September Garden Journal 2017

Typically, I begin these posts by sorting through all the pics I have taken of the farm, resizing them, and then uploading them.  The process is kind of tedious and not something I especially enjoy (though some of the edited pictures end up leaving me breathless 🙂


But these past two weeks, I’ve been breaking through a kind of depression…a kind of outlook that’s colored my whole life. I’ll explain.


When I was kid and I was first singled out as gay, I felt that I would have to live a life of lies. I was gut wrenched over the entire predicament.  All of my dreams…of being popular, of being a good Catholic, of marrying a girl…. were now all dashed because…and the whole thing really blew my mind…I was gay!   Just as bad, others seemed to know I was gay.  This too blew my mind.  I thought to myself, ‘how did everyone else learn to behave straight? Where was I when these sorts of behaviors were being taught?’


I alighted upon a phase that really resonated with me. I even remember drawing it. I believed I was in a ‘cage without a key’.   The phrase represented my inability as a young boy to figure out how I would ever get out of such a pickle…this interest in being accepted, loved, popular, a part of the group, yet saddled with a sexual preference and a way of behaving that was antithetical to all of that…or at least, so I thought.


I have never accepted being gay.  Never.  And I’ve come to realize that I’ve never really recovered from the ostracization that I experienced from my dear mother, brother, cousins, teachers, and of course the young, beautiful young men of my neighborhood…who allowed themselves to explore homosexuality with me during sleepovers, but in the daylight shunned me or even made fun of me.


I have come to realize that the years I spent locked in the cage were all my doing and that all along, I had the key in my pocket….I never realized I had the key because I was too busy fretting that no one liked me. I was too busy trying to prove my worth.


Today, I opened the door to that cage and stepped out.  I feel pale and awkward.  I’m unsteady on my feet, but I’m out of that cage.  I’m going to let the world do what it needs to do.  I’m going to return to a life of honesty, a life of integrity.  I’m going to be the person I am meant to be and trust that the rest of the world will have the good sense to notice just how great that is.



And now for the garden report:)


New Chicks!

You remember the Fan Tale, yes?  If I’m not mistaken, she’s the one who hatched out the cochin/barred rock/orpington rooster about a year or so ago.  Well, she did it again.  Despite numerous hens laying their eggs on top of her, she hatched out what appears to be an araucana mix and another bantam of some kind. This one is all black and terribly small.  Could it be that she hatched out one of her own eggs? It may be that the cochin-cross rooster fertilized her.  I don’t know.  Anyway, the whole thing hasn’t been without its hiccups, but so far everyone seems to be alive and doing well. (On a sad note, the poor little one, the black one died.  His mother charged me in the middle of the night…it’s a long story…and she ended up running over her baby.  I was devastated.)


wildloose buff orpington with chicks
Not the fan tail obviously, but chicks…you know.  Naturally born chicks.  Look at em! Seven!


Christmas Cactus

Because my plants live out on the porch, they experience the very first breaths of cool autumn weather and consequently set flower buds in September.  I don’t think these things will even make it to Halloween before blooming, let alone Christmas. (I’m publishing this in Jan so I know the outcome.  The CC bloomed in the middle of October and the very red one?  Again in December.  Spectacular).




And aren’t they gorgeous!  We’ve had a hot, dry September so they are perfectly ripe.  I pulled a pot’s worth off the vine and cooked them with some oregano.  They’ll go into the freezer until they can find their way into some winter, meat stew.  As an aside, they went into tonight’s meal:  Chicken quarters, browned in butter, then stirred with white wine, garlic, the above-mentioned tomatoes, fresh oregano (no Mediterranean inspired dish should be without it!), green olives, and those yummy fingerling potatoes, salt and pepper to taste.  Throw the whole thing in the oven without the lid on and let it cook down.  Delicious!


wildloose pears
These aren’t apples! No, the pears this year though were GREAT. The one that produces all the time, that ripens so early, that one of course was just as delicious as it alway is, but the real prize was the Beure Bosc or whatever the hell you call it. Amazing!




Don’t get me started on the Cox Orange Pippin. Hands down, no contest, the finest apple I have ever eaten. It reminds me of some kind of sour/tart candy.  It is absolutely fantastic. The problem?  Most of the apples are riddled with some kind of rot and the damn tree never sets fruit as well I want it to.  Oh, but the graft on it DID produce.  The graft, I can confirm, is a Honeycrisp apple, so if you are the new owners of the farm, look for the Honeycrisp apples on the southwest side of the tree.


Candycrisp, I believe. An apple that is red all the way through. Makes a BEAUTIFUL pie.


The Unknown apple in the orchard is, I’m convinced, a Liberty apple.  The tree deserves an award for its blemish free, crisp, delicious fruit.



