Blackberry Winter and Growing Things

The littles aren’t little anymore and they don’t walk anywhere. They flap and flutter out of the coop and once all are out, bump breasts and fly across the pen. They are an entertaining morning event.

Yesterday we walked bundled up like for winter in a chilly, breezy day. By last evening, it has gotten milder and stayed mild over night and today is pleasant. Our walk was around the pond today, which was teeming with new life. There were thousands of tiny tadpoles, turtles the size of quarters, and small fish but I couldn’t get close enough to get any good photos of them. One of the geese has hatched 4 goslings and she and proud Papa had them out and about, pretty fearless of the walkers on the path.

Salamanders sunning on the retaining wall.

And flowers providing some color where there was none only a couple weeks ago.

The peas in the garden are climbing the trellis, potatoes are sprouting tufts of green leaves, garlic and onions standing tall. The tomatoes and peppers aren’t showing any new growth yet, but as soon as it warms again, they will. The fig moved to the half barrel is showing new leaves and new growth as are the transplanted raspberries. Soon it will be time to plant the cucumbers, corn, beans, tomatillos, and ground cherries. Every year, I plant some lettuce, spinach, and chard or kale and every year they don’t do well and I purchase it cut and clean from the Farmer’s Market. I am still hopeful that the transplants will provide some food for us. The hay is thick and as tall as the deer bellies as they walk through it. Mowing of hay will begin around the area soon, if the rain doesn’t throw the schedules off like last year. It is definitely taking a turn toward warmer weather.

Let me introduce you

I want you to meet Ms. Houdini. She is a beautiful bird that was supposed to be an Olive egger, even has green legs with face puffs and a beautiful gold necklace. But she lays pink eggs and there is no enclosure that can keep her contained.

For the most part, she is submissive to me and will squat when I approach and I can pick her up and return her to the enclosure. She is also, the leader of the pack, the head hen and always the first one out of the coop in the morning.

Last Sunday, I found her, the two Olive eggers that lay green eggs and a New Hampshire Red on the north roofed porch, lounging on the chairs, table, and under the swing. They were unceremoniously chased off and a lemon juice spray generously sprayed around the deck perimeter as I read that chickens don’t like citrus and citrus smell. That didn’t even slow them down, so they were penned up while we went to meet Son 1 and family for our Mother’s Day picnic. When we arrived home, near dark, Ms. Houdini greeted us from under the cedars. I put window screens across the porch opening and they started coming under the rail on the east end which is a bit higher off the deck than the rest, so more screens were added.

Unable to easily get on the porch, they began going under it. I don’t want eggs layed there to attract snakes, skunks, and rats, so I am in the process of moving bowling ball sized rocks to make the opening too small for a hen to enter, but larger enough for air flow.

Since hens love to scratch and dig in soil and since their move to the Palace, several of the hens decided to forgo the nesting boxes in the coop and have begun making hidey holes in the soil in the flower gardens. I wouldn’t mind that if they weren’t tearing up the day lilies and digging up the Calendula and Zinneas, so fences have had to be erected everywhere.

This slows some of them down, but i am still finding at least one egg in there each day. I can’t see if there are any under the porch, it is too dark even with my brightest flashlight. In total frustration with them last night, after dinner, I took two 25 foot long pieces of fencing, an armload of unused garden stakes, and made them a containment pen. This morning, they were turned loose into the new pen with a scoop of scratch and a clean bucket of water. It didn’t take Ms. Houdini any more time than I took to fix my coffee and yogurt before she was on the front porch which I hadn’t blocked off yet. She can get out, but has no incentive to get back in on her own and if I catch her and put her back, she will eat, drink, and get out again. Short of a 6 foot roofed cage, I just can’t keep her in. I wonder where I will find her egg today, if I ever do.

A Most Wonderful Day

Midweek, Son 1 asked if we had Mother’s Day plans which we did not. He suggested a halfway meet up for a picnic with Grandson 1 and DIL. I asked if Daughter and her two kiddos should be included and got a resounding, “YES!” back, so she was asked. We divvied up the picnic goodies, and in a “I don’t ever want to own one of these” rental SUV, headed 2 hours East, they headed 2 hours Southeast and we met up at a picnic ground on the Blue Ridge Parkway north end. It was wonderful to have two of my children, 3 of my grandchildren, and 1 of my DIL’s there to share an afternoon of food and social visitation. We had a slight adventure getting there because I used Google Maps to take the “shortcut” through Stuart’s Draft to get on the parkway and it led us up a narrow gravel road for about 3 miles before intersecting with the parkway. Daughter said it was reminiscent of childhood auto adventures, her daughter thought is was kind of cool out in the middle of nowhere woods, but the teenager wasn’t so sure about it. The woods at the picnic ground were full of Mayapples in bloom. Ours are up but not blooming yet. There are one of my favorites in the mountain woods.

Before we headed out, Daughter presented me with a gift bag and card. The card was adorable and it is funny that her son picked the same card for her. The gift bag had two much needed new kitchen towels. In spite of the photo, they really are the same color and match my tea kettle.

DIL is an multi-talented artist and she presented Daughter and me with hand thrown planter pots with saucers. That was perfect too as I love the one she gave me for Christmas and was looking for another pot for a bathroom plant.

Son had on a hat that I was admiring and he said, “it is your yarn, but you didn’t make it” and followed with an explanation that one of his co-workers had made it for him. A further explanation was that through another co-worker, she had discovered my blog and has twice purchased some of my handspun yarn which she in turn made part of into a hat for Son. I thought that was such a neat crossing of paths. She and son knew the connection, but I didn’t until today.

Before we all said goodbye today, the tallest scrunched down after arranging us and took a group selfie. Back left is Grandson 1, Hubby, Grandson 3, me, DIL, Daughter, Granddaughter 2, and Son 1 wearing “the hat.”

What a great day. Now I want to see Son 2 and his family too.

Happy Mother’s Day!