Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Go vote!

Get out and vote.  If you're a US Citizen and registered to vote, get out and vote!

This is the minimum amount of political involvement that you can do and still be honest in complaining about the government.  Growing up, my father and grandfather would sit around the table griping about taxes and politicians but neither one had voted in over twenty years.

I love my family but I happen to be of the opinion that if you are going to complain about something, do what you can to make it better.  

It's kind of like complaining about sitting in traffic for an hour because people are stopping to look at the wrecked cars, then stopping yourself and being part of the problem for everyone behind you.  Don't stop, step on the gas and move it!

Don't just stop to see the wreck that happens today, step on the gas and do something about it.  Unless you're a Hillary supporter and voted for Obama twice (or more), then just stay home - You've shown a profound lack of intelligence already and The Republic is better off if you stay home.

If only we could bring Ronald Reagan back..  Or at least revive the concepts of smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, higher employment, stronger nation!  Government was not originally meant to replace your Mommy - wipe your own nose, think for yourself, live responsibly and within your own means.

Voting for a candidate simply because of their skin color or gender is possibly the greatest act of stupidity one can do short of jay walking on a busy freeway.  

  • Vote for someone based on their past performance - good and bad
  • Were they properly representing their constituents or were they simply collecting a paycheck and lobbyist bribes?
  • Is your candidate constantly in legal trouble?  What kind of moral character do you want to show as YOUR representative.
  • Does your candidate represent your overall community values or a small enclave minority of the community.

Well, that's enough rant for now.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My dog planted a tomato for me

So I'm sure we've all heard the expression "My dog ate my homework" but in her zeal to dig up a gopher, my dog buried a limb of a tomato plant at a time when the heat was killing everything.  Now that the season change is bringing cooler weather and my Son is leaving a leaking hose in the garden, things are greening up again. Including the branch the dog buried which is now it's own bush.

The water was drying up before it could get to the roots.  Between the heat and the June bugs the tomatoes were a loss (as with most of the garden).  Again, the tomatoes are blooming and making a second round of fruit.

On another note, I received a package from the California DMV last week - 

Snoopy plates!  These were made in support for the Charles M. Schulz Museum and I've had to wait for more than a year to finally get it.  It's not a prep and it does nothing for my garden but sometimes the rules of Zombieland really apply.

Sometimes, it's the little things that make life so much more bearable. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mouse problem solved (slowly)

On and off I've had problems with mice in the garden and floor of the chicken pen.  I've tried several types of traps but most end up being useless.  So far the most effective means of killing the moochers is my backyard predator and that sometimes leads to far more destruction than the mice could ever have achieved.  But she's also very sweet and loving so I can't stay mad at her...

As cute as the dog is, she is also not as effective as I'd like.  A kill rate higher than one a week would be nice.  

I've tried several DIY traps as well as a few of the "off the shelf" traps and most end up being ant feeding stations.  The bucket of water and roller with peanut butter bait looked especially promising but after a week of cleaning off ants and dabbing peanut butter on the roller I called that one a flop.

Other multi-mouse traps (trap door types) proved to be as effective as happy thoughts.  Getting mice to go into a little box with a door that closes behind them just did not work for me.  My ex-mother-in-law had several of these in her garage and they worked for her.  For my garden mice though, not so much as a scratch on the door.

What has worked was a bit more than I wanted to spend for but I finally bit the bullet and gave it a try:
A little chicken feed, two C batteries and an hour later I had a dead mouse!  There were three dead mice the first night.  All I had to do was dump out the body, pour in a little more chicken feed and put it back in the same place.  The Victor electronic rat trap has racked up more than a dozen mouse bodies since I picked it up from the local Ace hardware store three weeks ago!  There is a warning label about indoor use only but my mice are not indoors (Thank GOD!) and the device is placed where the dog cannot get to it.  

On the DIY front, sure I could have made something to trigger and zap mice myself.  I have neon transformers in the garage with an output of 12,000 volts @ 3A that throw a spark more than 4 inches so crispy mice is not a hard point to get to.   Building a battery powered unit is not hard and a nice flyback coil or even ignition coil would deliver a killing strike. Maybe in the future.  

