We were supposed to get a load of hay today. I had a trailer and help lined up. Getting hay is never easy. I don’t necessarily mean just hauling and stacking hay. That’s not a walk in the park. It’s hot, sweaty, itchy work, though it smells fabulous and gives a great sense of accomplishment and security when you’re all done. But procuring hay is never easy. The hay farmers I’ve run into are a unique bunch. Suffice it to say that, though this farmer had talked me into ending our Memorial Day camping trip early, packing up and coming home, and lining up the trailer and some help so I could clear a couple hundred bails of hay out of his barn to make room for the new crop, he changed his mind and decided he’d rather leave it in his barn. He thinks he wants me to pick up the new crop out of the field so he doesn’t have to stack it in his barn. Sigh.
It takes patience and a whole different way of looking at things to live in rural America. At least to live in our slice of heaven. Time has a whole new dimension outside of metropolitan suburbia, U.S.A. We’ve learned that nugget one broken promise at a time. I often feel like we’re living a rerun of that older movie, “The Money Pit” where every time the homeowner asks the contractor how long until they’re finished he says, “Two weeks.” This goes on for a year. We really notice when a service provider or contractor shows up when they say they’ll show up. It’s a nice change of pace around here.
So with the change of plans for this morning, (just relax and go with the flow – life up here forces you to slow your pace and change your expectations), we decided we’d better get the rest of the garden planted.
My tomatoes don’t look so good. Well, my son’s tomatoes don’t look so good. Mine are kind of mediocre looking at this point, but his don’t look like they’re all going to make it. That’s what comes of rushing the hardening off process. Too many irons in the fire to take proper care. So the leaves are sunburnt-looking. It was hot last week and we ended up just leaving them outside too long for several days.
We managed to put the acorn squash and charentais melon transplants in. Cecily planted pumpkin seeds and the several herbs (parsley, cilantro, and basil) and I put in my tomatoes and hot peppers. Pretty good. We realized that, in spite of our vow to have just a small garden this year so we could take good care of it, we still have fifteen different crops, most with multiple beds/multiple varieties. Hmmm. Restraint may not be my strong point.
I was really pleased with the lovely job Eddie (our Buff Orpington rooster) did turning and fertilizing my squash bed. Our chicken tractor is 12×4′ long (see photo in recent post) and fits pretty nicely over several of the beds in the garden. We have quite an unusual variety of bed sizes, really, but several of them are 4×10, with 2′ aisles in between. So the tractor hangs over the end a little, but it’s no matter. Eddie does a great job preparing a bed for me. I had him in the tractor on the corn bed first, then we moved him over to the squash bed.
I had heard about using a chicken tractor in your garden for the turning/fertilizing from Andy Lee’s book by the same name, but never made it all the way through the book. I kind of felt like the info was worth an article, but not a whole book and I lost patience so I never read more than a little bit of it. Still, it’s a good idea when you need somewhere to put a chicken (or chickens) and have a portable tractor. They eat all the weeds and take care preparing your garden bed.
It just so happens that I needed a place to put Eddie, and since the hotwire was already around the garden, I put him in there to keep critters away and keep them from digging under his tractor and having him for dinner. When I saw what a great job he was doing on the bed we put him on, I moved him and let him have at it in another bed. The soil was light and fluffy, weed-free, and properly fertilized. All the turning had composted the fertilizer very quickly! So we’ll see how those squash do, and I’ll have to remember to put him on my beds again in the fall.