Archive for August, 2016

Buried Alive

I’m beginning to feel like I should be on an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” You know the show…through the wonders of “reality” TV, we visit someone who has a house full of garbage and Lord only knows what is buried underneath. We watch people climb over mountains of stuff and follow narrow pathways through living rooms into kitchens piled with dirty pots and pans. No, my house isn’t anything like that, thank heavens, but I do admit that watching it makes me feel a little better about my housekeeping skills. Although HE may tell you that I have too much junk, my garage sale finds will be worth something someday and are carefully and artfully stuffed into the closets. You’ll be perfectly safe as long as you don’t open any doors. The buried alive part of my life that I’m talking about is the garden. Once the weeds started coming up faster than I could pull them, I threw in the trowel…and the hoe, for that matter. I gave up. The weeds won. In reality TV, teams of helpers in hazmat suits clean up the mess and the homeowner always argues about what should stay and what should go. The only drama around here is that I can’t find the rake, and I know it is in there somewhere. The surprising thing is that buried in the waist-high weeds there are tomatoes, and lots of them. The ones I planted are easy to find because they are caged. Due to all the rain and warm temperatures, there are also dozens of volunteer tomato plants growing tall, some of which are even bearing fruit. Getting a ripe tomato from a directly planted seed doesn’t happen very often in northern Minnesota, so I’m thinking that perhaps I’m a better gardener than I thought! The pumpkins and squash are growing like crazy, over and under and around the weeds. I’m not sure exactly what is there, but come first frost, I will either have two or 102 to harvest. There are cabbages, too. I know because I tripped over one, and it is ready to pick any time. I can’t find the celery, there were only a few cucumbers, and the green beans died an early death, but all in all, if there are veggies to pick, the gardening season was a success. Now if I could be just as successful with cleaning out these closets before the people in the hazmat suits arrive….

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When we bought our little farm nine years ago, the large yard was filled with many weedy perennial beds, and I must admit, it still is.  Flower gardening is not my forte, and from the looks of the weeds in my other garden, neither is vegetable gardening. My colorful array of chickens are like flowers to me, and although I haven’t trained them to pull weeds, they love to scratch up the perennial beds looking for worms and bugs. Despite their digging and my lack of both skill and time, I have a riot of colorful flowers every spring and summer that outshine the weeds by far.  Old Mum, the oldest and my most favorite chicken died today. You knew her too, from the stories that I write, which are true, or at least 90% true. Sometimes the names must be changed to protect the innocent.   I would often find Old Mum peeping out from among the tall hollyhocks, their large leaves and flowers offering a bit of shade from the hot sun.  This summer, slowing down a bit, she stayed pretty close to the coop, watching for me out the window,  and if I didn’t feed her quickly enough, the feisty little banty would fly up on my shoulder and tell me to hurry it up. Due to a malformation in her beak, her food had to be in a dish or in a pile so she could pick it up, so I fed her separately from the others.  Old Mum preferred cracked corn and cottage cheese to layer mash, and the other chickens left her food alone most of the time, seeming to understand her age and disability. Either that, or they were afraid of her, as she tended to get a little feisty with them, too. The purple irises and Asiatic lilies are in full bloom in several beds in the front yard, but can’t compete with the hollyhocks in the back, which at their peak were as tall as the roof. Although slightly past their prime, they are still putting forth huge blooms of white, pink, and red against the back wall of the house and attract dozens of bees. I am so thankful that an old farmer and his wife planted these lovely flowers many years ago,  probably never dreaming that they would still be enjoyed years after they were gone.   The simple task of breaking open the seed pods each fall and spreading them along the south-facing wall ensures a spectacular show each summer, if Mother Nature cooperates. I buried Old Mum under my bedroom window, near the hollyhock garden, and covered her grave with the biggest and pinkest blooms I could find.

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