Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The other day after being gone all day, we came home to quite a mess. Al had recently put a lot of pretty red mulch down and evidently they had been working those areas, and mulch was spread everywhere!
The next morning, I was sitting on the couch, watching tv and reading blogs. One rooster and the turkey were digging around in the mulch under the Mimosa tree. All of a sudden, the turkey started running back up the hill towards home, with the rooster following behind. I couldn't figure it out. I thought maybe he heard his owner call him for dinner or something. It was kind of strange.
Later in the day, Al went outside with a rake in order to put all the mulch and dried grass back where it belonged. He found a nasty surprise in the ground under the Mimosa tree. He found a huge yellow jacket nest. He figured easily a couple hundred of them were flying around. Luckily he got away without being stung, and put them on his "to do" list for later in the day. Remember, he is an exterminator :)
We think the turkey and possibly the rooster got stung by the yellow jackets and that was why they ran off. We haven't seen anyone in our yard since!
Of course, now being the animal lovers that we are, we started to worry about them.
We've taken a few golf cart rides up to where they live and have not seen the turkey. Al thought he may have heard him this morning though. Hope so. Poor guy, probably got stung pretty bad and enough stings could easily have killed him.
We have some other critter news. Al has been seeing a fox in our pasture area again. We used to see 2-3 of them very frequently but hadn't seen one for a while. We assumed someone had shot them for raiding chicken coops or something. But this morning Al saw one sunning himself in the pasture, just like old times!
We're enjoying the beautiful fall weather with night time temps in the lower 50's and even upper 40's. It's in the 70's or low 80's in the daytime. Perfect weather, with clear blue skies!
Friday, October 1, 2010
The weather has been lovely the past few days with low's in the upper 50's and mid 80's in the daytime. We’ve been staying outside as much as we can. Al spent some time yesterday cleaning out the weeds and previous garden items from the chicken coop. He planted some snow peas. We like to plant things in there because it’s enclosed and nothing can eat our veggies. Like our friend, Bunny Rabbit.
We got up this morning and opened up the doors to enjoy the sounds of the birds and enjoy the cool weather. I kept hearing a noise in the back yard but didn't know what it was.
Al's friend "Cowboy" was on the back porch, seemingly asking if Al could come out to play :) I don't have a picture of him, but he's a little black and white dog that lives nearby, and he’s become Al’s new best friend. I thought the noise I was hearing was him, but it wasn't.
Here's what I found.
I think there were 4 Roosters and one Turkey. The turkey was kicking up and digging just like the roosters. I don’t know if that’s a turkey thing too, or if he learned it from the roosters?
They were having quite a time digging and kicking up mulch looking for insects. They made quite a nice mess too! We didn’t mind them around the Mimosa tree because it’s just grass clippings, but then they headed toward the pool area where Al has been putting nice pretty mulch in there. It was time to chase them out of there :) They weren’t a bit afraid of us, and we actually thought they were kind of cute.
However….all of a sudden, Al remembered, that he had just planted a bunch of Snow Peas in the chicken coop and the gate was open! Oh, no….we didn’t want any chickens there …in the chicken coop! He ran out and closed it before any damage was done. We’ve never had any chickens since we’ve been here. We thought about it for a while since there was already a chicken coop here, but we decided that would be just another “pet” to worry about and we sure wouldn’t have eaten them! I’d have worried about them in the rain or cold too. So anyway, it’s nice to have the neighbors stop by to visit.
Here are a few pictures of south Georgia in the fall.
This is from a Confederate Rose. The bloom is larger than a mans hand and the tree is at least 30 feet tall with tons of flowers getting ready to bloom. Unfortunately, it blooms late in the year and the frost kills it.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I got to my dentist office and was told that a 34 year old man in town was killed in a gas line explosion. The local tv station said he was on a back hoe and hit a buried gas line. It appears it caused a flash fire. While still at the dentist a man came asking if this guy was a patient, as they needed his dental records. This poor guy went to work just like he did every day and I'm sure never expected anything like this. There was another gas line accident last week in a nearby town and it was reported the gas line was only 3-4 inches underground. That doesn't seem too safe to me. They were saying something about erosion bringing them close to the surface. I don't know, but it's a tragedy.
We are enjoying the cool weather today. We have the air-conditioner turned off for the first time in months and it's lovely! What a difference a day makes. It was 59 degrees when we got up this morning. We haven't seen the 50's for a long time and it sure felt nice.
