I began this blog thinking I would post almost daily about chickens, home, and garden. What I have realized is that summer holds little time for hanging about in front of a computer. This blog was born of long winter days which nurture self improvement plans and time for plenty of reflection. Once the weather begins to warm into growing season, my time is spent almost exclusively outdoors, housework forgotten, sewing projects left ignored, even books cast aside as I become once again ” a bride married to amazement,” as Mary Oliver has said. Knowing this season is short, I want to soak up enough sunshine and color to warm me through those endless days of winter. And now that summer is waning, the sky could not be a brighter blue, the air holds a hint of crispness, and sweaterless nights spent sitting outside in the warm dark listening to the chanting of crickets and cicadas become precious. I have become aware this summer that I am as much a part of our beautiful natural world as the fur, feather and plant creatures which I so love to observe and care for. It is a process coined recently by the term “rewilding.” Which is the process of connecting once again to our wild nature, inside and out. So I have committed to daily sitting by the woods in all weather, soaking in the energy of the trees, and noting the gradual changes which occur as summer begins to wane. It took me a while, but I am beginning to feel that I belong there. I sing, chant, pray, meditate and hope that my relationship with the living things around me is reciprocal.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, the young chickens have begun laying, and I need to take some photos to record how they have grown. Nellie is on her way to becoming lead hen. She has a tall comb and lays an egg almost every day. Daisy, whom I cannot keep from calling Sunshine so I will probably rename her that, is second in command, and dear Maizie has been the last to mature and begin laying. My old girls, Buffy and Yellow Feet are really slowing down, but Buffy is still a regular layer and maintains her place as lead oldest hen.
The garden has been rather mediocre this season. I allowed all the volunteer sunflowers to grow wherever they planted themselves and this created a kind of living fence which my tomatoes definitely did not appreciate. I have had enough to can a few jars but not nearly as many as last summer. One beautiful benefit to having a garden filled with sunflowers is that they have become goldfinch heaven. What a sight to see so many golden birds on the sunflower heads. I have tried all summer to sneak a photo, but they are on to my tricks! My cucumbers came up beautifully, produced enough for a turn of bread and butter pickles, and promptly died almost overnight. The only thing which did really well was the zucchini. When will I learn NOT to plant three hills? We have eaten zucchini bread, muffins, fries, zoodles, sauteed, for almost every meal since July. The peppers FINALLY decided to bloom and produce late in August. I will have to brag that I was able to successfully grow carrots this year, and even one hill of cantaloupe.
The most exciting thing that has happened this summer is that we got a new golden retriever puppy. She is absolutely adorable, and it was pure serendipity that we were able to bring this little angel into our family. Her name is Caitlin, after our Scottish niece. She has brought so much joy into our home already. And Sadie is a great big sister!
I have become acutely aware of the process of transformation in these latter days of summer. So many subtle changes are afoot if one has the ability to pay attention. My “littles” have become growing and laying hens. Our puppy is adapting to our routines, and Sadie has learned to share and monitor puppy play, participating joyfully. Forest undergrowth has thinned, and brown leaves cover the ground as the trees begin to show us how to let go. In our front garden the milkweed I plant each year in honor of my friend Roianne has become host to an abundance of monarch butterfly caterpillars. We are discovering the bright green, gold jeweled monarch chrysalids attached to our fence rail, in our hanging baskets and hidden in our hydrangea shrub. I believe these late monarchs are the ones which will migrate to Mexico. We are carefully monitoring the chrysalids, awaiting the day the butterfies emerge. Now THAT, is where hope resides.