u s e y o u r h a n d s

Seed Starting

Oh, it’s that time of year again! It’s mid-February, and the seed catalogs have all arrived, orders have been placed and received, and my kitchen floor is littered with cut-up and folded toilet-paper tubes. So far, here’s what I’ve got going:

– Black Krim (Saved from SSE seeds)
– Riesentraube (Baker Creek)
– Bonny Best (Baker Creek)
– Stupice (SSE)
– Green Zebra (From Cook County Jail Garden)
– San Marzano #2 (Baker Creek)

– Black Pearl (D. Landreth)
– Melrose (Baker Creek)

Other Stuff:
– Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry (Baker Creek)
– Rhubarb, Victoria (Baker Creek)
– Red Cabbage (D. Landreth)

Lots more to come, some starting early, some direct sow. Also expecting a shipment of hardy kiwi vines, goumi bush, potatoes, groundnuts, sea kale, and more. Plus an apple or two, and pear scionwood for grafting onto the Bradford pear. WHEW!!

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A few days ago, Brian and G came to pick me up after presenting a marketing project to a pro-bono client. Before I even clicked the seatbelt, G exclaimed, “Mommy, Poppy caught a chicken!”

Since we actually do keep hens, this didn’t seem super weird. But then Brian said, “No, he’s right. We were coming to pick you up and saw a chicken in the Aldi parking lot.”

Said Aldi lot chicken is also known as “the luckiest fucking chicken in the world” or (now) “Donna.”

Brian caught her, held on to her while driving the block and a half home, and tucked her in our garage with some organic layer feed. Serendipitous, indeed.

The next day, I had a look at the LFCITW and saw a nice floppy comb, full wattle and a Red Star coloring. Then Brian noticed her beak. Her beak had been trimmed, so that when her beak closed, she looked like she was trying to whistle. Beak-trimming is done mostly with industrial hens, because hens can peck each other when they’re kept in tight quarters.

But backyard hens should never, ever be debeaked. Ever. Beaks are how chickens sense the world, like a cat’s whiskers. And this practice can also make it tough for hens to take in enough nutrition. But on top of that, it’s barbaric. Debeaking may be performed with a mechanical instrument or a hot knife. Does that sound fun? Does it sound loving and respectful?

I’m hoping that the LFCITW’s previous owner was just stupid or ill-informed and not a creep animal abuser. We’ll never know—and frankly, I don’t want to know. When you buy eggs, buy them from a real person and ask questions. You may pay more, but you’ll get a better product and help a creature have a better life.

Donna’s staying with us. After her quarantine, I hope the rest of the flock greets her with kindness. Good God, does she need it.

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Running from Leaving

Motherhood has been a deep struggle, full of setbacks and switchbacks and detours. It’s not a vocation I’d coveted nor was it long-sought. And while I never saw myself being a stay-at-home parent, I was one, for several years. But then I came to a point, whether in reality or just in mind, that it was time for me to move back to the workforce full-time and out of the house.

For many reasons to boring and numerous, it’s just not working out. So, starting in late May, I’ll once again return to full-time, on-site parenthood, but with a new zeal for the job. The small boy has entered a phase of development irresistible and maddening. He makes faces, uses inventive turns of phrase and is becoming a useful helper. And i don’t want to miss it. Even the shitty parts. And there are shitty parts.

I often think of this return to domesticity when I hear love songs about reuniting. It’s not just the boy to which I’m returning, it’s the slower paced, more meaningful live I worked hard to create. And while it might seem weird to draw parallels between a love song and parenthood, so be it. This made me cry today and yearn for the end of May.

Bright Eyes
“First Day of My Life” (an excerpt)

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
Don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to do

And so I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever
I especially am slow
But I realized that I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

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