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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gargle, Grackles, Gooseberries and Gashes.

As I sat in the living room on Sunday, recovering from heat stroke, I said to the dogs (I talk constantly to them), "Odd.  The dust should be blowing AWAY from the road..."  Small, dim light bulb went on.  Pine pollen.  Good gawd.  I am sure it was psychological, but I developed a whole series of coughing fits as soon as I noticed it.  Which continued up until this morning, when I finally took pity on my raw throat and gargled with salt water.  Much better.

Of course, you can't gargle your eyes, can you?  They are itchy and red.  It's times like these when I try to focus on the bees - and their need for pollen of all kinds.  What is a little suffering on my part?

When I went out to do poultry chores this morning (now triple the work - dang), a huge flock of grackles burst into the air!  I tell you, it got my heart started and the dogs were jumpy all morning.  They apparently found some scratch feed that the hens and crows didn't inhale.  I don't see many large flocks of things - a small V of Canada geese, a conversation of sparrows (my coined expression).  Maybe they could be called a Burst of Grackles?

Morning chores now entail seeing to two other levels of poultry - the Tweenagers and the Meat Chicks (a total of 23 so far).  I have yet to work it into a seamless effort.  It's very bumpy.  The meat chicks need mash, but I refuse to buy organic mash - the only kind I can find that is not medicated.  That means I have to schlep crumble into the house and run it through my blender.  Then there is the broiler booster water.  Since I had such a terrible experience with the first batch, I am making sure they have all the nutrients I can muster.  This means mixing their water separately.  However, since we have successfully made it through a week with no losses, I am going to gradually mix crumble into the mash.  They are in enhanced water for another week, then to plain. 

The Tweenagers need to get outside, but need a protective fence so that they can meet the big girls without bloodshed.  It's going to be hinky in any case, as I must have at least five roosters in the bunch.  Poor Bleu.  He does seem to have trouble knowing boys from girls....this should really throw him.  I am going to try and throw up a temporary fence around the small coop this weekend - keep your fingers crossed.

Dexter continues to be a handful.  The banding didn't seem to slow him down for more than 15 minutes.  I flip-flop daily on whether it is a good idea to keep raising him.  He's getting bigger and is not only strong, he's a wing nut.  I am thinking this must be the Jersey effect.  It might be easier to work with him if I had a better set up -but in order to get a better set up, I need to clean out the run-in shed and move the sheep down to that area.  BUT, I have to clean the coop out first.  Procrastination can sure come back and bite you in the hiney.  I need to have a talk with my farmer/neighbor on the personality quirks of Jersey bull calves before I make a final decision.

As I work my way through my stores - I am starting to discover the back of the freezer.  Always a scary trip.  I got excited, thinking I had found a bag of blueberries only to discover they were gooseberries.  Once all this cleaning out, yard sale, garden putting-in business is over, I am going to have to deal with the three types of currants and large bag of gooseberries I have come across in the frosty depths of my freezer.  My goal is to defrost it in early summer.

The previous owners of my small abode must have had mush for brains.  They planted Barberry bushes smack-dab against the full length of the front of the house.  Every spring and fall, I am lacerated as I try to remove/put on my window screens.  I have been trying to kill these things for nine years.  I have just made them stronger - evil plants.  In my latest attempt, I whacked them down to within eight inches of the ground, then went on Freecycle and said that anyone who wanted to dig them up was welcome to them.  I then received a tsk-tsk email informing me that they are deemed an invasive species and are not allowed to enter most places (like Vermont).  That was all I needed to hear.  I have put "Decimate/Dig Up/Destroy Barberry Bushes" on The List.  I need to find something that will do well in shade and lousy soil and that will not gash me to within an inch of my life.  All suggestions are welcome.

16 comments:

  1. My sarcococca do excellently in such a site. Since they are native to the Himalayas, I would think there would be varieties suited to your winters.

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    1. Michelle - I looked them up and they do grow (or a variety thereof) in our area. Unfortunately, they seem to be either in high demand or as scarce as hen's teeth (and as expensive!) I may try to put one in a year.

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  2. We have been known on the Canadian prairies to have terrible winters *cough cough*. Its hard to grow lots but I have luck with mini lilac bushes (dwarf variety) and they do not sucker. They get only the evening sun and do quite well. Good luck with your search!

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    1. Mrs DM - Well, that may be the understatement of the year! :) I have not heard of mini lilacs - I will investigate further...

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  3. I don't know what's worse ---HAVING an invasive, or the tsk tsk from people.
    Good luck getting rid of them. Perhaps if you pretended to love them dearly, they would succomb to whatever it is that always kills beloved plants.

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    1. Sue - You know, that might work! She was pretty nice about tsking - I've been on the receiving end of others who are very militant in their tsking. I would just like to torch them, but we're under a burn ban.... :)

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  4. i planted my barberries to use as organic security. i live in the city. if anyone jumps my fence they are done for!

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    1. Jaz - You have given me an idea. Maybe what I should do is move them to a boundary that I don't want breached. At least I could hear them coming - the screams would be deafening....

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  5. Our barberry bushes never did well and died (okay, with a little help from me and a big shovel). Does that discourage anyone and everyone from ever living in our unfriendly land? They are attractive . . . if you never have to go within three feet of one.

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    1. Mama Pea - Heehee! So, would you care to divulge your secret? The birds love the berries, but then they spread the already invasive plants. Sigh.

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  6. Hostas did well in the "cold" of Illinois, but they die back every winter, not sure if you're looking for an all-year kinda plant.

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    1. Carolyn - I have some hostas around the perimeter - I love them! Plus they spread without any intervention by me (no work!) I will have to do a lot more resesearch, I think.

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  7. I had wonderful lilac bushes out west, they withstood cold, hot, wet and dry and of course they smell wonderful.

    As to Dexter...I do so wish I was closer because he needs a good halter breaking and tie session with some consequences for bad behavior. I will work on some ideas for you and see if I can translate them into print. My show cattle understood commands said firmly and were very well mannered but they all had teenage rebellions at some point:}

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    1. Fiona - Ditto on that! For more reasons than Dexter...:) I think one of the biggest problems are the limitations of my set-up. I need to pick the brain of my neighbor before I make a decision. Or you could come to visit and whip us into shape!

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  8. Barberries are beasts! Use Roundup if you have to. Instead of a shrub you could grow a tall perennial instead. Is your soil damp or dry or medium? Are you in clay?

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  9. That awful pollen!!! My kid told me the other day a bunch of students were playing kickball in the field at school during their free time and someone kicked a ball into the pine tree forest and apparently a cloud of pollen starting drifting out of the trees and nobody wanted to go in there and get the ball back hahaha!

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