Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Welcome Home.

Posted on | July 3, 2017 | 1 Comment

We left friends and family in charge of the place while we were gone.  I roped a friend’s teenager into house-sitting and barn chores, assigned my dad the duty of watering the tomatoes, and tricked another friend into garden care.

The teenager did an exceptional job, especially considering that when I offered him the job I told him that there were automatic waterers in the barn.  Then Bruno the Great Pyr chewed up all the hoses so that when the teen actually arrived, he had to haul water by bucket every morning.  I mentioned it to the teen in a text as we were leaving town.  That seemed like the only reasonable way to handle that situation.

My dad was left with watering duty because he grew up on a farm.  So I knew he understood watering the tomatoes at the base of the plants to avoid splashing the leaves with dirt and spreading blight or fungus on the leaves.  Apparently he did an awesome job of carefully watering the tomato plants on the first week.  Which triggered an immediate deluge of rain that started as soon as he finished watering and lasted the rest of our time away.  Really.  One day we got over 5 inches of rain.  Since Mother Nature was handling the watering, he and my mom were then left with dead dog duty.  Because parenting never ends, people.  You just go from taking your kids to their extracurricular activities to having to bury their dead pets while they’re on vacation.  They don’t put that in What To Expect When You’re Expecting do they?

I also managed to talk a friend into covering the mowing and pest control in the garden.  Last year I lost most of my crops to squash bugs while we were on vacation.  Anything left behind was finished off by an infestation of Japanese beetles that erupted because the grass was so high and brushy.  My friend lives in a townhome and remarks regularly about how she enjoys not having the maintenance of a yard anymore.  So I figured she was the perfect person to recruit for the job.  I assured her that all she had to do was mow once a week.  Plus pick all the vining plants off the ground and wrap them around their trellises before mowing.  And prune the tomato branches to keep them out of the paths before mowing.  And tie the pepper plants to their cages in order to mow around them, too.  You know, just mowing.  Since all she had to do was mow I also asked her to spray some organic pyrethrin on the zucchini plants while she was there.  And on the squash, of course.  Probably the gourds, too.  Maybe the eggplants and green beans for flea beetles.  On the potatoes for potato beetles.  You know, just here and there…and there…and oh yeah, there, too.

It was a lot of favors to pull in.

But it was worth it.

The barn animals survived.  (Although I still need to fix those waterers!)  In what seems as miraculous as 3 weeks of rain in June, the new Mallard duck lived, too.  He was dropped off by a friend a few days before we left town.  Instead of mingling with the rest of the mixed flock, he hovered around the front door and quacked around our feet as we got in and out of the car in the driveway.  It can be a tough adjustment when pet ducks and chickens arrive at the farm.  This is a farm.  If you want to eat or survive, it’s always best to follow the flock.  Hint: We are not your flock.  If he found the pond, he was good.  If he found the barn, he was good.  If he kept wandering in the front yard, not so good.  We wished him luck as we loaded up the van and rode off down the driveway.  He stood there in the gravel, watching us go.

I didn’t give him good odds.

But he found the pond.  In the front yard.  And even though I fenced off that pond specifically to keep ducks out of it, he looks too perfect in there to chase off.

Speaking of looking perfect….

When I left, the summer garden was only in its early stages.  The transplants were mostly just leafy and squat; the flowers were spindly seedlings.  Spring crops like peas, lettuce, onions, kale, and spinach were finishing up, but zucchini and squash were the only summer crops close to harvest.

Then June happened.  And when I got home I discovered the perfect amount of rain and a weekly spray of pyrethrin had produced a perfectly amazing garden.

I arrived back just in time for summer.  And summer’s harvest!  It was a wonderful welcome home.  I have a lot more work to do in the garden.  But thanks to friends and family, I’m already reaping the rewards….

Thank goodness for friends and family.  They’re perfect.  Just like these Costoluto tomatoes that are so amazing that I will never have a summer garden without them again.  The bright red, the cool curves, the delightful ridges.  Almost too perfect to eat.


Someone get me the white bread and the mayo…..

(Thanks friends and family!)


One Response to “Welcome Home.”

  1. Jill Hallenbeck
    July 5th, 2017 @ 9:59 am

    What did you plant to get that radio to bloom? Lol! Good work and you have gooooood friends!

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