All these ideas are great but as I get older, I find that the time to execute these great ideas being very short and for the hours I would put into killing a few mice, the $40 for the electronic trap was worth the result.  That time was better spend with family, friends, Faith and making a living.  

Sure, I'm working on another computer based watering system for the garden so I have not abandoned the DIY for everything.  I'm just trying to pick my battles more wisely.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Support your local handyman!

Well, back at the blog again.  It's been hard watching the garden die off with the California heat and the drought that keeps the water from doing much good.  As an upshot of having my youngest Son water the trees in the afternoon some of my tomatoes look like they have recovered and will maybe produce a second harvest for me.  With the Japanese Beatles gone, I may just get some salsa out of this after all.

Back to the title subject - Support your local handyman!  We have had this house in sub-urban California for almost 19 years now.  In all that time there was a 'back porch' that looked like something out of National Geographic's photos from third world villages.  Most likely it was built by someone from that corner of the world anyways...

After 19 years of hating the back porch because the roof never got finished, never got painted and became sun damaged, dirt (mud) floor - I am now very happy with how the back porch has turned out.

Around the first of the year, our neighbor has a beautiful paver store patio put in the front of her house.  I told her that I was jealous of her new patio and she was kind enough to introduce me to her best friend's husband - a Handyman.  He came over and looked at the cruddy back porch and listened to what I wanted to do with it and went to work! No more dirt or mud right outside the back door and the dog loves to scratch her back on the stones.

I would say that the hardest part of the back porch paver stones was finding something that matched the house without over spending.  He was able to find a gray cobble stone that a local small builder supply carried once and convince them to order a couple more pallets.  It was great in that it matched the house stucco color well enough and was not overly expensive.

My last step in this was to get the porch cover finally repaired.  It started out as just new plywood sheeting and a roof but went bad from there very quickly.  The lumber was never painted and already cracked when we purchased the house - something he pointed out day one. Turns out that the new lumber would not be more than what I had budgeted for the repairs anyways so I had him replace what needed to be taken care of.

Two weeks later and I have a porch that I am proud of - Water proof roof, painted lumber that matches the house trim paint and if you look at it from an overhead photo it only looks like the third world porch got a roof finally.

Not that this helps my preps out any but it makes for a much better place to rest up from working in the garden.  It will also help the resale value of the house if I can ever convince my wife to move out to one of the Redoubt states.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Learning lessons, making progress, searching for motivation (long)

Time to catch up with the blog.  This is one of my many interests and with work and home I have felt a bit spread thin both on time and mentally.  If only I could apply the same effort to getting rid of my waist line as I do to keeping things running - I could be back in my college sized clothes.  Getting old sucks!  Pardon the rambling but I've been busy...

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading about gardening during drought conditions.  There are some really interesting ideas and a lot of proven methods for efficient watering trees and gardens.  I decided to move ahead with a proven method for watering trees and made the two mile drive to the local Ace Hardware.

The method I installed was called "Deep Root Watering", but it involved drilling holes into PVC or ABS pipe and putting the end in the ground where it would be fed to the roots directly.  This would also promote root growth to go down instead of spreading out to pickup surface water.

Here is a capped end of one of the 3ft sections of  PVC pipe.  I've drilled a line of 10 holes with the last one being used to drive a nail through the cap and the pipe to hold the cap on if I needed to pull it back up.

Placing the pipes would be pretty messy and destructive with a post hole digger so I wanted a dirt auger to neatly make holes to place the watering pipes.  Dirt augers are a bit more expensive when they are for sold for irrigation but oddly enough, animal trappers use dirt augers to make holes for small game animals and were less expensive.  Thanks again eBay!

As evidenced by all the lovely nut grass and other weeds, I have been surface watering this citrus tree and hope to have fruit from it next year.  Maybe the weeds will start to subside now that they are not getting watered.  I'm also going to see what citrus fertilizers are available to help it out.

