Even though life around here is ever-imperfect and messy, at the moment, it also feels quite crisp and beautiful. Maybe it's the kitchen I finally got deep cleaned or maybe it's the fact that I no longer have fifty meat birds crammed onto my front lawn. Whatever it is, I'm thankful for this refreshing breeze that's fallen over Beatha Fonn today.
After the Polivka's left this morning, I spent a few hours getting the house in working order again. Bathrooms needed to be scrubbed, carpets needed to be vacuumed, floors needed to be swept, dishes needed to be washed, towels and sheets needed to be cleaned, and babies needed to be snuggled. By naptime, the majority of the house was in working order, which was good. Because I had about a half ounce of energy left at the end of it all.
And yet still, I found myself meandering down the garden. I often do that at naptime. The kids are quite, the sun is shining, the weather is still warm enough to be enjoyable, and it allows me a few minutes of quite time to refresh and rejuvenate before we begin the afternoon round of craziness.
Eh, what the heck. Since I'm down here anyway… I guess I might as well plant the cover crop I've been meaning to sow for a few days now. I'm trying out two different cover crops this year on all of the garden beds: rye and field peas.
Nope, I don't know anything about either. Thanks for asking.
My extent of cover crop knowledge can be summed up in the analogy of it being “like a warm coat for the garden to wear in the winter, protecting it from the elements”.
Grow a cover crop. Save the garden from being too chilly-willy.
I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my garlic and shallot seed, which should be here any day. I saved it a special spot amongst the lettuce rows. After planting the shallots and garlic, planting one more bed in cover crop, harvesting the squash, and finishing out the tomato harvest, the gardens will be all set for the season. It's a welcomed rest.
We're still harvesting tons of kale, collards, and chard – and booya to that. I love me some greens. I even planted a few more large rows down in the other bed for a late fall/early winter harvest. Girlfriend can't get enough!
On top of finishing out the gardens and planting the cover crops, we've also been extremely busy building what I'm referring to as the “Chicken Sanctuary”. After all, “technically” this is where the chickens are going to die, seeing as we are raising them for meat. Although we had originally planned on utilizing chicken tractors (yes, we spent time and money on building those already) we quickly realized how unpractical they are for our mountain terrain. We have a lot of bumps and slopes on our property and maneuvering a straight chicken tractor around was torture. And impossible. And difficult. And caused me to *possibly* say a swear word. Time for Plan B.
We eventually found a piece of property right next to our current coop that would lend itself nicely to a large chicken pen. Stuart and Frank dug and sunk some posts and then ran chicken wire along the outside edge. Rocks were added on the bottom for extra security. Lastly, we ran wildlife netting over the entire pen to keep the chickens from flying out and from overhead predators from making a quick lunch of our chickens. There seem to be a lot of owls and hawks around here that would love to nibble on a little Rainbow Ranger drumstick for lunchtime. Get to the back of the life, Hawkey. That's my drumstick.
By the way, netting a 50 x 30 area is not exactly fun. Or easy. Or cheap. Or any of the things that I'd like it to be. But none-the-less, we did it. And now, we have an enormously large area where our birds can run around freely as they wish.
They can give themselves dust bathes.
Or lounge around and contemplate the meaning of life.
Or scratch the dirt and eat bugs and grass and rocks and whatever else they desire.
Lucky ‘ol birds anyway.
Thus far, it seems to be keeping them in just fine. I'm still nervous about predators, but unfortunately, I don't think even a steel cage would keep out a determined raccoon or weasel. So all we can do is hope for the best. And then cry if we loose any.
I really, really, (like seriously, reallllly) want a good harvest off of these chickens. That's what I've been feeding them the Mercedes of chicken feed. I told ya they were lucky ‘ol birds.
And speaking of chickens…
Did I mention that I now officially own 3 roosters? Great. Just what I wanted. One is this beautiful Silver Lace Winged something-or-another. He is beautiful, but he is a beast. If he gets any saucier, I fear we're going to have to come up with a Plan B for ‘ol Charles as well.
By the way, I just decided that his name was going to be Charles as I typed that sentence. That's why I love blogging! It helps me to make sense of the world.
The other two roosters that we discovered were both silkies. They are teeny little guys that can barely get a crow out – quite pathetic and emasculating really. Especially when they are standing next to Charles.
I took them out a few days ago, packed their bags, told 'em to fend for themselves in the wild, showed them where to scratch for the best bugs, gave 'em each a few dollars of spending money, and then left them alone as bachelors in the wide-open-world. But a few hours later, when I found one hiding in my tomato patch from the dog, I took mercy on the poor fools and put them back into the coop. Perhaps I let them “fly the coop” too early. Dang silkies – they sucker you in, man.
So yes. That means there are still 3 roosters in my coop. 14 hens. 3 roosters. 0 eggs still. But who's counting. Ahem. *Me*. Ahem.
Despite the large amount of roosters, life on Beatha Fonn is quite beautiful at the moment. It smells of crisp Autumn air and pears.
It smells of rosemary. Beef. Soil. And ripe tomatoes.
It's sunrises, enjoyed over coffee in the dark of the morning, are too much for this ‘ol heart to bare. Why, oh Lord, have you blessed us so!
I am but a humble servant of our great Creator, author of every seed, every vegetable, every flower, every season, every chicken, every beautiful scent, and every beautiful sunrise.
If this life is but a taste of the riches that Heaven holds, well..
…Beam me up, Scotty.