Backyard Chickens

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Photo by Tricia Knoll. Tricia says the chickens are from Broadfork Farm, Trout Lake Washington, where she farmsits once or twice a year. She mentions that she might do a Broadfork Farm chapbook one day. I, for one, would LOVE that! – Sandra Knauf

 

We get it!
We get it – no roosters!

The coops go up,
cuter than cute.

Free-rangers strut
pompons on parade,
stick-legged chicken races
finish photos on Facebook.

Coyotes
and raccoons sneak
around the condos –
henitentiary fortifications
intensify.

Do senior chickens
who no longer lay
collect social obscurity?
Who broils Flocksie and Tottsie?
The Buddhists won’t.

But the eggs, the eggs!
Sunshine yolks
nestled in blue, green,
brown and ecru jewel boxes.
The eggs!

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com

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Apples are Ruling My Life

eleven-million-apple-trees-in-virginia-produce-fine-fruit-for-the-markets-of-the-world-with-plenty-of-culls-for-canneries-2

“Eleven million apple trees in Virginia produce fine fruit for the markets of the world with plenty of culls for canneries.” From the Library of Virginia’s 1939 World’s Fair Photograph Collection.

When I close my eyes, I see apples. When I step out my back door, I smell apples. When I look out my front door and windows, I see apples clinging to the trees and lying on the ground. For several weeks as I lie in bed at night I hear them falling, landing with a hollow thud.

We recently moved to five acres in Penrose. The half-acre, wedge-shaped orchard has thirty mature trees, twenty-five of them are apple and twenty of those are loaded with fruit.

Everyone I talk to, I ask if they’d like some apples. I cut and core apples for sauce, crisp, and pies. I freeze apples, I juice apples, but mostly I pick up and sort apples.

Initially I had three grades; human consumption, horse or deer consumption, and compost. Now that the neighbors’ horses are “appled out” and we aren’t going to Cedar Heights to feed the deer, I only have 2 grades; consumption and compost. Wormholes, bird pecks, squirrel bites, bad bruises or sunburn doom an apple to compost.

If I pick up the apples that fall daily, it takes two hours; if I miss a day, it takes four hours. I can empathize with migrant workers and they do this all day every day, with no end in sight. My livelihood doesn’t depend on my speed, however my sanity does, so I try to work as quickly as possible.

The apples are various sizes. I can barely pick up two of the largest ones in one hand, but I can handle six of the smallest. The taste varies too, sweet to puckery. Some have thin skins and other thick, some have small dark hard seeds and others pale soft ones. The colors vary greatly: deep crimson, wine purple, rose to pale green and light yellow.

As I’m picking up apples, I am sampling the fruits from the trees, determining my favorites. One tree seems to have two different types of apples, on one side, the apples are considerably smaller. Maybe it is the amount of sunlight since I don’t see a graft line on the trunk where the branches connect.

One tree is the favorite of the birds. I don’t know if that’s because of its placement in the orchard (it is shaded by a large elm) or the quality of the apples. There are no apples left on that tree. I didn’t like those apples too much, I thought they were mushy.

I had to get a handle on all these apples. The boxes were filling up the garage and I’d contacted everyone I could think of that might like apples. I called Care and Share to see if they were interested in apple donations. The guy I talked to was thrilled. “We’ll take all you can bring us,” he said. I felt such relief. I’m composting apples that I’d be using in a lean year and feeling guilty about it, so now I can feel good about my apple picking efforts. So far, we’ve taken three loads of apples to C&S – about 1,000 lbs.

A few weeks ago when one neighbor told me that I should spray my apple trees, I never dreamed that I’d have this many. Of course, I told him no. I want my apples to be organic and safe. It’s nice to have plenty to share with the birds, squirrels, rabbits and of course with the hungry people of Colorado Springs.

I figure that I still have a few more weeks of apple-ing before all the trees are bare. The strange thing is that I still love apples. I eat stewed apples everyday for breakfast and have several while I’m working in the orchard. When I get thirsty and come into the house for something to drink, you guessed it – I have apple juice.

