It was a fun Easter weekend with the kids, a happy dog, horses, calves & cows, chickens, Easter bunny, eggs and lots of flowers & veggies in the garden. Enjoy!
It was a great gardening day today in Southern California. We got a lot of things done that we had on our “to do” list.
At lunch I talked to my friend who reads this blog and she told me I never explained what happened to my chicken after Cleo attacked her. The short story is that she is alive and well and laying eggs. The long story is that about ten days after the attack my daughter came in every upset because she found a giant scab covering a wound on the back of Doodle’s neck. It looked like a wad of tar the size of a small fist. The feathers were gone or falling out. Doodle was lucky to escape with her life. She hid her injury, and despite seeming extra scared of the dog, went back to laying eggs shortly after her attack. In fact, she was the first to give us an egg after a three-month break. We are so lucky and we keep a much better eye on the dog around the chickens.
Today, we made some adjustments in the henhouse and attached their roosting branches to the walls. They were loose before and the chickens had taken to sleeping in the egg box. Now that they are laying again, I want them out of there at night to keep it clean. I am going out there right now to spy and see where they are sleeping. If they are in the egg box, I will push them out! Ha!…
Well a sleeping chicken won’t budge. JHnny and Chicken Little were in the egg box but Doodle was perched on the roost. I was able to shoo Chicken Little on the branch–she was very compliant, but Henny wouldn’t budge. I tried to gently push her but she pushed back with force even though she seemed to be asleep. I thought she might fall out of the egg box, if I pushed her too hard, so I gave up. I will try again tomorrow.
Here are some photos from the garden today and the jobs we did: weeding, although in a drought there aren’t as many weeds; putting compost on all the perennials–finally I am using my compost out of my compost bin–it’s been a really long time and I’ve never used it; planting alstroemeria on the hill and dividing my Princess alstroemerias; fixing sprinklers in the front yard and beginning to replace the base of our old fountain.
One thing I learned about the alstroemerias–the Princess variety that I have on my upper hill are short stalked and grow close to the ground. The pink ones have been very hearty and fairly drought-tolerant. They get full sun up there. I could not find them at my local nursery so I gave up and bought the regular variety for the far right side of the hill–the ugly side. I hope these grow. I wanted orange ones but they don’t seem to have those either. Anyway, I hope the two I planted will grow.
We have some flowers on the apple and the nectarine. The peach is not flowering and I hope I pruned it right. It’s almost time to replant to veggie garden but we still have peas, lettuce and our tomatoes are ripening. Isn’t that crazy? We planted them in November and just ate our first cherry tomatoes last week. The weather is all messed up!
At least it is supposed to rain this week, and I have put the compost out so I am hoping it refreshes everything.
Well, Cleo did injure our chicken. We did not realize it for about a week. My daughter discovered Doodles’ neck feathers falling out and then the black patch like tar on her neck just at the base of her head. The circular scab is about two inches wide.
It hasn’t seemed to stop her in any way or slow her down. I tried to put medicine on it but the scab (I guess that’s what it is) is so thick.
It was scary to realize that Cleo really did hurt her. We have to be a lot more careful with her and the chickens from now on.
On a happier note, I have a Rosarian from the Rose Society coming on Monday to advise me on pruning my roses. I am excited to finally have an expert (from my area) tell me if I am doing it right or not. I have been clipping away at the roses for about a week now. It is such a big job that I have to break it up into an hour here and an hour there. I have 16 roses and I’m planning to buy three more despite all the work this time of year. They are the most rewarding plants once you get through the pruning.
I will post an update after I learn what mistakes I’ve been making (or hopefully not making!)
Australian Shepherds love to be the life of the party. They are all about having fun. And when they are not feeling entertained, they let you know.
Like today, when I came home from taking the kids to school and Cleo greeted me at the door with a few of my things — my leopard print slippers that I really like, and a strainer, swiped from the kitchen counter. She didn’t chew up my slippers, but she let me know that she could have. Instead, she chewed up the wire mesh strainer and its plastic rim.
Good choice, Cleo. Otherwise, I would have been really mad at you!
So I took her for a walk, like I had promised before I drove away for fifteen minutes, leaving her alone with her thoughts, which must have turned to chewing up things very quickly.
You can always tell who she is mad at by what she devours. Usually, on Monday, when the kids leave her, she goes into each one’s room and finds something to bring to the door– a stuffed animal or little toy–one for each kid. Then she chews the eyes off, leaving them blind and most miserable for little girls to find when they get home and demand their mother gets out a needle and thread and buttons to sew on replacement eyes. She never eats the whole stuffed animal so it’s usually something I can fix.
Cleo is clever that way.
Anyway, here she is sitting innocently in my office, waiting by the door for her little kids to come home. Soon when she is rested, she will come and look in my garbage can for Halloween candy wrappers to munch on. She will make her fun however she can.
When you’ve had a bad day, it makes you feel less sorry for yourself to take a look at your molting chickens! Last Friday was a bad day and when I went outside and saw this poor thing, I felt better! Sorry, Doodle. We’ve never seen you molt before so this is shocking to all of us.
Maybe our dog’s Halloween costume will make you smile. You can always count on the dog to make you smile.
I haven’t done a chicken update for a while. So sorry, gals! They are remarkable and we now get three eggs a day. Along with our garden goods, we are feeling somewhat self-sustaining these days. I just need a goat!
