Archive for the ‘Country Buzz’ Category


The Fever Has Begun

April 1, 2016

If you haven’t had the urge yet to mosey through your local nurseries, the fever should hit you any day now. Where I live, frost is still a possibility so I am looking only at color spots. Here are five beauties that stood out above the other blooms at OSH and Green Acres.



Above and below

Ranunculus: tubers or perennials; all zones; full sun;

1.5 feet tall



Nemesia: perennials and annuals; zones vary by species;

full sun


Gerbera Daisies: annual and perennial; zones 10-11;

6-12 inches tall; full sun; part shade in hottest areas


Dahlia Hypnotica Orange: tuberous-rooted perennials;

all zones; full-part sun; 15-19 inches tall


All of the above are suitable for growing in containers.

Do you have a favorite?




Message in an Egg

August 11, 2015


I had a difficult time peeling off the shell of this hardboiled egg without tearing away chucks of egg white, also called albumen. By the time I finished, the white was thin and lumpy.

Because I had already peeled a lot of eggs that day–easily and perfectly smooth ones–I nearly tossed this one into the sink. There wasn’t much left of it. Then I considered how hard my hen had worked to produce the egg. So I took hold of my knife, sliced down the longest length of the egg and opened it to remove the yolk.

Surprise! The hen had left a message of love with a heart-shaped yolk.

I like to think this had nothing to do with the boiling process or air pockets, but rather a message of appreciation for the scratch I provide, for the fresh water, food scraps, free range pasture, and a safe place to roost at night.

Now, no matter how difficult a hardboiled egg may be to peel or how badly it appears, I always look for a message in my hens’ eggs. After all, it is what’s inside that matters the most.

Check out The Food Lab’s great tips on boiling eggs.



Guess What Today Is!

May 30, 2014

May 30th is Water a Flower Day, an annual reminder that summer heat is fast approaching and our beautiful flowers (and plants and trees) will be thirstier than normal. They’ll love you even more if you mulch the flowerbeds and use moisture control potting soil to retain water and reduce watering.






Have a wonderful weekend!




Hatching out a Plan

March 8, 2014

I want to fix up the chicken coop. So, I thought I would give you a tour and tell you the improvements I envision and why. Maybe you can lend some suggestions. If you like, I’ll even share your photos or sketches here, whether it’s an existing chicken coop or one you dream about.


Vision:  Dress up the facade.

Reason:  Not necessary, I know, but I just can’t help dreaming about an attractive hen-house.

Vision:  A small running pen to the right of the coop.

Reason:  When I buy chicks, I keep them inside the coop until they are old enough to go into the existing running pen during the daytime. In the mornings I have to:  1) lock the older hens out of the running pen, 2) shoo the chicks out of the coop into the running pen, 3) secure the hatch between the two quarters so they can’t go back into the coop, 4) open the coop door so the adult chickens have access to the nesting boxes, 5) rotate the different feeders and water jugs, 6) repeat these steps in reverse before sunset.

A second running pen is also a plus for when I need to keep a chicken separate from the flock because it is ill and being attacked by other hens.

Vision:  Enclose the running pen with small-gauged galvanized wire.

Reason:  Keep birds from entering through the existing chicken wire and eating the chicken feed.


Vision:  Okay, this is where I get a little crazy. I would like the interior coop walls and ceiling painted or covered in a smooth veneer wood or some type of smooth finish. There would also be a need for a hatch door and steps to the running pen I wish to add to the right of the coop.

Reason:  Smooth walls make for easier cleaning.

Vision:  Add a small closet between the coop and the new running pen for shovel, broom, rake, shaving bag, and a few other necessities.

Reason:  Sometimes, the hens get into the shaving bag, knock over tools, and of course there’s occasional poop that drops on something I need to handle.

This rounds up my hatching out a plan–a future project. Suggestions are welcome.

Join me on:


Why Everyone Should Own Chickens

March 19, 2012

Since I wrote about the horrific fate of my layers in January, things are looking better in the hen-house. Recently, the six surviving hens started producing again. I wasn’t expecting much from them, in the way of eggs because production usually decreases at two and three years old. But these gals are giving me three to five eggs a day.

To think, I thought about giving the hens away. But there are just too many GOOD reasons to own hens. Dan and Mindy of Soulsby Farm seem to agree. They came up with the list below.

Ten Reasons why you should Own Chickens

By Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm

  1. Fresh Eggs daily – Much better than store-bought eggs. The egg white alone is about 33% more and it’s less expensive.
  2. Chickens have great personalities – Our favorite pastime is to sit in the back garden with a couple of cold beers and watch the chickens (they look like miniature robots).
  3. Help out with the compost pile – Chicken poo is too hot (high in nitrogen to place directly around growing plants) but it works wonders on your compost pile.
  4. They are very low maintenance – Easier than a cat or dog to maintain. Just stay on top of their food and water , clean the cage once in a while and collect eggs.
  5. You are One step closer to sustainable living – it feels good to have chickens, like you’re a real farmer
  6. Household leftovers are food for chickens – These birds eat just about anything. When I peel cucumbers or carrots or chop of mushroom stems, I save it for the chickens (along with fruit rinds and skins) everything but potatoes and garlic. Unless you want your eggs to taste like garlic.
  7. Save a chicken from factory life – Have you ever seen the crap-holes commercial chickens live in? Enough said.
  8. Pest prevention – These hens cruise around and eat up a slew of bugs like slugs, snails, leatherjackets and more.
  9. When they get old and stop laying you can eat them – I haven’t done this yet and I’m not sure I can.
  10. Be the best neighbor on the block – I thought my neighbors would complain about the chickens but in fact, it was just   the      opposite. They bring them veggie scraps and their grandchildren rush over to see the chickens upon every visit and…..wait for it…. They all get free eggs.

