three chickens walking down a garden path
Chickens can’t quite believe they are in the main garden

After digging the sweet potatoes and protecting the cabbage and radishes Saturday, we opened the gate between the main garden and the chicken garden to let the girls roam. Such happiness! So excited by the wood sorrel growing just inside the garden gate, it was a full five minutes before they looked up and realized there was an entire garden to explore. When it did finally dawn on them, they scattered.

James went indoors and took a shower, I divested myself of gloves and boots and stood at the sliding glass door watching the chickens enjoying themselves.

And then a big, bald eagle glided over the garden just above the treetops, spotted the chickens and made a u-turn. I ran out into the garden in my socks, waving my arms in the air, looking up at the eagle, and yelling go away! I immediately stepped in fresh chicken poo. The eagle made lazy circles over the garden, not even flapping his wings. The chickens were completely oblivious. Sia was busy pushing her way through a tangle or arugula; Ethel was wandering around stumbling over her own feet; Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor were intently scratching in the soil; and Lucy couldn’t make up her mind whether to follow Sia or hang out with Elinor. None of them even glanced at me wildly waving my arms around in the air and yelling at the sky. Clearly they didn’t think this was out of the ordinary behavior for me. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Casual and unconcerned, the eagle continued his circling and slowly began to drift away. I remained in the garden, waving my arms, so the eagle wouldn’t get any ideas that he could come back. 

Eventually there were too many trees and houses in the way and I couldn’t see him anymore so I put my arms down, but remained standing in the middle of the garden. The chicken poo I had stepped on when I ran out had soaked through my sock by this point. But I was Mama Hen, protecting her babies and was not going to be deterred.

After a couple minutes I walked back to the deck. Since the deck is a few feet higher than the garden I could see the eagle again, still making his lazy circles. I kept watch until I couldn’t see him, and then I waited another couple minutes, squinting at everything in the sky, just in case he came back for a surprise attack. I finally decided I could stop worrying, scraped the chicken poo off the bottom of my sock along with dirt and plant detritus, then removed my socks and went in the house. 

Back indoors, I cleaned my feet, washed my hands, then went back and stood at the sliding glass door looking up at the sky for a little while longer, just to make sure. The sky was empty and the chickens continued their happy chickening, not the least bit disturbed. Ever since then when I let them out, I tell them, Sky awareness girls! Keep sky aware! They make little cooing clucks at me as they run by and up the steps to the main garden. I’m pretty sure it’s like a teen making dismissive reassurances to a parent as they head out the door to go clubbing with friends.

Except for two spots where there are zinnias and herbs still growing, the garden bed rearrangement is now complete. I very much like the new layout. Hopefully it works well for gardening. James is concerned the paths are too narrow, but he is happy that it’s easier to tell where the paths are instead of the previous wavy Ms and Ws we had before. We still need to make quite a few more wood chip hauling runs to cover the paths. We did two on Saturday and will do more when the weekend comes round again.

So those sweet potatoes. There were potatoes down there but they were all very small. I think the place I bought the slips didn’t send them until almost the end of June, thereby missing almost a whole month of hot weather in which to grow. I’m thinking I might save most of them and see if I can sprout my own slips next year so I can get them planted out at the end of May and see what happens.

very small sweet potatoes and a yellow zucchini

We also dug up several nice potatoes that sprouted from a potato we didn’t manage to dig up last year. The potatoes look better than the ones we labored over. Which makes me wonder, what if I plant potatoes in fall? I might plant a couple little ones just to see what happens come spring. An experiment!

I picked the first goldini zucchini of the year! The plants have gotten large, just in time for frost. There are still several zukes on them, but I don’t expect they will get to be very big before we see frost. Still, a few of them should still be big enough to eat.

I snipped off a bunch of oregano and peppermint (or spearmint I have no idea which it is because I planted it long ago, thought it was dead, and lost the marker) to dry. It will be nice to have these come winter.

We had a baby rabbit in the garden again. I saw them a couple times. Saturday we literally beat the bushes trying to flush them out, but found no little hopper. We checked our perimeter fencing and found the incursion point. There is a short length of fence from the Chicken Garden steps up to the main garden gate. This fence is plastic. The rabbit chewed a nice rabbit-sized hole in the bottom of it. We managed to find a piece of wire fencing just big enough to cover the hole. Clearly, though, we will need to replace the entire length of the plastic fence. With all the things we have yet to do to get ready for winter, I’m not certain we will manage to get to it before the snow starts falling. I hope this doesn’t end up being a midwinter regret.

I missed a day spraying the pumpkin with hot pepper and the squirrels won. Between drought, excessive heat, rabbits, and squirrels, I’m amazed I was able to eat anything from the garden this year. If I had a much larger garden, some losses wouldn’t be a big deal, but given my city backyard-sized space, any loss is a big loss. We’ll see what next year brings!

