Friday, March 05, 2004

For the last few years I have grown giant thistles in my yard. I don't do anything in particular except feed goldfinches and other small birds during the late winter. Right now we have dozens of the little tweety birds hopping around the side yard. The ground there is about a half inch deep in seeds and seed husks. These guys are real sloppy. UNLESS they are deliberately searching through for the best seeds and going off to the side of the yard and planting them! And then they fertilize them. Wow, just like people do when they farm. That's amazing.

In the garden I have raised beds for the beans and tomatoes and herbs. Then I fence the beds over and let the chickens in to scratch the paths and to crap. This raises the nitrogen levels so high it burns out all the young weeds. Only one or two rugged plants grow in the pathway. Come planting time I trim the chicken's flight feathers and close off the garden from the birds. I like to think the hens are like sharecroppers. I maintain the paths by mowing and when I mow I try to drive the crickets and such towards the hen yard. I also give them any veggies that have gotten to weird for humans. I also patrol for predators. So it's a give-give thing.

I have a salt block in the side yard but the deer ignore it, or they are too frightened by my southerly neighbor's love of semi-automatic weaponry. He likes to shoot up stumps, or sand piles, I hope. But he does like the sound of a good gun. Funny guy, exactly the kind of guy who shows up on a news report holding off a bunch of law officers.

If I had enough land I could establish a place where the goldfinches could get fat and happy and the deer were comfortable eating a few yards from where you watch. Not a zoo so much as a haven, or oasis. But I would probably build a bunch of small studios for different media...clay, paint, stone sculptures. I think a big lathe ought to have it's own room, and the bandsaws, too. What a lot of nice stuff you could do. Even if you did it from a wheelchair, you could maybe pay the bills and not go crazy. Yup.

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