Category Archives: Writing

Xavier Feathersworth

Sir Hubert McFeatherington is the leader of his flock.

The hens adore him and the other three roosters fear him.

Xavier Feathersworth was his faithful follower.

He’s the lieutenant and Sir Hubert is the general.

Yet, as they’ve grown together, Xavier has started to become…resentful.

Resentful because the other roosters pick on him while Sir Hubert just laughs.

And with this growing resentment, Xavier has started to become…disloyal to Sir Hubert…and his own flock.

One day, after a particularly painful pecking, Xavier quietly escaped through a gap in the run and darted over to the older flock to talk with their leader.

Pecky Greenleg.

 

Pecky and a few of his hens were out in the pen. They turned toward him when he cleared his throat.

“Hmmm,” said one of the hens. “What do we have here?”

“Looks like a little rooster,” said another hen.

Pecky eyed Xavier warily. The hens, who had no respect for Pecky gave a few sharp pecks and wandered up the ramp to eat.

Xavier’s heart fell. A henpecked rooster would not be able to help him.

“What do you want?” Pecky asked, embarrassed by the hen’s treatment of him.

“Well, I had hoped…but nevermind,” mumbled Xavier as he turned to go.

“Wait! Why did you came all this way?”

Xavier turned back and saw a desperate yet hopeful gleam in his eyes.

“I was hoping to find a new leader for my flock. A leader big and strong enough to put the other roosters to shame.”

Pecky looked at Xavier thoughtfully, then turned and looked at his raw, red back and his lack of tail feathers.

Maybe, this was his chance to start over with a new flock.

“Tell me more,” Pecky said, smiling as much as a henpecked rooster could smile.

To be continued…

Wonderland

Our homestead is a wonderland
Filled with new delights
Each day brings surprises
That popped up overnight

The kiwi now have tiny buds
The grapes’ pink blossoms grow
Snow in Summer bursting forth
So bright it almost glows

This is the first time we have seen these little buds on the kiwi vines.

Grape leaves are starting to unfurl.

The snow in summer has spread and is blooming.

Tigerlilies spiking out
And gojis growing tall
The hops are running wild again
And bright green berries crawl

The tigerlilies will be bright orange.

We have hops growing on just about every post in the vineyard.

The strawberries are just starting to turn red.

Roses spreading far and wide
Seaberries growing fast
Popping up all o’er the fedge
This year they’ll fruit at last

We are probably going to start strawberries somewhere else next year…the rose bushes are taking over and those thorns hurt. OUCH!

Seaberries are everywhere in the fedge. We are digging the ones between the rows up and transplanting them to the swales.

A carpet spreads out in the fedge
Sedum green and bright
It doubles, triples every year
It’s short but full of might

It’s fun to watch the changes
As April rolls to May
Vibrant greens and rainbow hues
Get brighter every day

I just love how much the vineyard has grown in 4 years.

Vanishing

Joe has been going on butterfly hunts.

He arms himself with a butterfly net and his bug house.

He takes his trusty assistant along with him and hunts the property.

He’s found two small butterflies, but is concerned that there are no monarchs on our land.

“Where are they?” he asks every time he trudges back to the house, his net dragging on the ground.

Last picture we snapped taken in October 2014.

Well, they’ve been having a bit of trouble getting back to Illinois. Milkweed, where they lay their eggs, is disappearing and difficult to find. Why?

Pesticides are a big factor.

One article I read states that butterflies have to cross “the corn/soybean desert” on their migration from Mexico to Illinois. Steps are being taken to plant milkweed along roadsides, but I’m not sure how much good that would do. Won’t it die out again when the pesticides start hitting fields?

We only saw 1 monarch butterfly last year on our property. Just one. I think we saw 2 or 3 the year before.

We have, or had, a lot of milkweed in our back pasture, but it seems we have less every year. Right now, I don’t see any growing. Usually, we don’t start seeing it until late Spring though. So we still have time. We don’t need to worry…yet.

Deep orange and black wings
The monarchs are vanishing
Never to be seen

Underneath

Underneath the vineyard
Tiny buds appear
Are they signs of kiwi?
Will this be the year?

Underneath the chicken run
Small pullets play and fight
Fluttering and flying low
Huddled up at night

Underneath the playset
Two boys rest with a treat
Chocolate pudding faces
Sticky smiles so sweet

Underneath the lovage
A little kitty purrs
Hiding, yawning, napping
Cleaning all her fur

Underneath the bright blue sky
The wind blows soft and strong
Greens and yellows dot the land
Summer won’t be long



Quiet Times

Quietly I wander
Through the rows
Searching

Softly I whisper
Words of love
Hoping

Eagerly I welcome
Signs of life
Smiling

A touch of pink
A splash of green
Growing

We wandered around the vineyard yesterday and were surprised to see all the new life.

