Thursday, April 30, 2009

Growing Edamame

The new foliage from my edamame plants have made a full recovery from the hail storm a few weeks back. I was really concerned with the way they looked and if it wasn't for the knowledgeable people who follow this blog and giving me great advice I would have turned these guys into compost. But instead I held tight and gave the plants a chance to regroup and regroup they did.
The edamame plants are cold sensitive and we gambled putting them in the ground early. I honestly think the raised beds have proven themselves in every situation. Because without the raised beds, I would not be able to keep my soil warm in the coldest weather. Prior to planting the seeds we lasagna layered our compost in the beds and finished it off with some good soil on top. It was to no surprise that underneath the soil the microbes went to work composting and keeping the interior warm while the outside temp dipped below 30 degrees on some days. But yet the edamame survived and are en route to produce a bountiful harvest that will go great with my beer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Growing Bush string beans

My Bush beans have pushed forward a set of flowers that have bloomed and have started to form into small beans. It is an exciting time to see these guys come in full form. They sustained some damage from the hail storm but nonetheless, they have made a full recovery. I am impressed with the beans because all of the beans that I am growing are strong. My wife is almost scared because they just burst from the ground with full force demanding respect. It also helps that you read the label on the seed packet to see if they are bush beans or vines. For almost a month I thought these guys were vine beans, but to my surprise they were bush beans. The bush variety have been very resistant to drought and disease. We look forward to our bean harvest this year. It looks pretty good.

For Guys who take out the Garbage

So today I had a huge revelation. I was tired and hungry, because I pretty muched worked through lunch and past close of business. I came home and my wife cooked a fabulous meal pasta with seafood and fresh grilled scallops garnished with fresh basil from the garden. It was soooo delicious. I made a mixture of my jungle juice and I was feeling kind of nice or needless to say I was buzzed. It felt great. So I decided to do my part and clean up after dinner and I was in the process of taking the garbage out. When my wife saw what I had on, she was like, "Ohhh hell noooo!!, I will take the garbage out." I was shocked because I was taking the garbage out and she just didn't want me to. I personally didn't see anything wrong with the sky-blue-thigh -high running-shorts and knee-high-winter-white-rubber-fishing boots. I was just looking for some foot wear, it was the closest thing. My wife said I looked like a tranvestite and would rather take the garbabge out herself and she really did.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hay Bale Gardening

So I have prepped my hay bails and today I decided to plant my first plant in them. First I would need to open a space inside the hay bails and place compost inside the holes of the hay bails. For the past week and a half I have watered the hay bales everyday and I have added ammonium nitrate to the bales the past few days during watering. I have noticed that the interior of the hay bales have been decaying turning very dark. I guess this is how it works. I don't know, this is all experimental at this point. Second; I have placed my watermelon plants inside the bales (two per bale) and covered the top with more compost and dirt mixture on top of the bale itself and began to water. From my research, watermelon requires alot of water and supposedly the bales are great for all melon type plants. We will see. Hopefully they will grow into a bountiful crop and I can cut into a sweet melon this summer. I can only wish. More to follow

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What if Sun Exposure will Determine the Price of Property?

I'm sitting here chilling in the backyard and enjoying the garden and I began to think if My wife and I ever had to move; we would defiantly want another place that has good sun exposure in the backyard. And this led me to start thinking about, what if in the future the price of homes are valued by the type of sun exposure they receive. It's something to think about especially with the solar craze and sustainability boom in effect. You never know how prime your next residents will be based on the sun.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Garden of Feedin (Community Garden)

Today was a busy day. I ran a 5k race and did pretty well and after which I linked up with a new established Community organizer for Columbus, Ga first ever Community Garden. It was a humbling experience to be around Nathan, Jonathan, and Dan. These guys have put words into action.

The vision is to orchestrate a functional community garden that is community self sufficient. There are many challenges along the way. But each will be met by volunteers who want to have a part in making the unsustainable sustainable. Everyday the word is getting out and with a little more each day the Garden of feedin will reach it's objective and that's to provide a healthy alternative for the homeless and activities for the public to partake that will contribute to the health of the community.

