Rabbit Pays a Debt

This story is for Trifecta’s April Fool’s day prompt:

rain (transitive verb)
1: to pour down
2: to give or administer abundantly
3: to take a lot of money in bill form and toss it up in the air. This is most effectively done at a strip club for the effect of raining one dollar bills on the dancers (and it makes them feel so pretty), or to snub a hater by throwing money into their face that then falls to the floor like rain (use this when paying a debt to a punk bitch who keeps asking for their money to the point that they are ruining your friendship or when dumping someone who has been bankrolling you for a while now that you’re making money).

It was also inspired by the carrots which are coming up both in the rabbit pot I painted as well as the garden beds. I love carrots! Carrots make me think of rabbits. They are strongly linked culturally, though my friends who keep rabbits tell me they don’t actually eat that many carrots. Rabbits are perfect for April Fool’s Day because like Coyote and Anasi,Rabbit is a great trickster. SAM_1729

***
When you do mischief like Rabbit, you get in trouble. Money, everyone knows, gets you out of trouble. Stealing a carrot can land a body in jail, but a rich man can steal a whole farm, if he has money to buy police.

Rabbit borrowed money from everyone, a little from each, hoping they’d forget. Times being hard none forgot. They all looked for Rabbit when they had need of their money. But one thing Rabbit can do is hide.

Rabbit was resting in a briar eating fresh blackberries, when he heard voices.

“Have’ya seen Rabbit?” asked Possum

“I’ve not seen him since I let him a few dollars” said Fox

“I sore need the money I gave him” Said Possum

“Have’ya talked ta Bear? He gave me what Rabbit owed, sayin’ he’d get it back from Rabbit along with what’s owed him” said Fox

“I’ll go see him now” said Possum, hurrying away.

Rabbit was afraid. Bear had a long memory and was mighty fierce. Rabbit added up what he borrowed all together. It was enough money to fight over.Rabbit made a plan.

He told Chicken, a known gossip, about a beautiful lady at the hoochie-coochie show on the edge of town.

That night Bear came to the show. The girl came out, hiding behind two fans. She danced ‘round the stage, everyone hottin’ and hollerin’. Bear didn’t see too good, but he knew this must be the lady he’d heard of. To impress her he made it rain, emptyin’ his wallet. Later Bear tried to find her, but she was gone.

Next day Rabbit found Bear sighing in his cave.

“Why do you sigh?” Rabbit asked

“I lost all my money, to impress a lady. Now I have no money or lady” Bear said
“Good news! I’ve come to pay you back. Lucky I waited or you might have lost this too” Said Rabbit, giving Bear almost as much money as he had thrown at the mysterious lady.

Carrot Pot

Carrots are in the top five of my favorite vegetables to eat and my number one favorite to grow. There is something so satisfying about harvesting them, sort of the same feeling as opening a birthday present. I never know the size, flavor or even color of the carrot when I start to pull, so it is always a surprise. I’ve been growing them in garden beds for six years now. The first year they were horrible, only about an inch long, furry and with a strong bitter flavor. Each year they have been getting a little better as the garden’s soil quality has improved, but I will never have smooth, long store bought looking carrots in garden beds at this house, because there is just too much clay.
Here are a few of 2012’s best carrots. carrot

They were a respectable size and the flavor was phenomenal, very sweet and more carroty than you get at the store. Some are a little furry and some were oddly shaped as you can see. Over all these made me happy and I plan to grow more in the garden beds hoping for similar results.

This year I am also going to try growing some in a pot and I figured if I am going to have containers in the garden, they might as well be pretty. It is now rather obvious what should be growing in this one. Carrot and Bunny pot

Painting pots is harder in my opinion than canvas (not that I am an expert on either), the top is bigger than the bottom and the whole thing is round of course, not to mention that the smooth surface of the terra cotta does not want to hold onto the paint. I sealed this pot and did two base coats of white acrylic before I started the painting itself. I started on it yesterday afternoon and it took about 3 hours or so of active work start to finish.

Having a little art in my garden will certainly brighten things up and make it more fun.

Now I have to sift some compost and mix it with peat moss, sand and potash to fill up the and then add the carrot seeds. I have 4 varieties and a mix this year. Since the rabbit is sort of anime I think I will put Asian varieties in the pot, Shin Kuroda and a long thin Japanese Imperial type disappointingly called tendersweet.

I will let you know how the carrots turn out in a few months.

Here is an informative site Carrot Museum if you want to learn everything there is to know about carrots.

Peach Blossoms

I know I said the next one would be happy. Sorry, I lied. This one is not happy, but I think it is sort of fun at least.

