Mountain Laurel

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.


Native Azalea

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!


  1. Sounds like your bucolic idyll has you grounded and happy. Any progress on the donkey front?

  2. Already thinking up dishes to make with your garden growth. Oh sweet moses, bumper crops of blackberries.
    I love how the Mama Hen is teaching her chicks all the tricks.
    Peace and quiet.

  3. Wow.

    you write differently when you're up there compared to your "city writing".

    I love the image of you with your wheelbarrow and the chickens in it.

    Have a lovely weekend, pal.

  4. beauty!

    'cepting for
    them bugs and all,
    it looks to be a place
    of great potential and awesome beauty

    can hardly wait for your forthcoming "harvest report" -- good luck!

    ¤ ¤ ¤


  5. It is always so delightful to visit with you here, the flowers and the foliage are so beautiful, so many gorgeous colours and shades of green...they all awaken my senses...I love your photos and how you write...I can almost feel that I am there.

    I am pleased to hear that you are feeling more relaxed, you can feel it in your writing and I'm pleased that your beautiful Trout is responding to the eyedrops.
    Gosh those chicks have grown, they are so cute, its hard to imagine that little Dusty letting out a mighty crow. :)
    Easter is so pretty, what has happened to Ski, has he stayed behind?
    I'm pleased that you are planting out the vegetable plot and your flowers, there is nothing better for the soul than being outdoors and enjoying some gardening, especially in such glorious surroundings.

    Have fun catching up with your friends in town and at that junk/flea market, I love places like that so many treasures to find. :) ♡
    love dianne. xoxo

  6. Thank you for the walk in your beautiful garden, and the luscious pines and flowers, and those adorable chicks, and Trout running around! I feel like I've had a sweet little vacation! :)

  7. Life sounds wonderful where you are.
    I would hate to leave it.

    Big grin about Trout doing well!

    Enjoy your paradise :-)

  8. Such a lovely long descriptive post and great photos I felt as if I was there with you, Trout, Dust & Easter for an afternoon at Chickory. So happy tp hear that Trout's sight is better - what a relief Miss D sends her best. xo Susan (and of course, lets not forget les Chats)

  9. Well, I couldn't suggest this, but, there is a plant that grows well in Georgia.
    Grows well and there are many, polite young fellers that might help you out....
    Dry it, shed off just the flowers, dry in a dark place, toast lightly till you can crumble it into a dust, sprinkle onto a cooked, boneless chicken thigh (or some meaty, gravy dog food)....

  10. It did my heart good for you to read this post. Solitude and hard work does a body good. As do frolicking chickens and dogs. Yay!

  11. Everything sounds so wonderful!Just what your soul has needed lately. Have a wonderful rest of the weekend friend.

  12. troll: i cannot afford to care for a hoofed animal. and, lately im not feeling too confident on the animal husbandry (or is it wifery) front. oh but i would love one of those little sicilian burros with a cross on his back.

    shamu: there wont be anything ready! im late. by then it will only be a month. you'll have to see what you can do with no produce, and no stove or oven. challenge!

    boxer: come to the chickory gym. here we haul water up from the creek across the field and back again. dig and dig and dig. rake rake rake. bend and squat. many miles back and forth. ROAR! grrherhahahaha. by the time you get here i will be able to push YOU in the wheelbarrow.

    /t: yeah, i hope i get to post a harvest report. was lovely - today was rainy but i did get the stick teepees in. very folk arty vibe to it. wait til i hang the fake dead crow off the top!

    dianne: i loved ski. but, he was not a bantam. now, in a normal life, this would be perfectly fine. however, my husband lives in the city. so i go back and forth. and i have to take the chickens with me. so they need to fit in a carrier. so i traded Ski for olivia, because i wanted another hen. and olivia became dusty when she started crowing. dusty is a testament that sometimes being the little guy pays off. ;-) im glad you like to come here. i love to come over to your place too.

    yoborobo: you did? that makes me happy. wait until you see fall at chickory. that is the most beautiful season!

    Jean: im glad you think it is paradise. as you know, i originally looked down in alachua county for a place and never could find the right deal. but that is the landscape of my childhood imprint. when i see your face, i think of you there. thanks about trout and good to see you.

    faery: love you too. and thanks so much. xo

    susan: you were here. when i work i wonder about all of my friends - did you show the house again? what gorgeous pet photo will you post next? how did your table at poppytalk fare....

    boney: thatd be a great excuse for the feds to seize some awesome property! grherhahaha lets just see how i do with some simple basics!

    moi: thank you, moi. it is a great treasure to have good friends that are pulling for me. i even saved your phone message its like that peter gabriel song where kat bush sings "dont give up, cause you have friends.....Don't give up
    Rest your head
    you worry too much

    it's going to be alright.
    When times get rough you can fall back on us

    her voice and yours like sunlight through the trees

    dani: and i think of your paradise all the time! im looking on craigslist for an old shed to have ahang out place. the garden is way far from the cabin. you are right, it was what i needed. thank you friend.

  13. No dear I didnt think you had abandoned Ski, I thought he might be at home with the Big Dawg and I can understand that his size and the big 'head dress' would pose a few problems in a carrier. :)
    So Ski has a new home, Dusty formerly 'Olivia' is a bantam rooster and Easter is a bantam hen...
    will you be getting any more hens? ♡

  14. I really need to come visit you out there this summer. We'll see how the new job goes and the move. I'm trying to save my $$ so who knows.

