The Awful Mr. Noodles


Meet Mr. Noodles, the assassin.

Just last month I was sitting at my desk working on the family’s stamp album.  After a few hours of intense hobbying,  I decided to stand up, only to discover that someone had tied me to the chair.  Looking closer I saw, to my astonishment, that someone had wrapped my legs to the chair with a large quantity of green twine.  In fact, the whole room was garlanded with twine.  The assassin was perched on the chair planning his next move which I believe was to set the house on fire, knowing I could not escape.

That night, he carefully placed a broom across the bedroom door at shin height and sat nearby, waiting for me to trip in the dark,  which I surely did, without harm.   So why do I love this little monster so much?

Meanwhile,  today is the first day of Lent, the solemn day we remember Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

adam and eve

Adam was rightly exiled from Eden for not keeping
Thy one commandment, 
O Savior.  But what shall
I suffer who am always rejecting They living words?










Venerable Prochorus of the Kiev Near Caves



The July Massacree

Someone recently asked me about my chickens and my “chicken blog” and I realized I hadn’t updated Xenia’s Garden since June! One July  night while we were out of town some animal-  a skunk or a raccoon or maybe it was an inter-species conspiracy-  invaded the back yard, killing Ruby,  my Rhode Island Red and all three lovebirds, who were sitting on a nest of four eggs,  just about ready to hatch.  They almost got the guinea pigs, too.  My daughter came out to the back yard that morning to check on the animals and found blood, feathers, smashed eggs,  and what was left of Ruby.   The villain snatched her off her roost as she slept. We cleaned up the mess and fortified the chicken pen.  We got four new chicks and a parakeet (Mr. Peeps) to replace the lovebirds.    The little hens are nearly grown and get along well with the two hens from the origianal flock,  Rita and Rhonda.   Rhonda is still alive, by the way, but she has a “pendulous crop” and hardly lays any eggs.  She’s still my favorite. Here’s the new girls:

Louise, Rhoda, Goldy and Daisy

I found a very useful web site for the Saints of the day:  Eternal Orthodox Calendar.

Today the Church commemorates St. James, the brother of the Lord.


The readers of Xenia’s Garden know that the authoress is a tender, animal-loving soul who loves all creatures,  even rodents.  However,  the Hated Gopher crossed the line the other day when she  absconded down the gopher-hole with a morning glory plant that was just of the verge,  the very cusp,  of forming a lovely vine that was supposed to climb up the trellis I had just made for this very plant.  I was able to forgive the two full-grown zucchinis,  the pumpkin,  the entire lettuce patch,  the row of onions,  the spinach, the green beans and the kale but this was simply too much.  This creature had crossed the line.

I went to the hardware store,  looking for some form of Gopher Death.  There was a small crowd of people standing around in this department and an eavesdropper would not be faulted for thinking he was listening in on battle plans for the Invasion of  Normandy.  I joined in,  handing products down to the man in the wheelchair who was attracted to a sonic device that promised to scare the gophers out of the yard.  “But into my neighbor’s yard,”  I observed.  “I  don’t want to do that.”   An employee,  a handsome freckled youth,  was reading the warnings on the side of Gopher Poison.  “It says you shouldn’t use this product around vegetables.”    A wiry middle-aged man spoke up:  “Nuke ’em all!”  and spoke with affection about his shotgun.

I settled on this thing:

It appeared to be a large mouse trap.

I brought it home,  read the directions,  and set the spring to test it out.  I gingerly inserted a pencil which resulted in a loud SNAP and a busted pencil.  It looked plenty lethal.  After searching around for the perfect gopher hole (I found a good one where there used to be a large green bean plant) yesterday I set the trap in the entrance.

And this morning….

Not Quite Eden

Flo as a Toddler-  RIP

About a month ago I was sitting in my backyard in the morning sunshine.  The veggie garden was flourishing,  the flowers were a riot of color, mostly purple,  the hens were laying well and a nice assortment of biblical birds (doves and sparrows, mostly) were visiting the feeders.  Mrs. Rabbit and the Farm Dog seemed to have made peace and things seemed just about perfect-  Edenic,  in fact.

But I soon realized that it’s not time for Eden yet on this earth.  The first clue was an invasion of gophers.  One by one,  my vegetables began to disappear:  A whole row of onions,  an entire patch of lettuce,  my entire zucchini crop as well as the cilantro and chard.   The corn,  green beans, tomatoes and most of the pumpkins are still unmolested but I am not too hopeful.  Every morning I go out to let the hens out of their coop and survey the latest predation.   The gophers chew the roots off at ground level,  leaving a wilted plant that will soon disappear down the gopher hole.  Very sad.   I have replanted everything in pots on the patio.

Then two of my hens fell sick.   Flo died but the other ailing hen-  my favorite Rhonda-  looked to be at death’s door for a week but thanks to many answered prayers she has recovered.   I had suspected Flo was poisoned by nibbling foxglove but I thought she was getting better,  but nope.  Rhonda looked to be next but I found some remedies on the Internet and I think she’s ok now. She has always been a little lop-sided and I guess she’s a special-needs hen.

So,  it’s not Eden,  no matter how much love, affection and attention I put into my garden and my animals.  Things still go very very wrong.

Genesis 3:18  “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you…”


ImageWe were cleaning up an old flower patch today and found a zillion snails,  sound asleep.  While we all know that snails do their dirty work at night,  it never ocurred to me that they hole up somewhere during the day to sleep. I collected the whole groggy mess of ’em and fed them to the hens who gobbled them up before they knew what hit them.  It was not a pretty sight.

Here’s some thrift shop animal planters with succulents:


And finally,  today is the day that the Church remembers Jeremiah the Prophet who said these words:

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.

Amen to that!

Spring Garden!

I think I can declare this year’s garden PLANTED!  Now it’s just a matter of watering,  fertilizing, weeding and eating.  The winter was very dry at first and I was afraid we’d have water rationing this summer,  but we had a rainier than usual spring so I am optimistic that I can water the garden without any worries.


The hens are doing well, although we had a foxglove incident that makes me shudder to think about.  I always have foxglove in the yard,  which as we all know,  is quite poisonous.  However,  none of my animals ever ate it, not even Mrs. Rabbit,  so I figured the animals were exercising their God-given common sense.  But maybe chickens don’t have this feature…   Anyway,  I looked one morning and the foxglove showed definite signs of some serious nibbling.  And Flo was acting oddly-  not eating and wanting to sleep.  But, thank the Lord,  they all recovered and we put a fence around the foxglove to prevent future mishaps.  It’s so easy to make a dumb mistake that can kill your animals.  We generally get three eggs each day,  sometimes four.   During Lent I froze a lot of eggs by blending them and storing them in small containers but the results are not very appetizing.  I’ve been feeding them to Lilly the Farm Dog.

Farm Dog at Work

More Chickens

Lilly and the Girls

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