Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A break in the weather

We had cool weather over the weekend. Not just less hot, mind you, but crisp--the kind of weather that makes you want to drink dark beer and build bonfires. Yesterday got a little muggy again, but today dawned foggy and cool.

I took the opportunity to continue doing what I'd started over the weekend: dragging the garden back from its annual precipice. Every July, the heat overcomes me and I find myself unable to care for the garden. I can't bear to look at it. And it's depressing, anyway--full of insects and rot. So it is abandoned for weeks and it goes straight to shit, brimming with weeds and grasshoppers and squashed tomatillos. And I feel inadequate and fall into a surly mood.

But now the worst has passed, and I have been pulling weeds and discarding spent plants. The s.o. helped me on Friday: he wrestled out all the cornstalks and cast them onto the compost heap. The shape of the garden is re-emerging from the jungly tangle. And because it is now August 15, there is something more encouraging and fun to do. It is time for the first round of fall planting.

I am indulging myself, putting in too much of everything. There is one final planting of summery zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. There are three kinds of beet seeds, three breeds of cabbages, two varieties of turnips. There is lacinato kale, purple sprouting broccoli, collards, parsnips, kohlrabi.

I stopped work for lunch and came inside to wash my hands. As I did so, the rain began. Perfect.

Note to self: I need to go to the feed & seed so I can buy cauliflower plants and cilantro seeds. Plus, we are out of poultry feed...again.

Speaking of poultry, we moved the ducks to more spacious accommodations yesterday and I learned the definitive answer to my question: How many hens remain? The answer (learned by listening to quacks versus wheezes as we picked up the ducks) is two. One of the Rouens is a hen, and so is the odd duck that looks like a Buff but has a puffy crest on its head. So it's settled, then--some of our future generations of ducks are going to be Rouens, as planned, and the others are going to be a little bizarre-looking.

We also checked in on our bees Sunday evening. As usual, I forgot to bring the camera, which is just as well because it is always all I can do to keep the smoker lit. The bees are succeeding beyond our wildest expectations. They have almost filled a second hive body, and we may actually get some honey this year! Which reminds me, I keep forgetting to order a queen excluder (a screen that lets workers through, but not the queen, so the queen cannot lay eggs in the top storey of your hive, and therefore it is all honey and no brood). I had better get on the phone and do that.