Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings.

Posted on | August 23, 2012 | 4 Comments

I understand that the stores have you thinking fall has arrived.  That summer is over and, minus the freakishly overzealous celebration of Halloween that will have us making otherwise socially unacceptable things like this, the cold and dearth of winter is on the doorstep.  That the approach of Labor Day signals not just a random holiday for which we are given the day off in order to recognize, um…., working (???), but the end of of the summer season.

But here at Woodland Pond, we refuse to go out without a fight and like they say in the opera—-it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.  I cut back the tomatoes in the greenhouse from this….

to this….

And instead of dying they rewarded me with fresh tomatoes.

Shocking, I know.  And if that wasn’t surprising enough, it turns out you can propagate tomatoes by just clipping off branches and putting them in a pot of dirt.

I had my doubts about this, although when I was cutting the plants back I noticed that the overflowing tomatoes’ branches had started to root into the greenhouse floor.

So I took some clippings from the varieties in the garden and potted them up in the hopes of growing fresh plants to overwinter.  As any gardener can attest, the way plants grow when they want to grow and the way they grow when you want them to grow are 2 entirely different things.  Which means I was happy to discover fresh leaves….

…and delicate new roots (which I probably destroyed by pulling this transplant up to check on them) on my cuttings.

Even the pepper plants that I rescued from the sheep and transplanted into the rotted straw bales in the greenhouse are showing new life.  This means it only took 8 months for the straw bales I put into the greenhouse to rot sufficiently to plant in them.  A little bit longer than the 4 weeks I read about when I started that project.  Good thing we have more time than money around here.

I did have to plant the cucumbers from seeds as the ones in the garden had nothing green left to give.  But they have already sprouted.

With all that growing in the greenhouse we might make summer last all the way into December.  I’m thinking you should all expect jars of homemade salsa for Christmas.  Which means my Christmas shopping for the year is done.  Take that, crazy Christmas countdown lady!  Beat you to your preplanned festive sparkly Christmas punch!

Of course the garden isn’t the only thing refusing to fade into fall.  The swallowtails are still going strong.

And they have left a fresh crop of caterpillars on the dill.  It remains to be seen if they will form chrysalises (chrysalli??) or hibernate for the winter.

Needless to say, my favorite thing about the caterpillars is not that they eat up all my dill.  It’s those frightening osmeterium that they extend when you touch them.  It’s disgusting and intriguing all at the same time.  We have to “pet” each caterpillar when we see them just to watch those things pop out so we can jump back and yell, “Eeeewww!”

Yeah, I know.  Sometimes it’s a little slow around here.  You take your thrills where you can find them, people.

We still have babies in the barn, too.  Emmie hatched out 16 ducklings—quite a success for a late-in-the-season hatch.

I didn’t have much hope for the remaining half-hatched egg on the nest.  Typically, ducklings that don’t hatch on their own don’t fare well if they’re rescued.  Which didn’t stop Pretty from helping extricate the one left behind.  The crook in her neck was a bad sign.

The pipping muscle on the back of the neck is what gives a duckling the strength to get out of the egg.  And the straightening of that muscle signals the end to hatching and elicits a change in the leg movement of the duckling, enabling them to walk instead of the circuitous leg movement used in hatching. (This is my favorite article explaining the neck muscle’s importance in hatching.)  Some scientists think the stretching of that muscle is also instrumental in breathing changes, too.  So a bent neck after hatch is troublesome.

But not for this duckling.  In a few hours she was stretched out on her own.

By the next day she was eating and drinking and ready to go back with the rest of the ducklings in the barn before she (or Pretty) got confused about who was her mommy.

One of the hens has hidden a nest in hopes of hatching her own clutch of babies.

And, the next goat kids will be arriving in October.  Or whenever Carmen bursts.  Whichever comes first.

Even my kids are holding tight to summer.  Thanks to Grammie and Grandaddy they managed a quick beach trip and filled their days with sand and surf.

As you can see, The Other Half is in charge of any kind of “swimming” in the ocean.  If it’s deep enough for me to swim then it’s deep enough for ocean inhabitants that swim, therefore, you can count me out.  I handle “wave jumping” and “beach combing.”  Which is certainly exhausting enough.

Even at the beach animals were still trying to get young on the ground, as if cold weather was still far off.

And although class schedules have arrived and we’ve been to Open House, the older kids are still waiting for the official start of school.  You’ll know when that school bus finally arrives.  Because you’ll be able hear my chorus of joy as I head back up the driveway to my peaceful, empty house.  That’s me—-the fat lady singing.  And that, kids, is when it’s over.

Comments

4 Responses to “It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings.”

  1. Carolynn
    August 23rd, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    I was cringing when you brought out the wee duckling and am sincerely grateful there was a happy ending to that story. I’m such a novice when it comes to growing anything. Flowers are my forte, it would seem. Nothin’ wrong with that, though, right?

  2. Kim
    August 23rd, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    My tomatoes are still tumbling too! I have a variety which is just left, no hacking off branches once there are 2 vines etc etc (havent time for all that faffing about). This one you just leave to sprout willy nilly and it produces sweet cherry toms – yum! The hens are still popping out eggs at a rate of knots and I even found new buds on a summer flowering clematis – unheard of in cloudy England :o)
    Although I have just had a look at that lady’s Q-tip marshmallows for Halloween and now I have to wait aaages to try them! Roll on Autumn……

  3. Lisa D
    August 25th, 2012 @ 6:05 am

    I too avoid water deep enough for ocean inhabitants unless it’s clear enough for me to see what’s coming 🙂

  4. Cecelia King
    August 26th, 2012 @ 5:15 am

    Wonderful blog! Can you see my email I had to put down? I am a neighbor. Your Pretty and my daughter shared a tent on a scout camping trip a couple of years ago, and somehow by grace I have stumbled on your blog. Your spouse knows us from scouts. Would love to connect in person. – CC

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