I’ll enjoy the fruits of this summer all winter and to encourage next year’s crop perhaps I’ll follow the tradition that Thoreau writes of in his essay, “Wild Apples.”

“. . . on Christmas eve . . . they salute the apple-trees with much ceremony, in order to make them bear well the next season . . . This salutation consists in ‘throwing some of the cider about the roots of the tree, placing, bits of toasts on the branches,’ and then, ‘encircling one, of the best bearing trees in the orchard, they drink the following toast three several times: —

‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst, blow,
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats-full! caps-full!
Bushel, bushel, sacks-full!
And my pockets full, too! Hurra!’ ”

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Pat Cook Gulya enjoys Colorado living; biking, hiking, gardening and attempting to capture such experiences through words. She teaches and practices yoga and now has the luxury of living rather than worrying about making a living. She grows a variety of plants in her urban yard, and, thanks to Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, can now cultivate a favorite plant. Her work has been aired on NPR affiliate, KRCC’s, “Western Skies” and published in Greenwoman Magazine, Senior BeaconSprings Magazine, and The Gazette.

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Clothing My Toes

tricia-knoll-pumpkin-squeeze

Tricia sent me a fabulous poem about the beginning of fall, Clothing My Toes. I couldn’t find just the right image, so she offered this one yesterday, with this note:

Here’s the withered pumpkin vine. Note that the gardener got inventive with fencing material for climbing up the pie pumpkins. It worked well except for this pumpkin that decided to grow in the middle of the fence.  Oh, that gardener was me.

I had to laugh, even while feeling just a little bit sorry for that pumpkin and her tight corset. Tricia said it’d all be fine; soon she’d be harvested and made into a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving pie.

—Sandra Knauf

Clothing My Toes

When leaves begin to fall at the beginning of August,
I turn my face aside, thinking them weak.

Sure, I collect black lupine seeds
to sow near the creek next spring.

When the furnace man comes two weeks later
to service the fan, I hand him two brandywine tomatoes

to say we are so far from winter, aren’t we good caretakers
even if the green bean vines are withery and the beans go fat.

When the pumpkins ripen on a mildewed vine,
I look forward to thanksgiving pies and soups.

The rainstorm that blew in after a half day of thickening clouds
made me glad the asters would get more water.

The hummingbird has so much in the garden to taste test
that I have not had to refill the feeder this week.

It wasn’t until today, the first of September
when I pulled out a pair of socks

for the first time in months
that I switched on fall.

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com

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The Whole Ruth (and nothin’ but the Ruth) Ruth Stout Mini-Bio FREE through Sept. 10th

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My sultry garden mentor, Ruth Stout. Another fun fact: she enjoyed gardening in the nude!

I’ve been enamored with garden writer Ruth Stout since I started reading her books in the early ’90s. I didn’t even have a garden yet, but I knew I would one day – and I wanted to learn it ALL. Ruth was at the forefront of organic garden writing in the 1960s. She had a column in Organic Gardening and Farming magazine after her book on straw mulch gardening, How to have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening, became a big hit.

I fell in love with her voice maybe more than her message. Ruth Stout was plain-spoken, smart, incredibly funny, and a little naughty at times (my favorite trait). She told about how she communicated with the plants – that’s how she came upon her famous “straw mulch method.”

Her personal story is fascinating. She was a true American rebel, a feminist (she said she didn’t know how to be anything but one), an original. She grew up in a Quaker household with lots of kids and lots of books, was one of the first to bob her hair in the early 1920s, took off for New York City at an early age, had many adventures in her youth (including a trip to Russia), and then she settled down and got married in her mid-forties. She published her first book in her late 50s. This was a woman who lived life to the FULLEST.

But, why tell about her here, when you can read all about it here. I think you will fall in love, too.

