I'm watching the pullets out in the yard from my office as I write this. They have such a good life - protected at night, fed organic grain and then, in the day, they get to explore and dig for bugs and eat all the greenery they can manage. They'll be laying soon so I let them have their fill of weeds and seeds in hopes of healthy eggs with bright yolks and hard shells. You can't underestimate how important their diet is to their development at this stage.
I used to work with a woman that kept a few chickens and when she ran out of feed she'd give her hens dogfood. I found it very disturbing. I imagined the eggs smelling and tasting like kibble, though surely they didn't. Hens will eat anything and it's tempting to use them as little garbage disposals to eat discard but it doesn't sit well with me. I wish that I could feed all of the birds organic grain but at the moment I am only buying organic for the pullets. They are locked up with it overnight, whereas the hens have an open house policy and I can't afford to feed every sparrow and grackle organic hen developer so they get the lesser expensive non-GMO feed.
In other news, we got the garlic in the ground this weekend only hours before the rain came to Austin. The garlic could have been planted last week but I was afraid that the pullets would dig up the newly planted cloves and scatter them across the top of the bed. I needed time to stretch a length of chicken wire around the border.
What strange thing did I learn? That writing down and saying aloud what you wish for may actually attract and bring wishes to fruition. It's true! When I got up on Saturday morning I could see that Michael was going to be too busy to help me with my garlic project and I was feeling especially mopey. I picked up my phone and tapped out a little message to Katina, "I wish you were here helping me with my garden. I'm trying to chicken proof it before I plant the garlic." I probably let out a sad and lonely sigh after hitting send.
And then, because I was mopey and lonely, I started to cook. I made pinto beans with chicos and a ham bone. I made red chile, the kind used for tamales, because I was missing Santa Fe and family. Only then did I go out to see what the garlic bed would entail. I saw our beautiful new neighbor and on a whim, invited her and her husband to dinner. Her "Yes!" spurred me into action. A little housecleaning was in order. And then, hours after I sent the text, the doorbell rang. Katina!!! I can hardly tell you what a great gift it is to open the door to a smile like that. In my mind I imagined that she would be too busy to check for a message much less respond and much, much less stop by. But there she was in all her smiling glory.
I doubt that I would have spent anytime in the garden if she hadn't stopped by. I was already having the conversation in my head that I would plant the cloves next weekend. It wasn't much work at all I just needed a kick in the pants to get started and get it done. We drilled the supports for the wire in place and then stretched out the wire and stapled it in place. We planted 60 cloves.
It's a good feeling to work with another gardener. It makes me wonder why I don't volunteer at one of the farms nearby. She knew how deep to plant and which end of the clove went down into the soil. She put all of the questionable cloves at one end so we'd know if they were viable or not once the cloves started sprouting. It got done and it wouldn't have if she hadn't stopped by.
Michael built a sweet little stepping stool for Baby, the garlic bed was tended to and once night fell, rellenos and beans were on the table and shared with our new neighbors (also artists and gardeners at heart). I don't know what more my heart could ask for, what more my heart could handle. It was full and satisfied and all because I'd risked asking.