Last night I dreamt that when I went out to put in the hens for the night, I found a little nest of eggs they had laid, tucked under the mexican sage and half-covered by twigs. in the dream it was a sweet feeling; to know that the hens had in fact been laying, and that we’d just been missing their eggs because they hadn’t been in the usual place inside the chicken tractor.
This morning as I let the hens out into their yard for the day, the dream passed into my consciousness at almost the same moment that I lifted the edge of the sage bush and peeked beneath it, to see a small nest full of eggs. It was, in fact, a dream come true! I was worried the hens were slowing down their laying, but they’d just been laying in a little nest in the underbrush.
So much has happened this summer, and we have not had much time to write or reflect on it. We’ve been blessed with even more summer work than usual. Meanwhile the backyard is in a state of flux, as the owner’s renovation plans slowly become reality. Since the back stairs were removed and not yet replaced, we’ve not had direct access to the garden; now we go out the front door and around the back. I’ve gotten used to it, but I miss our connection to our little bit of land.
Many of our plants are falling prey to dusty mildew this year, and we’re not sure what to do about it. I think just letting the garden go fallow for a season will probably help. Meanwhile, we have had some success with some little oddities in container plantings, like comfrey, basil, a new mexico chile, and some other herbs. The herb bed in particular is looking well, despite the construction equipment that gets propped on it. The chickens are faring well amidst all this, too, though I know the noise and dogs and strangers must keep them on their gallinaceous toes.
Some notable events of the past months:
–> One of our chickens died in the night. I was too busy to perform an autopsy, so we don’t know what the cause was. The remaining two seem fine, though they were lonely at first. They still maintain their pecking order, even though there are just two of them.
–> I made my first batch of chevre using goat milk from an urban farm in Berkeley and a kit I ordered from New England Cheesemaking Supply. It is really crazy easy and the cheese is very good. Total actual working time is under an hour. I think the most labor-intensive part was gathering and preparing the chopped herbs that I mixed in to the finished cheese.
–> I am in the process of building my first set of bicycle wheels. It’s exciting and fun. It kind of reminds me of the first time we slaughtered a chicken: I learned how to do it entirely from books and internet forums; It’s not as hard as I thought it would be; and the parts that I thought would be the most difficult (beheading/lacing spokes) are actually pretty easy, while other parts I didn’t really think about (evisceration/truing the wheel) are the most challenging. Also, I did both with a book in my lap.
–> We made some pesto using thai basil. It was gooooood. A little peppery.
–> Our CSA has been a lifesaver; even while our summer vegetable harvest has been nearly nil, Capay Organics delivers a box of beautiful produce once a week, and we’ve really enjoyed the abundance. We’ve made mixed-vegetable versions of lots of things a pistou featuring baby yellow squash; an “eggplant” charchari that was a melange of eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and gorgeous orange gypsy peppers; and lots of frittatas and other dishes that take well to fresh, succulent anything.
That’s all for now, I just wanted to share that little story about the eggs.