Things are waking up at Horsefeathers Farm

THE OLYMPIANApril 15, 2012 

Greetings from Horsefeathers Farm. It’s been a long wait, but the garden soil is finally dry and warm enough to grow some early spring vegetables.

As I write this column, the weather forecast calls for a glorious spring weekend with highs in the 60s and no rain. If the prediction holds true, I’ll be happily occupied in the garden today, planting spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, lettuce, peas, onions and potatoes.

We’re probably about two weeks behind our normal planting schedule, but there was no reason to rush with the late arrival of spring. As I look around and see the pink currant, Asian pear trees, camellias, primroses, hyacinth and rhododendron in either early or full stages of bloom, I am assured the time is right to get busy in the vegetable garden.

As a warm-up for the first planting of the year, we spent much of last weekend in the perennial garden bed, separating strawberry plants from stubborn clumps of buttercup and liberating the rhubarb and raspberry plants from a carpet of weeds. Same for the five rows of garlic plants, which are thriving in the spring sun and look thankful for the layer of compost I just worked in between the rows.

There are three new possessions sitting in the garage that are connected to the better days ahead. They include:

 • A pressure washer purchased two weeks ago at Costco. It will come in handy as we remove the moss, mildew and winter grime from the driveway, deck, patio and chimney, not to mention the deck furniture that spent the winter in the barn.

 • A glass patio table and four weather-resistant chairs to put out once the deck is cleaned. As the weather warms, we’ll be eating more dinners and Sunday brunches outside. It will be nice to have a table to sit down to, rather than balancing plates of food on our laps.

 • A Troy-bilt rototiller with no more than two hours of operation. It’s a generous, unexpected gift from a golfing buddy of mine, Gary Ratzlaff, who heard me whining last weekend about how my 1980 Troy-bilt rototiller needs a new throttle cable and carburetor overhaul before it will be of any use.

“You need a rototiller?” Ratzlaff asked as we had lunch and a beer after a round of golf. “I have one you can have. It’s only been used about two hours.”

Ratzlaff started to put in a small garden near his Cooper Point home, but gave up after the deer kept eating everything. The rototiller’s just been sitting in his garage, unemployed.

I picked it up last week, tore a pair of blue jeans unloading it at home, read the owner’s manual – it’s the Bronco model with a 5.5-horsepower motor – checked the oil, added some gas to the empty tank and it fired right up on the second pull.

It’s a smaller version of my big old Troy-bilt Horse model, but it works just fine and keeps me moving forward with the garden preparation.

It also buys me more time to get my older rototiller repaired for some of the bigger ground-breaking jobs — think larger garden someday — at the farm.

Paul Donohue of Tenino wrote to the paper this week, announcing that Richard S. Beyer, the sculptor who created “The Kiss” sculpture located on Percival Landing in downtown Olympia, died last week at the age of 87 in New York City.

Also known as “The Kissing Couple” this aluminum cast sculpture with a romantic theme is perhaps Olympia’s most popular and well-known piece of public art.

Installed in 1990, the sculpture was donated to the City of Olympia by POSSCA and helped launch the city’s public arts program.

Beyer, who was Donohue’s brother’s father-in-law, was well-known for his public art here in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States and beyond. Between 1968 and 2006, he created more than 90 sculptures for public display, including “Waiting for the Interurban” in Seattle’s Fremont District.

Here in Olympia, Beyer had a major voice in where “The Kiss” was placed and settled on Percival Landing as a romantic setting, recalled Linda Oestreich, director of the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department.

The sculpture sits at the very southern terminus of Puget Sound. Glance to the north and Budd Inlet, the marinas and the Olympic Mountains come into view. Turn 180 degrees to the south and Heritage Park, Capitol Lake and the Capitol Dome are on display.

It’s an iconic view embellished with an iconic sculpture typical of Beyer’s work.

What Olympia lovers, young and old alike, haven’t kissed next to “The Kiss?” I have.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444

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