There are sunflowers out my window. Not because I am a sunflower farmer, but simply because I planted hostas beneath my birdfeeder.
You see, the resident chickens really like to scratch there under that feeder in the spring, for no matter how many birds we have, even of the ground-feeding junco variety, the intended beneficiaries of our winter feeders leave some delicacies behind, and the chickens are more than happy to oblige in the clean-up business.
The poor hostas we planted right there at the base of the feeder have had an uphill battle to fight.
Last year, after their transplanting and before our wising up, was even worse. You can imagine the warzone that they attempted to thrive in. Trammeled and trampled, quite literally beaten into the earth by the talons of a million hens. One might have witnessed the sight and reported us for perennial abuse.
So where do the sunflowers come in?
Well, before releasing the hounds this year–upon sufficient snowmelt that they would dare to venture out of their coop–we erected a small chickenwire fence around the feeder and its underground hosta potentials.
Aside: These were frustrated chickens. They could see the discarded, yet still viable sunflower seeds in there. They could smell them. They just couldn’t get to them. I did come home one afternoon to find a blinking hen entangled in the wire in such a way that I had to question even her small-brained motivations, but beyond this breach, the chickenwire did its job.
We took the fence down once those hosta babies were looking tough enough to hold their own against the mobs of wild jungle fowl. They have survived, but their rightly-mustered trepidation left them a bit stunted.
The happy happenstance of it all is that some of those sunflower seeds—eleven, should you be a bean-counter—had enough time to germinate and take hold in the confines of our temporary hosta preserve.
Along with some thriving specimens of stretchyweed, the sunflowers fill in the gaps in the weakling hostas, and we now have a gorgeous crop of sunshine outside the window, even on a humid, dreary day such as this. This fall, the birds will pick them clean in an effort to convince us that it is time we begin feeding them for the winter. We will acquiesce, and will look forward to next year’s patch of golden sun in the midst of our verdant chickenyard.
Here’s to sunshine, in all its forms,