Fall has arrived at Tilly’s Nest. We never really had a moment to warm up after spring. Cape Cod had a cool and wet summer. We were all waiting for beach weather and it really didn’t show up. This happened a few years ago too. I guess things are cyclical. This past week cooler temperatures have ushered in. It seems to be the circle of life. We said goodbye to a dear Uncle who was battling an illness for a long time and now the leaves are keeping us occupied on the weekends. It’s a labor of love. I seem to have a love-hate relationship with the beauty of fall and the daunting amount of leaves that seem to return as soon as they are raked up from the gardens.
The vegetable and cutting garden is beginning to wind down. The dahlias are putting on their last show. Eventually I will have to dig them up and store them for the winter. After the first frost, I dig up the tuber and write their varieties on the thick brown tuber skin with a Sharpie marker. I tuck them into a cardboard box filled with the same pine shavings that I use in the chicken coop. Then they sit in the cool dark basement until spring to be replanted. Sometimes, I peek into the box as I dig out the Christmas decorations-saying hello and hoping that come spring, most survive.
On these glorious fall days raking is usually about a four hour job from start to finish. I don’t mind as the sun sits lower in the sky and the humidity is absent. First, I let the girls out of the chicken coop to roam around the yard.
Of course it’s no surprise that I have to go into the coop to let Olive know that I have opened up the chicken coop to the yard. She didn’t come out when I called to the girls. As suspected she was inside the coop. Olive tends to lay her big beautiful brown eggs mid-morning. She is a nesting box hog. Often, I find her lingering in the nesting box, rolling the other chickens’ eggs underneath of her fluffy down. Everyone is molting right now, so the egg count is lower than usual. Molting takes a big toll on the chickens and often egg production is sacrificed for feather production.
If you are like me you get distracted out in the yard. I am famous for “mis-placing” gardening tools of all sizes. When outdoors, I like to admire pretty things and discover things that need attention and even take time to pause and appreciate the tiniest of details . It looks as though the summer window boxes are also winding down.
These boxes were chock full of a variety of blooms including zinnias and verbenia. The flowers have faded into the softest pastels. I know it is crazy, but I didn’t have the heart to pull them just quite yet. Kind of like the eggplants in the garden too. I know with these cool nights that they will no longer produce blooms or eggplants, but there is something about allowing these plants to hang out just a little longer. To admire them. To let summer dwindle. I don’t want to rush the seasons.
Tending to these newer gardens for me was a real treat this summer. I discovered this dainty little tree next to the garden shed that had lovely white blooms in the late spring. They produced these hanging seed pods I believe. I’m really not quite sure, but I believe this is a Japanese Snowdrop tree. I’ve added this to my winter reading list so that I can learn more about this lovely tree. I am looking forward to watching it as I live among these gardens.
As I rake, I catch glimpses of the girls to check up on the them when they are free-ranging away from the safety of the chicken coop in the gardens. Sometimes they see me and other times they are too busy exploring to even care that I am there. They make me laugh and this is where I get the most easily distracted. These chickens have brought me so much joy.
It’s hard to believe that I have now kept chickens for over 7 years. It seemed like only yesterday. The journey and time have flown. These two little bantams have become friends over the past few months. Fifi, the black Silkie, has kept to herself for quite a while. She is our oldest girl and one of the daughters of our Silkies from the original flock. She is slow, quite and cautious. Lately, these two have been free-ranging and even dust bathing together. It makes my heart smile for Fifi.
Hours later, it was time to get the chickens back into the chicken coop and run. I grabbed some protein-rich mealworms and tossed them into the chicken run. All at once they came running! Waddling across the yard and with a quick little jump they were over the run’s threshold, they snacked, took dust baths and napped as I finished rounding up the yard equipment. Somehow, it was a magical day despite all those leaves in the gardens. It’s these sorts of days that will be happening for the next six or so Saturdays in a row. Happy Fall!