You may have heard the not surprising but still discouraging “gobsmackingly bananas” news that the average global temperature for September was 1.8C above preindustrial levels. So much for keeping warming to 1.5C. The next COP28 will be held in Dubai at the end of November and is being run by Sultan Al Jaber who is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Yup, an oil company executive running the world’s annual climate change meeting. I’ve read some climate journalists who say this is actually good, but I think it’s the fox in the henhouse. Or the bald eagle flying over my backyard. I’m waving my arms and yelling, but this fox-eagle will not be deterred. Though the COPs are pretty much useless anyway, so maybe it won’t really matter.

  • Book Review: Is It Possible to Teach Anti-Capitalism? On James Rushing Daniel’s “Toward and Anti-Capitalist Composition.” Review of a really interesting sounding book about using writing classes at universities to teach anti-capitalism. The review also includes some interesting discussion about the corporatization of universities, precarity, work, and debt.
  • Article: Indicting anarchism, inventing ‘terror’: From 1898 to Cop City. An article about how state propaganda mischaracterizes and scapegoats anarchism in order to maintain state violence as status quo. It focuses on Stop Cop City and the protesters being charged under RICO racketeering laws that were meant for organized crime, not decentralized protests. And if you are among the many who think anarchy is nothing but anti-state terrorists who want to destroy the government, you might want to give this short article What is anarchism all about? a look. And bookish folks, remember Mary Godwin Shelley’s father, William Godwin, is considered one of the first proponents of anarchism. Also, Ursula K. Le Guin’s politics were generally anarchist and her 1974 book The Dispossessed is about a utopian anarchist society. Social anarchy can be amazingly feminist, and as our current world order barrels towards collapse, I am becoming more and more interested in what anarchist political theory has to offer.
  • Article: Margaret Atwood Reviews a “Margaret Atwood” Story by AI. The story is, as Atwood says, “gawd awful” and there’s a really bad AI written poem too.
  • Podcast: Between the Covers: Naomi Klein: Doppelganger. I really like the host, David Naimon. He’s smart, personable, and asks fantastic questions. But good gravy, these podcasts are long! This one is two hours! Which is why I only listen to authors I know and am interested in hearing. I don’t have time for regular 2 hours podcasts. I am really looking forward to reading Klein’s book. I’ve read several of her other books and I like her very much.
  • Series: Loki, season two. We’ve only watched the first episode. It picks up right where the last of season one ended. There was lots of running around and time slips, and I really have no idea where it’s all going. But Tom Hiddlleston and Owen Wilson have great chemistry and I’m willing to give them a chance to make it all make sense.

How should we speak to trees, how should we treat the trees, other animals and each other that all of us can live and live at peace?

Erazim Kohák
James’s Kitchen Wizardry

A really delicious pizza! It had spicy “sausage” patty crumbles, homemade vegan mozzarella, kale, roasted garlic (from the garden), roasted sweet peppers (from our CSA box) and homemade barbeque sauce.

homemade pizza

Related Posts

17 thoughts on “Like a Mama Hen

  1. Hahahaha I had a very similar experience the other week, with the predator being a neighbour’s cat (not normally outside) stalking the rock doves that hang around the back yard except that the poo I stepped in was not wet enough to soak my sock, only crumbled and fell off with some shaking. Now I realise how fortunate I was, waving around my arms looking crazed, but with dew-damp not poo-soaked socks. You know I adore cats but I can’t have them terrorising the winged and furred guests while they’re thinking they’re at the cafe (ground) and spa (bird bath). For while it’s frustrating when the neighbourhood critters reap the benefits of hard work on our neighbourhood gardens, humans perpetrate far more horrors the other way around, so I suppose I see it as an ongoing act of apology for my species; if what we grew was the limit of what we ate, I’d feel differently (and be very thin!), but I wouldn’t be keeping our local shops in business either, so I feel like it all works out. It does annoy me, though, when they don’t actually EAT a thing, but, instead, eat a tiny bit out of a dozen things instead. And do they spit in there, like disgruntled restaurant employees, when they leave it there unfinished, only picked at? /sputterysnort Probably? That sausage recipe is very similar to one we make (and freeze) regularly…all about the spices yes!

    1. I’m with you regarding cats! I wish people wouldn’t allow their cats outdoors. The chickens are too big for a cat, but still, they are curious, and James and I chase them out of the garden whenever we see one. Helps keep all the other feathered friends safe too when we chase cats out. I hope you manage to never have to experience of wet bird poo soaking through your sock! 😀

      Right, if the fruit or veg just gets taken and eaten by a critter, oh well, it’s gone, I hope they had a nice meal. But when they take just a bite, as you say, and don’t actually eat it, and then it just goes to waste (though I suppose the compost bin keeps it from being a complete waste).

