Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lets Talk Urban Goats

There are alot of opinions about raising goats in an Urban Environment. I can only speak truthfully and honestly about my experiences. First of all, goats are fun. They are truly entertaining and are extremely intelligent. Nevertheless raising them inside of an Urban environment has its complexities. Goats like any other Farm Animal need to move around. They need to be stimulated. A bored goat will let you know he is bored. They go from quiet to making insane racket.
Jake my Billy Pictured here is hell bent to see whats on the other side of the fence behind the door and any place that is off limits to him. One day while cleaning his pen he rammed my son knocking him down; ran out to the yard... headed straight for my porch steps and ran straight through my glass door. Ouch!! Yup... that Damn Goat!! The word "Curry" just saturated my thoughts at that time. Its almost like the goats are plotting. Like they know they are smarter than Humans. Somethings going on in that head of theirs that we just assume is primal instinct. I am erring on the side of caution because I believe they are secretly trying to take over the world!
Would I do Goats again? Yes and No... Yes If I had more land for them to frolic and do their goat business on and No because the Juice is not worth the squeeze. In an Urban Environment you need to be efficient and everything is competing for space. The benefits of raising Goats are that they provide rich Nutrient droppings for the garden. They provide milk.. But really??? I can get milk. If I were a Dooms Day Prepper I can see the benefits of having Goats.. But you will need more than one to benefit from. Goats only breed once a year so its not like you can provide yourself a steady source of meat. So looking at this carefully... in an urban environment. I'm going to have to give a Thumbs Down on the goats. Rabbits are a far better choice in terms of efficiency and caring for in an Urban Setting than raising goats. The debate will continue on the Urban goat Saga. While we poke away at whats good and whats no...t we better focus on them Goats, Before they take over the world:)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Garden for Zone 8


This Winter gardening has been pretty simple. Over the years I have had some complex issues trying to grow Veggies during the winter in Zone 8. The truth is... Growing any veggie in Zone 8 during the winter is much easier than trying to attempt it during the Summer.

My main problem was keeping the local squirrels out of my garden. I started a squirrel eradication campaign by just wiping them out. Squirrels have quickly become the leading pest to destroy my garden and a one pump pellet gun that shoots 1200fps is the best control measure against squirrels. Yes I know there are people in the neighborhood who balk at the idea of shooting squirrels. So what you have to do is shoot them in head so that way they just drop. Lucky for me Squirrel meat is absolutely delicious and I use those engagements as another way to put meat in the freezer. I hear a Jeff Foxworthy joke coming... "You might be a RedNeck If........." LOL!!
But with all that said my efforts have proved fruitful for the first time in a few years where I dont have too fight with critters eating my harvest.
This years winters harvest in the Zone 8 Region will consist of Broccoli, Cabbage, Collards, Swiss Chard, A hydrid cabbage Collard Combo thingy, Artichoke and of course the food of the Gods.. Garlic!!

Temps are very mild for this time of the year but these plants thrive when the air is crisp. Im looking forward to saute greens in the near future.


Follow Urban Self-Sufficientist through Facebook

Its been several months since I made my last post. Taking time off to clear my head and work through the new challenges in my life as helped out tremendously. Instead of ramping things down I have actually doubled down over the past several months learning new things and developing a different concept on life and the meaning of being a "Self-Sufficientist". I appreciate all the bloggers and readers who visit this site to exchange ideas and I look forward to sharing this next chapter of my life with you all. Thanks for all the continued support!! To better serve you with the most outrageous and thought provoking material on the topic of Self-Sufficiency please do a Search on Facebook for the Urban Self-Sufficientist. I will use this tool along with the Blog as a way to continue sharing my adventures. Take care and Of Course..... "Happy Gardening!":)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Broken Relationships... The Unspoken Casualty of war


 its been awhile since I have made a post.. Usually when I take these long breaks from posting anything significant about the Garden... its because im deployed somewhere. For the past few years I have largely kept my military life seperate from all my posts. I use the garden as away for me to escape the reality of what my life really is all about; which involves a lot of pain, grief, regrets, sorrow, mourning and personal reflection. Over the past decade I have lost so many friends.. I have been extremely lucky.. Just today my helicopter almost ran into a mountain. Death is always looking for a way to creep in and take over.

