Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Homestead Update


The houseplants get a lot of attention from me around this time of year, as I sublimate my gardening urges. I put the big ones in the bathtub and the smaller ones in the sink and give them all a tepid shower, followed by a shot of fertilizer. I prune the rose-scented geraniums so they won't get leggy. My ancient, plain-red zonal geranium has bloomed almost non-stop all season, and is even now putting out new flower buds. In my experience, indoor plants bloom better during snowy winters, because of the reflected light.


Everything looks good, except for the rosemary and the lavender, which are hanging on by their fingernails until it's warm enough to go outside. The floor around their pots is littered with needles, despite my careful waterings and daily mistings. The leaf drop is aggravated by frequent lashings from Wolfie's wagging tail.


In the barn, the battle of the goats and chickens continues. It boils down to this: any opening large enough for the rooster Charlemagne to go through is large enough for Blossom and Alsiki to get into the coop. We've tried taking down the chicken ramp (the goats jump in anyway); putting a bar across the opening to make it smaller (the goats can't get in, but Charlemagne can't get out); making a new, narrow ramp (if it's too narrow for the goats, the chickens won't use it either).


Ed's theory is that Blossom and Alsiki go into the chicken coop to gorge on laying mash, and it's true that they have been looking especially rotund of late. But my theory is that it's more complicated than that. Sure, the laying mash is attractive, But B & A, being goats, they enjoy the sheer fun of bursting into the coop, making the chickens flutter and cackle, knocking down the roosts, and scaring whoever is in the nest trying to lay an egg.

Today Ed went out with a set of calipers and measured the goats' muzzles. He tried to measure Charlemagne's head, but couldn't catch him, so he had to estimate. Then he took the chicken feeder into the basement and nailed pieces of wood across the opening that will keep the goats' muzzles out out while letting the chickens' beaks in.


We'll see. If Ed is right and the main motivation is food, Blossom and Alsiki will stop their forays into the coop. If, on the other hand, their goals are mostly social, as I suspect, we'll have to go back to the drawing board.


Blossom and Alsiki are hardy little creatures. Unless there's a blizzard, they're out and about in the snow, looking for entertainment. Tonight as I was making dinner I saw them standing on the pile of stones provided for their amusement, watching the sun go down. Blossom, the shy one, has discovered the pleasures of the human hand. If I'm petting Alsiki, she'll sidle up to have her belly scratched, and close her eyes in ecstasy. She still moves away if I reach for her, but that won't last long.

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