Sunday, December 27, 2009

Supporting your local Farm

I have always had a fascination with home grown foods and it's no wonder with a little bit of inspiration from others I got my own hands dirty. Nevertheless farmers are struggling to keep their businesses and way of life above water. Fortunately, for them the home grown revolution and organic eating has gone viral. But their still seems to be a huge gap for revenue that could be generated coming from the local farms into our kitchens. If I had my way I would have our Public schools purchase local food from our farms and institute an intern program for aspiring chefs to provide healthy meals for our kids. Ok this is my 2 cents, probably there are many holes in this way of thinking for it to work effectively, but the good idea fairy just couldn't keep quiet. Nonetheless, I found a great website to support local farms in your area . I was surprised by the number of local establishments in my area that provided everything from honey and canned goods to free ranged birds and cattle. But with all this said, I am glad to see the increased interest of city folk wanting to eat more healthy. Hopefully, this all transforms into tangible evidence that supporting locally grown is here to stay

Over winter transplanted pepper plants Flowering

Sooooooo after filling water bottles for the rabbits, filling up there feed trays, feeding the chickens, feeding the hawk, feeding the dogs, spreading hay over the raised beds growing my onions, garlic and snap beans, watering all the plants in the sun room, I look up and see this, a flower from one of my transplanted pepper plants that I pulled out of the garden to over winter. Even though I live in the south it has been cold here lately and my sun room is not insulated. But nonetheless, it is facing south and gets sunlight from the morning to the mid afternoon. This little guy brought a smile to my face. I guess they just don't want to give up. I have high hopes for my transplants this up coming year and the best thing about all of this is the fact that I don't have to start from seed again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Falconry Weight Management Ups and Downs; Literally

These past few days I have been getting antsy because I would rather be hunting with my hawk, instead of just waiting for his wait to drop. The key to hunting with birds of prey is proper weight management. There are several trains of thought on this idea, but everyone agrees that weight reduction is key to hunting with your bird of prey. Birds used for falconry like my Passage Red tail Hawk are motivated by food and the drive to hunt. But when they are full, they don't have much desire to do anything except sit there and look into space. When Delta was trapped he was 1020 grams, in order to get him to respond to me I had to drop his weight gradually. Everyday I would weigh him and record his behavior. He didn't respond to me until he lost 120 grams which put him at 900g. It was only then that delta accepted me as his provider and source of food and at this weight he was very keen and making unbelievable progress. This training came to a temporary halt when I had to travel to Oklahoma. I had my wife feed Delta for 3 chicken necks every other day. I figured this would be enough feeding for him to maintain his health and still keep the keen hunting spirit I desired for a hunting hawk. Ohh Boyyyyyyy to the contrary; when I got back Delta was Hog Fat, He was a whopping 1160 grams, that's right ELEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY GRAMS!!!!!!!! I just shook my head. I thought at this weight It will take forever to bring his weight down. He was trapped at 1020g and he had to go all the way down to 900g to even want to eat and now he was 1160g. This was fatter than he was trapped. But something happened over the course of several days that led me to rethink my position on weight loss. Even though Delta was Hog Fat he was still responding to the fist when bigger pieces of meat were presented. Of course I didn't give him the reward of a big hunk of meat, but I did reward him with a tidbit once he came to the fist. So over the course of several days I offered him a mix bag of small tidbits, tirings of fur and feather that can't be digested but will give him that sense of fullness as though he has eaten and washed meat; meat that has been rinsed in cold water over a period of 24 to 48 hrs in order to pull out all of the nutrients so that he can still eat and lose weight. (Maybe this can work for me too) So finally I got Delta back down to his Trap weight which is 1020g and although he is not as keen as he was at 900g he is definitely showing interest, by flying to the fist when called. This leaves me a bit perplexed about weight management because conventional thinking would suggest that he must reach the magic number of 900g in order to respond as his hunting weight. I have a feeling that Mr. Delta may start flying way before the 900g mark. But then again I really don't know, he is still truly a wild hawk I don't know if we will ever share the same relationship as I did with my other hawks. Ours may just be a mutual respect that predators share amongst one another and nothing else. If Delta could talk he would probably say to me " Hey buddy, Don't take this personal, It's just Business."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meet the Natives

We love watching the travel channel. Im a huge follower of Bourdaine and Zimmerman. But tonight I have found a show that has them both beat and its 'Meet the Natives". Talk about refreshing. A few years back I saw an episode on the Natives of New Guinea and instantly fell in love with such a happy folk. What draws me to this show is how innocent and pure they are in there thinking. I have been laughing hysterically at their interactions with "Us normal Folk" (YAWN!!) To say the least there have been great moments of the show but when they went to NYC, I felt really embarrassed. You don't realize the depts of ignorance people have until it comes out in subtle ways. Things we take for granted and think as normal makes no sense to them. For instance, on of the men from New Guinea asked a family, why do they just have grass in the backyard. The man replied, it's because it feels soft, the man from New Guinea could not understand how anyone could have land with sun and not grow vegetables. I understand that not everyone would like to live that way but this show really brings it back full circle as they travel the U.S. Brilliantly done!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lamb Fries anyone!?!?

So im visiting this Extreme cold state of Oklahoma and went out to eat and there I found the Infamous Lamb Fries on the menu. I had to try it. The thought of eating lamb scrotum didn't bother me a bit. It was really good. But than again everything fried tastes good. So Im not sure if they were prepared for lets say a "Puritan" if I would have appreciated them. I don't have very good memories of Oklahoma, the last time I visited I almost died of pneumonia but I did get to see my first ever tumble weed barrel across the road I only saw those on the movies and I also saw my first ever prairie dog in a real live wild prairie town. Being from NY City I was wishing I had that huge hammer to smash each one of them as they poked there heads out. But anyways here I am again in this frigid 17 degree F whipped air battling with another cold. It sux. My wife told me it was 70 degrees yesterday back home, Bummer!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Urban Falconry

Meet Delta he is a tiercel red tail hawk. He was trapped a couple of weeks ago and has been giving me hell ever since. This guy changed the game on me, I tried everything in my power to turning this little fella around and he still would not break. After two weeks and no progress I was faced with a decision to let my pride go and release him back into the wild. Sometimes the match between falconer and bird of prey doesnt mix. He forced me to pull out all of the stops. I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks to get this stubborn guy to respond. It was only a few days ago when I took another deep sigh and entered the dark room with my falconers glove and miners flashlight fitted on my forehead. I opened up the Giant Hood and he stared right at me. The process of breaking a falconry bird is delicate, because these are the moments in which trust is built and when dealing with wild birds of prey trust is all you have. One mistake can turn a good hunting hawk into Satan's spawn. Its important to move slow with the progress but it is also important to stimulate the hawk as much as possible in order to break his will. This may sound cruel to some but this is the process that Hawks and other Birds of Prey used for falconry must go through, because the end result is a hunting partner that has a mutual trust and is eager to hunt with you. Weight Control is the key to successful falconry. Every falconer knows that it is important to drop the weight to a point where the Hawk is responsive. In the past this has only taken from day 1 to day 3. However, with Delta it took 2 weeks. And so exhausted and frustrated I bend down looking into his Giant hood thinking that this is going to be another uneventful day and as I reach into grab him he looks at my glove, I push it up under his breast and he steps up. I think, hmmmmm, he seems quite calm today. I weigh him and he is 889 grams. I think to myself that this can not be good because that is very low. I trapped him at 1020 grams. The golden rule is to drop approx 10% of their body weight. With delta he had already exceeded that and showed no sign of breaking. But once again I would try and honestly this was the last time. Because I would rather have him flying free in the wild than starving to death, weak and nimble with me. So I would try one more time and I pulled the dead mouse out layed it on my glove in between his talons and he looked at me tilted his head and started tearing at the mouse. I wanted to jump up and shout "YES!!!!"" but I maintained my composure so that he would feel comfortable. I wanted him to know that eating from my fist is the best thing happening and he relished every bit of it. So there he was, I named him Delta after Special Force Operators who go through S.E.R.E School to endure the riggers of P.O.Ws and stay mentally tough to not break. That is the spirit of my new hawk. He is bold and although he finally broke, he pushed me to the limit of my training abilities can't wait to see with his angry ass will do on some squirrels and rabbits this hunting season.
Also in the News my buddy Jim trapped himself a "747" this girl was Big. I think she ate all her siblings and when they were all gone she probably ate her mom and dad. She is a beast. Jim trapped her today with that fancy mouse I bought from the pet store. I hear Jim has some females waiting back at the house for all of the good work he has done. But nonetheless, she is a beautiful bird and will be the envy for all falconers who aspire to hunt with a Dragon lady.
Jim Is going to have his hands full the next couple of weeks. I have to check on him regulary to make sure that girl doesn't eat him. Jim told me she wieghed in at 1462 grams. Considering Delta was 889 this girl is almost twice the size. WOW!!

Out Of Control Puppy

Jackson my new German Short Haired is on turbo all of the time. This little guy has so much energy that he leaves my wife and I whupped at the end of the day. Currently we are enforcing strict discipline with Mr. Jackson because if there is one thing that I know; cute puppies that get away with everything turn into not so cute adults who get away with everything. Not in my house. I have to put the smack down on Wacko Jacko and he is taking to it like a champ. He has learned how to sit and stay and come. He heels very well and I can place his food bowl on the ground and walk away and he wont touch it until I give him the command. All this training is so that he can eventually hunt with my hawk a year from now.
He is my first puppy with a whole lot of personality and is showing strong signs of a great hunting dog. Well, so far so good. We will just have to see how Tasmanian-Wacko-Jacko progresses;)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Make an easy trellis

Next year is literally around the corner; so we are prepping for things that we definately want to do differently and one of them is the use of a trellis. We love sugar snap peas, but I have noticed that the sugar snaps are very lethargic when trying to climb. For last years harvest I was constantly out there training the vines to climb and attach to something. It was a pain in the butt, but nevertheless, I didn't give up. I noticed that part of the problem was that the sugar snaps need to start climbing early. They always seem to protrude that one feeler that seems to guide the rest of the plant and if that guy doesn't get a hold of something it all of a sudden goes rogue. But anyway I came up with something that may work by using some left over material from the cottage. It consists of 2 stakes or poles and plastic fencing material. I cut the fencing material to the length of the stakes or a little longer and then thread the stakes in and out of the fencing material on either side until the fence is running the length of the stake and repeat the other side. I then took some twists and secured the fence to the stakes to prevent severe slippage and walla. I think this will work in theory for my small garden and best of all it is the width of the raised bed and very easy to make. I can also just pull them out role them up and store them when not in use. But this may just be my solution for weak climbers. We'll see.............

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Urban Rabbit Farming

Alas, I have finally got myself a herd of rabbits. Raising rabbits in an urban environment has always been one of my aspirations. There are tons of research that support the raising of rabbits in this type of environment. The one item that draws people to raising rabbits is the ability for the rabbits to breed throughout the year. From the time of courting it will take 28 to 30 days for young to be born averaging from 5-10 a litter. The young can be slaughtered at about 2 -4 months. With the fast breeding habits of the rabbit and some good note keeping a rabbit farm for meat or anything else can be very beneficial. However, my quest to raise rabbits has more to do with understanding how it all works in an urban environment rather than producing rabbits for profit. Everyday I search craigslist looking for the *DEAL* and I finally I came across a gentleman who needed to get rid of six San Juan rabbits for $40 bucks. Well, I drove my happy self over there and picked them up. 3 bucks and 3 does. I want to include some other bucks so that way I can diversify the gene pool. But nevertheless, I finally have my rabbits. The problem was finding a place for them stay. I knew that they would go in my man garden out back but I didn't know how I was going to work them in. So with a several mins of staring at that space I realized that I would use my privacy fence as the base for my pen. When I had this privacy fence installed the fence guy asked me if I wanted the nice side facing inside of the property. I told him no, because I eventually wanted to grow veggies and the support beams could be used to construct just about anything and wadda ya know, I used them perfectly build a very strong rabbit hutch. These guys are going to be dual purpose. First I will raise them for meat and Second I will use them to train my dog and hawk. I kind of don't see the point in hunting rabbits if I am growing them. But I know that thinking will get me in trouble. Because when i need my guys to perform they need to perform. I look forward to seeing how things go in a few months. I really can't believe I have rabbits, when is it going to stop!!:)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Garlic, Onions, Cucumbers and Winter Veggies Growing Strong

These past few weeks have been extremely busy so many changes have taken place in a very short period of time some things I will post later will be my new hawk, new puppy and oh boy, my all of a sudden new rabbitry. I feel like the Swiss Family Robinson around here. But all the while as these things have been taken place my Winter veggies are really enjoying this cold crisp weather. I planted some garlic some time ago and I have some great shoots especially from this elephant garlic. Its mammoth. I also have set several Sweet onions around the garden and they are growing very strong. Zone 8 is proving to be very good for having a garden through the year. into the spring. The cucumbers have been the big hit around here. This Japanese variety does not do well in the heat. It developed all kinds of problems due to the humidity. But we didn't give up. We planted again in Sept-Oct and amazingly it took off. Today is the Saturday after thanksgiving and its 30 degrees and this beaut is still setting flowers. I recommend this variety to everyone who wants to extend there growing season. Although a little tricky at first you have to time it just right so that the temps are not high during the day and cool at night. This would easily be a Cucumber for the spring, mid to end of summer and fall in the north. Also my kale is growing beautiful leaves along with my collards and Bibb Lettuce. We are just so happy around here. Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New PCs every 2-3 years Big Sigh;(

Over the past several years My wife and I have purchased a new LapTop every two or three years. I don't know whats going on. It seems like we take turns on buying new PCs. The latest chaos came when all of a sudden my whole screen had fuzzy lines. At first I thought it was a virus but then I thought No way, because I have really good virus protection and with a little more research I found out that my video card and motherboard has gone bad. BUMMER! oh well...... this time around I didn't get all the bells and whistles. I wanted to buy a mac but I wasn't convinced that it would be an easy transition from windows. Im a bit of a hermit when it comes to my likes and dislikes. Im pretty set in my ways. But nonetheless, I really don't see all the hype with windows 7. I was expecting some sort of Star Trek experience but instead it's like blah........ All in all I am pretty tough on my PCs I put them through more than what the average person does with regards to my travels So I guess I shouldn't be such a sour puss. But anyways I guess purchasing a new PC does help in some sort of way by stimulating the economy. I just hate to spend money.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Starting Tomatoes for the Upcoming Growing Season

This past summer we grew alot of tomatoes in our garden and quickly realized that tomatoes have been the main staple to many of the dishes that we make. I absolutely love this fruit because of the many of things I can do with it and there never seems to be a dull moment when eating a tomato that is just screaming sweetness.

For our upcoming growing season we are going to do things a little different. For one thing we are starting now to grow all of our tomatoes in the sun room so that way when the spring comes we will have strong plants that will start soaking up all of that early warm Georgia Southern Weather and start producing fruits early. I followed a great recommendation from Growing Human to start pinching off the suckers early so that my plants produce really big juicy fruits and that worked very well. So by growing earlier I can get these guys started much earlier with healthier fruit.

Second, we are going to plant all of our tomatoes in containers this year because as I have learned Tomatoes are perennials if kept properly and can be overwintered. Being that I live in an urban environment I don't have much land so looking back we have identified ways to extend our growing season and free up our garden for veggies and fruit that really cannot be grown in doors. We will container garden alot of fruits and veggies this year so that we can over winter them next year and keep them for years to come to obtain a head start on every growing season. It should be alot of fun:)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I feel like pulling my stubble out.....

First, this friday was amazing; we met our new pup "Jackson" at the airport. He was everything we ever expected. Im sure there was a lot of confusion going on with him as we did our little meet and greet. My wife and I realized that we really never owned a puppy. When cheeba came to our door step she was beyond the yappy I need everything stage. So it's kind of new for us to deal with such a fragile giant. Right now crate training is going really well. We just have to fight beyond the cries of bloody murder and keep on a schedule. I realize that the best we can do for Jackson is to give him direction and stay consistent. For now we are off to a great start.

Second; Saturday started with me and petsmart having a big argument. Yesterday morning I decided to again resume trapping a passage redtail. But I first needed to get a dark colored mouse. So I walked into petsmart and I asked one of the managers if they had any feeder mice. She looked at me with certain disgust. She said, "Oh, we don't sell feeder mice! All of our animals are for pets only!" I was so friggen annoyed. so I looked around the store and snapped back by saying, " So I guess that fish tank full of FEEDER fish is not meant to FEED other fish and that cage of "Crickets" is not feed your lizards?" She had no comment as suspected. I know she was calling me everything in the book. But I was just fed up and asked her to just get me one of her fancy mice. Her eyes got soooooooooo wide and she blurted out that "WE DO NOT SELL FEEDER MICE!" I said, "Ahhh, yeah I know, you made that very clear, sooooooo, please sell me a FANCY MOUSE!" She said, "For What?!" I said, "Forrrrrrr none of your business!" I told her that it was obvious I was not going to feed a mouse that cost seven dollars. I just need it to catch a hawk. When I said that her big Jawls just started Gasping, as though she was having an asthma attack. Im in total disbelief at this point. I cut it short by telling her that my mice don't get hurt they are in a cage and the hawk can't get to them. But before I could by the FRIGGEN, FANCY MOUSE, I had to get literature on Mice care and sign some papers on some other stuff and the whole time I am screaming inside Saying, "I JUST WANT A DAMN MOUSE LADY!!!" So with a few more deep sighs I sign the papers and receive my mouse. While everybody looked at me with there little beady eyes piercing through my soul as I walked out. All I could say as I walked out was. WTF!?!?!

Trapping- I get my Fancy Mouse in the trap and within 30 mins from the time I left petsmart I had One Adult Female on the trap. I had to let her go because I was looking for a passage bird. I began my trek through the mountains and found a great spot over some farm land where I saw a huge Passage redtail and threw the trap out. The Passage Redtail Came to the Trap and I said, "YES!" I drove up to the trap and the Huge Passage Redtail was trying to foot the mouse through the cage. But I noticed something. Not one damn Noose was hooked onto her talons or leg. I shook my head in disbelief. I drove my car up to the trap approx 10 feet away and the Redtail didn't move. She just RIVER DANCED on the trap trying to catch the mouse and didn't get caught. Again, Pulling my stubble out saying WTF!?!?! And she flew off. What a day, what a day, What a day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our new Family Member

I have never seen my wife so excited. I'm actually kind of jealous because she has never been this happy with me. But with our new Puppy that we are picking up on Friday, she cannot even sleep. After going back and forth between 3 different breeds: the Rhodesian RidgeBack, the Dogo Argentino and the German Short haired Pointer, we finally decided that the German Shorthaired would be the best match for our family and our lifestyle. This was one of the toughest choices I had to make because I absolutely love the Rhodesian Ridgeback with a passion. However, the majority of the breeders for Ridgebacks are breeding Ridgebacks for their beauty and not for their hunting skills. This was so disappointing to find out as I fussed with many breeders about why it's necessary to breed dogs based on skill and character first and looks last. My concerns were left listening to dial tones and ultimately I was blacklisted from breeders, because I had this crazy idea of using a Rhodesian Ridgeback aka the Lion Hound who was originally bred to hunt big game, flush upland birds, protect the farmers flock and Provide safety and security for the family, to use as a Versatile hunting dog. I was told I was crazy for even suggesting such a thing. Go figure? The Dogo Argentino was my next choice, but the breeders in the US are far and few in between, nevertheless, the Dogo breeders are Defantely
in line with the skills and traits of the breed and many Dogos are still being bred and used actively for hunting and because their are not many around the cost for a Dogo is alot of money. So it balled down to what dog would be best for our family. We wanted a dog that would be considered the perfect family pet. Easy to train, great temperament and still be able to assist me in the field with Falconry, tracking, and flushing game. The German Shorthaired fit all those qualites to a 'T" and the many German Shorthaired Breeders are actively providing a steady gene pool of Hunters that have been in the Blood Line for many, many generations. We found a great breeder who specifically breeds for hunting qualities and outstanding temperament his name is Buck and he has been breeding top of the line GSPs' for 20 years. My wife new how important it was for me to find a breeder that bred for the qualities I looked for and when I gave her the "Go" she was knee deep in research and found Buck. It didn't take long for Buck to find out what Pup would make a perfect addition to our Family and our needs. Our New Puppies Name is "Jackson" I can't wait to get him started and my wife can't wait to bite his ears;)

Cool Weather Crops Growing Strong Zone 8

This fall I planted Bibb Lettuce aka (Butter Lettuce) I fell in love with this variety after eating it at one of our favorite Vietnamese joints. The texture is soft and the texture is silky and my bunch is doing very well this fall.

Earlier this spring we planted onions and garlic in containers and although they produced text book shoots they really never developed into the onions and garlic we thought they would. Could it be that there was not enough room? Maybe the temperature during the day? I don't know. But one thing is for sure they didn't develop. This fall I planted my Onions and Garlic in the raised beds and they are taking to their environment very well. But I'm a bit worried that green shoots will just be green shoots. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hunting-the Good and the Bad

You would think that a person who wakes up at 4 o-clock everyday would relish the thought of sleeping in late on the weekends. Not this guy; during hunting season I wake up at 3. It seems like with all the preparation I do, I am so how never prepared. Im constantly thinking about everything; my scent, the time of the year, the time, the wind, how will I lure them in and it goes on and on. So when I eventually leave the house I am so exhausted from the mental mind #&^! that all I want to do when get to my stand is sleep. But who am I kidding, it's hunting season and the deer are starting there Pre-Rut. I know that as the sun rises movement will shift from the feeding grounds to the bedding grounds and Bucks young and old will begin sizing one another up for full rights to the breeding ground. It's a fantastic time of the year, until your in your tree stand at O-dark-thirty and rain clouds pull over and deliver a torrential downpour all day. All I can do is just lower my head and shake it from side to side. But luckily I came prepared. I stored my poncho in my hunting bag and as most hunters would retreat to back home, this hunter started a stalk. I know from past experience that hunting while it's raining in the dense woods can have it's advantages. First deer will have a very hard time hearing you as you walk through the woods and second, the rain keeps scent dispersal to a minimum. So as I stalked I found areas in my hunting area that I didn't know existed like a deer highway that had multiple scrapes along the path. I poured some doe urine in the fresh scrape and sat back aways. As I sat I noticed movement from the corner of my eye. It was a very young doe working her way up the path. As I shifted she caught site of me and turned around and ran the other way. But nevertheless, I turned an uneventful day into an eventful day and latter on this week I will again wait in ambush for some unwary deer to walk by. For now its deer 1- wet hunter 0.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Overwinter Transplants off to a Good start

My pepper plants have been doing well inside. This is the first time I have tried to bring a plant that was growing in the garden and convert it to the container and bring it indoors. The flowers have been setting on the plant and I have been making sure the door is closed to not allow for any drafts. But so far so good. My goal is to keep this guys green until spring and then I can take the containers outside and mother nature can take care of the rest.

My eggplant seems to have taken well to the transplant as well. I would really like for this guy to be successful. The Japanese eggplant are unbelievable and this is coming from someone who really doesn't like to eat eggplant. He is definitely a winner! The trick again is to preserve these perennials through the winter and have a head start for spring and summer next year. Speaking of next year I have to start planning for what type of seeds I want to purchase next year. We are definitely going to grow more of what we eat regularly and I would like to try growing some fruits and veggies from the middle east in containers. It should be fun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Growing Butternut Squash in the Fall Zone 8

Over the past few weeks my Butternut squash have been producing many male and female flowers. Our hand pollination techniques are producing sub par results. I have noticed that there are these tiny ants that have been navigating to every open flower collecting what I think is pollen. There are some butternut that have started to grow and then for some reason or another they fail and those same tiny ants are walking in and out of the shell. I suspect they may also be eating the squash. The one pictured has been doing very well along with three others. The butternut unlike other varieties of squash seem to take forever to grow and the longer they are on the vine the more I have to contend with fighting off everything that wants to eat them. Nevertheless, they really enjoy the cool weather and when we have warm fronts that move in they are taking full advantage of it as well. But all in all I am really liking my butternut this time of year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No Wonder They say we all look the Same

The other day I called a surveillance installation company and spoke to a gentleman that has been installing cameras for 20 years. In the past few months somethings have been happening in the neighborhood that we think merits the surveillance of our property and surrounding areas. So anyway, I got the gentleman on the phone and we started talking about all the different systems and the cost to purchase and install. In the back ground I could hear several chickens and we struck up a great conversation about raising chickens and how much fun they are. This went on for approx 5 min, after which, we again got back on to topic about the cameras and I asked the question about what is the difference between the two types of cameras. He began giving me a breakdown about one camera and when he got to the other camera he began by saying in a whisper, "We'll I don't mean to be racist, but if you get a negro coming to your door it will be really hard to identify him if he's dark." I said, "Oh really, Because I don't want a camera that can't pick out all Negros; when can you come over and install?" I don't think this guy realizes I am black. It's going to be real funny when he sees me. Other than the Old style negro comment, I think he is a really nice guy. I will have to bust on him though and make sure my camera passes the Negro test:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hugo, Tommy and Cheeba Oh My!!

The Big Guy Hugo is going through a crisis of some sort, for many years he has been the King of the house. Hugo is some kind of cat with a great personality. He loves to be stroked and his deep purr lets you know that he appreciates every bit of it. But something happened when we left for Vegas. Things changed for some reason. The one thing we noticed when we came back was that his scratch post was in the middle of the hallway. Im not to smart on cat behavior, but I know that big cats use scratch post to show other cats how dominate they are. I love having fun with Hugo when he starts to scratch, because as soon as he starts I will position myself in a door way and start scratching as far as I can reach. Apparently the higher the scratch marks, is a great indication of how much of a bad ass you are. When he sees that his hair flares out and he starts running for the nearest hole to squeeze in, Hugo as you probably have figured out is not a small cat, he is an XX Large Tabby that weighs almost 25lbs. My wife brought him with her from Japan along with Tommy. Hugo and Tommy are like apples and oranges. But unbeknown to us a power play has been in the works for some time and now Tommy is the ruler of the house. I use to think Hugo was a bully; but once I got to know him, I understand him better and realize that the way he ruled the house was actually based on order and fairness. But now with Tommy "the Quiet One" aka "Night-Stalker-Psycho-Boy" who never sleeps. He has exploited this weakness for his benefit and has pushed hugo to one section of our home, Our Bedroom; which Hugo Never leaves now. I think hugo got caught on the scratch post and couldn't get loose and Tommy jumped on him. There was hair in the hall way and a spot on Tommy, but whatever happened Hugo will not leave our Bed Room he was so scared to leave our side that he pooped on the master baths rug. Right in fron me Grossssssssssssss! But I love Hugo he is a great cat. What does my dog Cheeba think about all of this? She just roles her eyes. She is absolutely oblivious to the inner dealings of the feline world.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bok Choy Second Growing Season Zone 8

Bok Choy, is hands down one of my favorite leafy green veggies. They are a great alternative to spinach and cabbage. As the cool weather sets in here in the south our Bok choy are loving every bit of it. About a week ago I thinned several of the plants and my wife and I ate the tender clippings in a stir fry. Today I went back out to the garden to prepare another meal and noticed that the Bok choy was growing in full force with much stronger leaves. As I started clipping the leaves I noticed that there are just way to much and I got tired I finished about half way through the clippings until I got smoked. They went really well with the stir fry of other fresh veggies we pulled from the garden and fresh pesto we made over the weekend that went will with our grilled Chicken breast... Absolutely delicious!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Growing Japanese Cucumbers

After several attempts this year to grow Japanese Cucumbers we finally got a few seeds to grow and set flowers. It seems like this variety really does well in cooler weather. The whole plant has several Flowers with both male and females strutting there stuff. My wife and I are hand pollinating them all and so far so good. This past summer we were up to our ears in Cucumbers and although my wife was not a big cucumber person she really started to like them. They just add a really fresh crisp to our food and I started adding them fresh, to all my meals. Even though its cooler these days I really hope this Japanese variety really hangs in there. It's kind of tough for our pollinators at this time of the year, they are all hunkering down getting ready to embrace the cold.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Social Responsibility

Many popular food chains are advertising on their websites that they are socially responsible. But upon closer look, I start to question how could someone call themselves being socially responsible when they serve food that has calorie laden food that should be considered socially unethical. We scanned through many of these sites only to find food so high in calories that it would make up your one total meal requirement for the day. How is this being socially responsible? Its actually disgusting. My wife and I love to go out and eat, but honestly what can we eat that will be considered healthy from us from the major chains. Im sure I can go to these places and pick through the menu and search for a meal that could be healthy. But it would seem to me that a company that is claiming social responsibility should already consider these issues and try to do what they can to curtail the problems. I understand that eating fresh organic food can only be purchased at really nice restaurants, so I start to wonder, why in the world would I want to eat anything else and since it costs too much to eat at most of these places, I would rather cook myself. So it looks like there will be no more dinner and movie for us. We will just go to the movie. But wait, there is that Popcorn washed with fake butter and a soda Issue, that cost wayyyyyyyyyy more than the movie. I'll talk about that at another time.......

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First trapped Red Tail of the Season

Over the past several weeks I have been extremely busy and I have been scouting for immature Red Tails to trap so I can hunt with this hunting season. Today as I was leaving work I had my trap ready and I was on the look out for any signs of a Red Tail perched high on a tree or on a utility pole. I figure this would be a perfect time to trap because Red Tails are looking for their last meal before the sun sets because they will pretty much be in seclusion during the night.

So here I was listening to NPR and in the distance I can see the tall tale distinct sign of a perched red tail on the top of some trees scanning a field. I drove by and scouted the area to see where the best place for me to throw my trap out of the window that can serve as a good presentation for the tail. I found that place, threw the trap out of the window and drove down the road a little ways when I saw the the hawk take flight from my rear view. YES!!!!!!!!!! I got one...... I drove up to the trap and saw the red tail and became excited. The only thing that could make this date go wrong would be a RED TAIL!! Like literally. As a falconer I am looking for an immature red tail hawk and immature birds do not have "RED" tails. Only adults do and unfortunately so did this one. He was a beautiful male red tail. There are many reasons for why falconers don't trap and hunt with adults and one of them, is because adults have proven that they can live through the seasons and have lived long enough to contribute back to the population. Immature birds who are less than one year old are perfect for falconry, because they are easy to train and the take of immature red tails does not have any impact on current population numbers. Furthermore, many falconers like myself release there red tails back into the wild after the hunting season and start fresh with a new bird every year. SIMPLY AWESOME!!

What a Week!!

I can remember preparing to go hunting last week saturday to only find out that it was way to windy to be really succsessful. It was a hoot trying on my ghille suit for the first time. I felt like the yeti; in fact I could almost bet that the guys who made that infamous big foot video had on a ghille suit. But nonetheless, I had a great time out in the field. I saw tons of sign and I look forward to getting back out this weekend for some hot pre-rut action.

On sat afternoon and all day sunday, I did some much needed yard work and the misses and I planned our meals for the week. This week it was homemade chili, with jalapeno Cheddar cornbread, baked chicken with fresh veggies, lasagna rolls, or fajita burgers with lean ground beef. The wife and I have been planning our meals every sunday for the week and making sunday our official cook family day. I told her my official name is chef. Shes still rolling her eyes.

I uprooted my eggplant and transplanted it into a container and brought her inside and so far so good. My beautiful pepper plant the habanero is not doing so well, all the leaves have drooped and although it remains green, it looks really really sad. All my other transplants are doing great with a few flowers being set this week as well. I really hope the big habanero gets well. I think its from being left outside and taking in a tremendous amount of rain. Im at a lost of what to do. I just hope he pulls through. Big Sigh...............

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ground blind for Hunting

This weekend is the opening of Gun season and Im looking forward to tagging my first deer of the season. This year I am trying something new. Today I walked in the woods and found a great spot to make a ground blind. Essentially the blind serves as a way to break up your pattern so that wild animals can not discover you. If you have never hunted before, it's tough to find the perfect spot. Many people think that it's a disadvantage for hunters because we have weapons, but to the contrary deer, wild boar, turkey and other big game animals have extremely keen senses with smell being there most powerful senses. This is not true for turkeys because birds use more of eyesight than smell. But nevertheless, its extremely difficult to sneak up on game if you don't know what your doing. So this year I decided to make a ground blind. I usually climb a tree with my tree stand so that way I can get above the line of sight for most game and therefore get the advantage. But recently I have been doing alot of reading on how effective ground blinds can be if placed right. So today was my attempt to find the absolute best place and from the looks of it I found just that place. When putting up a ground blind you want to keep in mind that you have to find funnels. Funnels are areas where animal movement can be predicted by terrain. For instance: if there is a river running from north to south, and a patch of woods separating the river from a wide open field. We can safely assume that the patch of woods will serve as a funnel area for animal movement as they move secretly. I found a perfect funnel along a ridge that has a spur which concentrates predictable animal movement. It has been raining intensely over the last couple of days so trails have been washed out, but it is pretty apparent where deer and wild hogs will travel. So I decided to stake my blind along a group of trees that overlook the spur and give me the ability to see deer and hog movement with 360 degree capabilities. So my ground blind is set. Even though deer will be spooked by my scent over the next day or two, By this weekend it should back to business as usual, but that time I will be there waiting hopefully, with fingers crossed and the taming of my infamous buck fever. I don't even get buck fever. I get everything fever, Because everything that comes into range, Buck, doe,hog and turkey I get the jitters and my excitement always gets the best of me. Oh well. As I headed out of the woods I saw a nice sized hoof print from what appears to be deer cross the path I walked through. This is a great sign!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Transplanting Peppers To Overwinter in Containers

Today was a busy day; I made some shelves for my sun room and for a guy with virtually no carpentry skills I kind of did alright. I really want to utilize my sun room this winter to overwinter my pepper plants, tomatoes and eggplant. So today I jumped off that cliff and decided to pull the Harbanero plants out of the raised beds and transplant them into containers. My main concern was damaging the root system. I understand this is always the risk for transplanting, but it is either now or never; so I gently pulled the Plants out until they separated from the earth. I was cringing every time I felt a pull and then a tear. But when it was all said and done I was able to gather the majority of the root. With the plants out I prepped two containers by layering the bottom of the containers with heaping amounts of compost, then with another layer of soil I layed the plants in the container and finally filled the container with more soil until the plants were able to be supported by the soil and some stakes. Im crossing my fingers on this one. As expected I see some drooping of the leaves, there are still several peppers attached to the plant, whether this was a good idea or not only time will tell. After the plant was set I watered them and placed them on my porch. Over the next few weeks I will be looking for signs of a perky plant and hopefully signs of new growth.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Butternut Squash Hand Pollination

My Butternut squash have been doing really well. The one thing that I am impressed the most about this variety, is the fact that they don't take up much space at all. Unlike Zucchini the butternut squash stay in there own raised bed. In fact I only planted 6 seeds in half of the bed and they have contained themselves there. The key is to buy space saving Seeds. I purchased this Butternut Squash Space Saving variety From Burpee. The seeds do much better if you soak them for a day before sowing them. We tried sowing without soaking and none of the seeds germinated. When we Soaked them, they all germinated.
I also decided to plant 2 in containers and surprisingly they are doing well. Today I noticed a male flower blooming in his glory from one of my containers and I decided to snip him off with some scissors, pull the flower petals back to expose his pollen and began hand pollinating the female plants in the raised beds by simply connecting the male to the female pollen. I don't have a large garden so hand pollinating will be ok for me. I think I can control it better and from the way it looks I am going to have a bounty of Butternut Squash this fall and winter. More updates to follow..........

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Will Mentorship Work For Inner City Kids?

With the recent murder of an honor student caught live on a cellphone, the country is up in arms on what to do with our displaced youth. I am a bit upset about the response this is getting because countless number of youth have been killed in our inner cities without even a mention. I guess the reason for the shock is due to the fact that many of us go about our everyday lives knowing that the streets are tough but if we don't have to see it, than we don't have to deal with it. Until.... it's right in our faces bold as day witnessing the cold blooded murder of a child with a promising future. So now we are here and every idea is being brought to the table to curtail more events like this. So what do we do?

Mentorship is at the top of the list, but from whom; Million Dollar Athletes, Rappers, Actors, all of whom, most of the displaced youth are striving to be, but less than 1% will ever achieve that goal. If mentorship is going to get serious play, what type of delivery should it receive? I would hate to see any attempt at dealing with such a delicate issue confronted prematurely and lose its; effectiveness. Chicago is flirting with the idea of using 10,000 people from the community for the approx 10,000 displaced youths; will it work? Who knows. But Im just sick and tired of living in a reactive society where something has to happen first before we act.

Should people be paid to provide mentorship? Ohh this is a slippery slope if I ever saw one. The idea of paying for mentorship may seem a bit selfish, because after all you are trying to give back to the community and it shouldn't cost you a thing. I am for and against paying for mentorship. I feel that if you don't pay people for mentorship the quality of support will be dismal. Because after all you are relying on the good hearts of individuals to achieve a goal. If payment was implemented than any person may feel compelled to provide the service at any cost and you may get a slew of bug-a-booes trying to mentor young adolescents with only money in mind.

I am not one of those guys who complains about how things are not working but never offers any alternatives. Those people sicken me; so in an attempt to separate myself from the pack here is my suggestion:

First Parents, Guardians, Schools, or Correction facilities need to identify those kids who are at the highest risk of making Jail a career. Mentorship is great for kids who are doing well to stay on track, but for mentorship to really work it needs to start at ground zero; with the kids who are living the lives of criminals, future gang bangers and wannabes.

After these kids have been identified they need to be placed on a system that measures how high risk they are. For instance, kids that have a history of violence and criminal activity would go to the top of that list and kids with lesser infractions will subsequently fall in merit of order along the list. With regards to each kid that is separated into these groups they are again separated in order from worst case on down. It is also very possible that some kids who have committed the most criminal activities can be the most salvageable and the groups of wannabes who are lower on the list can in the future reek more havoc. These variables will have to be looked at first when determining who or what type of behavior is considered to be the most at risk.

This is the time when I think a Mentorship program should be implemented. But not just any type of mentorship program. Im talking about mentors getting paid for results instead of time. For instance a mentor would receive a list from all the cases in his or her city and pick which kid or kids they will choose to mentor. The mentor will than be given 18 months to change the kid around on a path from which the kid was on and to make a noticeable positive contribution to society. It could be going back to school and getting good grades, finding a job to get off the streets, or working on community projects. Whatever it may be the kid has to change his or her life around. Payment will work in two ways; First, based on the severity of the case the payment will be much higher than the less severe cases. Second that payment would only be paid out to mentors every 6 months based on their performance and the results they were able to achieve with the kid.

This is a touchy topic but I really think with a program like that you will get some quality mentors that will come from all walks of life. From Doctors too Military professionals who want to change the life of a kid. Sure they will get paid, but collectively we cannot afford to keep looking the other way while our youth prey on each other.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegas on a Budget

Our trip to Las Vegas was great. It was everything we expected and more. We are not ultra conservative folk and we are not the type that live on another planet. So with everything that Las Vegas has to offer we found ourselves somewhere right in the middle.

Since we are not rich folk like the guy who was playing $300 dollar hands at the roulette table and Lost friggen 5 times before he moved to another table. We budgeted everything for las Vegas, from shows, to food, to gambling. Needless to say the first two we did great at; gambling---um--noooo. However, we had alot of fun. The key was setting money aside for gambling and when it was done we were done. My wife had a great plan, she would win in increments and move on, instead of staying there and win more and then 'Like ME" lose everything. Yeah we were Vegas Virgins and as I read before and 'SHOULD HAVE" learned (THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS).

We stayed at the MGM Grand and it was very nice but it was a ways down the strip across from Newyork, Newyork. The Mega Hotels were great but they all had this smell that resembled Grandmas Closet. MGM had a really nice buffet special that cost approx $30 for the day. It included breakfast, lunch and dinner. Being home grown foodies we were really impressed at the level of super fresh, vegetables and fruit that vegas had to offer it was awesome. Even though the MGM had a great Buffet it was not something that we wanted to do everyday. We felt kind of compelled to eat there since we paid our money and when the day was over we moved on to the other hotels with extraordinary buffets.

A few places that I will visit again is Le Village; they had an unbelievable brunch buffet, french inspired and all you can drink champagne. The seafood was great, along with the lamb and unbelievable creme brule. It was Absolutely amazing!! If you are feeling squirrely For seafood and sushi Todai Japanese Buffet was another great deal. In most small American towns buffets are not going to cost you $20-$30 range, But for the quality of food you can not beat these prices for the level of freshness that you will receive there.

ll in all when we go back we will probably stay at the Planet Hollywood because most of the shops, $5 dollar tables and great places to eat are in that general area. When we do go back we will probably stay no more than 3 days max with 2 nights, see a a show or two and back to normal life.
Seeing shows; I have never even wanted to see a show in las vegas until my wife convinced me that it will be fun. But at $100 dollars a ticket up to $180. How can you reasonably see a show? Online offered no real deals, so when we got there we found these places that were along the strip tix4tonight they offered anywhere from 20%-50% off on the shows. But before we headed to those places we went to our Concierge and they were able to pull some really good deals for us on the shows. We saw Ka at the MGM and it was just WOW!! I recommend this show for everyone. If you can get seats a little further back looking at the stage, you will be able to see everything.
The second Show we saw was Zumanity ; okkkkkkkkkkkkk so what do I have to say about Zumanity. First of all it was a GREAT SHOW!!!! But this show is not for anyone with extremely conservative values. This show offered Old world and New world Lasvegas. Lets face it, it is an erotic show and no matter how many times people are told this some idiot still buys the ticket and gets offended and walks out. Warning!!!!!!!!!!!! Zumanity is for Adults and Only adults who are willing to open up and have fun. It was a Great Show!!! but I will only recommend this show to people who are open minded. And if you want to be apart of the show do yourself a favor and sit near the stage. I am soo glad we didn't we had perfect seats along the outer edge. It was perfect.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primitive BBQ

Recently I picked up an amazing Cooking Book ( Jamie at home, Cook your way to the Good Life)by the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver. In the book he shows some pics of primitive style BBQ. I pride myself on being somewhat of a pit master. But then I quickly realized that my skills as a BBQ man are made up of all the conveniences like charcoal and tools. So I got to thinking what if I took the conveniences away. Any one can grill meat over a fire when all the conveniences are in place. So with a little research on how indigenous people cook over an open fire I tried my first piece of meat primitive BBQ style. The first thing you have to do when cooking over an open fire is to get a substantial number of hot coals. And by hot coals I mean burnt down wood turned into the white chunks of nothing that most people don't care about. Those white chunks of ash and wood are the main source of heat that will keep your meat burning at an even temp. These coals are the trigger mechanism to cook and restart your fire when needed. I first started off by using all of the dead branches I had laying around the property. I cut the limbs and separated them by girth, keeping the little twigs together, medium sized twigs and thick saplings separate, varying the time I tossed them into the fire to keep it going and hot. The result, I produced a large amount of coals that were able to burn anything put on them and they were able to maintain a great deal of radiant heat. This is my first attempt at Primitive BBQ. I look forward to perfecting the art.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fish Head Soup

For many people eating the fish head is probably unacceptable. However to many more people the Fish head is the most delicious part of the fish. In many parts of the world fish head rivals the best part of steak and the reason for that is the gelatinous fat that surrounds the fish head which gives it tons of flavor and is loaded with healthy Omega 3 fatty Acids. In addition, The stock made from fish heads are served in the most expensive of restaurants and are saved for the staff at the end of the day.

I remember my mom who happens to be Liberian asking the guy at the fish market for the heads and for a while they were giving it to her for free. Because lets face it, who eats Fish Heads. But one day she went back to pick up her fish heads that they usually throw out and to her surprise they were on display for sale, she was shocked with disbelief. But apparently unknown to her, the Fish head Business was growing in full force and while my mom had her fair share of competition, the fish market found a new way to turn a profit.
One of my favorite parts of the fish head is the actual eye. Once you get over the idea of eating an actual eye, you will taste who wonderful they taste. For some reason the eye sucks up all of the flavor of the stock and taste so wonderful. Absolutely delicious!! For this soup we used shitake mushrooms, diakon radish, bok choy, cilantro, spring onions, carrots, salt and black pepper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Make a Rain Garden For Drainage Issues

One of the projects that I have to address this upcoming year is the issue with rain settling on a spot of my property that does not get good drainage. I have been giving a lot of thought on how to address this issue and I literally hit a wall with no ideas until I came across a Manual for Rain Gardens on the net.

The idea is to plant a flower bed in these areas that tolerate alot of water and design it in a way that looks natural with the environment. The benefit of doing this is that the plant beds provide adequate drainage for areas in your yard that receive the water run off. I think its a great start to offset a big problem. The only issue I will have is plant bed design, materials to be used and plant species that specifically thrive off of alot of water. It will be challenge but I think I will be killing 2 birds by taking care of the drainage issue and using natural material to benefit from it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Growing Egg Plant Second Growing Season Zone 8

I planted this Eggplant back in the spring and he has shown to be a truly great producer. The oriental eggplant has been a great surprise to us with regards to harvest, taste, and texture. Here in GA the Second Growing season is in full swing and Mr Egg Plant is Showing his full appreciation, by setting forth several new flowers. Eggplants like tomatoes have the Perfect flower which means each flower has both male and female reproductive parts. For track stars this may not be a good thing, but for plants it is an efficient way to reproduce. We look forward to harvesting more Eggplants this season.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hello and a quick Goodbye! Mr CopperHead

Today began the opening of bow hunting season and I had a great time trekking through the woods and scouting for deer sign. I used today to familiarize myself with my hunting area. The deer have the advantage, it's going to be another tough game of chess this year, but I'll get one hopefully.

As I was heading back out of the woods I saw a game trail and I figured I would just follow along side of it to understand more of the area. Well as I walked parallel to the trail, I came to a dead stop, I didn't know why. But it was the same feeling when I came to a dead stop a few years back when I was in the presence of a box turtle and the other time when I almost stepped on a rattle snake two years ago. My senses were high for some reason and I didn't know why until I looked down and saw a Copperhead similar to the one in the photo perfectly camouflaged along the Forest floor. WOE!!! I moved back a little and just observed it. It was beautiful! I couldn't stop looking at it, I was in a trance just trying to make out the patterns along the leaves. I know that Copperheads are the least fatal of all the venomous snakes but I also know they are responsible for the most bites in the U.S. But I won't be a statistic today. Because today the woods belongs to the fire ants, hornets and Mr. Copperhead