Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mavis Mudd's "Scratchin in the Dirt"....Chickens in the Garden

 Yes, it is almost that time of year again, time for all the chicken folk to gather in the Mistress's garden to do the dirty work. Yes, indeedy, we chicken ladies don our sun hats, our garden aprons and get to work a' hoe'n and a'scratchin! NO ONE can cultivate a garden like a chicken, by golly! We take our work seriously.
We gals are here to work. Trouble is, the Mistress is awful fussy, she says we don't know the difference between a plant and a weed and why don't we just go to the meadow and "cultivate" out there??!!!  She alternates between hysteria, ( when we "accidentally" dig up one of her silly bulbs...for pity sake, there are hundreds of them, surely 5 or 6 bulbs won't make much of a difference), to hilarity, as we do what chickens do best.... act silly. 

  Digging craters in the garden is a no no, but we girls like to take a nice dirt bath every hour or so..... is that so bad? Doesn't the Mistress need a nice deep hole to plant green stuff in? But she grabs  the broom stick and begins to threaten. of course , we know good and well she would NEVER actually use it on us.....she is such a softy. And we go back to our weeding.
She says those worms are supposed to be  enriching the soil for her herbs and veges.... and not providing us  with our breakfast lunch and dinner, but who can resist a fat wiggly, tasty, and creamy worm for petes sake! And workin in the garden gives a chicken lady quite an appetite.
Besides that, she actually OFFERS them up to the ducks! Ducks, who never did a days gardening in their lives... they just quack, waddle and splash all the live long day,
 while we chicken ladies do all the work.

"Stay away from those Spanish Bluebells, or they will never bloom!" she screeches. It is no wonder her hair is turning gray.

The Lord of the Manor says," Why don't you just put them in a chicken coop, like normal people do?"
"I can't do that. They are free-range." she protests.

  And so she devises all sorts of barriers and fences to keep her little plants "safe" from us . 

 Miniature round fences surround bedding plants and  the dreaded chicken wire  covers the ground where little seeds have been planted. Tin cans and glass domes enclose plants that we would simply love to examine ( for horticultural reasons, of course).
Broken pots and bottomless tin buckets enclose her re awakening perennials..

and broken garden tools make barriers for emerging tulips.
(the garden tool graveyard)

 "I will remove them AFTER the plants are established", she mumbles under her breath. She grabs the wire cutters and fashions yet another mini fence .......... And in the meantime, the garden looks like Fort Knox what with all the barriers and such.

 Now how does she expect us to help out when we can't even dig our claws into that
scrumpdeli-icious soil ??!!

  Oh my, do you remember the little chickpeas hatched by Plain Jane Black, back in December?
 Just look at them now!  They are simply marvelous gardeners. Here they are taking a siesta on the porch swing after a tough day of weeding.  Jane never uttered a word about the "daddy"  Hummph, still waters certainly run deep where Jane is concerned.

 The Mistress promptly chased them off the porch after snapping this photo, " "How can I claim to be a Lady of the Manor with class and distinction, when I have chicken poop all over my porch!!??" she complains.

But for all her griping, she has to admit that there is nothing prettier than a chicken amongst the flowers and herbs.

We chickens never lose our petals, we are always ever colorful and fluffy. And we provide hours of jolly entertainment, Not to mention those big FAT eggs EVERYDAY.

Don't you think we deserve some time in the gardens???  Even though we occasionally make garden boo boos, at least we don't EAT the flower petals like some people I know....

A note from the Mistress of the Manor:
I confess, I cannot give up my chickens OR my gardens and it is makes gardening twice as much work .... in the beginning. Once a flower garden is established and you have a decent ground cover beneath your plants ( wild strawberries , creeping thyme, and creeping jenny make a nice, chicken proof mat) , then the chicken folk are not interested. They just love newly dug soil, which  is why I must "CAGE" any new plant. When I want to plant seeds, I  just cover them with wire metal trays or chicken wire until the plants are established. It has taken me 2 years to reconcile my gals in the garden, but I am learning more every year.
 Listen, if you have ever met a chicken lady, you will find you cannot resist her. And if you will let her roam the gardens to her hearts content, you will never see another Japanese Beetle, I promise! And you know, they really ARE excellent little weeders.