Sadly enough there are bigger things on the horizon. My wife told me over the phone last week that she is done with the marriage. I could hear the whistle of artillery shells falling down all around me. I was truly broken. The conviction of which she spoke so clearly. I can hear it in her voice she was done. Battle worn and tired of the constant deployments. Its tough being in this situation.

I have taken on the full brunt of this decades old war.. Spending over 4 total years in a combat zone. Many of us often joke.. we go to America for vacation because our real home is in the mountains of Afghanistan or the Slums of Iraq. I have been to both and I have done an outstanding Job in both theaters of Operation. But I'm no fool to think my success is all because of me. Men like myself do very well overseas because our wives do very well taking care of the home. So we don't have to worry about home and we can concentrate on the mission. The military for all its worth is just not a recruitment of soldiers its ultimately the recruitment of families. Gone are the days of pimple face Joe snuffy being the only green horn in the platoon.. This war has pulled so many different people from all different back grounds from the depths of which never was thought possible. I remember working with a chief who actually saw combat in Vietnam!!

For the past three days I couldn't eat.. I literally shut down. Hurt to hear her say the things she said. But all I could do is listen. She was right to feel the way that she felt. Military wives endure so much. I told my command that I expected way to much from my wife. They quickly retorted by saying.. NO.... We expected way to much from you!! I just literally broke down. The fact is.. my wife, friends and family will never ever know what I do for my country. But the realities of what I do continue to etch itself within my core.. And at the end of the day only my wife sees those changes as apparent or less visible they may be.

We expect our women to deal with us, "to suck it up and drive on" as if they lace up their boots every morning and hit the pavement. The facts are.. although our women are tough.. they are still women.. they have a certain vulnerability and fragileness that we don't share. Our women need more than financial and physical support. They need us emotionally when it counts. They need us to make whats important to them.. important to us. We forget so much in our neanthrtal way of thinking that our women need our support. I look back and realize that when my wife needed me most I wasn't there for her. I let the silt of the military stick to me and cause me to be lazy, too tired to address her concerns. We ask for second chances but if we look back there were many chances.

War is tough on men. We fight in foreign countries and when our homes are unstable we fight to keep it together. The "never give up" spirit is great in the combat zone but when your wife has given up there is really nothing more you can do. Broken Relationships are the Unspoken casualty of war. I don't know if there is anything salvageable when I get back home. But if there is I will try to hold on to it as tightly as I can. I'm number 9 from this deployment. The 9th guy who's wife told him that they are finished with their marriage.
Men we have alot of work to do.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mucadine Vines finally Producing Grape Clusters!!!

This is such a feel good story for me. I planted the Muscadine vines 4 years ago and this morning I was so ecstatic to see that they are finally producing Grape Clusters. Muscadine Grapes Aka Swamp Grape are very prevalent in the South. Often times while hunting Its a great treat to find a producing vine and works magic in using them to ambush pigs when they are ripe. As a youngster all my dad ever talked about was the Muscadine Grape and when I finally had a chance to taste one I was pleasantly surprised.

The Grape is so sweet when ripe. It is unique in that it has a hard shell unlike most grapes with soft shells. The Hard shell definitely works into making sure the grape is protected from the intense heat and humidity that is so indigenous to the South. And while other Grapes suffer.. This Grape thrives. The hard shell also works really well in its defense against bugs. But bugs and heat are not what I am worried about. I have a feeling my dog is going to do more than damage than any bug will.

