I have really never been very fond of gardening. I’ve done it, nearly every summer of my adult life because I was raised by a father who always had a garden. Every year. He’s a homesteader and that was how he provided a great deal of what we ate. Mom, for her part tried her hand at gardening many years as well, working with whatever ground was available in our back yard on Watson St. It’s kind of been instilled in me. Around February, when the seed catalogs start coming, I start dreaming of gardens, green, lush gardens full of purple string beans, long slender cucumbers, bright shiny red tomatoes, yellow flowers of my zucchini. You get the idea. What I nearly always ended up with was a weedy mess that I cursed and promptly forgot about, until next spring.
Since moving to PA, my hope was renewed, I figured I was going to make it work come hell or high water. My father in law found us some free topsoil, as our yard is basically shale with a mixture of weeds and crab grass growing over it. He brought it in and dug out a patch and installed the top soil. We quickly found out why it was free, it was loaded with every kind of weed imaginable just waiting to rear their ugly heads every spring. Usually after the garden had been tilled and planted. Red root, dandelions, wild morning glory, you name it, it’s in there. Also, I’m pretty sure it could give concrete a run for it’s money. You have to plant quickly because after a couple of rains this stuff turns to concrete and there is no working it. I am actually amazed to see tiny plants popping up out of this stuff once it’s reached it’s granite like veneer. A testament to the power of germination! I finally got smart last year and threw in the towel. I was expecting our next little addition in June, I was tired of putting in so much time and effort with little to no return, we were done. No garden. Last summer, I blissfully watched my husband mow the “garden” whenever our weeds got too high. This year I planned the same, no garden. I figured we could add our neighbor’s grass clippings and our compost for a year or two and one day we might have some dirt worth growing in.
Well, that was all well and good until our neighbor two doors down stopped by and dropped off a pack of cauliflower and offered to til our garden. That evening as my husband was reading a bedtime story to our toddler he heard a machine in the backyard…our neighbor, tilling the garden. The next evening I came home from Stitch n’ Bitch to find that the vegetable fairy had visited again, this time leaving 2 packs of red cabbage. Okay, fine. The next day I went out to the greenhouse and bought everything I needed and had the entire garden planted in two hours.
And of course, as usual, the weeds came. Something has changed though, the vegetables are doing better this year, but apparently, my thumb has grown a bit greener. I find I am enjoying weeding the garden, laying newspaper and mulching over it. I am up early before the heat in gloves and crummy clothes on my knees in the garden, and most evenings I spend the last bit of daylight pulling weeds until I can’t see if it’s vegetable or weed I’m yanking on. There is something deeply satisfying about wrapping my gloved hand around a clump of weeds and feeling that pull and pop as they wrench free of the dirt. Into the weed bucket they go, and then repeat. Over and over and over and over and over again. And over again. When the wee guy takes a nap and Finny and I go out to play, he does the playing and I grab my gloves and head to the garden. A chore that I once found arduous is now a simple pleasure. I get a lot of thinking done as I weed. I get a lot of catching up with the hubby and the teenager as we weed. As you can see, we are slowly winning the battle.It’s starting to look like a real garden, vegetables and everything.
Then there are the teenagers, oh yes, plural. You can see the peeps are no longer peeps. They are chickens, teenage chickens. They are certainly acting their age too. I have to go and right the waterer at least once a day when they tip it over. You give them a treat and everyone fights over it. They want to stay up past their bedtime, they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. They want to stay out in the rain…hmm, maybe they are more like toddlers. Anyway, we found a new home for the golden sebrights, so now we are down to six birds, Finnigans three standard size fowl, and Elizabeth two Brahma’s and Drumstick, the silkie. I built them a temporary chicken tractor to get them out of the basement…they began migrating once they realized there was no roof to the brooder.
Drumstick has revealed the she is a he, yes a roo. He is on parole. He can stay if he’s a quiet and kind rooster. Any infractions and he’s on Craigslist. Elizabeth is also the owner of a lovely couple, Dave and Annabelle. Yes, another peep has revealed his true nature.
We are keeping both Dave and Annabelle, the Buff Brahma Bantoms. Elizabeth wants to let Annabelle go broody and sell the peeps. They are a lovely couple and very sweet. They might stay in the mini-tractor permanently.
Life with the chickens is fun. They really are such a delight to have around. Finnigan loves to share his snack, whatever it may be, with them. They are much obliged. Annabelle is so quiet and just enjoys sitting in your lap. Everyone else is much harder to catch, but doesn’t mind a good scruffle if you can catch them. The hubby and I started the permanent coop today. I’m actually really surprised at how fast it’s coming together. After much research online I drafted my own design and we are going to have a lovely little coop.
So that’s the news from Lake Wobegon. Erm, wait, no. That’s the news from our wanna be farm.