Today we talked about compost and water catchment systems. I could have talked forever and ever. These guys are great. they are all about action and within minutes we were setting stakes for where the compost bins would be placed. Outstanding!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Georgian Clam Chowder with Old Fashioned Ham and Cheese Pannini

We Absolutely love Clam Chowder. I am partial to the New England type. We have traveled from coast to coast to taste chowder. Right now the chowder that has made a very good impression on me is pikes place chowder in Seattle. Their chowder made me raise an eyebrow. It was so delicious. But we quickly realized that there chowder was good because of the great stock they made from the steady supply of fresh seafood and through our research we found out that many places who have a thriving bustling clam and oyster market still purchase their clams and oysters from New England. I think it's great, but I am soo competitive and I really would like a non traditional clam and oyster producer like Georgia to be put on the map. Georgia is unique because it has a small shore line that produces an abundant amount of seafood that is not widely known and I think with a little more promotion the Georgia coast can get the much needed funding to produce, farm and save this untapped industry.

This Georgian clam Chowder recipe was originated with the Georgia clam in mind by adding home grown veggies and herbs with sweet corn from the husk being the stand alone difference from all other clam chowders.

Recipe Posted on

Growing Sugar Snap Peas

When we planted the snap peas several weeks ago, it was a truly for trial and error. I have tried on another occasion and I was unsuccessful. But today after a hard day work and drinking a few rounds of ta-kill-ya, I noticed that there was this Gi-normouse sugar pea pod that just hang out for every one to see. And to think just a couple of weeks ago I was two seconds away from taking down the sugar snap pea vines and tilling them over into the ground, because they had suffered so much from the hail storm. When we planted the peas we placed aapproximately three seeds per bamboo stick that we have formed into a tee pee. The vines were tough almost a bit dumb at times, they needed so much training and after trying almost everything I had to literally wrap 550 cord around the tepee's in sporadic sections to get the vines to climb. maybe I was the stupid one. But once they caught on to climbing and and recovered from the damage due to the hail, they are starting to reward us with a crop. I can't waait to eat one sugar snap raw. It's going to be awesome!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plant Disease

I have been doing some research on why my plants have been getting these spots on the fringe of their leaves. What I have learned is that it may be happening from over watering. The picture shows that in the foreground there is a leaf that has suffered from this spot disease. This is Japanese Cucumber; I have noticed that most of my melons along with the cucs and tomatoes have these spots. My wife and I have seriously cut back on the watering and have noticed that our plants have really taken off. The picture shows a new leaf that is virtually spot free and strong this leaf grew after we cut back from the mad watering. All of my tomatoes have also shown great improvement as a result of cutting back on the watering. What we have done was to give a good watering every other day rather than every day. And with regards to the cucumbers we have literally gone to watering this girl once a week. As long as the soil stays moist and is not dry she seems to love the little neglect

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dumpster Diving for treasure

Ok so dumpster diving is quickly becoming my forte but nonetheless, I still want to have a sense of class about it. First, I hate when people are looking at me picking through others people garbage. But nonetheless, I think it's important to develop the a spirit of re-utilization and a wanting to recycle materials that will other wise just add to land fills. While searching for treasures i have to be discreet and I also must not appear like I'm patrolling around the neighborhood. But the best way that I have found is to search my neighborhood the night prior to garbage pickup. I have a bit of dark humor when I say this, but 'look what the tornado dropped in" I found these two shelving systems that were thrown out and were perfect for my growing needs. But Again even though my wife shares my enjoyment she has her limits. as for me I just can get carried away with using all kinds of materials. The only thing that is holding me back is the thought of my space looking like a junkyard museum. I do not want that.

Cilantro garlic lime grilled chicken marinade

I love chicken thighs. In fact I love all dark meat and it has nothing to do with me being black. I know someone somewhere out there is saying, " well, duhhh." Well, um nope, it has everything to do with dark meat being moist. Yeah, yeah I got it, I know what people say about how unhealthy dark meat is compared to white meat. I don't care. Dark meat is delicious, it's moist even when over cooked or cooked badly, dark meat has a certain integrity that can not be broken. Needless, to say it is no wonder I am a huge duck fan, especially of the Peking sort. And there is no place that does duck better than that awesome Peking duck place in Falls Church, Va. If you live in the DC area 'Ahem indoor gardener and growing human you have to try this place if you already haven't and you have to order there Peking duck that will feed two. I can go on and on about that place. But back to the thigh, it was absolutely great and everything we didn't expect. I say that because we didn't expect it to be so good or anything to write about. But it was. Thank God for thighs!!!

