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Caging the Plants

Five new cases yesterday. Much better than the 16 we had on the 8th. A second death on the 10th. You wonder who it was. When you look at numbers like they have in New York and Italy, you wonder who has not died. But when the numbers are in the single digits, you wonder who did die.

Yesterday we reached 69 recoveries, with 81 active cases. The County health department issued a face-covering order. Not sure how they will be enforcing it, but even before they issued the order, stores were limiting the number of customers who could enter, and it seemed that everyone in our town was wearing a mask. In our town anyway. I noticed the masks and store entry limits while buying strawberry plants.

Strawberries are hardly a necessity. Potting soil I could make but buying some pre-mixed does make life easier. And I picked up a couple of hot pepper plants too. I make such stops once a week, on my way back from the kitchen. I am already out in my mask, I might as well get things I can’t get without going out.

I have spent more energy planning this year’s garden than I have ever done. I’ve studied companion plants and I don’t even know why I started looking into that. Oh, I know. I looked up how to grow strawberries and companion plants was one of the things they mentioned so I started looking into every other thing I had planted to make sure my crops were not doomed by location. Then I made a chart to help plan the rest of the planting. I gave up on potatoes and melons. Apparently they are very anti-social plants.

Sicilian Buttercup and Cream Legbar

Sissy with Violet in the background looking very pretty too.

My little chickens are venturing out, but not very often. They are still lively and growing, eating, pooping. It is comforting. I hear them chirping and scratching and hopping around while I work in the garden. I am very happy to have Sissy in the flock. She is completely stand-offish but she always has her eye on me and she is so pretty.

The garden. I have been planting seeds and some starts. I spent the past two days wrapping them in chicken wire to keep the birds from eating the seeds, or digging up or sitting on the starts. I think the turkeys do the sitting. Very rude of them. I cut myself on the chicken wire yesterday. There’s the blood. Today I wore long sleeves and that made me sweat. I would like to avoid tears. There are plenty of tears in the world right now.

I had to rip up a ton of flowers to use the planters.

Orange and Yellow flowers

Flowers before I tore them all out, March 21.

They are already growing back. That is okay. It turns out that some flowers can be helpful for the vegetables, attracting bees and distracting pests. I don’t know if these flowers are the perfect companion flower, but they are there and they seem to need no additional care.

Some time ago, I started protecting vulnerable plants with upside-down plastic containers with holes drilled into them. I first did this for a tiny tiny rose that just seemed overwhelmed by life. Even the rain seemed to knock it down. The improvised greenhouse saved it.

So when my squash starts suddenly wilted into the ground about two weeks after planting, I gave them private greenhouses. Lo and behold, they came back. It has been unseasonably cold here this month and all the little plants needed some extra warmth. I also use them to keep birds from eating my beans and peas before they can sprout. The birds don’t seem to know they can just knock the jars over. Or maybe they don’t like gelato.

Peas in plastic jar spas. 

I should say I use them now. When I first planted the beans and peas in late March, I didn’t bother protecting them. After the expected sprouting dates had come and gone, I realized that the birds had eaten almost all of them. I had been watering dirt for probably two weeks. Greedy devils.

A couple of days ago, I thought that maybe I should not order more chickens yet. I had told myself I must not order more until I had kept chickens alive for a full week. But last weekend, I thought “Surely I should own chickens for longer than a week before ordering more.”

Salmon Faverolles pullet

Frenchy not going out.

Later that same day I heard the report about the South Dakota pig processing plant that closed because of the virus. Then there were stories about farmers plowing their crops under because their contracts with restaurants were cancelled. At the same time, people are lining up at food banks in droves, dozens of droves, hundreds in lines miles long. It isn’t that we do not produce enough food in this country. It’s that our supply chain is so utterly devoid of agility that people can starve while farmers go broke, unable to get their crop to the starving people. Add to that the inevitable problem of farm and food factory workers getting sick… and I went ahead and ordered the chickens. I haven’t gotten a confirmation yet but I am optimistic. In such times, optimism is very important.

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