Simplify & Amplify: A New(ish) Direction for 8 Point Farm

This year the goal for the garden (and all else, really) is to simplify arrangements while amplifying what we already have in place. It’s a difficult challenge, but basically we want to balance our desire for beauty with space considerations and the frustrating realities of plant behaviors — what they do in strong winds, for example, or when they seek out the sun (thus crowding out a walkway).

So the new mantra around here: Simplify and amplify!

We’ve expanded natural grassy areas (easy to mow) by chipping away at some walkways and planting areas, reducing bed sizes and opting for perennials instead of annuals so we’re not digging out bulbs every fall to replant in the spring. Some of the taller perennials will help with weed control, as well, which is a must to ease the maintenance burden.

It’s just the two of us now, and we and the chickens are not so “spring” anymore. So we’re excited to be working with more focus and direction, reducing the canvas somewhat but amping up what we do in our dedicated spaces. 

Stay tuned! Future posts and pics will detail the ongoing work of simplifying and amplifying. For now, an action shot of today’s busy workspace (sometimes dining table) as Ruby coordinates seed orders and maps out the different beds.

 

The Bunting Conspiracy?

Finding one dead Indigo Bunting on the porch was strange enough. But the very next day we found another — in the exact same spot. Both male.

Premise for a Stephen King novel? Maybe not… read on.

The day two experience got even more interesting when we heard some chirping nearby. We rattled a chair and a bird flew out — female Bunting, the dead male’s partner, loyal to the end. So sad.

Confusing woodsy reflections for the real thing, birds slam head first into our windows all the time. Some recover, some don’t. Both of these Buntings clearly didn’t recover. But why this out-of-the-way window, under the low porch ceiling? And why two in a row?

Buntings are bashful birds. I’m always thrilled to spot one because I see so few. With mixed feelings I carried them off to yard’s edge, studying their gorgeous indigo-black feathers up close before tossing the shiny limp carcasses into the woods.

Bye bye Buntings.

And then, late afternoon on day two, mystery solved — spotted a male (very much alive) in the high grass just off the porch, plucking seeds from the puffy spikes. For some reason our local Buntings favor this small swath of grass. And sadly they see in this particular window’s reflection a shortcut back to the north woods.

We took a look ourselves, and sure enough, with the window opened to a certain angle, the route does look rather appealing. Too bad it’s just a reflection!

So now we’re keeping that window either closed tight or open all the way, thus changing the angle, frustrating that deadly illusion.

And so far, no more dead birds.

Raccoon Defense?

A big raccoon tried and failed to break through the netting on top. We chased it away and then, inspired, came up with a recipe on the spot. We have no idea if it will work as a deterrent. Only time will tell, but if Mr. Raccoon and/or his friends want to come back and scale the coop again, they’ll have to wade through a blended cocktail of:

  • Cayenne pepper (maybe half a cup)
  • Red hot chile peppers (about a cup)
  • Sesame oil (about a cup)
  • Tea tree oil (quarter ounce)
  • Water to dilute to the consistency of paint

You can imagine how bad it smells. Maybe the odor alone will keep them away.