Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Closer Look at Taka

Taka is coming into a comfortable zone that I did not expect. Besides being one of the most goffiest looking redtails I have known she is by far a hardworking stratetgist. It is amazing to see her work the canopy. She knows she is at a clear disadvantage with the squirrels. After all they have there gazillions of branches and holes to scurry about and hide in. But all in all Taka seems to be learning everytime she out afield on a hunt for ol bushy tail.
I find it amazing when I am trying to call her down she refuses to give up when she knows there is a squirrel just on the other side of the tree. I have learned to pick up on her silent talk that tells me the hunt is still on, even though I think it's quitting time. The bottom line is; I thought I have trained her but in reality she is training me. After all she is killing up close and personal and I am assisting her.
Our relationship is gelling very nice as we head to the field. It's going to be hard to cut her jesses at the end of Mar and let her go for good. Im sure I will feel a sense sadness when she is gone. But deep down inside I know it's selfish of me to keep her all of her life. She needs to find a mate and produce more outstanding squirrell catchers.
I know it's to early to start thinking about this but I can't help knowing that the experience I am sharing with this fine hunter will have to come to an end one day.

The Master Plan

My major Poject is going to be, transforming my backyard into a functional vegetable and fruit bearing urban garden. Ok, Ok I admit that for an urban enviroment I have more space than some but nontheless, it's not the space you have it's what you do with it. I don't want to mess this up. I have to get this right.

My issue is that I want to design something that will look cosmetically appealing and at the same time be functional. I know I can just go in there and turn the ground and lay some seed and BAM!! But with anything, I want to bring a sense of good taste and a touch of class to my urban garden. I think If I can develop these skills while I am in my infancy, I would be able to bring this with me anywhere I go and no matter whether I am living in my magnificient Victorian Greek Revival or a trailer home, I want my garden to add to instead of take away from the appeal of my living space.
I want my design layout to be very functional. I need to ability to rotate my crops from bed to bed every year without having the same crop in the same bed for at least three years. At the same time I want to have a few fruit bearing trees and vines from the dwarf variety to create a mini orchard. I need this place to be veryself-sufficient, with the exception of me turning the ground and planting new seed I need the garden to be able to take care of itself.
I know this may reqiure me to prune and trim until its self-sustained but thats a small price to pay for the benefits that will follow. But for now this is a work in progress and alot of thought and planning is going into this project before I break ground.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life Comes at you fast!!!

Soooooo, your standing there in the 34 ft tower looking at the guy in front of you and one by one you see the Joes Jump out until it's your turn. "Standby!!" the Instructor yells, you hand him your straps take a step forward and pivot toward the opening of the simulated plane door. The instructor tells you too call out your Roster number as you stare over the tree line. From this height you know that this is strictly suicide. Nervousness sets in and thoughts of how crazy I must be to even attempt this flushes over me. Nevertheless, as the instructor gives me the good game tap on on my rear end, I launch myself from the platform and hope that my rises work for me like they have worked for the thousands before me.

Hauling yourself from a building is so unreal, It's like your trying to kill yourself. The mixture of being terrified and enjoyment from the adrenline can be likened to a eating a Suicide tripple sunday, "It feels so good, But what the Hell am I doing!" The action of launching yourself from the tower is the hardest. But this is what seperates the small percentage of soldiers and other servicemen who have overcame there fears, jumped in behind enemy lines and completed their mission. I am aspiring to be an Airborne Ranger and hopefully I can write more about my successes than my failures. So far so good. But I Haven't jumped out of the real plane yet and I was told that it's harder jumping out of the tower. I don't care, I just want to walk away from every jump. I keep on telling myself, "Feet and Knees together N860"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Got One!!!!

Well finally after several days of hunting, I finally took an Ol Bushytail with Taka. Up until now it has been a bad game of chess with trying to figure out the best way to ambush a squirrel on top a canopy with heavy leaves. Nevertheless, she endured and figured out that if she stays close to me she would have a better chance at a reflush. Todays hunt was quite long. It took several game flights and repositioning for Taka to put herself in the zone to deliver a fatal strike. Which resulted in her flying some distance to where she could have a better view. I was wondering why she flew so far across the canopy from where I and the squirrel was positioned. But when she found her perch she did an immediate about-face and had at her disposal every square inch of the kill zone to strike. From that position the squirrel knew he was in trouble and freaked and Taka went into a game flight crashing through leave and branches striking the squirrel as it tryed to flee in dense foliage. It was amazing. Our first official head of game.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Compost Food

My Compost pile seems to be doing very well. My wife is saving food and seperating coffee and trash so that I can throw it in the pile. The end result is to make awesome organic worm scat so that my vegetables have some food to grow.

