October Mid-Month Meanderings II

October?

It shouldn’t surprise me.  The signs are there.The leaves are changing. I finally put away the fan that has occupied the hallway for weeks and moved a space heater upstairs. The dehumidifier is in business once again.  I should know it is October, but still, I’m surprised.

Other than a brief return to my old job as a nurse, I’ve been mostly off work for a year. (Before you think it has been all rainbows and unicorns let me remind you that 2011? Not so great really.)  Wrist surgery recovery. Back injury healing. Dad with life threatening illness. Chicken infirmary in my basement.)  Anyway- a year!  A year away from a regular job-job.  Among other things, this means that I haven’t written the date regularly for a year. Such a little thing. The date.

I can always tell you what day of the week it is.  But what week or date it is doesn’t really seem to matter so much in my world.   Season after season I’ve gardened in our space. I know the rhythm of the garden, what is in season, what to do.  It is fall.

I don’t need to know what week it is to note a change in the weather that whispers “Hey summer gardener! Psst!  Now would be a good time to add some winter protection if you are going to do it this year.”  So, the Babylady and I put in new hoop houses.  Fall.

grow and resist october mid month meanderings hoop houses

The newly installed hoop houses. Easy & cheap!

The noticeable shift to morning darkness, as well as (seemingly) sudden dark evenings, beckons me to assess chicken coop supplemental lighting. Morning timer lights get reinstalled so the girls (fingers crossed) will lay fresh, rich eggs through the winter.  Fall.

grow and resist october mid month meanderings chicken laying egg

Fresh egg anyone?

The date doesn’t tell me when exactly to plant the garlic. But it is in, safely tucked in fertile soil and blanketed with mulch.  Other tasks completed as well. Summer crops pulled. Cover crop or winter crops in. Perennial beds weeded and mulched with straw from the chicken run.  Fall.

grow and resist october mid month meanderings straw mulched garlic bed

Garlic is in under the straw. The straw we took from the chicken run. So, it serves as weed prevention, insulation and will add chicken poop nutrients too. Our herbs have been somewhat spread out all over the place and this fall I've been moving them to this general area along the front edge of the bed.

The tomatoes are gone, the apples are perfect, and the kale is tall.  Fall.

Want to come along for a walk?

grow and resist october mid month meanderings apple

The Scarlet Sentinel columnar apple. It is delicious- crisp and sweet- and the perfect size for snacking.

grow and resist october mid month meanderings ground cherry

The beautiful ground cherry. They'll never ripen this late. And I can't bear to pull it. So in the ground, under the hoops it stays.

grow and resist october mid month meandering ripe ground cherry

I did, however, find one perfect ripe cherry in the center of the bush!

grow and resist mid month meanderings in the hoop house

A look in one of the hoops

grow and resist mid month meanderings in the hoop house

Another peek- lettuce, leeks, chard.

grow and resist mid month meanderings brussel sprout

Itty brussel sprouts. They are smaller this year than last so we'll see how they turn out. When they get bigger the Babylady likes to pop them off and eat them.

grow and resist mid month meanderings brussel sprout slug

My nemesis, the slug, has returned with gusto.

grow and resist mid month meanderings lettuce

I am hoping I can stretch the late summer/fall lettuce out awhile longer under the hoops before I switch over to all-kale-all-the-time for the winter. I seeded a bunch more fall lettuce, spinach, and arugula and they are popping in pretty well.

grow and resist mid month meanderings borage

Borage reseeds. A lot. Everywhere. Luckily, they are easily to identify and pull out easily. I spray the arrivals in the gravel pathways with vinegar and it kills them. Even though it can be borderline invasive, I love it. The bees adore it, it is a beneficial plant for pest protection and has a long tap root to break up heavy soil.

grow and resist mid month meanderings aspen and daisies

I could cut the daisies back. But my friends the birds love their little seeds. I must comply. (They are sort of borderline invasive as well. And again, the bees and birds love them and they are incredibly hardy. I think they are beautiful.

grow and resist october mid month meanderings bushtit backyard birds

The skittish little bushtits are back. I adore them. They love the aspen, daisies, and, of course, the suet. This is their usual hang out spot

grow and resist october mid month meanderings junco backyard birds

The juncos have returned.

grow and resist mid month meanderings evergreen huckleberry native plant

Aren't the evergreen huckleberries sweet? A simple beauty.

grow and resist mid month meanderings mushroom

Every year about this time our native plant area, under the madrone tree, pops out tons of mushrooms. What are they? I have no idea.

grow and resist mid month meanderings molting chicken

Annie? Yep, she is molting. You can see some of her feathers are kind of wild.

grow and resist mid month meanderings molting chicken

But this is what really gave it away.

grow and resist mid month meanderings molting chicken

And this.

This is the first time we’ve had molting hens. Molting is the annual shedding and regrowth of feathers.  Hens will usually start doing this after their first year in late summer/early fall. It is very odd. All the feathers? They arrived in one day! Dust bath? Feathers flying. Scratch? Out goes a feather.  She leaves a trail of feathers behind her.  They are everywhere!  Our polish hen, Calypso, is also molting and looks quite pitiful.  Oddly, about the same time she began to molt, she also decided she should sleep in the nest box. I read that they might act strange during molt but I’m not sure this is what they meant. Who knows?

That is all from here- Happy mid-October!

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6 Responses to October Mid-Month Meanderings II

  1. Traveling Mom says:

    I love your pictures – you really have a great eye for seeing the spot for a perfect picture. I love your yard!!

  2. Shae says:

    Quincie is molting up a storm, too. It looks like we could make a whole extra pigeon out of all the feathers she’s dropped in the past few days. And I didn’t know you had ground cherries! (Or, um, cherry.) Have you grown them successfully in the past? I was so happy with mine this year. I’m counting on them to volunteer next year, as I have heard they like to do. Next question: Where did you get your hoop houses? Okay, I’ll stop now. But I do love your meanderings.

    • Shae- I’d love to see a pic of a molting Quince! Isn’t it nuts? Annie shook today and a poof of feathers came flying out of her. And she is so pokey under her thinned out coat. The ground cherry was given to me by a friend. A friend of hers, that recently passed, cultivated it himself, so it is a variety named after him Amando Barzola Hidalgo. (you can read a bit about him here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theolympian/obituary.aspx?n=barzola-hidalgo&pid=149626222 if you want!) So, I really want to save the seeds and keep it going. I haven’t grown them before–so that was my 1 successful ground cherry =)
      I made the hoop houses– they were ridiculously easy & cheap. I’ll message you!

  3. What a walk it was!

    My son got to see chickens yesterday. At first he was afraid, for they’re birds, and birds are scary. He got in a few pats though, and seeing his pride at conquering his fear–for a moment–warmed my heart.

  4. Borage…the bane of my allotment (other than Jerusalem Artichokes that is 😉
    I love that the bees love them too but they can get a bit much when seedlings pop up over every bed.

    • The sheer quantity of seedlings are impressive to say the least! The ones that pop up in my pathways I spray with undiluted vinegar on a dry day and that kills them. The rest I just pull up and feed to the chickens. They seem to like it when they are small (~ 1-3 inches) and they are easy to pull out. But, I am sensing they could easily become a problem if i’m not careful. Yikes!

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