Monday, August 18, 2014

Black Walnuts

We have been having weather that feels like fall, despite it just being mid August, which is typically the hottest part of our summers.  The nights have been cool and the air has been dry.  The edges of the leaves on the plants in the garden seem tired and are starting to yellow.  The nuts are starting to drop from the black walnut trees.

I have vowed that I would start picking up the nuts and try to get them husked and shelled and make an attempt to sell the nut meats.  It would be a little money anyway and every little bit helps.  I was watching a video on youtube and a guy was talking about the versatility of the black walnut and he said the husk could be used as a cloth dye and also as an insecticide.  He didn't give any details, just mentioned it in passing.  I will need to do some research and see what else I can come up with.

 I have a lot of black walnut trees and I need to find things to do with them.  It is my ready made crop.  so once again, getting an evaporator built to make black walnut syrup will become a priority this winter.  Next week I will start collecting nuts and we will have to see what all I can figure out to do with this tree.  Hopefully a lot


Neither Here Nor There

This last week Mac went back to school.  It was teacher prep week and no kids.  He was able to leave early and we didn't have any absolute schedule.  It stopped being summer for us but it wasn't quite the school year either.  That attitude corrupted  the rest of my existence as well.  I kind of worked at stuff... but not really.

It did not help that once again I managed to get into some poison ivy.  I did it up pretty well this time.  I think I must of gotten sprayed with the noxious weed as I mowed over a patch of the stuff.  It went all over as I tend to wear loose clothes while mowing.  I am covered in rash on my neck, part of my face, ears, arms, midriff and even my back.  It is miserable.  This is the third time round this summer and I have to say I am tired of it.  In a moment of itchy misery I told Mac it was time to make a change.  Because of my Reactive Airway Disease I cannot use a spray and I wouldn't want to anyway as sprays tend to not discriminate about what plants to kill.  So, I told him it was time for a goat.  I told him I don't want a nanny so there wouldn't be any temptation to breed her and I don't want a billy, but a wether would be perfect.  Preferably a dwarf breed so he could be fifty percent pet to the grand kids and fifty percent poison ivy terminator. ... and he wouldn't eat much.

I checked out the local exchange paper and there were no small livestock auctions coming up.  I'll keep checking but for once I feel like I'm a little bit prepared.  We have the new coop and it is about time for the last hens to get moved in with the quickly growing chicks and their nanny hen.  The old coop will work fine for a small goat..

The decision is made, we just have to get on with it.  Just another instance of being neither here nor there and just feeling like I'm in a state of limbo.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Home Made Rat Poison

There was a construction event on the highway close to our home this summer.  They dug down and made the roadbed deeper, so there was a lot of displaced dirt.  They must have made a deal with the land owners to the north of us.  Bulldozers went onto the land and recut the crooked little drainage ditch.  then that removed all of the top soil, set it back.  They brought in the clay from the road bed and shaped it.  The project is done now and the construction company has moved all of it's equipment away.  It is a gorgeous job.  Now it just needs erosion control before it is all washed away into a giant silt pool.

Unfortunately, all of the earthwork displaced some rats from the little creek.  My chicken coop seemed to be a good  all you can eat buffet for them.  I tried to get in the habit of putting out enough food for the day for the chickens but this just encouraged them to spread out to the garden right behind the house.  Time to take action.  I had read in several sources that rats could not process calcium and that it could wipe out an entire rat colony.  That's good information but they never gave any instructions on how to get the calcium into the rats.

Then one perfect night as I closed the girls up in their coop, I petted the hen that always nested by the door, gave the hanging feeder a shake to see how much feed was leftover, when  a rat scurried out of the coop, across my foot and into a burrow under the fence.  I was wearing flip flops that night and could feel the brush of fur and tiny rodent toenails.  It totally creeped me out and I jumped about a foot into the air.  Though I am proud to say that I did NOT pee myself.  Hooray!  But it was the push I needed to go ahead and try out making my own rat poison.

Step one was to go and buy a bottle of Oyster Shell Calcium.  I chose that one as I believe from what I have read that it is the hardest to digest and least absorbed.  Then I popped a hand full of them into a plastic bag and gently smashed them into powder.  Then I stirred it all into a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter.  Then I shaped it into balls.  Sometimes I rolled them in oatmeal just to make it easier to handle.  Then I would toss some down all of the burrows.  It worked!  I found one ratty corpse but typically they died in the burrows and I was aware of them only because of the fly infestation.

What made me feel  better about the process is that though I had to cause the demise of the little furballs, at least I used a poison that would not kill any other creature that might feed off the dead rat.  I was especially worried about any of my lovely owls.  So that was it.  It's done and sorted.


Sunday, August 3, 2014


There are few things that dampen my disposition.  But I have to admit that the two that do are weather and finances.  There are things you can do about both, but in truth, you can't control either.  You can mitigate, but you can't control.

I can go into details but I'm sure you know what I mean.  All it takes is a lay off or a broken down automobile and a family's finances can be thrown totally off track, never mind the effects of a disease or recession.

But today my attitude is pretty good.  The truck is paid off.... finally!  This spring we went through rain storms and deluges.  Then the last three weeks there hasn't been a drop of rain.  Every thing was drying up.  The ground was cracking.  Then this morning we had a nice little shower.  Not enough but it made everything look brighter, more alive.  All of the tired looking squash blossoms opened up and tipped to the sky.  The grass looks greener.  The sky is bluer.  You have to have a good attitude on a morning like this.  You just have to.