Recipe posted on

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tornados Got to love em.

The past couple of days Mother N has been really pushing the bar around my home and inparticulary around the garden. We had another tornado jump in and out of several spots where I live and one tornado hit destroyed property 3 blocks away from me. It left me scratching my head and wondering about the 'What If". Nevertheless, my garden has started to make a remarkable come back from the destruction sustained from the tornado a few weeks ago. And we have not even bought the plastic sheet to lay over the garden. Im playing with fire. Note to self...... " Buy the damn huge Plastic sheet!"

But even though there has been total mayhem thier is some good that has come out of the destruction. For one, the town phenix city which is in Alabama was hit pretty hard and I don't think if the tornado hit they would have even bothered doing any rebuilding. That town seemed like somebody pressed the pause button back in the 80s and died. So hopefully with rebuilding being started up it can spark some interest in to that depressed town. Also I have found a treasure trove worth of garbage that I post shortly. I found two useful shelving systems that were thrown out and that I have reused for my ongoing plants. My porch is starting to look like a jungle and I love it.......

Saturday, April 18, 2009

1500 Commit Suicide due to Crop Failure/ India

Please forgive me, I just have to rant for a minute or two. Yesterday I came across the caption of 1500 people in India committing Suicide because they were in so much depth and the crops they were relying on to give them income, take care of their families and pay down their depths were destroyed because of draught. I know many people who read this may not fully understand the magnitude of this situation, because lets face it, most of us don't have to worry about survival. There are the few who truly are relying on their farms to keep their families and business afloat and they can really understand how detrimental loosing everything means. I had a glimpse of what it was like to loose more than half of what I am growing and honestly it is down right depressing. I know I do not have any affiliation with the people who are thousands of miles away who are living a self-sufficient life because they have to. My heart goes out to the families that they left behind. As an American it forces me to be so thankful for everything I have and situations like this really puts things in perspective, because here I am experimenting with success and failure everyday while there are literally thousands if not millions of people who can not afford to fail.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hay Bale Gardening

Over the past few weeks I have been doing extensive research on different ways to grow veggies in the least space possible. The obvious results were of course, square foot gardening, and vertical gardening. But one day I came across an article talking about Hay bale Gardening or straw bale gardening. This intrigued me because, first it was thinking outside of the box at it's best. I have learned that the bales provide the greatest atmosphere to provide vegetables the healthiest chance to produce a harvest. And Second, for people who have back problems and who have trouble bending down and tilling the ground. The bale gardening technique can provide an alternative for those who want to garden but have trouble with the physical aspect of gardening.

How to hay bale Garden:
I purchased 4 wheat bales, according to the chatter on bale gardening, Some are against using hay because there are alot of weeds that get caught up in the bales and some of these people are partial to straw. Others state that it doesn't matter purchase what you can get. I personally was only able to purchase the wheat bales at $3.00 a bale.

Find a location for the bales. The bales can be put together or formed to create an interesting focal point in the garden. But where ever they are layed make sure that's the spot they are to be, because once you get them started you don' want them to be moved. On average 1 bale can be used for two years.
Water the bales every day for 4- 5 days. Watering the bales will promote the healthy bacteria in the bales to start to feed on itself. During this period you can not plant anything in the bales because it will be to hot. Some sites recommend ammonium nitrate to be placed on the bales for several days to promote the fastest breakdown. I will do it by watering for several days or maybe I will just experiment on each bale I don't know yet.
After the bales have started to cool off breaking down. It is recommended to add a highly organic top soil or compost to the top of each bale and water. This will provide the much needed nutrients into the bale to promote healthy plants.
Transplants can be placed directly into the bale. But first it must be prepped by opening up a hole for the transplant into the bale and placing compost into the hole before adding the transplant.
Everything can be grown in the bales except top heavy vegetables like corn and okra. From the research I have gathered Cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, and squash work best. I will try the bales this growing season. This is going to be purely experimental, as is most of this growing season. At the end of the year I will talk about all the pros and cons to certain types of gardening techniques.

