Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy 2015!

I won't be posting much the next couple of weeks,  not that I have been lately anyway, as we'll be taking some much needed time with family and friends.  We may even catch a day or two of camping at one of our favorite spots on Merritt Island.  Could a fishing trip on the boat be in our horizon? 

We've been trying to keep our heads above water lately, and we look forward to the changes 2015 will bring.  The animals at The Compound are doing great.  The containers concrete floor is almost done, so we may soon be able to put that entire project behind us and move on to the outdoor kitchen.

I think we'll be focusing pretty heavily on the garden along with breeding rabbits and my favorite pig "the Queen" this Jan/Feb.  We'll also need to build some nesting boxes for the turkey hens.  Other than that, we have some more land clearing to do, then we'll hatch out some new chicks.  What are your plans for 2015?

Most of all the Moose and I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Thanks for following along, and most importantly keep blogging.  We get a lot of inspiration and ideas from all of you!

God Bless

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stadium Seating for the Blueberries a Repurpose Project

What seems like so long ago was the purchase of 25 blueberry plants.  They've been watered and talked to in their pots since.  That was until we finally got the multi layer (stadium seating) arrangement done.

Again we used the infamous free skids.  I tacked on some weed blocker on the back to help keep the dirt behind the boards.  It worked like a charm.  We have three levels of berry plants.  This also serves as a way to keep the dirt from eroding off the side of the container.

One set of skids is actually two sided, so I'm thinking eventually I'll add some dirt in between and plant strawberry plants in the spaces between wood slats.  Do you think it would work?

We're all looking forward to the first harvest!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Long Awaited Container Update

It has been one heck of a summer and fall for The Compound.  One issue after another, projects that got moved up on the list of priorities, pushed the container project in the background, along with a water issue inside.

We had record rains this year.  The canal has never been this high in the 4+ years we've been here, and this past week didn't help any either (8+ inches in less than 24 hours).  We had standing water inside.  At first we were not sure where it was coming from.  You see, they're supposed to be water tight.  We actually had the walk in cooler installed and were about ready to start installing the solar panels and shelving.  That has been put on hold for months, as we tried a few different things, and frankly waited until the water level went down and the container dried out.

Our solution, tar the floor, laydown a water proof tarp (for lack of a better word, I'll use tarp), then we poured a 3" base of concrete. 

So here's a short video of the inside.

We still have more concrete to pour, but we needed the cooler up for this weekend, as we butchered our first pig at The Compound. He's part of our Thanksgiving feast.

Here's a video of the walk in cooler, refrigeration option.  FYI, I mentioned Fridgedair (the only brand they don't recommend)  We actually have a GE unit.

For more information on the system itself, here's a link to their site.


It worked like a charm for 4 days straight!  It's a great option to the standard walk in refrigeration, which needs 208v and a refrigeration guy to install and charge.  Besides, it's expensive. We easily did this ourselves.  It could make just about any room a walk in cooler, using standard 110v and cost no more than $500 total, between the CoolBot and the AC unit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Turkey Tango

Since tomorrow is Turkey Day,  I thought I'd share a video of our two Tom's vying for the top spot.  These guys went at this for well over 30 minutes and the winner was the one that could last the longest in the dance off.

What I found most interesting;  they didn't care how close you got to them.  Neither let go.  They'd both maneuver themselves away from me or the moving cars, but they'd never be the one to let go.

There is now order in the turkey house.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

May God grant blessings on you and your family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Finally Some Relief

Well, I think fall is finally knocking on our door.  We have had some relief from the humidity and the temps are getting into the middle to lower 80's.  The humidity is really the main thing I'm glad to feel is going away.  It's actually been in the lower 60's in the mornings, which is awesome!  We can finally open the doors and windows and air things out, right up and until around lunch time.

All the animals, and especially the rabbits are enjoying the respite.  We brought Cannoli home last week so I can work on his eyes.  It's getting better, slow but sure.  I'm using a turmeric water solution (natural antiseptic, that doesn't sting) and aloe vera.  The deep bright pink around his eyes is back to normal, but there's still some gooky stuff coming out the tear duct area, which I think itches.  He's scratched himself and created a very small cut.  But his energy level is up, and for a rabbit that wouldn't even let you near him, I can now routinely scratch his head.  He's becoming quite the momma's boy.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the graham cracker or sweet potato treats.