Tell your friends; FREE through Saturday, September 10th, The Whole Ruth: A Biography of Ruth Stout!

—Sandra Knauf

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Gardening Just Got Dirtier: Fifty Shades of Green FREE on Amazon Sept 1-5!

 

Bus copy

FREE download September 1-5!

 

Hi everyone,

Today through Sept. 5th I’m offering a giveaway for, if I do say so myself, an excellent collection of garden erotica!

Who knew there was such a thing as garden erotica? I didn’t, but I had always thought the idea was an intriguing one, so a couple of years ago I sort of . . .  invented a new genre. I decided to publish a book – a collection of sexy (and sometimes very humorous) stories that take place in the garden (you know, that paradise on Earth where some believe original “sin”occurred?). Of course I wanted it to have a feminist slant, and the title shows that I also wanted to poke a little fun at Fifty Shades of Grey. I sent out a call for submissions, and Fifty Shades of Green was the result.

You can read the story about how it all came about here.

And here’s a radio interview you might enjoy.

You can download the book FREE, today through Monday, by going here.

PLEASE tell your gardening friends about this naughty offer, and consider buying some early holiday gifts for your favorite dirty gardeners! I guarantee that this will help them get through the winter.

—Sandra Knauf

 

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Through a Garden Gate

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Framing the Garden in Photo and Poetry

Gardeners and photographers have in common a reverence for “frame.” Gardeners prune to get the right view through a bush to another plant, a stone, a gate. The photographer crops a photo to change the focus. When a poet collaborates to hone to the essence of a garden, a beautiful book of poetry and photos of a large garden results: Though a Garden Gate.

The photographer and landscape designer of his own garden is Vincent Covello who is well-known as a risk and crisis consultant. The poet is Charlotte Mandel who has received widespread recognition as a poet from New Jersey who recently retired from teaching poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women.

Mandel issues “A guided invitation to a garden path” in one of her poems. The book is a leisurely stroll through a carefully designed ten-acre garden landscape that catches the frames of a Chinese Garden and gate, dark wood torii gates, standing stones at sunrise, falling water, a Japanese fountain and the reflections of oak leaves in a pond. The seasons kaleidoscope through poetry and photos of the flowering cherry in its “breeze-sent dance,” the vernal equinox’s “report on summer’s evolving designs,” how October acts like a season’s traffic signal, and the first footsteps in snow through an aging gate garden waits through winter with the animals in their burrows. The book captures both the joy and wabi sabi of gardening.

In the middle of this collaboration, the poet and photographer stop at “Enclave –”

Later afternoon, a cloisonné tray
will be brought with two
crystal stemmed glasses
of dark red dubonnet
and on other days
a golden sherry

This is where the gardener rests after “assiduous caretaking – lift dig prune weed” and the poet gets to raise her glass to the twilight and assemble the spirit that comes close to the end of the collection:

Let the garden teach patience
in changes of earth, water, rock, wind,
the play of wills by a gardener
who has gazed at starved ground,
a straggle of brush and skeletal trees,
and said, “Let there be this.”

We gardeners know the hard work of arranging, rearranging, cutting, digging – creating garden frames that lift us out of the ordinary into transformation into quiet beauty. This book may well serve as an inspiration to other poet-gardeners like me to revere our work from the sky blue morning glory in August heat to the quiet winter garden in repose. It did that for me.

—Tricia Knoll

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The author and photographer; photo by Carol Ann Mandel.

Through a Garden Gate, a collaboration of photographs by Vincent Covello and poet Charlotte Mandel, (WordTech Communications, 2015). 57 pages of poetry and color photographs. Available at Amazon for $20.

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com

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Radish Gets Around

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I don’t think this one appeared in any of the Greenwoman volumes, but in each issue we (meaning myself, a.k.a. Mae Fayne, and my daughter Zora, a.k.a. Angus Skillet), tried to create a comic. Anthropomorphism, hooray!

—Sandra Knauf

Radish Gets Around Final

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