I've installed one for the other trees as well but the little grape vine has actually perked up with this watering method and there is new growth coming on just a week after installing the watering pipe.

Not shown is my fig tree start that was only up to half the pipe when I installed it but has actually doubled in height in two weeks.

As for the lessons learned, the unruly jungle above is my row of tomatoes.  I was skeptical about using the simple cages but that has thoroughly been confirmed and I will be using pigwire fence cages next year for the tomatoes.

Also, the black weed cloth didn't do to bad but I believe the dog has helped the weeds with her unauthorized digging for gophers and throwing dirt around which gave the weeds new places to start.  I'm thinking next season will be a combination of weed cloth and straw mulch.  

On the whole, I think my garden will take a different shape next season as well.  In keeping with the drought watering I was reading about ollas and other clay pot watering methods dating back to before Roman times.  This method of watering was 'invented' on every continent and seems to be making a come back for smaller farmers with limited water resources.

I am thinking to maybe even automate the refill  process using a computer based irrigation control system and power from the solar installation on the chicken pen.  My front lawn has been watered using a PC based system with a relay board for years.  Just plug in the sprinkler valves to the relay board and scheduling software to open and close the flow.  Using a remote desktop session I can turn the water on a neighbor's dogs or kids - It's been great!

For the garden, I'm looking into using an Intel Stick computer and a USB relay board to control the sprinkler valves.  It's tiny, uses very little power, has built in wireless networking and no moving parts to wear out.

Back to lessons learned:

  • Corn - WTF was I thinking.  I always miss the correct time to pick the corn and end up with starchy corn.  Drying it out and grinding it for the chickens has been my only use for it.  No more corn.
  • Collards - I am the only one who eats them.  Next year, one or two.  Maybe

  • Strawberries - CONTAINMENT!  I need to cut this back to a 4 x 10 patch and keep the runners from going everywhere.  I was thinking to use cinder blocks to make a edge boundary around the patch that will also double as a hoop house base so I can over winter the plants without frost killing them off.
  • Okra - I'm the only one eating it.  My timing to harvest is really messed up since I miss them when they are at the small edible stage and am only picking large woody okra pods.  No more.
  • Squash - Again, I'm the only one who will eat it so it's kind of a waste to grow.

  • Sunflowers -  I really need to stay ahead of the weeds but these sunflowers are just getting out of hand.  I like that they help with attracting bees but it's a bait and switch for the bees since there is nothing really for the bees.

And so to my last topic, motivation.  I have a refrigerator full of tomatoes and salsa fixing and have not even started chopping and mixing salsa yet.  Plenty of tomatoes on the vine and a whole mess of peppers that need to be picked as well.  I really need to work less and garden more but that just does not seem to pay the bills so I'll need to work that out.  Anyways, it's 115 deg outside today and that's just WAY to hot to want to putter around in the garden.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are appreciated.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Power to my Peeps - Update

Well, getting the frame constructed was a huge amount of progress over the years of 'stuff sitting around' but I have actually moved this project even closer to the finish line.

A couple coats of 'close to John Deere' green paint and the frame was looking good!  I started to assemble the electronics package for this.  The main goal was to provide a light to wake the girls up during winter and keep the egg production going.  On the side of the frame in the pic above is a 12v LED flood light which lights up their coop without being too obnoxious to the house or neighbors.

I have permanently mounted the solar panel and the battery box can be seen in the pallet shelf on the back of the frame.  The down spout with a wire extending from it is from the windmill generator.  This may end up attached to the charge controller later but since the windmill is not really tall enough to catch the full breeze it is not running enough to be much help.  I still like the look of the windmill so it gets to stay.

A clear front, wall mounted project box was a must for the electronics package.  It's hard to admire your geeky work if you can't see the lights.

And here it is:  Charge controller on the left.  Light timer on the top right and temperature controller lower right.  There is still some hookups that need to be finished at the time of this posting but I should have that done by tonight.  With summer heating up more, the girls will appreciate the fan coming on when it gets over 85 degrees.

