Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mysterious eggs, tomatoes in traction

I've been getting such a kick out of the chicks' gifts of eggs; it just tickles me that I can go out there in the morning, open the nesting box hatch, and find a few eggs---nature's vending machine. I often beat the kids out there it's such fun.

We have six chicks, three or four of whom we think are laying. So imagine my surprise, my delight, indeed my amazement, when I opened the box the other morning to find this:

The kids and I ran through the possible calculations: Did three hens each lay three eggs and one laid one? Two hens each laid two and two laid three? It was a chicken mystery.

Then Kevin sent a message: "I assume you found my little joke..." Joke? What joke?


No, I hadn't noticed the eggs were cold, suspiciously cold ... refrigerator cold.

Okay, so maybe I'm gullible. It's probably the same quality that allows me to appreciate the wonder of natural variety.

Kevin made two nesting boxes for the chicks, which is supposed to be plenty for six. The other day, though, Big Mouth---our first producer---was dismayed to find both boxes occupied. She protested so long and so loudly that I went outside to find out what the ruckus was about. There she stood, inches from the poor hens trying to lay, squawking her head off, while the interlopers studiously ignored her.

So now there are three:

Nesting boxes aren't the only things Kevin's been up to. Instead of a sprawling pile, we now have a firewood shed:

The compost piles are up and running:

(As an aside, man alive, I never thought I'd end up cheerfully taking pictures of my compost! Life is anything but dull.)

Here's the whole back corner, with the chicken coop, compost, and shed, all built with salvaged wood.

And here's where we keep the salvaged wood now, tucked away on the side of the house (read: happily out of the way) waiting for future projects:

The wood shed is where the mushroom logs used to be, but we kept forgetting about them, so we moved them to the other side of the yard, by the walkway. Now they'll get more attention---and hopefully more water.

The squirrels are wreaking havoc with our sunflowers.

Apparently they can't climb over the thick honeysuckle to reach the sunflowers there. Next year I'll plant more in front of the vine-covered fence.

Then there was the tomato implosion. I've mentioned before that Early Girls are pretty much my reason for gardening. Well these plants grew so thick and heavy that they fell over, so we went into tomato triage:

Yes, that's a hastily constructed bamboo/redwood/rope/green yarn tomato scaffold, or, as the squirrels like to call it, the sunflower seed--eating platform.

It was a tough call---sunflowers or Early Girls?---but of course the tomatoes won out. More of the sunflowers live in vases now, brightening up the interior.

And the Early Girls? Their color takes my breath away:

There you can see green heartbreak: tomatoes broken during triage. Sniff.

In other parts of the yard, forget the corn---the pole beans have conquered the apricot tree:

I'm trying to figure out when the Lakota are ready to be harvested:

and we're getting ready for our biggest raspberry harvest yet:

My oldest always gets them before I do, so I'm hoping one of these has my name on it.


Dan said...

Everything looks great. I love the three bin compost system, very envious composter here! It must be so nice to have chickens around, I'd love to experience it some day. The early girl certainly is laden with fruit, must try that tom next year.

Susan said...

Your yard is so full of exciting things! I love how well crafted your coop and firewood shed are and, of course, your compost bins. The mushroom logs are so picturesque. And I have such tomato envy. Our little garden box is doing well and we are having lettuce and basil aplenty, but no tomatoes.

kitsapFG said...

Well done! The chickens have such curious expressions. If it is any comfort, I would have fallen for the prank too.

Things are looking good in your garden and the bins, wood covers, and extra nesting box are things of beauty. Even more so for their origination in recycled lumber.

I have forgotten what a good all purpose and early tomato Early Girl is. We used to grow that regularly when I was growing up and I have occassionally had it in my own gardens from time to time. I think it was so common place in my youth that it seemed less exciting than other varieties - but your post has reminded me WHY it was so common place. Early, productive, and a workhorse plant. I think I need to include this old standby back into my mix again.

wiseacre said...

Kevin is my kind of guy :)

Mr. H. said...

Somebody has been very busy, everything looks great. I love how you set up the compost area, your compost is definitely picture worthy.

The egg thing was pretty funny. One year my wife put squash purchased at the market in amongst the squash plants in our garden to fool worked for a few minutes. Hmm...I still owe her one.

And your tomatoes are amazing!

Denise said...

Dan, compost envy perhaps beats compost photography! But I know what you mean; when you think of what that compost represents in terms of garden growth---like gigantic tomatoes---it's much more attractive.

Susan, together we'd make one heck of a salad.

kitsapFG, no matter how many other beautiful, funky-looking heirloom toms I try, none matches EGs for taste in my book. And thanks, I'm glad to know I'm not the only gullible one out there!

wiseacre, your name tells me the two of you would get along swimmingly...

Mr. H, ha, another prankster! Let us know what you come up with as payback.

I wonder if there's an entire garden-prank culture out there, another interesting subgroup, like the mushroom people and the bee people. Hmmmmm...

Jackie said...

Your chickens are so pretty. I'm considering taking the "chicken plunge"...

Don't cry over green tomatoes. Fry those puppies up southern style! mmm mmm!

Esperanza said...

Deinse, Can I come take a look at your wood shed?

Denise said...

Jackie, the chicks are a pretty cool addition to the yard. If you have the space, I'd say go for it! And I might just take the green-tomato plunge. I've never eaten them, but I guess this is my chance.

Esperanza, definitely! Anytime after Monday works for me.

kitsapFG said...

Adding yet another comment to this blog entry so I can let you know that I have passed along to you a meme award. You may read about it on my blog entry today.

Kristin said...

It's becoming very orderly in that yard. The wood piles look like a Virgo's been organizing things. Am I right?

patricia said...

I love the egg story. Chris had a gullible friend in college, who once told him that he'd been awarded "most gullible" in high school. My smart-alecky husband's response: "You're kidding! Me too!"

Of course the gullible friend fell for it.

Your garden isn't really a garden is it? It's definitely a small farm!

Denise said...

kitsapFG, thanks! Stefani's going to get on that award; we're honored.

Kristin, he's actually a Pisces, and I have no idea what that means in terms of organization (or anything else). Does that make any sense to you?

patricia, your husband is quick! I wouldn't have thought of a retort like that until later. Garden? Farm? I'm not sure. It feels like a garden out of bounds to me, with a lot of the farm about it. Either way, we're enjoying it.