Earth Month

My buddy the Indoor gardener tagged me for earth month. My wife and I sat down and talked about all of the things we do on a regular basis and things that we would like to do more. I was a bit confused at first, I thought I was to come up with ways on how to save the environment and that in itself became very complexed. But thank god the tag is just for my soap box. So here it goes:

1. We are going to use everything in our refrigerator before we buy anymore food. We budget every month for food and have gotten into the habit of purchasing food and overlapping into the next cycle even though we have plenty of food still available. So by using all of our food and being creative with what we have we can save more money and produce less waste.

2. Unplug my friggin PC when I leave for the day. Along with my televisions and microwave. The major appliances still need to be hooked up, but cutting back inches can add up to yards in the future.

3. Go dumpster diving. Im sure there are many things that are thrown out in the trash that can be recycled and re-utilized in the garden.

4. Volunteer at my local community garden. The more people that get involved with community gardening the stronger our communities can grow. By working together we can all appreciate and work toward a common goal and as my grandmother always stated from an African proverb," many hands make light work."

5. Develop a more efficient way to utilize chicken droppings in an urban environment for my composting needs.

I think I'm to much of an introvert to tagg anyone for earth month. However, I would love to get ideas from people that frequent the blog. Most of my new habits have come from the actions of others. But I thank the Indoor gardener for giving us something to think about.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chicken pesto panini

Well we had to try the new "G5" foreman grill today. For dinner my wife and I made a Chicken Pesto panini and added some fresh veggies. This year we are going to do alot of soups and sandwiches for dinner. I don't really need to have the traditional dinners. I just need a meal that offers all of the basics and most of all tastes really good. Recipe posted on:

Shiso Herb

My wife's pride and joy is this little bad boy right here. The shiso plant is a Japanese Basil that is regularly used in many Japanese dishes and my wife has not been to fortunate to get a seed to grow until now. I am so happy this little guy is growing strong. She read that for shiso you really need to soak the seeds for a few days before sowing them. I honestly didn't think it was going to work, but surprisingly they took off and now we have several small shiso plants. Shiso has single handily saved my garden, because I think if it weren't for this little rascal my wife would have not become as interested as she is now in growing healthy veggies. Thank you Shiso!!

Growing Potatoes in a bucket

There seems to be alot of interest in growing potatoes in a bucket. I can only talk about my ongoing success, because my work with potatoes is in a progressive state. From what I have gathered so far, the most important thing to do is acquire very good seed potatoes. A lot of literature states that you can use store bought potatoes that have the shoots on them, but they are not recommended. I personally used the advice of those that suggest purchasing the seed potatoes because they have a better success rate. I must admit getting these potatoes to grow has made me feel like a pro, only because I have grown something and it was green. Nevertheless, the seed potatoes are easy to grow in a bucket if you follow a few simple steps. What I did was add a layer of enriched compost and highly organic soil at the base of the bucket. As the shoots start to grow up ward towards the sun, all you need to do is add soil to until the highest leaf is just barely covered and continue until the shoots have reached out of the bucket. I have two experimental buckets; One that I planted in one bucket and the Second, I added an additional bucket around the top of the leaves to see if I can cultivate potatoes on a second level. As per instructions, the potatoes are done growing when the leaves have died back. You can harvest earlier but that would mean smaller potatoes. Its going to be interesting to see how these guys look in the fall. As for now I am relishing in all the green that is shooting from out of the buckets

Beauty in the midst of Darkness

Today I received a report that almost everyone in my area lost their garden due to the hail that was brought by the tornado's. I was also made aware of that many lost there veggie gardens due to the onslaught of cold weather that sneaked in under the radar. I didn't have to deal with that, I guess the raised beds provided enough warmth to a strong root system that had a chance to establish. I must admit it's a bit disappointing to see the destruction of the garden that took place in one night. However, after conducting a brief inventory of the garden I came across bloom on one of my sugar snap peas. I am so elated. It's as if the plants have been reading my mind and hearing the debate between my wife and I on whether I should tear everything down and start over again. But just as soon as I started to head in that direction I get this beautiful bloom screaming at me and that "even though we may look bad we are still alive and we have a lot of work to do, so for gods sake give us a chance." And you know what I will. They took a really bad beating many vines have withered and leaves have fell off from vines being split in half. But I can sense a determination in the plants to grow. We wont walk out on them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Destin one of the best kept secrets

