Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Time with the Family

We spent our time this past week getting ready for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and then shot right into getting ready for Christmas.  Both Daughter Number 1 and Daughter Number 2 spent the extended weekend back at home.  The time together was priceless.  It was the first time Daughter Number 2 had been out to the Compound in a year, and there were many changes.  Besides seeing the Hooligans, and all their craziness, spending some quiet time on the new deck was a needed respite.

The Moose got a different truck, so now Miss Izzy is blocked from the front, and is getting lazy in her old age.  So lazy in fact, she is resting her head as she stands on the back seat.

I received my Top Bar Bee Hive, and it looks fantastic.  Great craftsmanship.  I hope to get my bees ordered this week or the next.  I'll try to get photos for you, as we begin setting it up.

Our strawberry plants have started to blossom.  I'm hoping for a good return on the investment this year.

The Hooligans are in for a surprise this week, we'll have our lowest temperatures this year.  Down in the lower 40's at night and not getting out of the upper 60's, for a few days.

Finally, the water level in the canal seems to be subsiding.  Folks north of us, yes north, as the St. Johns River flows south to north, are still dealing with some flooding. 

We'll be back to normal next weekend, laying out another load of mulch.  Unless of course, the Moose comes up with another project or two...

Have a good week!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to Eden Central Florida - 3

We spent this past Saturday working on the mulch for the garden.  We finished offloading our 3rd trailer load, adding where it seemed it needed more.  We also took a look at the mulch previously laid down on October 29th, and to our surprise, it is already turning.  In this photo you can see how it is turning black, and breaking down.  What you can't see is how moist the mulch and soil are underneath.  This area received about 2 inches of water, the day it was installed, and very little if nothing since.

The other area planted a week later, is also showing signs of turning, however it is not as far along.  It has received little if anything for rain.

Other observations:  weed pulling has never been easier.  We only had a handful of weeds, and they came up really easy.   We had a lot of mushrooms growing in random locations throughout the garden.  I believe this is a good sign, as they will not grow if they don't have a moist, composted area.  They did shrivel up when the sun came out.

On another note.  We are getting the other areas of our garden ready for mulch.  We picked up our 4th trailer load, so we're ready for next weekend.  We had to remove the black vinyl material we had laid out, to help keep weeds down.  We found some unwanted guests living under the vinyl, and Miss Izzy had a blast eliminating 6 small rats.  She's a terrier mix, and loves hunting those disgusting, vile creatures.  She's sleeping off yesterday's fun, today.  Boy did she have a blast!  She has waited her whole life for a day like Saturday....

The Hooligans are doing great.  No more missing or broken eggs, so that's a positive.  Have a great week everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Start of Something Sweet

I ordered most of my backyard bee supplies this week;  Top Bar Hive, tools and suit.  I look forward to them coming in.  I've ordered items from:

I'm getting nothing in return from them, nor is this an endorsement at this time.  Once the items I've ordered are in, and I can review for quality, I'll let you know.  I will say,  both have followed up within 24 hours to let me know they have received and are working to fill my orders.  So far, so good.

I have yet to order my bees, and a honey extractor.  Although, I think I can probably handle doing the extracting on my own, since I'm only working with one hive at this point.  Bees should be ordered within the next week or so, and delivered next spring.  Plenty of time to get everything set up, books re-read, and how-to videos re-watched.  I'm looking forward to it.

I find myself watching the honey bees busily gathering pollen from my roses, and the wild flowers in the area.  I know the bee in the below picture is not a honey bee.  But would you have really noticed?  Call me crazy, but I notice these types of things now. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Security for the Hooligans UPDATE

It worked!  It's really nice when your efforts pay off!  We collected 13 eggs for two days of laying, and not a one was broken, cracked, or chipped!  It's been a long time since we had this many eggs in so few days. 

We are however, re-evaluating the necessity for either/both roosters.  We really wanted Mother Nature to take care of things for us.   But having to constantly be on the lookout and ready to defend yourself against not one, but two roosters is taking it's toll.   They even attack when you are feeding them treats.  Go figure...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Security for the Hooligans

Hopefully it'll work!  We put chicken wire around the top two thirds of the chicken run.  We have a guess that maybe it was a weasel or mink getting into the coop and eating the eggs.  It took most of Saturday to get it all put into place. We stapled the top of the wire to the existing frame, and zip tied the bottom sections together.  If I see another zip tie, it will be TOO soon!  My fingertips are so sore, I'm through typing..

