Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The forests burn closer to home...

On the heels of the terrible fire on the AZ/ NM border 2 weeks ago, the one that plunged us into a literal hell of smoke and ash, two wild fires have started much closer to us. One north of Santa Fe, and one near Los Alamos.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Ravages of Weather Aside...

Even with the fountain out of commission, noisy neighbors, and drought conditions, the yard is still one of the loveliest places on earth. And in the evening, there's a silver lining--the air is like bathwater and there are no mosquitoes.

Mammoth Tomato Vines

This is not a great photo, but Teresa gave us several Brandywine seedlings; they have started to do their Brandywine thing! Trying to show a learning curve this year, we bought the biggest cages we could find, and made sure each plant got one. Teresa's have already set fruit. Ours are a couple weeks behind, but are covered in flowers. Hmmm.

The chicken coop, of course, is in the background. With this terrible heat, we've been clipping sheets to the eaves, to keep out the sun. (Looks like a gypsy camp, doesn't it?) :) All the fencing is an attempt to keep our overly enthusiastic dog away from the chickens. That and G bought a high-powered water pistol.

At the back of the photo are the round globes of last season's leeks, gone to flower. I think that I personally may get more pleasure from the flowers than any soup or stew.

Mystery Allium, and Stalwart Hollyhocks

Gloria planted something... very cute, the bees like it. No clue what it is.... The bees like it, whatever it is.

And the hollyhocks are lovely, as always.

Dirt Where there is Hope

Dirt. Straw. Shadows. ...And corn seed! Seems to me it's been in about a week now. (This is the bed where the garlic waved until recently.) Wonder if it will pop out soon, and grow/grow/grow? Tests faith, not to mention credibility, doesn't it?!

Solar Fountain Dead

Very sad. Several weeks ago the solar fountain just abruptly stopped working. I REALLY miss it! Tried to order a new one (slightly different model) and ran into problems... the company back-ordered it & didn't tell me/ yada, yada. In the meantime, I missed the happy burbling sounds of the old one. :( Ordered a different model through someone else. Now I'm unconsciously waiting for the UPS truck. *Funny how you get used to something, isn't it?* I'm glad the wind chimes haven't cracked or disappeared!!

Empty Nest Syndrome

Well, it's been hot as heck out (near record temps for a week), but the girls/young hens are tolerating it stoically. We are still missing their little sounds in the middle of the night (i.e. inside the house). However, with each day that passes, it seems less and less likely we'll need the empty brooder box. They seem larger and more worldly, and less likely to tolerate it! And yet, neither of us can quite bring ourselves to put away their baby furniture. grin. >That said, the bathroom is thoroughly trashed... there is an inch of dust in every crevice. At least one life-form seems delighted to be rid of the chicks: the African violets seem to be very happy they are gone--one imagines them whispering, 'Peace and quiet, at last!' And in celebration of this event, they have put out a new set of leaves, bright velvety appendages that aren't choking under a layer of dust; last months' leaves/ the bottom layer look like a bunch of old dowagers wearing too much pancake makeup.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Garlic in, Chicks Out! Happy Solstice!!

On the first day of summer, Gloria harvested our lovely big garlic patch. We now have a huge mound of fragrant stems and bulbs reeking/ glowing/ burning in the shed. (heaven help you if you just need to grab a shovel!) Then she got the soaker hose laid out in a section of the garden proper (the soil that was treated with 2 truckloads of aged manure over the winter); got our four sweet potato plants in (the ones that came from cuttings that perched in a glass of water on the ledge over the kitchen sink for 2 months!)

Chickens in the Coop!
Sunday and Monday June 19-20/ we finally finished buttoning down roof edges, putting closures on roost doors, installing a perch, and digging in the last half of the hardware cloth skirt outside. (We're sore!) Monday night, since the weather was going to dip into the low 50s we just put the 4 big girls inside the roost box (brought out gimp, Scarlet and a buddy--the next smallest, Maude inside). Tuesday night--yes--the first evening of summer--put all 6 of them in it. Oh my!! They had not been 'hardened off,' (i.e. the bathroom brooder box only ever "dipped" into the low 70s), but even tiny Scarlet with the cold feet seemed unfazed. Mind you, they had lots of straw and the old towel from the bottom of the cat carrier--the vehicle they had been riding in coming and going from the house over the last several weeks.

We did go on the Chick Coop Tour, was it two weeks ago now? We visited folks within 2 miles of our place, and were happily surprised and impressed. And jealous! Saw some lovely gardens in addition to the apparently ubiquitous bands of happy chickens. Someone did a very cute bit of companion planting with nasturtiums; I fell in love with them. But realized in many many trips to the home-building box stores that they are out of fashion. Gloria bought me seeds from the spinner at the co-op! Like morning glories, they needed to be soaked overnight--which we did. Tonight I'm going to brave the heat and go on a planting spree! (She got three varieties--one which is a vine, and 2 that vary in terms of flower color and size.)

I know this is an upbeat post, but the weather forecast makes me want to scream and yell and shake my fist at the heavens. We haven't had any rain in four months--North Dakota and Missouri are battling floods. :(


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time passes... (nearly a month later!)

May was a strange month. Still unseasonably hot and dry. Terribly dusty. Very windy. In general people are irritable, plants and birds and insects struggling. Then the Arizona fires started stirring acrid chemicals and ash into the air. Hard not to feel punished by the gods.

On a happier note, G. planted lots of things. The tomatoes look fantastic. The garlic will be ripe for the picking in another few weeks. She has a huge, delicious crop of peas--we've been nibbling those for 10 days already. Potatoes are up. Peppers in. A couple of basil plants, a couple of eggplants, some dill. The Echinacea (sp) and hollyhocks are up. Hollyhocks blooming. E growing buds like crazy (probably another week). My sage bush survived the harsh winter and spring--it was literally buzzing when I knelt near it last evening: full of blooms and thus, full of happy bees. Much that is flourishing.

And of course, this is the Year of the Chicks. I wish I had kept a journal. It's been a wild blur! Every time we blink, they get bigger and more chicken-y. Today they are 4 weeks and 2 or 3 days old. Their beaks are sharp. Their wings fully feathered. Tails prominent. Feet huge, much too big for their tiny little heads! The hot weather has done one thing--make it possible for them to spend afternoons out in the coop. Over Memorial Weekend (that Sunday) we hung the coop door, then stuffed them into a cat carrier and unceremoniously walked them out and let them loose in what will eventually be their permanent home. *They were not shy at all!* They poured out of the carrier and began digging and scratching as if they had been outside all along (not incarcerated in a cardboard box in our bathroom under a heat lamp for weeks).

Needless to say, we've spent a lot of time sitting inside the coop with them. Enjoying their company. Watching them do chicken things. The young lizards along the back fence have also been watching. I suspect that curiosity may get the better of some of them before this is over. Hmm. (Oh my--what have we done?!) We really have to get going and finish their fortress: dig in the hardware cloth anti-predator skirt, cut and frame out an egg door, put up a roost pole, frame out their front door, and finish the ramp.

We're counting our blessings.
And praying for rain.