Getting dirty, living clean
Potatoes in real time - or where mud puppies really come from

Mean Girls, Fast Food and Floating on My Back

First of all it's about bloody time that banner changed, don't you think? Six and a half months later and I'm pretty sure the sun came out by itself. It still rains and sometimes the storms are fierce but I don't think I need the ark anymore. I learned to swim. I might still look into the abyss and I might still look behind me more times than I'd like but it turns out I don't really have it in me to turn into a pillar of salt.

The garden started late this year because I was trying to build that ark I didn't really need. So late that I didn't have much hope for anything other than pulling weeds all summer and that was OK with me too. Sitting on your ass in the dirt mucking about is significantly better than the beach. And those of you who've been around awhile know how I feel about the beach and the healing properties of sun, wind and surf. Don't worry, I'm still going to the beach and Cielo is coming with me even if she is still nervous about running away from home for a week.

As it turns out all that effort into composting, rotating the little crops and mostly just giving it another season did the trick. There's food growing out there at an alarming rate. OK, it might not be alarming to the uber gardeners and the farmers but if ya followed last year's tragedy this is looking like Nirvana came to visit and settled right in. I've even worked out how to maybe keep my chickens alive (not that I mean to offend the garden gods, ok?). 

This year I even ordered the chickens late. Last year I was all freaked out about how to deal with the ladies when they got too old to produce and it turned out the first three got et early and the last three, having made it through the winter got picked off within two weeks after the final snow melt and the first dozen spring eggs. Sigh. I also ordered six guinea fowl while I was at it because voracious predators or no, I still have a lot of bugs need cleaning up out there and I'll risk the replacement and nurturing cost to put those little guys on the loose. I'd rather have guineas gorged on grubs that beetles feasting on my food. Yeah, I like alliteration.

Um, also, I ordered 20 broilers which, as it turns out, have a hatching date of July 28. Gulp. I can do this. I really can. Between CG'spics and instructions (from start to finish) and El'snarrative and my one time with an axe and bucket of boiling water I can do this. Gonna have to do it. Last thing I need is to be keeping 20 fat things that can't even walk or letting them out to feed the wildlife. Food shouldn't be wasted and wildlife has no business snacking on my little farmlet. Besides, it'll drive the dog freaking bonkers. So far we're vermin free this year, vermin being ANYTHING that eats my food or food producers, because St. Simon the Socialist St. Bernard runs out into the swamp several times a day and most ferociously at night barking to end the world. Good thing they don't know he nearly peed himself when a two pound kitten in the house announced that his death was imminent. He doesn't pee when he's frightened or nervous, he drools right down the front of his chest. It's pathetic but a good part of his charm.

Today I moved the three week old guinea babies to the outside nursery. They started in an aquarium with a heat lamp and moved to a dog crate in the house. They went out on the porch a few nights ago and finally all the way outside today. I took them into the main run first to see if they'd stand a chance with the mean girls but that only lasted about three minutes when the first one got chased by all three of those women right up to the fencing and squeezed himself through in absolute terror. I'm stunned he didn't drop dead right there of heart failure. As it turned out it wasn't too hard to pull him out from under the rock he gotten himself into. The really cool thing is that the outside nursery is the chicken coop that didn't quite make it last year. It sat up against the side of the house for almost four complete seasons before I found another use for it. I was going to turn it into a tree house and I'm glad I hadn't quite gotten to that. Or it might have been part of my arc. Glad it didn't come to that either.

After messing with the chicken I had lunch. OK, it wasn't fast food but it could have been if I wasn't more interested in grazing between re-staking out of control tomatoes and praying over the potatoes that were seriously violated by a family of burrowing vermin. I'm pretty sure the thing I put in the ground that makes that annoying pulsing noise every twenty seconds or so has done it's job. I'm also glad I planted about four times the potatoes I put in last year because the vermin may have done more damage than last years potato bugs. I picked those off this year. I just hadn't counted on the vermin. Next year it will probably be something else but that will be one more thing I'll know.

I guess that's about as much of an update I really need to do at the moment. The rest is just narrative and 24 pics culled from 151. Some of these are wonderful, including the banner up there, and I wasn't even using the good camera (which means I pointed and shot and hoped for the best because it was too damn bright to see anything through the lens or the back screen).

Here are the babies just out of the box (a kitty carrier kind of box).


