Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hogs Going Wild!

Let me start first, by saying THANKS to those of you who follow this crazy blog!  I appreciate the comments, and welcome the feedback.

It's official.  We have hogs!  Take a look at the mess they created in our yard over the past couple of days.

There were hundreds of holes, in various locations of the yard, some extremely deep.  Yes, they even got close to the hog pen Padre and the Moose built.  We took the time to fill the holes in otherwise, either us, Miss Izzy or the Hooligans had a potential to really hurt themselves.  Do you remember the scene in Pretty Women? (O.K. I know there are guys out there that may have not watched this chick flick, but ask your wife or daughter, they'll confirm) Where they go to the Polo match, and have to fill in the divots.  That was my life for a couple of hours, minus the nice dress and shoes, and plus a shovel and trailer load of dirt!

The Moose spent the better part of the late morning mowing the picker forest. 
I spent my time planting pepper plants, some additional pear tomatoes, lettuce, and beans.  I'm trying to add a little at a time, so I have a continuous supply of fresh veggies for weeks on end.

Last week the Moose and Miss Izzy cleared out a couple of rat nests that were located under the storage container in the chicken run.  Let me just say GROSS!  In the process, he had to fill in what they removed for their nests, and it left the storage container unlevel, so the doors did not shut properly.  The Moose noticed it earlier in the week, when he came out to feed and care for the Hooligans.  He left the doors open, so I could see what they created in our absence, as he knew I'd get a kick out of what they did.

And Lucy has some splaining to do!  I guess we had some bugs on the windshield.

We also had to clean up the yard, from the quick storm that came through earlier in the week.  Plenty of kindling.

We left feeling like things have been put back in order.  Although the destruction from the hogs took a toll on our plans for the day, we did pretty good crossing things off of our "to do" list.   There's always another Saturday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Riot over Nike Shoes in Orlando

I thought Angry Birds being the number 1 app was crazy.  That was until I got up this morning and watched the local news.  Seems we had a riot at our local Foot Locker store over some Nike shoes.  Law enforcement had to break out the riot gear and horses last night to control the crowds.   Just what I have time to do;  wait outside a store since 8 a.m. yesterday, for a chance at midnight for some shoes.  I'd rather be home playing Angry Birds!

"Stupid is as stupid does", and "you can't fix stupid"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Angry Birds - really?

OK, I heard on the news this morning, that the number one APP for 2011 was Angry Birds.  Really?   Before I rant;  I too am guilty. I agree the game is fun, has a cute design/concept and a great time killer for those occasions when you can't stand to watch the news any longer, or your head will pop off, refuse to watch fake reality T.V., your eyes won't focus on another word in the book you're reading, or your hands are tired from knitting.  Is this what we've come to because we're tired of everything else? 

What does that say about the things around us?   What does it say about us?  Are the adults (face it people, it can't be the #1 APP without us full grown adults buying it) now becoming like the children society has sat down in front of the boob tube to watch mindless T.V. or play video games for the past couple of decades?  What are your thoughts?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Puppies Peppers and Pics

It was not our normal routine this weekend. Daughter #2 came home, with her boyfriend and puppy Winston. 

We spent Saturday helping my Sister in-law build an outdoor screen room, which went very quickly since we had all hands on deck;  The Moose, BF, Padre' and the Brother in-law all kicked in, and in around an hour, had it up. We girls headed to the chocolate factory, and picked up pizza for lunch.  We then celebrated D2's 22nd Bday.  Granny made this awesome cake!

We spent the remainder of the day at the Compound.  The garden looks good, and it seems that the tomato plants I was worried about are coming back to life.  I hope to get back to planting some additional veggies next weekend, including these pepper plants.

I also need to spend part of next weekend mowing the jungle that now resides on part of the property. 

