Sunday, July 28, 2013

Garden Update: What a Weird Summer!

 Our kale has been successful this year!
Our garden doesn't look much different than it has for past updates. Really, it's more about the stories than the photos, anyway!

This has been a very strange summer here in the DC area.  The temperatures have fluctuated pretty wildly, and that has caused us some issues.  Overall, our yields are down.  We are getting plenty of greens, and as always, the sage is going nuts, but our actual veggie yield is way down.  Here it is, late July, and we have zero tomatoes, for example. 

The carrots took three tries to get going, but we did finally get them to grow from seed.  This bushy mess on the left side of the photo is our carrot bed.  As you can see, they are going wild!  When they are ready, we will have a lot of them!  I've already been using the greens quite a bit, both to flavor dishes (it's a good substitute for parsley, only slightly milder in flavor and a little tougher) and in salads.  I think we will have a bumper crop!

In the background are the beet (r) and kohlrabi (center, near the tires) beds.  The tire stack is our mulch heap.  It's not attractive.  My BF wants to build a proper one, but as we will be moving within the next year or so, I'm not sure it's worth the effort.  This is serving the purpose just fine.

The tomatoes have really had problems this year.  Our seeds just would not germinate.  We think it was just too cold and then too hot for them to make it. These plants were given to us by a friend.  She has a really good spot on her back porch, where they were getting very intense heat (and steady heat) and direct sunlight for most of the day. I think the seeds prefer stability, and I know they like it hot.  Even these have been slow to grow.  They grew quickly the first couple of weeks we had them, but it's slower now, and like I said--not one fruit.  By this time last year, I believe, our plants were much, much taller, and we were harvesting fruit.  It's the weather.

As you can see from the top photo, we have healthy kale plants this year, and we've already been eating it.  It's delicious!  We lost all of our plants to white flies last year, so BF changed the location of the bed, and it's worked beautifully.

Behind the kale plant on the left, you can see a solid wood panel.  My BF has gotten rid of the old plywood we were using to keep out the poisons that our HOA insists on spraying and is in the process of making panels that match our fence.  It looks much nicer.  The wood is still recycled.  It's left over from some of our home projects!

I have not seen our Junior Bunny lately, but BF says he sees him/her in the mornings, munching on the grasses and such near our gate.  The bunny has so far not even touched our food plants.  I wish all of our neighbors were this polite!

I can't believe that Autumn will be here soon!  I have a feeling we will be going through some big changes at that time.  It all fits in with the Great Cycle that is life.  Some things will be coming to a close, and we will move on to other great things.  (This blog is not going anywhere!  The content may just change a bit.) 

Autumn is my favorite time of year, so I always look forward to it!  Honestly, I've written this Summer off.  The plants aren't the only creatures affected by the crazy weather.  It's been hard for me to enjoy the Summer this year, for many reasons, so I'll be happy to put it to bed! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rescue Story: Lesson from a Baby Bunny

(Not my photo)

I've been rescuing animals most of my life.  Most of the rescues have been uneventful.  Some of them, as my long-time readers know, have stayed with me for their entire lives.  Some have been momentary encounters that have ended with the animal going on its way or with me not knowing what happened.  (There was the time a friend and I tracked an injured deer through an office park by car, but lost sight of it and ended up calling the police to alert them so they could take care of it.)  All of these animals have had an impact on my life.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I were sitting in my parents' living room, when all of a sudden, I spotted something on the floor.  Thinking one of the dogs had had an accident, I got up and prepared to clean it up.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a newborn animal.  At first, I thought it was a puppy (my dogs are spayed and neutered.  One of them had carried it in the house!  Looking again, as we worked to pick the little one up, I realized that it was a newborn bunny!  It was still alive.  We believe it had been rejected or abandoned by its mother and that the dog had brought it in for us to take care of.  (He's a very smart dog.)

It was still alive, but it was struggling to breathe.  I felt just awful, because not only did I not know how to take care of a newborn rabbit, I didn't have what I would need to do so.  I felt helpless and very sad.  All I could do was very carefully carry it out to the woods and say a prayer for it.  I then put it in a place where, hopefully, it would be undisturbed as nature took its course.  It's not an evening I will soon forget.

This was my first failed rescue.  That would have defeated many people's spirits, but in my case, it just made me more determined.  The next day, I sat down and printed out instructions for caring for a newborn rabbit.  If it ever happens again, I will be better prepared.  I also made the decision to pick up some kitten milk replacer (KMR) and keep it on hand both at my parents' place and at home.  That way, if I end up in this situation again, the baby might have a fighting chance (it could have died anyway, but I wanted to give it a fighting chance.)

Something that cheered me up when we got home, though, was this:

We have a juvenile bunny that hangs out in our garden at home!  So far, he/she has been helping us with our "weeds" and has not bothered our food plants too much.  After the ordeal last Saturday night, it was a joy to sit and watch this little one through our living room window.  I think we have a warren near our home, because I see rabbits all the time.  I just love them!

I still mourn the little one that I couldn't help, but it pushed me to learn something new, and the rabbit at home is a reminder that all we can do is try and that, even when we fail, life goes on.