I look forward to seeing the development of my grapes. This is truly an exciting time and the timing is unbelievable. So with fingers crossed I hope to be making jam and definitely try my hand at some amazing wine later on this year. All in all this growing season seems to be starting off very well with the very short winter we received. Urban Farming couldn't get any better. Happy Gardening!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rats Destroying the Vegetable Garden

My cool weather Vegetables were doing really good. Until a few days ago. I noticed that specifically my Broccoli came under attack all of a sudden. Towards the end of last season I noticed that my green leafy veggies were being ripped from the ground, leaf, stem and root; as if someone just helped themselves to my garden. I couldn't believe it! So it was no surprise that a few days ago I saw the same thing happen and needless to say I was pissed!! Because Broccoli is one of my favorite veggies to grow and eat fresh. That night I went on a hunt for rat traps to see if my suspicions were correct. I find the best bait for rats is using some sort of gooey power or cereal bar that can be molded around the copper step trigger. I used something from kashi. As night fell I set the traps. I was excited to kill something... cursing at the bloody rats hoping that I would seek redemption. After the Traps were set I walked back into the house still pissed about the fact my broccoli bed was decimated. I laid down still cussin under my breath and suddenly the ambient sound coming from the TV was shrilled with a sharp "SMACK!!" and Instantly..... A devilish grin forced it's way through my face followed by a sigh of relief as One "SMACK!!" after another continued through the night. Because I'm a big pussy there was no way I was going outside to check on those traps. I would have definitely lost all my cool points had I seen a rat squirming around in the trap (this coming from a guy who jumps out of high performance aircraft for a living)
All in all I end up killing 8 rats in 2 days. A quick way to find out if you still have rats is if there is food still on the traps. All the rats that were killed in the traps had no food left in the traps. Tonight weather pending if they will hold up or not due to the cold. We will see how many more we can Kill. But at the end of the day. I'm not happy until the last rat is gone. It may take some time but I'm determined. Life of an Urban Farmer.. Just when you thought things would get easier.. They don't and suddenly your dealing with rats!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Delicious Greek Honey Apple walnut Drizzle!!

My wife has found another winner. Everybody knows I'm a Carnivore. BUT!! if she continues to pull stuff off like this I may trade in my fangs for more of this type of Delicious Goodness. You cant go wrong with Greek yogurt, apples walnuts and honey. This is especially a delight if you happen to be fortunate enough to make your own honey, grow your own apples, culture your own Greek yogurt and Have access to walnut trees. Speaking of which I live on and around a Pecan Orchard so I will definitely try this with some soft Sweet Georgia Pecans.
I can't describe the taste. The honey and Greek yogurt combination with apple and walnut is unique and keeps you coming back for more. My wife said its like your first love. I turned around and Said "Ohhhhh Really!!" "SOOOO this is That GOOD HUH!!!" LOL!! She quickly explained laughing , saying "no nooo, not like that, but more like the innocence of enjoying your first love." Ok  Ok I guess I understand. Guys huh LOL How arrogant we must be to think our wives only loved us forever and ever. Well I will warn you fellas, If you don't want your life mate conjuring up thoughts of their first love saturated in innocence. You might just want to skip this page and buy them a beer. On further thought beer my not be a good idea neither:) 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Complex Issues Facing Urban Farmers Around the world

Sustainability, Preparedness, Micro-Farming, City Farmer, Self-Sufficiency; these are all words that many people from around the world relate to. We all have a common goal and that's to develop skills in the art and practice of being more self sufficient. Ultimately we want to live our lives in the joys and woes of being experimental when things are good, so that when and "IF" things get bad we are prepared.

 A few weeks ago I received an Email from an Urban Homesteader in India. I get real excited when I receive emails because it's like opening up a surprise every time. I never know what question is going to be thrown at me and I love challenging myself on research and providing a real answer. But this email was different. Shabeer as he refers to himself, asked me if I knew of a better way to deliver water to his 50 plus rabbits. Currently he is using watering dishes and the water gets quite messy. I thought this was an easy one. So I replied back to Shabeer with a link to Amazon showing him a Rabbit Water bottle for apprx $4 a piece. I thought, wow that was easy, I can do this all day.. Ok so whats next? Wellllllll, Shabeer Replied with a gracious thanks and said "Those water bottles would be nice but at $4 a piece that's really expensive because that's like over 200 rupees for each water bottle." I just literally stared at the screen and then suddenly the emotion of embarrassment slowly started to drape over me. Taking a deep sigh I thought to myself while reading his statement over and over how dumb and arrogant I must have sounded to suggest that a $4 water bottle would fit into any persons budget. And then it dawned on me. Yes a $4 water bottle is not expensive in my world and the way in which  I practice the art of becoming more Self Sufficient is achieved by what some might consider to be privileged. And for the first time there came to be true meaning in my quest for Self-Sufficiency.