Here are the Mean Girls looking perfectly innocent.


Here is Simon watching the babies. Unfortunately he couldn't do much to help from the other side of the fence. He won't be 11 months until the 25th of this month. He was 154 lbs eight weeks ago.


Here are the babies in their new home. The contained run was hardly appropriate for actual chickens but the babies have more than enough room inside and out.


Many pumpkins volunteered this year. I suspect this of being one of Audrey's descendants given the size, shape and color and propensity for hanging off the side of the fence. Audrey junior and I have an agreement this year. OK, I issued an edict and Audrey can either like it or lump it. To start with I tore up all but two (I took out maybe 25) and then I told Audrey I'd be hacking her back on a regular basis. Once every week or two I do one of two things (or both) I cut off big leaves and pull her back where I want her to grow and / or I just cut big chunks of vine off tossing unceremoniously over the fence or into the walkways.


I know my hand got in the way but I was so excited when I found these guys today I wanted to yell 'We're Rich!!!' the same way Little Girl did a few weeks ago when we picked four bazillion strawberries for eating and freezing. That's my Gramma's ring, by the way. It feels brave on my hand the same way I my mother's shoes felt brave on my feet when I borrowed them the first few times I had to speak to a large audience so many years ago.


I admit to eating a few of these. I left plenty though. I ate them after the peas with a handful of arugula and some aging romaine and then had blueberries and alpine strawberries for desert.


I think I'm supposed to cut these off to let the bulbs get bigger but they're so beautiful and work so well in flower arrangements (even if said arrangements do end up smelling of garlic) I had to leave a few.


Beautiful, isn't it? That's a volunteer from last year that is actually producing something (don't worry, I planted lots more for this year). It's supported by Audrey from last year and a stray potato plant I left to see what would happen.


Real cucumbers. Seriously, these look nothing like the round yellow orange things that happened last year.


Why are these berries green? Because I ate all the blue ones! (ahhahahah) It's OK, there will be lots more blueberries tomorrow! Same with the alpine strawberries. As long as you keep eating them they keep coming back until it's all done! (please don't mention the spots on those leaves, I expect I'm meant to do something about that)


Babies! However, she's crossed the line again and is about to have a come to Jesus meeting but I saved the little guy.


Looks a little out of control, doesn't it? It's not. This is how I am. No point trying to be anything else. And besides, it works for me.


Beloved. She's down there, you can see the rock if you look closely.


These are for next year. Others are still being cut down almost to the ground so that they do this miraculous thing and make more baby lettuce.


Gifts from Nomans. I can keep these I think. See the pointed red hat to the left? That's the gnome from last year and the twirling water thingie that simply has not been required this year is in the middle. He gave them at about the same time and they're precious.


I ran out of stakes and usable sticks so I used a spare u-post from last year. It's holding up three Brandy-wines. I hear they're terribly nummy.


Honestly I do not remember which pepper this is but I know it's not a Banana pepper (because I didn't plant any this year) and I know it's hot hot hot!!! It's also out of focus but I warned you, it was point and shoot with my eyes shut and I really liked this guy.


This year's eggplant doesn't look quite as pathetic as last year. But that isn't saying much given that they've each got more than one and a half leaves at any given point in time. Last year I actually got perfect little eggplants! In late October, just before the first hard frost. I ate two and the rest froze one night. I would have cried but I was already emotionally exhausted from an entire summer of colossal failures.


I planted the little Zinnia but the Cosmos, Nasturtium (which was the very last of my lunch), and Morning Glory (that is also cut back about as often as Audrey) came back on their own.


The Echinacia survived the winter and came back with a vengeance. It almost died under the eight foot tobacco last year and never got much more than four or five inches high. You can only see one flower in the foreground and a bunch on the left about to burst open but it's about 3 feet high now and still growing. Behind the phlox and the daisies I put in this year are the cone flowers from last year that reached six feet at the end of the season and are already at eight feet now.


These are the flowers I cut as I was working my way out of the garden and back toward the house and coops to check on the birds. I wish I could have gotten it all into the banner.


See what I mean about the garlic?


I'll be back soon. Probably talking about food, friends and Bikram. Maybe some good wine too.And life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness right in your own back yard.

Oh yeah, and those broiler chicks with the July 28 hatch date. Gulp.