Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The rain barrel didn't create enough pressure for the soaker hose, so we hooked it up to the regular, old faucet.  But the rain barrel works great.

Our soil may drain a little too well with perhaps a little too much sand.  With the kinds of Springs we have had, that might have been a good thing, but it seems we are drying up now and the plants are not shooting up.

The tomatoes might have something eating them, or they might have a disease.  I'm not quite sure.  We blame the compost from Carondelet Park.  But I have no way to tell.  They haven't died completely, so we might be okay. 

The lettuce is still green, but smashed to the ground and not much bigger than a few weeks ago.

The self-watering containers may not be working. 


The other cucumber seeds came up overnight.  They liked being outside, and a really long germination period.  I don't know where we will put them, though.  Maybe where the lettuce is/was. 

Somebody Isn't Laying

My husband and I have been debating in a life or death situation for the past few weeks.  We have looked at the books, talked some more, counted the goods.  My husband tends more towards mercy.  I am planning some chicken soup. 

So the situation is as follows:  We have 4 (supposedly) healthy laying hens.  Delaware hens.  Each hen is supposed to give one egg per day to earn her keep.  We have been getting three.  Or two.  Some days we get 4 and my husband makes sure I know, and the hens breath a sigh of relief.  Or they would if they knew. 

The problem is, I'm not quite sure how to find out which hen is not such a great layer.  They lay at all times of the day, although they do make a racket when they do.  They all lay in the same nesting box, although there are three.  So in the end, I'm not even able to follow up on my threat. 

Also, the books say that chickens slow down for all sorts of reasons: molting, the weather, a full moon (okay, not the last one).  So it really is better to tend towards mercy in this case and wait it out.  But I'm watching them. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011


On the other side of the miracles are the little losses and set-backs that go with working with living things.  For example, we found an opossum eating the chicken feed tonight, who might also have been eating some of the eggs, and who could have potentially killed one of the chickens.  So now we will set traps and be vigilant about collecting eggs.

The lettuce didn't really make it.  We hardened it off slowly, transplanted it very gently, but it's been getting too much rain and possibly too much sun, or maybe it was too small to be moved.  So we planted more seeds outside in the same raised bed and will hopefully get some lettuce eventually.

Something has been eating the tomato plants.  I noticed some shredded leaves and some suspicious-looking holes.  I thought it might be a fungus, but if it is, there is nothing we can do.  But if it is bugs, than we can do something.  So I mixed a solution of very diluted Dr. Bronner's soap and water and sprayed the little guys.

It all feels like a battle and this is on a very small scale.  The stakes are not very high at this point, but it seems failure looms on the horizon at every turn.  I can't see a moral to the story at the moment, though, because it doesn't seem like an object lesson.   It just seems like our chickens, our egg supply, all of our hard work on the chicken coop, raised beds, all of the time spent on the seedlings, the self-watering containers, not to mention money.

It sort of reminds me of the people I see walking or sitting around stores, on the main stretches of road, waiting for the bus, carrying groceries, babies, or backpacks.  I realized that many of these folks are living on a thread, from day to day, check to check, and that one bad event can be the end, or the beginning of a downward spiral.  The economy, the rising gas and food prices, and other factors are stacking up against them and it is a constant battle. This is the comparison that I draw, but I don't have a parallel solution, spray or rodent trap.