Grape leaves are starting to grow on the vines.

Chocolate mint is running wild like a carpet on the floor of the vineyard.

The kiwi is already greening and growing.

The goji berries are growing greener than ever.

The one creeping phlox that is still around has doubled in size from last year.

Pretty and Useful

I’ve added a few more flowers to the garden. Today I planted marigolds, alyssum and salvia. At $1.50 a six-pack, I couldn’t resist.

Not only are all of these flowers pretty, they are also useful to detract pests and attract beneficials.

The marigold’s job is to keep bean beetles, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies away from my produce. Also, I like the splash of deep yellow breaking up all the green in the garden.

I’d never encountered a thrip or a whitefly, so I hope they continue to stay away from the garden. Thrips suck the life out of plants and munch on the fruit. Ick.

Whiteflies are teeny tiny and feed on the undersides of leaves. I don’t think we’ve had a problem with this and I want to keep it that way.

The alyssum smells good, smothers weeds and attracts the aphid-eating flower fly, which looks more like a bee than a fly. What more could I ask for from a flower?

I tried to plant salvia from seed last year, but had no luck. It’s job is to attract butterflies and look beautiful. It is also said to attract hummingbirds and we have a few that hang out at our house.

I planted two in every section of the herb spiral and one or two in each section of the kitchen garden. I’ll also put marigold seeds down, but for some reason I cannot get many of them to grow. At least not quickly enough to be of any use.

I did get a pretty big marigold to grow from seed in the herb spiral last year. I let it go to seed so hopefully I’ll have another one this year.

Flowers so gorgeous
A natural pesticide
Pretty and useful

Okra (et al.)

Today I planted okra
Lettuce, spinach, kale
And one sad tomato
All crooked, bent and frail

Worms in every spadeful
Wiggling in the dirt
A few big nasty grubs
A little chick dessert

Next I planted flowers
And cilantro all around
Bush beans in the garden
Carrots in the ground

I looked down at my hands
When everything was done
Dirt and mud had crusted
My fingers…every one

And then I heard the laughter
The sound of running feet
I looked up from the garden
And got an awful treat

Two boys armed with squirt guns
Had come to chase me off
They giggled, smiled and shouted
Hey Mom! It’s time to stop!

My Dear Mr. Greenleg

Pecky has been through a lot
His feathers look so sad
He’s constantly attacked by hens
They’re really very bad

He never tries to fight back
He never tries to win
Every time we let him out
He tries to get back in

You can’t control your chickens
You can’t command your flock
These girls have got you beaten
They only need to squawk

My dear Mr. Greenleg
Oh how you make me cringe!
I want you with the others
Not hanging on the fringe

Lovely Lilac

This is my lovely lilac
Planted years ago
Growing oh so slowly
Bruised by wind and snow

Last year, I thought it dead
But I left it in the ground
And now I’m glad I did
Just see this plant rebound!

Now patiently I’ll wait
For many years to pass
That is how long it takes
For buds to bloom at last

Kneeling in the Garden

Yesterday, the boys planted a “secret hideout” using mammoth sunflower seeds.

They planted the seeds in a ring and then planted flowers, watermelon and broccoli inside.

Why watermelon and broccoli?

“For a snack while we are hiding out.”

While they were busy planting and plotting, I knelt in my own secret hideout.

I planted spaghetti, acorn and pattypan squash around the base of the squash arch. Today, I’ll plant the morning glory seeds I soaked overnight around the outside. I can’t wait to see what the arch looks like in a month.

I planted alyssum around the edge of the garden and transplanted a few more tomatoes. The ones I planted on Monday were very sad from wind and frost. I’m still hopeful they will bounce back though.

I planted the globe amaranth I had started indoors, as well as the purple basil in the herb spiral. There is still no sign of the cilantro and basil I planted a few weeks ago.

I planted the last pepper. I do not know what kind of pepper it is. I really must figure out a way to label better. My masking tape ends up falling off and my labels fade, even when I use a permanent marker.

I know it could be a sweet chocolate pepper, a jalapeno or a hungarian hot wax.

The tomatoes are the same. The pink boar’s all kept their masking tape on, but the crimson sprinters and mortgage lifters shed theirs when I wasn’t looking.

I have this problem yearly. It seems like it would be an easy enough thing to do, labeling plants, but for some reason I cannot seem to get it.

Oh well, I like a surprise.

Kneeling in the garden
Smelling earth and trees
Thanking God in heaven
While I’m on my knees