Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abbreviated chicken

Houdini looks a bit different than her flock mates..

She is the middle chicken.. missing every single one of her tail feathers. Note her sister Silverwing's fluffy tail feathers by comparison.. 

Let's do a close-up- no tail feathers at all.

The story is that she escaped the fence one morning and encountered a neighborhood dog. Carl heard barking/yelling and went outside to find her hiding in the bushes, feathers strewn around the front yard. Lucky for her, while her rump was completely plucked she avoided any major injuries. We've fixed the fence since I'm not sure she's sharp enough to have learned a lesson.

In garden news, I have finished a late winter grass-removal project- expanding and re-doing a messy bed in the back yard. This is an after picture:

Much tidier compared to before which was last year (below). Giving away the bright pink starter coop and chicken tractor helped too. A perk of the chickens is that they have decimated any winter weeds that might try to pop up (the streaks of green last year were annual bluegrass..)

The after view from the other side. I shortened the inner bed and dug out all the latent weeds so hopefully I will have definition between my salvias and asparagus. I also planted a kidneywood bush/tree on the right. It should be short enough to not block the view off the balcony but will hopefully be full of bee and butterfly attracting white flowers in the spring. I also planted a pomegranate tree down the slope that will fill the bed when it grows in.

It won't be as lush as it was last spring (see before pic below)- but it was a waste watering and mowing the extra strip. It was the first part of the grass to shrivel up and turn brown with the drought in late summer. The inner bed was completely taken over with passionvine and carolina snail seed- to the point that my mealy blue sage flopped over by June and the oregano had become sparse in some spots and invasive in others.

The chickens have left the new transplants alone so far- two pink skullcaps near the border, tiny pots of mexican feather grass, lambs ears and four nerve daisies in the full full sun area and new herbs such as scented geraniums, oregano, grapefruit mint (planted in a bottomless pot) in the afternoon shade area. It took discipline to space them appropriately (so tempting to mash them together!) but luckily I have a few full size specimens to remind me of how far they'll spread.

 Tiny lambs ear

Just specks of plants!

I hope they'll do well if it freezes next week (their larger versions have held up fine). I have a few other plants I hope do well if it freezes, too:

Asparagus spears-  I've been eating them one by one already.

My Mexican plum is getting ready to blossom- probably next week!