As for the project box and mounting the devices inside of it.  There were already standoffs built into the box but nothing actually usable.  My first inclination was to try to fab something with the 3D printer or to make mold so I could produce the standoffs I needed out of epoxy resin.  Eventually, I realized I was over thinking this and ended up using blobs of JB Weld putty, drilling holes and using small wood screws to hold everything in place.  Smarter not harder.

So here it is in the finished look.  I have room for more panels and batteries if the need comes up.  Now there's a source of electricity available in the backyard and this may lead to additional backyard projects.  At least my chickens are off the grid.  I can't get myself off the grid quite yet but if anything the practice is a good thing.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Huzzah for Britain!

Wow, two posts in the same week.

British citizens have voted to leave the EU and throw the globalist agenda a curve ball.  Up until this morning, the polls that I had read and heard on talk radio stated that the sentiment was to stay with the EU.  This morning I was surprised to hear that the Brexit was a go!

Over the last couple of weeks I had heard reasons from both the stay and leave camps.  Outsourcing the management  of your country just seems to this American to be a bad idea.  When the EU can limit your manufacturing and control your economy without any 'skin in the game', I can see why the middle class and older voters would want to back out of the union.  Out of control immigration with high likelihood of terrorist infiltration.  Aggressive muslims wanting to bring in sharia law while the elites preach their multicultural excrement.  Britain (like the USA) has it's own culture and traditions and it is simply arrogant to tell the masses to accept a backwards foreign culture as valid.  Because wife beating and honor killings are no big deal, right?

From the 'stay' camp you had the wealthy and powerful expounding frightening visions of how leaving the EU will leave the county weakened militarily and encourage radicalized muslims to more terrorism.  But the UK never gave up control of  their military and after dealing with the IRA terrorists, my money is on the Brit's - Margaret Thatcher was a leader with FAR more balls than our 'wimp in chief' and had the metal to make the hard decisions in the Cold War and IRA conflict.

This will cause some instability for Britain but their destiny is back in their own control.  A message has been delivered to the elites and politicos with a big red bow on top of it.  Much like the success of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the US presidential race has thrown our political elites into utter fits.  While I am not a big fan of Mr Trump, I will be voting for him for simple reasons. First - I could not possibly bring myself to vote for a Democrat in the first place. Second - given the choice of a successful capitalist, an admitted socialist or a (as yet to be convicted) criminal, I'll take the capitalist every time.

In 2004, I had full knowledge that a black person could be a good president just not the man that was running.  It's 2016 and after Margaret Thatcher, I know a woman can be a great leader, but Hillary Clinton is not a great leader.  She has used politics to enrich herself without a care about the people and live destroyed in her wake. Rant, rant, rant...

Good luck to all of us!  To quote from the movie Gremlins 2: “Well, it’s rather brutal here. Right now we are advising all our clients to put everything they’ve got into canned food and shotguns."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Power to my Peeps

Have you ever finished a project that has been so long in the opening phases that it seems will never get off the ground?  This weekend I treated myself to a set of Ryobi battery power tools - A Father's Day gift to myself!  I have finally moved forward on a backyard project that has been stalled for longer than I want to admit to.

My chicken coop is made from a 10x6x6 dog kennel with a chicken wire top to keep out the hawks and lower surround to keep their heads away from the cute little backyard predator - My dog, Chelsea.  Keeping chickens and my dog in the same yard was a learning experience as she is a very smart dog as most cattle dogs are.  My final solution for keeping the dog from killing the chickens was something made to withstand a dog's abuse.

In the first year I learned something about having a small flock (3) as opposed to the dozen chickens we had growing up and that is in the short days of winter egg production drops from 2 to 3 eggs a day to as little as 3 eggs in a week.

When reading up this subject on the Backyard Chickens website, the best solution for this was to have a timed light to give the birds those extra hours of light to keep up the egg production.  My solar power project was launched.

More than a year ago I purchased the lumber and stored it on top of the coop.  Next was a solar panel from Harbor Freight which actually has had some use over the last year to drive a small fan to make a breeze for the girls in the heat.  I picked up all the other sundry items needed for a charging a battery and timer for the light.

