The calendar says it is winter. It was gray and bleak, but 55ºf and much to do outside before the heavy rain started Saturday night and continues through Monday. We have already been issued flood warnings along the creeks and rivers.
At the beginning of fall, after the garden was bedded down, I opened the lower end of the garden, that I had never gotten a handle on last summer, to the chickens. For spring, I want that area to be sowed with oats and flowers to attract bees and Monarchs, so the afternoon was spent working outdoors.
A bale of straw had been purchased after our Saturday morning outing to breakfast and the Farmers Market. There are still vendors with meat, bread, pasta, coffee, and one vendor who actually had kale, collards, Asian greens, salad, turnips, beets, and carrots that were growing in his gardens and greenhouses. It was nice to get some fresh greens this time of year. We got some pork, bagels, soft pretzels, and a loaf of sour dough bread too.
Once home, some of the straw was added in a deep layer in the coop that had been cleaned on Friday.
I closed off the back of the chicken run so they can no longer get into that garden area as they have stirred up the surface with their scratching. I will go into that part of the garden and pull out the old rotting row markers and planting boxes, weed the blueberries and re-mulch them and then run a tiller in there in the spring. Once it is warm enough, I will seed it with the oats and flowers to keep the weeds down and hopefully attract some bees and butterflies. The oats will be useful for the chickens next fall with the sunflower seed that I will probably mix into that blend as well. A mulched path to the blueberries will be left unseeded. The oat straw can be used in the coop once dry next fall and the patch reseeded with oats or another cover crop for next winter. Maybe that area can be reclaimed for garden a bit at a time.
The cull coop run never sprouted grass after we killed the chickens at Thanksgiving and the straw that I had scattered over the bare spots was mostly gone. I started breaking up what was left of the large round bale of spoiled hay that was near the coop, scattered a new layer over the bare muddy ground, hoping to stop or at least slow erosion there over the next few days.
Fence lines above the garden were heavily mulched. Each layer of hay pulled off the bale revealed more grubs and the chickens were having a feast as I tossed them into their run a few at a time. They soon forgot that their run was reduced. More hay was added in their run, taking it all the way back to the new barrier. Pear and apple trees were pruned.
But there is still this peach tree that needs a lot of attention.
You can see the dried up peaches that we never saw on the tree last summer. It is too tall and too thick. But that is another day, after the rain and when it is warm enough to erect a ladder and attack the tree with a pruning saw and shears. Maybe we will actually get some peaches next year after a severe pruning to get it more manageable.
The rain began as predicted right after dark. The dark rainy evening was spent making a seed order and tweaking the garden plan.
That is what winter nights are for.