Here are a couple of cool pics I took;

Friday, February 17, 2012

Home Economics - Knitting

D1 (daughter #1) and I took a Knitting 101 class at our local Jo-Ann store.  This is part of my "to do" list for this year;  sew, knit, canning, etc.  We both enjoyed the time together, and had a few laughs at our sorry excuse for knitting.  We learned the basic casting on, knitting, purl and casting off stitches.  At the end, mine looked like a very bad bookmark!  I've been practicing in my spare time, and made D2 a pea green coaster.  Just one coaster.  Pea green because that's the color yarn they gave us for class.  I enjoyed this enough to want to take additional classes, so that's a plus.

I've also continued to practice my sewing skills.  I've made two pillows.

Won't my family be surprised when they get pillows and coasters for Christmas next year!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It Paid Off

It looks like our efforts to save the garden from the recent frost/freeze paid off.  Whew!  There are only a couple of tomato plants that seem a bit rough around the edges, but otherwise everything looks good.  Actually the beans bothered to come up underneath all the cover and in cold temperatures, and the squash doubled in size.    Now, let's hope the cold temperatures stay away until next year.  It's a real pain covering all the plants.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Verti Gro and Hydroponic Gardening

We spent Saturday with a couple of great friends;  Fred and Peggy.  We visited Rockledge Gardens to hear a presentation on hydroponics, specifically Verti-Gro.  While I understand the better use of space, less water usage, etc.  I have to say I'm not sold.  Here are a come of my concerns;

Cost:  a set up of 4 posts with planters and the water system run around $430.00.  The upfront starting cost seems a bit high.  I don't think this included the cost of seeds/plants or the fertilizers needed.

The addition of fertilizers and chemicals for nutrition of the plants.  There is nothing in the water or media, you must add it.   After studying the Back to Eden program, and how we can grow in a more natural setting, letting nature do most of the work.  I would not be happy having to regulate, during the growing cycle, the amount of chemicals I need to add to the water.  I'm also trying to get away from adding chemicals of any kind.  With chemicals comes cost, and storage issues.

The use and cost of electricity to run the system.  We were told it isn't much, but the larger your system, the more electricity it will take to run.  The Compound is off grid, so electricity unless run from our solar system, is an issue.

All four of us were glad we were able to get more first hand information, (knowledge is power), but the Verti-Gro/Hydroponic Gardening doesn't appear to be our "thing".

WEATHER ALERT:  We are again dealing with freezing temperatures in central Florida.  We hit around 34 degrees this morning, with the same expected for tomorrow.  I was really hoping we wouldn't have to deal with these types of temperatures again, especially since we have a garden full of plants.  Our friends helped us cover the plants, and all of us have our fingers crossed they make it. 

Now that's true friendship right there!  Pitching in even when they didn't have to. 

The Moose and Fred spent the remaining time getting set up, and then shooting the afternoon in to dusk.  There were some amazing shots! 

Peggy and I spent time chatting, eating snacks and some chocolate we had picked up earlier in the day.  We could have eaten the oranges we also bought, but decided that chocolate is where it's at!

Great fun! 

Friday, February 10, 2012


Faith: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 I have changed a fundamental part of my being, my soul. While...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Oh My Aching Back!

Saturday was clean out the chicken coop project day.  We're paying for it today.  Stooping over, shoveling out the old, and laying down the new.  It was needed, and a good start to the spring season.  The Hooligan's, specifically Henrietta and Nugget were very curious as to what was going on, and spent the afternoon getting in the way.  At one point, Henrietta went inside the coop, stepped inside the nesting boxes and started to "chew" out the Moose.  "Hey buddy, where's the bedding?!" She followed him around expressing herself, and not backing down.  After things dried up a bit, the Moose put the new bedding down.  Henrietta went back inside and actually went into a nesting box to see if he had done his job right.  No complaints from her, but we did hear from Nugget.  I guess her area changed too much.  She sleeps on a hay bail, that wasn't yet put back.  Again, she let us have it!  All things were put back to right before we left, so hopefully they slept peacefully in a spring cleaned coop.  The old bedding will be composted.