Anyways, the design is simple in that the end boards hold the frame to the sides of the coop and a pair of 2x6 make up the sides.  The new battery powered circular saw is sweet!  As long as gravity keeps on working the frame will not move.  A small pallet on the end makes a shelf for the battery and the electronics will be mounted on the side opposite of the panel.  I've left room for additional solar panels if the single proves to not be enough.

Other possibilities have presented themselves with the addition of a power source in the back yard as well - Automated irrigation for the garden is the first thing that comes to mind.  Sticking with my geek background it will probably be a clone of the system I have in the front yard using a low power PC to control a relay board.  Weather proofing will be the next challenge for the electronics.  Also in the event of a major power outage I'll have a charged battery to connect my inverter to, keeping some of the house lit up when the rest of the neighbors are in the dark.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, June 3, 2016

How I Broke my Broody Girls

In the past I would have locked the broody hen in a small cage with nothing to use as a nest with and after a couple of days, she stops clucking and gets back to normal.  This time around a thought struck me - Since their little house has a hinged roof to it, leave it open.

Their little safe space suddenly being a convertible with the top down was not so private anymore.  After the first day the two broody girls were out and about but would try to find a place to setup a nest but there are no other hiding places.  By day four, one had stopped clucking and seems normal and both are sleeping on the common perch again.  Gotcha!

I've closed their house back up and I'll see if this has actually worked or needs to stay open a little longer.  Fresh eggs are the best!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

I would like to say thanks to the men who died for freedom and liberty throughout our countries history.  I know your ears will never again hear the sounds of this world but there are many of us who still feel a great sense of gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of our Fallen Soldiers.

This day is for the dead but please do not forget the living.  Those who have returned from battle having seen the worse that humanity has to offer.  Men with scars not only on the outside but on the inside as well.  Many of the dead we thank today died so the men with scars could get home.  Out of the chaos of war and battle they became family - brothers.

My wife's Grandfather, Paul Villamero served in three wars - WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He came home from each but I am sure he left a part of himself in every battle.  He did not speak much of his service but I know from his wife that he relived those battles in his sleep at night.  In July of 2007, he went to rest with his Creator.  We miss him but are grateful for all he and the MANY other Vets have given to keep this Nation and many others free.

The dead should never be forgotten, nor their reason for their death - Freedom, Family, Love and Hope for a better tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

An abundance of sunshine makes a garden happy!

Well, I'm not trying to show off to those of you up in the northern states (Hello Redoubters!) but there is at least a nice part about living in southern California - Lots of sunshine, early and long growing seasons.  In just  a few months I have tomatoes just about to start turning red, collard greens and spinach ready for harvest.  Happy plants!

And that patch of straw in the lower part of the pic on the right is onions.  Something I was not planning on growing but someone left some produce too long in the buyers area at the office and I couldn't help myself but take them home and plant them. That much growth, they needed to be in the ground growing and I happen to have some ground!
The corn is going strong with one already in tassels and silk. Yummy corn coming soon!  It's only one plant that's gone that far but the others are growing nice as well.
Another bonus this morning, I was greeted by a bunch of California Poppies.  These have been a favorite of mine.  As a child, my father hauled feed to many of the dairies that WERE all over southern California (all most all the dairy farms are gone now). On weekends he would pack up the family and drive out to some of the  beautiful picturesque country where the dairy farms were at.  Out of the car window I could see the poppies in the fields so this little clump of poppies takes me back to happy times of childhood and family.
Last but not least, I had a hen go broody last week.  This had made egg collection a challenge with a girl that doesn't want to give up her eggs.  As if one wasn't bad enough, a second girl started clucking this morning and guess where I found her when I went out to collect eggs - next to broody.  Apparently, nobody had the 'birds and the bees' talk with these girls because I do not have a rooster so these girls are only hording my breakfast!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Write To Your Representatives

I've never done this before but here I am a week after my 49th birthday writing my State representatives.  I guess this means I really am getting old...


