chicks and butterflies and breeze — it must be Spring

June 8. So much activity around here it’s taken a migraine to slow me down enough to write a note. Thank you headache. I’m sitting with the youngest fifty chicks, getting them used to a human. They’re just over a month old now, and they’ve only been outdoors the past week. Not how we like to do it at all. That last unexpected chick shipment has been a bit stressful for poultry and people both. These chicks had plenty of room indoors but not enough light to see us coming. Small high windows, electric lights hanging 3 feet off the floor. From their bright little world, the chicks would see our giant shapes swoop down out of the darkness above them like raptors. Now they’re scratching and eating and preening around me, making little satisfied chick sounds and all is well. Until a raven flies over, low, at which they rush under the ramp and freeze there, turning their heads so one eye can see straight up. Now that they’ve seen real predators they’ve switched people into a different category.

We’re having what, for here, is an uncharacteristically gradual transition between wet season and dry. It’s an actual springtime, 76 degrees this afternoon, invigorating breeze, flowers ridiculously luxuriant. From here I can see a wall of azaleas at the far side of the garden, and the Fantin Latour rose I love for its fragrance even though it’s pink, and California poppies like foam on the waves, blooming across the garden on their own initiative. The azaleas are natives too, but planted in a forty-foot row some thirty years ago by Jim Garver, former proprietor here of a native nursery specializing in azaleas. These are his mother plants, started from cuttings gathered in wild locations from Mendocino Co. up into southern coastal Oregon, from particular plants more colorful or scented or floriferous than anyone else around them. He propagated from these plants via tissue culture in what, in his day, was a sterile lab attached to his shade greenhouse. As I’m looking at them I spot the first swallowtail of the season at its favorite nectar source.
Wedding flowers: Nicotiana, Ammi, and stock are growing happily in the flower house. Zinnias wish the nights were warmer – I planted the rest of them in the main hoophouse for that reason. Sunflowers may be too far behind – I have starts in a flat, waiting to go into the earth at the turn of the moon, which hopefully will coincide with completion of a new rooster apartment that will mean no roosters in the garden. They don’t damage any established plants, but they pecked a row of tomato transplants down to stumps. Yes, I’m talking about Fabian and Diego. The new apartment is not the Rooster Folly in the chicken yard woods planned by Lin, but a much simpler arrangement that uses an existing roof and wall, appropriates space from the garden but opens into the chicken yard. It will be quite a demotion for Fabian and Diego, but they’ll still be able to commune with girls through the fence, and that’s what matters most, after all. Plus we’ll be able to plant the garden.