Visiting Destin was great. Every time we go we have a wonderful time. This time we had challenging weather and it seemed as if the tornado's and hail followed us from home. But being a glutton for punishment I headed to the bay to do some fishing. Fishing wasn't that great due to the cold front moving in. But nonetheless, when the sky opened up enough to let the sun peak through, it made for some dramatic cloud formations and exquisitee sunsets. I have to remember that April 15th is when the pompano are running along the coast. They were being caught left and right prior to storm moving in. I would have loved to have wrestled with a few pompano in the surf. They are a great tasting fish. Maybe next year or later on this fall I will try my hand at snapper and maybe some grouper, mmmmm........ So since I was not able to bring any fish back to the villa, I had to buy some freshly caught fish at the market. It was my first time eating scamp and it was absolutely delicious. My wife packed most of the ingredients from home and put them in the cooler. Garlic, butter, sea salt and the pepper mill. The fish coupled with fresh veggies and prawns was awesome. My only disappointment was not being able to find my beer singha an import from Thailand that I absolutely love. So I resorted to a new Belgian brew that racked up a 9.8% alcohol content and I couldn't remember nothing after polishing that joker off. But anyway, we ended up buying a George Foreman grill the "G5" (Whatever) I'm not really into the whole Foreman grill hype, but my wife really wanted a waffle maker that also made panini bread sandwiches and the Foreman had many options. All in all Destin was beautiful even though the weather was bad, the food was great and we had time to step away from the garden and regroup after the disaster this past week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gulf Shrimp

My wife and I love seafood. When we lived in Maryland we had regular access to Seafood, especially blue crab and striped bass which I love to fish for. When we moved to Georgia we realized that we were so far inland that we pretty much gave up eating at seafood restaurants because the seafood is never fresh. Then one day we found out about Destin, the worlds luckiest fishing village and fell in love with the place. When I come down here I'm like a grizzly fattening up on salmon. The Gulf Shrimp are caught everyday and most are alive when purchased. They come in all sizes and a few different species. We love the giant prawns, they are sweet and taste great when grilled or sauteed. We bring several pounds of seafood back home on ice when we make this trip and this time I have to do research on how to use fish emulsion as fertilizer and what I can do with the shrimp heads. And oh, yes, that shrimp is as big, as a whole ear of corn.

Fire Pit Breakfast

Yesterday before heading to destin I had to try making my first of many fire pit breakfast. It was great!! The exciting thing was going to the chicken coop and pushing Esther to the side and picking two warm eggs from the nest. The fire pit design is made so that there is a small cooking section for pretty much anything. It will be nice to make an official vegetable omelet when the garden gets into full production. I'm greatful that where I live they allow fire pits in the backyard. My wife is still not amused but it's my official man cave almost literally.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fire Pit at the Urban Homestead

OK so I may have just drawn the line in the proverbial sand. I was riding around today and headed to my old neighborhood and I noticed that home where no one lived had a gazillion pavers displaced on the side of the fence. So I asked the person living next door if anyone was claiming the pavers and they said no. I always wanted to build a fire pit. It's something about tending a fire that I am drawn to. I can literally sit outside all night and keep the fire going. I recall one time during a field exercise it was very cold and we gathered wood to burn in the wood stove to keep us all warm. I stayed up all night until the sun came up to keep that fire going while everybody slept. What draws me to fire, I don't know? But whatever it is my wife was giving me this look like I just crawled from under a rock. Ok Ok maybe my uncle had eyebrows that stuck out like sun-visors, I don't know, but what is a homestead without a place to burn wood. I think a fire pit is an essential element for homesteading. And I just didn't do a fire pit, I added a stove to that bad boy so that I can cook and make a cup of coffee, even though my kitchen is approximately 25 yards away, but that's besides the point. It's a fire pit, it's primal. It's so me and maybe that's the problem.

Hail Damage and where is my ZOLOFT!!

