I love the rain. And one of the reasons I love the rain is because at some point during the day, when there’s a break in the clouds and we have a brief moment of stillness, I run out to the yard for a quick round of weeding.
It seems that as soon as the days start getting longer, the weeds start emerging en masse, appearing everywhere from the cracks in my patio to the bed of desert plants. They’ll even pop up from the mulch of shredded bark and the river stones that line my walkway. I usually leave them until the garden gets drenched, either from the hose or the heavens.
Weeding is easier when the soil is soft. Even with my heavy clay soil, which often gets compacted, the earth will give a lot more willingly after a good soak. Weeds with long taproots like dandelions and clovers pull away with only the slightest tug. I use my bare hands for this task, as I love to feel the soil between my fingers. There’s also a certain satisfaction that comes from pulling out a whole weed by hand, roots and leaves intact, that you don’t quite feel when you use a weeding tool.
When I weed, I bring out a small “salad bowl”… not for myself, but for my chickens. Almost every single weed freed from the ground goes into this salad bowl, including the flowers and seeds. This time of year, I have a huge amount of dandelions, clovers, and wood sorrel coming up in the garden — three kinds of weeds that are so nutritious, I’ve actually voluntarily planted them in my chickens’ salad bar before.
Wood sorrel (of the genus Oxalis) is a particular favorite of my flock. The plant is often mistaken for clover, or Trifolium (and not to be confused with the completely unrelated sorrels of the genus Rumex), but the leaves have the telltale heart shape with a deep fold down the middle (while the leaves on a clover are round or oblong).
As all the weeds are pulled and chopped and tossed together (sometimes doused with a dressing of yogurt), I can almost sense the ladies salivating down by their coop. (Do chickens salivate the way we do? After all, they do have tongues…)
I can barely set the salad down in front of them before Kimora starts hopping up to knock the bowl out of my hand and Iman goes chasing after the greens that have fallen.
Weeding is among my least favorite chores, but the wide-eyed looks on my chickens’ faces and the excited clucks as they scarf it all down within seconds make kneeling in the mud all the more worthwhile!