Got six bales of mulch hay today, a kind of vegetable duvet that I plan to apportion to various living beings around here, i to make their winter more comfortable.
A couple of bales will go around the feet of the climbing roses I planted last summer against the chicken-shed wall. Climbing roses are supposed to be tough. But this will be my roses\’ first winter, and their name, \”New Dawn,\” makes them sound so young and fragile that I\’m going to give them a nice thick mulch this year.
I will also mulch the seven lavender bushes growing against the stone wall in front of the house. Not only did they survive last winter, but they produced an amazing crop of blossoms right through the middle of November. Some of their flowers, which I picked and dried in early summer, are now inside the scented \”eye pillow\” that helps me go to sleep at night.
I believe that the lavender\’s survival was due not only to the warmth of the sun that the stone wall captured and retained, but to the excellent snow cover we got last winter. Unfortunately, since thanks to global warming, even in Vermont we can\’t count on heavy snows, my lavender bushes will need hay to protect them if the snow is scarce.
Most of the hay, however, will go to the chickens. Now that the goats are gone, my six hens have almost 130 square feet of coop space. While that guarantees against the evils of overcrowding–hysteria, depression, and cannibalism–six birds hardly generate enough heat to warm up that much space.
The answer is a nice, deep, dry, crunchy bed of hay. Something they can scratch around in, peck at, poop on. Something to keep their skinny chicken feet away from that freezing-cold plywood floor. Something to spread on the garden next spring.
And something to keep me, as I snuggle under my duvet at night, from fretting about my six girls while the wind howls outside.