Monday, September 28, 2009

Adieu, mes chers poulets!

It's true, Lucy and Ethel are off to a better place. No, not that one, where their molecules get all mixed into the great scrambled egg of the universe. We are ending our backyard chicken experiment and sending them to a nice home in the country. The person adopting them has a variety of poultry out in rural Florida that can free range over an acre. Our girls will have more company (maybe even that of an attractive rooster, nudge nudge) and can get out of the coop and back to their beloved free-roaming, bug-gobbling ways. We cooped them permanently early this year when we realized we could never win the chicken vs. garden war. For all their teeny tiny brains, the girls were remarkably persistent and pretty ingenious in the pursuit of our produce. Now, we've had a number of altercations involving what we think are feral cats getting into the coop late at night (there are bazillions of them here in the urban hood). It could also be young raccoons or rats. Who knows? But, the ongoing cost and stress of trying to create an animal-proof coop that still keeps the girls happy is proving to be more than the benefit of keeping them. Considering that Jeff is now rarely eating eggs and Jared isn't here often enough for us to keep ahead of the egg curve, we had to admit that this experiment has run its course. We learned a great deal, that's for sure.

The girls are sweet and very successful at doing their chicken thing, and we made sure they're going to a good home where they'll be treated very well, if not spoiled rotten. And why not? When you think about what a chicken manages to do with that whole egg-laying thing, they deserve a little spoiling. Consider, oh female readers, that you would have to produce something like a 4-pound baby every 28 hours for two to three years to replicate the feat of these little laying machines. The mind boggles at the thought. We certainly have a new appreciation and understanding for where at least some of our food comes from, and in this disconnected, pre-packaged, styrofoam-cartoned 21st century world of ours, that's a precious thing.

Anyway, while we're very sad to lose them, we're happy to report that the Saturday Morning Market kicks back up this weekend. If we're lucky, the egg vendor will return and we can continue to have a few better-than-grocery-store eggs from happy, free hens even without our backyard girls.

Alors, bonne chance et bonne vie, chers poulets, et merci bien!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green Things

Things are starting to look green in the backyard these days, as gardening gets off to a start here in the south. Remember my little cuke babies in the previous post? Two weeks later, they're looking pretty good. I'll call them cuke tweens, since they're thinking about going all hormonal and flowering, but haven't quite gotten there yet. This is our first year growing from seed only and, so far, I'm pretty pleased. It may take longer, but the cukes at least look much better than the ones that grew from Bonnie starts last year. I have also discovered that starting seeds in little pots is totally unnecessary in our climate. The peat pots just get moldy in our atmosphere, while seeds sown directly into the garden spring up in no time at all. More lessons learned—love it!

In addition to the garden plants, our currently-potted key lime tree (a gift from Jeff's parents) has lime babies on it! Three so far. Here's a game: can you find the two wee baby limes in the second key lime tree photo? It's just like the hidden picture puzzle in Highlights Magazine, only you don't have to go to an overly-cheery dentist's office and use the magazine to distract yourself from the bloody horror that awaits you beyond the giraffe-appliqued door. Such good times we had! Click to enlarge the photo if you're as blind as I am. No judgment.

Lots else going on here, including hours of studying by Jeff and Jared alike, and hours of puttering on my part. I have now been to two sewing classes and have successfully produced one French-seamed pillowcase (for Jared) and one fully functional tote bag (for me). Pleasing, to say the least, to produce something useful. I have always loved fabrics and am slowly working up to the ability to use them to make things. Very exciting! I can also see that a tight rein will need to be held on that enthusiasm, lest we drown in piles of expensive, unsewn fabrics here at the Handyhouse.

And speaking once again of plants, let a recent experience serve as a lesson to all of you who order flowers and living plants for others over the internet. Jeff's parents sent me a bonsai for my birthday. "Awesome," thought I, upon seeing the box. I've never had one and would delight in figuring out some freakish shape for it. Or not, as the case may be, since the shape it had already chosen was "Dessicated Greyish-Green Blob." I'm as postmodern as the next person, but this seemed a little too deconstructivist, even for me. Jeff's dear mother, however, upon hearing of this topiary travesty, laid down some Hoosier smack on the supplier for sending an already-dead plant. Honestly, I have no trouble killing them myself. They don't need to help. Lo and behold, a new starter bonsai arrived today. Here's a side-by-side comparison and a second game for you: spot the bad bonsai. Go on, see if you can tell!