Gains & Losses

I went in to my “vacation” week just barely holding on to all of the details of my life … all of the details– sleep, dishes, the-disaster-formerly-known-as-my-house, seedlings, bills, unfinished projects, laundry, writing posts for this website, animals– all of it was pretty much a mess. But with a week off, I thought, (and that’s at least sixty more hours than I usually have in any given week) I was sure to get everything under control again. I would be well rested. I would have a ton of projects done. I would totally have my shit together. I would have a whole bunch of stories about how much progress I made that I would be excited to tell!

Ha. Ha ha. Um….

So that didn’t exactly go as I planned. However, before this post takes a depressing turn, let’s talk for a minute about what I actually did get done. Most of my progress was in the garden.


I spent a good number of hours tearing up the sod in here. A project that definitely falls in to the “looks worse before it looks better” category…


Because holy shit, that doesn’t look good. And also isn’t super exciting to talk about, actually.

What’s left for sod removal is basically “cutting” around perimeter of the fence (and a few miscellaneous patches that we missed with the sod cutter). Then I probably need to till up some of the areas I’m going to plant. Because I had to get my squash plants in the ground (and they’re planted a good 4′ apart) I actually just dug up some ground and mixed some good potting soil in as I planted them, and then put straw between the rows to keep the weeds down.


THAT’S AN “AFTER” PICTURE YOU GUYS. Did you just die a little? I did. There’s still several hours of work to do on this side of the garden, and I’m running out of time for planting the strawberries, corn, hops, and berry bushes that will go here, but I’m working on it.

The other side of the garden is looking a smidge better…


I managed to cut down all the grass between the nine boxes that are in the ground and lay weed-barrier fabric between them. Then I did a shit load of shoveling. “Shit load” is probably not the right term actually, because I shovel shit often and this was a lot more work.


But it’s actually starting to come together.


My mom came up on her day off and helped me fill and plant the new boxes (nine of ten are now in the ground and filled). We’ve got a ton of tomatoes, garlic, peppers, beans, kale, and cucumbers in the ground. Still waiting for a spot are herbs, lettuces, peas, eggplant, strawberries, and even more tomatoes. Luckily I’ve got the beginnings of one more vertical bed (for the peas) to install…


And there’s a whole bed around the perimeter of the fence to plant (just as soon as I get all of the sod out of it…)


The shitty thing about gardening work (in my area) is that you basically have a 1-2 week window post-frost when you want to get everything in the ground, and that window passed last week. So now I’m really racing against the clock, but hoping I can make at least some progress this weekend. The really fantastic thing about all of this work is that this is the garden I’ve been envisioning for years. I mean, since I built my first raised beds back at the Memorial House five years ago. Five. That’s a lot of years.

I think I’ll have something very close to awesome this year, and then next year, when I can focus on planting and not on building the infrastructure of the garden, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing.

And, honestly, that covers about half of what I was hoping to accomplish last week, and I didn’t get to spend any time on my garden arbor or pergola (I’m pretty sure it’s the lack of sawdust in my life that’s making me grumpy.) But I did get to spend some time tooling around on the Kiterpillar


And eating cake…


I mean, I said I was going to eat cake, didn’t I?

I also got to spend some much-needed time grooming the donkeys…


Playing hide-and-seek with the nugs…


And napping with the cat…


The amount of time I spent napping with the cat increased towards the end there because I had a fever and my body essentially shut down on me for a couple of days. And, it was during that time that my flock sustained a couple of losses…

First, one of my chickens was hit and killed by a vehicle while she was in or near the road on Saturday. This has always been a concern of mine with free-ranging Nugs, but, for the most part, people drive slowly on this dirt road that’s full of hills and potholes, and the chickens have always skedaddled when a car comes by. Still, it was a known risk with chickens who free-range without supervision most of the day… although I will say I felt much more sad about losing this Nug than I did about the one who was taken by a more natural predator last year.

After I lost the first Nug on Saturday (one of my original flock), a second Nug (the one I nursed back from a prolapsed vent over the winter) started acting strangely. She wouldn’t leave the coop, and I thought she might have been scared by the vehicle, mourning her flock-mate, or had possibly been injured as well. Monday night she was struggling even though she didn’t have any visible injuries– and despite giving her electrolytes and baby-asprin, she’d died by Tuesday morning.

It was tough to lose two more of my flock in the last week but I know this is part of the deal with chickens, and that I’ve been lucky not to have lost more of a small, free-ranging flock over the last year. And while it wasn’t the happiest note to end my vacation on, I’m still very grateful for the farm and for my little flock of nine… six of which are the new nugs who never fail to make me laugh.


I won’t say it was the best vacation ever, but I’ve learned that things take the time they take, and if I’ve made even some progress I should call it a success.

13 Responses

  1. Sorry about your nugs!! But the garden looks great! I also vote for more donkey pics on Instagram! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Sorry to hear of your nugs. Chickens often die with no real explanation, often it is just stress. Sometimes ex-battery-farm hens freak out so much when they feel grass underfoot that they drop dead right there.

    You gave them both good lives with the sun on their backs, be happy of that.

    The garden looks AMAZING, you’ll be digging in to nommy fruit and veg before you know it.

  3. I’m so sorry for your losses. ๐Ÿ™ I hope you’re feeling better, and that the rest of your brood stays healthy! I think you made tremendous progress, and I can’t wait to see the finished (or more finished…is anything really EVER finished?!?) garden! Hope you and your fantastically bearded dude are doing well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. When I read this:

    “But with a week off, I thought, … I was sure to get everything under control again. I would be well rested. I would have a ton of projects done.”

    I already figured “something’s gonna have to give in”. Too bad you got sick, and too bad about the chicks. Let’s hope your garden turns out even better than you expect it to be!

  5. We are works in progress and only human with just so many hrs. in a day. Given the daily chores of running an acreage such as the Black Feather Farm, the detailed labor intensive work involved in what you’ve got done on your garden area gargantious enough in size to keep a farmers market in business all season. It’s coming together really nice. I do believe you made very good progress, especially feeling under the weather a couple days….we usually go back to our jobs so we can rest up some, ha!
    best regards
    JLC ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I’m sorry to hear about the nuggets.

    Your garden is really taking shape. Enjoy the progress you have made and keep on truckin’!

  7. Your garden is looking awesome!!! I have garden envy. So sorry about your nugs, I know how it goes, we have lots of chickens (and ducks and now turkeys) and sometimes they just die. ๐Ÿ™

  8. As a single woman trying to build a home and a homestead and work a job full time, I found your last sentence to be quite a beautiful one.

    Your place looks wonderful, by the way, and I am so sorry to hear the news of your beloved Nugs.

  9. Your garden is coming along nicely. I was wondering though why you couldn’t just smother the grass with a tarp and then rocks? Why do you have to dig it up. I am always looking for the easy way out I guess. The Kiterpillar suits you perfectly.

  10. wow, that garden is unbelievable! can’t wait to see the veggies you grow. your inspiring, make it look way too easy. hope you enjoyed a few cocktails after a long day (week) gardening ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Sorry about the chicken losses. I have had my share of explained and unexplained chicken deaths in the family and I feel bad each time. And now, I really need to make some raised beds for my garden!

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.