Ahhh, the smells of summer

Now that summer is finally, finally here, I’ve spent most of my time outside. The last few days have been filled with weeding, both the main garden and the raised beds lining the driveway. Most of the time I love pulling weeds, both because it’s one of the few things I can do without making annoying modifications for my broken wrists, and because the results are both immediate and obvious. But my love affair with weeding sours when it comes to weeding the driveway.  When we first moved in, it was a nice gravel pathway. Over the years, however, it’s devolved into an expanse of flat dirt punctuated by areas the lawn is actively trying to reclaim. There’s a few pockets of gravel here and there, and the rest is weeds. Not just any weeds, either – these weeds have taproots extending into the southern hemisphere, which is the only way I can account for their waterless existence. The only other explanation involves a dandelion dating the air fern that’s lived in my bookcase for 15 years, then spawning all over the driveway, but that seems unlikely.

That green spot in the upper left? The driveway.

At any rate, it took me several days to weed around the raised beds lining the driveway, and even with that amount of time I’m still not completely done. I decided to line everything with hay, and if you look closely you can see the exact moment when I said, “F this” and started covering the weeds with straw. Back in the day, when we just had the two goats, you could look at our house from the road and you’d never know there was a farm back there. These days, not so much…. by the time September rolls around we’ll have a full-on pumpkin patch running down the driveway. Not that our yard doesn’t look nice — no one driving by would assume we blow money on a team of landscapers, but our grass isn’t long enough to house a herd of velociraptors, either. I mow once a week, but even that’s not enough to mollify our neighbor. He’s the one that mows twice a day. Who does that? How much can grass grow in six hours? I keep expecting to see him profiled on that show Strange Addictions, puttering along on his riding mower, repeating, “too long too long too long” over and over again. He’s none too pleased with our newest residents, the three pigs, either. I’m not going to say that they’re going to inspire the next generation of Glade plug-ins, but still, we live in the country. You have to drive to the next town over to find a stoplight, and 75% of the people around us have, at a minimum, a flock of chickens. (You can guess which percentage he’s in). He’ll start most of our over-the-fence, we-have-to-talk-because-we’re-watering-plants-in-the-same-area awkward conversations by mentioning the smell. I’m tempted to tell him that I keep sprinkling baking soda in their pen, but it’s not my fault that the odor-absorption claims on the box are wildly exaggerated, and until I can afford a magic anti-stink wand, they’re just gonna have to perfume the air.

Speaking of emitting record-breaking stenches, I’m still amazed by how much ducks smell. Perhaps it’s because of the heat, but if I don’t change the shavings in their nesting box every few days their odor rivals that of the pigs. And that’s saying something. They’re still the happiest ducks on the planet, though, and the five new ones are old enough to start dating each other. I’m thinking they’re trying to determine which ducks will end up as mated pairs, because the back pasture is starting to resemble an episode of the Bachelor.

The latest batch of brooding box chickens have adapted well to the great outdoors. They don’t wander far from the coop, but they seem to be happy. The Blue Cochins, the ones with feathers all over their legs, want soooo badly to get into my garden. Every time I open the gate to put the hose in, they stampede toward the crops. They’re smart enough to break into five directions, too, so at a minimum four get in while I’m chasing one. They look like giant puffballs, kind of like Tribbles with legs. Broody Mama’s chicks are getting bigger, but they’re sure not getting less strange looking. They just have odd proportions, even for chickens. As they get older, the two white ones are developing a most unfortunate brown streak down their chests. I’m going to name them after sororities, I think, because it totally looks like they couldn’t hold their beers.

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