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I’m Baaack!!

It’s been awhile. I apologize. Life got in the way. A lot has happened since February so I’ll try to sum it up for you. 

  • I met someone amazing who fills my heart with joy and laughter. 
  • Licorice (my sweet hen) was eaten by a opossum – the opossum mysteriously disappeared. 
  • My remaining two old biddy hens and rooster are on insect and fertilizer duty. They’re locked up in the coop more than I like but it’s better than being eaten. I don’t get any eggs. 
  • I broke my leg playing soccer in early August and lost half my summer. I started walking again in late October. I got very little gardening done this year between the first bullet and this one (and the sea kayaking course I took with the Mountaineers). 


  • I’m moving! I plan to rent out my house to someone who enjoys gardening. Yes, I realize this is wishful thinking.  

That being said, I have a lot of garden chores I need to get done to prepare for the move. I need to root prune trees and bushes moving with me. I need to prepare and design my new garden space for plants being moved. And I need to decide which perennials move with me. I’m a little worried about renting out my garden so plan to take all the special plants along with me. Most are ready to be divided anyway. If you have advice on how to successfully rent out a garden, let me know. 

I’m excited about the move. I get to live with the man of my dreams and I get more garden space. Someone should really pinch me. The garden already has a great foundation of mature plants, a deck, a waterfall/pond and a fenced veggie garden. Since I’m a little bit ‘anti-lawn,’ I’ll probably start by killing some of the lawn to make a little more garden space. I like to use leaves and cover with wet cardboard and fine mulch to kill grass. It works great and creates a happy winter home for the worms. I’ll get this going in the next couple weeks. 

I also need to get going on building a new chicken coop. I was looking through my friend Jessi Bloom’s ‘Free-Range Chicken Gardens’ book this morning for inspiration. I haven’t quite decided where it’s going to live or the style of coop. We get a lot of rain so I’ll probably have a covered run and warm shed-like hen house. Then in spring I’ll get some chicks with the goal of getting fresh eggs again. I was thinking of getting French Marans for their dark brown eggs and Ameraucanas for their light blue eggs. Both breeds are hard to find.   

I also need to get my garlic planted ASAP! I’m already a month or so late. 

Lots to do! We’ll chat again soon. 

I Almost Killed My Chickens Last Night

And when I say ‘me,’ I really mean the two opossum (pronounced possum) that scared them out of the coop and scattered them around my dark yard at 3 a.m.. They will kill and eat chickens. The reason I say it’s my fault is because I haven’t been shutting the coop door at night. I mostly leave the door open so I don’t have to wear my heels through the garden to open the door in the morning (when I leave for work). How selfish.

The good news is that everyone is safe and alive. Plus, I found that my dog is amazing at locating and herding lost chickens in the dark. It’s really a funny story now that I think about it.

The Players:

Here’s how it went down.

I was awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of my chickens squawking and flapping around in the chicken coop. I got up, flipped on the porch light and ran outside using my bedroom’s exterior sliding door.  I have a large dowel as a secondary lock for the door and that became my weapon. Keep in mind that I jumped out of bed so I’m doing all this while wearing __________. (I’ll let you use your imagination.)

I first assessed the chicken coop. There was a small opossum in the coop and Licorice was still in her little condo. I locked Licorice, my black silkie hen, in her condo to keep her safe and used the hose to scare the opossum out of the coop. I would like to point out that it was super handy to have the hose hooked up, turned on and ready to go – winterizing hoses is highly overrated. At this point I didn’t realize there was a much larger opossum out in the garden with my three other chickens.

Once I got the little guy out of the coop and got some shoes on, I went searching for the other chickens. I found Buttercup right away since he’s easy to spot – he’s my white silkie rooster. He was in the back part of the garden by the garage. His stance was very defensive and I didn’t realize why until I saw the BIG opossum just a couple feet from him. This is when the dowel became useful. I smacked the side of the wood raised bed next to the opossum (I still couldn’t hit it) until it waddled off. I grabbed Buttercup and put him back in the coop.

This is where it gets funny and Welly becomes useful. I can’t say I’m fan of wrangling chickens in the dark with predators milling about. Those of you with chickens can probably relate. Fortunately, I found Henny Penny pretty quick. She was in the path of the waddling creature so I reached down to pick her up… and she took off. Welly and I chased her around the yard for a couple minutes until we finally cornered her and I got her in the coop.

Hazel was near impossible to find. She’s my partridge silkie (speckled browns/black) and she huddles tight to the ground. What’s unnerving is that I found her inches from where I scared off the big opossum when I grabbed Buttercup. She was even harder to catch. This is when I realized how hard it is to touch a lump on the ground – in the dark – to see if it’s your chicken – to pick it up.  It would’ve been much easier if I’d gone inside to get a head lamp but I didn’t want to leave the garden.

Welly must have noticed I was having issues since he started showing me where she was hiding. What a smart precious dog.

What Hazel would do is run squawking to a part of the yard and then hug the ground for invisibility. Welly would find her and bark for me. Then, I’d get super close to grab her and she’d run off again. Repeat. At one point I had the brilliant idea to throw one of my new large French laundry baskets over her (the ones I bought to keep the chickens out of the vegetable garden) and she flew through the gap in the wire instantly. Great. At least they look good?

Finally, Welly alerted me to her new location in the front yard and I was able to grab her before she ran off again. I closed the coop door and was grateful I was home when it happened and it wasn’t a work night. From now on I close the door every night.

My chickens still haven’t left the coop this morning. I’m not sure who traumatized them more, me or the opossums.

In a Garden Far, Far Away… An Edible Forest Sanctuary

‘In a Garden Far, Far Away… An Edible Forest Sanctuary’ speaks to both the child and urban farmer in me. To start, it has a name reminiscent of Star Wars with a fort and rope ladder – similar to the Ewok village. (How fun!)

In addition to the whimsy, it has plenty of edible planting ideas. I especially loved the espalier pear trees and creeping raspberries.

Created by:
Native Root Designs LLC
Carter Evans Wood Concepts
Northwest Nurseries, Inc.

Living Amongst the Stars

There are only two days left of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and I still have a couple more gardens to share. That means I needed to get an early start today.

The garden I’m sharing this morning, ‘Living Amongst the Stars,’ has a very usable/realistic living space. While walking the show floor these last couple of days I’ve been tempted by the metal hot tub, lounge chairs, private seating, and deck for viewing the ‘stars.’ I’ve also enjoyed the different textures displayed in the garden.

This seems like the perfect hideout and you know how I love secret gardens.

Created by:
Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association

Jardin Noir – Film Noir Style in a Modern Garden

This next garden spoke to me since I’m a huge fan of using repurposed materials in the garden. It also had a fantastic design with a rain garden! Plus, I’m a huge sucker for anything French and this garden has an almost French name: Jardin Noir – Film Noir Style in a Modern Garden.
Created by:
Barbara Lycett Landscape Design