May! How much more can possibly fit in 31 days? The homestead is full of all sorts of things that are growing and changing faster than I can keep up. The last few weeks feel like a continuous circuit of pigs, chickens, garden. Never quite the same sort of attention required, but the shorthand to-do list could be recycled pretty much any day of the last few weeks.
We seem to have settled in with Mr. Kevin and Ms. Bacon for now. The first week was full of daily observation – all the noticing it takes to piece together the puzzle of another creature’s habits. But then it slipped right from “what are they doing now? what does that mean?” to a casual “hmm, pigs. still being pigs.” They have gotten noticeably bigger in the last two weeks, and much more interested in their daily feedings. I’ve also got an ongoing contest (with myself, of course) to guess how long it will take them to completely root up their pen area.
The chickens are officially beyond any cute stage, which is sort of unfortunate, but also a relief as it means that they can spend their days outside now. Our chicken setup is about version 1.2. And while it works well enough, it’s really much more functional once they have the run of the yard. I do love that day each year when a new batch of chickens first venture out and discover dirt and grass and bugs. When we turned them loose this week I think I spent a full hour sitting in the chicken yard, just watching the brave ones venture down the ramp ever so slowly – it really is a case of two steps forward, three steps back. Until somehow they are all pecking the ground like it’s all they’ve ever known.
The garden is pretty much planted at this point – there are a few bits of space that may get filled in yet, but those feel like “bonus”. Several crops that have been reliably successful for us in prior years have been stubbornly troublesome this year. We built a bomber pea trellis this spring after a few years of the pea hedge overwhelming its supports, and then the slugs ate every seedling. I replanted the entire 35-foot row and applied Sluggo liberally, and we still ended up with barely more than a dozen survivors. The onions are hardly better – I bought the same variety, same supplier, and I think we had 50% mortality. I guess that’s the case every year in the garden – it’s always something, and you never know what is going to go well and what is going to be a bust. But there are bright spots, too. My brassicas are loving all the extra water they’ve got this year, and Dean can’t seem to stop his sunflower volunteer rescue efforts. He started by filling a full row of them, and now we also have sunflowers scattered in any bit of extra space he could find and claim. I’m not immune either – I’ve been rescuing volunteers, too – it’s hard not to feel a little extra love for something tough enough to come up on its own and in most cases, the volunteers are ahead of those we planted of the same.
And here’s a couple shots I took on Monday when we celebrated the long weekend with a good long dayhike. We were in the clouds more often than not, but the sun broke out for half an hour while we had a picnic at the summit, which was awfully nice.