Thinking of Shabeer and the question he posed to me I really started to think about what does it truly mean to be self-sufficient. figuring out Shabeers water issue became more than just a water issue. Every night and Day I have spent thinking of ways to make water delivery systems attainable and cheap for people who don't have the convenience to shop on Amazon and spend a boat load of money to support their Hobby and/or Lifestyle. When I started to think more about this issue, the world started to pan out and there I was standing on the Urban Self-Sufficientist Soap Box with a very small Megaphone. I have come to realize that people around the world need real solid solutions to complex problems that I don't personally have to deal with. But the Hell with that!! My background would never allow me to quit and persistence to find a solution is the goal. So I dug deep and I recruited the help of someone I work for in my secular life. His background consisted of spending 5 years teaching people how to survive on nothing and being able to survive in hostile areas. I knew that with his instinct and my practical application of the subject we would be able to brain storm and come up with a direction of where we want to start.

In order to understand what the needs of Shabeer would be we had to put ourselves in the mindset that even though we have items available to us, what can we develop that would be cost effective and at the same time easily replicated all over the world. After several discussions and failing numerous "What If" scenarios we finally came to the conclusion that for someone like Shabeer living in India with access to many different materials but not having the necessary funds to support his lifestyle the way that he really wants to as an Urban Farmer.. The best method for his water delivery system would have to include 1st.... a plastic bottle. The main reason... Water bottles are everywhere, They are thrown on the sides of roads in garbage heaps and you can recycle them from the stores. The Idea is to deliver water to rabbits in a safe and effective manner that can be controlled and easily maintained. This is just part of the solution, because the real problem is with delivering the water to the rabbits. Rabbits hate to be wet. So having a system that is spilling all over the place is not going to work. The Idea of the actual Small Animal water bottle makes so much sense with the metal spout. We thought of using bamboo... but there is the rabbits strong desire to chew on everything. So we thought about using car antennas because older vehicles have the hollowed out antennas... but there is the issue of finding a ball bearing small enough to fit in the cavity to not let water drip.. Finally we centered around the idea of using a nail with a wide flat head pushed through the top of the cap from the inside. The idea the rabbits would learn to push the nail to the side releasing a trickle of water.

We are still developing Ideas for Shabeer and a system that can easily be replicated in any part of the world. But thinking about this has really made me understand that average people around the world are really facing complex issues with regards to their urban farms. I want to help people like Shabeer everyday. One day I may start a non-profit to help urban farmers around the world purchase necessary items. The fact remains that even though I have a very small megaphone, I am fortunate enough to be standing on a soap box. And with any means possible I will continue to highlight the real struggles that many people face.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Buy Lady bugs online

Its Feburary and the aphid infestation is in full force from being protected in the sun room. I absolutely hate aphids!! Here in the south its an accepted way of growing that we are going to be fighting the aphid. I have tried everything from chemicals to soap water. But nothing gets rid of Aphids better than using Lady Bugs. When your lady bugs arrive follow the instructions on how to care for them and when to release them. Usually its at night. The ladies will start climbing to the highest peak they can find. As they scout every square inch of the plant they will run into aphids and start jabbing them with there sword and sucking the juice YESSS!! and when they have had thier fill they will socialize and mate and lay eggs. In a few weeks if you are successful you will see the most horrific looking larva. Something so hideous that Hollywood has yet to match it. If you think the Lady bug is bad... Wait until she unleashes Satans Spawn. I am Fortunate to be able to offer Lady Bugs as well as other Benifical Bugs for the Home Garden through my Online Store. Which saves you the trouble of asking your Local Garden Center if they Sell Lady Bugs and they reply "What do you need lady Bugs For?" True Story!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Growing Oregano in the winter

I started growing Oregano from seed successfully last year and all the plants have endured tremendously this winter. I'm not sure how they will fair in other climates lower than Zone 8, but they have been through some extreme heat and intense cold.. ok I know... it gets cold for like a week here. But still:) It's comforting to know that if Oregano is in a happy place it's going to thrive. I'm very proud of the Oregano. Hopefully this year I will be able to save some seeds from this plant and prolong it's genetics.