To read the complete article, click on the link above. While you are there, check out Dan and Mindy’s site.



February 1, 2012 Registered & Protected

Fog is . . .

A cloud that hides the world from our eyes

Beyond the drizzle of a hazy disguise.

But in our minds, outside the mist

We see life’s surroundings and trials,  

Gates unlocked or windows barred,

These things the cloud cannot hide.

So we walk through the veil—

Come harsh or scary,

Mysterious or chancy,

Buoyant or lovely.

Willful to see the world beyond the cloud,

Merely the drizzle of a hazy disguise.

— © 2012 Dianne Marie Andre


It was a Good Day

January 26, 2012

Born in America

on January 24, 2012,

at the close of a beautiful sunset.

Note:  It took all day to get into my blog to post this. My poor old computer is tired again, so if there’s no post on Friday that’s why.


Missing Miss Boo Boo

January 11, 2012

On December 30, after I got home from tending errands in town, Ralphie and I went into the backyard to play ball. It was then that I noticed my pet turkey, Miss Boo Boo, lying oddly still in the chicken pasture. When I opened the gate, only one hen greeted me. I ignored the absence of thirteen other clucking hens at the gate and rushed over to Miss Boo Boo. She was belly up. Dead.

A foot away lay a gathering of small feathers. I walked the large pasture, suspicious that coyotes had been here, dreading each step that I took. Sure enough, there were seven different feather clusters and one body—all young layers. Four of the older hens were inside the coop, one was wandering around, and another hen was hiding behind the running pen beneath the eucalyptus foliage. She had a scuffed back, yet she laid an egg the next day. There hasn’t been an egg in the henhouse since. At three years old, hens produce only occasionally.

Miss Boo Boo didn’t have a mark on her. She must have fallen while trying to escape the violent massacre and suffocated from the weight of her large chest, or simply died of terror. I miss her most of all. She followed me around the pasture like a puppy. When I made a certain sound, she would fluff up her white feathers and mimic my call. She honked a friendly hello when she heard me working on the other side of the hedge in the perennial garden. Always wanting to be at my side, before she was heavy and slow, Miss Boo Boo followed me from inside the pasture fence as I walked along the driveway.

Two weeks have passed and I still miss the two Black Australorp beauties, the three fast-running Buttercups, and their amble egg supply. I miss the friendly cooing of two cute little Silkie Bantams—they were adorable. I miss the loud squawks after laying an egg, and the cackling, clucking of young hens.

Mostly, I miss the sociable fondness of a three-year-old turkey named Miss Boo Boo.


Holiday Giving

November 18, 2011

If you’re getting ready to give a holiday donation, please consider these worthwhile groups:

Little Sisters of the Poor

Since 1901, St Anne’s Home in San Francisco, California has cared for thousands of elderly poor of every ethnic background and religion.

Your donation would aid this giving home in providing meals, activities, spiritual support, medical care, and a way of living (as well as dying) in dignity through the loving kindness of the Little Sisters.

For more information on Little Sisters of the Poor and available ways to give go to:

Or mail your gift to:  St. Anne’s Home, 300 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA  94118

The Dinner Garden feeds hungry families by providing free fruit, vegetable seeds and gardening support to home and community gardeners across the United States. They have helped 65,000 hungry families grow gardens. Help them reach more!

For donation information and more go to:

Or mail your gift to:  The Dinner Garden, P.O. Box 700686 San Antonio, TX 78270

Please tell them inspired your generous gift!

Thank you and blessings to you and your family,



Lodi Street Faire’s Local Craft Artist

October 1, 2011

I don’t usually post special plugs for events, but I’m hoping you’ll check out the craft booth on the corner of Church and Oak Streets at the Lodi Street Faire this Sunday, October 2.

Craft artist Mary Ledbetter (featured in In and Around the Garden‘s e-newsletter prior to the blog conversion) will have her unique birdhouses for sale.

In addition to the birdhouses, Mary’s booth will be filled with a wide range of items, each handcrafted from re-purposed elements. No waste here, just skillful, high quality one-of-a-kind home and garden décor. From photo frames to cake plates. Candles, unique sash windows, quilts and much more including adorable hand-painted chairs that will make your heart swoon for a seat.

Bejeweled with lots of bling, these visors and caps are made from a variety of recycled material including jeans and leather boots.

While you’re there, check out the photography greeting cards. Mary is going to donate the card proceeds toward my computer fund.

Arrive early! The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Do your holiday shopping and remember to treat yourself as well. Admission and parking is FREE! You can’t beat that!

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