As gardening season comes to an end, my garden has pretty much turned into a meadow of arugula. The sunny yellow flowers shine in the daylight and bounce up and down with bee visitors. A photo or video cannot do it justice, one must be in the experience for the full yellowy bee-filled impact. As disappointing as the garden season has been with the drought and heat, this arugula meadow has been a delight for weeks. Not to mention it is so very tasty and since there is so much I can add it to everything. Soon much of it will turn into pesto. I was joking with James last night that I liked the sound of arugula meadow so much I was going to change my name. He has begun calling me “Ru.” I’m not going to change my name, however tempting, but I do think I have landed on what to call my yard-farm. So if you ever come to visit, I can show you around Arugula Meadow Farm.
The Nuggets discovered that arugula is pretty tasty after they ate most of the wood sorrel growing around the garden. They just nibble it though, which I am glad about. Even though there is enough to share between them and me, they, like the squirrels, don’t know when to quit, and would eat and eat and eat until there was none left for anyone.
Like Mrs. Dashwood who discovered the lettuce sprouts I have leafing out on the deck in pots. They were still small but had turned into recognizable lettuce. Yesterday I noticed something had nibbled a few leaves but I thought nothing of it. This morning I caught Mrs. Dashwood standing in a pot enjoying a microgreens salad! I chased her off but she came back a few minutes later to try again. I have elevated the pots on 5-gallon buckets so what’s left of the lettuce can recover, and I added more seed to make up for what definitely will not recover.
I can’t be mad at Mrs. D, she had a busy day yesterday. In the early afternoon she started squawking right by the deck and kept going and going. It was not an alarm call, but her complaint call. Finally I go out to see what has gotten her going. I looked around the garden, the Nuggets were at a distance, I didn’t see Elinor, no squirrels around, nothing obvious. I kept talking to her telling her everything was fine but she insisted I was wrong. Then I looked out past the garden into my neighbor’s yard and saw six turkeys!
One of the turkeys was in full preening mode beneath a tree, the others were meandering around looking for tasty morsels. They did not give a fig about Mrs. Dashwood and her squawking. One glanced over in our direction and gave the equivalent of a shrug. Mrs. Dashwood was outraged to be dismissed in such a way and increased the volume of her complaint. I could say nothing to sooth her, and I took my leave and went back inside the house.
About ten minutes later I noticed it was quiet. I went out and looked over at my neighbor’s and the turkeys had moved on. Mrs. Dashwood was contentedly scratching in the dirt under the the crab apple tree, satisfied that she had given those rude turkeys a piece of her mind.
Later, as I was hanging out the laundry on the clothesline, it began pouring rain just as I pinned up the last shirt. I quickly pulled it all down and hung it all indoors on drying racks. There wasn’t much in the way of wind so I was able to leave the sliding glass door open. I settled down on the couch to read How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue, and another squawk rang out from the garden.
This was an alarm squawk.
I leapt up and ran to the door and saw a huge bird lift off from the fence by the chicken coop and land on the garage roof of my neighbor who had the turkey visitors. Hawk! I shoved my feet into my wellies and ran out into the rain waving my arms and yelling. The hawk flew off. I ran into the chicken garden calling “Chicken littles! Chicken littles! Are you ok? Where are you?”
I bent over and looked under the blessed elderberry and there was Mrs. Dashwood standing tall and puffed up. She was the one who had sounded the alarm. With her were Lucy and Ethel, hunkered down. I ran around frantic calling for Sia and Elinor. There were no feathers anywhere but that didn’t mean someone wasn’t hurt. Finally I thought to look inside the coop. Sia ran over, “Hi, hi, hi! Something happened!” But I’m pretty sure she was in the coop all along and had no idea.
Elinor was in there too, on a nest, looking pissed over all the commotion, “Can’t I have some peace and quiet for once while I lay an egg?”
Such a relief everyone was ok. I bent back down to look under the elderberry and told the three that the hawk was gone and everything was ok. Mrs. Dashwood came out followed by Ethel who came up to me to talk. Sia came out of the coop and Ethel gave me an, okay byeee! And ran off after her.
Lucy had not come out yet and had started making a sound like chattering teeth. I bent over to talk to her, told her she didn’t need to be scared anymore, the hawk was gone and everything was ok. She got up and came over to me, the other Nuggets came over too and milled about my feet, peeping. I told them all what good girls they were and gave them all pats. Satisfied, they ran off in the rain to wallow in the sunchokes.
The birds are busy this time of year. The cardinals, jays, and wrens are flitting about enjoying all the prairie flowers in my garden that have gone to seed. I usually see goldfinches too, but I have not seen any at all, which worries me. I do love those little birds and they love the coneflower seeds, which I have in abundance. Maybe the warm weather has delayed their departure south and they will be here soon.
This morning after I let the chickens out of the run and into the garden and I headed back to the house, I hear a whoosh of wings overhead. I looked up to see a flock of about 50 grackles, swoop over me, the garden and house and into Melody Silver Maple in the front yard. They occupied all of her top branches and set up a chorus of gargling. They shook the squirrel nest up there, but it didn’t seem like anyone was home. On and on they gargled. Until, at some signal I didn’t see or hear, they went silent and rose up all at once in a whoosh, and flew away.
From behind me, in a tree across the alley, I heard a squirrel complain. Perhaps that was ki’s house the grackles had been jostling in Melody?
A few weeks ago at twilight James went out the front door to pick up an accumulation of sale papers from the walkway in front of the neighboring house on the other side of us. There is no one living there right now (the owner died) and all those papers were beginning to make it look obvious. When James came back in the front door someone else came in with him.
Suddenly there was a dark swooping someone flying around the house. The only lights on were in the bedroom and bathroom because we were getting ready for some before bed reading. Did either of us think to turn on a light? No. We just watched the dark swooping from living room to kitchen and back. It was small and had wings that looked sort of swallow-like so at first I thought it was a swallow. I opened the sliding glass door and screen, hoping the swallow would fly out. But then I realized, that was no bird, it was a bat!
James held the front door open and we just stood there watching and waiting for Bat to find the door. And then ki found the basement stairs at the far side of the kitchen and swooped down, flew around in the hallway, and disappeared.
The basement has a bedroom, a not bedroom that is our library, a bathroom and an unfinished utility room. All the doors were closed but for the utility room. There was no way we were ever going to find a tiny bat in there.
Google told us bats don’t survive long indoors, up to 24 hours at most. We could try and find our bat visitor in the morning when ki would not be active, put a bowl over ki, slide a piece of cardboard under the bowl to cover the opening and take our bat visitor outside. But the tiny bat could be under the tool bench or behind the washing machine or under the stairs or behind the furnace or in some other nook or cranny. We despaired that poor Bat would die.
Since there was nothing we could do, we climbed into bed and began reading our books. About 20 minutes later Bat was flying around our bedroom. I ran downstairs and closed the utility room door. I opened the back door and the sliding glass door, James turned off the bedroom light and opened the front door. And then we stood back and watched Bat swooping and waited for ki to find an open door. Bat was not finding a door. We said encouraging things to ki, hoping that might help.
And then as suddenly as Bat had arrived, ki was gone out the front door ki had come in through. I’m sure Bat was even happier than we were, but hopefully went back home with a story to tell: Hey everyone, you’ll never guess what happened! I flew into a giant’s house!
Never a dull moment here are Arugula Meadow Farm!