Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crazy Oregon Spring: A May 5th Animal and Vegetable Report

I've come to the conclusion recently that we (everyone and everything that lives here on this particular piece of property) are all nut jobs. Something about the onset of spring here on Critter Farm has brought out all kinds of whack-a-doo behavior.

For example...

The goats are bellowing almost non-stop:

Reggie won't stop head-butting Pete. Then he flaps his tongue at him. Neither one wants to eat anything except trillium flowers and the choicest of spring growth. They're hungry only for the greenery they see that is where ever they aren't. Which means, they're refusing their hay and are always bellowing about something:

The chickens have been flat out ornery:

They've permanently and viciously ousted a coop-mate (more on this tomorrow) and they've significantly widened their free-range territory, now appearing in my flower beds:

and on my kitchen deck:

The cats are sproinging into the air randomly and flying up tree trunks with claws extended for no apparent reason.

There's also more than the usual amount of chicken-stalking going on:

The donkeys, who really don't bray except briefly at mealtimes, are braying regularly now. They clearly have a lot to say. Or, a lot is not up to their satisfaction and they feel they need me (and the neighborhood) to know about it. The only time they don't want to tell me about it is when they're allowed to mow the lawn:

Why, oh, why can't we just have a simple and straight forward Pacific Northwest growing season? According to the experts, this year is going to be another cool and wet one, very similar to last year. This is really terrible news for a lot of our crops, but especially the tomatoes and blueberries.

But, because I don't want to sound too negative about our (crap and crazy) weather, I'll start with the positive. So, here's what's doing well in my garden currently:





The strong strawberry growth makes me very happy because I just brought up my last jar of strawberry jam from the pantry. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another bumper crop like last year:


Garlic. It really likes to grow in my part of Oregon:

Random Douglas Fir trees. This one is happily growing right behind a potato marker:



The size of these leaves make me laugh:

And all the little seedlings in my indoor greenhouse:

Our last frost date isn't until May 19th, so these babies have at least another 2 weeks of indoor-time:

Here's what's doing so-so in the garden:
(This means a crop isn't strongly established yet; it has been delayed by the cold and lack of sun, but growth is evident and I'm hopeful):

Corn salad:


Potatoes (can you see the eensy little green heads poking through?):

And, finally - sigh - now is the time to ask...
What's doing poorly in my garden?:
In one word - Peas. These here look lovely, right?:

Well, what about now. Do you see that there are only about 12 of them in an area that should hold about 80?:

The rains and the slugs gave my pea babies the old one-two punch, either drowning them or, if they managed to sprout, eating them just as they popped up:

This is really bad news for us because shelling peas are our number one favorite crop. We live for, and do a count-down to, the first pea-harvest day here. We eat them raw, straight from the vine, and are transported into a state of pure bliss.

Bliss may have to wait a bit this year.

Sorry this post was so long. I'll show you fruits and flowers in a different post. After I tell you about the ousted and shunned chicken.


  1. My neighbour used to half bury a margarine tub full of beer in her veg garden. The slugs were more attracted to that than her seedlings. Though it's a little sad to find dead slugs but maybe the chickens would like a beer soaked slug or two for breakfast!?

  2. Well hello from Finland... 5th of May, nights below freezing, day temperature 9C highest, all the snow hasn't yet melt from shadowy places and the only flowers we've seen so far are the crocus!:D In some southern regions they have already planted potatoes but other than that, gardens are dormant. Mosquitoes have awaken though. So it could be worse! Actually, now that I think of it, I believe the rhubarb is now in the best harvesting season here. I guess that's what were going to eat until July! :D

  3. Ah Spring, so much going on after so many months of a laid back winter. Time to re-sort out the pecking order in every forked footed, cloven hoofed, hooved, and paw. I supposed even the plants are jocking for the top spot.

    Love the random douglas fir!

