Tuesday, July 22 (continued)
Im not alone in the Plum Pit. Besides the stack of books
MaryJane brought from the basement, the chickens are my constant
companions. MaryJane calls them the girls. So the girls
and I have a great time of it. MaryJane points out how the chickens
like to take dust baths. They make wallow holes and
flop around, making all kinds of ecstatic sounds. Its a real
comedy. Apparently this is how the chickens control mites. I need
to thank the girls because their pretty pink and mint-green eggs
made the salad even more delicious today. And I couldnt have
made the BakeOver Breakfast Puff puff without their
eggs either! MaryJanes free-range chickens are free to find
things to eat all over the farm. But Ive noticed the girls,
like their human companions, have a real preference for the Plum
After dinner, MaryJane and I take a brief walk and I head for the
hut with a two-gallon pickle jar full of cool well water. No more
Wednesday, July 23
Im doing most of the cooking now, and thats the plan.
MaryJane insists that I need to learn to cook what I can grow. And
shes right! The old dish washing mantra still continues; good
barter for cooking lessons from MaryJane.
This morning MaryJane brings seed catalogs and her garden record
for me to review. Its amazing the information they include.
You can see the wide variety of vegetables that are actually available,
but rarely on the grocery store shelves. I didnt realize that
people have been growing gourds for over five thousand years. Nor
had I ever heard of black corn. Oh yes, there are two categories
of herbs: culinary and medicinal. All this from one seed catalog!
MaryJane said she tears out pages with descriptions of the varieties
she orders and keeps them in her gardening book. If she cant
find the page, she inserts the seed packet instead. Good tip.
The garden notebook is an essential element of good gardening.
Record keeping helps a gardener learn from trial and error, and
avoid repeating mistakes. Garden notebooks also allow gardeners
to keep track of crop rotations by bed. In the notebook, MaryJane
keeps lists of whats planted, when and where in the garden.
She can go back and make notes regarding performance of one variety
Today is plenty hot, and even the Plum Pit is warm. MaryJanes
chickens are moving slowly, and dont venture far from the
relative cool of the Plum Pit, although theyre trained to
always go back to the hen house to lay their eggs in the nest boxes.
This is really important with free-range chickens, or you have an
Easter egg hunt every day of the year. MaryJane insists on checking
the nests every two hours so the eggs can be refrigerated promptly
after laying. The hens are gentle and dont mind her reaching
in the nest for the eggs. She keeps a wooden egg in each nest box
to discourage hens from breaking eggs. Its a capital offense
for repeat offenders in any well-managed chicken house.