      1. That’s a good point; there are always bits of food that end up in the compost for a variety of reasons and it wouldn’t be rich and useful without that.

        Perhaps it’s another form of bias towards our own species, thinking that only if it’s eaten by humans, it’s fulfilled its destiny in some ridiculous way. But of course the sun does not revolve around humans.

        We’ve got a new CSA now with another local small farm (we still have the original as well, but they are both small), which also takes back the compost from the veggies they’ve grown, something we’d not experienced with other organic and local CSAs (the cities we’ve lived in have compost programs, but not all Canadian cities have them). Have you ever heard of that? You suddenly eyeball your compost from a different perspective when you know you’re giving it to someone. lol

        1. That’s fantastic that your CSA takes back the compost from your veggies! I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. I suppose it would make you a bit more conscientious about using the food because–what would the farmer think if you wasted it? My city has an organics composting program but it’s completely voluntary and it’s a bit disheartening to see how few houses have green organics bins on the curb alongside the blue recycling bin and their gigantic overflowing garbage bin.

  2. What a dramatic sequence, fit for a movie! But what about the future, or today, how can you guard them from the big bad flying wolf?

    1. LOL Arti dramatic indeed. Well, I can’t completely guard them. We’ve had hawks make unsuccessful attacks before, but never an eagle. The girls are only out in the garden when someone is home, otherwise they are in their enclosed and covered run. This helps keep them safe, but if I hadn’t been looking out as the eagle flew over, someone of the chickens would not likely be with us any longer. So we all got lucky!

  3. I enjoyed how you used “chickening” as a verb. Glad you successfully defended them from the eagle! I was outside this week watching a red-tailed hawk circle above me and make its call. It got so low I could actually see the red tail.

  4. Nice going Mama Hen! I love seeing those stunning birds out in the wild, but it must be really unnerving to see one keeping a beady eye on your chickens. The garden reconfiguration has gone quickly, that’s impressive. So, inquiring minds want to know, did you decide to order the quince??

    That’s an interesting idea about using a writing class to teach anti-capitalism although I think capitalism may be a very effective teacher of the merits of anti-capitalism itself. I like some of the ideas of anarchist theory, but I do worry about how it can be used by those out for power and money.

    1. Thanks Julé! I love seeing bald eagles flying at the nearby Mississippi River and sometimes the lake a few blocks away from my house, but this was a whole new and rather nerve-racking experience!

      I’m 95% certain that I will get a quince. I have a few more months to mull it over before I order need to order it for spring delivery. It’s mostly about just how big is it going to get and do I have a good spot to plant it.

      Heh, I think you’re right about capitalism being an effective anti-capitalism teacher. And yes, I also worry about the same things in regards to anarchist theory. But then I think most political theories have the same problems with power and money. Honestly, I think we need to dream up something completely new and I think we need to know about all the current ideas as a place to start.

  5. I remember that I was surprised when I learned that sausage is basically defined by the spices, and the fact that it’s in a casing. I did not know sausage was so loosely put together. I thought it was a special meat. Therefore, your sausage sounds wonderful and very much like sausage.

    The minute I read that there was a predator bird hanging around your chickens, I was so nervous at the story would end in tragedy. I’m glad you sacrificed your socks to save the girls. They are so worth it! However, your garden, and the fact that everything but you and James are eating what’s in the garden, sounds to me like basically an animal community garden. Which, still has value! Take care, dear Stephanie. ❣️

    1. Hahaha Melanie, I never liked meat sausage much because I had too much knowledge of just what sorts of meat used to be stuffed into those casings. Vegan sausage on the other hand… 🙂

      My socks were a worthy sacrifice to keep my girls safe! Heh, you are definitely right about me having an animal community garden! This was not intentional, but your are right, is still has value!

  6. Goldini zucchini, that’s a fun name!

    Good job protecting the chickens! That must have been scary. Sorry about the poo!

    James and I watched the first two episodes Loki season two tonight! It’s wonderful. Owen Wilson and Tom H are darling together. I sometimes feel lost when they talk about time but it’s so much fun!

    1. Thanks Laila! We’ve had hawks try to get the chickens before but this is the first time a bald eagle ever took notice. Hopefully it will be the only time!

      Isn’t goldini and fun name? And yay for Loki! We just finally watched the second episode and that was fun!

  7. How terrifying for you. So are bald eagles quite common where you are? Our youngest son planted potatoes several years ago and despite never planting them again he has a good crop every year from the ones he missed!

    1. Yes, Katrina, bald eagles are common here. There is one that tends to hang out at the lake four blocks from my house, though they usually nest along the Mississippi River about a mile away. I don’t see them all the time, but they are not uncommon. It is unusual to have one flying so low through my neighborhood though.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: