Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Falconry Season

This hunting season I trapped another hawk it turned out to be a Female Red Tail hawk. I named her Koto after my wife protested me naming her Madia. Two of her tail feathers were broken when I trapped her, but I didn't care to much about that because she was fearless, I trapped her in town harassing the local pigeons and causing hell to the city squirrels. As a wild hawk she didn't pay me any mind as I watched her closely one day hunting squirrels. Hawks who are accustomed to the city tend to be a lot more tolerant of people and the busy life that the city brings. It makes great for a hunting hawk. She has manned very nice and is very calm around people and dogs. All of these are big plus. Down here in GA we have alot of leaves that are still on the trees. It makes hunting squirrels really tough. However today she scored on a huge buck squirrel. That guy was fat. When I released her into the canopy I saw the squirrel shoot up the tree and Koto saw the squirrel jump into it's nest. Immediately Koto flew to the tree examining the nest for a few minutes. I guess she realized that there was a big huge squirrel in there and the risks might outweigh the benefits of slamming the nest. I shot a BB into the nest and that peaked her interest as it got the squirrel to move around in the nest. Koto Slammed the nest throwing her talons into it, but that ol buck squirrel grabbed her leather jess and pulled it into the nest. She had a look on her face like, "What the Hell!!" there was just a pause she didn't know what to do as the squirrel was holding onto her jess inside the nest. After a couple of minutes of analyzing the situation she became furious and started tearing the nest apart. The Big Buck Jumped from the nest circling the tree towards me with Koto in hot pursuit crashing through limbs. The squirrel stopped short of coming down the tree as him and I did some sort of Mexican standoff, He was just out of reach for a good stick whacking and would not move knowing Koto was on the other side. I pulled my daisy BB gun out so that I can pop him and get him to move and when I popped him he stood still holding his ground not moving an inch. Koto Swung around the tree to a branch to see what I was looking at and the squirrel immediately lept towards me. EEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!! I jumped out of the way and Koto slammed the ground just missing the squirrel as it bounced from the ground and back onto the tree. But what do you know Ole Buck squirrel was too heavy to move faster than Koto was and she nailed it as it tried to scurry back up the tree. A great hunt and looking for many more this season. Now all I need is 4 more squirrels for my amazing stew.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We Love Fish Heads!!

Ok sooo I know I am pushing this fish head thing but I honestly think this is the best kept secret. Just thinking of all the fish heads that people throw away, in fact the day we caught these monsters people were just happy catching them and releasing them back because as they stated, big blue fish are not as good as the smaller ones and other big game fish like striper aka Rock Fish.
The nerve of these people to suggest such a thing. For those of us in the know; fish like blue fish, tuna and salmon heads possess something that is soooo exquisite and Divine and has been virtually untouched by the food market except by those of us in the "know." You might ask, "What is this secret?" Well my friends it's called the fish cheek and OMGG!! it's so unreal. For all of you New England folk and all the way down to the Jawsy shore who have access to monster blues in the surf you will want to smack yourself for throwing the demons back into the sea or even filleting these guys and throwing the heads away. I know, I know, eating heads is not the most desirable meal, but it all depends on who shows up for dinner. When we caught these guys I caught three huge monsters, they averaged around 20 lbs plus a piece. My cousin caught an additional 2 and at the end of the day I made a deal with him to give him the whole fish minus the heads if he would just give me the heads. To a normal person like my cuz that was a great deal. But to someone like my in laws who just visited us from Japan a few weeks ago, I would have came across as a con artist trying to keep the best part for myself. Come to think about it thats exactly what I did with my cousin; but hell he doesn't care about heads. At the end of the day we were both happy. And short of dragging a mammoth leg into my den to please my wife with, she was extremely happy with the heads. (For someone just reading this snippet it sounds like we are a bunch of cannibals) The above photos are showing the technique for using parchment paper to grill fish on the stove. All was needed was a sharp knife to cut the huge heads in half; Moderate sea salt and crushed black pepper, wrapped in a paper towel for a day or two and then grilled with parchment paper on medium heat, skin side down until brown and crisp and flip over. After it was all said and done. Served on a bed of rice, garnished with some fresh cut veggies and Bon appetit!!!! Sorry no end photos, I dropped the ball on that one. It smelt so great and my wife and I just started to dig in and half way through I remembered to take a photo. Wooooopsss;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Look underneath your leaves for Pests.

While Hunting the other day I happened to notice a female house wren flying from tree to tree looking underneath every leaf. It seemed like an efficient way to hunt because she knew bugs would just love to hang out underneath leaves to protect themselves from the elements and and avoid being eaten. This got me thinking about my garden and after an uneventful day of hunting I came home and started looking underneath the leaves of my vegetable plants and I was surprised. There were many mosquito's, I guess due to the cold weather setting in the mosquito's are lethargic but nonetheless, they were there hiding underneath the leaves. I killed about ten. yessssss!! To my surprise I also saw these little buggers. I am doing research on them. They look like aphids but Im not sure. I noticed that many small holes were on my eggplant leaves and when I looked underneath them I noticed that there was an infestation of these leaf suckers. Going forward I plan to use insecticidal soaps and stronger applications as needed if beneficial bugs can't keep these vampires at bay. But at least I know where these guys love to hang out now and be ready for war as I plan for next years garden

Friday, October 29, 2010

Backyard remodel on the Cheap

Our Backyard mini farm in the city has needed a face lift for a longtime. Due to work, vacation, and watching the cooking channel we really didn't have time to address the issue. Butttttt as the law of averages will have it anytime im home for any extended period of time, the wife is gonna have a list of honey do items for me to engage myself in. Lord KNOWSS that I shouldn't be just sitting around the house without doing anything. My wife is a communist!! But anyway, we have been researching products to lay down in the back to offer proper drainage and to keep the dust down from the dogs running in and out. Our first choice was rubber mulch or rubber bark as some call it. You may have seen this stuff inside play grounds or at military bases where servicemen do their workouts. My area total is 2100 sqf which includes the house, garden, hawk house and cottage. So I wouldn't need coverage for 2100 sqf but I wanted to see what the cost would be to fill that area with 1 inch of material. The rubber bark came out to $200-$400 to fill the area butttttttttttt it was going to cost me $1200-$1600 to haul it from South Carolina. (Thats alot of Pizzas) So that was out of the question. We wanted the Rubber Bark because it was recycled tires that they have found use for and many people are using them for ground cover and landscape as a part of a "Greener Environment." Our second option was River Rock, fortunately enough for us we live approx 10 minutes away from a landscaping rock company called Durty Wurks that was able to fullfill our needs for a great price of $490.00 that included tax and delivery. From the time of purchase they were there the next morning with two truck Loads of the river rock. When I saw all that rock I just did a deep sigh. But hey the only way to get er done is to get er done and so I did. Wheel barrel after wheel barrel, a few beer later and 10 pounds lighter; I got er done. And just in time for our first down pour. It was a success; prior to laying the rock we would walk out into a huge messy swamp, after the rock we walked outside and there was no standing water. It was amazing!! Great invest!! I added some landscaping timber to put a little more texture to the back yard and created little outside rooms or areas and now our back yard took on a whole new look. The cherry on top was adding the bird feeder. All in all for my area to include bird feeder and landscaping timber cost me $572.00 and a few pounds:)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chickens need a break too!!

This year I experienced an unexpected phenomenon with my Chickens; their feathers fell out and and they stopped laying eggs. This went on for a approx 2-3 months. I didn't know what was going on. It was apparent they were going through the molt. Egg production stopped a few weeks before the molt, I suspect they were getting ready. So what was actually going on inside Ezelle and Esther? After doing some research I found out that although chickens molt every year which is the process of replacing damaged feathers, they go through a complete molt approx every two years. This would explain the almost baldness of my girls running around. While the complete molt is taking place there body uses all the protein it can get into growing feathers instead of producing eggs. I was concerned because I thought the gals were done with egg production forever and that raised a huge issue me because im an extreme carnivore. But even though the thought of preparing the gals for dinner crossed my mine, I couldn't do it because they are my gals; so I am a big Sap after all. Esther and Ezelle for chickens as all chickens do are amazing creatures, able to produce eggs everyday, that is alot of work for their bodies. During the molt their systems repair themselves, getting ready for another two years of production. So one day when I came home I saw two freshly layed eggs in the nest. That brought a smile to my face, but there is one thing that is evident and that is Ezelle and Esther are family now and even if they stop producing which they will one day, they will never end up on a dinner plate. Damn, I can't believe I said that:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Start Planning Next Years Veggie Garden Now!!

In many parts of the country the weather is cold, the leaves are starting to fall and the length of day light we have is beginning to change. Fall is upon us and shortly thereafter winter will sneak up on us. This is is the time that many of us Urban Gardeners and Gardeners in general start looking for items that we can use for next year. Another mans trash could have not looked so much better. Many homes are clearing there homes before the full onset of winter pulls in and this is the perfect time to locate garden tools, shelves, and planter boxes. You may have to think outside of the box a bit, but pretty much anything with some aesthetic attributes can be used in the garden. Giving some thought to what your garden will look like is the toughest job. But with some careful planning anyone can come up with a good solid plan.
The alarm bells have also been ringing; the USDA has announced that next year food produce will jump from 1.8% to 2.5% all the way up to 3.5%. If you spend $300.00 a month on groceries; at a 3% increase that's an extra $108 a year you will pay for food. You can take that $108 and purchase seeds at $3 a packet (on the high end) and purchase roughly 36 packets of seeds more than you ever will need. Some places that I purchase my seeds from and have produced some great products are:

If your thinking about starting a garden this year and you don't have space for a garden try your hand at container gardening. Infact even if you do have space and you don't want to take on the responsibility of a full fledge garden I recommend you start with container gardening. Container gardening is so efficient and everyone can do it, unless your in jail locked up away in solitaire or something. But the point is anyway can start a garden. Give your kids a project to see who can grow the biggest, juiciest, sweetest tomatoes in a container. Let them do the research on how to prepare soil, what does it mean to fertilize and what types of tomatoes to grow. Of course you have to reward the winner with something but at least you can the creative juices to flow and when your kids are on their off time they will (willingly research how to grow veggies in a container) You never know what seeds you may plant with that one.

Compost-If your on the fence about starting a garden next year it is very important that you think about your composting needs. Plants need nutrients to produce good quality fruit and veggies. Starting your compost now will put you in a great position to feed those hungry jokers next year. With fall upon us, the leaves from several trees can be gathered up and started with compost. There are a few trees that are not good for compost like black walnut. You will need to identify the trees in your area to see if the leaves can be used for compost. For the most part most trees especially oak trees can be used for compost.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Vacation is over

I have been away for quite some time. I call it a vacation but the truth is I have been extremely busy. Only recently I have finally gotten to take some time off from a very busy year. My ultra-marathon came and went and I was only able to complete 30 miles out of the 50 I trained for due to a ruptured I.T Band. Boy was that run Hell!! I'll do it again next year. I really need to slap myself for even uttering such words. But it goes without saying , That this venture thought me alot about myself and how I deal with pain. In short im a huge vagina but anyway I muscled through to the very last stretch when my knees gave up on me.
My wife's parents visited from Japan for the first time. It was such a pleasure to see them. They were awesome!!! and we had a wonderful time at the beach house. My mother in law was so adamant about eating sashimi from the freshly caught fish. I fillet the fish and she and my wife prepared an amazing dinner that included every piece of the fish. Simply amazing!! I was too shocked with amazement to even take a photo, shame on me:( Nevertheless, this experience has left me longing my time on the ocean and walks on the beach; I have hit the shores of both Jersey and Destin Florida fishing for monster fish. My experince has been awesome and the time with my boys and family have been amazing.

This past summer has been extremely brutal on the garden. The heat was so intense that our garden just suffered. Forget about planting any leafy green vegetables, it was not going to work. My wife planted the tomatoes pretty late this season and learned really quick that in Zone 8 you have to get those tomatoes started early. Tomatoes love heat but not when it saps everything out of them. Amazingly the tomato plants that survived the heat wave are doing very well now. maybe she will listen to me next time. In fact I know she will. It's something about tomatoes that are grown in the garden; the redness that they omit onto painted back drops of green and hints of yellow from flowering plants just brings a smile to my face. I happened to visit PA this past week and my fathers garden was awesome. With all my endeavors I am trying to be as successful a gardener as he is. Those old timers know what it takes to grow everything and do so with so much flare that Martha Stewart would be proud. I was also impressed with his neighborhood; just about every home had a family garden. One thing that I noticed was how green everything was. Down here in the south we are plagued by drought on most days and intense heat. If your not careful, everything green that has a pulse will end up scorched. So all in all these are the pros and cons to living in an environment like mine that has two growing seasons. Up north just has one growing season but it is intense and can prove to produce a bountiful harvest. The lessons learned in the short week has propelled me to give more consideration to my southern garden and maximize on this cool weather that is settling in. More to follow.........................

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fresh Market is refreshing!!

Fresh Market has been the latest venture to set its sights in my area. I wasn't able to attend the grand opening but when I finally strolled through a few days later, I couldn't believe the amount of people that were in the store and now a several weeks later the buzz has still not subsided. I know the rest of the country has been dealing with the bad economy, but where we live being in close proximity to Ft Benning Ga and the infusion of 40,000 personell due to the recent Brac alignment from Ft Campbell Ky along with KIAs first ever car manufacturing plant in the US just up the road, People around here just seem to go on with business as usual. Thats why Fresh market opening up has been a huge step in the right direction. When we first moved here the local supermarket was Piggly Wiggly. Now I am not going to talk bad about Piggly Wiggly but lets just say that Piggly Wiggly image doesn't help it to reach across a very broad spectrum of consumers. And this is the fascinating thing about my area. Because it has become regionalized with all different types of subcultures. You have your North side folk who are so proud of living on the North end of town and your Midtown Folk who are so umm "Posh" to say the least and your Downtown folk who are what we Jerseians refer to as "Booshie" and then there are the Piggly Wiggly Folk. Nonetheless, The introduction of freshmarket has had it's disappointments; for instance a few days ago I walked in there and asked the Seafood manager if he would be able to get fresh or frozen sardines. He looked at me like I was crazy and suggested that the very best sardines in a can was in the aisle. So ok strike one with the Sardines, I tried again by asking him if they would carry smelts (a small sardine type fish from the great lakes) He said He had a box of smelts in the back that he would give me for a great discount because he wasn't going to put them out. At this point I was a bit annoyed with the "Proud, Posh, Booshie, Yuppy" attitude of the Seafood Manager. I figured I dare not ask the Meat manager about beef tounge so that i can thinly slice and grill and serve with a spritz of lime. That experince made me take a step back. Freshmarket is trying to appeal to the masses of people who call themselves organic, leading healthy lives and that subculture of people who like to call themselves foodies. I on the other hand just like good food. Lately I have had a deep passion for cooking and using items from garden in every dish. It has been a wonderful experience of trial and error and Freshmarket even in all its yuppidom has been able to propel my experinces that much farther. I guess piggly wiggly is trying to change thier image also. I walked in there and asked the manager if they can sell me a whole pig. "Oh we don't do that." He said. Come on Piggly Wiggly if there is anything you should sell it should be the whole Damn pig, WTH!!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Caterpiller Identification

Woee!! I was walking by my scotch bonnetts and noticed that there were some unusal lines in the dense leaves and whatdayaknow!! A Dagon alien sitting amongst my fruits taking big chops out of the leaves. I let him/her/it be; in a wierd kinda of way this creature is beautiful and even though it may wreck havoc on my leaves from my plants I have seen Hail storms destroy alot more and my plants bounced back. Yes it's kind of Ironic but metomorphisis is amazing to me. I found a pretty cool web site to ID Caterpillers and Larva this joker happens to be the larva from the tobacco horned worm. I learned that these guys are love to gorge on leaves and love to eat tomatoe plants and also pepper plants. I wish homeboy would take a bite into that scotch bonnet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Zone 8 Second growing season

This morning before my run I went to let the Dogs out and realized I was not being choked by thick Georgia humidity. It was such a relief to breath crisp air with an actual cool breeze in my face. Sometimes we tend to take these things for granted when we have them everyday. I guess its human nature. Nevertheless, this weather has sparked my interest into prepping my garden for the second growing season of zone 8.

Last year I learned alot about planting cool weather plants for the second part of the growing season in zone 8. Although I had great success with the variety of plants and reaped a good yield; my plants were the target of many ailments that had to be monitored. I suspect this was from a few reasons. First, the bugs were gorging themselves on all my leafy cool weather greens; Second, the heavy rains smothered alot of my young plants and caused some others to be water logged causing many of the plants to have ailments associated with over watering.

Farming is tough and I give credit to all the farmers who have to do this day in and out to survive. Throw in organic and its a whole nother animal. Weather, bugs, and a little bit of negligence your crop is wiped out. This year we are planting just a little bit earlier while the ground is still relatively warm. I think with all my amateur experience that warmth during the germination stage kicks start the genetic code of the plants and will give them their real bang for the buck. This will translate into a plant that has a healthier root system and I'm assuming this will enable to the plants to ward of disease opposed to them being planted in cooler weather where they tend to be a bit lethargic and not able to defend themselves as well. This is all based on my experience and a bit of experimentation. During this second season, I have planted:

Butter Nut squash
Egg plant (Still Producing from first season)
Sweet Peppers
Brussel Sprouts
Swiss Chard
Spring Onions
Lima Beans
Pole beans
Bush beans
Alacante Beans
Sun flowers

Looking forward to this second season. Some plants like spinach just can not be planted in this heat however there are some Japanese spinach varieties that do very well in heat. Unfortunately the seed packet got wet and the seeds prematurely germinated and all died. Dammit!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Plants are tougher than people

Its been a long time since I had post anything to my blog. As this year is passing along I have been victimized by this intense heat. I have literally traveled the world into some of the hottest regions on the planet and nothing compares to this Georgia heat. It's depressing, my dogs are in danger, we here warnings to refrain from working out doors. The compost bin has suffered, the reports of rain everyday gives us a glimpse of hope but no water has come in sight, temperatures have stayed in the high 90s approaching 60 days with 100% humidity and yet as I complain and look for that bullet to end it all my plants still thrive. There are days they yearn for water and if I am gone too long they let me know by wilting, but with a little mist and and some water on the roots they come back with pride. There is so much to learn from plants with regards to dealing with hardships. I think back to how spoiled I am with AC and electricity when I think of folks who live in the same conditions and do not have the same luxuries. Because of this heat I have begun to reevaluate myself, I may think I'm tough but not tougher than a plant. Besides the other day I was chopping around the garden and almost had a heart attack when a toad jumped out. Really....... a toad!! Go figure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Breaks My Heart

I'm a hunter, Fisherman, Falconer, and all around Outdoors man and this photo just breaks my heart. For the past few years the Golf coast has been my our favorite place to vacation and the oil spill; now going on more than a month has left us speechless. The last time I was there the Gulf was Emerald green and you can see straight down through the water. Seafood was the driving force for the economy in the Gulf and it was because of this that both my wife and I loved to visit. But now it seems like these stories will be distant memories as though they are like old hunting grounds that have been torn up by mega store chains. It's almost impossible to understand the destruction that this spill has cost; which is more than peoples lively hood. The Ocean is a place of peace and it has always been a place of life. I am by far, no dirt worshiper or tree hugger. I just believe in being fair. My wife said it best, "Mother Nature will recover from this, but it won't happen when "WE" need it most." So Sad....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My First Ultra Marathon- Yes im probably a Retard!

So yesterday started off my official training day in an attempt to complete an ultra-marathon. The course I have chosen is a 50 Mile Trek on the southern most part of the Appalachia. The technical level is 4 0ut of 5 ranking and the scenery is 5 out of 5.
Ultra Marathons; why would any one want to abuse themselves like this? I don't know. But there is one thing for sure; the lure to running a 50 miler is sooooo appealing to me. I don't know why because, I actually hate running. But sometimes when the calling comes you have to engulf yourself in it. So here I am day 2 of training feeling good and a bit tired. Looking forward to some much needed rest and definitely looking forward to tomorrow resting all day tomorrow. Prior to considering if I want to run the 50 miler. I have been doing tons of research on the subject of running ultras. There is so much information on the web about the small but growing elite group of ultra runners, that it was enough for me to formulate and concoct my own training schedule. My wife thinks im crazy. She asked if it was a two day race. The course cutoff is 13hrs. Im trying to do in it 10hrs. Im a big endurance guy and I will see what my body is made of.
From what I gather, Ultras are not about speed like a full marathon. Ultras are about endurance on the cellular level. Training for this race is not so much about training for how fast and long I can go; rather it's about how much I can increase my Mitochondria and make them stronger so they can support me over the long haul. There are many trains of thoughts on how to fuel yourself for the race. Im under the persuasion to use fat as fuel source more than carbs. The trick is to train at a level over a period of time slow enough that your body switches from using it's glycogen stores to using the endless supply of fat and yes skinny people have an endless supply of fat. Me on the other hand I can probably run around the earth 4 or 5 times on my fat reserves. But that's another topic, the point is, fat is a source 0f energy that is waiting to be used and there is no better way to tap into this resource than to train for an ultra marathon. Ok thats a snippet of my .2 cents on this subject. I figure I start posting about my adventures leading up to and finishing this race since there is not alot on the subject from people who have never even ran a marathon before. So im paving new roads. Ohhhh how much my feet are going to hurt;(

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grow Muscadine Grapes on your Urban Homestead

Muscadine Grapes also known as Swamp Grapes are native to the south. Ironically, the conditions for which these grapes grow are considered too harsh and destructive for other sorts of grapes that are more common. But there is a caveat to this and it is; what does not destroy you makes you stronger and the muscadine grape has proven to be a true champion in this arena. If your walking around the Georgia Brush on some hot summer day you may just walk up on a cluster of extremely dark grapes that are sooo sooooo sweet. A variety of the muscadine that many refer to as the scuppernog has a very thick shell with very sweet flesh inside. This thick skin that the Muscadine has developed causes it to develop under the harsh conditions the Southern weather exposes it to. Tons of research have been done on the benefits of grapes and in-particulary the health effects of red wine that are used by grapes. It is said the darker the grape the more health benefits it has. Many people are raving about the studies associated with Resveratrol, this is one bi-product of red grapes that seem to show some promise for anti-aging along with many other health benefits. But there is some caution that should be adhered to because most if not all of the studies have only been in pre-clinical trials using rats and mice. it will take some time for Human clinical trials to produce some real satisfying results. As for now the research has shown that dark red grapes harbor the qualities of Resveratrol. The longer the grapes skins ferment in the mixture the more Resveratrol seems to be extracted. But there is one grape that has been reported to have an overwhelming amount of resveratrol and that's our very own Swamp grape the Muscadine. Growing up my fathers, father who definitely learned the technique from his fathers, father who probably was running barefoot around Georgia at that time made potent concoction that they called Kick-a-boo Juice. Well it's no secret that a swig of the Ole "kick" would probably feel like you have been kicked by a mule. But Dad and his brothers to this day have fond memories of the thick shelled grapes that grow rampant in the south. My muscadine vine is in it's second season and has started to grow strong. There a self fertile vines and female only vines at this point they have to just grow and I will scale them back until I get the main beams to run along the fence line. Hopefully in a couple of years I will harvest enough grapes to make myself blind:)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Second official growing season in Full Swing

In zone 8 the weather is warm throughout most of the day and there has been no let down from the rain; although Bob has had his fair share of producing rays without being hindered by any cloud cover. The robins have figured out that there is a healthy cache of delicious worms just below the surface of our raised gardens, which causes my wife to panic when they are scurrying around the Strawberry patch. Speaking of strawberries; it is our official second season with the patch and I didn't know what to think when we planted a few plugs last year. This year they seem to have taken off and although we are having plenty of flowers that are producing strawberries, they are not sweet for some reason. Maybe they have to sit for a while but I'm afraid that if they do all the berry eating birds will gobble them up once they learn they are there. If its not bugs, dogs, and hail destroying your garden you can count on those birds eating what you enjoy. But it's a trade off. I love looking at the birds make our garden their home.

The beans have have germinated and in typical bean fashion they have pushed through the earth like line backers ready to grow. The most enjoyable part of gardening this second season is watching my plants from last year that I pulled up and place in containers respond to the season once again. Most notably my Japanese eggplant; it's almost like we have become friends. To me a plant that sets flowers is like my buddies who stop over with a case of beer and meat for the grill. They plan on staying for awhile. Watching these plants grow from one year to the next and preserving plants from one season to the next that have been pulled from the earth and cultivated in containers adds a whole new dimension of possibilities for the Urban farmer. It addresses the issue of space and time consumed with a busy schedule. Not that planting a garden is really busy work to me. I enjoy it. But either way spring has greeted us and our little urban garden is responding wonderfully. The wife is doing things her way for the first half of the year and I suspect everything will be neat and orderly. During our second half of the growing season I will commence to start my Jungle. There is just something about the jungle that I like. Things growing everywhere, dense foliage that can not be seen through appeals to me, but scares the hell out of my wife. I look forward to it:)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Over Wintered Plants looking good

A while back I posted a few blogs about my quest to overwinter some of my veggies in containers. As with everything it was all experimental and I had no idea what the results would be, with the exception of a few actual accounts posted from other bloggers about their success.
Well, spring is here and my Japanese eggplant which I love and pepper plants are doing great. They don't look like much but the fact that they are growing new foliage is a absolutely fabulous. Overwintering veggies plants is a great idea for those who want to jump start their growing season and who want to utilize their garden for veggies that don't do well in containers and need more room. As of now, sweet and hot peppers seem to do well being overwintered along with eggplant and tomatoes. I say tomatoes but I don't actually have any. That's a another bitter story that me and the lady fuss about, to this day. Anyway, moving along...... Tomatoes are a bit finicky, real cold temps put them out, so any place in the house with a good light source and temps comfortable enough for a human should suffice. I had some beautiful tomato plants growing during the winter, but a weekend away here and there and being extremely busy left them to vunerable. And I also have this amazing cat that loves to chew things on spite. I would be one of those kids that told his teacher that my cat ate my homework, because it really did. So know tomato plants. I will start again this year. As for now we are enjoying the plants unfold and sprout new growth. Spring is awesome!!
I can't wait to see what type of harvest we will have this year. speaking of which. My wife and I are splitting up our seasons for the garden. She has went from not wanting to garden to wanting to garden her way. So because GA has two growing seasons she will take the first season and I will take the next. The first step I had to take was get rid of my twig fence;( She absolutely hated that thing. She has sinced replaced it with some Martha Stewarty thing. So oh well, I guess gardening as a couple has turned into this big competition. I must admit we have different gardening styles. Hers is a bit more manucured and mine tends to look like an unkept jungle. But I really love my jungle, for me it's and adventure, but for her she feels like the plants want to eat her;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Where are all the Lightening bugs!?!?!

Every year spring comes and is greeted by summer. During spring I love to watch the migratory birds head toward their nesting grounds. I love to see emerging butterflies flutter about soaking in the sun. I look forward to seeing those honey bees fill up with pollen. But there is nothing that represents spring and summer more than the neon glow of the lightening bug. I remember as a kid running around in the cities of New York and New Jersey catching lightening bugs and sticking them in my plastic juicy cups. We would have a mini competition to see who can catch the most. Lightening bugs were my introduction to spring and summer and also my gateway to explore the world of bugs period. There was not one place that I have not visited in the US that did not have lightening bugs. But sad to say they are just apart of my childhood memories. It's almost like "Where the wild things are." Tucked away some place and admired from a many memories ago. I can't show a lightening bug to my kids because there are not any to be found. So where did they go? or am I not just looking in the wrong place.

As I was doing research on beneficial bugs in the garden I came across the fact that lightening bugs are at the top of the list for beneficial bugs in the garden. Lightening bugs or as some may call them fire flies are predators who during there larva stage eat a whole host of bad creatures like snails and cut worms. It's a shame that in my adult life I can not give these guys the habitat they need to thrive. Somebody has an answer. I heard from a few researchers on the issue speculating everything from habitat loss to light pollution. Whatever it is, there is a serious decline in lightening bugs so much so I might have a better chance at seeing the Yeti.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Forget about it Gardening

Last growing season one of my main efforts was to grow sage and oregano. It proved more difficult than I expected. I tried everything and it seemed that the seeds just wouldn't take. Big Sigh:( Fast Forward through the winter into the beginning of this spring and my Sage that I had virtually forgotten about, are growing strong. Sometimes it just seems that little means more and I don't know what I did to make them grow but apparently ol Momma nature knew what to do. So needless to say Im happy. I love sage plants and oregano, I think they are beautiful in design and smell absolutely wonderful. My wife, saw the need to water them once a week and from her stand point they seemed to have just grown overnight. I remember just seeing one tiny plant and thought to myself that my Sage would be hopeless. I honestly forgot about them, but apparently they didn't forget about me:)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jackson- my Little Doofus

So here is Jackson my Little Doofus. He is growing like a teenager raiding the pantry every night and is just a ball of primitive Testosterone. My wife and I have feel in love with the German Short Haired. Jackson has tons of personality and because the breed has such a strong line of hunters that are active, most puppies are born with amazing instinct. Jackson was retrieving the day I bought him home, he is turning out to be a great watch dog and all I have to do now is tighten up is pointing skills so that I can hunt him under the bird. But Mr. Dufus does has his shortcomings. Jackson is to smart for his own good and the Garden is play garden. He has chewed up my beautiful twig fence. ( My wife was soooo happy) And we had to replace it with something stronger and Dog proof. Cheeba my pitbull wont even think about going into that place. But Jackson has no boundaries and could careless if you disciplined him for doing something wrong. So I had to conform which was soooooooo hard for me to do. But being that my wife would be taking care of him while I was away, I had no other options. We have different views on training animals and right now im in no position to voice my concerns out loudly. (but im secertly waiting). so anyway Mr Doofus is growing up fine and is a pleasure to be around. I can't wait to take him out swimming and hunting later on this year it should be fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Work Out for Performance

So the new year has passed and pretty much most people have fell off the wagon with regards to working out. Lets face it most of us can't wake up in the morning and look like one of the Greek Gods. For many of us, just waking up is an obstacle to contend with. We get older, our joints hurt, and it's hard to loose weight.

Over the years I have gained some valuable knowledge about working out and from time to time I will start sharing what I have learned. There has been an evolution that has taken place with regards to working out that a minority of people have taken to and it's catching on like wildfire to people who have pretty much lost all interest in staying fit. I don't want to blog about working out for gardening and all that stuff. I know there are tons of stuff on the subject. I want to focus more on working out for performance. To switch away from just loosing weight and looking fit. But more towards actually being fit so that we can perform daily duties without the feelings of being exhausted. I remember when my Grandpa was alive he used to stretch every morning and do these stupid silly exercises. Grandpa has sinced passed and ironically enough the silly looking exercises that he was doing years ago form the basis for many of the workouts performance athletes, mountaineers, and speicial operators use today.

So the question is; What do you do when you work out? I see people at the gym doing the same things they have done for years and although any workout has benefits; we need to ask; What are we working out for? I feel and this is only my opinion, that if our workouts are based solely on aesthetics and appearance that we will loose focus when we come up short. The scale is the devil!! I say this because we have conditioned ourselves to believe that if we don't weigh a certain weight than we are failures. Not true. Being fit has more to do with what you can do rather than how much you weigh. Although weight is a good indicator of overall health we shouldn't focus on it.

That's why starting and sticking to a performance based workout in my opinion will get you where you want to be faster. So how do you start? First identify your problem areas, most people hate running, why, because it SUCKS!! But running gives you the best results. When setting up a performance based workout give yourself a goal. Lets say you have issues running 1 mile non-stop. When setting up your performance based workout you set benchmarks that will enable you to run that 1 mile nonstop. For instance start your one mile run and take note of when you get tired and exhausted. Take note of whats troubling you. Is it your feet, does your lower back hurt, does your legs cramp up, are you breathing heavy? Depending on your fitness level it may be as soon as you start or near the end of your run. By identifying these problems areas you can now formulate your workout based on your weaknesses. For example lets assume that during your run, your breathing was really heavy and it felt very painful to breath, lets also assume that your legs felt like steel cylinders and it seemed as though you were dragging a truck behind you, lets also assume that your lower back started to give you pain as you pushed through the mile. And finally lets assume that half way through, you had to stop running and walk the rest of the way.

A performance based workout will incorporate all the above mentioned issues in the form of scheduled workouts known as compound exercises also known as circuit training, to build upon your weaknesses which in turn will enable you to complete your One mile run. Some exercises that are simple and can be done at home are the Air Squat. This is the perfect exercises to add strength to your legs that will ultimately help you finish your run. As you advance you can hold on to weight and perform the air squat by increasing the number of air squats you do. A good number to do is 25 air squats with each set.

Another exercises to add to the circuit would be Flutter Kicks. Flutter kicks are amazing. Not only are you working your hip flexors, you will be working your lower abdomen and lower back. The Instructor has her hands underneath her butt, This is to give leverage. I recommend your hands stay on your belly, chest or folded out palms upward to the sky. My way is a bit more difficult but ensures that you are working your entire core and will prove beneficial as you progress. A good number to start with is 25 flutter kicks which in turn is a 4 count exercises.

Another exercises is the Lunge, OUCH!!!! The lunge sucks but its great for you. This excersise will give you good range of motion and challenge all the muscles in your legs. It's one of the toughest excersises to do in the circuit, but it pays big divedends in the end.

Last would be interval sprints. Interval sprints will whip your butt. Its important to do Interval workouts because it teaches your body how to adapt to stress. When interval training is incorporated into your workouts you will be able to run faster and farther and breathe better. Remember the goal is to run 1 mile non stop and if your already doing that, to drop your time by 2-5 mins By taking this all in to account a Performance based work out designed to run one mile non-stop will look something like this:

Mon-Interval sprint 25 meter
25 air squats
25 flutter kicks (4-count)
25 meter Lunge walk
4 x rounds

Tues- 2 mile walk fast paced

Weds- Interval sprints 25 meter
25 air squats
25 flutter kicks (4 count)
25 meter Lunge Walk
4 x rounds
Thurs- 2 mile walk fast paced

Fri- 1 mile run ( Take mental notes of your performance and remember even a little progress is still progress)

Repeat every week until Goal has been met/ Once goal has been met. Set a new goal and work towards improving to reach that goal.

The benefits of Performance Based workouts in my opinion outweigh working out for looks. By performing these types of workouts you ensure that you stay focused on working out and everyday you are working out for a goal. As a result you will see your body transform into what it needs to, to complete those goals. One day you will wake up and realize that you have tons of energy and can do just about anything. My wife has started to work out like this and has advanced to burpees, I hate burpees and my wife knows this, so during our workouts she adds them and it suckssssssssssss!!! A typical day for us would be to run up a flight of steps and back down, do 25 burpees, 30 air squats, 50 flutter kicks and do it 5 times for time. She has noticed that her legs have become more toned and have become extremely tight. From a year ago she couldn't do 10 air squats with out crying, now she can do 50 and has advanced to other exercises that I do which are much more challenging.

I'm sharing this post, because I believe that many people have the desire to work out but have lost the intensity and drive. I feel that by refocusing our needs and priorities everyone can do something to maintain a fit and healthy life. Theres one thing we all have in common if we follow the self-sustained blogs and that is the desire, need and want to eat healthy. Moving forward we will not only eat and live healthy but perform exceptionally well. This is my 2 cents and as I go on and experience new things I will add different, to all those interested.

If you really want to check out the world of these Hybrid Exercises visit these sites. They have a wealth of information that will help you get to where you want to be: Great site ! Tons Of Info and Workouts The Gospel! My Base for working out. Click on Gallery for workouts Advanced Circuit training to keep you fit and stay there. Tough!! Geared toward Adventure seekers and mountaineers.

These sites are my top pics for working out and staying fit. You will see it doesn't matter what age you are, man or women. The Philosophies guiding these workouts are geared towards improving the Performance level in each individual. I have to say this but before you start any workout program consult with your Doctor first.

Get Fit Stay Fit!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Delta gettin Fat

So I decided to keep my hawk this year instead of returning him to the wild like I have done with past hawks. I'm taking a big gamble on Mr Delta, because I believe in his abilities. This past hunting season he got skunked. He had some great chases but he couldn't connect on anything. It was so disappointing. Some may say think that Falconry shouldn't be just about Killing and to a point they are right. But falconry in it's essence is about killing. Because that's what birds of prey do. They have amazing eyesight, speed, and strength so that they can become efficient killers. Delta has all the tools, but this past year he has had nothing to show for it. I hunted him extremely hard in the pursuit of game only to be left with talons full of fur. So I made a decision to keep Delta for one more year. Many falconers wont even think about keeping a bird of prey that didn't finish the season with several heads of game. I on the other hand can't let Delta go without knowing that he is at least capable of killing for himself. My ethos for falconry has always been to return my feathered friends back into the wild more healthier and equipped with extraordinary hunting skills from when I took them from the wild. So from where I stand Delta is not ready to fend for himself. For now he is getting fat and eating a big rat called Nutria, that has tons of protein, along with baby chicks, and chicken necks. Im preparing him for the molt and can't wait to see what feathers he produces this year. Until then Eat well, My friend, because by early fall we have alot of hunting to do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Flies as pollinators?

Ugh!! the dreaded Fly.... It's one of those horrible set of sequences as you watch in slow motion that little black speck of bio-hazard fly off of your dog poo and land on the rim of your drink. Gross!! I have had some bad experiences with flies. Where I live in GA, it seems like ripe breeding grounds for those nasty guys. One year I put out one of those yellow fly catchers that attract flies and in one week it was full with gross flies big and small. The only idea I had about flies was the fact that they rummaged through anything rotting to include dead people; for which I have had my fair share of witnessing. So it's to no wonder why I'm confused that flies are in the beneficial bug category with regards to our gardens. The reality is, that all flies are not the same. You may say 'DUH!!" but when someone says the word *fly* I am willing to bet that the black little hairy critter with wings, that seems to enjoy grooming himself of the filth he has just lusted in, will come to mind. But imagine that, Flies as pollinators. Last growing season I would often ask my wife if she has witnessed any honey bees and as I recall it was only a few times that she would see them. But many of the plants that we grew last year like the squash and melons, needed pollinators to produce fruit. I didn't know it at the time, but my garden was flooded with all little types of helpful flying bugs which I later found out were flies that were pollinating my garden along with pollen bees and butterflies. (Click here to find What native bees are in your area).

Maintaining a garden is good busy work. Your always doing something to improve your crop, trying to identify problems if they occur; when you leave for work your wondering if your seeds are growing, if your flowers are setting and most of all, if they are being pollinated. Many of us would like to think that the busy honey bee is responsible for all this. But nature has given her a a lot of help. I don't think I will ever be an advocate of that other fly. But I will defiantely start doing what I can to set up an environment where My vegetable garden attracts all pollinators. (For more on Flies as pollinators, click here)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Norways' Dooms Day Seed Vault; Is it Zombie Proof?

Norway's Dooms Day vault has reached 500,000 seeds. There are literally seeds from all over the world that have been produced by growers who have generated seeds that are more resistant to disease. This has become a huge debate for the purist; but nonetheless this is a big accomplishment considering the magnitude of this project. The vault was built to withstand earth quakes and even a nuclear fallout. But I suspect the Norwegians have something else bigger in mind. And my suspicion is that the Norwegians want to keep out the Zombies. Why else would they have four chambers that need to be accessed before reaching the worlds last supply of seeds. The Norwegians have done there homework. After all, only zombies will be able to walk the earth after it's destroyed and the few people stuck on the side of that mountain, will have a monumental task keeping vegetables alive for all the meat eaters that will consume the earth. Instead of worrying about seeds, I think I'm going to tuck one doomsday bullet away or better yet turn into a Zombie.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pitbulls and the struggle to keep them as pets

Ohhhhh my wonderful dog Cheeba. It seems like it was only yesterday when I walked out of my home and there she was; a beaten up puppy confused and scared, rolled over on her back looking for a belly rub. At that moment my wife and I looked at each other and knew instantly we had our first dog. Cheeba turned out to be a very well obedient dog who is a natural caretaker and protector of our home. But her wonderful life does not overshadow the stigma that Pitbulls have in our communities. With all of the bad press pitbulls receive it's to no wonder how people formulate opinions. And rightfully so, because this dog is a machine which was bred to keep going and have amazing intensity. Cheeba looks menacing but this girl jumps from crickets and will probably turn our whole family over for a slice of ham. We know this about her goofey butt. Nonetheless, it was a big surprise to me when I recieved a call from animal control telling me that my pitbull escaped the yard and was attacking people in the neighborhood. "HUH!!" My PitBull!!! CHEEBA!! ATTACKING PEOPLE!! I gave the Animal control officer a resounding "HELL NO! NOT MY DOG!! There is no way Cheeba my Pitbull will attack anybody. But as I suspect because she was a pitbull running the streets, of course she was attacking people, ripping legs off and tearing throats out. Yup, thats them pitbulls. Pleasssssse!! Responsible people who own pitbulls will tell you that pitbulls are the best dogs ever to own. As with any dog trained to do a certain things like Fighting for example, they will do what there good at. But what about when your dog is not trained to fight. What if your dog actually loves animals and people? Why have city bans been put in place with fees and fines for owning pitbulls and apartments banning any pitbulls on the premises? I understand there reasoning and fear from the bad press that pitbulls have following them. But wouldn't it be fair to institute a a test on everydog before imposing such fines and fees of ownership. I think all dogs should be put through some sort of testing phase to see how aggressive they are and if they pose threats to society. Im willing to bet most responsible pitbull owners would pass those test with flying colors. Chebba has been beaten up by huskies, labs and every other toy dog that could qualify as snake food and in every case. im left looking at an embarrassed pet owner who can't control their dog. Cheeba on the other hand, when she sees other dogs, runs towards them and rolls on her back to play. She does this to puppies all the way up to people. So it was to no wonder that when I herd my Dog Cheeba was attacking people on the streets I was furious about the accusation. But this is one struggle that will always be around as long as there are these little want-to-be-gangstas and idiots who choose to use this breed as there outlet for criminal activity. The future of pitbulls are left in the hands of people who advocate everything that is right about them and so the struggle continues