I forgot the camera this weekend.  What was I thinking?!  So, sorry no new photos.  You'll have to use your imagination.

I put in some more veggies;  peas and beans, then watered the garden.  Things are extremely dry, since we've not had rain for 39 days, and have a deficit of nearly 5".  We do have rain in the forecast for today and tomorrow, so my fingers are crossed the Compound sees some of that.  Not only for the veggies, but also to help the composting process of the mulch we layed down. The rose bushes and citrus trees were pruned.

We often wonder where the day goes?  When it comes to writing down our actions for the day, it seems like we didn't get to very much.  But, my aching back and feet know different.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chicken Coop and Run Construction

We are fast approaching the 1 year birthday of the Hooligan's (that's the nickname of our chickens).  Originally the Moose and I just wanted a half dozen or so chickens.  But after we got to the farm store, and looked at those fuzzy little fluff balls, we were hooked!  We put twelve of them in our "happy meal" box, and headed home.  After reading other peoples blogs, and websites, we thought we would lose a few  as part of the normal process.  We lost only one along the way, and that was early on.  I would guess a genetic issue, since she didn't make it much past two weeks.  I was absolutely heart broken, and cried almost all day.  Who would have thought?!

We were left at this point scrambling to build on to the coop we originally purchased for just six, so they'd have additional space and we also needed additional nesting boxes.  We wanted them to be as safe as possible from outside forces of nature;  weather and predators.  I think we've done very well with our set up, minus a short period where something was getting in and eating the eggs.  That has since been corrected.  I'll explain further below.

I thought I'd share our chicken run story. I know there are things you'll see that could be done better.  We are not carpenters by trade.  But we've been able to work with a vision, add in a lot of sweat equity, and I think to date our ideas have paid off, as we have not lost another chicken.
We really wanted them to have enough space to run around, hang out in the sun, hide if they felt threatened, and a place to keep out of the rain.  Our greatest fear was predators getting at the Hooligans during the times when we are not around.  Here's what we did;

We started by building the outside frame work to hold the wire fencing.  We started with 6' tall wire fencing for structural reasons, and it was easier to handle then chicken wire.  We then added chicken wire as a roof (keeping out birds of prey, raccoons and opossums).

We also put 3' tall chicken wire around the outside bottom of the run area.  We buried 1' in the ground, so the predators would get discouraged trying to dig underneath. 

You can also see the black contractor material around the bottom outside.  We DON'T like snakes of any kind, size or variety.  I don't ever want to go into the coop and find a snake looking at me from some corner.  It's a recurring nightmare!  Since snakes like to follow along a wall, until they find an opening, we added the black material, and then some old wood posts that were on the property along the outside.  Do you think we went a bit overboard?  Nope, it's worked so far.  We have not found a single snake in their run.  This is Florida people!  We have venomous snakes, yuk!
We started working on their coop and run in late spring, as the temperatures in Florida were rising.  The sun was an issue.  We needed more shade.  Trying to decide what to do, we came across a yard sale, that had the green material they use around tennis courts for privacy.  We scooped up that find.  That's what you see along the entire top.  It allows the light through, helps hold back some of the rain, and gives the Hooligan's extra shade during the hot summer months.  It's also been another deterrent for predators.  They've tried eating through it in a couple of areas, only to find there's chicken wire underneath.

Our last improvement on the run, was the addition of chicken wire on the remaining six foot walls.  We did this after finding teeth marks on eggs, and decided it was either weasels or rats, getting in through the larger openings in the wire fence.  We've had zero issues since.

I know there's room for improvement, but I just wanted to share with you what works for us.  Here's our take;  if you take on the stewardship of having animals of any kind, you are obligated to keep them as safe and secure as possible.  I think we've accomplished that so far.  I can't say nothing will ever happen to them, but we've drastically reduced the odds.     We are rewarded every time we visit the Hooligan's, with eggs and happy chicken chatter.