Last night my wife and I went to the center of our home and sat tight in a closet with the dog. We could hear the Tornado Siren and oddly enough it felt I was back in Iraq listening to an early warning system letting us know that rockets have been deployed and are headed to our location. It was kind of scary sitting in the dark closet seeing the flashes of lightening edge its way under the door. My pit bull Cheeba was shaking in terror because unlike us she could sense something bigger and meaner than me heading toward our way. Flashes of light and instant cracks of thunder were all around us and it sounded as if a train was coming through our neighborhood. Yeah my wife and I had one of those "Well baby-this may be the end-but there is no place that I rather be-than right here with you-moments." And seriously it was. At that moment it went from bad to worst and we could hear millions of stones hitting the back deck and house. I told her that hail is not a good sign because that pretty much means that a tornado is right in the area. So all we could do was sit back and breath, "WoooSaaaaH..." Eventually the storm passed and I went to the back porch and saw a lot of hail. I never paid any attention to the garden at that point. It was only until later on this morning when my pet sitter came and I was showing her how to take care of the garden and chickens that I realized the devastation that took place. I'm pretty much speechlesss, Just yesterday our garden looked beautiful and bountiful and today it looked liked the Yeti was playing double dutch.

In my perfect world I would love to just write about all the success, but this ain't my world and it ain't perfect. So in order to paint a more normal picture I will post both successes and failures. I do understand that there are people who are out there who want to start, but do not have any idea about what to do and how to overcome difficulty. Hopefully from my posts and from the posts of fellow bloggers' we can all network together and provide timely information to curtail disaster as much as possible. The question I have is if what happened last night was preventable? The answer is no. We can't control the weather especially when nature throws everything at you. But what we can do is attempt to add a little cushion for when disaster strikes so we can soften the blow. We have a saying in my line unit. "It's not a matter of *IF* you get hit, It's a Matter of *WHEN* you get Hit. So prepare for the worst and Hope for the best.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Plant Disease?

I realize that part of planting veggies or other plants for that matter comes with it's fair share of difficulties. I am in the garden everyday when I can be pulling weeds and chopping the ground around the plants to loosen the soil. I noticed that my edamame (soybeans) have developed this weird looking discoloration. I'm actively searching for info for what this could possibly be but I have not found anything as of yet. This type of discoloration has also affected some of my cucumbers and presently my tomato bed has shown signs of discoloration on some of the leaves as well. Needless to say I am in a panic and hope that I can get this under control. Hopefully it's a phase and my plants are strong enough to fight this off, but the way it looks is that it bouncing around the garden. Any thoughts?

Update on the Worm party

This morning as I passed by the compost bin I saw worms hanging out on the top of the compost exposed!! I was like WTF. Instantly I thought about the chicken guano I put in yesterday evening and just shook my head. Apparently I didn't bring the tequila and instead I brought the Jim Jones Juice.

So I picked up a worm and it was literally mushy almost to the point of melting. I thought, 'Oh gross, worm squish all in my hand." So I threw the worm back in and I dug around the compost with my hand, I couldn't believe how friggin hot my compost was. It was literally smoking when I turned it around and exposed some of it to air. I felt the heat coming out of that thing and I was happy to see how this guano works.

Unfortunately the worms that were caught in the inferno perished; the other worms retreated and either went to the perimeter of the pile or retreated to the new working pile without any Chicken Guano. I added some fresh lawn clippings to my new pile that I am preparing now for 2010. Now the project is to move the compost pile to where the chickens are so they can romp around fresh compost material and then I can later transfer it to my pile ready to use.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The First ladys' Garden

Looking at pictures of the First Lady on her hands and knees tending to her new vegetable garden is a powerful sight for me. I come from an organization where my leaders are active in leading from the front and this active role the First Lady has taken to grow vegetables on the White House Lawn is extremely inspirational.

Every Day I drive around my town and I see land that is just going to waste. I can tell the by the lush grass the soil is good and there is this burning desire in me to want to dig and plant all over my city. I know that my efforts will soon give way to pilfers and trampled on by people who need to take shortcuts from street to the next. But I also see these same people working and having a source of income from their hard labor or paying for crimes through community service in the form of a sophisticated gardening effort. Our Country has come full circle and now we are back in the age of where self-sufficiency and local grown are being realized as the standard. We still have a long way to go, but it's a good start when our White House is leading the way. Impressive! More Photos of the garden

Chicken Guano PeeeeeeYeeeewww!!!

