Remember the other day when I planted out plenty of lovely little things in one of our garden beds? At the end of that day I felt so accomplished and satisfied. There was some rain overnight to nourish everything I had put in the ground. All was well.
The next morning, several of my chickens hopped the fence and feasted on everything in that fresh, new garden bed. All that remained were the chives and two scrawny little tomato plants. The rest, gone.
When I discovered the catastrophe, I sat down right there in the garden and cried. You see, it had been a feat to get that garden bed planted. The entire time I worked, I had a 27-lbs baby strapped to my back. Squatting and standing, squatting and standing, bending over and digging with all of that extra weight on me, was a major workout. My thigh muscles are still burning. Spending all that time in the garden meant that my household chores were neglected, and I have some major catching-up to do. I got only a portion of my laundry mountain chiseled away, and never mind the dishes.
All that work aside, the tomato starters I had planted were the salvaged remains that Henry the rabbit left behind. The kids had let Henry out of his cage one afternoon (without telling me), and shortly afterward we left the house. In our absence, Henry took it upon himself to feast on my flats of veggie starters that I had been carefully tending to for two months. Heirloom tomato starters – 90% gone. Cucumbers – gone. Organic squash – gone. Herbs – gone. The few plants I was able to save went into the garden bed I planted on Monday, only to be promptly eaten by the chickens.
So, you see, after the work that was put into the garden and the tragedy of losing almost all of my starters to Henry the rabbit, those chickens dealt me a horrible blow. I couldn’t help myself, the tears had to flow.
Now that I’ve regained my composure and have had some time to cool off a little, I’ve decided that we need to make some major changes to the way we do things around here. Things are too chaotic, and I need to be able to put the bulk of my farm focus on the gardens. The chickens can no longer be completely free-ranging – on Sunday I’ll be building a chicken tractor, in which those ladies will be enclosed. I’ll also be selling most of the goats, keeping only Caprice and Daisy. The ducks will have their own pen as well, at the ditch, and will no longer be able to hide their eggs from me.
As much as I love the idea of happy creatures roaming free, the reality is that it is just not working. We don’t have enough space on this little farm, and I have to set some limits and structure things more effectively if I have any hope of making this work. My ravaged garden held a message and a perfect opportunity to make changes and get things back on track. Here we go!