The damp mist greets me this morning, like most mornings. It’s quiet out here in the mornings, well quiet from the noises of man at least! I can hear the neighbor’s goats bleating, song birds chirping, warbling and whistling; in the distance a rooster crows. A woodpecker is searching for his breakfast in a sugar maple tree near the front porch. Xena, our German Shepherd, is on patrol in the yard.
Even though it is only mid September, Autumn is upon us. The air is moist and heavy and there is a slight smell of decaying leaves and plant matter.
The garden feels tired. She has produced well for us this season, in spite of the fact that she has been used for commercial farming for the last few decades. She has produced many pounds of lovely tomatoes, peppers, okra, zucchini, watermelons, sunflowers and pumpkin, as well as a bumper crop of butterflies, bees and other wildlife: signs that the land is coming back to life. Tomatoes still hang heavy on their vines, but they are slower to ripen now that the nights are cooler. Soon we will pick the remainder and use them for fried green tomatoes, leaving a few behind for mice and birds. There will be a few more baby okra pods, but the plants will succumb to the cooler nights very soon. The last of the sunflowers are bent and brown. We have harvested many pumpkins already, but there are a few more stragglers still growing and ripening out in the field.
We will not be planting fall crops this year. Instead we are using this time to give the garden a well deserved rest. We will continue to replenish her this fall and into the spring. She will house a flock of chickens this fall and winter. They will nurture each other; the chickens feeding on bugs, worms and left-over foliage. The land in return will get nutrient rich droppings and gentle tilling from the chickens scratching and foraging.
Many of the hens will become the beginnings of our egg laying flock, while the rest of the chickens will become table meat for the long winter.
. . . . . and then will come the spring, and the cycle will begin again.