On the Trail Today


A spell of cold, dry weather is conducive to maintaining the trails that meander through the woods. The trails don’t a well thought design. For the most part, I’m widening the trails the dogs make during their regular patrols.

In the woods, there is always something fascinating to see. Even though it is a cold day, that isn’t snow on the branches above. It is a pure, white mold. And below, a cedar and wild cherry have grown up together. Their trunks and roots are enmeshed. Cherry roots flow out the trunk of the cedar. The trees are inseparable. A cherry and cedar tree, would one call that a cheddar tree?


A Job Well Done


Lucky set her chicks free today. Just yesterday, they were all together, but this morning she was by herself, and her chicks off on their own. All I can say is, “Job well done, Lucky!”

What does a mother hen feel when her chicks leave home to fend for themselves? What about the chicks? Are they finally glad to be out from under their mother’s feet? Or is it a non-event for them?

Below is a series of photos from when she hatched them on September 15, 2014 through November 17, 2014. They’ll give you and idea as to how hard a mother works, raising her brood.


And as dusk settles, Lucky is back roosting with the rest of the hens for the first time in 12 weeks, while her chicks are bedding down where she used to spend the nights with them. Well done, Lucky. You were a superb mother. Your chicks were lucky to have you hatch and raise them.


Beauty On a Post


This handful of moss is so lush, you might think I took a close-up of moss at Sanzen-in, but it’s moss growing on the top of a fence post next to my vegetable beds.


One Head – Two Heads


First there is one head, then there are two heads. There is safety in numbers. Three heads are better than one. With two other chickens paying attention, it’s safe to preen and take your eye off your surroundings. If a hawk or eagle or farmer with a butcher knife appears, someone will sound the alarm so everyone can escape.


Fences make good places to take a break. Nothing can sneak up from behind, and it’s easy to spot danger from afar. Take a look at their heads. Each one is pointed in a different direction. Coupled with a chicken’s remarkable ability to see nearly all around them, very little happens without them seeing it. Which explains why chickens have so much to gossip about.

Humans often begin salacious conversations with, “Did you see … ?” Among chickens, it goes without saying that they saw it already, so their gossip must start with, “What do you think of that, Hazel?”


The Color of Rain


What is the color of rain? Trickling through the trees, it forms dazzling jewels on the tips of leaves and needles. But the real color of rain is green. Rain makes the forest possible. It makes the gardens grow. It lets the bean vines reach for the skies. Places where it rains are green and lush. Rain makes picking fresh herbs in the dead of winter possible. It comes down to this axiom: no rain, no green.


A Mother’s Feathers


Little chicks need to feel safe and secure. Of the billions of chickens raised each year just in the USA, just a tiny handful get to snuggle inside their mother’s feathers. For little chicks, there is nothing more important than having the security of a caring mother.


On a Blue Day


On a blue day, the Christmas trees touch the sky. They are so beautiful, they don’t need any decorations. On the ground are wheel barrow after wheel barrow of fallen leaves, waiting to be picked up. In time, they will crumble. Bacteria and bugs will feast on them, turning them into soil to grow beautiful vegetables.


Raking the leaves attracts the chickens, including this young rooster with brilliant colors. Chickens can be among the most colorful of all birds. The variety of colors and patterns is stunning.


Just as stunning is the power of these small arugula seeds to grow into delicious salads. A plant which likes cool weather, I can even plant them in the unheated hoop house in November.


Always Eager to Help


Not exactly helpful, but BB likes to plop his butt on freshly prepared vegetable beds. It never hurts to have a good laugh during the day. A dog like BB provides plenty of laughs during the day. You need a dog to keep the coyotes and eagles away, to chase away the deer, and let you know when someone is coming up the driveway. Most of all, you need a dog to make you laugh and realize how wonderful life is.


A Perfect Day … If You Are a Swan


It’s a cool, blustery, wet day … a perfect day if you are a swan. The muddier it is, the more they like it. All winter long, the swans root through fields, finding food to eat. It makes me wonder where the swans ate before the valley forest was logged and made into fields. According to the Trumpeter Swan Society:

Adult swans eat aquatic vegetation, including the leaves, seeds, and roots of many types of pond weeds. In captivity, swans will eat corn and other grains provided. Wild swans have also adapted to field feeding, eating left over grains and vegetables that have been harvested by farmers.

So around here, they must have congregated along the mouths and banks of the Skagit river, eating there. They aren’t birds to waddle through forests.

For the young gray ones, the cygnets, this is their first trip south of the arctic. They have come with their parents, and will fly back north in the spring with them. Sometime during the summer, their parents will drive them away so they can hatch and raise a new brood. The young swans will stay together in sibling groups until they mature and start families of their own.


From the Tiniest of Seeds


The beautiful pink carnations of summer are dried and don’t look like much. But inside their dried flowers are seed pods with the tiniest of seeds. Carnations have been cultivated for thousands of years. You can propagate them from seed, from cuttings, or by dividing them.

It’s always amazing to watch plants grow from such tiny seeds. Looking at these carnation seeds which look like cracked pepper, it’s hard to imagine that under the right conditions, by mid summer they could become hundreds of beautiful, fragrant carnations.