amending the soil and making it rich and loose, i never step on it again. thus, not compacting it. i dont have a tractor, and with this approach i wont need one. it also will allow me to create micro zones..for example later with carrots, you need the soil to be very loose at least 18 inches deep so the roots grow evenly and look pretty and appetizing. I can pick one square to do this to and keep that area very defined. i can also build cold frames around a few squares for early spring.
Trout seems to have really improved on the glaucoma drops. I feel far more hopeful that i can preserve her eyesight than i did when i first got the bad news from the vet. I understand now that her struggle to see 3 weeks ago was due to the bulging eye which distorted her vision. now she is back to running over the entire place at top speed just for the joy of it. It does my heart a lot of good to see that.
so far i have in 12 sections. ive got a variety of sunflowers which i chose for my tall plants. i thought about corn, but it is so cheap and abundant around here it just didnt make sense. the sunflowers i planted are: aztec gold, chianti, vanilla ice, a green variety, a cutting mixture, and italian whites. I also put in a plot of mixed giant cactus zinnas and cosmos. I got in 8 tomato plants -all different kinds. I started a little greenhouse of yellow pear tomatoes and hope to transfer them in in a few weeks. I put in 4 kinds of peppers and built the mounds for my zucchini and squash. i plan to do a section of green okra so i can harvest it young, slice it, roll it in cornmeal and fry it up like my aunt peggy used to do. I hope to also plant a few watermelon and cantelope maybe even a pumpkin. I want to find some of that swiss chard that is really colorful but havent seen it. and i will plant a lot more flowers.
now i am going to go into "town" to do a few errands. I get to go to the dump that has a great mountain view, maybe drop by the little cafe with the killer peanut butter cookies, stop by and see my merchant friends on main street -i used to count myself as one of them - but my shop was short lived. I will also go by the junk/flea and see what i can find that is cheap and useful. this little excursion will be really exciting since i havent seen another person in 2.5 days. not that ive been lonely, though. to the contrary, the anxiety i was feeling before i arrive has all but disappeared. i do believe that noise is the #1 cause of stress for me. the never ending and multi-layered seige of noise i hear in the city takes any bad situation and ramps it up to def-con 4. Leaf blowers are the principle culprit; the woman who screams at her child all afternoon, the dog that is allowed to bark for no reason; the bad music from the house on the next street, and, the TV's. i hate the TV's!!!!!!
its so quiet here i can hear the hummingbird's wings long before he arrives at the feeder.
have a terrific weekend everyone!