Today I decided to transfer Ezelle and Ester into their new home. Their former home had a dirt substrate and I layed hay in their so that they can do their business and eventually I can use their guano in the garden. Well today friends was the day and ohhhh the earth could have not smelled any better because there $#!%! Stinks. I figured I was doing good with the smell because we never smelled them. The guano (poo) had neutralized and broke down all the shavings in the cage. It was an excellent system that worked in a very short period of time.

I had to hurry up and work fast with this stuff because my wife was dry heaving all over the place. I admit it was bad but this is from a guy who likes the smell of skunk and ate a whole Dorian fruit without breaking a sweat. The guano was intense and I threw all of it into my working pile of compost and turned the compost over onto it. I hope my worms enjoy it. I will soon tell. Because when I turned the Compost over they were literally having an orgy in that place. I hope I brought the tequila for the party instead of the koolaid. Time will tell and in a few days I will see how the guys are doing. But for now Ezelle and Ester are happy in their home. I will modify there pen later on this year so that they have an outdoor run and hopefully I can sneak a Nigerian dwarf goat into the yard without my wife knowing;)

Garlic and Onions are growing

Alot of my excitement from being a novice is looking at what I have done and saying "Ok what now?" I don't fully understand how growing garlic works. However, from all of the research I have done I do realize that I would have a little more trouble growing them in the ground compared to growing them in pots. So I took the path of least resistance and used the pots.

My Garlic and onions have sprouted shouts and are growing like a wild fire. Hopefully they grow and produce more garlic or whatever it is they do. Right now I am researching how to harvest, because what I gather is that I have to harvest them at the right time. I hope I get this one right. Because I absolutely love garlic.

Instead of a steak try some Lamb

Pictured here is a Grilled Lamb Shoulder, with fresh string beans dressed with roasted almonds, baked plantains and a baked cream ziti with prawns. Many people don't like lamb for one reason or another. The only reason I can come up with is that lamb tends to have a gamier flavor than beef. I have found this to be true with leg of lamb rather than shoulders. I have found that lamb shoulders placed on the grill seasoned with salt and pepper can't be touched by anything else. I love my steaks, especially a nice rare boneless rib eye. But even that rib eye has a tough time competing with the tenderness of a grilled lamb shoulder.
Lamb for what it's worth is powered punched with all 8 essential amino acids and a 3-ounce serving provides 43% of an adult males protein. An added benefit for me to purchase lamb more than I do beef, is the price. The price of a tender lamb shoulder averages around $1.90 - $2.15 per shoulder where I purchase them. I have seen considerable savings switching to lamb for my red meat source.
Also there is the fat issue; lamb has less fat content than beef. So with each cut you will get a much more leaner piece of meat than compared with beef. Me personally I love fat, lets be honest fat adds flavor. But nonetheless, since I am trying to train properly and eat right "MOST" of the time having lamb on the menu has been a great choice.

Our future

I guess with the release of Taka this past week, I have been getting all waxing-philosophic on myself. I have been thinking allot about our direction as a country and with individual responsibility. I look at my two boys and realize that even though what I do today will make a big difference for tomorrow, I can't help to think about what hand they will be dealt, when they are of age to make a difference. I guess we would all like to think that our future lies with our children but the reality is that our future lies with us. Because if we don't train our children to take an active role in taking care of the things around them, they will continue to go on the trend towards a narcissistic lifestyle that will only push us all further away from who we truly are.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Moms Cheese Cake was delicious

My mom decided to make a cheese cake from scratch. It was heavenly and sinful all in one bite. She really has her Cheese cake down to a science and it taste so good all the time. This is my favorite and is definately one of the items I want on my list if it were my last meal.

When she comes for a visit I will have her use some organic eggs and we will try to make our own cream cheese. Im getting alot of cool ideas from fellow bloggers that I have to try. If this cheese cake turns out great with fresh ingredients I just might want to die after the first bite. Can't wait!

Monday, April 6, 2009

My life is so different from that of my friends.