We adopted three semi-feral barn cats.  One of which mauled the Moose, and gave him an infection he's been fighting all week.  I was asked;  "why cats".   We have so many animals now, including all the dogs that everyone owns, that having to use poison is not a good viable option to control the rat issue.  The rats eat the poison and run off to get some water.  Well, the dogs have access to the same areas, and I don't really want them to decide to make a dead or dying poisoned rat a chew toy.  So, hence the cats.  Which until it's dark we rarely see.  They came spayed, with shots etc.  But as long as they are off doing what cats should do, and what they've already been doing we should see some improvements.

Other than changes in the weather, it's really been the same old - same old the last couple of weeks at The Compound.  There's always a project or two, or three to work on. 

Until next time, have a great day!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Up Close and Personal

We had these rabbits for several months, and this is really the first decent photos I've got of them.  They're worse than chickens when it comes to getting a good photo.  Just when you push the button, they move!  So here they are;




Canoli has had an ongoing eye ailment.  We've tried an antibiotic ointment, tea bags, and cleansing the area with peroxide.  Any other ideas?  The lady we got him from said it's common in rabbits during the summer heat.  We'd like to get him completely healed up, the poor guy.



We are waiting until things cool off before breeding.  One thing we've learned this summer, it's just too dang hot for everything and everyone! 

Another group of cute critters at The Compound.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Home Home on the Range

It was our new turkeys first day on The Compound range yesterday.  At first they didn't want to leave the run area, but we enticed them with some banana and out they came.  They had a fantastic time, running, flying and just goofing off.  The Toms even puffed up a time or two.

They never stopped.  They scoped out the entire property from top to bottom, east to west and north to south.  Nothing was missed, except the small circle of area near the guard dog. 

Part of their morning was spent dust bathing.  Whew, they can throw some dirt!

At the end of the day, with a little bit of effort we herded them right back in the coop.  As long as you go slow, they pretty much go where you want them to.

We all had fun watching them throughout the day.  Turkeys are really pretty easy to take care of, and still a thumbs up for The Compound.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What's Your Price?

I’ve been wanting to write this article for some time now, as the Moose and I regularly state; “what’s your price” when we see things or are faced with issues.  I’m just finally getting around to putting pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard.

I was reading a book recently by Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name.  In it was a chapter on “what is your price”.  Sounds like an inconspicuous question really until you dig a bit deeper and take a look at the world around you.

The premise is you are part of a game show audience.  Picture the Price is Right.  As you sit there taking in the big lights, cameras and frenzied crowd believing you’ll never be chosen, because if you’re like me you don’t get picked for wild adventures or grandiose opportunities.   Your name is called.  Woo hoo!

Now imagine the prize.  It’s not a much dreamed about vacation or shiny sports car, its 10 million dollars!  I always picture Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies with his pinky at the corner of his mouth.  10 million dollars!!!!  Just imagine what you can do with that much money.  I know what I could do with that much money, new digs for the animals at The Compound, and maybe a really nice farm house for the Moose and me.   I know of a few charities I’d sure like to help out in a big way, not to mention family and friends that could use a leg up. You can have it all, just by answering one simple, small question; what is your price?

You have to choose one option in order to get the money.  Did I mention 10 million dollars?!

Here’s your list;

Put your children up for adoption
Become a prostitute for a week

Give up your US citizenship
Abandon your church
Abandon your family

Kill a stranger
Have a sex change operation

Leave your spouse
Change your race

Now make your choice.

As your family and the frenzied crowd wait in bated breath for your answer, your mind wonders, your heart races, YOU have to choose.  Just think of all the good you could do with that money.

Max Lucado concludes by relating information on a national survey where people were asked the same questions;

7% would murder for money
6% would change their race

4% would change their sex

What’s even sadder?

25% would abandon their family or their church

23% would prostitute themselves for a week

16% would walk away from the US or leave their spouse

13% would give up their kids

Finally, two-thirds would agree to at least one and some to even several of these options.  The majority would not leave the stage empty handed; they are willing to pay the price.

The moral of the story is even though we are not faced with the opportunity for 10 million dollars, we are faced with situations for opportunities that require us to give up far less for far less.  People will walk away from their families, faith or morals for immediate gratification.  What will the world look like in a time of crisis?  Just another reason to keep on getting prepared, and more importantly, getting right with God.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Hankering for Pickles

We found a plethora of Kirby cucumbers this past week, and decided to make some refrigerated pickles.  I posted this back in June of 2012.  Here's a link to the article with the recipe again.  Now we have to wait 72 hours before we can dig in!