We had an ongoing debate whether our chicken named “Grilled” — terrible name, I know–blame my thirty-year-old nephew for that—but back to my point—we all thought grilled was a rooster. While the two Buff Orphs were laying eggs every day, Grilled was turning on us and pecking so hard that she the broke skin. She made odd cackling noises in the morning. Bigger and more decorated than the other two, she also had sprouts of rooster-like spurs on her legs, a larger comb and wattle. My daughter took to carrying a stick or broom around with her to protect herself from Grilled “attacks.” She came in the house crying a couple of times, not because Grilled pecked at her, but because she was sure Grilled was a rooster and we’d have to “send him back.” I had no idea if the feed store would really take him. I’d had calls from friends in similar situations who went back to return a rooster and ended up driving around to various East County feed stores because they were all “full” of roosters and couldn’t take more. My one consolation was that Grilled never crowed, which seemed to be the 100 percent sure sign of rooster-in-the-coop.
Then one day, Grilled laid an egg. Whew! Grilled’s eggs have a very nice dark brown shell. Grilled likes to sneak off to find little nests in secret places like the corner of the fence under the bottle brush tree. She did that last weekend—more crying and screaming from my girls. “Grilled is gone,” the cried. “She’s lost!” We all ran around —well, like you know what—looking for that damn chicken. Of course, I found her after the hysteria had gone on for about 30 minutes. I was not about to stick my hand under her to grab the egg and shoo her out of her sneaky nest. Later I went back and there was an egg. Later my husband went back and took away her nest! Poor thing.Anyway, the most challenging part of the chickens, which I find relatively easy to care for in exchange for all the lovely eggs and entertainment they are giving us, is Cleo, the puppy. And, the fact that the two blonde chickens are hellbent on escaping their “free range” area and stepping right into the waiting jaws of our six-month-old pup!
Now our old dog is very good with the chickens. He tried to eat them when they were chicks–you might recall in a past post, but he is sensitive. You yell at him once, and he won’t do it again.
Cleo on the other hand–as you can see she is a puppy school graduate–but that doesn’t matter. Here’s her perspective: I am out in the yard. Yippee. Yawn. I’m tired, but really I’m full of energy. I’m chewing leaves, crunch, crunch. I’ll eat this stick. Hey, looky there!!!! A fluffy flying thing–it’s coming to me! Ha. And look at that fat fluffy blonde, squeezing between the slats of the gate my dad built to keep me out. Yeehaw! It’s my lucky day! Those fluffy squeaky toys are heading up the hill. Hey, they must be bad, I must stop them, I am a herding dog! Oooo, really…I must eat them–no I shouldn’t–but a taste of feather–oOOOO. Delicious and disgusting–yet, why did that thing squat down. Who wants to chase that limp, prone bird? Is it dead or is this a trick? I am a smart dog. I cannot be fooled by a bird. Oh no, here comes mom with a broom. She’s screaming at me, again! Oh, I must stop myself. She looks mad. She is picking up that fluffy thing and making noises that she usually says to me when I get stepped on. I will chase the other one. Yikes! more broom, swishing the air near my butt! How does she do that?
Okay. We use brooms a lot around here. (Note to husband: I did not say ride brooms.)
Puppy vs. chicken. Neither of them are learning! Why two fat little birds squeeze themselves through three or four-inch slats on the gate to get chased by a puppy, I will never understand! For now, I’m on standby with my broom–it keeps Grilled chicken in line, and Cleo too!
First, my headline is misleading. This is not really a blog about how to grow a rainforest. This is a blog about why I don’t garden much in the summer in San Diego.
San Diego summers mean beach, visitors, house guests, theme parks, no rain, watering, restricted watering, the beach, house guests, theme parks, visitors. Should I continue?
I go into maintenance mode. Plus you need a break! We could grow something amazing and significant here every month of the year. When I first started gardening here and realized this, it was a little overwhelming. Then I hit summer–I remember running around trying to garden while my house guests ate breakfast. It was stressful. I had to stop trying to have a perfect yard and let things be (as best I could).
Watering is still a priority and my vegetable garden, which really needs fertilizing.
But once you get things growing, you can take a rest. Here’s my favorite story about that — One day at my old house, while I was walking through the neighborhood, I found a house that intrigued me. There was a stand of unique lime green palm trees in the front, some orchids growing in the shade and other tropical. I walked by there every day, trying to figure out this interesting house and the palms, which I realized also grew to enormous heights behind the house. I told my husband about it and soon he was walking by there too and we discussed it, trying to figure out what was going on. The person had a license plate on his/her car that said “Palms.” Clearly this was not some minor experiment in horticulture. This was serious.
Well, one day, my hubby being the kind of talk-to-strangers with ease guy that he is, got us an invitation to tour the property. It was in fact owned by an expert in palm trees and his wife was a landscape architect.
The backyard contained a bona fide rainforest. It was tremendous. They had bought the house next door and knocked out the walls so the rainforest could take over two back yards. They had what must have been 60 foot palms with a treehouse half-way up. I think there were hundreds of palm trees of all varieties and paths and orchids and impatients and all kinds of wonderous flora.
Our tour guide explained, “Once the canopy was established, it was easy to grow all the other rainforest plants beneath it.”
That stuck with us. In our wonder, we found a bit of humor. We repeated the phrase because it was so far out and so ridiculous to us–being from Michigan and Arizona–that someone could establish a rainforest with a canopy right in our neighborhood.
We use that phrase a lot in our marriage. It comes up two or three times a year one of us will say to the other– “Once the canopy is established,” and laugh. It has become one of those inside jokes that only the two of us can understand. And that’s nice. But really, back to gardening, I think once your garden gets to a certain point, it can keep going with only a little bit of care here and there and a few seasonal clean up days. If you think you don’t have time to garden, consider that. Once you get your “canopy” in place, you can just watch it grow.
Anyway, that’s what I am saying about my garden right now! Good thing, because I have a house full of guests waiting for breakfast!
Here are some pictures from my vegetable garden and one of my naughty puppy. I really need to fence her out of my vegetables–that’s one job that really shouldn’t wait.