Dean and I have been enjoying the fresh country air with our chickens these past few days. While Dean roams around the coop, chucks dried corn at the chickens through the wire, and sprinkles corn around the garden or into his egg basket, I watch him bumbling around the garden like an adorable bumblebee on legs in his puffy orange coat. Every now and then he takes a tumble and goes down on his hands and knees. One time he sits on his bum, gains a little too much momentum, and rolls down on his back with a surprised face staring up at the sky. I set him on his feet again and he bumbles off. A minute later he gives a wounded cry and turns to me for comfort, holding up his finger for inspection. I'm pretty sure a chicken thought it was a worm.
Dean's been having a lot of fun lately, and not just with the chickens. Who knew purple pens were so purple? Or that couch cushions made such great drawing boards? Or that eggs were so wonderfully messy when rubbed into the carpet? Or that the compost bucket under the sink made such a great hiding spot for one's toys?
I love this kid so much. <3
And fortunately, he's a great cleaner-upper. OK – not his toys so much. But he insisted on helping me with the ink stains (he enjoyed pressing them with a wet paper towel). And he loves to put away the dishes (he can just barely tip the silverware into the drawer—Daddy lifts him up to put the plates and glasses away, which is extra fun). Anything we do, he wants to do, even if it means doing chores he'll probably hate to do when he's a little older. :P
Some other Dean-moments for you:
|Daddy gives Dean a ride. :)|
|Dean builds a little tower. <3|
|Dean helps Daddy eat his breakfast.|
|Chugging down Daddy's orange juice...|
|Dean and Daddy reading together.|
In other news, Andrew got some work done on the chicken area:
|The garden and chicken area.|
|This is not what the finished yard will look like, but it's the general idea. We'll eventually spread the straw around the chicken yard and use a tarp to protect the chickens from the wind (when they're inside the coop).|
|It's hard to see, but there's a segment of wire stretched across the top of the chicken coop. It's not the original device Andrew planned to make, but hopefully it'll work. It's definitely easier.|
|From the other side of the coop. There's a space to go in and collect eggs, etc.|
|Happy baby :)|
In other news.....
It's late November, frost has come and gone several times, and I'm starting to realize that my garden's full potential will not be realized anytime soon.
The beets have tops but no beets.
The cucumbers keeled over a long time ago.
The chives never showed up.
The broccoli is growing beautiful leaves and no broccoli.
The fennel has some splendid leaves and no bulbs.
The carrots are scrawny.
|The spinach. You can barely see it because of the ground cover, but it's there!|
|The rest of the garden. Not exactly comparable to the gardens at Monticello. But, in my defense, I did originally plant the broccoli in a straight line! The next day, it rained like crazy and rearranged everything.|
On the upside:
Spinach doesn't get any fresher than this. And it is GOOD STUFF.
Nor does kale. And when you pick it small, it's a lot more tender than the grocery-store version.
Beet tops are edible. Good in salads.
Cucumbers are dispensable. (Sigh.)
Chives can be grown indoors. (Which is the new plan this winter.)
Fennel leaves are also edible – great in salads!
Scrawny carrots are still edible if a little pathetic (let's not talk about that).
What I've learned:
It's very important to THIN THE PLANT if the seed packet tells you to THIN THE PLANT.
Never mind the excuses, “It'll probably be okay” (it won't) or “the beets might be a bit on the small side, but they'll still grow” (they won't).
So basically, laziness is counterproductive, and instructions really are meant to be obeyed. (What a strange idea!)
If you don't do the work that's required, you won't get the results you want. It's as simple as that.
But also – God is gracious even to lazy and disobedient green-thumbed gardeners like me. Even though I didn't do the work properly, I can still enjoy some of the produce from my fall garden – the spinach, kale, beet tops and fennel leaves, maybe even a carrot or two (maybe).
I don't feel discouraged, overall. I made some significant mistakes, and lost a good bit of produce, but I also know what I did wrong--and that gives me the chance to correct it next year.
Does anyone here like to garden? In terms of gardening, what has been your greatest success and your greatest mistake?
See you soon!