Al is out mowing around the motor home. It's really too nice to stay inside....but unfortunately, I have house work to do.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
We've had an extremely busy week with two home showings, and a garage sale, and all that goes with it.
We are finally getting some very much needed rain. Our grass is getting very brown. The good thing about a drought is the grass grows slower, but the bad thing is the ugly brown color. Since we're trying to sell the house, we want green.
We currently have the entire 11+ acres mowed! All at one time! That's a rarity for us, and something usually only reserved for company! I finally finished up the pasture yesterday.
We have a bunch of hummingbirds and they are chasing each other all over the place. Al was in the golf cart the other day and one flew between his chest and the steering wheel. That's a little close!
No sign of our foxes so we fear the worst. We have still been seeing one raccoon though and when he's cute enough, he gets fed. He's pretty cute!
Al found an interesting item in his shed yesterday, in a old squirrel nest he was tearing down. I haven't had a chance to get a picture yet, but will do so soon. We couldn't believe it.
I am still planning on keeping up this blog until we sell the house and become full time rv'ers, but unfortunately nothing much has been happening around here lately. We have no garden planted and my summer flowers have about had it. It'll be a while before we start getting any real fall color.
Right now we are monitoring the hurricanes/tropical storms in the Gulf. When they get into the Gulf, we have to start to worry. So far, so good.
Al is watching the Buccaneer's play (and already doing a lot of yelling) and I'm planning to stay away and watch a movie in the bedroom! It's the safest place to be during a football game :)
Sunday, September 19, 2010
About 7pm last night, I finally decided to get outside and start mowing. I had to wait until then for the temperature to fall below 90! Once I got started, it was nice with the breeze hitting me. I ended up getting the entire main front yard done. Of course there is still the "front front", the "Bluebirdy meadow" front, the in the woods front, and the side front, but the "main" front was done! I felt like I had accomplished something. I didn't do any mowing while Al was gone, so I'm behind!
While mowing, I kept thinking about what we were told about the Rattle Snakes being on the move, as I sit on the rider with flip flops on! I am waiting for one to jump up at me! It was getting pretty dark by the time I was finishing up and I actually came across a snake. It was a small one, and I don't know what kind it was. I almost ran over him, twice. I think it may have been the same one (or a sibling of) the one Al saw earlier in the day. The one I saw ended up going towards the woods, so that is okay. The one Al saw was close to the house, so that's not okay!
We have also been seeing evidence of an Armadillo that is tearing up the yard.
Today is football day (for Al) this afternoon, more mowing and then we're going to start watching season 3 of Dexter. We just got season 4 as well, so we have a lot to catch up on. If you haven't watched the Dexter series its really a terrific show. The story line is about a guy who is a serial killer, but he only kills the really bad people, but there is a twist!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
There is a little gravel road that goes beside our property, so that's where I started first. It sounded like the cutting was coming from up that way. I drove up there and found nothing and of course the tree cutting had stopped at that time, so I couldn't follow the sounds.
I then headed another direction, and found the source of the sounds I have been hearing for days. It turns out there appears to be a large planted pine forest in there that had gotten extremely overgrown, and that's what they were clearing. They weren't cutting down the pine trees (at least that I could see), but they were clearing out the undergrowth. Phew! I don't know how far back that property goes, or if it comes near our place. When Al gets back home, we'll have to go check it out more. I was glad they had waited until after the bird nesting season has ended.
South Georgia is known for pine forests, good hunting and mild winters.. This used to be the place for the rich northerners to spend their winters. Many visitors stayed in the fancy hotels, but many bought land and plantations. The northerners changed them into winter residences, spent a lot of money on them, and changed this area forever. They built elaborate houses and stables. There are over 70 plantations here today that cover over 300,000 acres. Many of these plantations are now owned by large corporations who use them as executive retreats and hunting lodges. There are only a few that the average person can visit. One of them is Pebble Hill Plantation and it is an amazing place. We took a tour of it a few years ago. It has had some notable guests visit in its day, including Jimmy Carter, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Jackie Kennedy came to this area after her husband was assassinated. Many of the plantations host famous people for hunting trips on horseback, and I understand Quail hunting is very popular. Rumor has it that VP Dick Chaney comes here frequently to hunt. It's all kept very private though. One of the sayings I heard when we first got here which I found interesting is: "they come from plantation money." Anyway, that's the history of the pine forests in south Georgia. Once the Florida was discovered and the railroad got down there, the rich northerners deserted Georgia for Florida. I have to agree...the weather in Florida is much better in the winter!
