Saturday, May 9, 2009

In which we plant things that won't grow, and things that weren't planted are growing

The Peeps are turning into little hens at last.

They are very friendly, and they like to hop on my hands and arms when they can reach me.
They spent several hours this afternoon in the Peep Tractor, which will soon be entirely too small for them, but it gives them a chance to scratch around for bugs and catch up on their dirt baths.

(It's not really as crowded as this picture makes it seem...they are all fascinated by the camera lens, and gather around it as soon as I bring it anywhere near them. )


Our Peeps aren't nearly as ugly as they were last week, either. Most of them have tails AND wings AND they're even starting to develop a comb.
Barred rock hens are very pretty...ours haven't quite got to the "pretty" stage yet. But, closer now.
Willy and I planted more fenceposts today.

He is in charge of transporting the posts to whichever corner of the farm we're working. He also sets the posts in the proper position for me to pound (he's much more careful about straight lines than I am.)


Meanwhile, up at the house, Jim has a new project going. Hmmmm.



It smells sort of like caramel, and sort of like bread.
Right now it's sitting in this gigantic glass jar in the laundry room.
Hmmmm.

Anybody wanna guess?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In which we don't make hay while sun shines, but rather make fence in the rain


I was hoping for good weather today so I could go pound some fence posts. Early morning forecasts called for rain, so I ran a few errands, including collecting some amazing Craigslist scores:

I picked these up for less than half the price of new, and they still have their original labels from the feed store.

These t-posts are obviously used but mostly-unbent, and I got them at a total bargain price because the seller lives in Oso, which is 20 miles east of everywhere...but only 11 miles from Haiku Farm. I've gotten stuff from this family before--they've sold all their horses now, so they said if they scrounge up more fencing supplies, they'll call me. They also threw in some wooden pencil posts and two buckets of safety caps and fence insulators...AND Joe helped me load all the stuff in my truck while Mimsy played with the baby. Now that is a great deal!

By the time I got home the sky was...well, Dark. Also Grey. Also Full of Serious Rain Clouds.

Dang.

But I have meetings all day tomorrow, and won't have another chance to work on fences until the weekend, so out I went, into the damp.

And hey: fencepost-pounding keeps a body warm, and rain not only felt good, it softened up the dirt. I'm not going to complain about rain if it makes the work easier!


I used a rope and a wooden stake to keep the fenceline relatively straight. I put white buckets on my corners and used the rope and stake to sight down the lines, and pounded posts until I ran out of posts to pound--I need to relocate posts from other parts of the farm to finish this run.


Late in the day, Jim and Willy came home from their normal work/school gigs. Jim went straight to work on the new Chicken Tractor--a model he's designed for 6 hens, but it will have sufficient room for 12 half-grown peeps.


Mimsy finally got to meet the peeps up-close-and-personal. Her first impulse was to lick them, as in, "you are the ugliest puppy I have ever seen, I will kiss it all better."

Then she tried to bite the peep, and was scolded. We're hoping that the peeps will peck her nose soon, as hens have done in the past. Mimsy is very sensitive about her nose.

Luna, not so much. She's mostly clueless.

Willy checked on the bunnies as soon as he got home. I thought that they were gone, i.e. sacrificed to the Great Owl Goddess, but when he was investigating the empty nest, Willy accidently stepped on one of the babies! They've moved out of the nest and are eating grass part-time, though Momma Bunny still stops by with the lunch wagon twice a day or so. The stepped-on baby bunny was just fine.

Their white forehead blazes are getting smaller. When the blaze disappears, God is done cooking them, and the bunnies can leave the nest to become fully-fledged vermin. At that point, Mimsy will be allowed to chase them. Until then, it's not permitted.

We have an amazing sunset view from the dining room tonight. I have a glass of wine, a fire in the woodstove, a warm computer on my lap, and these colors in the sky outside the window.

I'm serious when I say this:
Life is good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In which questions are asked regarding the specific nature of plants

People plant the dangedest things in their yards and gardens here in the Swamplands.

I once had a neighbor who deliberately -- deliberately! -- planted bindweed, because she wanted morning glory flowers and didn't want to have to take care of them. Here's a clue: bindweed loves to grow amongst blackberries...and I think my views about blackberry vines are pretty well-known.

Then there's Haiku Farm. I don't know that the former owners planted Scotch Broom next to their blueberries and grapevines, but I do know that the plants I found had to be cut down with (I'm not exaggerating) the chainsaw. Fortunately, they don't appear to have spread to the pasture.
Now that Spring has sent a few postcards indicating imminent arrival, stuff is starting to grow in the front yard, and I'm not sure what a lot of it will be when it grows up. I'm asking for input from the Master Gardeners and other smart folks: what is this stuff?
I know that various organizations have their classifications for plants, but here is MY criteria:

: Class A Plant : produces fruit or flower that is beautiful, fragrant, edible and nutritious for humans, horses and chickens. Rabbits and deer won't touch it. Hardy perennial, starts actively sought by friends and neighbors.
:Class L Plant: lovely landscape item; drought-resistant, needs no pruning or shaping. Attractive to songbirds. Inexpensive and readily available at garden centers and grocery stores.

:Class K Plant: shrub or tree that even blatent neglect and abuse (like running it over with the lawnmower, repeatedly) will not kill. Is mostly not ugly.
:Class O Weed: sprouts and grows to maturity overnight, producing prickly and persistant seeds within 24 hours of being visible in the garden. Rapid spread. Satisfying to chop into small pieces until the vines shrivel and smoke.

:Class S Weed: Self-seeds freely in vegetable gardens and other cultivated spaces; strong unpleasant scent, which clings to skin and hair if touched. Dogs love to roll in it.

:Class X Weed: Noxious weed, crowds out native plants, gums up the lawnmower, smells bad and attracts rats.

So, here are the plants in my yard. Please tell me if I should be encouraging them...or instead be racing to use the Implements of Destruction on them!

1.
Is this some kind of iris? I can't tell yet. Hosta in the background, though, right?

2.
this looks like lavender, but it isn't--the smell is wrong.

3.
not sure about this--the blue flowers are pretty, but it's all over...sure sign of a weed?

4.
this thing looks like cattail to me, but the seed pods are weird. Also, it's growing in a spot near a fake pond (I will be taking that out--who needs more mosquito condos?) but the ground isn't wet.

5.

no clue about this. It looks so healthy, I suspect it's a weed.

6.

??? what is this??

7.

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Any red flags, O Gardeners of the World? Any "Class A" plants?