It’s Done


There wasn’t a cloud in the sky all day. By early afternoon the new bridge was done. The most time consuming part was pounding out the nails on the lateral boards. We recycled the boards left when we removed an old deck. With the bridge complete, the chickens, dog, and us have an easy walk to the other side. The bridge is 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) wide and 3.65 meters (12 feet) long.


A Season of Fiery Reds


Fall is the time of brilliant reds. On a sunny day, it looks like the leaves are on fire. I’m not sure the chickens are impressed. Many of them have combs redder and more brilliant than any leaf can dream of being.


Skunky’s mother is too busy rearing her next brood to worry about the fall leaves. And Tangerine and her chicks scamper around my feet when I split wood. You have to swing your ax carefully when you have a mother hen and her chicks running around at your feet.


A warm, sunny fall day is made for building new bridges. There was a narrow bridge here until a tree came down and split it in two. The replacement bridge is twice as wide and much stronger, a perfect bridge to ford the ravine to enter the western woods on the other side. You can’t see them, but there are chickens in the ravine, scratching in the muddy waters in search of good things to eat. The forest on the other side is a favorite hunting ground of the chickens. Now, they’ll have an easy bridge to cross the ravine, and so will BB on his rabbit hunts.


Feverfew to the Rescue


The rains are gone and the sun is back. Not the burning sun of midsummer, but the gentle rays of spring and fall. The apples are ready for picking. The best apples are those eaten right off the tree. There is a crispness to apples still on the tree that is missing from store apples. The apple growers don’t want to date their produce. When you buy an apple in a store, it’s impossible to know when that apple was picked. Maybe someday, a daring apple grower will put the date when they picked their apples on each apple. That would upend the apple cart and send the other apple growers into a panic. “But, but, but my apples picked six months ago are as good as their apples picked today!” they’ll say. Probably the USDA would ban the practice and make it illegal for growers of any produce to let customers know when their fruit and vegetables were picked. “Produce is produce is produce. It doesn’t matter when it’s picked!” or so the claim goes.


Bee-like hoverflies make the most of fall’s waning sun. Sit next to a batch of feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, and in a matter of hours, and the whole world of flying insects will whizz past you. Feverfew is known for curing migraines. Maybe that is why the hoverflies and bees come to sip on these flowers. With eyes as big as hoverflies, migraines must be a common problem. When you have eyes with so many lenses, a few of them must get out of focus, and then think of the pounding headache you get.


Speaking of headaches, Skunky’s mother has just hatched her second clutch. They started hatching yesterday and this morning she is off her nest with her new chicks underneath her. So what do you call these chicks in relation to Skunky? Are they Skunky’s younger sisters and brothers? Siblings one brood removed? And next year’s broods will be Skunky’s siblings two broods removed, three broods removed, and so on? Trying to keep track of so many siblings and relatives must drive the chickens crazy, which is why they’re often nibbling on feverfew.

The Greatest of These is Love


Lunch time sends me out into the garden to fetch dill and kale. The nice thing about having your own garden is that if you need just one or two leaves of something, you can go get it.

Walking out to the garden and back, I can’t help but take photos of the mother hens and their chicks. Tangerine’s chicks can still huddle underneath her, but at the rate they are going, not for long. When one of them gets separated from her, you can hear its loud peep from 500 feet away. Niji-hime and her daughter are inseparable. And Madge is still caring for her chicks though they are well able to manage on their own.

Watch hens care for their chicks, and you can understand why love is the greatest of all. It’s the one thing chicks crave from their mothers more than anything.


The Color of Warmth


For me, this is the color of warmth. On a future day when a cold wind is blowing out of the north, this wood will keep us warm. The tree came down a year ago. Now I’m splitting it to stack for next year. Each piece, as it burns, will burn in its own way, casting its own warm glow. No two pieces burn the same way.

There is evidence of humans burning wood nearly two millions years ago. More than a million years ago, our distant, distant, distant ancestors, some 80,000 generations ago, gathered wood, thinking this is the color of warmth too.


Lucky Bean


This afternoon I am as happy as a sunflower. The shiro-hana 白花 bean harvest has begun. I’ve been eyeing the massive bean pods hanging from the shiro-hana 白花 bean vines all summer. They are ready to pick when their pods dry and turn fox color. I collected the first test harvest today. Will I make the goal of harvesting a hundred or more pounds? We’ll see. The harvest will last through October.


Open a dry pod and startling white giant beans stare back at you. It’s like they are saying, “You can’t just eat one … or I’m to beautiful to eat … or I bet you want to plant me.” I may have enough to sell at Bow Little Market’s Harvest Market on Saturday, October 3. It may be the first time anyone has ever been able to buy them fresh in the Pacific Northwest ever.


Artichokes in the Pacific Northwest


Artichokes do grow in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s proof. Artichokes is one of the things customers asked for at the farmers market this summer. Next season I’ll attempt to provide a steady supply from late July onwards. They are a thistle, but the leaves are soft and look lovely in any garden. They are worth growing just for their looks.

Luxury Defined


Salad greens picked moments before lunch, one perfect egg laid within the past hour or two to make a silky bowl of mayonnaise, that’s my definition of luxury. Ask your grocer, “I’d like salad greens picked within the last thirty minutes and an egg laid this morning with a yolk as round and bright as the sun.” You won’t be able to get them no matter how much you offer to pay. There are some luxuries even money can’t buy.


Mother Umbrella

Mother Umbrella

Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day. Maybe that is what the chicks are chirping as they huddle under their mother and use her as an umbrella. Mother hens make excellent umbrellas. Not only do they keep the chicks dry, they keep them warm, and look, no hands required. Mother hens are much better than plastic umbrellas.

Unlike baby chicks, cabbages don’t need umbrellas. The rain rolls off their slippery leaves the moment it lands on them.


Already a Memory


Nothing says summer is over than a fire in the wood stove. Yesterday, to take the chill off, I lit a fire in the wood stove. Summer is over when the hubbard squash are ready to eat. Summer is over when the vine maples turn crimson. In July, summer seemed like it would go on forever. Rain was a distant memory. I began to question if it ever got cold in the Pacific Northwest. Ha! The joke was on me. With a fire crackling in the wood stove, summer is now the memory.