  1. I have to laugh--Fort Knox is right! We're trying to reconcile free-range with veggies and flowers this year too.

  2. Jeri, You are a born storyteller. Your garden bears the marks of your wonderful imagination. Mine is small and simple but it is swathed in stick-barriers against the chickens, too. I whooped for joy when I found vintage wire fencing in a neighbor's trash pile! Such joy from simple things.

  3. Oh my...you have such patience,Jeri. It's so much fun to peek into your world of gardens, chickens and critters, your art, and wonderful antique-filled home.

    Hope you're having a grand weekend.

  4. Thank you Jeri for this marvellous item ! Your animals are lovely and sweet. I love chickens ladies, They were the first animals I have know when I was a little girl. (My grand mother had chickens in his beautiful park), I love animals very much.
    Your blog is a poetry.
    Good sunday !

  5. Oh, what fun! Your gardens will be the better for your ladies.

    I have my chicks now and will be having to deal with chickens in my gardens also. I'm looking forward to it, I think.

    Hope your having a great weekend.


  6. Oh Jeri, this is just wonderful! I see where alot of your inspiration comes from. Your photos alone would tell a story.. Beautiful chickens, and very hard at work yes? Thank you for sharing a day in the
    Holow.. I truly enjoyed myself.
    Enjoy your weekend.
    Blessings to you,

  7. Oh that was purely entertaining!
    Ooooooh I can't wait for better weather (it snowed again today a then gave in to drizzel)
    I loved the tool graveyard and the BEAUTIFUL Peacock through the wood what a site! And of course the Hen Folk and Duckies!
    Hugs and Blessings Linnie

  8. Too sweet!!! I love the little bonnet...how do you manage to get her to oblige while you're putting it on?

    This is not only a delightfully entertaining post, but packed with so much jolly good advice. I wish we were permitted to keep chickens, but it's not allowed in a suburban, urban garden, I'm sad to say :(

    Our garden is littered with barriers, too - to keep the dogs off non-permitted areas.

    Those freshly laid eggs look so beautiful and tempting and I know they taste better than any bought from a dealer!

    You have a wonderful home and garden, Jeri!

  9. Dear Jerri ~ Thanks for another gem of a story. You have a way of raising spirits and making smiles appear.

    Your posts make one almost feel like we are there with you.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  10. BRAVO!!! CLAP CLAP CLAP!!!! Oh Jeri, your chicken folk are purely entertaining, with the help of the Mistress's writing and story telling skills! I am laughing and enjoying myself here at 7:00am, lovin' every minute of your garden frolics....THE GARDEN FOLLIES!!! Oh dear, Mavis got it right this time..she covered ALL activity, even that of the PEACOCKS and miss BLACK and the scandal...hmph! Will we ever know who the DADDY IS OF HER CHICKS? NEVER! Juicy stuff here dearest, and keep it comin', for spring is near. OH! RUBEN IS IN TENNESSEE THIS WEEKEND with colleagues from his university. Off they go to N. Carolina and other southern states. While I am covered in snow up here, he called me yesterday to report that in Memphis, people were WEED WACKING AND MOWING THEIR LAWNS! When he calls today, I can tell him that the CHICKEN FOLK are weeding as well chez toi!!! HAVE A BLAST, Anita

  11. looking at your photos is like seeing one of your pieces of art come to life! Seems your life and your art are facets of the same tale.

  12. JERI DEAREST!!! Thank you precious one for coming to visit with me! Yes, RUBEN WAS IN MEMPHIS and i think they are on the road to go to N. Carolina today. Iso wish I could have gone with him and taken a detour to your neck of the woods! Take care dearest, life is SOOOOOO PRECIOUS! Enjoy your week with those creatures of yours! Hugs to HAMISH! Anita

  13. I love the sweet picture of the hen with her family on the porch swing. I did not know chickens could be so cheeky.

  14. Dear Jeri,

    Oh, you make me miss my chickens! I just put peas and greens in our garden here the other day, and wondered what was missing. Then it occurred to me that I don't have to put up chicken wire all over the place to keep the seeds from getting scratched up! Free-range sure makes for happier chooks, that's for sure.

