Our house isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

Back in 1996, when we met with an architect to plan the structure, we told him we’d like to position the house amongst the trees along the hillside.

A tree survey was done; drawings were prepared. The architect nicknamed our future home “The Treehouse” and it looked dreamy, all curves and radiuses sitting on stilts 20 feet tall in the front. We were thrilled with the idea of it.

Then we found out how much it was going to cost.

We were paying cash for the house, you see. We knew we’d be farming this land and would no longer have a steady, reliable income with which to make monthly mortgage payments. We’d decided early on to go into this venture debt-free…and our budget didn’t allow for a lavish treehouse (despite the architect’s assurance that it would). Dejected and more than a little depressed, we shelved the house plans. Literally. We put them on a shelf in a remote closet where they remained, collecting dust, for an entire year.

Finally, enough was enough and John pulled the plans back out. By squaring off all those extravagant radiuses and re-situating the house at the other side of the driveway where the ground was relatively flat and slab-worthy (Goodbye majestic stilts!), we were able to whittle away expense after expense after expense and turn it into a house we could actually afford. Building began in the spring of ’98 and we moved into our new home that November.

On the front porch of the house is an old ceramic crock that I attempted to use as a big flower pot shortly after we were settled in.

It never worked well. The thing doesn’t drain sufficiently, and after a few failed attempts I gave up my porch beautification efforts. The crock sits there to this day, full of dried out potting soil. We don’t even see it, really. You know how it is with something that’s been in the same spot a long time — it almost becomes invisible.

Until hens find it.

Miss Wattles has a real affinity for the crock, even if only to stand on its rim. Occasionally she’ll nestle down in it, but her visits tend to be brief. When one of the Maran Sisters discovered the crock, however, she was immediately smitten and wanted inside something fierce. After a mutually stubborn discussion with Miss Wattles,

Miss Maran won out.

If only her victory could have gone without a hitch. John and I felt sure her intent was to lay her egg in the crock, a process that normally takes only a half hour or so, yet poor Miss Maran was beset with interruption after interruption.

I mean, really, how’s a girl supposed to concentrate on the task at hand with a farmer walking in and out the front door?

Laying an egg is a delicate matter, after all, one that calls for privacy. And while Farmer John did concede to Miss Maran and started using the back door instead, the hens weren’t nearly so considerate. In fact, at one point, mayhem ensued.

It must have been utter bedlam. I wasn’t witness to the entire scuffle, but somehow Blondie dethroned Miss Maran during the chaos. Fortunately, the attempted overthrow was short-lived (notice how off-balance Blondie looks) and Miss Maran was able to return to her coveted spot.

There was no mistaking, though, how upset she was with this turn of events, a fact she made loud and clear as she reassumed her position.

By this time, hours had passed since Miss Maran had first won the right to the crock. I’d long given up hope that an egg might be forthcoming, and thought perhaps all along her insistence on sitting inside this thing was purely for show. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It just goes to prove that a little persistence pays off. Miss Maran’s egg is like our house: It might have taken a whole lot longer to get here than it should have, but the end result is all that really matters.

* * *

For Wednesday’s farm stand, we’re bringing:

New potatoes! (Yukon Golds and Red LaSoda); wild blackberries (the nice fellow who gathers them for us says they’re the biggest and sweetest ever!); three varieties of squash (zucchini, Zephyr and yellow); lettuce mix (head lettuces will return next week); Euro salad mix; arugula; sweet Yellow Granax spring onions; bunches of chard; bunches of purple beets and golden beets; more gorgeous fennel; and bunches of cilantro.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)