Hungry for pickles anyone?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cold Front Moved Through

NOT!  Unless you consider high temperatures of 89 degrees a cold front.  But for us at The Compound, although hot, not anywhere near the heat we've seen this past summer.  And of course, it had to rain, and rain and rain some more..

We didn't let it get in the way of accomplishing a much needed project;

Scraping out the bottom 24 inches of composted material from inside the chicken coop/run.  Actually, we only got to a 8' x 20' section.  Heavy, stinky and wet, but this will become awesome dirt for the garden.  It just takes so much time to dig it all up and haul it away.  It actually took four of us, nearly all day (minus our lunch break).

Then we put down a layer of sand about 6" deep.  This will become the base for next years black gold.  My friends that's a lot of sand to be hauled, dumped and raked into place. It's not light stuff, and add in the rain, it was no small task.  But this section of the run is completed and the new turkeys have been moved in.  We placed a thin layer of straw on top of the sand, and will add more as it gets wet and needs additional coverage.

We found it so interesting that the turkeys were so easy to herd from one area over to the next.  Unlike chickens that will run willy nilly and act like they are being attacked, turkeys will calmly walk where you need them to go if you move them slowly.

They were very happy with their new digs.  Each of them taking the time to walk around and check everything out.  Best part, they were really talking to each other and stretching and flapping their wings.  Originally we didn't have them in a large enough area (I was only supposed to get 4 poults and ended up getting 8 nearly full grown turkeys), and they could barely turn around.  This new area, now dedicated to them gives them more than enough space.

These turkeys love bananas!   I mean love bananas!  Who would have thought?  I'm working to get them to trust me, and at this point they are no longer really skittish, but they'd rather be on the other side of their enclosure than near me.  I did get a couple of the girls to come over about 2' away to partake of some cracked corn.  I'll win them over..

**FYI, when bringing in new turkeys, they need to be confined for at least a month. Unlike chickens which is a week, they need at least a month.   It's how they learn where home is.

So far thumbs up on turkeys!

The little piglets (aka the Village People) are growing well.  Looks like the mosquitos took their toll on the poor little buggers.  They have some bites around their eyes, backs of their ears and backs.  But they all seem to be doing well.  I had some left over eggs and scrambled them up.  We wanted to feed them to the runts of the group, figuring the protein will help.  I was only able to keep the others out for a short period of time until they broke through.    Needless to say, they were all laying around with fat bellies sticking out, totally content.

Along the way a friend caught two wild piglets, and they've now found a home at The Compound.  They are fitting in really well with the other piglets.  The final pregnant female delivered 3 more piglets last week.  So now we have 17 piglets, and 13 mature pigs.  2 will be making a one way trip to town as soon as we can find a local butcher.

I think that's it for now.  Have a great week!

 "the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground in the kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry." - Ben Franklin

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

She's Simply One of the Best

I've been blogging now for a bit over 4 years, and in that time I've run across way more like minded people in the blogosphere than I can frankly find in my own neighborhood.  Even though many of us will never have the opportunity to actually meet face to face, it seems we've known each other for years.  It's become a family in and of itself.

There's one in particular, that I always seem drawn to;  Oklahoma Transient.  If you've never stopped over by Sandy, then you are missing out.  She's always uplifting and supportive.  I look forward to stopping by her blog doorstep each week and learning something new.  Even on occasion entering her give away contests.

I was the lucky recipient of her recent drawing for a salad spinner.  Awesome!

Will you please take a couple of moments and visit her blog?  You won't be disappointed.


We also share a Florida connection. 

Thanks Sandy for all that you do!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back At It!

As predicted, we were busier than one armed paper hangers at  The Compound this weekend. 

We ended up building a "hospital"/staging area for the little boy piglets that ended up being cut.  Now they are affectionately called the Village People.  They were not happy, boy are they noisy, and it was a long time coming to get them taken care of.  And as with everything, it takes 10 additional steps to get to the one thing you really need to do.

In order for us to take care of the little boys, they needed an a dry clean area to heal up before being put back with the rest of the group.  That ended up being the remaining section of garden, we have neither the time or inclination at this point to use.  The Moose decided to add a section just off of the garden, utilizing the fencing and posts on two sides.

The only expense were the galvanized roof panels and the garden fence (which cost around $8.00 on the clearance rack at HD).  Everything else came from the free pallet materials picked up a few weeks back.  Nothing fancy, but definitely functional.

A hole was cut in the fence on Sunday to allow the boys access to the garden and their sisters. 