I am killing two birds with one stone today.  Who throws stones at birds? Seems like a rather silly way to get dinner. Anyway…The story below was written both for Trifecta and inspired by the peach blossoms that are stubbornly blooming in my garden, even though I begged them not to.  They are so lovely and charming that I can’t help but take joy from them.  But they are also fleeting and delicate.  This weekend there might be a frost, and if there is, all of the flowers will wither and die overnight.  If not, they will stay a short spell longer gracing my garden for few weeks before floating away to make room for summer’s peaches.  I enjoy the fragile blossoms while they last, but I adore peaches. I appreciate that something so striking can be transformed into something delicious and that not everything that is lovely is just for looking at. Beautiful and practical is the best of both worlds.

Peach Flower

Then again, some plants are not very pretty at all and they make great fruits or vegetables.  Beauty is not everything, and when it fades, which it will, I hope that I have plenty of canned peaches to last me through the winter.

Stepmother’s Toast

“A fairy tale is a story, a pretty vintage lie handed down from mother to daughter across the generations.  As we grow up, the lies slough away, washed off our brains by science, reason, and experience.  No 100-foot tall beanstalk could support its own weight. Clouds are puffy water, unsuitable foundation for a giant’s castle.  Horses are noble creatures; we can’t blame them for lacking the whimsy to evolve a single golden horn.   Fairies don’t flutter by on gossamer wings, nor do wicked witches sell produce door-to-door in this age of grocery stores and farmer’s markets. There are no magic lamps with jinn in residence or talking animals, unless you count the brutish groomsmen.

Why do we insist on holding out for Prince Charming, doing our best to freeze our bodies with creams and botox, so when he finally comes to rescue us, our skin is smooth and our cheeks blush prettily at his chaste true love’s kiss.

By the way, you look lovely, my dear, fresh as a peach blossom.

Many cling to fantasy, unwilling or unable to doctor their expectations with a pinch of reality, a dash of practicality.  They try every magic they possess to find and capture, or if all else fails, create their prince.  He is kind, manly, strong, gentle, clean, yet unafraid to get his hands dirty.  He will stand up for you, but never stand up to you.  He loves what you love, is respected by his peers, successful in business, and must make an excellent father, to raise the pretty princesses and handsome princes you spawn.

Then some minor thing goes wrong, an errant sock, less than convincing interest in rose gardening, an unslain spider. You start to question.  Is this really my soulmate?

Each mundane day the magic will erode, slowly turning your prince into a frog.

Anyway, I wish the beautiful couple happiness, of course cursed to be temporary.  Please enjoy the open bar my husband is paying for.”

Garden Giddy

I try to garden some all year. For example, right now I have a few carrots, onions, chard, and cabbage that are ready to eat. However, the garden looks rather bare. It is not the riot of bright colors that it is in spring and early summer. There are no big pretty flowers, red tomatoes, or high-climbing purple spotted beans. But there will be soon.

Yesterday we ordered most of the seeds we will need this year and then planned out where everything is going to go. Looking at the garden plan makes me so excited!

Garden Plan 2013

We are trying out a few new crops this year: tomatillos, ancho peppers, zapallo del tronco squash, rat tail pod radish, and ground cherries.   There are also several new herbs to try out, but they are not on the garden plan yet because I have not decided on placement.

Every year the garden gets better and more beautiful.  Knowing that soon this garden diagram is going to come alive brightens up these last few weeks of winter.

Crunchies in the Fridge

Or Tales of the Crazy Cat Lady – The Turkey Trap

I made a mistake.

Mookie my oldest cat who will turn 15 in two months has always shared food with me.  She mostly eats cat food, but she likes to have a few bites of whatever I am eating at meals.  This has never been a problem so we went with it.  One of her favorite foods is roasted turkey.  Turkey, as long as it is not salty and over processed is good for cats, better than most of the grainy cat foods.  For Thanksgiving I always make a big turkey and the cats eat as much as they want and then have little snacks everyday as long as the turkey lasts.

This year after Thanksgiving dinner I took all the meat and put it in a zip lock bag, then into the fridge (the bones became stock).  Problem was the fridge was as stuffed as the turkey had been, so the bags of turkey got put in the bottom drawer.  Mookie, follows me around most days, so every time when I went to the fridge, even for a glass of water, she was near by.   She could smell the turkey, and the bottom drawer is not very tight, so she would reach out and pull it open.

Once she saw the turkey, she would turn her beautiful big sad eyes to me, pleading “May I haz some more plez?”.  I could not deny her food once she had seen it, so I would open the bag and give her a few bites, which of course chummed the water so all the other sharks would come running. Mookie in Fridge

Soon she realized the best food is in the fridge.  The turkey is of course long gone.  But there is always something in there she wants to eat. Soon I realized she was getting a snack every time I went to the fridge.  Then she started meowing and standing on her hind legs against the fridge every time I went to the kitchen.  She has special crunches upstairs for old ladies, before now when I went upstairs she would follow me and eat some of her crunchies.  At night she would sleep up there with me and eat her crunches during the night.