With that being said it seems like an uphill battle in trying to get my wife to participate in the enthusiam of me trying to be self-suffcient. I know it's going to take some work and I like with anything I have to convince her that what i am doing is actually working.

Trying to create an urban homestead requires alot of work and committment. It requires you to stick to your plan everyday and develop a system that works. It almost seems like if you were in this to make a name for yourself you will not make it. Its something deeper. It requires a a knowledge of science and determination that will result in the ultimate satisfaction of working with your hands and reaping the benefits of what a good plan accompanied with hard work will bring.

I can not profess to be a guru at this stuff. I am not. But if I don't start now than I will regret that I didn't start sooner. A little determination, a vision and a willingness to be self-sufficient in an urban environment is what propels me to learn everything I want to and need to know. And it all starts with the dirt. With out dirt you have nothing. It's like that movie water world. Dirt is gold. Good dirt is priceless. Im learning this and Im trying to perfect the art. For now my vision is taking form and I will see where it leads me to in the future.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Takas First kill

So I took her hunting today on election day and during the morning we didn't see a thing. Her weight was 1104g and she flew strong. She was very responsive and followed along with me as I beat the brush for cotton tails to run out.
Later on in the day I took her back out and she was keen on the many squirrels that were scurring about. I noticed her head bobbing back and forth and she went into a game flight. If you watch this video you will see her first kill.

Election Day

My mom is from Africa, Like real live Africa. I like to say like African booty scratcher Africa but she doesn't like that. But anyway I am from descendants of free slaves that were brought over here to the US and then they returned to Liberia (FreeTown). My mom told me today that she would never have thought in her lifetime that an African American would ever be nominated for President of the United States. Although I grew up in a very different world than my mom and have not experienced racial injustice like she has it's hard for me to "Just" look at the fact that Obama is Black.

I wouldn't vote for someone just because he is black. I am sure that there are those that will. I am sure that there are whites and blacks from the Civil rights era who will only vote because the presidential canidate is black. Im not mad at them, especially when I saw a women flip a coin today and made her decision just on that. WTF!!!! But oh well what ever floats their boat.

Nevertheless, today is the big day. Tomorrow morning our future can be totally different. But whatever way it goes this is not the time to let up. High gas prices, Two wars, Housing crisis, and job loss has spiraled our country into something that we are not use to and I personally think it's imperative that we all look at what can do to make a difference in our personal lives. Ok enough of the rant. This you tube post is moving:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Taka has been trying to Fool Me

Taka was an amazing 1110g today; Wow thats the lowest she has ever been. Her response at 1145g was amazing but after she got the hang of flying free she was in lala land and forgot about me. So I figured I bring her weight down. Its been warm down here in the Durty. So I can experiment with her weight at a lower weight.

So we were out hunting and her response was excellent, she turned around to follow me and flew to the fist when asked. And then she saw her first Squirrell and I saw her head boobing and weaving and she went into a game flight at a squirrel and just missed it by milliseconds. She is getting the hang of hunting with me And I need to challenge her some more. So we will see what she does tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Raising Chickens the Urban way

First of all most cities will not allow residents to have chickens. Nevertheless, their is a quiet revolution of folk all over the US whos sole purpose is to Raise organic eggs and meat birds in their backyards. I think its a magnificent idea and as someone striving to be a self-sufficientist I see the power in raising chickens for eggs. I think when the shit hit the fan. Chickens and eggs will be more valuable than money. I have a converted dog house that I will use as my coop. I will raise brown egg layers this up coming year.
You can see my coop next to my hawk mews. Its not fancy but its functional. We will see how it works this up coming year.
The following clip is from someone that I personally think is growing a little bit more than eggs in their backyard. Im not mad at them. This women just seems a little to happy. But her work on raising chickens should be admired.

Suburban Gardening

The Revolution

Being Debt free is the Key for true Self-Sufficientism

We can talk about all the dirt, gardening, worms, compost and Veggies and If we are in Debt up to our Knees we can not truly be Self-Suffcient. The very premise of Self-Sufficientism is the ability to be free.

