Farm Updates: Sad News, Yummy Things, Fun Things and Enemies

The largest fig tree on the West Side has been prolific in the August heat. Its tallest branches are too high for me to reach on the ladder, so I watch the highest overripe fruits fall to their deaths, smooshing into a fleshy puddle upon impact: instant jam.

I made a large batch of fig jam with loads of orange zest and a splash of honey last week, which is delicious with crackers and cheese; I’m frightened by botulism so I made ‘refrigerator jam’ which is much easier and I recommend trying out. 

Our smallest, limpest yet toughest hen, Lola, was put to rest this Monday by the vet and I. She went out slowly and seemingly peacefully and looked even smaller than ever when she finally relaxed. I was afraid that the other two hens would peck her after she died, as she was the bottom of the pecking order and they often bullied her, but instead they waited on the other side of the run until she stopped breathing and then came over to check her out. They lowered their beaks towards hers and looked. After I removed Lola from the coop, Nugget and Blondie sat by the spot where she had passed for a few hours. The ladies are smarter than I thought. It was very sweet.

On a side note: Blondie has taken to chasing june bugs and spends much of her day running around the coop, like a headless chicken, to no avail. 

The new chickens come in a few weeks from now. I want to see them before deciding on names, but I’m leaning towards names like Maxine and Gertrude. Crotchety. 

The banana plants that sprouted, green and resilient, out of the compost many years ago have begun to produce again; the large, deep purple petals of the banana flower peel away to reveal small, pink dragon-like flowers and light green fruits. 

Spider mites are my new enemy. Ground squirrels will always have the number one spot on my list of enemies, but spider mites are probably number five on the list now, after the squirrels and a few politicians. The mites have spent their summer vacations attacking the tomatoes and eggplants ruthlessly. If you’ve never met one, they are awful little creatures, living on the underside of leaves and sucking the vital fluids out of the plant with their tiny fangs, or as they say online ‘piercing mouthparts’. I’ve found that spraying down the plants with a hose on a strong setting helps quite a bit. 

The bush beans, bell peppers and basils continue to pop off while most of the other crops have seen better days. I made green pepper romesco sauce last week which is divine on top of roasted beets. Make it. I’ve also been infusing thai basil flowers in vodka, vinegar and olive oil to make medicinal infusions, which is very easy and only requires shaking the jars once a day for 2-4 weeks before consuming them. Overall, my interest in medicinal plants is piquing and I hope to clear out an area to grow a wider variety of them in the coming months.


Sending wishes for good health and cooler weather,