I Guess I Asked For It

crazy fungus on straw bales

Remember how I made you all question my sanity just a bit in a previous post when I told you that I’m pretty sure that if I don’t expect all possible outcomes, good and bad, of a situation, that the less-than-ideal is bound to prevail?  Well, look no further for evidence that I am not a complete nutcase.*  I have it here for you.  It comes in the form of a naive, but happy and carefree post about how finally, finally summer was here.  Finally the rain had stopped.  Finally every single day of the forecast into the foreseeable future held nothing but blue skies and warm temperatures.  Finally.

Finally?

Yeah right.

I knew I was tempting fate when I wrote that, but heck… I was all caught up in the delirium of happiness last Saturday afforded me.  I tossed caution to the wind.  I wrote with passionate abandon, driven by nothing more than my giddy emotions and the promise of summer that floated in the air.  And I should have known better.

Sunday morning held that familiar wintry chill, and we waited in line on the sidewalk for brunch at The Screen Door, shivering in our fleeces.  By the time we were done, the wind had blown in and kicked the clouds out and I held out hope that perhaps it was just a cool morning.  By early afternoon, winds were high and my denial was higher.  I slathered on the sunscreen and headed out to work on my front yard landscaping project.

June 2009 - the beginning

The middle - December 2009

The current - June 2010

Determined not to be blown back inside to the realm of unproductivity (like my cool new word?), I actually made some really good progress, despite having to weight down everything that weighed less than five pounds.  The next morning dawned in the 40s and finished up with a whopping daytime high of 56 degrees, and it was so dark outside that I needed the lights on in the house all day long.  The rain started again that night while we slept.  And since then, it’s more or less been raining.  Again.  Still.  Forever.  And ever.  And ever.  And that, my friends, is what I get for posting about warm, sunny, dry summer like it was actually here to stay.  Ta DA!

Garden and Chickens

Sweetheart cherry

For the most part, the gardens and chickens are not thrilled with the weather either, but a few things are pushing bravely ahead nonetheless.  It looks like we’re going to get a nice handful of Sweetheart sweet cherries, if all goes well, and both tart cherry trees are on track to bear small crops as well.

The corn and beans in the Three Sisters garden are chugging along as best they can, though they would prefer some heat.  Only one of my seven corn/bean mounds is complete with four corn plants and four bean plants.  Each of the others is short a corn or two or a bean plant, but at this point, I don’t fee like reseeding AGAIN and so it is what it is.  The squash/pumpkins in the Three Sisters is actually doing quite well and soon I will have to thin to two plants per mound, which is never easy for me, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

On perhaps the happiest (and most surprising) front, my tomatoes have decided to ignore the weather and go ahead and start setting fruit anyway.  In theory, tomatoes won’t set fruit unless the nighttime temperature stays above 55 degrees.  Heck, our daytime temperatures still aren’t always above 55 degrees yet, but apparently my tomatoes haven’t noticed.  Maybe they’re just happy that they’re not being nearly frozen every night anymore.  Now, please note that when  I say “set fruit” I mean just that – a couple of the flowers have been pollinated and I have a couple of TEENSY baby tomatoes.  I mentioned this to Sarah (who lives in Virginia and has been having a heatwave) yesterday and she said, “are they turning red yet?”  Um, not exactly.

newborn baby sungold twins

Like I said – I take what I can get at this point.  We may be a long way from homemade Caprese salads every night, but this is actually way earlier than I had any fruit set last year and we had an early, warm, dry spring last year.  In our part of the Pacific Northwest, most people don’t expect homegrown garden tomatoes until August.  I’m starting to think there’s really something to this start-em-early-and-protect-the-heck-out-of-them approach.  In the most non-tomatoey weather ever, we have fruit set!

Go, tomatoes, go!

The happiest of all, though, hands down, are the peas.  Laughing in the face of the mysterious plant choppers and loving the cool weather, my pea vines, tall and short alike, are now covered in flowers and peas of all sorts and are growing by leaps and bounds.  The unchopped plants are already way too big for the trellis that worked just fine last year.  I have strapped them to it with garden twine to keep them from breaking under their own weight as they reach out in every direction.

The peppers and eggplants, however, are not loving the weather so much.  I have no pictures because it is too sad.  The are small and droopy and lace-leafed as they sit in suspended animation, being devoured by slugs and chopped by plant choppers, waiting for their beloved dry heat.  Some send forth flowers which bloom slowly and sadly before turning black and falling off.  They need heat.  End of story.

My Hood strawberry plants in the garden are enthusiastic for sure – full, lush, healthy plants, with lots of berries, but with all the excess water and no stress, the berries are soft with watered-down flavor.  I pick a handful or two every day or so and they are only OK.  My beloved Mara Des Bois in the strawberry pots are still struggling to recover from this winter’s harsh temperatures.  They are timidly sending out new leaves from their frostbitten crowns, scared that summer might never arrive.  Last year by this time, I was already picking bowls and bowls of Mara Des Bois.  To say this year has been different is a vast understatement.

Ah, Yes, The Chickens…

Sofia, broody in the baby coop

Well, the chickens are just fine and laying like crazy.  Eighteen months is supposed to be the laying peak for hens, and that seems accurate to me.  We get eggs from just about all hens every single day, and they are consistently much bigger than they used to be.  We are swimming in eggs and giving them away to neighbors and coworkers as fast as we can and they still dominate our fridge.  Because I’m a dope or a coward or probably both, Sofia and the baby are still in the baby coop and now Sofia’s gone broody AGAIN.  This presents a problem because Miss Not-Independent (Thirteen) won’t come out of the coop without mommy and so neither of them gets out to free range anymore.

Thirteen hides in the baby coop with mama

Instead, when I open the doors to both coops, all the other chickens run into the baby coop to scratch for feed like it’s somehow different from the identical feed in their own coop, and the baby pecks them on the head to chase them away and then squeaks and runs and hides if they peck back.  All through this, Sofia puffs up into a ball and says, “cluck.  cluck.  cluck.  cluck,” and gives everyone the evil eye until they leave and she can settle back on whatever egg she has at the moment.  It is not productive.

On a similar but unrelated front, Daisy Mae has decided that she is an indoor chicken.  Indoor ONLY, that is.  At some point a few months ago, she more or less decided to stop coming out to graze entirely.  Who knows why.  Perhaps it’s because the second she steps foot out the door, all three roosters come FLYING over to her with great passion furiously mate with her until she gets away, feathers flying, and dashes back into the safety of the coop.  That could have something to do with it.

Daisy Mae observes from the safety of the high perch

And so now, you can pretty much count on her to pace back and forth up on the high indoor/outdoor perch, braaaawking  and clucking with concern, while everyone else enjoys the grass.

Poor girl is missing most of the feathers on her back from all the good lovin’ she’s been getting, and so I don’t blame her a bit.  And while she is clearly the roosters’ favorite, she is also quite clearly the lowest lady on the chicken totem pole.  She is the metaphorical Mack at the bottom of the turtle tower, with no hope of a reprieve.  She eats in quick, furtive bursts when she can steal a bite, because the other hens all peck her head and chase her away from the food.  Same goes for dust baths, perches, and any other thing of which chickens are desirous.  She can’t catch a break.

*You all WERE looking for evidence, right??  I will go ahead and assume it was consuming your every waking moment, and I have therefore saved your lives by providing you with this lovely concrete evidence that my theory is correct.

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