I had a wonderful trip to South Korea for two weeks and I am looking forward to sharing some interesting gardening-related photos soon. I got in late Saturday night and woke up bright and early to squawking chickens at around 7:00am. Not exactly the ideal situation for a jet-lagged traveler returning home. Upon bursting into the yard to throw scratch at them in an attempt to quiet the girls, I became completely overwhelmed at the sight of my struggling food forest after two weeks of neglect. (see overgrown yard below)

My husband did what he could. He was diligently working on his first draft of his thesis, wrapping up year two of a five year doctorate program. Despite having that amazingly good reason for not staying on top of the yard, I was so frustrated with the state of things I felt like sobbing! This was no food forest to be proud of. The budding currants from my bushes had disappeared, the grass was knee high with weeds in places, the fig trees leaves were brown and crumpled, the snap and snow peas were bursting at the seams, lettuce was overgrown, cilantro gone to seed, and the girls had been doing some serious damage to my plants and seeds. (picture below shows overgrown weeds, cilantro I had to cut the tops off, and poor transplanted shrub the girls dug up)

Maybe I should have managed my expectations more conservatively, but I was honestly expecting to come home to a lush backyard. I have shoved so many seeds in the ground before I left and kept such a watchful eye on things that I was sure veggies and flowers would be exploding all over. Instead, the chickens had dug up several existing plants to fry in the sun, lovingly transplanted shrubs, and eaten any and ALL seeds they could find in the ground. It was a mess.

While I should have been resting, nurturing my body back to a western lifestyle, I spent a good 2+ hours mowing down the yard with a weed-whacker. I made a trip to Portland Nursery to buy more seeds and at dusk I was still out there putting plants back in the ground and trying to heal the fig tree with a thick layer of manure-filled straw and a long drink of water. Poor, poor fig tree. The goods news is that I did see a branch end with some green on it – so it’s not dead yet!! (picture below shows freshly mowed lawn and cleaned up food forest)

I feel like I am one step away from the jerk-head neighbors behind us complaining about the chickens making such a ruckus in the mornings. But mostly it was the dug up plants and seeds that finally threw me over the edge: no more free-ranging chickens. At least not for awhile. I can’t take it and my yard can’t take it. After luring them into the beautiful coop I built them with some scratch, I latched the door closed and expected to be woken up by angry chickens again at 7:00am – but not a peep this morning! Could I be so lucky that they will just adapt with no complaint? The traveling gods were smiling on me this morning as my aching back slept soundly until my alarm sounded for work.
I still need some more rest, as Seoul is about 8 hours behind Portland. Everytime I lay down to sleep, my body is so confused it thinks we’re just napping and wakes up a couple hours later. But I have some really great pictures to share so expect more from me soon!
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Written by Renee Wilkinson