I love my life. But there does seem to be quite a lot of it.

Between my job (not inher­ited that cas­tle in Spain yet), keep­ing us well fed, tend­ing the gar­den, the ani­mals and ensur­ing the house doesn’t fill with dog hair like an enor­mous house-shaped pillow…well, the days are full. But I know you’re yearn­ing for news about all the beast­ies here, so I present to you the Chicken Chron­i­cles: The Reader’s Digest Version.

By the way, before I get too far along, this post is ded­i­cated to my friend Gail, at Clay and Lime­stone. Not only did she offer the phrase Chicken Chron­i­cles in com­ments about how she enjoys my chick­ens’ antics, she also man­ages to do all that life, gar­den, job stuff and blog too. My hat’s off to you, Gail!

First, Pol­ish hen Edith went broody this sum­mer. For those of you who are not chicken mam­mas and pap­pas, that means she decided moth­er­hood was all she needed to ful­fill her des­tiny in life. She took to her nest box and refused to budge. Well, I have a fairly laissez-faire pol­icy when it comes to nature, so I fig­ured, let’s see where this takes us.

Frankly, as laissez-faire can be, the whole thing was messy. Long story short, all the other hens added to Edith’s clutch so that she ended up try­ing to sit on about 15 eggs—an impos­si­ble task for a lit­tle Pol­ish hen. To com­pli­cate mat­ters, Tina Turner, a beau­ti­ful buff Pol­ish hen, was swayed by Edith’s efforts and decided to hatch a batch of her own. She was eas­ily dis­suaded for a more care­free life among the moth­er­less hens.

Back to Edith…After about three weeks it was clear that noth­ing was going to hap­pen on the baby mak­ing front, so I took mat­ters into my own hands. Actu­ally, I took Edith into my own hands and took her off the eggs to get rid of them.

Voila! There was a chick under her!

Now, I will dip into the details just a bit here, even though this is the Reader’s Digest ver­sion. Edith is not the birth mother. T. Boone Chick­ens, our enor­mous rooster, does not do the wild thing with the Pol­ish hens. I don’t know if it’s because he prefers the more full-figured hens or if the Pol­ish girls are just too fast for him, but I’ve never seen him do the deed with one of the mop-headed girls. I sus­pect that the new chicken is from Dor­thy or Mered­ith, our Easter egg chickens.

So…to get back to the story. Edith and her baby were sep­a­rated so that the other chick­ens didn’t com­mit infan­ti­cide, as chick­ens will do. After a suit­able and appro­pri­ate mater­nity leave Edith and her young were re-integrated back into the flock. It was an endear­ing sight to see her alert­ing the baby to bugs, tomato morsels and blue­berry treats. At night she would sit with the baby under her. After the baby grew too large to sit on, she would put her wing pro­tec­tively over the baby as they sat side-by-side.

Baby and Edith, his adop­tive mum

The baby is now about 13 weeks old.

So far we’re call­ing the baby “Baby.” Clever, no?

The rea­son is that the baby will even­tu­ally be named Ricky or Lucy, names picked out by Carol at May Dreams Gar­dens. But one of the names has not yet stuck because I still don’t know if Baby is a Lucy or a Ricky. We should know in another month or so. But I will tell you this. Baby has really, really big feet like T. Boone Chick­ens. And Baby looks like a cross between Dorothy and Mered­ith, the Easter egg chick­ens. We will never know who the birth mother is with­out DNA testing.

Oh, and Baby loves Edith, his adopted and devoted mum. She is his true mum.

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Sep 12

Scenes from Summer

Here it is Sep­tem­ber 12. The air con­di­tioner is off and the win­dows are open—at least when it’s not too chilly any­way. I spent the after­noon rotat­ing out the sum­mer clothes and bring­ing out the sweaters and long pants. Where did sum­mer go?

My blog here at Bum­ble­bee has been quiet. That’s not because I’m not grow­ing food and flow­ers and herbs. It’s because at some point I have to make a choice between liv­ing my life or writ­ing about it. With my con­sult­ing job, lit­tle dogs, chick­ens, cat, gar­den, house plants—not to say any­thing about the hus­band and son home from college—I felt pulled to so many direc­tions. I have been falling into bed at night think­ing of every­thing that didn’t get done.

So, con­sider this a lit­tle bit of a catch-up post with just a few pho­tos that I neglected to share until now.

In one of the beds lead­ing to the front door I planted a vari­ety of coleus and nes­tled a bird­bath planted with suc­cu­lents. At first the coleus looked a bit sparse, with a lot of mulch show­ing. I pinched it back and before long it was so bushy and tall that the bird­bath was lost in the dark bur­gundy, black and green foliage of the coleus.

The bird­bath has these lit­tle orangish flow­ers that open in the sun­light, cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful dis­play. I have to admit that I was inspired by Debra Lee Baldwin’s Suc­cu­lent Con­tainer Gar­dens, which I received as a review copy and drooled over but neglected to write about until now. Buy the book. You will love it.

I have decided that suc­cu­lents have a big future in my gar­den, since water­ing takes a great deal of time and the suc­cu­lents can fend for themselves.

After two bad tomato years due to fusar­ium wilt and late blight, we have finally had a good tomato year. I had to dig new beds in a whole new area of the yard as well as plant some hybrids in an attempt to foil the fusar­ium wilt. I am con­sid­er­ing solar­iz­ing a large area of the potager next year. I don’t look for­ward to the ugli­ness of plas­tic on the ground or hav­ing so much area out of pro­duc­tion, but it may come to that.

In the mean­time, we had a good year for straw­ber­ries, let­tuces, cucum­bers, the most adorable and sweet tig­ger mel­ons and herbs. Herbs galore! Our needs here are fairly sim­ple, so I con­tin­ued to focus on orna­men­ta­tion in the potager as well as pro­duc­tion. But pots do need water­ing, don’t they. *sigh*

I have some fun news to share about the chick­ens, but that must wait for another day.

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Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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