I am asking as a third generation California resident and a constituent in your district - Please do not vote yes in the current group of new gun or ammunition laws.  These do nothing but help crime.  By disarming law abiding citizens and lawful gun owners you will
be hurting the people you are here to represent.  

Additionally, I know these laws will make it illegal to bring ammunition in from other states but I am sure that this part is going to have only token enforcement like many of the many gun laws from years past.  What will be created is a whole new economy in black market ammunition.  

If you need a shining example of how these additional gun laws will fail, look at Chicago, Washington DC, New York and any of the other Democrat strongholds with draconian gun bans - Gun related crimes are still happening because the only people these laws apply to are the law abiding and do NOTHING to stop criminals.

Alan #####

Here in California, the Liberal politicians have such a grip on the population between the dependency class and the "we know what's good for you" groups they can get any bad law they can dream up passed.  This new group of gun and ammunition laws is simply insanity run a mock with background checks for ammunition purchases, higher fees (taxes) and the icing on the cake is that the California Attorney General has not completed implementing all the restrictions from laws passed in the 90's.

At what point will the Democrats in California start legislating against sharpened sticks and harsh language?  Meanwhile the thugs and criminals will still have an upper hand on the law abiding citizens.  They never seem to learn that their ideas just will not work - Socialism and gun control go hand in hand.  But they will never achieve the lofty long term utopia they are looking for; it always turns bad once the money is gone and the lazy dependency class they've created stops getting their freebies.

This is why history needs to be taught in our schools - these ideas just don't work.  Maybe this is exactly why it is not being taught - They really want to try the bad ideas again with what remains of the productive American tax payers footing the bill because this time they're sure they can make it work. It'll only cost us the Republic and our freedom - Don't you want to be safe and taken care of?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blog posts canceled due to Rant

I see why many bloggers start out strong and then fade after a couple of weeks.  I have started several posts in the last couple of weeks and ended up deleting or shelving the posts - due to rant.

Talk Radio or keeping up with the news could be the blame for my angst during this election cycle.  It is definitely been one of the most interesting presidential races in my almost 5 decades on this Earth.

We've had some possibly good leaders drop out of the Republican race. Some with dignity and grace, others not so much.  While the "handouts and breadlines" party has a Socialist and an un-convicted criminal (who is also a Socialist (Matthew 7:15-20)) slugging it out to see who can promise more freebies than the other.

In the end, the well informed are outnumbered by vast numbers of the uninformed or the Kool-aid drinking masses that will vote for some slogan or for the 'first woman' concept.  They will vote to make their moral failings legitimate and acceptable.  They will vote out of fear that the gravy train they are riding will be derailed.  Gone are the days of hard work and sacrifice to reap the rewards that they bring when you can just wait for your government check to give you the rewards that others have sown.  Taken by the state at the point of a gun.

For all the departures the progressives have taken from the simple, well written Constitution of this country, maybe the green energy people should look into tapping into the graves of our Founders.  The spinning could be harnessed as a final insult to give free electricity under an Obama energy plan.

Maybe, Dear Reader (if anyone actually reads this), you can see why I have been loath to finish a post lately.  It's kind of hard to transition from "Look - the tomato plants are starting to put on fruit" to "Elections have consequences" and not sound like a loon.  Hopefully, by my next post I will have calmed down enough to show off how well the garden is doing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sometimes the only bright thing in California is the sun...

Just grousing...

The morning drive here in Southern California - freeway, surface street, gas stations.  How is it that it seems like too many people are having a duhh morning?  Some days the only bright thing here in the land of Fruits and Nuts is the sun.

I really need to move out of this state...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Getting some help with my composting

Over the last year I've been making compost using lawn clippings, fallen leaves, chicken poop, a bit of dirt and biological infusion of the last batch of compost.  It's been working well but I find myself in a quandary of abundance - The trash cans that I normally use are already full and not ready to dump and reload.

