Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creeping In On Little Cat Feet

The fog, that is. We've been sitting in the middle of a large bank of it all week.

It amplifies the rustley noises in the trees, which causes me to jump a lot when I'm in the garden, listening to all those rustley noises.

It also hides the hawks until they are just overhead, which is causing the chickens to spend a lot of time hiding in the coop.

Given that they look like this right now, I think I'd be hiding too, but I'm superficial that way. For those of you on the fence as to whether you want chickens or not, this is a photo of a moulting chicken. They do this once a year. This moulting chicken has her quills growing in: before those quills come in they look like an inflatable chicken that had its plug pulled. It's three parts gross, two parts weird and fascinating, and five parts creepy.

The first time the chickens moulted we thought they were dying. Some of us might have panicked a bit as to whether this might be a form of bird flu. After consulting a chicken book I discovered that this is an annual event, which was kind of comforting because none of my friends who kept chickens knew what I was talking about - turns out they get rid of their chickens after a year, so they never got to this stage in the relationship before.

Brings up all sorts of very shallow issues for me, I must confess. It's definitely the low point in MY relationship with the chickens, that's for sure. They feel the same way: they spend more time in the coop than ever and always look rather embarrassed when I take their photo. This particular shot took me 22 takes, because Fern went and hid in the layer box, Pip shoved in there with her, and Prunella (who is a bird of very little brain) was left trying to squeeze her way through the wire. Which she can't do, even with fewer feathers than usual.

Here's the greenhouse getting ready for winter. I'm trying something new in terms of keeping the warmth for the citrus: a ceramic heater. I usually use those old-fashioned Christmas lights, but they really light up the back yard, and given that I am rather intolerant of don't particularly like our neighbour's penchant for leaving their outside lights on all the bloody time, I thought it might be rather, err, hypocritical of me to leave two sets on this year, as opposed to one (the lemon arbor). Wait for it - I bet no one but me will notice the lack of outside light on this year. Sigh.

Here is something I'm rather excited by: I've fixed up a heat mat under my bench, and covered it with a few pieces of guttering. The gutters have some pea sprouts in them, which I think might come in handy in a few weeks, once they've sprouted and formed nice long salad-y tendrils.

I even buried the electrical cord under the gravel. I'm getting neat and tidy in my dotage.

With winter coming the statuary have to come in. In the old days they covered them with burlap and left them out, where they would weather the weather in grand, if somewhat muffled, style. These days everything is made of pulpy crap so we have to bring them in or they melt in the rain. Not as stalwart as their forebears, obviously.

I bought this last year at Costco. It was labelled as a Calamondin Orange. Beware O' Innocent Gardener: I saw that label and thought "Oooh! an orange tree! Just what I need!"


I got it home and googled it. Turns out my orange tree is a fussy, miniature orange-like tree that needs care, attention, space, and attention. Did I already say attention?

So I sulked for a year, wishing that I'd googled it before I bought it. I mean, I've always wanted a kumquat, but a miniature orange-like object? Who wants one of those?

Then it fruited. I decided I liked it after all. So it doesn't have oblong fruit? Round is just as nice.

And look at all the fruit to come. I feel somewhat abashed admitting this, but giving a citrus plant care, attention, space - and more attention - works out in the end.
Fragrant heliotrope blooms at long last.

So does the Braveheart mallow.
We put in some new beds in the lower garden last weekend. I say WE but I really mean Richard. He watched me struggle rather wimpily then went and got his saw and made me some stakes and planks. He even put them in for me. I added the stepping stones and tidied up the beds. I'm rubbish with a saw but I'm very good with stepping stones.
Remind me to show you what this bed used to look like. Once upon a time it was a grassy hillside. Then it was an awkwardly placed garden, with higgeldy piggeldy beds.

Now it's a navigable space. I no longer see myself falling over. Tripping. Tipping. Tumbling.

It gives one the illusion of level ground.

Bright lights chard.
Brighter lights chard.
Spider webs through the breaking fog.
The last of the raspberries.

Then, just when I'd finished this post and thought "Gosh, the fog is so beautiful!" it completely disappeared and the sun broke through.

And it looked like this.