fall tropical

We've had a couple frosts here, so the big plants in the garden are pretty much done. The funny thing is that the very late stages of our growing season are the best time for harvesting warm climate crops like hot peppers and tomatillos. Not that they like the cold weather—they just need a long growing season to really get going, and now after three or four months they're finally hitting their stride, just in time to be killed by the cold weather. Oh well. It means that garden cleanup in October brings in a big pile of tropical Mexican produce!

brief riverine excursion

Harvey and Zion posing in front of the Old North Bridge

old north boys

We took a quick trip yesterday to the Old North Bridge.

the boys climbing on rocks by the river

mostly sure-footed

Even though the weather was in the process of turning colder, the water was an irresistible attraction for the boys. Sadly it was a little too deep to wade all the way under the bridge. While we big boys played, Mama and Lijah got some much-needed resting in, in recovery from a night of disputing nursing frequencies (and in preparation for another such).

Mama lying down by the river with Lijah sleeping on her stomach

restful

There was some disagreeable behavior leaving home, and more as we headed back to the car, but the hour we were at the riverbank was an entirely pleasant time: just what we needed!

Zion, with his hood up, smiling at the camera

good times

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this moment

Harvey and Zion picnicking on their tree house platform

new tree house? picnic!

A (belated) moment from the week.

this year's Honk!

the boys watching the parade, band in background

leftists on parade

This past Sunday we headed into the urban jungle for another year's edition of the Honk! parade. We got there plenty early—by design, because for the boys the wonderful playground on Cambridge Common is as much of a draw as the music and anarchy. And they made the most of it, playing so independently that I didn't even manage to take a good picture: they were too far away! Of course, the parade was awesome too.

tall bikes in the Honk! parade

typical extravagance

Besides the bands there were puppets, protest groups, adults and kids on stilts, and of course tall bikes. It was everything a parade should be, and totally unlike the Bedford Day parade, which is also everything a parade should be. (That statement could stand to be examined further in another blog post.) Actually, there were a couple commonalities: both parades have a big kid component, and new this year Honk had a unit throwing out candy. Just a bit, but it was enough to cement the boys' understanding that all parades everywhere should give them candy.

After the parade we headed into Harvard Square, where we had lunch with some friends sitting on the thin end of the traffic island splitting the two lanes of Mass Ave in front of Harvard Yard. Car-free streets are great! Of course, while they were car-free the streets were totally and all-encompassingly choked with people, so Leah was quickly overwhelmed; and, truth be told, it was even a little bit much for me. But I wanted to take more music, and so, surprisingly, did Zion. And since he could go on my shoulders he was the only one of us who could actually see the musicians the first couple bands we found.

members of the New Creation Brass Band playing

pizza party

There are a lot of fun and interesting bands involved in the festival, but I wanted to hear some real good music so I was happy to find the New Creation band playing an un-advertized set on the sidewalk. The boys and I were even able to find a spot where we could see, and we happily enjoyed a couple great examples of modern New Orleans brass band music. Leah indulged us and waited patiently. I could have sat there listing for as long as the band kept playing, but let no one say I lack consideration entirely! I also found a back way out of the festival throng so we didn't have to struggle through the crowd again, and a quiet bathroom in a Harvard library (though Zion preferred to pee outside, on the library's bushes), so I'm not totally useless as a provider either.

All in all it was an experience, and we're already looking forward to doing it again next year! Just maybe slightly differently.

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little farming victories

It's hard being a pretend farmer these days, what with having a baby and a real job or two. And then there's the homeschooling, and cleaning and cooking, and our busy schedule of socializing.... Suffice it to say that I don't get to spend as much time on farm work than I'd like to. Still, there are small victories. We grew a test crop of potatoes this year, and digging them up was so gratifying: there were actual potatoes there in the dirt! I made jam from things we grew, and preserved some tomatoes, and froze salsa verde and basil pesto. I'm working on reclaiming the strawberry beds from weeds so we'll have a chance at more than a handful of strawberries next year. And, we have four more chickens that aren't really chicks any more. And they're doing fine!

While we haven't written much about them, they've certainly been a factor in our lives since we got them as day-old chicks in the middle of August. They lived in their brooder in our kitchen for a solid month, and then I started getting them used to the outdoors—first in a fenced area of their own, and then eventually with their aunts/overloads, the three surviving older hens. When I got tired of bringing them in every night they started sleeping with the big hens, too.

Well, not exactly with them. See, big hens aren't always—ever—very nice to smaller hens, and they never let the little ones come near them without giving them a peck on the head or two. Actually, that understates the case: they never see or think about the little ones without going over to them to give them a peck or two. You may have heard of the "pecking order"? It's a thing. The little hens are very fast and the big hens are lazy and not really committed to the persecution, but I didn't want the chicks to have to run away all the time, so I built them a little shelter in the corner of the run big enough for them to hide in but too small for their giant tormentors. It was just the thing, and they liked it so much that, when they found themselves left outside when dark fell, they took to sleeping in it. Or more often on it.

Which was fine when the weather was warm, but I didn't want the little things to suffer in the cold, so this past weekend—with forecast overnight temperatures near freezing—I went out each night and lifted them one by one up into the henhouse. Since chickens don't like to move much when it's dark I figured they'd stay there (though of course I didn't go back out to check—see the beginning of this post). I kept at it even when the weather turned bizarrely warm again, with the idea that I could teach them the henhouse was as a much a home for them as it was for the big hens. And it worked! After just four nights of moving them, I went out this evening and found the little shelter empty, and the four hens cuddled together on the floor in the corner of the henhouse.

Sure, they're not up on the roost yet, but now that they're in the building I'm sure they'll figure it out for themselves when they get a little bigger. And I'm also sure that they'll survive the winter fine, and that we can expect our first eggs from them in February or so. And I have no doubt that, come spring, they'll be getting a peck or two of their own on the older hens, who by that point won't be "big" any longer! That feels like we're doing something right.

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