After reading in several other blogs how people have their chickens spread their compost piles to keep it mixed up, I  figured I'd let my girls have a go at the clippings.  I normally give them hay or straw as litter and shovel out their droppings often.  With the excess of litter building up I've turned the ground in their coop several times for them to enjoy the grubs and other bits the can scratch out.

Lets hear it for digging forks! My chickens act like it's Christmas when I turn up their coop.

After all of the litter and spilled feed the ground in the coop is really rich and I'm hoping to get a nice build up so I can take the top 2 or 4 inches out of their coop floor in a couple months. By the fall between the trash can composters and my little helpers there should be more than enough to till into the garden this winter.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Beauty in a weed

Doing some weeding today.  Getting rid of some pig weed, tumble weeds, unwanted sunflowers and nut grass but couldn't help but remark on the beauty in simple things.

I have California Poppies and Milkweed growing so I will have some flowers to attract the bees but in the interim the white mustard, morning glories and sunflowers are drawing the bees in.  If only the tomatoes were blooming.  The strawberries, orange tree and plum tree are benefiting from the bee's attention though.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Getting the Garden into shape

Here it is, the end of March and I have had tomatoes and peppers in the ground for two whole weeks. I have only lost one from the original window box group and that was to snails and not transplanting shock.  In payback to the snail population for eating my tomato plant, there was a reckoning and the chickens served as their executioners (Insert evil laugh here)


I am trying the black ag cloth this year to try to keep ahead of the weeds.  It has worked pretty good where the wind and the dog will let it.  Every tool not in use has been pressed into service to hold the ag cloth down.

Even though I'm the only one who eats it, I'm thinking of planting some Okra in the open space on the right.

Last year's purchase of 3 flats of strawberries and 2 flats of pineberries (white, pineapple tasting strawberries) has survived the brutal California winter and filled in to an actual patch.  Of course there are the ever present weeds.

Two years ago, I had enough strawberries from a smaller patch to make some jelly.  I'm hoping to have enough for more jelly this year.

Collard greens and spinach in the ground.  Plenty of room for more.  There's a volunteer tomato and lettuce that have come up over here.  Corn has just sprouted on the periphery, I always have corn but seem to miss the harvest window and it gets starchy so I have not planted much this year.  Even it I miss the ripeness window, it's a treat for the chickens and it make me feel productive with tall corn in the garden.

In the window, I have just started some broccoli, pickling cucumbers and with a lot of luck, black pepper as well. The pepper plants are almost ready to go outside.

Last but not least, my gopher eradicator.  She's also good at chicken removal - Keeping an eye open for anything that needs killing in the back yard.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A little introduction

Where to start?  I grew up in the 70's & 80's and saw the world making much more sense than I see it today.  Simpler times, common sense values, hard work, fair play and rule of law were instilled into everyday life.  In the current world those aspects of the life I grew up with have been vilified - Common sense values are seen as too judgmental, hard work is for people too stupid to get a government handout, fair play is for chumps who cannot figure out how to cheat the game, rule of law is trumped by a good attorney and the ability to keep the collected jury IQ below room temperature.

OK, I've done it - exposed the fact that I grew up to be a conservative.  I am sure that many out there would consider that to be a birth defect just as much as I would consider spaying or neutering a suitable way of controlling the liberal population.

As a child, we always had livestock - Chickens, geese, hogs and cattle.  All of this on a half acre of land.  My grandparents owned a 4 acre farm with milk cows and made a living selling hogs.  All of this meant that as the youngest grandson, I would loose my teenage summers to working for someone.  Later in life my mother mentioned that we lived below the poverty line but I can't say that I remember things being too bad.  We had a freezer full of beef and we ate steak 5 or more days a week.  Between productive gardens and local farmers we always had fresh fruit and veggies.

The backyard micro-farm (garden and chickens) is my attempt to regain some of the flavor of my younger life.  I've had a garden for the last three years and chickens for the last two years.  Having fresh eggs on the weekends, collected from my own hens is really a pleasure.

In my blog I will try to stay the course and keep to just my own backyard but I'm not making any promises.  Especially during election season.