This morning, I awoke to a nice 63 degree temperature again! If it would just not get to hot in the afternoons!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I got up this morning to an outside temperature of 63 degrees! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen it that cool here in Georgia! We’re not looking forward to cold weather, but we sure do like it here in the fall.
Last year we went camping quite a bit starting the end of September and I’d really like to do it again this year, but I don’t think we’ll be able to. With the house on the market, we really need to stay here, have garage sales and get rid of more stuff. We’ve been selling quite a bit of small stuff at the garage sales, but I really need to tackle some of the more expensive things, like the china, silver, and Al’s big ole wood splitter. It might be the right time of year to sell the wood splitter. It was one of those toys he just had to have and really didn’t use much. Of course, he would compare my treadmill and ultra glide to that, so I’ll probably not mention that!
Somewhere up the hill and nearby it sounds like someone is cutting down trees…a lot of them. We've been hearing it for the past several days. Wonder what’s going on? I may need to take a ride and see what I can find.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
We used it at our house in Tampa, because we had a small yard and there was no place to put a feeder where the squirrels couldn't jump from either a tree, fence or pool cage to get at it.
This Droll Yankee Squirrel Flipper was the ticket! It's a little expensive but I'm telling you....it worked! It has a rechargeable battery. There is a ring where the smaller birds can perch and eat. If a squirrel lands on this perch, it spins them right off! We watched one or two squirrels try it, spin off and give up! After that, none of them bothered it, although we wanted them to so we could laugh at them. We got it at Wild Birds Unlimited. They had the cutest video showing a squirrel making numerous unsuccessful attempts at getting into this feeder. It was hilarious. I couldn't find the video I had remembered, but here is another one I found, here. It's not as funny as the original one, but still shows hot the spinner works!
Since we have a much larger yard here in Georgia we can put the feeders far enough away from anything the squirrel can jump from. Our most successful squirrel proof feeder is this one.
It has a platform type feeder on the top that even ground feeding birds like Dove's can get into. The baffle makes it impossible for squirrels to climb it. We tried a pole feeder without the baffle and they climbed right up it without any problem. We tried greasing the pole, but you had to grease it daily. It was fun watching the little buggars try to climb the pole and then slide down though! This feeder works well and is fairly inexpensive. You just have to place it at least 8 feet from anywhere a squirrel can jump from. In some yards that is not possible. We have two of these feeders and never had any problem!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
We have a birdfeeder that is hanging from a tree branch from a thin plastic wire that is about 5-6 feet long. You'd think that long of a wire would deter the squirrels, right? Think again. They shimmy right down the wire into the feeder that has two baffles on it. This feeder worked well at keeping them at bay, for a few years, but lately they learned how to beat the system, and Al is losing the war.
The squirrels have learned to climb down the wire and if they are very careful, they can stretch over the top of the two baffles and get inside the feeder. Sometimes they make it, sometimes they fall off, but they keep coming back and eating the birdseed.
On top of eating the birdseed, the little buggars were chewing on the hard plastic baffle. You can tell they didn't like it!
Al finally decided he'd "fix them", and he put another metal baffle over the top of the other two baffles.
You can see the dark colored metal baffle over the top of the two other baffles. It appeared to be working and Al would go out and laugh as the squirrels would try to get inside the feeder platform, and fall off. He thought he had won the war.......and he was gloating! I knew that was a bad idea.
Well guess what? Yup, they figured it out. They are now climbing the tree trunk, getting level with the feeder and jumping over and hitting the feeder, causing it to swing enough to spill the birdseed on the ground! So now they don't need to get inside the feeder because the seed is spilled all over! This morning, we found one inside the feeder though, so it appears one may have figured out a way in! The little stinkers!
The good thing is that the Dove's also found the spilled seed and are eating it. Hunting season for Dove's started Saturday, so we're hoping all the Dove's in the area come here and stay safe! Why anyone would enjoy shooting a tiny little bird, I do not know. How much meat could they have?
Last spring, Al hooked this bird feeder to the window. thinking the squirrels couldn't get there. You can see how well that worked. The cats enjoyed watching the squirrels and birds.
