flames claim the night sky
face forward, time to wake up
gold fades to day blue
face forward by Angie Quantrell
photo by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley
Just look at all of that corn, beans, and radishes!
Oh. Wait. You can’t see anything but a few stems and missing row of radishes. That’s because we have invaders. Of the rabbit-y sort. The ones who LOVE almost everything in my garden: corn, radishes, green beans, parsley, kale (they really adore kale), and another leafy green similar to chard. All gone.
Plus. Holes. They love excavating as well. I think they can smell the new corn kernel seeds I planted, because several holes line up exactly where I replanted (and replanted).
Ignore the weeds. I gave up in frustration.
We have bunnies (formerly known as pets). People have dumped them. So now between the neighbors and us, we have a colony. A fluffle. We are happy that most of them live beneath the neighbor’s outbuildings (while 4 live at Taylor and Jamie’s as actual pets). But the green pasture is alluring. And the used-to-be growing garden a delight.
Two black bunnies edge nearer to the the pot of gold at the end of the garden rainbow. Grrrrr.
So today. Take that. And that. And THAT!
We installed a bunny barrier. It’s not tall, but we only need to deter Peter Rabbit, Cottontail, Flopsy, Mopsy, Benjamin, and their buds from free ranging the garden beds. We hope.
The question is, besides onions, garlic, basil, several chocolate cherry sunflowers, a few green beans, and a marigold or two, what is there time to replant (time number 4 for some items) that will mature before the frost?
Sigh. It was looking so good! Grumble grumble. Back to the drawing board.
mom feathers afluff
dad’s piercing cry, distracting
leads astray, away
distraction by Angie Quantrell
photos by Angie Quantrell, a pasture somewhere in the Yakima Valley
This scene took place yesterday after 2 killdeer parents escorted their 3 remaining offspring (they usually lay 4 eggs at a time) right to the RV. I heard loud piercing cries, looked out the side window and there they were, tiny stick-legged babies. Perfectly placed for capture by our magnificent hunter cat, Monet. EEK. Good thing for them, Monet was inside napping. Also, good thing for them, I went racing out to try and shoo them away.
Which was not as easy as one would expect! What with the babies racing in opposite directions (from me and each other) and the parents doing the same, attempting to distract me from the babies. 30 minutes. It took that long to figure out how to get them all close to the horse pasture next to us and hopefully far enough from monster cat to survive.
But along the way, such cuteness and fierce protection from the parents! One parent actually took a dive at me, though my best intentions were to save them. The giant person was threatening.
It’s a bit blurry (they move fast), but can you spot 3 babies?
I said yes.
On this date, April 23, 1979, at my dad’s birthday party, this guy popped the girlfriend question. And the rest, they say, is his (and her) story. Our story. What an adventure it’s been! 43 years ago.
The attempted photo recreation…
The journey continues, my honey and me, best friends.
The Chickens Are Coming!
Written and illustrated by Barbara Samuels
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2019
I was sitting in my she shed the other day and heard a nearby rooster crowing. Very nearby. Just a note: we do not have chickens OR roosters.
Though our neighbors do. So we often have feathered guests running around the pasture. But I’ve never heard the crowing this close.
I carefully tip-toed to the window and looked out. Sure enough, there was a handsome fellow and his girls right outside the door! They happily pecked and picked, enjoying free range exploration and snacking.
They make me laugh, those chickens. Seeing them made me remember a picture book I had just read to my grandson, The Chickens Are Coming!.
This is such a fun picture book. A brother and sister who live in a large city see a sign about chickens needing a new home. Pretty soon they are the owners of a delightful group of hens, each with a name and personality. The story continues as the siblings hope for eggs, but no eggs are found.
Why I Like This Book:
~ the chickens have personalities
~ the story line is fun: discover chickens need a home, adopt the chickens, learn about chickens, try to help the chickens get ready to lay eggs, try to find eggs, try to find chickens
~ plenty of detailed and engaging illustrations – my first grader was captivated by all of the things he could see on the pages
~ chickens in the city!
~ chicken dance
~ free range eggs (a personal favorite of mine)
Feeling like a good chicken story or adopting a hen or three? The Chickens Are Coming! will give you plenty of good reading and/or help you learn what you need to do when your chickens arrive.
It started out innocently enough.
The day after Taylor, my son, mowed the pasture, I was playing my one-millioneth game of chuck-it with Ginger and she stopped to nose around up by the ditch. Usually NOTHING will keep her from her ball, but something smelled goooood. I went up to see, since she was ignoring me.
And rats. It was a broken egg, most likely crushed by the lawn tractor. This had happened once before, with a killdeer nest. The babies were so silent with fear, they flattened out and survived the blade. This egg was unhatched and didn’t survive. But when I looked closer, the shell appeared white, and the yolk huge. Not a killdeer egg. But what type of egg was it?
This past weekend, my honey was changing the sprinklers and found an egg. Right in the middle of the grass, tucked down low. I went hunting, and sure enough. A big-enough to be chicken, but not quite pointy on either end, with a tinge of green.
Same day, later, Taylor was weed eating the pasture edges and ditch bank. With his fans in tow (Donavyn and Autumn), they discovered 2 more broken eggs and 2 whole eggs, but none in a nest beside each other. Some on this side of the ditch, at least one on the far side. One of the broken ones could have been the broken one I found. Or not. Same type of egg.
Later, after dinner, I went walking the pasture. I found yet another egg, randomly laid in the middle of the pasture. That makes 6 or 7 eggs, not in a nest or placed close to each other. Chicken-egg sized but oblong rather than pointy, all with the slight greenish hue.
What a mystery! As often as the next door chickens come and eat our bugs (thank you, chickens!), one would think we should have an egg or two found in odd places. But though I often urged them to nest up and share, they all know where they live, and at the slightest hint of one of us, they go running home.
Which is good. Because. You know. Bird dog.
Pasture. Roaming neighbor chickens. Turkeys. Wildlife by the buckets. Hawks, magpies, the occasional heron, crows, ducks. I’ve been trying to think of the larger birds that could be possible wandering egg layers. There’s just no sense of why here, and there, and way over there??? The egg on the opposite side of the ditch sort of rules out chickens, as they would have to cross the water and they are not too motivated unless food is involved.
Here is one of the eggs, with my thumb to give an idea of size. Does anyone have any ideas? All day yesterday I was on high alert, watching for birds in that area. Zip.
The mystery continues.
Nibbles, A Green Tale
Written and illustrated by Charlotte Middleton
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009
I have so many wonderful memories of the guinea pigs we loved during my years of teaching preschool. Our mama gave us hours of delight as we watched her lead her trail of babies around the room. Rustling plastic bags brought squeals demanding whichever “greens” we had brought. Both preschoolers and my family members loved snuggling and playing with these cuties.
Imagine my delight when I saw Nibbles, A Green Tale at the library! Nibbles is obviously a guinea pig, one who loves dandelions. With our current pasture-wide crop of dandelions, I couldn’t wait to read this picture book. If only I could borrow a city of dandelion-loving guinea pigs and let them camp out in the pasture for a week or two. That would take care of the clouds of white seeds.
Why I LOVE this book:
~ guinea pigs! Wheet, wheet!
~ guinea pigs who eat dandelions
~ guinea pigs wearing clothes!
~ a fun story of how one guinea pig rescued dandelions from becoming extinct
~ a green strategy to solve dandelion problems (though the sheer number of them needed to clear a pasture…)
~ adorable illustrations
~ wonderful story and characters
There is a sequel to this book, Nibbles: Another Green Tale. I can’t wait to track down a copy.