Monday, February 13, 2017

This Year Will Be Better

Things have been rough. Here's a summary of a pretty pathetic year of gardening and a promise to myself that this year will be better.

The biggest addition to my garden last year was fauna, rather than flora. We got a couple of chickens! Me and Mrs. Digger had been considering it for a while when a chicken coop showed up on Craigslist for $20. It had been purchased by a family living in the mountains and, immediately after putting chickens in it, a bear knocked it over and devoured it's contents. I bought it, fixed it up, and put a couple chickens of my own in it. They're Dominique hens, which have the distinction of being America's oldest chicken breed. They were selected for being hardy, decent layers who tend to be quiet and friendly.
Now, chickens came with some problems. First, I'd heard that chickens dig but I hadn't expected them to really DIG. They are worse than the dog ever was. They killed off most of the day lilies and asparagus before I managed to erect a fence around my little garden bed to keep them out. I feared for the survival of the apple trees. They also poop. A lot. Especially on the porch, where they like to hang out. It was manageable if I swept every day but that got old fast. Without even realizing it, it got to the point where I was simply avoiding going outside because it was so gross.

Now, there are some great things about having chickens in the yard too. Primarily, I got fresh eggs on a regular basis (until they started hopping the wall and hiding them in neighbors' yards). Second, they love grubs as much as I hate them. Any time I'm digging in the yard, they are right there with me, waiting for a chance to snap up a juicy grub. They turn those grubs (and a lot of other stuff) into excellent fertilizer. Lastly, they're sweet, easy creatures. I think their temperament is similar to that of cats. They're independent enough to exist alone quite happily as long as I keep their food and water filled but when I'm out there they ask to be petted or held. That's the kind of pet I like.
Mostly because of the chickens, but also due to some other life issues, my garden was pretty sad in 2016. The total harvest from my yard (ignoring the eggs) was 2 tomatoes, which weren't ripe until November and 1 strawberry. I did pull up and sift all the rocks in the front yard, laying down fresh weed barrier. During that project I planted a row of spineless prickly pears, which are coming in nicely. Photos of the cacti later.
Looking forward, this will be a good year. Little Digger is old enough to help me in the garden now. The chickens, rather than running rampant through the yard, are now mostly contained in a large pen. The dog passed away so he can no longer dig things up. The neighbors moved away, taking their dogs with them, so I can garden without being barked at. I am pretty excited.

This year will be good. I will dig. Plants will grow.

I can't wait to get out there.

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