    LiBBiE in Oz

  4. I haven't even had the chance to put anything in the ground yet. I have a few herbs that wintered over. That's it.

    My goats are headbutting each other too. Yesterday Luke even broke off a scur.

  5. Jenny in MN now in AZMay 6, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    I enjoyed your post! It made me smile and then cringe at your poor pea row. Maybe the forecasts will be wrong! :-)

  6. That photo of the cat sitting on the new seedlings made me laugh out loud (sorry). Having lived in WA state, I know the frustrations you are talking about. The best thing I ever grew there was a 42 pound pumpkin, and that was a volunteer that sprouted from the compost heap. (Even my compost was a pretty wet sloggy mess).

    Keep laughing, and just plant what grows best. You've got a real nice crop of chickens there!

  7. Those are some HUGE leaves!

    We love raw peas, too. Been too many years since we had any.
    But I would think cool weather is good for both blueberries and peas.
    I will have to try more peas later as mine didn't even do me the courtesy of sprouting to be eaten by slugs. :/

    Sounds like everyone has had a bit of cabin fever. I say let the donkeys mow. One less job for you all. ;-)

    Happy Friday to you all and hope the critters settle down!

  8. Sounds like you have some good with your garden and oddly for some reason my peas are doing very poorly too! So poorly I pulled the small little plants to make room for something else. Hope yours pull through.

  9. The answer to the critter behavior is quite simple. Demons.

  10. Hey Danni- I tried something against the slugs that seemed to work the best. boil up some lighter roast coffee in a sauce pan, let it cool, and then pour it over your bed. The slugs were decimating my radishes and so I poured the coffee and the grounds along the edges of my raised beds thinking that's where they were hiding, and now the radishes are happily growing unmolested.

  11. I love your descriptive "sproinging" cats. That's it exactly. That's what nutso cats do. :) I love peas out of the garden too - same problem with slugs.

  12. Sounds like the animals are spring crazy. Sorry about your garden. We are having a drought issue here in northeast Kansas, and would love to share in your rain. Love the pics of your cats stalking your chickens. So cute.

  13. I completely relate. Living in Knoxville, we planted in March. We didn't realize less than 100 miles west, 0 miles north, meant 1880 feet higher in the mountains, and therefore, we have been told to plant late May. Are you serious? Late May? How do you grow anything in such a short growing season? Greenhouse plans are now in the making. What the rain didn't wash away-literally, and the crows didn't eat, the frost that came from nowhere-after 80 degree weather for 2 weeks-killed. We broke down and bought a bunch of plants for this year, and aren't planting for a few weeks yet. I feel your pain sister!

  14. It's SPRING FEVER!
    That's what it is. The animals get it first. The goats get silly, the dogs run faster and the cats,well.... they sit on your seedlings. That photo was too funny.

    What are you gonna do? It's a killer spring this year. Way too much rain and cold.(and I'm in California.) I guess we just have to be patience.

  15. I was taught to mix radish and carrot seeds and plant them in the same row. The radishes loosen things up for the carrots, which are much slower to sprout, and mark the row so you don't lose them. They mature and are pulled long before they crowd the carrots; it's a nice companion planting thing that lets a row in your garden do double duty.

    Good luck with the war on slugs!

    Christina / SVG

  16. I don't even know where to begin with this post - so much awesomeness. Love the 'sproinging' cats. I'm still giggling at the visual of Heather's advice - the chickens eating alcohol soaked slugs.

    Sorry about the peas. :(

  17. okay.....NEVER say sorry for a long post; the longer the better in my book :) those animal antics are making me laugh. although if I was having to listen to it, it might make me a bit crazy. and seriously? what is up with the rhubarb leaf? those are ginormous! I love how nature can bring a smile on our face! (and why is rhubarb spelled with an "h"?)

  18. Our animals have spring fever, too. It sure gets interesting this time of year! Our rhubarb is huge too - and I made Bernie a pie out of some :) He just loves those rhubarbs.


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