With todays economy in the tank and banks struggling to keep their noses out of the extremely deep water; their is a need for individuals to take personal responsibility of their actions to get out of the grips of what has held them back.

Debt is a retro-virus that reappears in other forms and causes us to change our habits and contort our lives to fit in the disfiguered cookie mold that debt has designed for us and therefore we can never be free when we are slaves to debt. For anyone aspiring to be truly self-sufficient they will really need to address this issue in their life first.

The best thing that my wife and I have done was to pay our vehicles off. It is amazing how not having a carpayment can be. It was difficult but we knew the benefits of not having a payment. Secondly, we chose to not live on credit. We budget for everything we do. If we can't afford it than it was not important. But more importantly we were able to save money by budgeting our money. Having a savings is key to financial freedom for those rainy days and emergencies that will take place of what a credit card will do. Im not saying we don't have credit cards, we do. but we never use them. Our budget has enabled us to be free of debt besides paying for our mortgage.

The ultimate step in the right direction for us to pay off of our mortgages and just pay taxes on our home and utilities and if I have my way. I won't pay for any utilities. My longterm plan is to purchase a rain water collection system for drinking water and install a solar roof for electricity. i would love to have a wind turbine but my neighbors may protest but as we approach armegedon im not going to care what they think.

The Whole purpose to being a Self-Sufficientist

From an amatures' perspective:
Being Self-Sufficient is more than just living off of the land. It's enjoying the hard work at the end of the day, the end of the harvest or the end of the hunt.
The whole purpose to being Self-Sufficient is to reward your stomach with hormone free produce and livestock that is unadultrated by the stress which comes with the territory of produce and livestock that is prepared for market.
Some people take it to a whole nother level. They are absolutely vegan and will not think twice of slaughtering an animal for food. Although I have respect for their stance against eating meat. I however, am a Complete Carnivore that relishes in the delights of cooking particularly barbecuing, grilling and smoking meats.
For me this is my joy from the Field to the fire Pit, I would not want to enjoy it any other way. My Plan is to start off small and learn as I go. I believe in recycling. For 15 months in a combat enviroment I lived in a tent in the desert and we had to utilize anything and everything to make our little space comfortable. I hope that I am not going to turn into some old denim wearing vet with patches of every engagement and hording everything I find and never letting go. I hope I do not turn out like that. So I am being careful.
My chicken Coop is made up of a dog house that my neighbor was going to throw away and all I did was screen off the front and add a roof. The back has a metal sloped roof that can be opened so I can collect eggs and place feed in there. I don't think I would have thought of these things had I not been forced to look at life through a survivalist eye.
But needless to say I am moving in a different direction from the rest of the world, and hopefully my journey leads me to have a much better appreciation for things grown, prepared and killed by my hands. To me this is what being a Self-Sufficientist is about.

Baby Worm???

Last night I seperated the peelings from the sweet Potatoes, a few egg shells, and the cardboard box from the Macroni that we had for dinner last night. I carried my compost food out to the bin and I dug about a foot an half down into the compost to burry it all.

First I noticed that there was what appeared to be smoke. It looked weird, but it wasn't. It was steam actual steam. I placed my hand down in there and man it was HOT!!! and then I saw a baby worm. WTF!! I thought this was amazing because the presence of a baby worm means that my worms in the bin are happy and enjoying life. They have so much to keep them busy and I am happy that I have a place where we can all work together.

Mammoth Snow Peas are Sprouting

Im starting to feel really good about my compost or worm dung whatever you want to call it. I guess it keeps the seeds warm in the cooler weather and it maintains moisture for a longer period. Again I suspect this is whats going on I don't know for sure. But common sense says that the consequences surrounding the circumstances are evident.
My snows peas have entered into this world and I look forward to having a great harvest. As the weather gets cooler I will need to add my more mulch and compost to maintain the integrity of the plants. More to Follow.....

Komatsuna- are Growing

I planted some Komatsuna;

(Taken from the Komatsuna is a typical Japanese leafy vegetable. It is often called Japanese Mustard Spinach in the US supermarkets. Young leaves, stalks and flower shoots are used in salad and stir-fry. It is also very popular for salt pickling this vegetable in Japan. Komatsu is a fast-growing vegetable and is ready for harvest 35 days after sowing in warm climates. Plants can be grown all year round in temperate and subtropical areas.

