Abigail Higgins is a wealth of information. She always has an answer for my garden questions. Recently I rang her concerning dahlias. Mine had experienced a light freeze. They had not blackened but were, nonetheless, finished. I was unsure as to when I should dig them for winter storage. She said I could wait a good two weeks to allow nutrients to transfer down into the tubers. What a welcome relief! I am much too busy to tackle that task at the moment.

My flower garden has hit and miss areas of frost damage. The zinnias and cosmos are toast, but the old-fashioned climbing petunias are still great. Alyssum and bacopa are happily blooming away with no damage to the leaves.

I purchased a couple of winter berries a couple of years ago. They are covered with berries finally, or should I say, were covered. Recently I noticed several of my laying hens jumping up and down. Upon a closer look, I realized they were eating the berries which were about two feet off the ground. I debated whether to be irritated or amazed. Luckily, I chose the latter. Wild birds would get them anyway and it was downright comical to see them popping up and down.

I’ve been busy getting winter rye planted. I avoid using machinery in my garden so I pretty much rough up the beds with a long-handled scratcher and throw down the seeds. In the spring, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious I’ll turn it into the soil or most likely, toss some mulch hay on top of it and call it a day. Later in the planting season I can cozy some transplants into the hay. I’m a big fan of the Ruth Stout no work method.

I will say that I’m jealous of the Morning Glory Farm’s field off Slough Cove Road. The newly emerging winter rye shoots are perfectly seeded in little rows. There is something to say about garden tractors.

Marie gave me an article she found in Popular Science concerning purple loosestrife. It seems the invasive species, introduced on the East Coast 50 years ago, has continued to evolve to better reproduce in it’s new environment. I’m sure you have noticed it along highways in the late spring. It is beautiful but soon crowds out native species. It’s cousin, gooseneck loosestrife, is the worst. I planted some years ago and am still ripping it out in huge swaths.

Violet and I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at a pig roast Rebecca Gilbert and Randy Ben David hosted at the Native Earth Teaching Farm. It was cool, crisp and sunny. We sat near a fire pit warming our toes. Since it was potluck we had a wide array of side dishes to go along with completely yummy pork. Randy had built an underground stone-lined “oven.” The meat was covered with a metal plate and buried under dirt. We’re talking hours of baking.

It was perfectly done since it roasted with no oxygen, which would cause the fire to flame up and burn portions of the meat.

Pig roasts I have attended in the past involved the animal skewered on a spit. That method requires constant attention.

Rebecca and I wandered about the property. I admired the various animal pens and their inhabitants. I was interested in her plants grown for natural dyes. The woman is a genius. Plan a visit sometime. It is time well spent.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed new regulations on pet food and farm animal feed for the first time. This proposal is six years after the pet food recall resulting from a Chinese producer contaminated dog and cat food with melamine. At that time there was a food safety bill over imported foods. This new proposal offers more details about pet food safety and includes farm animal food.

We should be concerned about the quality of farm animal feed if we buy meat or eggs. Time to write your representative. There are about 83 million dogs and 95 million cats in the U.S.

This proposal does not, sadly, address the overuse of antibiotics in food animals. This practice is contributing to dangerous levels of antibiotic resistance in humans.

One can only hope that Congress could act in a grown-up manner and at least agree on this new proposal.