Even though the plant’s tag read “full shade,” I was sure that if I planted it in a bright, sunny spot, it would do even better. I have learned much about plants over the years. I have learned that more sun is definitely not better for impatiens, and that tomatoes will not grow well if planted in the same spot, year after year. I have yet to learn, though, how to protect the vulnerable from the forces that strike when we do not expect them, and when they are far from welcome.
But there really aren’t any directions, at least not any reliable ones. I thought things were better, but then it comes screaming back. I guess it never quite settles, though it seems to from time to time. We might look okay, like the blooms of sparkling fuschia and the sun’s cheer of yellow that spill boldly forth from the repurposed white enamel pot. Nobody would speculate that they had been picked at, stripped, and stomped on by my curious flock of chickens before being salvaged, repotted, and resurrected to glory. They were almost lost, but it wasn’t time.
How long is this going to take?
I did learn, though, in those early years of gardening, that real lavender leaves and blossoms smell just like Yardley of London pump soap, and that this enchanting herb will grow into a fanciful, robust hedge in just a few years’ time. And recently, I learned that the chickens will leave lavender alone. That, to me, is victory.
“Let the chickens do all of your garden work for you.”
Here comes Wendell with the hand weeder and his pair of gloves to pick the stray grass from underneath the tomato cages. Jenny is not far behind, equipped with twine to tame the snap pea climbers.
I really didn’t think that would happen, as some books and articles had promised, but I still don’t recommend adopting the belief that your herbs will be pruned to prize status by your flock.
They fertilize the land. What more could I ask for?
There will be destruction, devastation, even regret. Things will not come out even, and maybe we will be less confident than before it all began. We will work for nearly nothing, and our bodies will be stiff and sore. We just want to lie down and rest.
Maybe it will be seasons, years, even decades before we see the sun. It seems to be ready to peek forth from behind the clouds. There are a few glorious rays, but then we can no longer see. Darkness comes over us, and again, we wonder.
I figured out that I can fasten a length of wire fencing into a dome to protect my new plantings. Of course, the chickens can knock them over or pull them apart, but sometimes, what I have done is enough…at least for one small chamomile plug on a windy Sunday morning.
The richness of what they have left for us must surely be enough to feed our souls as the land for a while longer.
I guess it is best to follow directions, at least the obvious ones. They don’t tell you, though, that even if you plant the impatiens in the shade, feed it with fish emulsion, and provide plenty of water, a curious chicken may still cause it’s demise.
We don’t know. How could we ever be expected to?
In all of the amazement and surprise of a baby hatching at the farm, I hadn’t given a thought to the true possibility that Kitty May could be a rooster. She looks different from all the others, and she seems a gentle, independent, spirited little hen…or rooster. One day, she will either crow or lay an egg, and there will be no more questions. Until this day, though, I am content in my hope that Kitty May will be joining the other girls in the nest boxes.
It must be okay not to know.
Darkness had long since fallen when I returned from the hospital without my child. When I passed by the garden, there was enough light coming from the window in the main house that I could see that four of my young plants had been uprooted, surely the work of curious chickens. I was tired, so they would have to wait until morning.
And I guess it’s alright to wait for lots of other things, too, especially when there aren’t any rules or instructions. It’s just not time yet.
This spring, the lavender has come back rich and strong, with just a few bare branches. I know, too, that in time, however long it may take, and even if a new rooster crows on the farm, the holes will begin to fill in, and we will admire the flowers in their magnificent resilience.