The Braeburn. Another knockout of an apple. Tastes like a tarter version of a red delicious, but even that doesn’t do it justice. LOVE.




The bees…I don’t know what their deal is.  They only have maybe four frames of honey stored.  Every time I go out into the field I find HUNDREDS of them working the golden rod and now, the white asters, but for whatever reason, they have not built out frame and filled up the top super as I expected them to.  I hope they survive the winter.  (As an aside, we had a warm day…I’m sure I’ll blog about this…but we had a warm day in February 2018.  It gave me a chance to find out if they were still alive. This post on FB, that had nearly 100 people weighing in, explains what happened:

I told you that I have bees right? I love the bees. All winter long, I’m worried that the bees are dead. I fear the worst, but I hold out hope. I dream about them. In my dream, I walk towards the hive and I look up and they are swarming outside of their box. I’m elated! I have magical thinking about the bees. With every day that passes with no sign of the bees, I tell myself, ‘but one warm day, just like the dream, you’re going to look up and see the bees. And it will be a sign. It will be a sign to hope!’ A week ago, I hear the news: On February 20th the temperature will be 65 degrees. I tell myself, ‘That’s the day that I’ll know one way or the other if the bees are alive or dead.’ I wake up this morning, the 20th. I step outside. It’s not quite 60 degrees yet, so I wait. I bide my time with work, but all along I think, ‘Should I risk it? Should I walk over to the hive and see if they are alive?’ Finally, the dog succeeds in tempting me to step out. It’s so warm outside, I barely need a sweater. I make my way towards the hive, but the whole time, I can’t even look towards it. ‘What if…what if…they’re dead? Oh, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take that. But they won’t be dead. I had a dream!’ Finally, when I’m close enough to see if there are bugs flying outside of the box, I look up and…and THEY ARE THERE! Dozens and dozens of bees! It’s just like the dream! They’re alive! It’s so warm, I decide to inspect the inside of the hive and see if I need to feed them. I suit up, open the lid, and look and…oh dear….oh dear oh dear oh dear. All the bees are dead. ALL of them. The bees that are swarming around are bees from someone else’s hive that have come to rob mine of what’s left of the honey and pollen stores. #shaftedbythesandman


And then. this as a response to someone expressing sympathy:

I think in my case the hive was weak going into winter. I don’t know why. Maybe the bees that I found robbing their hive in Feb, were robbing it all along. My bees had a late start too. I didn’t get the nuke till June. I looked at the bodies of the dead bees and I didn’t see any mites. We had a couple of very cold nights (-9 degrees) and I think if bee colonies don’t go into winter with a big enough population, they can’t generate enough heat, and croak. I have ordered more bees and I’m hoping that the robbers remember that Halow has an empty hive at his house should they ever elect to swarm. I’m sad that my guys didn’t make it, but I’m more excited to be learning all this stuff about these fascinating creatures. For example: how did the robber bees know to come to my hive in Feb? I don’t think the robbers live less than a mile from my house, so how did they know? Did they ‘smell’ the honey? Or maybe more interestingly, did they ‘remember’ that Halow had a hive from their visits to it in 2017 and decide to see if they could steal more stuff in 2018? The number of robbers increased exponentially throughout the day. By 3pm, my hive was covered with bees all trying to find a way into the box to steal the honey and pollen.





About a week ago, I weeded the new row for the first time this year (fueled in part by my rollicking waves of depression), then built a berm of grass on either side of the row that I covered with chicken shit. I figure the nitrogen in the crap will go to work on the grass and keep things tied up there till spring when a more relaxed version of it will drift down to the awakening roots.




Here’s something nuts.  About 20 years ago, I wrote a play about Jeffrey Dalmer, the serial killer. I was obsessed with him at the time and now I think I understand why.  Like him, I too feel more comfortable with the memories of individuals than the individuals themselves.  I think I imagine that, in death, people are more accepting of me.


My Aunt introduced me to cemeteries.  There, she and I would plant flowers on the graves of long, lost souls.  I’m not sure what she thought when we were doing this, but I planted in a world of imagination, a world in which the person beneath my feet was accepting, understanding, and appreciative of who and what I was.


What does all of this have to do with Rye?  Because I see her getting older and I wonder how I’ll deal with her death. She’s my best friend.  Literally.  She’s such a good companion.  I think of my pet cemetery here on the farm that includes the remains of Brenda Tassava’s pet, and my two dear birds, Bombay and Perchy or as David used to call him, Pinchy.  Will Rye go there too?  Will I be more comfortable with all of them once they are dead and buried?


After my mother’s death, I experienced 6 months of sheer exhilaration.  I thought it was an expression  of my relief; my relief after months of anxiety watching her die.  Now I wonder…was I happy because I now believed that this person that couldn’t care for me, now could?





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