Sunday, November 22, 2009

Asparagus, atriums and chickens

What do these three things have to do with one another?  Absolutely nothing.  They just represent three things that caught my attention today.

The Dark Side of Asparagus . . .  Do you love the look of spring asparagus on your plate?  Maybe with some Hollandaise sauce, or perhaps just some butter and lemon?  Or how about raw, with a good mayonnaise based dipping sauce?  It is such a fleeting treat, those few weeks in spring when the new shoots pop up overnight.  Sometimes it seems that if we look closely, we will see them growing!  And then, poof! they are gone.  Well, not really gone, but the spears get thinner and thinner until it is time to let them go.  What happens to the plant then?  If you have never seen it, it is hard to believe.  The asparagus makes a big plant as tall as me, with fern-like branches, and some with small red berries.  They need to be allowed to grow to provide nourishment for the roots.  Properly cared for (or maybe even ignored), asparagus beds can live for 50 years; however, the average life of a plant is about 15 years.  Sometimes spears will reappear in the fall, but if you cut them, you risk decreasing the life span of the plant, so just leave them alone.  The plants are actually pretty when they first rise up, especially on a foggy morning.  But in general, they are leggy, dry, full of prickly bits, and ugly.  I leave mine until spring, when I clear them off and weed around the roots to make room for the spears in the spring.  And so the cycle begins anew. 

My Beautiful Atrium . . .  It may have been foolish to build a passive solar house on the east side of Lake Michigan, but I am far enough south that I get more than the 65 insolation days per year that South Bend gets.  Today was one of those days when it earned its keep.  It was only 32º this morning.  My house was pretty nippy - I keep the thermostat on 62º - but it wasn't cool enough to warrant building a fire in the stove.  I turned up the furnace for just a bit while I enjoyed my morning espresso.  By 9 am, the sun was pouring into the atrium, and I opened the doors and windows between it and my main living space.  There wasn't a lot of heat to start with, but before long I could feel it rising into the living room. 

It's a good room.  I don't use it often, but sometimes on a very sunny winter day, with the snow bouncing the light into the atrium, I haul my chaise lounge out there and take a sun bath.  And today, it brought the house to a comfortable 72º, with the only expense being the effort it took to open and close the doors and windows.

Chickens - They are Driving Me NUTS! . . .  The chickens think the garage is their second home.  They find my Prius to be a suitable roost.  Chickens poop while they are roosting.  I have had to put the bird seed in a tote to keep them out of it.  They hang around the bird feeder in the hopes of getting the scraps.  Since Campines are such good fliers, I fully expect to find them hanging on the feeder helping themselves one of these days.

Tashi keeps them out of the garage when she is outdoors.  She lies on the concrete pad outside the garage, and that is enough to keep them at bay.  However, she was in the house for a good bit of the morning, and when I went out, they were all sitting on some cartons of canning jars stacked in a corner.  They did NOT want to leave.  I have mentioned a couple of times that these are flighty birds that will not let you touch them unless it is dark.  However, one of them just sat there defiantly, looking me right in the eye and refusing to budge from the seat of my bicycle.  I finally picked her up - in broad daylight! - and carried her fat little body outside.

Tonight, there are still 15 chickens, in the Moop where they belong, and all other animals are accounted for.

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