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Another Day in the Country

Becoming an empty nester

© Another Day in the Country

My weather app tells me that it’s going to rain around 9 o’clock. At first, there was a 30% chance, then it was 50%, and now it is up to 70%. Yep, it’s gonna rain, and I’m ready for it.

The amazing thing is I already can smell rain in the air, which probably means it is raining somewhere nearby.

We’ve had one good soaking this spring in Ramona. One!

It made all the difference in the world. Suddenly, the whole yard came alive. The grass shot up, and the flowers began blooming.

The iris loved it. They’ve gone crazy this year with sometimes six, seven, nine, flowers on one stem.

I can hardly believe it, and I want them to last, for there to be no hail to damage them, and for them to have more rain.

Sure, I can water, but there’s nothing quite like rain.

While I’m waiting for rain, I’ve been busy. Maybe I’ve told you that I was reading a book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Kimmerer. The author talks about planting a “Three Sisters Garden.” I’d heard of this before and never tried it,but this is the year.

There’s a sunny section of my acre. A thornless blackberry bush is at one end and a young tree at the other end. I decided to turn it into a Three Sisters Garden.

The three sisters are three different vegetables that Native Americans planted together because of their compatability: corn, pole beans, and squash.

These three plants are good companions. The corn serves as vine support for the pole beans, the beans add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash keeps everyone’s roots in the shade to preserve moisture.

It took a while, but I finally gotten it all planted.

“Who needs this much squash?” I asked myself as I planted hill after hill of corn.

So, I strayed from the pattern. If shading the other vegetables’ feet is the job of the squash, why couldn’t cucumbers or cantaloupe do the same thing?

There was no one around to answer that question, so I’ve tried a variety of ground cover cousins of squash. We’ll see if it works.

I also didn’t plant the squash family in every single hill of corn and beans. Squash spread out, so I planted them in the first row and plan to let them expand into the second row.

I made another revision to the original design. I planted different kinds of squash.

I mean, how much yellow, crook neck squash can one sister eat, especially when my sister is not fond of squash, period?

We may have excess — especially beans and squash. There is never, however, too much corn.

Who knows how this will all turn out? It may be a dismal failure, a disappointment, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s planted and mulched. Now all we need is rain.

One should always try something new, take the chance. Who knows what we’ll learn?

Daisy, our petite white duck, also has been trying something new.

When I came to gather duck eggs, she had made herself quite a fancy nest, and she hissed at me.

“These are my eggs,,” she said with a very determined look in her eye. “Stand back.”

I was busy setting up for Centre’s art show, so I humored her. I did not have time to mess with a hissing duck.

“Was that really Daisy on that nest?” I wondered to myself.

She looked huge — more like Daffy, our big lumbering Peking duck.

I pondered this new development. Would I really let that duck hatch out those eggs?

I wondered how many she had. I mean, I hadn’t seen many eggs in the corner and thought perhaps the ducks were slowing down on production. 

All last week, I mulled this over. It would be fun to let her raise some ducklings.

With her doing the work of taking care of them, it sounded easier than when I’d first tried to mother baby ducks.

Then again, they grow up fast, and what would it be like to have 10 ducks or 15 ducks instead of just five.

And, how many of them might turn out to be males? Oh, dear!

This past weekend I talked to Jess.

“Daisy — well, I think it’s Daisy but she looks twice as big — is sitting on some eggs in the chicken house,” I said.

“Please, tell me you’re not thinking about letting her hatch ducklings.” My sister looked stern.

“You are!” she huffed in exasperation.

I did think about it, remembering what a mess five ducks were in winter, trying to keep them in water and feed.

I reminded myself how long ducks live. Squash isn’t the only thing you can quickly get too much of — ducks, and their darling ducklings are in the same category.

I tricked Daisy off the nest. She couldn’t resist peas. They love peas!

After I shut her out of the house, I discovered she was hoarding 28 eggs. She’d hidden half of them under straw and feathers, surrounding the clutch of eggs that I could see.

It’s another day in the country, and unlike my experience with broody hens who can mope around for months, Daisy was back to normal within a couple of days and seems relieved to be an empty nester.

Last modified May 16, 2024

 

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