I can’t remember the last time it’s been this lush. Certainly not since Miss Red has lived on the farm; this is her first experience with it. Despite the fact the lushness is as tall as she is – or sometimes taller – it doesn’t deter her from her evening roaming ritual. The last hour or so before sunset, we’re sure to spot Miss Red taking one final cruise around the property before heading back to the henhouse for bed.

Look closely. She’s in there.

The entire farm is thickly green, with only the initial smatterings of wildflowers adding their random bursts of neon color.

The wildflowers in our valley pop up much later than most, and we’re the luckier for it. Not only do we admire the flowers when they first appear along roadsides and in friends’ yards, we get a double-dip of enjoyment knowing that when those blooms are closing and going to seed, here at the farm the beauty will have just begun.

In the meantime, though, it’s mostly a whole lot of green. So much green, in fact, it’s become almost as difficult for the humans to traverse the farm as it is for the chickens. We’ll soon be removing the plastic cover from the early tomato hoop house, yet I’m starting to worry a little about being able to get to the hoop house when the time comes.

And lately, when John and I take our Sunday strolls through the farm, in addition to commenting on the speedy growth of the crops, we also stop to flabbergast over the size of the outlying weeds. Like this thistle.

John was over six feet tall when we got married. Thirty-two additional years have probably reduced that by an inch or so (oh my), yet the height of this thistle as compared to the height of Farmer John remains impressive.

Still, as luscious as it is, we needed pathways. There are snakes in them thar hills, and snakes in the valley as well. Incredibly, none of us has come across a rat snake this spring (too lush to see them, I’d guess) but we know they’re here because of some suspicious disappearances of freshly laid eggs in the henhouse. And if there are rat snakes, we know other snakes could also be lurking in the greenery – snakes we’d prefer not to see at all…yet would still rather see coming. We aren’t eager to shake hands (or feet) with the fangs of a hidden rattler.

As evidenced by the lushness that surrounded John’s flail mower…

…it had been a while since any serious mowing had been done. So over the weekend, whenever the opportunity arose, Farmer John cut pathways. It made our human lives just that much easier, and hopefully that much less snaky.

Daisy, however, was unimpressed.

When not pecking around the cars parked along the driveway, visiting us at the salad shed, or taking her dust bath behind the bushes at the front of the house, she’d just as soon relax on the front porch. Pathways don’t much interest her.

Nor do they interest Miss Red.

She’s more of a wild child, I think. While we do hope she never comes beak-to-face with a poisonous snake, we respect her wanderlust. To be truly free, after all, one must recognize that freedom comes with a certain amount of risk. There’s something to be said for taking the road less traveled. And although Miss Red will indeed join Daisy and the other four hens for an afternoon preening party on the front porch, we know that as the sun begins its descent, she’ll begin her evening journey. A journey which leads her, once again, off the beaten path…way.

* * *
Here’s what we’ll be bringing to the farm stand this week:

The first new potatoes! (Red Lasoda now…Yukon Golds beginning next week); more of those delicious garlic scapes; sweet sweet sweet little carrots; bunches of purple beets; Farao cabbage; head lettuces – butterhead, romaine, red leaf & green leaf; lettuce mix; green onions; fresh spring onions; green garlic; young leeks; fennel; bunches of chard; Dinosaur kale; and some of this and that.

Thanks!
Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm

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