For the last few nights after I carry her to bed she runs back downstairs and sit in front of the fridge.  Then I have to bring her upstairs and give her guilt until she eats some of the crunchies.  Yes, guilt is a two way street with my cats.  Crazy cat lady remember.  I can also make that face ————>

A few days ago when I was cleaning the fridge she even jumped inside of it.  Cats don’t go in the fridge!!!  They are not nom!

That is why there is now a bowl of crunchies for mature cats in my fridge.  I will start handing her the bowl every time she says “Give me foodz!”.

Don’t judge me!  At least I don’t have children I am going to fuck up and then release onto the world.  My cats stays in my house and in the front yard during walkies.

Peas and Carrots

The fall garden is doing well.  The star crops right now are jalapenos, radishes, peas and carrots.  I don’t really know what to do with many of the jalapenos, I have been putting them in soups mostly.  Radishes has been going in anything I think they might work it, salads, cole slaw, roasted veggies.   Just this week the peas were big enough to start harvesting and the carrots needed to be thinned so I thought peas and carrots.  I regret this decision a little, because my husband has this weird thing were he loves quoting “Forrest Gump” so once I told him we would have peas and carrots, he told me “Jenny and I were like peas and carrots” for the whole day.

This is the first time I have ever cooked peas and carrots together as a side dish.  They have been together is veggie soup, or chicken and dumplings.  I had a bit of a fear of them to be honest.  I ate frozen peas and carrot when I was a kid, and it was horrible.  For years I would not eat cooked carrots because I was sure they would be nasty.  I got over that a few years ago thanks to “honey and ginger glazed carrots”, but when I decided to try cooking pea and carrots together I was a little nervous and it made me feel a bit sick.  I know, weird right?  I love cooked carrots now, especially fresh ones.  And fresh peas from the garden are pretty fool proof delicious.  And yet, part of me was afraid that if I put them together some sort of dark magic would happen and they would both become horrible. 

Thankfully I was wrong.  It was delicious.  I just cooked them with butter, a bit of water and salt until tender.  It was veggie sweet, salty and perfect.  I will not have enough peas again for about a week, and carrots might be longer.  But as soon as I can harvest them both at the same time again, this is going to happen again.

I planted more carrots on Sunday with the hopes that I will have carrots to eat all winter. Peas of course will die at the first frost unless I can make a cold frame or something for them. This is the second year I have tried to grow food all though the winter. It is nice to always have something out there. Makes me feel quite self-reliant.

Moonflower

This is the first year I have ever grown these, in fact I don’t think I have ever seen them in real life before.  They looked so pretty in the gardening catalog. I needed them to be mine.  They bloom every night just around sunset and stay open all night.  On nights with a lot of moon they look romantic and magical.  The smell is soft and delicate, and reminds me a little of suntan lotion and walking on the beach.  They are going to be a regular feature in my garden in the coming years.

Losing Livestock

Dealing with the death of something you care about is always hard. When something dies of old age or illiness, it hurts. There is still sadness and anger. When you can honestly say the death was not your fault then there is no shame. But when the death is your fault, the healing process is really hard.
I lost two chickens about two weeks ago. Not old chickens or sick chickens, but healthy eight-month old hens. And their death was my fault.
When you get pets or livestock you make a commitment to take care of them, protect them, and treat them with compassion. I loved these chickens and took good care of them, except I did not keep them safe.
At night they sleep in a henhouse, up on a roost. A ramp from the hen house goes out into a run that they can’t get out of. I thought the run was secure, so I stopped locking them into the hen house all the way each night. I locked up the run, but I left the door into the run open. Over the time they have lived outside this happened several times. A few times we forgot, but they were OK. So after a while we stopped closing it all together. And it was always OK.
Until it wasn’t. Some animal climbed a tree down on to the top of the hen house and found a way in.
When the first chicken went missing, I did not realize what had happened. There was no body, no feathers. She was just gone. I figured she might have gotten locked out when I let them free range the night before. She was a very broody hen and it was possible she made a nest under a bush. So I spent two days searching for her. I looked under everything, and went into neighbors’ yards. I even wandered around calling her name. She was my favorite chicken, Speckles. She was the sweetest when she was a baby. I would hold her in my hand and she would fall asleep. She was the most beautiful, most friendly, and had the most trusting nature.
I could not deal with the idea that she was dead. She must just be lost and I would find her. So it never dawned on me that something was able to get in the hen house. Two days after Speckles disappeared I went outside to find feathers everywhere.
I can’t describe what that felt like. In one moment I realized Speckles was dead, another chicken was dead, and that both deaths were my fault. I cried, I screamed. I wanted to find the animal who did it and kill it. I want to punch something. But what I wanted more than anything else was to go back in time and fulfill the commitment I had made to these animals.
Goldie was the second one dead. She was the warrior princess of our chickens. She scared my two twenty-pound cats when they came out with me for a visit. She once ate a snake. She took on a rooster role with the other chickens, looking after them. I think she did that the night she died.

