Fragments From…15 June 11

â–¶ We have had a blessed (or cursed, depending on point of view) event here: we have four young hens obtained from our neighbors now living with us in the posh accommodations provided for their predecessors. It will be a couple of months before they begin earning their keep with those golden eggs they eventually will deposit among their other leavings in the coop. Okay, black snakes, hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, and feral dogs: dinner is served.

â–¶ The logging continues into its fourth month now, and my peace is most definitely disturbed. And they’ve not even begun to ravage the land-owner’s land that borders ours on THIS side of the road. Note I intentionally avoided using the word neighbor, as that relationship has failed to emerge, and I am sorry to say I no longer expect it.

â–¶ We have been enjoying wild edibles lately, including purslane, lamb’s quarters and oxalis gleanings from garden weeds. Also, if you haven’t done so, you should sample day lily buds–especially the feral yellow and orange ones. They are tender and delicious raw; I’m going to butter and salt some tonight like you would asparagus.

â–¶ After a wetter-than-normal early spring, late spring has been dry for us, while other nearby parts of the county have had an abundance. So yesterday, I hooked up a new lawn-and-garden battery to my little pump, and began pulling water from the creek, across the road to the garden and storage containers. It’s still some work, but it’s far easier than hauling 5-gallon buckets.

â–¶ My mom’s six-month-old iPad screen just went green where it should be white. Anybody run across this issue before? Still under one year warranty, but a replacement will require she (read her son) reinstall about 30 apps. She’s been very pleased with the iPad, and if others think their 80-plus parent can’t operate one, you might want to think again.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Hi Fred, I was perusing the Tractor Supply add today and saw they had a “reasonably” priced solar fence charger. Have you ever thought about a solar upgrade to your tractor battery rig?

  2. Good deal on the hens…happy day! We still have three, and getting about a dozen eggs a week. I think they slow down when it gets so hot…we’ve been in the mid and upper nineties for about three weeks now. You mentioned their predecessors and dinner time, so, I take it you lost a flock. It’s a terrible thing, happened to us, too. Now I’ve covered the run with fencing. No more killings, I let them free range when I can…week ends and times I’m around. Then they go roost at night and I just shut the gate behind them, or before I go in for the night. I don’t remeember if I mentioned it before, check out