I need some gardening tips!

This is the first year that my strawberry plants are producing fruit. So far, I haven’t been able to taste a single one OR see one whole thanks to the freaking chipmunks.

I thought I’d take one more glance into my strawberry bed tonight, just to see if I could get lucky on a Monday.

Behold! There was a perfect berry: big, red, plump, no teeth marks. Hooray!

Except there was one problem – the underside had been eaten away by slugs. So my “perfect” berry was tossed to the chickens.

So, I need tips on dealing with slugs AND furry woodland creatures. Who’s got some?

Farmer’s luck

Warning: This will not be a traditional, light-hearted post from me.

As of Saturday, I have five chickens instead of six.

Millie, the hen that had the impacted crop in December that I somehow managed to cure, passed away that morning. That simple chicken’s death impacted me a lot more than I thought it would.

She’d not been feeling right for about two weeks, and I’m still not exactly sure what was wrong with her. I tried all of my usual chicken treating tips to help since I don’t have a vet around that treats chickens. No luck.

I know I should consider myself pretty darn lucky since I’ve had my laying hens for 2.5 years and only recently lost one. It may have been just an old age issue to begin with. However, I was surprised how upset I became over the whole thing. I originally thought my attitude would be “Eh, it’s just a chicken. It’s not like it was a pet. She’s out of her misery now if she was miserable.”

But that’s a lie. To me, they are pets despite being livestock, and maybe that’s foolish thinking on my part. They’re not affectionate like a cat or dog, and they certainly don’t sleep in my bed at night or even live in the house, but they are animals that I am responsible for. They provide me eggs. And in return, I feel like our unwritten agreement is that in return for their eggs, I keep them fed, protected from predators, healthy, housed in a clean environment and all of the bugs they care to eat.

And with Millie’s death, I feel like I didn’t uphold my end of the bargain.

Of course, things die. I know this. They die, are returned to the ground, and the circle begins anew.

The rest of my little flock is fine with no signs of any illness. For that I am thankful. After discussing Millie’s passing with my family, I’ve been told I did all I could do to the best of my abilities. That still hasn’t stopped me from second-guessing myself though.

Maybe it’s simply a case of plain farmer’s luck.

Baby bird bonanza

My husband has joked for years that I’m a “bird brain” because I absolutely love having birds around my house, even if they do tend to raid the garden once in awhile. You can’t match the serenity of finches singing outside the kitchen window as you’re drinking the morning cup o’ joe.

This spring has been bonkers for chicks! I had three pairs of nesting robins, my barn swallows were back again this year, I’m pretty sure I have a pair of Eastern phoebes around with a nest and I have nesting tree swallows. I’ve also spotted young house sparrows around the feeder too. I’ve never had this many baby birds tweeting around the yard.

I managed to snatch a photo of two of the robin nests before the babies took off:

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I love their little fuzzy heads.

Whaddya lookin' at?

Whaddya lookin’ at?

This is my pair of tree swallows. This is a first for me this year. They took up residence in a bluebird box my great-uncle made, which was fashioned after my great-grandfather’s design. It’s a bummer that the bluebirds weren’t interested, but I’m not sad that swallows have moved in either. They eat a ridiculous amount of insects! As of Sunday when I took a peek, they had six small white eggs in their nest.

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Did you have any babies running around your yard this spring?

The garden is in!

It took us longer than usual, but Sax Guy and I got the garden planted tonight. We’re trying companion planting this year to see if that improves veggie growth and I added oyster shell with the tomatoes, etc. to combat blossom-end rot. Here’s hoping that works this year!

Here’s what’s in the ground:

Golden Jet and Beauregard sweet potatoes
Henderson’s bush limas*
Lazy wife beans*
Kennebec and Red Pontiac potatoes
Amish Paste tomatoes*
California Wonder bell peppers
Pimento sweet red peppers*
Green Curled Scotch kale*
Bloomsdale spinach*
Little Marvel peas
Gill’s Golden pippin squash*
American Flag leeks
Ruby Queen beets*

*Denotes a new variety or a new veggie that we’re trying this year. If you’ve tried these, I’d love to know how they worked for you.

I can’t wait to turn those tomatoes to pizza sauce! Canning is the second-best part of gardening.

So what have you planted this year? What are you looking forward to tasting the most?

A sign that spring is coming

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I deal with various furry woodland creatures around my house.

Every spring, I have the battle of the chipmunks. Skunks and raccoons frequent the garden in the summer.

Now, I have a bigger problem since the temperatures are starting to warm up and furry creatures wake up from their long winter naps.

Squirrels.

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My usual tactic is to grease my shepherd’s hook with lard or Crisco. It makes the pole slippery enough to deter chipmunks, but the squirrels aren’t bothered by it.

Ugh. They’d be easier to hate if they weren’t so cute.

Back to the drawing board. I think I just need to give up and buy a baffle.