By Diane Lockspeiser
I am a very law-abiding person. The problem is that it’s often Murphy’s Law!
For example, just two days after I submitted the article stating that I have never had a problem with weeds in the garden hay bales, some new ones that I had just bought started sprouting lots of hay seedlings. Of course! Not just some weeds here and there as usual, but whole bales covered in green shoots. As the saying goes, never say never.
What is interesting, once I stopped reacting and evaluated the situation, is that it seems to back up my theory about compaction being a weed deterrent. The bales that sprouted are much looser than usual. The person I had been getting mulching bales from didn’t have any this year. He gave me the name of someone else. Besides some of the new bales not being as compact as I am used to, it’s also a different type of hay. It is feed hay, and that may be part of the problem as well.
I decided to regard this as an experiment. Some of the weedy bales I left alone to see if the growth will last. Since I have never had a perennial survive the winter in a hay bale, I am hoping that this coming Winter will take care of the problem. If not, I will use those bales to grow weed-discouraging plants like zucchini. The less affected bales I weeded, and the weeds came out very easily as usual. I will let you know how it all works out next Spring.
As the busy gardening season winds down, I am feeling almost as tired and faded as my older chickens are looking. I will be surprised if they make it through the Winter, but they have surprised me before, most notably by laying eggs for well over half a year longer than their predecessors. Now done with laying, two of them have taken to staying with the eggs that the others have laid until I come to collect them. Then they just walk away, their daily guard duty done.
It was funny how they resisted integrating with the new chickens until those started laying eggs. Then suddenly they were like sisters. Now when they separate into groups, it is mostly likely to be according to temperament, the timid ones understandably preferring to stick together away from the bossy ones who will literally peck at them. The “pecking order” still exists, but it is no longer according to breed or generation.
Most of my Autumn chores are done, but there is one extremely important task still left to do before Winter sets in. I need to construct an area within the chicken coop that will protect the next group of spring chicks, without my being there, from being bullied by the older hens when it is time to move the young ones to the coop. I MUST get this done because I do not want to end up spending another Springtime sitting with chickens! ~