Since we were going to upset 5 boys to begin with, we removed all of the piglets that were 5-6 weeks old from their moms.  No one was happy!  Especially the Moms.  Our spotted sow actually made herself sick and vomited.  But it had to be done.  She was starting to look emaciated, and we actually did her a huge favor in the long run.  It'll take a few days and then they'll all get it figured out.

Since the sows were put back into general population;  let the fighting begin!  Everyone was trying to figure out their spot again.  We also had to move the last of our pregnant girls to the "nursery".  That was an effort for sure.  All the girls in general population tried to come to her rescue.  It was a sight to behold.  5 pigs 150 - 200 lb  all barking, snorting and even trying to bite Donnie (he drew the short straw) when he tried to get ahold of the girl.

By the end of the day, they were all more calmed down.  Except for the little boys.  They were not happy campers.

We have two runty piglets that we left with the other sow. We're hoping she'll let them latch on once and a while. 
Not to be outdone, we also upset the chickens.  We brought home 8 turkeys.  They were not pleased with the new residents.

We were supposed to only get 4 poults.  He ended up giving us 8 nearly full grown turkeys, because they were all raised together and prefer their family unit.  2 Toms and 6 hens.  All hand raised, and very healthy looking.  We set them up in a section of the coop that is too small for their numbers, and we just didn't have the time to clear out the larger area, so for now they'll have to make due.  They were eating (bananas, their favorite) and drinking water, so for now they seemed to be doing fine.   Now I'm learning as much as possible about turkeys. Did you know a group of domesticated turkeys is actually called a gang, or a rafter?  Not a flock or gaggle.

Question;  I've read that turkeys and chickens should not be housed together.  Any thoughts or experience you can offer?

They make some interesting little noises, and have huge eyes.  You just know they are taking in everything.  They seemed to have fun watching the piglets run around the garden.

The only thing we didn't upset this weekend were the rabbits and fish!  Just give us time, I'm sure we'll come up with something to set them off too!

Oh, and that wiggly thing that hangs off a Toms head/bill is called a snood.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to the Grind

We're back to the usual Compound grind this coming weekend.  We've taken a "leave of absence" the past two weekends.  We took care of the usual chores, and that was it!

We spent Labor Day and the following weekends at KARS Park on Merritt Island.  It sits directly across from the Kennedy Space Center and the cruise ship port on the Banana River.  It's a park for military personnel and/or their friends.  Our dear friend, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel, one of a select few that flew the Harrier jet, got us a pass.   So, we get access to this very quiet, serene, on the water with a boat launch campground, RV park.

So with full hook ups, we parked the RV at a site for a little over a week.  Enjoying these views;

We ate too much, and laughed even more with great family and friends.  We even got to celebrate Ms. Brenda's 67th 29th Birthday!

The Moose even got out on his boat for the first time in a very long time. 

There were huge groups of manatees in the water, along the shorelines and a couple right at the boat launch.  They are huge!  I used to feel really sorry for them, after seeing them being rehabilitated from propeller injuries.  Not so much anymore.  They are not very bright!  They will swim directly underneath your boat,  and they will not move.  So even if you are in a "no wake" manatee zone, which means just above idling, you could still injure them at no fault of your own. 

We've lived in FL for almost 20 years and actually have been able to watch a space shuttle launch.  However, this launch was over on the mainland, Cocoa, FL side.  Well, let me tell you;  I'm sure it was nothing like it would have been from KARS Park!  We were woken out of a deep sleep at 1 a.m. to a rocket launch!  I mean, if it wasn't tied down it came down.  The RV was shaking and rattling and the noise was incredible!  It only had one rocket booster, can you imagine the noise and power the shuttle would have had with the 2 solid rocket boosters!  Incredible amount of power.

Now we are getting back into the groove, and planning our weekend workload at The Compound.  Have a safe and productive weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One Way Trip to Town

I've been reading Storey's book on Raising Pigs.  In it, he makes a repeated statement;  take them on a "one way trip to town".

We have one of those, our most recent sow who delivered 7 babies, has actually killed them all.  Sat on them and ate some of them!  What a shame!  Poor little guys and gals.  Although she delivered a healthy litter, a mother that isn't careful when laying down is according to the book, on a one way trip to town.

She also was acting up, and created way too much chaos in the nursery.  Just like the human world, some women just don't make good mothers.

But good news, we have another ready to deliver any day, and the first two moms have done a spectacular job.