    Thanks for sharing your feathered friends with us.



  15. Jeri I do love your stories of all your wonderful critters. So much fun!
    I am also enjoying the art I purchased from you! I had the print framed and it is hanging proudly in my side "friends" entry to our home.
    xx, shell

  16. Greetings Jeri
    Thank you so much for your visit and kind words.. I wish my garden was so full.. This is my minds eye garden.. Mine consists of roses, lavender, candytuff, dahlia's, blue iris and purple statice.. I had a few tulips, key word here is had.. Yes, you cannot blame the bunnies.. I do have a question.. Last summer they mowed the stalks of the lavender down.. Did not eat them, just cut them off.. I found this odd. Would you know why? I so enjoy watching them when they visit, even if they want a snack.
    I just love the photo of plain Jane Black and her chickpeas..It's priceless!

  17. Flossing their little teeth, how funny!

  18. Dear Cousin Jeri,

    Oh, how we love that photograph of Mavis Mudd in her bonnet and collar! What a dear family portrait of the Chicken family on the lovely cushion! How they have grown! We can understand why you shooed them off the porch, though! Tasha Tudor once asked me how I kept the peacocks from scratching up the garden. A peahen that a friend purchased from us was so taken with the wild turkeys that she ran off with them and he never saw her again! We built a huge run for our peafowl to encourage Reuben's wife to stay home where she belonged!

    Your Cousins,
    Diane and daughter Sarah at the Corgyncombe Courant

  19. OT but... I have a request for you, please... Your blog is listed, on Mrs. Staggs Blog List, at "A Happy Miscellany" blog. And she allows no Comments, as you well know.

    But since you are on her blog list, perhaps you have a way to contact her. If so, would you please tell her thank you! for her lovely post about the Japanese people, which she posted today, Wed. I linked to it, as a lovely way to say, what many of us are feeling, at this time of horror....... In regard to continuing our happy blogging.

    Please tell her, thank you, for me.

    Thank you for doing so.

    Gentle hugs...

    P.S. So sorry for the loss of your dear old tree...

  20. My little foundation garden looks a lot like yours, with my handmade wire cloches and jars trying to protect the flowers, only instead of chicken ladies, we have "helpful" bunnies, deer, and some kind of burrowing critter. I LOVE your old garden tool idea!!! :)
    ~ Zuzu

  21. GOOD MORNING MY PRECIOUS FRIEND!!!! HOW ARE YOU? Sooo good to see you come on by with the crowd; the ducks tell me they are lovin' Minneapolis right now. IT IS RAINING and it is gray, but I love it. We are home, tucked in, and enjoying being together. How is your end of the country? Our piles of snow are FINALLY MELTING AWAY and I estimate that about in MAY we shall start seeing flowers!!!! But April, which is just around the corner brings promise. I will be 53, it will be EARTH DAY the day before my BDAY and things start looking green. THANK YOU FOR VISITING TODAY, it is always a great pleasure. And yes, don't we all love Kiera Knightly's gorgeous face?????


    OH! I got new bookcases for my new room. I put all my FAVORITE BOOKS on the first two shelves...your two wonderful books are on the first shelf.....love them.

  22. Wow, I am so happy I stumbled upon your little world!! It's amazing! Beautiful art!
    Great, great, GREAT !! :)))))

  23. Ok, so I plead guilty to eating the flower petals...and I don't even lay eggs to help even the score.

    I laughed all through this posting. YOUR GIRLS are eating my beloved worm friends.


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  24. I guess it's better for the plants to be in cages than than the chickens, so they could look at it that way :) I've heard that chickens are excellent weeders, my friend has 3 and she said they cleaned up her whole back flowerbed. The chickens sure do look pretty with the herbs and plants. How lucky for them to have all that space to roam around.

  25. I'm reading and reading and reading! I love where you live and the many paths and gardens. How clever of you to devise a way to have beautiful flowers and chickens! They do love to scratch. We too live in the woods and I am soaking up your gardening ideas like a sponge!


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