Currently I'm traveling around the northeast (PA,NJ and NY) to see family and friends. The day I arrived my buddies took me out to New York City for the evening, to chill out at a lounge called the Taj. It was kinda of weird for me to be there around all these people who were hootten and hollerin. I just had to step back and watch the crowd around me as everyone danced and threw their drinks in the air. I asked myself, "Is this is what life is all about?" Girls getting dressed up to look erotic to attract the Guys getting liqueured up to pull some game. I have been so far removed from this scene for at least 7 years. Honestly, all I know and have enveloped myself in is trying to survive these last several years. I can't blame the club goers for having a good time, because it's all they know. It's how they have fun. But I also can't help to think that while these guys are having fun somewhere in a distant land one of my buddies is holding onto a thread of his/her life, wishing, hoping and wondering that one day they too can go to a club at least one more time.

Over the years, The way I live my life has been transformed into something else; I have a saying I came up with; which says, "I am the product of circumstances and the result of consequences." This is a quote I came up with one day when I couldn't shed a tear or feel a sense of sadness over the death of a fellow soldier. I just felt anger and every time one of my buddies would get blown up shot and killed, a piece of me would be taken away and replaced with more anger. When that happens you as a person start to look at life differently. Because most of us think that life has so much meaning, but where I come from life is cheap. I often tell my soldiers that I don't care if they hate me or think I am an asshole, I'm not their for them to love me and think that I am the coolest person. I am their to make sure that each and everyone of them will get to come home and spend Christmas or thanksgiving with their families and friends. Because somewhere in this world there is a wife, husband, mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend or child who is inspired by this person and they mean everything to them.

So I can't help but, to take a step back and look at all the people who can't wait for happy hour, the crew of girls standing in line that extends around the block for hours to get into a club because some star is in there, the guy who is puking his brains out because he drank to much and the masses of people who live their lives on one soap box at a time. Even though I don't do these things for fun, I wouldn't want to see New York City any other way. The people in our biggest cities don't have to worry about being blown up in the night club on a regular basis, they can literally go and let their hair down, relax, get drunk and silly and have fun. I just have to smile and politely, walk away and have a sense of deep satisfaction that the quiet professionals like myself are doing a great job keeping America true to it's form. My cousin asked me, " So how was it hanging out in New York?" I looked at her and with a sarcastic grin said, "Spence, I have a wife, two chickens and garden." She burst out laughing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My hunting buddy Taka is starting a new Life

Today was finally the day that I released Taka back into the wild. I have had her since Oct 14th of 08. I trapped her along the highway as she was perched on a utility pole hunting over a field. From that day when we both met our relationship grew into one of trust and admiration. It is a bitter sweet moment for me right now, knowing that when I head to the backyard past the garden to feed the chickens I won't hear her bells as she turns towards the sound of my footsteps, I will miss the inquisitive look she gives me as I enter her mews to feed her each day, I can still hear the soft chirps she lets out when she is feeding from my fist. The beauty of her flight and the power of her glide as she closes in on her prey. Taka was special to me for many reasons; the most notable reason is that several years ago when I started falconry I trapped a similar hawk, who had the same grace and powerful stare that only a red tail hawk could give, her name was cova and cova was an awesome hawk. I trapped Cova on Sept 26 2001, approx two weeks after 911 on Pennsylvania's most popular Hawk mountain, but do to my negligence, cova died and it happened a day before Christmas. It was the saddest day of my life. As I started to learn the art and practice of falconry I developed an ethos that I would follow, and that would be to trap a wild hawk, train her to hunt with me and at the end of the season return the hawk back to the wild in a much better physical state when I trapped her. I failed to do that with Cova, she died of a terrible disease called aspergillosis and it was because her condition was low for to long. When Cova died I vowed that I will never lose another hawk to my negligence again. And so sometime went by and after a few tours of duty I finally found some time to pursue the sport again and on that sunny mid afternoon of Oct 14th of 2008, I found Taka and committed myself to training her effectively and to one day release her back into the wild physically fit and mentally strong to deal with the harsh environment that nature will throw upon her, and here we were today on top of Pine mountain overlooking the valley with the breeze in my face and streaming through her feathers. She is looking at the mountain tops and in an instant she crouches back and leaps forward. Today there would be no whistle to call her back, there would be no fist full of food to entice her to return, because today she is finally free and as she flies of into the mountain side I see her turn her head to look back at me and all I could say is "thank you." "Thank you Taka for giving me another chance to make this right and thank you for gracing me with your presence, for you will truly be missed." Happy Hawking
Oct-14-08 thru Apr-3-09