Garden me please

free-range-chickens
I am one hundred percent ready for Spring. My chickens are also, one hundred percent ready for Spring. I have slowly watched them have a melt down over the past couple of months. They hate going out in the snow under any circumstances and they refuse, I mean refuse to leave their coop when anything is wet. Perhaps I have raised little princesses. Who knows. Currently, they are pecking at one another in a horrible fashion as I think they are losing their minds. I have tried everything to distract them: fresh kale, scratch, bread, a pecking block, a light for warmth, then no light for warmth, new straw, new grit, I mean I have completely run out of ideas. I just want the ground to be clear so that I can open up their little door and let them frolic around the yard in sheer delight. Right now, it’s hard to imagine. My backyard currently resembles Alaska with my garden underneath completely sheathed in a thick blanket of snow. I am so anxious to get the season going. And truthfully, by this time last year, I was already in the planning stages and buying my seeds.

I truly have felt that I have come a long way since my first season here in Maine. I arrived here in April and immediately requested a giant raised bed garden. My husband delivered and I planted in that thing everything I could think of, even things that don’t grow in Maine. There were a few million learning experiences, many items ripped from the ground and thrown in the woods, animals scorned and threatened and of course, many many plants lost to simple mistakes. I learned most importantly, the first year, you have to start simple. Grow only the things you really love to eat in larger quantities. Less to confuse that way. My first year I concentrated just on the garden. Two years ago I chose to add my chickens which have been such an interesting experience. Scooping shit out of a coop in huge loads with like two feet of snow on the ground is not an enjoyable task, let me tell you. But they have taught me so much about where our food comes from and what happens when you are really good to an animal. They follow me around, they come back when they are lost and their eggs, are sheer bliss.

Last year entered the fruit. I planted grapevines, eight of them, in hopes of some delightful wine in 5 or 10 years, right about the time I am ready to buy a new house. I chose a varietal that could also be a table grape and one that does well in cooler climates. I have no idea if I pruned them correctly, even after reading countless books and I can say in all honesty, I am crossing my fingers that they make it out of winter alive as they were a very expensive investment. I also planted 4 apple trees and two pear trees. Same thing with the pruning. No idea. I’m a “do” type of person, very visual, so sometimes all the reading material in the world won’t get me there until I lay my fingers on it.

This year, I’m adding the bees. Yes, I’m doing it. I ordered them this morning and I’m only 56% freaked out about the prospect. Bees don’t scare me, I think they are magical creatures. Killing them scares me. I mean they are so necessary and I know they will improve my garden so much. I would hate to be the one that wipes a hive out. I’m hoping that with enough research, a good book, some prodding of beekeeping friends as well as the right equipment, I can figure it out. I am most perplexed by how one actually gets them into the hive, not so much about the process after that. It has amazed me though the fear that comes with these little creatures. When I informed my in-laws that I was doing this, they looked frightened that it might kill my children. I mean really, as long as they are far enough away, well placed and no one bothers them, it will be like they don’t exist. Bees don’t want to attack. They do it only to defend themselves. So if you leave them alone, no worries, they will leave you alone. It’s all about balance.

Once the fear of screwing up goes away I am sure I will be more than delighted. They will arrive around Mother’s Day which will be quite the present.

I continue to be amazed at life up here. It really is an amazing place. I feel connected. And it’s such a wonderful thing.

Now, if only the snow would hit the damn road.

Lot’s of great things coming this weekend by the way. Recipes. Updates. Products. I plan to be very busy.

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