We are learning as we go, and even though we have to crawl over a bump or two in the road, we're continually learning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blazin Hot Weekend

We're happy to be sitting in air conditioning today.  This weekend was a scorcher.  We reached 98 degrees, and well over 100 with the index.  Needless to say, we are counting down the days to October.

It's nearly impossible to get anything done after 11am or before 4pm.  You get to the point where you can't possibly drink another bottle of water, tea, etc.  There's just no room for it, but your body is still thirsty.  We come home with a hamper full of stinky, sweaty clothes.  Can I say it again?  Bring on October!

Now, don't go thinking all we did was sit around, how else would we have ended up with a hamper full of clothes?  The guys built a third farrowing pen, just in time too we had another sow deliver her brood of 7 (the 8th looked to be stillborn) on Sunday.

We still have one more girl to deliver, likely in the next couple of weeks.  Then that's it for sometime.  We already have some interest it buying some of these new ones, and that'll go a long way in helping pay for feed.  It'll be hard to let any of them go.  They are cute little devils!  To date we have 29 pigs at The Compound.

We hauled out our 25 new blueberry plants, and started the planning stage of how to get them planted next to the container.  We are building what will end up looking like a giant raised bed.

It'll hold the dirt back and help eliminate erosion.  I started by painting some 8' and 10' 2x4's.  The guys used some of the free pallet materials to build the upper structure.  I don't have any photos of those yet, as they still need to be painted.
But the best part of our weekend was this:

Peeecan smoked chicken and ribs!  The Moose bought the new smoker, and the boys put it together and cooked dinner.  What a treat! Perfectly juicy, smokey chicken and ribs!  Can I hear you say YUM?!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blueberries Galore!

Well, another Craigslist find!  25  7 gallon organic blueberry plants.  I paid $10 each for them, which I think is a great find.  We paid $8 for 3 gallon ones a few years back.  They are the northern high bush varieties of Windsor and Emerald.  Estimated at about 3 years old, so should start producing fruit in greater quantity starting this year, and definitely in years 4 and 5. 

As you may recall, we are finished burying the container.  We discussed using the hillside as a place to plant fruiting trees or bushes.  We want to keep the dirt from running off during the torrential rains (which we seem to be getting nearly everyday since June), and we want the plants to be purposeful.

I'm not sure if I'll try and create more of a raised bed feature, by shoring up each row with wood, which would help erosion issues, or not.  Jury is still out.  In this heat (we reached 97 degrees this week), it will be a work in progress since it's out in direct sunlight. 

The soil used to bury in the container has a higher sand content which will be good for drainage.  I'll amend it with peat moss and pine chips/needles.  A light application of fertilizer to get things going.  Starting in October, they will be left alone to go dormant, until January when they will begin to blossom with fruit around April.

We're hoping this was a worth while investment.  We love blueberries and looking at long term this number of plants will give us more than we need.  I'm sure the hens and hogs will be happy too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holland Lop Ears

I'm an avid Craigslist "hunter".  I peruse the farm and garden listing to see what's available.  We've found many a good find for The Compound.  That included last week.  We were racing to get out the door, and I thought just one quick snoop to see what they have.  This was at 7am.  First listing was 4 free Holland Lop Ear rabbits.  They were moving (turned out it was the truth) and couldn't take them with them.  Since we were wanting to raise rabbits anyway, it was a good way to start.
Turns out they have pedigrees.  Now, whether or not we'll do anything with them to follow suite is another question still unanswered.  They only get to about 3lbs, so for meat production it's not the best rabbit, but rabbit tastes like rabbit whether big or little.  So here they are;

Pickles and Cupcake

We also have a "blue" called Marshmallow, but her picture turned out really bad.   Also, the water bottles were frozen and placed in with them to help them stay cool.  They lay right on them.  Poor Pickles actually put her forehead on her bottle and just sat there! 

They had temporary housing up until this past weekend when The Moose and the guys built them a set of hutches in a shady area next to the chickens.  Not sure they appreciate all the noise the choir boys provide, but they'll be easy to maintain.

We only had to buy the hard wire and galvanized roofing material.  The wood you see all came from free pallets.  The pallets were over 12' long and had to be cut onsite, loaded up and hauled away.  But they were awesome pallets, very well built.  Free is always good.

So now, we're pushing to learn all we can about rabbits.  Pedigreed rabbits are going for $50 - $75 in our area.  Any helpful hints?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Best Friend

We really live in the swamp this time of year.  More rain than we can use that's for sure.  It only breeds those miserable mosquitoes!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Another Snake Episode - Enough Already!