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oregano Surviving winter

I never had high hopes for any of my herbs through winter. I have a friend that covers her plants during the winter and I really want to get a bunch started in the sun room. But with all of this cold weather that befell upon all of us, I have just let nature take it's course and while doing so I have been taking note of what plants are perishable during the cold weather and what plants show some resistance. My Sugar snap peas which are by nature a cool weather crop could not take the pain of Mr. Frost when he sat his big fat butt down in my garden. The crisp cold just literally crippled everything in the garden except..... my Oregano. I remember taking tiny slips of the oregano and placing them into this jar and pretty much just forgot about them. And when I came home after freezing my butt off for approximately 2 weeks in the woods. It was a pleasant surprise to see these small oregano leaves thriving in hostile conditions. I have never moved this pot. It has received so much rain and cold weather and yet they are thriving. They are not the biggest of plants but they pack some big flavor. And it's a shame because I pretty much have forget about these guys and they are doing well. The herbs that I have put my heart and soul into have all died. Go figure................

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monkey Butt

Most people don't have to worry about Monkey Butt until they do. If your a military professional who has spent a few weeks afield, an outdoorsman who has accidently got lost, or someone who has somehow found themselves in the middle of a disaster with no way out for a few weeks. You will quickly learn the meaning of Monkey Butt. When im afield with the guys we always laugh when someone has a serious case of Monkey Butt. But Until it happens to you then you quickly realize it's no laughing matter. For 12 days I roughed it with no shower.Ugh!! Yeah it sucked but it's a small part of what I do. I have been here before, so I knew what essentials I would need while being afield. The number 1 item is baby wipes. Im writing this post in cunjuction with the terrible earthquake in Haiti and with the memory of the devasting Hurricane Katrina that struck the U.S. a few years ago. Many people don't think about prepardeness until they are forced to and by that time it's too late. So for this brief moment Im going to spotlight how important baby wipes are for any emergency plan. They provide you with a quick way to wash when water is not available and you can can hit all your hot spots, like under arms and the crotch. Because the Lord knows if you don't, what terrible afflicition is awaiting you. Which is; the undisputed Monkey Butt!! So it's something to think about, if your planning a trip or if your planning to store items for your emergency plan.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year !!! And a toast to Failed Resolutions;)

2010 is here and I made it with all my limbs, fingers and toes. 2009 was a very good productive year. After all it was one year ago today when this blog was in it's infancy that I started to write about how I was going to change my lifestyle a bit and start gardening and transforming my new urban home into an urban homestead. Blogging has given me a way to reach out with people all over the world, people who I would probably just smile at while standing in the grocery line or shout at because I got cut off in traffic; either way, the friendships that have been established on here have served to be very valuable and I look forward to learning new things from everyone.

So starting with a recap of last year I planned my garden, I created raised beds, I started a very successful compost bin, I GREW VEGETABLES!!!!! YESSSSS!!! and lots of them for the first time!! It was amazing! But I failed at growing radishes WTF!! This should have been the easiest thing to grow ever, and I yes I sucked at it. I grew Watermelon and cantaloupe in HAY BALES!!! Yes HAY BALES!!! and they grew like wild fire. Hay bale gardening was such a success that this year it will be a major player in how we grow alot of our veggies. We grew edamame, Japanese cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, shisho, 4 different types of tomatoes, zucchini, corn, snap peas, collard greens, bib lettuce, spinach, 4 different types of Japanese leafy greens, Potatoes in a bucket, onions, garlic, and started 3 different grape vines that are trellised around the garden. We also started a small orchard by purchasing a dwarf cherry and peach tree. Ok let me take a breath. We got two chickens that gave us so many eggssssssssss, (there taking a break now) and I found a good deal on 6 rabbits that will start my breeding program to supply meat (My wife is trying to make them as pets. I think we need a rabbit dinner real soon to bring things back full circle) I trapped my new hunting buddy Delta who gave me hell and with his inital training and I have a crazy New German Shorthaired Pointer Named Jackson who is................................................................................ Simply HIGHSPEED all the time until he comes in the house lays on his bed and snores in sequence with my other dog Cheeba and my 30lb tabby hugo who like to sleep on my wifes head right next to me, yes im a bit Td but I love em all. 2009 has been great and I now that we are in 2010 I have so much more to do.

First I don't really like resolutions to myself but I will make at least one that I will stick to. This year I am going to volunteer my time to at least 3 individuals in my area and get them started on growing veggies. They can live in an apartment or have a backyard. But I figure with all the knowledge that I have gained over this past year from all the wonderful people that I have met on this blog I can help someone get started. So I know I can't change the world all at once but I can start with one container, one pot, one seed and one person at a time. So that's my realistic new years resolution everything else is just going too happen. I would like to tell myself that I won't drink as much beer as I did in 2009, But who I am I kidding. I love Beer and I love food, in fact that's why I think I was born, too drink beer and eat good food. In fact I will grow Hops this year. I can't guarantee I will make my own brew, But I will start by growing my own Hops. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm I can smell the Hops. But Ok I will say this. I will run longer this year. I put in approx 15 miles a week last year and I want to bump that up to 25 before spring. Ok that's enough of the new years resolution, Today is my off day and I am looking forward to a cold one:)