Rochester-bound & chicken moment of zen

(Zen can be found at the bottom of this post.)

A couple of people have written to ask how our dog, the Creature With Fangs, is taken the arrival of the baby chickens. (The CWF is a large, neurotic German Shepherd.)

We have not made the necessary introductions yet. There is a very good chance we never will. Some dogs take well to having chickens around. Other view them as a combination toy/snack.

And then there is the tennis ball problem. The CWF loves to chase after tennis balls, grab them in her mouth, and gnaw on them.

I am not sure the CWF would see much of a difference between a tennis ball and a five-day-old chicken. We are not going to test those waters quite yet.

Garden update: we’re still have frost in the morning, so I dare not transplant the veggies that like it hot. But they’ve all outgrown the little containers (also known as old egg cartons) that I started them in. So this morning I transplanted them to bigger pots of dirt. Another week or two and I hope they can go outside. Maybe I’ll just stick them out there sooner, and dress them in a jacket and scarf.

In between gardening, chicken-sitting and fussing over the compost heap…. oh, and writing; I do that, too, I am packing for this weekend’s trip to the ab-fab Rochester Teen Book Festival. You should join us!!!! It is the best, rockingingest YA book event east of the Mississippi River and it is FREE!!!!!

I’ll be there giving presentations, hanging out, signing sneakers, and laughing too loudly along with Holly Black, Coe Booth, Robin Brande, manga writing duo Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges, Marissa Doyle, Simone Elkeles, Ellen Hopkins, James Kennedy, A.S. King, Daniel Kirk, Alisa Libby, Barry Lyga, Mari Mancusi, Lisa McMann, Ben Mikaelsen, Alyson Noël, Sarah Ockler, Matt de la Peña, Amy Kathleen Ryan, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer E. Smith, Terry Trueman, Vivian Vande Velde, and Martin Wilson.

Can you freaking believe that line-up?

You know you want to join us. Come on, it’s Saturday. You don’t have baby chickens to take care of. Come hang out with us!!

My chickens said I should post the following picture for those of you who are feeling a bit stressed. They meditate quite a bit, my chickens, and I think it is the secret to their happiness.

Moment of zen.

Garden update

We are still about a month away from our last frost date, but I’ve gotten massive amounts of work done already.

Without really thinking about it too much, my husband and I are edging closer and closer to a more or less sustainable lifestyle. I guess the goal is to produce as much of our own food as possible. If we can’t or don’t grow it, then we try to buy local. (You may remember the Great Strawberry Jam Festival of 2008.) I’m willing to make a carbon footprint for a few things, like coffee and tea, but the list gets smaller every year.

This year’s veggie garden in 350 feet long and 6 feet wide. So far I’ve planted potatoes, onions, garlic, two kinds of peas, lettuce, spinach, horseradish, and rhubarb. Waiting on deck for the days to get a little warmer are the seedlings that I’ve been pampering: cucumbers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, a couple kinds of flowers, and pumpkin. The pumpkin is allegedly a variety that you can actually cook. I’d love to make this year’s Thanksgiving pies from scratch this year. (Most of this year’s seeds came from High Mowing. I recommend them with enthusiasm!)

The tomato and pepper seedlings from Seed Savers should be here soon. When they go in, I’ll plant the squash and bean seeds. Oh, and I planted a cover crop (green manure) of red clover. After that is tilled in, I’ll replant with a mixture of red clover and buckwheat.

We also have wild berry bushes growing on our property. These are mostly left for the birds to eat, I’m trying to tame them a bit into hedges this year and fertilize them. Maybe next year we’ll ask the birds to share.

What else? I have a bunch of herbs…. this afternoon I am going to experiment with propagating lavender. And we are still trying to figure out if this should be The Year of the Grand Chicken Experiment.

The more we do this, the more fun we’re having. I’ve had to unlearn some consumerist habits. For example, when I realized how many different kinds of seeds I’d be planting this year, my first inclination was to drive to the store and buy row markers. Silly me. When I thought about it, I realized that a) that would be a waste of dollars and fuel, and b) I could make the things by myself. I’ve been chopping a lot of wood this year, so I’m more comfortable with both axe and hatchet. I took a very dry maple log and split it into about 50 rowers markers. It was very easy to write on the smooth wood. At the end of the season, I’ll use them as kindling. Also, instead of buying plastic cups and pre-packaged dirt to start seeds in, we saved up egg cartons and used a mixture of composted dirt and worm castings. 

How is your garden doing?

Cue the National Geographic Music!

Sorry to have been so absent this week, friends. Beloved Husband had shoulder surgery and has needed some tending; mostly to make sure that he sort-of, kind-of follows doctor’s orders. I’m happy to report he is mending well.

I’ll be posting two videos very soon: one will show examples of how I took historical fact and turned them into a chapter of CHAINS. In the other I will rave about the maple syrup being boiled a stone’s throw from my house and I will attempt to read in Norwegian.

But the most exciting thing?? We have a pair of red-tailed hawks building a nest in the Forest near the writing cottage!

My plan to keep my sunflowers safe from the squirrels this year suddenly seems possible!!