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.

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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…”

Snails

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:

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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!

The Samaritan Woman

Ruby and Rita

Hens are triangular creatures.

Today is the day the Church remembers the Samaritan Woman,  also known as the Woman at the Well.  The Orthodox Church knows her name was Photini,  or Svetlana in Russian.  When I hear this Gospel story I am struck by how true this story rings to modern ears.  Everytime the Lord says something uncomfortable to her she changes the subject,  just like I would have.   Happy name day to all the Svetlanas and Photinis and may God grant you many years!

The Lord and the Samaritan Woman

And HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all the moms,  especially my own!

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.

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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

More Baby Lovebird Photos

They are starting to grow some green feathers!

Meanwhile,  the chickens have been staying outside overnight for about a week now.

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