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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Our beckoning goodies

[posted by risa]

In the house, I have been baking herb bread (whole wheat with oats, rye and buckwheat, with fresh minced marjoram, thyme, rosemary, chives and spinach) and practicing with stir frys in our new wok (diced radishes, chard stems, spinach stems, elephant garlic shoots, and Egyptian onions, with tofu, three minutes, adding the chard and spinach leaves, radish tops, onion greens, chives, and marjoram, three more minutes, at lower heat).

Beloved has been washing and sorting eggs, practicing guitar, and rehearsing (she's a singer/storyteller on the library circuit).

Outdoors, I've planted about a quarter pound of runner beans (heirloom) and three cherry tomatoes, and in the greenhouse I've potted four upside-down Santiam tomatoes. I finally reconnected the solar hot water heater and it does appear to be working. We've picked a spot, near the front door, for the fall garden, and I've covered the site for the bed with black plastic to kill off the sod. So we have doubled the land we have "in cultivation," just as we've doubled the poultry run, this year.

I've also cleaned up the compost heap --good looking stuff! -- and put up a wire enclosure for it. While engaged in this task, I found some several enormous nightcrawlers, so I made a quick trip to the reservoir and came back with two trout for the freezer and seven quite large pikeminnows -- these are hard to eat, as they are full of branching bonelets, but make good compost. I cut them up and stewed them with a mess of tree leaves to make a kind of fish emulsion, which I poured off into a five-gallon bucket for later use, diluted, in watering cans, and then took the stewed fish and leaves to the compost barrel and rotated them into the mix.

Beloved has planted a patch of kale, a patch of bok choi, a patch of celery, and all the sweet corn for this year -- a yellow variety and a white variety. Most of the summer vegs still aren't in yet, though we have great transplant weather and the soil is finally warm enough. Beloved has quite a lot of starts hardening off -- eggplants, heirloom tomatoes, summer and winter squash -- but has had so much work in town that she's had to put off getting them into the ground.

Just as we've become more intensively engaged in producing our own food, as well as selling eggs -- trouble.

I'm engaging in a war of wits with the local deer. Cleverly arranged bits of fencing are snatched down and dragged away, and the tender shoots of grapevines and all the leaves of pear seedlings cropped -- not at night, as you would expect, but in the early afternoons when both of us are away at our jobs! Right by the road!

Wailing and gnashing of teeth ...

The damage to the seedless grapes and the pears has been pretty severe -- one of the trees may not live. Surprisingly, they haven't gone after the peas -- perhaps those will be for dessert. The summer garden has had a deer fence since last year, but we have expanded into three other beds for a spring garden. The real fence job was not scheduled until next winter ...

Beloved's just in -- after eight p.m. -- and we talked about our day, and I conveyed her to the garden to admire my work on the compost heap and cherry tomatoes. She started to make the appropriate noises of appreciation, and then instead said:

"There they are."

I peered into the gathering twilight. Across the road, two deer had just halted in their approach toward our beckoning goodies. Yearling doe blacktails, by the look of them.

"Blackhearted pirates! Pear-snatchers!"

"Grape-pilfering suburban pets!"

"Heartless freeloaders!"

They seemed to find our reproaches amusing.

"They're waiting for us to go away."

"We'll have to to move up the fence schedule."

The Bambis twitched their ears at us.

"Go away, arready!"

"Let's walk toward them."

We stepped into the road, and ambled in their direction. They pretended to take no notice of us, nibbling at roadside grasses (as if that were what they had come for), and finally, when we had come within about eighty feet, slid soundlessly away into shadow.

-30-

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