Buy Vegetable Seeds Online Urban Self-Sufficientist Warehouse

The Urban Self-Sufficientist site has made it easier for readers to now purchase vegetable seeds on-line through it's Online Warehouse Powered by Amazon.

I have noticed that over the years many people are really excited about starting their first garden, developing their Homestead, cooking their first meal grown from the garden. They wonder about what type of clothes hold up on the Urban Homestead, What books to read? How do I start hunting? What Gadgets would I need?

As an Urban Homesteader and a Consumer of Products I think it's important to share products and ideas with people who have your same interest. The Online Warehouse makes it easy to stream line your interest into a few catergories that marry each other well.

Many of these products I have used and have seen them used by other outfits. Some products don't quite cut the mustard but they still serve as a guideline for ideas to develop.

As trends grow and new ones develop the Online Warehouse will Constantly update. Some Products will never go away. Because these are products that I firmly believe in and have been tested time and time again. I hope you continue to enjoy your Experience on the Blog and please feel free to provide new ideas and products that you stand behind and I can share these with the community.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Build a Cheap Green House

There is no better way to prolong your growing season or start it earlie,r than to grow your vegetables in a Green House.  Even though I compare GA to Satans Sauna most of the time, there are occassions where it so cold you would have thought that hell has just frozen over. I know you up north folk get down in the teens and single digits. But anything in the 30s around here is considered a State of an emergency. And yes.. Yes.. I know.. Im from up north... go figure!! But I will say that I have acclimatized myself to the warmth down here.

But getting to the Green House. Whatever you decide to do remember that most green Leafy vegetables do very well in a semi cold environment. I have found out that most plants are very tolerant of cold weather as long as it stays in the 40s. Once the temp dips below that call it quits. Now there are different trains of thoughts when growing in cooler weather, for instance down here in the south. We may have 30-40 degree nights but most of our days are in the 60s with full sun. Unlike the north where 40 degrees is the high and the lows stay in the 20s. 
But either way a Green house of sort will prove to be beneficial. Pictured here is a simple design that I came up with that piggy backs off the Green house concept. I formulated my plan based off my raised beds that are 3'x6'. The Materials are as follows: 2 x Stakes $2.88 each, 1 x Roll of 4 mil heavy duty plastic $10, 10 x Wood Stakes 1"x2" x8' $1.88 a piece. Screws, powerdrill and Skill saw. The project took an evening to make three frames and went rather quick.
Even though I have pictured here the 1"x2"s that were cut to 6 ft for the length and 3 ft for the width. I found out that usung Treated 2" x 4" works so much better. I acheived success with the frames but over all I really like the sturdiness of the 2x4s for purposes of weather and for the occassional lean up against. I have boys and they like to hold every thing up with thier body. The stakes are awesome!! By placing them in the corner and fastening them down it really secures the frame. Which becomes a multi-use tool in the garden that I will explain in a bit.
Again the problem with using the smaller wood diameter opposed to the 2x 4s is fragility. However, by fastening the stakes to each corner screwing them in from both sides you are able to really make a strong structure. Remember these are frames. To serve as a base for a make shift green house that is not permanant but has plenty of uses.
When I started the raised beds a few years ago. I wanted to be able to have enough flexibility to add to the raise bed for how I saw fit. As the years past I look back and realized that this was a good decision to make raised beds. Now that I have my frames I am able to secure them in the beds and prep the beds for veggies and cover with the plastic.
As you can see I switched the the 2x4s with the stakes and added two 3ft beams across the frames to One- support the plastic, two serve as growing supports for warm weather crop and three... to help seperate and divide the raise bed for growing vegetables. Each column while looking through the top can now serve as a seperate growing window for each vegetable Variety. Im no genius.. But Im patting myself on the back for this one:)
Finally after the beds are prepped and seeds are sown and watered. The Plastic Cover can be pulled over the Beds. The $10 roll of 4 mil covers 250sqf.. For a more super heavy duty variety you can bump it up to 6 mil and that cost $28 for the roll to cover the same amount of sqf. The purpose of the Green House style frame is to provide enough humidity and warmth inside the Raised Beds that the Plants are not affected by the outside cold temp. There are several ways to refine this process to make the raised beds its own mini climate. I will expand on those later on this year. For now This is the cheapest way to provide just enough warmth to get the seeds germinated. Please keep in Mind that even on cold days if the Sun is out the Raised beds can get really hot and then you have an issue of over heating.. With this design its as simple as rolling the plastic Back to even out the Temp. I must say I am proud of this little garden. I look forward to posting any successess or failures in the future..