We had another snake episode at The Compound recently.  Hunter, the resident guard dog (he really only guards his owner, the rest of us he doesn't like) had a cotton mouth actually come into his area and after they decided they were not going to get along, the snake bit him on the nose.  Only one fang, but it hit a vein and traveled really quick.

He was to the emergency room within about 30 minutes for his anti-venom treatment.  The vet did state, should this have happened when no one was there, he would have been dead in less than 2 hours.

Over a thousand dollars spent and two days later, he was back to his surly self.

Snake sightings have really increased at The Compound this summer.  I think it may be due to the excessive rain, and we're heading into mating season so everyone's wearing their snake boots!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lucky Number 7

Not the best photo, but it's from a camera phone at night, with a flashlight shining on the 7 new piglets!  She gave birth to all 7 in less about 30 minutes!  7 brown 2 with spots like their mom.

We stopped by late yesterday afternoon for regular chores and I was sure she was going into labor.  She had built a nest and was getting ready.  Hopefully she'll be a good momma.  Hope to have more photos later this weekend.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Just Plum Tired! Container Update - Buried (Picture Heavy)

It's taken me three days to finally get around to posting.  I have lots of things in my head for posts, but after this extra long weekend, I'm living in a fog of too much sun, and too much physical labor.

Our weekend started out Friday afternoon, anticipating the arrival of a rented bobcat.  I was told by the rental company it's not called a bobcat, it's called a skid steer.  "Bobcat" is a name brand.  Any idea why she chose to correct me?  If she knew what I was talking about, why did it matter?

As we approached the end of the delivery window, I called to find out where it was.  Yep, you guessed it, I was told it wasn't on its way, it has mechanical problems and wouldn't be available.  Now, why did I have to call to find this out?  So I pushed a bit harder to see if there was anything else she could deliver and her first response (and easiest for most people) is "sorry no". 

I proceeded to explain we had a number of people already at The Compound prepared to begin work, and without a piece of equipment all of our time and expense getting there was out the window.  Magically it seems, there was in fact another piece of equipment we could get.  It took some wrangling on their part, but we ended up with a John Deer tractor.  (Sorry Preppy, no cute girls posing in my tractor photo!)

Unfortunately, about 30 minutes before it showed up, it began to rain.  This rain along with the rain from the past week or so made for a real mess!  The delivery driver got stuck and wouldn't let us help him get out, he waited over an hour for someone to drive over with a pick up truck and pull him out.

But the guys were up to the challenge.  That container was going to get buried come hell or high water (literally)!  The thought of not getting it done and having to shovel and move dirt by hand just wasn't an option.  Besides, they could hardly wait to get on that tractor! They worked until 3am Saturday morning.  The first few hours were spent just filling in the low wet spots so we could move the tractor around.

Saturday morning the Moose and I were up by 7am and started our normal chores.  The boys followed a couple hours later, and the rest of our group showed up shortly after.  We worked until around 3pm and took a short break for lunch and a quick nap.  Then the guys were back on the tractor, moving dirt again until midnight.  Folks it took a tremendous amount of dirt for this project.  In excess of about 25 loads, from what I can figure.  Yes, some of it was spread out to make it easier to move the eqpt, but in the long run it will also help solve some of our standing water issues.

There's a bit more to do along the front of the container, but until we have the solar panel array set up, that's on hold at this point.  There is already a huge difference in temperature inside the container.  That was our goal, have a place to store reserve inventory in a temperature controlled space.

Again, we were up early Sunday morning and began work on a "house" for the air conditioning units that are inside the container.  (More on those later)  But the units stick out of course, and they can not be covered with dirt, so we built a house over the top of them.  It has also been surrounded by dirt and a thin layer on the shingled roof.  The Moose also installed a vent for the hot air to vacate the space.

They also got back on the tractor finished moving dirt and moved our mulch and wood piles.  Reworked the shooting range and backdrop a bit.  They worked with the tractor until late Sunday afternoon. 

When all was said and done, they put on 25 hours with the tractor as well as a lot of man hours moving and raking dirt by hand.  All of us are plum tired out!  But ever so glad this project, a year in the making is just about done.  Next is shelving inside, and setting up the solar panel array and control box.

So in the end, it was actually a God send that we got a tractor rather than the "skid steer".  Someone was looking out for us! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

We have a big weekend planned at The Compound, but we need dry weather.  Keep your fingers crossed!

We're renting a "bobcat" to help finish burying the container, moving and smoothing out dirt in low lying areas, hauling wood to stack, clearing some old and new property, and filling in large pot holes on the drive in.