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nothing is at it Seems even Honey

Yet another fraud committed on the American people.  Even honey might not be honey anymore.  Below is the link to the article.  Isn't it enough our bee population suffers year after year due to systemic pesticides, which our FDA and EPA do nothing about, but now we have to deal with honey from China?

I've been researching honey bees for a bit now, and am more determined to get my backyard bees, so I know where my food comes from.  I'll no longer support Walgreens, CVS or Rite Aid.  There has to come a time when we stand up for something.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Need Your Help - Chicken Eggs Destroyed or Eaten by????

What we thought was egg eating chickens, now looks like it might be something else.  Please let me know your thoughts, as we're not totally convinced it's rats either, but the jury is still out.  Could it be something else?  Weasels? We collected eggs today, and had a better number of viable eggs than in days past.   We usually find eggs every couple of days broken and the insides gone.  They looked to be rolled out of the nesting boxes.  Remaining shells have been found in the coop and in the chicken run.  Our chickens no longer sleep in their coop, they sleep outside on top of the house.

We added the oyster shell supplement to their diet to help strengthen their shells, about 2 weeks ago.  They are eating it and we have had a lower rate of destroyed eggs. 

Here's the conundrum;  two of the eggs we found today have what look like canine teeth bite marks.  The crazy part, is between the two eggs there are a total of 6 bites, and each of them measures the same 3/4" width.  Could this still be a coincidence and random chicken pecks?  I have a hard time believing it, but need someone with more experience to let me know if they've seen anything like this before.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to Eden Central Florida - 2

Welcome new Followers!
We were fortunate this weekend to have stupendous weather.  70's and a nice breeze.  We were actually able to get two loads of mulch from the landfill on Saturday.  We offloaded the first load on our fruit trees, blueberries and roses. 

The rest of the first load and three fourths of the second load went into the garden, and finished the areas we were unable to complete last weekend.  We still have two large sections to fill and expect to need another 2-3 loads of mulch to finish.

  1. We were recipients of a couple of inches of rain this past week.  While the mulch was dry to the touch on top, it was as described by Paul in the BtE film, wet underneath down to the soil level.
  2. The mulch does settle down.  At first it seems very messy.  But with a little rain and some walking it makes a nice surface to work on.  No more mud! 
  3. As long as it's thick enough, weeds have trouble gaining ground.  In the past, we would spend hours weeding, only to return the next week and have to start over again.  We were totally weed free in the area we mulched last weekend.  

For those that follow along with the Compound, we had a typical weekend.  Mowed the yard, and took care of the Hooligans.  We spent the night Saturday, so we could observe the Hooligans and their home at night.  Yes, it seems we have rats.  Yuck!  That is likely what is eating the eggs.  So much of a problem it appears that the Hooligan's have moved out from their coop at night to sleeping on top of the coop.  Frankly, I hope this is my problem.  I can deal with this.  I didn't want to deal with having to cull my chickens that were eating eggs.  They're part of the family, and I would not be happy parting with any of them.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, that this is in fact the problem.

We're heading to a store to buy supplies to close up the top two thirds of their coop fencing, so they can not enter.  It's more expense, but if this takes care of the egg eating problem, and lets the Hooligans sleep better at night, than it's worth every penny.

Lucy, came in contact with either a raccoon or an opposum.  Her waddle was ripped off the side of her little head and a pile of feathers was found outside the coop, near their roosts.  She didn't look to be feeling very well either.  We'll be keeping an eye on her.  She doesn't have a healthy disposition to begin with, but she's a charmer, so we put up with it. 

We are however, losing patience with Monkey.  He went after the Moose again this weekend.  Monkey's running out of time.  If he wasn't such a good "watch dog" over some of the girls, he would be gone already.

The Moose went and picked up some hay, and bedding on Saturday.  As soon as he put down the back gate to the trailer, the Hooligans couldn't wait to investigate.  They even went for a short hayride.

Thanks for the comments, and following along with this crazy blog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spreading the Word

We had an electrician come to the house this week, and it turns out he teaches gardening classes at a local nursery.  My buckets of compost gave me away.  We started discussing his upcoming earth box class, and I asked him if he ever heard of the Back to Eden Film.  Well, nearly 4 hours later, I finally had my new outlet installed, but  the amount of information exchange was awesome!  I passed along the website address, and he was heading home after his last job to take a look.

Thanks to the folks at Back to Eden for your willingness to pass this along at no charge, so millions of us can use the information.  We're off tomorrow for our second load of mulch.  We'll keep you updated.