    I miss you tons and love you lots. Your home is beautiful :) MUAH!

    Bye Auntie :)

  15. all those blooming wonders ..
    absolutely gorgeous!!
    we have woods in our back .. but they are presently overgrown with vines and brambles and poison ivey. i guess that's the difference between pine forest and
    a hardwood forest.
    it's no wonder you have tons of mosquitoes ..
    it's all the rain!
    i'm so glad that trout is running about again. glaucoma drops seem to be able to control the condition pretty well.
    i miss mean dovey too .. but you did immortalize her. maybe she'll still come around to visit?

  16. Boxer makes a good point--you do write differently here. Are you relaxing?

  17. I love hear you talking about tyour chickens. I've always dreamed of living somewhere I could raise a few myself.
    Also, love to see how your life translates into your art!

  18. dianne: actually, i did abandon ski, and i hated that. i am going to post soon on how "country" people look at their animals and how i am moving toward this pragmatic approach myself because i have to. yes, i am actually getting MORE chickens soon. i need hens and i think i will have to buy straight run again and hope for the best. if i get more roosters, i am going to have to learn to make ....well, chicken soup. *sniff*

    Edith, i would love for you to come and see me and your uncle would too. we'll fly ya out here just get the time off, okay? much love

    foamy: no! not mosquitoes! gnats. chiggers and ticks. no mosquitoes cause the water moves so fast. Dovey does come to visit -in my dreams. you mustve gotten the rain too! we'll be glad when july comes around. what are you doing this summer?

    enemy: well, for one thing, K9 is a character and he has a certain voice and point of view. he also lives in the city and he is ramped up and agitated because of it.

    like many of us have, he is my alter ego -he says things that "chickory" would filter out. he is the sword wielding half of my hoe and shovel. i love being him but right now my focus is to regain some notion of goodness and beauty. like you, the bailouts and the massive systemic fraud has changed me at a very core level. whatever it was i was doing before, or whatever i believed i was heading towards before, i am not returning to that. im not going to postpone anything ive wanted to do for the "right time" there is no right time so best i go ahead with my plans now. thats all i, we, have.
    am i more relaxed? in some ways. however i cannot hardly even drink coffee or i will have a massive anxiety attack. i dont know what happened to me but like my entire chemistry changed.

    nancy: hey! good to see you. i think you can have chickens anywhere. try and get hens they are more quiet -although DOvey had an egg song that would blow out your eardrums.

    aunty: 89% so. yes. ;-)

  19. what a pleasure to read this posting. i love how thoroughly you take part in each minute and how you share that with us. soooooo glad to see photo of Trout running fast.
    Hope to see you up there soon.

  20. Hey, Hey Chickory!
    Loved reading this post.
    Like the others, it is so obvious this is a better location for your artists soul.

    I really get the noise, noise, noise thing.
    Blowfish gets annoyed with me sometimes because I will either broom or hose off deck and walkways. He will come out and say, " hey Fishy you DO know we have a really good blower?"
    I have to explain to him I know this but I just can't stand the noise of using one.

    I am excited to learn your Trout is much improved and the chicks are adorable. However will you take them back and forth if you get a lot of them?

    Same thing with a Burro, they are easy keepers but you do have to "keep" them. The thing is Burros are the natural enemy of coyotes so they do protect your investments. They are in demand for this reason but they do get stolen a lot because you can load them right up into the back of a pick-up truck, no trailer required.

    Really enjoyed the photographs, especially the trillium, the clouds and the candelabra tree!
    Just proves again, God IS the best Creator.

  21. what am i doing this summer?
    visiting you, i think ..
    with bug spray ..
    you would be the 2nd blogger i meet .. :)

  22. You didnt abandon Ski, so dont feel guilty dear, you have to be practical, one rooster is enough and I'm sure you would have given him to a good home.
    I'm glad to hear you are getting more hens otherwise poor little Easter will be having to lay all of the eggs,
    Dont they have chicken 'sexers' over there?... they can tell you straight away what sex the chick is and please , NO chicken soup. ♡
    love dianne xoxo

  23. Oh Ski, how I will miss your oh so gay mop top.

  24. There's a book in this...and a better one than many I've read.
    I envy you the peace, the physical labor and the prospects of your rewards.

  25. alicia: please do come see me. im not that far from the girls. in fact, im going over to look at their garden set up next week. are you coming up this weekend for the arts fest? and yes, isnt it great to see Trout smiling? tomorrow i will have her eye pressure tested.

    fishy: i cant have a burro and i know that. i wouldnt mind having a goat though. none of this can happen until V and I are there together. it is already so difficult to travel with the chickens. leaf blowers! hate them. remember when saturday afternoons you would occasionally hear a rake scratch across pavement? that was as bad as it got. (showing my age, here)

    Foamy: really? yay!!! when? i will have to think of an adventure to take you one. how about an ultralight flight over the TVA?

    al: i know you did. you invented the concerned global warming icon who has a 100K square foot house and a G5 to fly around and tell us how selfish we all are. well done!

    dianne: i found a hatchery that will sell me just girls but i have to wait until the end of june. im thinking of getting some barred rocks. yes there are chicken sexers but apparently most babies are sold straight run. you have to look at their poop shoot to tell - ihav eno idea what they are looking for/at. grrherhahaha!!!

    shamu: he lives on in my art pieces. i have a cool ski photopainting on Etsy.

    gnome: i started a little journal. i will scan some pages soon just for you. and, thank you.

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