When I put it all in writing it doesn't seem like much, but I'm hoping we can get most or all of it done!  We've plans to use the machine as much as possible.  If someone is up or can stay up, it's going to be doing something!  It's our chance to get a bucket full of stuff done as quickly and easily as possible.  The hand digging and moving of dirt in this heat is getting the best of us.

If I get my wish, we'll have a dry weekend with a slight overcast. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hog Tilling and Pest Control

Weeds are my enemy at The Compound.  I'm never one step ahead of them, and won't be until we start living there full time.  This is what my garden looks like.  A mess!  We've pulled up the weeds, only to have twice as many appear the next time.  So we're trying a new method;  Hog Tilling and Pest Control.

They do a great job of rooting up plants, eating grubs and fertilizing the area.    This is what they accomplished this weekend.  Fencing around this area is not as secure as their permanent enclosure, so we don't leave them in their except during the days when we're around.

I'm happy, they're happy..

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pregnant Pigs

Another hot humid weekend in central FL.  It was nearly unbearable.  But, very little gets in our way when completing projects.  This weekend, due to all the rain, we had nearly a foot or more of rain at The Compound in the last couple of weeks, we were shown where we've fallen short for our animals.  It was a muddy, wet mess.  Yes, pigs like muddy wallows, but they need dry ground.  It's hard to keep anything dry with that much rain, but we needed to make the effort.

The boar pen needed a larger shelter, for shade and rain protection.  The guys spent a good part of Saturday getting that up.  It was less than 30 seconds after they left the area, that young boars all found a spot and took a nice long shaded nap!

Our pregnant gilts, one in particular is really showing.  I'm guessing she's very close to delivering.  But we definitely have two in the final stages.  We built a farrowing pen last week, and finished a second this weekend.  We may need to build a third this coming weekend. 

The coolest part of my weekend;  rubbing this girls belly and feeling the little piglets moving around!  It was awesome!  She's never let me rub her belly before, but I'm thinking she's seen me with a couple of the others and figured, my belly hurts maybe this crazy lady is on to something!  She was very content.

We will also be adding additional shelter from sun and rain for the gilt enclosure.  That's for this coming weekend.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome Aboard

Looks like we picked up a few new stragglers followers.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Container update - moving dirt and painting. Pig update - farrowing pen

We started our weekend this past Friday by celebrating the boys birthday.  They're 34, and definitely not boys, but it is a term of endearment for the twins.  Besides, it's been awhile since any of us has been 34, so they are the youngest of our crowd. I tried baking them their favorite crunch cake.  I bombed apparently, it was nothing like their mother used to make them.  I hunted high and low for a recipe, found one that had 5 stars, etc.  It tasted really good, but my recipe called for coconut, theirs would have had pecans.  Anyone know of a recipe for crunch cake that includes pecans?

The Moose and I got an early start Saturday morning.  I laid down some mulch around the coop area, since it's rained so much lately, it was really wet.  So on went another layer.  Of course the girls had to get in and help scratch it all into place.  The Moose fed the pigs, which were very hungry and from the sound of it, hadn't been fed in a month of Sundays!  Then it was off to the container.

We had about 10 loads of dirt brought in and dumped next to the container. We are finally at a stage to finish getting it buried in.  The Moose spent the better part of the day, moving dirt into place. The solar panel frame is just about done, and the welding to the container should begin (as long as it doesn't rain AGAIN), this next weekend.  Miss Brenda and I finished painting the inside ceiling.  Painting above your head is a pain.  I got more paint on me than the ceiling!

The Moose has already laid down tile in the cooler floor and we just have some painting to do on the inside of it as well which shouldn't take too long.  Once that's done, I'll introduce you to a really "cool" way to refrigerate a space that won't cost an arm and a leg, and doesn't need 208v electricity which will be nearly impossible in a crap hits the fan scenario.  110v will work with our solar panel system.

Then it's on to setting up the control board for the solar panels, battery pack and shelving for foodstuff inventory.  It's been a year in the making on this project, but it's finally coming into the home stretch.

We built a farrowing pen for our gilt that I'm guessing is ready in the next month or so.  We moved her and the two others we think are also in the family way in an area just for them, so we can make sure they get enough to eat and get acclimated to a new space.  The males have been permanently moved to a "boys only" area.  One item that we've failed getting a handle on is controlling which gilt is bred when we want her to be. It's just been willy-nilly and we may have more than we actually wanted bred.  Now that the boys are gone, we'll be able to watch them closer and develop a plan for further breeding and/or the freezer.

