Thursday, July 9, 2009

No Rabbits Escape from Mommy's Farm...

Have you ever seen the movie 'Chicken Run'? If the answer is no, then my title probably makes no sense at all. But if you have seen the movie, maybe you remember the farmer telling Ginger that as he tosses her back in the pen. You see, in the movie, Ginger the chicken is determined to get all of the other chickens and herself out of the pen and off to the distant hillside, where they will all live happily ever after. After all, once a chicken quits laying eggs, she gets made in to tomorrow's dinner. Problem is, all of her plans keep getting messed up. Well, as you're all aware, we have some chickens here - but this story is about our rabbits. Three girls and two boys, by the way. There is a pen that we fashioned from wire that the kids can put the rabbits (one at a time to prevent flying fur) in to let them run around. The kids can get in there with them and play with them a little bit too. Hmmm, one day (shortly after Ginger had been in the pen), we put Snowball in there to play and stretch. I went off to do some other chores and came back into the backyard half an hour later. Guess who was laying in the shade of the porch, right next to Easter (our friskiest male)? Yep, Snowball! She was stretched out taking a little nap and I walked up, gently picked her up and placed her back in her cage. No solitary confinement in the coal bin this time. So, did Ginger arrange for her to get out? In the movie the chicken Ginger is forever digging under the fence with a spoon and shoving the other chickens through the hole. It gets ever more suspicious. A few days later (last week) one of the kids went out to watch the rain and ride his scooter on the porch. He came running back in to tell us a rabbit was in the bushes out front. I'm thinking a wild one, but went out to check anyway. Guess who it was - Ginger! She had somehow gotten out of her cage and hopped into the bushes. Too bad for her it was the only rainy day we'd had in two weeks... ha, serves her right! Mind you, in the movie, Ginger would never leave the farm until all the chickens were free. Our Ginger didn't either. She was just hanging out, apparently waiting for the other rabbits to catch up. So, what do you think? Do we have a rabbit revolt in the making? (Yes, by the way, they're meat rabbits). Have they been listening to the kids movies a little too often? Or this all just a big coincidence? LOL, I don't know either, but if they keep it up, we're having rabbit stew a little sooner than planned.

BTW, in the movie, the chickens finally escape and the barn containing the new chicken pot pie making machine gets blown up.

Wish us luck here - I don't look good covered in gravy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Full sun

Ok, I guess I'm on a plant rant this week. First the well drained soil blog entry, and now one about 'full sun'. There are very few plants out there whose tag says to plant it in the shade. A few, but not many. Everything is supposed to be planted in the full sun. Well, I've about concluded that 'full sun' in Texas isn't quite the same as 'full sun' in Ohio. I have blueberry plants rated for our zone (8) that are supposed to be planted in the sun. These plants are rated for zones 4 - 8. Ok, no problem. I stuck them in the sun. It's only early July and these plants are wondering what in the world is going on. It's been full, scorching, blazing sun for a couple of weeks now, with temperatures close to 100° nearly every day. We have had a day or two of cool weather and even a nice shower last week, but that's it. I'm really worried about keeping these plants healthy through to the end of August. I imaging folks in zone 4 aren't having quite the same concerns as me at this moment. What with all the global warming going on these days, they're probably more worried about an early freeze (yes, that's touch of sarcasm there).

Just for the record, here's a site where you can check to see what hardiness zone you're in:

I'm seriously thinking of making some shades for the raised beds. We have a lot of rebar around here, and I may put one in the ground near the corner of each bed and toss an old sheet over the beds during the afternoon. Am I being silly? Maybe. But I really don't want to lose plants beacuse they got too much sun! (Ok, I don't want to lose them for any other reason either, but that's the one that's got me most worried at the moment).

Water, shade, fertilizer, pruning. Sheesh. These plants need almost as much care as the kids!

Enough rambling for now, it's time for my afternoon mocha. See you later.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Well drained soil

So, I want to be a gardener and have happy, healthy plants. I know that means that I should find out how to best care for the things that I intend to grow. It seems that every time I look up info about a particular plant, the care page starts out with 'Make sure to plant in well drained soil'. Just take a look at this web site: Get the idea? Well guess what - master gardener that I am, I had no idea what well drained soil was! With the help of the internet I found out. So, for all of you, like me, who want healthy plants but have been afraid to ask, here is the information you've been waiting for!

From here:

Well-drained soil is that which allows water to percolate through it reasonably quickly and not pool. Standing water or saturated soil deprives roots of oxygen. Some tree species can tolerate wet site conditions longer than others, so we make the distinction in our planting recommendations.

Deep, loamy soil and sloping sites tend to be well drained. Soil high in clay content, depressions, or sites with high water tables, underlying rock or ‘hard pans’ (a layer of soil impervious to water) tend to not be well drained. A test that is often recommended is to dig a hole 12 by 12 inches square and about 12 to 18 inches deep. Fill it with water and let it drain. Then do it again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions; a slower rate is a caution that you either need to provide drainage or look for a species tolerant of wet conditions. Most trees grow best in a deep, moist, well-drained soil. Each species has a different level of tolerance to soils on either the wet or dry side of the ideal. Of course, other site factors such as pH and shade tolerance are also important in considering what trees to plant.

I actually haven't tested my soil (as it is July and I've just figured out what all the experts mean when they tell me to have 'well drained soil'). I have at least tried to prepare the soil somewhat. For next planting though, I'm going to make sure to do it right. Here is a good article on how to make the illustrious soil if you don't have it.

So there you have it folks - happy planting!