May 5, 2014

The Grass Is Always Greener... And The Cornbread Is Better Too

I went out to feed my baby chicks some cornbread today. Cornbread is one of the all time favorite foods of chickens. Of course, when the rooster and adult hens saw the cornbread they came running but they couldn't get to it because my babies are caged.

Of course I wasn't going to leave out the other birds so I tossed them some cornbread on the ground beside the cage where the chicks are kept but instead of trying to eat that cornbread they spent their time trying to figure out how to get into the cage with the chicks.

And the chicks? Instead of eating their cornbread-- all of it from the very same pan-- they spent their time trying to get to the cornbread just outside their cage.

Anyone who has ever raised chickens won't be at all surprised by this behavior, they do it all the time, but after all these years I still find it funny. You can toss a pile of anything on the ground and the first hen there will grab a piece, take off running and the rest will ignore the pile and chase the first thinking she has something better than what was left behind.

I went back out later with some rye bread and repeated the whole process all over again.

May 4, 2014

I Stole My Neighbor's Grass

Not that kind of grass, the kind that  grows on most people's lawns...

Most people complain and call the City of Greensboro when a neighbor's yard becomes so grown up it becomes an eyesore and yesterday morning as I looked out my window at the house 3 doors down I admit I contemplated calling 373-City to complain about the knee to waist high grass and weeds growing in my neighbor's yard. Then it hit me.

The old Hispanic couple who live there are deaf and mute. They are poor and living in a rented house. Both catch the City buses every morning to go to work and work long days. They've been neighbors for over 10 years and never once have they caused me or anyone I know any problems. Prior to this year their lawn, while never a masterpiece (mine isn't either) was always mowed. Their broken down lawnmower is under my scrap metal pile waiting on enough junk to make a truck load. When I picked it up off the street I tried to start it but couldn't get it to run so like its previous owner I gave up.

It took me almost 8 hours over the course of 2 days and 3 complete passes to mow their lawn and collect the clippings for the compost pile and as far as I know they don't even know who mowed it as they were at work both days.

My chickens are tearing through the clippings now looking for insects and their favorite kinds of weeds and seeds, the neighborhood has one less eyesore and I'm sure my neighbors are pleasantly surprised if not shocked.

I've never thought much of the tiny little rental house they live in as it has never been much but as a gardener I have always envied that yard. For starters, the side yard is almost as big as my entire yard. Secondly it's flat. The soil is super rich even though it has never been kept up and the reason the soil is so rich: it's bottom land with a tiny full-time creek flowing across the back and down one side where a garden would have a constant water supply.

When I was growing up the kids in the neighborhood (myself included) would sometimes dam that little creek flooding that yard and the yard next door. The neighbors never said anything to us about it but Daddy spoke volumes with his razor strop. Still, the next summer, if not before, we'd dam it up again and the next day every boy on the block would be bragging about how bad an ass beating he got the night before. All those fond memories came back to me yesterday and today simply because I chose not to pick up the phone.