Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Planting Tulips with Violet

Violet helps sort bulbs for planting.
The last of my bulbs—tulips, allium, and crocus—arrived today, and not a moment too soon. This morning, I could see gray, heavy-laden clouds rolling across the mountains. We’re anticipating about 5 to 8 inches of snow, just as last week’s snow has mostly disappeared, leaving trees looking battered and bare.
            I hurried to get some work done in the morning so I could get outside before the weather blew in. Hard to believe it was 70 yesterday. I looked at the thermometer, which read around 40.
            As I let the hens out of their run, I noticed Paprika and Marigold were both sitting side by side in the same nesting box. Why they have to use the same box, when there are two other boxes, is something only a chicken brain understands.
            Everyone else ran past me in a big hurry. I was late letting them out. No time to say hello/goodbye we’re late, we’re late, we’re late. The thought popped into my mind as they bustled past me, and I tried to place it. Was it the white rabbit, in Alice in Wonderland? Were there chickens in Wonderland?
            My plan was to dig up one bed completely, setting the top 5 inches of soil in the wheelbarrow. I’d lay down bonemeal, then place the bulbs in strategically, and then cover everything back up.
            I was not figuring in the chicken factor when I made this plan.
            As soon as I started digging, Violet was practically on top of my shovel. So I let her dig around and went to a different part of the bed. She hurried over to where I was and started digging where I was digging.
            We continued this way for a while, in each others’ way. Then I went over to the patio table to figure out how to layout the bed. Five seconds later, Violet was perching next to me on a chair, then on the table investigating my Chai tea (steadily growing cold) and my bulbs. She began moving them around with her beak, which wasn’t particularly helpful when I was trying to keep them grouped by type. She pecked the allium bulbs and I shooed her. I received an indignant cluck.
            As I began to carry bulbs to the bed, Paprika had attempted to horn in on Violet’s worm supply. Violet bossily chased her away, making Paprika squawk and flatten out apologetically. Violet, satisfied and imperious, returned to her work, which was mostly moving the bulbs I’d placed out of the way so she could get to worms.
            I have a feeling that next spring, the bulbs will not bloom nearly as organized as I thought I planted them. I carefully covered them with soil, then a layer of leaves for mulch. I used the broom the brush the leaves off the edging and tidy up.
            Then I stood back to admire how the bed looked all tucked in for winter. Violet was not thinking along the same lines, hopped into the bed, and began scratching the leaves away to get to the newly raked soil. “Who put these blasted leaves in the way?!” she seemed to say.

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