My Dog Cheeba

When I came back from my second tour of Iraq this year, my wife and I planned on buying a chocolate Lab. I put a deposit on pup from california and this breeder was going to drive the pup all the way to the east coast.

My wife and I Purchased another home and we were in the process of moving. One day I was leaving early to go over to the house and as I opened my front door I was spooked because there were literally three pups that stuck their heads into my house literally. I called my wife and she couldn't believe how vulnerable, scared and beat up they looked. It was apparent that the fawn colored one was used as a bait dog, because she had bite marks all over her muzzle, ears and extremities. She was very scared and rolled over on her back in my driveway and I looked at my wife and said, "Well, I guess we found ourselves a dog."

From that day forward we took Cheeba into our home and she has been with us ever since. She was severly abused and I attribute my working with hawks to saving her. By giving her alot of positive reinforcement and being her leader she has grown to be an awesome dog that gets along great with our cats in the house and has a strong natural affection for all people and other dogs and animals.

She is bully breed mix. Some say a pitbull mixed with boxer and others say a boxer mixed with some sort of hound or hunting dog. I don't know. But what I am sure of is her ability to track and hunt. She absolutley loves it

Taka is too Fat

Days light saving time hit today and Taka weighed in at 1142g. I thought this was a great weight for her today to hunt some squirrels. She seemed really keen; However, she wasn't we went to the field today and i called her to the fist twice and then she gave up she wasn't interested at all. If she is not hungry she will not follow me. So I suspect that I need to get her down into the 1120s and than see how she responds. This tiny dragon has alot of heart and is cabaple of killing some game. I just have to find that happy medium for her and I to join this union. More to follow

Disaster strikes In the Garden

The other day I noticed there were foot prints in the garden and my winter greens were all chewed up. The collards, broccoli, and the cabbage. It was a shame. I felt violated. Who was the culprit to jump the fence and shew up my hard work? It had to be the cats I thought. We have alot of neighborhood cats raoming around and I just knew it was one of them. Only becuase my own cats eat every poisionus plant in the house and throw up afterwood.

But one day my wife and I were preparing our dinner and I saw a flash of brown head toward the back of my quail coop and in a few moments I saw my DOG!!!!! Cheebah is a mixed bully breed with some sort of hunting breed in her maybe a hound or GSP either way she is very smart and will be a capable hunter this season.

But thats besides the point. Here she was in full fawn color standing, digging and rooting around my garden looking like a small deer. I would be lying to you if I didn't admit my first instinct was to "SHOOT" the deer in my Garden!! But I had to back track from those thoughts. Two combat tours and Preparing for Airborne and Ranger school can get my blood boiling almost instantly. But nevertheless, I knew what it was and I decided to sneak back there and catch her in the act and Boy, you should have seen the expression on her face. Forget hands caught in the cookie jar, it was more like catching a man in bed with your wife.

She knew shouldn't have been back there and the sign of "Oh shit-I have done it now" saturated her face like a 2 year old eating cream pie. Deep Breath, Deep Breath, and then I acted like fool shoutin and hollarin and banging the walls. She was scared as hell and then I let her out. I found her once again and guided her back to the garden and as soon as she got close she started back peddaling. She didn't want any more to do with that place. And so I turned it off.

Ok its a loss but it's my fault. Rule #1 Protect your garden from your pets. Especially if your using your garden to produce food to supplement the high cost of food. I should not have set my pup up for failure and I did. But needless to say my seeds are starting to grow from the compost That I laid down last week. I should have a mixed bag of winter snap peas, Bunch onions, Pakchoy, and another Asian Green. We will see how this goes, but its starting to look good more to follow.......

Takas First Free flight

A few days ago I finally cut the creance on Taka and allowed her to fly free. It was a nerving moment and I was absolutely cautious of any behaviour that would indicate she is about to go lone wolf on me. I trapped her at 1260g and at 1148-50g I was flying her free.

All in all she did absolutely amazing she followed and pitched high into the canopy looking for anything that I may stir up as I moved through the big Piney woods. We were hunting rabbits and although I wasn't able to flush a rabbit for her. I was pleased to see her participate in the hunt as if she knew instincutally what I was doing.