This means WAR.

Yesterday, I noticed that one of the wires had come off our new deer fence - in the corner - behind a compost bin - not a convenient place for deer to leap, so I didn't put it at the top of my priorities. We were out until late last night at a band concert and I completely forgot about it.

This morning I went out into the garden and found fresh scat at the scene of a horrible crime: the corn has all been snipped, neatly, as if it had been given a haircut. It was a similar story at the bean patch and in the butternut squash patch.

the break-in

DNA evidence


butternut squash

pole beans
This is the last straw.

How deer-proof do we have to make this place, anyway???

Our gates are still not done, so we've taken to leaning boards up against each one - I'm about ready to sharpen them into pikes. The poor UPS people and the meter readers are wondering why we've banned them from our yard.

deters delivery guys, but not deer
I'm discouraged, maybe even a little depressed. But I'm not beaten!!!!! Priority one this weekend: gates and reinforcement. Meanwhile, I might have to cowboy camp in the garden.

Today has been very nice; I was unexpectedly released from work, as the kids went on a field trip and they had enough parents attending! The first thing I did was take a nice long walk with Joe, in the lower woodland elevations of Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. I almost never get to ramble with the dog anymore, and it was really lovely - extraordinarily peaceful and idyllic.

wild plums

wild blackberries

a trickle of water in the creek

wild grapevines growing up a tree

native honeysuckle, about to bloom

native mallow

shelf fungus
Then I came home and started on my list of chores. Always first up, weeds. The bermuda grass and bindweed are coming up all over the place in the North Garden. "Tenacious" is an understatement.

Evil #1: Bermuda Grass

Evil #2: Bindweed
As I was weeding and giving supplemental water (and moaning to myself about deer), I noticed that the huckleberry was full of ripe fruit! So I stopped for a snack. These berries are delicious - smaller than blueberries, but quite similar. 

The tomatoes are already reaching jungle proportions. A combination of good starts and good soil, I guess. We haven't had very hot weather, so I can't imagine what they'll do once it gets truly warm.

The peaches are ripening, and getting large. Soon it will be time for frozen peach smoothies again!

We got a new rain barrel, so I set it up. Tom will have to get the downspout adjusted over to the screened opening.

Dad brought over five bags of fresh sawdust and I spread the contents of three of them in the coop. The chickens have gotten noisy lately. They aren't annoying like a barking dog, and they aren't terribly loud, but there is a constant clucking and hooting which I didn't expect. Several of them have gotten their combs and wattles, and I'm expecting to see some egg laying starting next month. They love to dig down through fresh sawdust and take baths in it. They have gotten braver about coming close to me, and I often feel them peck the rivets on my jeans or the ends of my shoelaces, while I'm kneeling and working in their coop. And they come close when they see me heading over with fresh kale from the garden. But when I clean the coop or change the water, you'd think I was a terrorist. They just can't seem to calm down at those times, or maybe they just forget that I'm the person who gave them greens earlier in the morning. I understand now why people think chickens are dumb. It's because they ARE. However, they are cute and funny, and a nice addition to the garden (despite all the hooting and quarreling!).

Molly, checking me out. She's the bravest one.

Minerva and Hermione, with Luna looking on. 
Next on the list, weeding the flower beds. Things are looking quite nice, I must say, and I hope the flowers stay abundant for the Urban Farm Tour (June 6!). 

Gilia tricolor, or Bird's Eye Gilia


Bush Anemone
Flowering pomegranate
California poppies with Elegant Brodiaea 

The potatoes are growing beautifully, as are the carrots and peas. It appears that the collards and lettuces have also had a recent trimming by those four-footed devils. The shallots are starting to look drier and may be close to harvest. The strawberry wall is recovering from a recent deer attack, and the blueberries are producing a few each day.

Yukon Gold
Our potato crop was eaten by deer last year, so it would be very depressing to have that happen again. I don't mean they ate the actual potatoes; as far as I know, deer don't dig (though I wouldn't put it past them). They just completely decimated the leaves. Twice. Are you noticing a recurring theme? 

Next chore: pulling out the kale, adding a few wheelbarrows of dirt to the bed, and planting basil seeds. Red Russian Kale is a star in my garden, producing well for six months out of the year. The chickens love it, we love it, it's a nutritional powerhouse - an all-around great plant. But I'm dying for fresh basil, and I have to get it in the ground now if I want a crop. And the kale was starting to flower and get quite leggy, despite my daily pickings. So with a sad heart I fed most of the kale to the chickens (and gave some to my neighbor for her chickens too!) and composted the rest. 

Unbeknownst to me until I began this project, the lower reaches of the kale was full of aphids, which can certainly happen once the plant is stressed. What an ABSOLUTE pleasure to feed the aphid-ridden bits of kale to the chickens, to whom Christmas had come early! Chickens dearly love bugs, of all kinds.

I hope I didn't feed any on-the-prowl ladybugs to the chickens while I was at it
The worst part about aphids is that after you get rid of them, you feel all crawly.

I noticed a bunch of bees hovering around the hive today. My best guess about this is that they are the first flights of the new bees. I'm anxious to take a look in the hive this weekend and see how much the colony has grown.

I'm finishing up the day with a fancy dinner, because when you have the time to cook something special, you have to take advantage! I'm roasting a beef tenderloin, which is a splurge - but we will eat leftovers from it for days. I've made a compound butter to go with it. This sounds complicated, but it's not; just soften a stick of butter, then whip it with garlic and herbs. I used thyme and sage from the herb garden, as well as our newly hung garlic, which is really fun to use - it's not dry, like grocery store garlic. It's quite moist and easy to peel, and has a wonderful flavor. With the tenderloin, I'm going to roast some beets, and make some parmesan polenta. It'll be a great end to a great, full-of-accomplisments day!