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cheap Bathroom Remodel for $300

I really wish I had the before pics of this bathroom before I remodeled it. This particular bathroom belongs to my wife's Spa. Living on a serious budget we are forced to find ways to live comfortable on the the cheap. The most expensive item for this project were the faucet. We paid $120 for a classic look. Add some deep brown Ralph Lauren Paint to the cabinets a coat of paint to the walls, a rock spray texture to the sink basin (which BTW was so cool. I took a normal laminate sink platform and spray painted a rock texture on it. It gives the appearance and feel that the sink was a piece of Rock. I then sprayed a clear water protectant sealant over the spray paint and I am proud to report that with heavy usage the sink has stood the test of time. Not something you might expect from a Wild man:)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Urban Self-Sufficientist TV

This is an informal introduction to Urban Self-Sufficientist TV also USSufficientistTV on You Tube. I started this blog a few years ago and I have been rewarded with meeting so many people from all across the World. Even though I'm just a small fish in a very large pond; I have in many cases provided entertainment to anyone bored enough to listen to my muse!! As I continue to develop as a Urban Farmer I want to take the next step in providing the occasional Video of my stomps... Whether it be working in the Garden, developing cheap and efficient ways to maintain sustainability or enjoying the outdoors, I will like to add another dimension to my blog through my life.

Below is my first video of a Recent Hog Hunt. I hope you enjoy..

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Smoked Fish

Depending on where your from the idea of Smoking foods take on several different meanings. I for one have only thought about meat and maybe poultry never fish. But smoking Fish is a common practice that has been around for a long time. The fish pictured are White Bass.. Many of the Locals have said they are garbage fish. Well I don't believe in the term garbage anything. There are some fish that are not edible and I have had my fair share of them. But most Fish are edible. I decided to save my catch on a recent trip and smoke them slow for several hours and recouped them the next day. The result was the magnificent bronze colored, smoked flavor fish I have ever seen or eaten. We were able to recoup most of the flesh by just peeling the skin and bone away and we took the fish and made a wonderful White Bass Smoked Dip spritz with a freshly squeezed lemon wedge and served with tortillas. It was magnificent! Recipe will be posted soon ......

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First seeds started for 2012

Well.... 2012 is here and like many years past we are making good use of our sun room. I love the fact that on most days this winter it stays bewteen 75 and 80 degrees.. at night it definetly cools off a bit... Hovering around the mid to upper 60s.. but all in all I'm fortunate enough to have one and we kicked off the new  growing season yesterday by planting the following:
New Zealand spinach
Brocolli Rapini
Swiss chard
Collard Greens
Red cherry tomato super sweet 100
Tomato big rainbow
Hawaiian Pineapple
Homestead tomato
Amish paste
Riesen traube
Costoluto genovese
Golden jubilee
Japanese white eggplant
Purple Artichoke
Eggplant little fingers
Japanese Eggplant (my first variety from a 4 year plant)
Italian cabbage
Bok choy
Bull heart French cabbage
Italian onions
Sugar Ann snow peas
Oregon sugar pool peas
The boys are excited they will try to make a little money this spring selling plants.. will post pictures soon:)