The feathers were everywhere — in the henhouse, in the run, even outside the run. She tried to fight whatever got in, but she could not manage it. And it was not her job. It was my job to keep her safe, and I failed.
The run is secure now. We lock them up tight every night. I have had trouble sleeping every night since then, listening all night long in case they need me. And every morning starts with fear. Will I find five chickens this morning? Or four and a pile of feathers?
I don’t know how to deal with that. Sometimes I still think they might just be lost. But it is a lie my mind tells me when my shame is too much.

An Eggcellent Chicken

Sorry, I had to go with the pun; please forgive me.

Yesterday we got our first egg!   We knew it was going to happen soon because Snow, the leghorn, was starting to show signs of being ready.  She does not like to be petted, but for the last week or so, every time we got near her she would get into the hunched-down chicken mating position instead of running away.

Yesterday we heard lots of noise from the hen house, so we ran out to check on them.  When we got to the hen house we found a tiny white egg.  Snow is the only one of our chickens who will lay white eggs.   Leghorns are prolific layers; at their prime they can lay about an egg a day.   And our Snow is living up to the hype; she laid another egg today about 30% bigger than yesterday.

We got her on February 3 at about 3 days old, so she is just over 4 months old now. It is hard to believe that the little chick that was just the size of an egg then is laying her own eggs now.

Three Sisters and a Cousin

I have several goals when gardening.  I want it to be pretty, easy to work with, not to time intensive, cheap and attract fun bugs.  But the most important goal however is I want lots of food to eat.

I try to grow plants in such a way that I have the maximum number of healthy, high yield plants in the smallest space possible.   In order to do this I used biointensive methods (http://www.growbiointensive.org), raised beds, compost, natural fertilizers and companion planting.  Companion planting is when you plant two or more different types of plants together so that the properties of one can be beneficial to the other.   Like perhaps one plant is prone to a bad bug that is going to eat it all up, but there is another plant that the bad bug hates the smell of.  You put these two plants together in one area and they help each other.   You can use this method to repel bad bug, attract good bugs, make use of shade, manage nutrients, give structure and protect against disease.

This year I have been the most successful I have ever been by using the most time tested method I know, The Three Sisters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(agriculture)).

The idea here is that corn need to be spaced a bit away from other corn in order to have room to grow and nutrients.  Corn also needs lots of water.   The leaves of the maize plant are not good at creating a canopy and shading the soil.  So if you plant corn alone you will have to water it all the time.  This is where the squash is helpful, squash stays much lower to the ground than corn, and has gigantic leaves. If you plant your corn and squash together correctly then very little light will ever touch the ground, so no evaporation. Added bonus, no light means few weeds.

Corn is also a heavy feeder, it loves to gobble up nitrogen.  Beans have this neat bacteria, rhizobia, which hangs out in the nodules of its roots.  Rhizobia produces nitrogen compounds.   This is called nitrogen fixing, you should look it up if you want more info.   So now there is extra nitrogen and the corn says “nom nom nom”.    Beans like to climb up other things, and the corn makes a perfect structure for them to climb on.


You also see a few pretty red/orange flowers and lily pad looking leaves in here.   That is nasturtium, which is a lovely flower that I heard helps squash.  I have not actually looked into this, so it may or may not be true.  I just really like this flower so I am going to pretend it helps even if it doesn’t.   It does help fill in any gaps to the canopy that the squash might miss. In the last month I have not watered this bed.  We have been getting rain about once a week, and in a bed with this much canopy that is all you need.

But here is the best part.  Lets say your corn packets says each seed needs to be planted 12 inches apart.  I take that to mean from other corn not other plants.  So the first thing I do is lay all the corn seeds out in a honey comb.  The first row all of them 12 inches apart, the second row is 6 inches away with each seed being in the center of where the last row seeds were, next row 6 inches away lining up with the first seeds.   After that I put in a few squash seeds.  Once the corn is up, I plant the beans about an inch away. The nasturtium is planted along the edge.So, to sum up.  You have squash on the ground, corn straight up and beans on the corn.

Using this method I can harvest a massive amount of food from a tiny space.   The bed in these pictures is 28 square feet.  Planted in this bed right now I have 30 stalks of corn, 5 large squash plants, 5 nasturtium and about 20 bean plants (should have been 30, but some did not get enough light and did not thrive).   This garden bed is about the size of a queen sized sleeping bed.   That is not very big at all.   Being conservative this season I should get about 90 ears of corn, 150 lb of squash, 75 lb of beans.

Do you companion plant?  Tell me your favorite combos.