The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog




2.5 months with no updates or Dry Eye Bulletin. Tsk, tsk.

And now, to reward myself for finally tackling the growing mountain of news I need to write about, I'll indulge in a single post about anything except eyeballs.

So, what's been going on with the Petrises lately?

First... our little 'homestead'. I think I wrote about this a little after we first moved in. We're renting an old farmhouse on 10 lush acres in Poulsbo, Washington. I am thrilled right down to my toes to be living in a place like this and learning a new and much wanted life in the slow lane (at least part time). The first few months were rough due to minor problems with the house like heat and plumbing, but things are sorting themselves out and the weather is FINALLY warming up after an unbelievably long winter here. It's not supposed to snow in Puget Sound. But it's really not supposed to snow in December, January, February, March and April in Puget Sound. I was soooo glad to see the mercury (or do I mean the digital weatherstation?) climb up to 70-something even if the weatherman is threatening to set us back a month tomorrow.

We have our chickens! I mail-ordered them (don't do that... find them locally if you can) because I was looking for a breed that is not too common around here, Australorps. The adults are that beautiful greeny-black color, large, and excellent layers. Our "chicks" are 6 weeks and 1 day old today. We have 19. I ordered a straight run, where you don't get to pick the gender, and we're not quite sure yet but there seem to be at least 6 boys. I'm going to try to identify the nicest rooster of the bunch to keep for breeding, along with 7 or 8 of the hens, and everybody else goes in the freezer. Not without some interesting preliminaries of course. I haven't made up my mind 100% about how to do it. There is an organic meat processing place in Tacoma that reportedly will do chickens for around ~$3 but given that part of the point was to get really good food at a reasonable price I'm kind of begrudging the cost. More likely, I'll take them up to my sister's place in Sequim, where they have a sizeable organic free range poultry operation, and ask my brother-in-law to 'do the deed' while I do the plucking & eviscerating, which I was fascinated to learn during a visit a few weeks ago.

The chicks are great fun. There are stages where you swear you can actually see them growing. And no wonder. We discovered a few days ago that my sister had accidentally given me the 24% protein Turkey starter mash instead of the regular poultry mash which I think is 20% protein. Superturbo chicks. - I wish we could free range them... but there are dogs in the neighborhood and we are not 100% fenced. So I do the next best thing, pasturing them in moveable coops & runs that get shifted around to different spots.

Meantime, my other projects have included land clearing, some greenhouse gardening and gearing up for real gardening. This place is blackberries galore. It was not till two months after we moved in that I discovered the greenhouse behind the shed - buried under several years worth of blackberries. I hacked all that stuff out by hand and am now starting on digging up the roots. You wouldn't BELIEVE how big these roots get. There have been a couple that we've been tempted to hang on the wall as a trophy in place of antlers or something. I'm talking 5 inches in diameter.

The greenhouse is cute as a button and we're getting lettuce & spinach that I planted back in February, plus there are a ton of starts from herbs to tomatoes to eggplants that are ready to go outside. - My brother-in-law loaned us his rototiller so we've plowed up a good bit of land for the veggie garden. I'm hoping to do some grains as well.

Once I finished up with the worst of the blackberries around the greenhouse, I started taking a closer look at other blackberry patches. Hmmmmm. It seems blackberries like to grow ON things. Every patch became a possible new treasure. I'm not letting myself go after them all until I've got the roots dealt with around the greenhouse but I'm salivating over some of these patches wanting to know what's under them. The only other one I've cleared revealed a sawmill. Seriously. A long track sort of thing with a trolley on it that carries logs along to be sawn into planks. The blade was still there... and still sharp. This place seems like it was set up to be the perfect self-sufficient sustainable farm.

Chaidie and I finally planted the potatoes the other day and carrots this morning. We figure we'll try to plant one new thing every day till they're all done.

Other news... my dearest friend, who I haven't seen in nearly 15 years, visited me from Australia with her husband recently and was able to stay for a month. We all came down with an awful virus which they both took home with them and Chaidie and I are still getting over. But it was a wonderful time.

The fruit trees are putting out leaves and some of them are flowering. We saw the buds day after day, week after week, looking like they just needed a few hours or moderate temperatures to open. But right up till late last week we were still sometimes dipping into the 20s at night. Warmer now, and Chaidie is so thrilled to be able to go around barefoot and in shorts in our "dandelion field".

The birds are a real delight. We have two very popular hummingbird feeders out front where the Rufous hummingbirds actually line up for drinks. There are a couple dozen types of birds that we see regularly in the orchard including pileated woodpeckers, stellars jays of course and lots of little ones that I can't see well enough to identify without binoculars.

And our latest "wildlife" visitor?

A peacock.

Yup, he just showed up in our front yard one day. Those birds make the most appalling noises. We just about jumped out of our skins, then rushed to the door and had a look. He strolled all the way around the house, checking us out, and eventually went back home. He's been back several times, and once with a friend. I wish I had some video footage of Chaidie following him around trying to get a feather. The two of them walked around and around and around a little clump of filberts for about 10 minutes with Chaidie's hand poised just so above the tail of an apparently supremely indifferent peacock. Just as well she never got a grip. If I were a bird I don't think I'd like having a big feather pulled out, and those birds are more than big enough to do some damage.

I eventually asked the Acknowledged Source of All Wisdom, our postal deliverer Michelle, who told me there's a place not far away that breeds them. Apparently they, er, free range them.

Alright, I guess it really is time to get back to eyeballs!
Rebecca1 Comment