Amidst all the growth and sunshine here in springtime, there had to be a balance, I guess. Our increasingly headstrong male duck (pictured above) attacked me one night when I tried to get him and his lady into their coop. I know it sounds pathetic to be attacked by a duck, but he was relentless, for real! That was it for me…I decided to just let them sleep outside if he was going to be a jerk like that. The whole set up worked great. Magpie was laying her eggs outside in a nest she dug under the lilac bush (a great spot that kept the eggs cool and shaded in the heat of the day) and Man-duck abandoned his interest in kicking my ass. The homestead was once again peaceful. But then, as all sad stories go, Magpie was nowhere to be found one morning, until I finally discovered her remains in a corner of the yard. Any predation on the animals you keep is heartwrenching. But in a sappy sort of way, the wild violets began blooming the same afternoon. So subtle and cute and understated (just like Magpie), they comforted me in understanding that the earth has these patterns…things die, things come alive, things fade, and new things bloom. The backyard is now filled with violets blooming (somewhat of a consolation to me, but Man-duck is pretty lonely without a duck friend these days). I often find him calling out to ducks flying by, and I wonder if he’ll fly off with them or perhaps attract a new young lady. We’re in the process of finding him a new home, but in the meantime–and entirely on his own volition–he’s been going to bed with the chickens at night. After the chicks have settled themselves on the roosts, he waddles up the ramp to the coop and tucks himself into the straw under the nest boxes. What a sweet, agreeable guy all of a sudden. And in homage to Magpie–or maybe because there’s a weird creature sharing their home now–the chickens have abandoned their nice man-made nest boxes and have started to lay in Magpie’s old earthen nest. But I won’t dwell on the sad news. Around the garden, the all the spring flowers are really spectacular. Tons of flowers that I didn’t even plant, and some I didn’t even discover until last year (I had probably weedwacked them all unknowingly) are in full bloom. I absolutely love that I get to see this guy every spring, the snakes-head fritillary: And thank god these delicate vinca were established before we got chickens, because chicken claws wage war on them every day: The bleeding heart, another one that has been here long before me, just forming its bloom: The peonies have begun to unfurl: As far as things I did plant, last fall I invested in a bunch of narcissus bulbs with the intention of ramping up the spring out here. I’m so glad I did, it really steps it all up a notch; I’m already thinking about other colors to add next year. Not sure if I’ll ever reach that “enough” point now! We’ve got a blend of “Thalia” a tall white one, and “Katie Heath,” a more diminutive narcissus with a pale pink cup. I like her. A couple years ago for John’s birthday I got him a magnolia tree. Last year we had one flower. This year we have…one flower. Maybe two next year? I guess we’ll have to wait and see! I should think of it more as a gift to the future generations that occupy this plot of land. An old magnolia tree sure is magnificent. The little asian pear is blooming too. Last year when it was in bloom we got almost a foot of snow. But I don’t think that’s quite possible this year, although a frost still is. As for the edibles, the Des Morges Braun lettuce is almost harvestable: The kale has just a little longer to go: I think I’ll put parsley in the ground today: And another development I’m pretty excited about, a new compost bin! This one is chicken-powered. I kind of dread turning compost, so much so that I don’t really do it but once a year. It’s a little awkward and I always have to negotiate these unwieldy and rather dangerous scraps of fencing that I use to contain the pile. Normally a skunk drags most of the food out of the fencing each night and litters it all around the bin. But this one seems great already (very attractive to chickens as well as to me!), and the chickens already love to scratch around in it even though there’s not many “greens” in it yet. We’re going to keep bones out of the pile so the skunk doesn’t become a very close neighbor again (and so chickens don’t get a taste for chicken…sorry, I know it’s a bit gross but I couldn’t help myself on that one!). Well, and I hope this post finds everyone swimming in the hope of flowers.
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