Strange things are afoot in my backyard. And front yard.

First: the weather. The temperature has been dropping here, close to or at freezing some nights. Strange for Portland in April. This evening I was walking through the backyard feeling very lucky that I came up with my raised bed cloche things right when the weather turned sour – hopefully those lettuce, spinach, and collards will keep growing in their toasty enclosure.

I noticed something odd with my China Blue vine though. It had been trucking along with new growth, which was very encouraging, but tonight I noticed it has kind of “wilted”. And some of the leaves have turned black… That is a bit of a mystery to me. Is it diseased? Are my strange neighbors who insist on smoking on that side of the house rather than on their back porch somehow killing it with tobacco fumes? What gives?

I walked along a bit longer and noticed something similar on my lovely hardy kiwis. This makes me pretty sad, as these plants were all doing so great. You never know with transplants if you might lose one or two, but I felt I was past this point and have now become attached. Because the kiwi also looks a bit “wilty” and has some black marks on the leaves, I am assuming this is all cold-weather related. Makes me nervous about what will happen next winter though when the weather is suppose to get this cold. The kiwi will still be sleeping, but the China Blue vine is an evergreen…

Moving onto the next mystery: free-ranging chickens. Nothing is wrong with free-ranging chickens except I didn’t leave the coop door open for them to free-range. Because of their destructive nature they have lost their free-ranging privileges until late Summer or Fall, when all seed planting is done. Jay came home this afternoon for an hour or so and all three girls were roaming around, the coop door wide open.

If this happened the first time, I would think that perhaps one of us left the coop door open, even though it’s completely automatic in our minds to close it behind us. And that is what I thought the first time this happened – a week ago! I came home from running an errand and the girls were out back roaming around, the coop door wide open. Since this has happened now a SECOND time, I am getting suspicious.

My first guess would be the lovely, ill-supervised neighbor kids. I have a love-hate relationship with these rascals. This is why my front yard is designed around making it a “community garden” – I know they will hang out and eat whatever fruits and take home any veggies they find. Some would call that stealing, but since I am deeming this a “community garden” we will call it sharing… Ahem.

When I planted my pea teepee in the backyard, I went ahead and planted one in the front yard as well. The kids were curious and asked what I was doing. I explained. About 24 hours later I looked outside and the teepee had been knocked over. See pathetic knocked over teepee to the left :(

So sure, I am jumping to conclusions. But they know I have chickens. They are hanging outside a lot lately. No one is stealing eggs or futzing with anything else in the backyard. I am just worried they might be tormenting the chickens somehow.

The plan is this. I am going to call the electric company to see when they send the guy out to read our meter. Avoiding the time that guy comes by, since he needs access to the backyard, I am going to place something heavy behind our two gates. If I come home one day and it’s pushed away from the gate, I know someone is coming in our yard.

A little annoying – well, a lot annoying. I really hope I am wrong, but I generally like to think that never happens :)

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