A Garden Update for May

A couple of days after returning from what can only be described as a truly Griswald vacation out to West Texas (is West Texas an official place?), we found this beauty hanging out in the garden. Holy snozzcumbers!

Behold! "Oh Queen! Oh Monarcher! Oh, Golden Sovereign! Oh, Ruler! Oh, Ruler of Straight Lines!”

(can you tell we've been reading the BFG?) 

Since harvesting these last few super-sized zukes, I haven't been too sure what to do with some of the dying leaves on the squash and zucchini plants, so I've been trimming them away. And as I trim, it seems to crawl. It's moving further and further away from the original root. I've done a little research and apparently this is what it's supposed to do. It's now throwing off side-shoots from the base. Which will hopefully turn into more zucchinis. Interesting!

Bees! How I love to see the bees!

Volunteer Lantana is popping up in various places around the yard...and to think I used to pay money for these. And they are one of the few flowering bushes the deer will leave alone (and the chickens, I might add). Lovely.

Belinda's Dream.

New okra bushes went into the garden this past weekend. These came all ready to harvest so looks like we'll be having some fried okra tonight!

Morning Glory. I threw these seeds out early spring and already have vines growing around the fence.

"A whizzpopper!" cried the BFG. "Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time! Whizzpopping is a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears! You surely is not telling me that a little whizzpopping if forbidden among human beans?"

And this *sniff sniff* is what the chickens did to my Gardenias....“Catasterous!”

and to my corn...

speaking of corn...this is how the fall garden is looking now. Tomatoes, several types of pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, various winter squashes, etc

I think this is a tiny little pumpkin....

A gift from my mother...he's grand, ain't he?

And a gift from a dear friend and fellow garden lover...it's a spinach vine plant that apparently loves our heatwaves...and grows on a vine...did I mention it's spinach? In the summer? Crazy, right?! I'm keeping this one away from those naughty hens!

By golly we're farmers!


and peeled...and ready to be made into sauce!

seriously...this snozzcumber was huge!

We're getting eggs daily now. One of our hens had trouble with a few soft eggs at first (and one weird rubber one) but she seems to have sorted the whole egg-laying thing out now. I picked a few cups of basil and some parsley from the garden to make a big ol batch of pesto for the freezer.

Our garden is small but so far it's showering us with a fairly good supply of fresh veggies, which we are thankful for. The girls check on it daily, and the hens love when they get a chance to go inside and scratch and dig (and eat corn stalks). We're in Stage 1 water restrictions out here on the lake with so little rain since January, so I'm not sure how our little garden will fair this summer without some serious rainfall, but for now it seems to be enjoying our warm spring days. I have a few recipes I'll be sharing soon that we thought were yummy ways to use up our harvested veggies! 

Happy Gardening!

The Ducks: Two Months Old

a journey in pictures...

from yellow fuzzy fluffballs...to beautiful white ducks...sniff...our sweet babies are all grown up

Baby Chicks: Two Months Old

The itty bitties are about a week shy of two months now. We turned them loose in the yard at around 5-6 weeks and they have been on cloud nine ever since. We could tell they really really really wanted to run around, and while I worried all day for their safety, and they did have to deal with a few obstacles, they did just fine on their own. But, boy I was a wreck that first day. Here's a few pics of what their first few days free ranging were like.

First off, the pup felt it was his duty to follow them around all day. All day. He made a complete pest of himself. Even chasing them at times. We could tell he was herding them, but we could also tell he really really wanted to play.

But they wanted to eat.

And eat.

And eat.

Chase me chase me chaaaaaasssse me!

The pup means well, and he really has fallen in love with these baby gals...but he was relentless in his patrol those first few days (and I'm happy to report after about a week he calmed down and now only wants their food).

He would even stop to see what they were eating. I found him munching on lettuce, leaves, grass, grapes...I swear he's going to start peeping soon.

Old Eggy, our big fat dude cat was very curious, but kept his distance. He's too old and lazy to care much for feathered things anymore. I do find him lying around with them in the yard from time to time. I think he finds them amusing. And our Eggy cat loves oatmeal...which is the chicks favorite treat. It wouldn't surprise me to see them sharing a bowl one morning. Our younger cat, Strawberry, well, she was a different story. She had to be sprayed with the hose a few times for stalking these poor chicks while licking her lips. I watched her like a hawk the first few days, and while she did lunge for them on more than one occasion, she quickly learned the chicks were not only fast, but had sharp beaks they weren't afraid to use. Now she watches from a distance and seems more or less indifferent. Whew! Good grief, Mama needs a drink.

Pleeeeeeeeease play with me. Pleeeeeeeease, Sweet Lily.

The ducks, as you can see, held their own as well. When they have seven chickens in their personal space, well, let's just say they too have beaks (beaks, bills, whatever) they are also not afraid to use. The older hens and the ducks definitely established their pecking order those first few days. And while I can't say it will stay the same (two of the baby chicks are quite rebellious and don't back down when pecked at), everyone does seem to respect each other's space and boundaries. The ducks peck at the hens, the hens peck at the ducks, they all peck at the babies...it's game on when food is involved. And God forbid should one of them find a worm. That starts a whole new game of "She's got a worm, she's got a worm! Get the girl with the worm!" More often than not, it's ripped out of the finder's mouth before she can say "Uncle!"

I think they secretly love to play chase, though. They seem to have so much fun running around all over the yard constantly searching for bugs and worms and grain and grass. They always stay together, and seem to look out for each other. As soon as I walk into the yard they all come running up to say hi. OK, fine, they run up to see if I have food, but in my mind they say hi.

did I mention they like to eat?

and eat...

ooooooohhh grapes! Open open open...we need to eat!

They aren't just chickens to us, they're silly, funny, sweet, loving, peaceful, pretty, curious, goofy little pals. They are worthy of compassion. And we are thankful for the opportunity to give it.