Ander is expected home in the next couple of days. I am excited for my darling hubby to be home. Since he’s been gone, I’ve had to take care of the “girlie-girls”. This entails waking up at dawn, open the gates to the backyard, open the gate to the coop, throw out grain and feed for the day, gather the eggs the girls have laid that day, close the gates at dark. These days it doesn’t get dark until after 9:00PM. I have to leave a post-it on the door to remind me the last task I need to do before locking the doors and windows for the night.
"The Girlie-Girls" . . .
Over the last week and a half, I’ve gotten to get to know the girls a little better. There is one hen that greets me with a peck on the back of my hand. I call her “Pekker”. In the past, we had the habit of naming the hens as they matured from their “pullet” stage. Since we don’t have a rooster, (as mentioned in a previous post, Ander is “the Rooster”), we resort to getting new hens when they are at about 3 months old. They are separated from the older hens for 3-4 months until they get big enough to protect themselves. As there is a pecking order among this breed of fowl, the young hens must fend for themselves. “Survivor of the fittest”, truly applies here. Ander’s theory has been to purchase the same “varietal” of hens, as “Birds of a feather, stick together”. We no longer name the hens, as there are too many to identify one from the other. However, the original Araucanas, Bella, Brava and Boca have remained distinguished. They lay beautiful green-blue eggs.
Thyme on my hands...
I also have to water the summer garden of numerous vegetables, herbs, cacti and flowers. They include, 67 varied heirloom tomato plants, 12 Tromboco squash, 16 lemon cukes, over 3 dozen bean plants, 48 pepper plants (sweet, mild and chili), lettuce leaf basil, sweet basil, Oregano (Italian, Greek and Mexican – Yes, there is a difference), Sweet Marjoram, Yerba Buena (True Mint), Pineapple Mint, Thyme (English, Lemon and Silver), Sage, Italian Parsley, French Tarragon, Arugula, Cilantro, Rosemary and Bay Laurel bushes. The prizes of the garden are the Lemon Verbena Plants that have been nurtured into small trees from tiny little cuttings. They have been transplanted into fresh, nourished soil and progressively larger pots each season. (An upcoming post will explain why they are such a prized item.)
Prickly Pear Cactus . . .
Bordering the redwood and chain link fence lines are cactus plants that no one would ever think of eating. But, don’t be alarmed; we remove the cactus needles before preparing them for consumption. Ander makes his signature “Nopal Salsa” every summer. What we don’t consume during the season, I preserve for winter use. I have been collecting various scented geraniums the last several years. It’s always on my agenda to search and find unique scents during our travels. There is a certain mystical energy when walking through the garden that stimulates the senses and demands your attention.
The start of a good thing . . .
I don’t mind the chores of having such a vast garden. I learned to water at the wake of dawn, versus dusk. My first night of “hand watering”, the mosquitoes had a wonderful “buffet de moi”. Hand water you ask? There is a “Zen-like” nature that comes over you when holding a watering can over a young seedling sprinkling it with subsistence. One can meditate or simply daydream. It provides an escape. The sound of trickling water is indeed calming. Should you have the desire to water your garden with the end of the garden hose, may I make the suggestion of avoiding a used, yard sale find, taped in various degrees in a futile attempt to plug up the countless holes throughout the length of the rubber tube. Ander’s “good enough” methods will have to be reviewed. I have found myself throwing my head back in surprise of a squirt here and there. Suffering from a herniated disk, this practice is not a good thing. I found myself soaked on the first day of watering, which was welcomed comfort considering the sweltering heat of the morning. I know what to get him for his upcoming birthday. LOL!
Ander enjoys being in the garden. When he doesn’t have a paintbrush in hand or taking photographs, he is in his zone in the garden. Another lesson I’ve learned, Ander advised, not to water in the evening as it reduces the heat absorbed by the soil during the day. The rewards of watching the growth and progress of the plants are gratifying. The harvest is bountiful and those that we openhandedly share the gifts of the garden are truly grateful. We enjoy seeing the results of what the bounty provides. Even better, we get pleasure from the delightful meals that we get to share with family and friends.
In the next few weeks, I am sure to find inspiration to write about what offerings we are to discover in this amazing haven.