If you get a chance swing on over to The Small Hold site.  The last few articles are about a term he's coined; "sustainers", and most recently an article that gives thought to how we're going to feed our livestock when the feed store is closed. We have quite a bit of space around our property that we can use as grazing land, especially for pigs, considering they thrive in our area.  We just need to come up with a way to move and contain them in a specific area.

No bobcat sightings this weekend.  We hope he's off watching someone else's livestock.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Unwanted Guest Lurking in the Woods

We have an unwanted guest lurking in the woods next to The Compound.   I'm guessing the chickens and pigs grab his or her attention.  He's been spotted three times in less than two weeks, on the drive into our property.  It's creepy knowing you're being watched.

We will no longer walk around unarmed or leave the chickens unattended.  We'll be double checking the fence line, coop house and roof, etc. to make sure it's all ship-shape.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

We're off to The Compound this weekend (couldn't see that one coming).  Wishing you a Happy 4th of July holiday!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to when we return.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Benefits of a Wallow

Mud wallows are necessary;

1.  To help keep them cool in hot temperatures.

If you don't provide them with one, they'll create their own!  This guy is trying to lay down in a water container.  We have another pig that actually holds down the water nipple and lets it run onto the ground to create his own mud bog. (even though we've already provided him one!)

2.  To create a barrier from insects.  Can you blame them?

3.  It's their version of SPF!  Their hair is very coarse and you can see their skin underneath.  Without their mud baths, they'd get sunburn.

I've read articles that state, they are not necessary and even unsanitary.  After watching our pigs create their own, I believe its ingrained.  Similar to hand raising chicks;  how do they know to scratch for food or dust bath if they've never been around a full grown hen?  They just know.

We dug out a specific wallow area for them and fill it with fresh water almost every day, unless it rains.  It naturally drains or soaks into the ground making it necessary.  As soon as the water gets turned on, they all make a dash for their wallow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Eviction Notice

He's being evicted!

How he actually got in here is a mystery.  He had to, not only find the place, he had to get through two electrified fences!  There's a vast amount of space in the FL swamps, so he can make his home somewhere else!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Microburst hits The Compound

We had a series of storms hit The Compound this past Thursday. One of them produced a microburst or very small tornado.  Left a bit of damage in its wake. But thankfully, no humans or animals were hurt in the production of these high winds!  From what we can tell it started on one end, and came out the other. 

It's hard to tell unless you know this little alcove, but those bushes and trees are all laying down, where they once stood.

We lost a beautiful oak tree, which was along our driveway.  It was uprooted and laying across the driveway.

We spent the better part of Friday, Saturday and Sunday cleaning up.  We now have quite the pile of ash from burning all the palm fronds and branches that blew down.  We are still not finished cutting down and clearing out all the uprooted bushes and trees from the alcove area.  It's really no rush and with the heat hitting  "feels like" temperatures of 118 degrees, work is slow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Favorite Picture From Saturday 6/21/14

My favorite photo from this past weekend!  He's a handsome devil!  Loves his belly rubbed!  I know, I know, I'm too attached!  But just look at that face!!!!   He and the one I call "the Queen", actually run over to me, make a certain grunting noise and lay down so I can rub their bellies!  I have to rub them both at the same time, if I don't the one who feels left out gets upset.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Too Close for Comfort

My Guardian Angel worked a bit of overtime Saturday.  I've had roughly the same routine for nearly 4 years.  First things first, let all the girls out for the day.  Nothing new, and typically the same noisy girls as always, hurry up and let me out!  I make a quick run around the entire coop area to see what if anything needs tending, and I found another dead hen.  This is the 3rd in three weeks.    Not a good day.

We believed it was likely due to the excessive heat and humidity this early in the season.  No other apparent signs, no coughing, bubbly eyes, etc. 

I took care of burying our hen and headed back to the coop.  I began by emptying the first feeder (the only thing left it in by this time is powder).  As you can see in this photo the orange cord is what holds the feeder.  Next to it is a water gutter from a previous idea/attempt to collect rain water.

I bent down to empty the feeder and when I came back up,  what I later learned, a deadly poisonous water moccasin sat curled up and ready to strike only 3-4" from my face!    If you felt the earth move or a strange noise off in the distance early Saturday, that was me!  Running and screaming like a girl! 

Here's the culprit, and what I now believe the cause of our hens dying.

It was not a small one.  Although any size snake is too big for me!