We always have a lot of birds around (we feed them well) and we sure enjoy watching all the critters. We will miss this place when we start our fulltiming adventures, but we know we'll always attract wildlife wherever we are.
For those of you who have never had a bird feeder, it is so enjoyable to just sit and watch the birds and see their different behaviors. We buy Pennington Sunflower Chips from Walmart. It has no shells (no mess) and there is no waste and nothing grows below the feeder.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
We have had such a hot summer this year but the past week has been cooler. We’ve actually had a few days where it didn’t get into the 90’s.
We’ve been waiting for it to get down into the 60’s at night and this morning we got up to 67 degrees! Hallelujah!
The weather here in South Georgia is very nice in the fall and we’re really looking forward to it.
We’ve been real busy preparing the house for sale, while trying to keep up with the normal chores like mowing, weeding and trimming. The grass is still growing pretty fast, so that’s a daily chore.
Our last Bluebird family is around and so far all 3 babies have survived. The other families are scattered so we don’t see them together. We certainly had a busy and successful season with them this year.
Al is getting ready to plant some snow peas. We planted some this spring, but got them planted too late, so the heat got them before we got our fill of snow peas. They do well in the fall, so we’re hoping to get another crop going.
My home made soap has cured and I have started using it. I gotta tell you, home made soap is much better! Or maybe I’m prejudiced, but we both really like it.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This is the cutest commercial! I normally hate commercials and very rarely ever watch one, I accidentally saw this one and it cracked me up. Full disclosure...no, I do not work for Geico, in fact they were our competition when I worked at USAA, but it's still a very cute commerical.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Yesterday, we finally got a dry day and Al and I decided to get busy on the mowing. We took turns on the mower and between the two of us, got the yard pretty much mowed. That's not counting the pasture, but we figured we mowed 5 or 6 acres of grass. We were tired when we went to bed! You wouldn't think sitting on a riding mower would tire you out, but the constant bouncing gets to you after a while. I have been trying to remember to put on my Joint Flex a couple times a day and I had no problem with my sciatic nerve pain until right at the end of my mowing session. I can't believe how well that stuff works. I never dreamed it would work for Sciatica, but it sure seems to have helped mine. I highly recommend it for any type of pain. It's really helped Al's knee that he hurt last week as well. We used to get it at Walmart, but can't find it there anymore. Al got some in Tampa at Publix grocery store. I'll order it online if I have to. It's inexpensive.
We painted the living room today but Al is out working on mowing the pasture. That's a big job and usually takes us both a few days to get it done. It gets done once a month in the summer, whether it needs it or not!
We're still having very hot and humid weather, but after 105 degrees, this 97 doesn't feel so bad! We're hoping September will bring us some 80's!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I finally decided that I may have lost track of the number of cups of flour I put in and that may be my problem. It's supposed to be 4 cups but I kind of lost track on my count. At least I think that's what happened. I didn't know how to fix the first batch and didn't want to ruin a perfectly good pizza, so I had to make another batch. Of course I had to wait an hour again for the dough to rise. In the meantime, we were still starving.
I decided to cheat, warm up the oven a little and then put the yeast in there. That worked and it was ready to go after only about 40 minutes. So we finally got our pizza.
Al had picked up The Bad Lieutenant from Redbox and we decided to watch it while having our pizza. I have to say that was probably the worst movie I have ever seen. It was so poorly made that nothing made sense. The acting was fine but the storyline was so bad, I decided to not waste any more of my time. Al stuck it out till the end, but confirmed it
Al came back from Tampa today, so I decided to make him a home made pizza. We were both starving and it takes an hour for the dough to rise. I mixed up the yeast, flower and water, covered it up and set it outside to rise.
When I went to check on it, nothing had changed. It was just as flat as when I put it out. I finally decided that I may have lost track of the number of cups of flour I put in and that may be my problem. It's supposed to be 4 but I kind of lost track and was the worst movie of all time.
If anyone wants to make home made pizza, here is the recipe. My mother made pizza every Saturday night when I was growing up. It was our family ritual. She makes the best pizza and I am still trying to get the knack. I'm improving (at least when I add the correct ingredients)
Homemade pizza dough
1 package Fleishmans dry yeast
1 1/2 cups hot water
mix the yeast and hot water together
2 tbls oil
mix in the yeast water
add 4 cups of flour, mix and set aside covered for about an hour until the yeast has doubled.
top with favorite ingredients and bake @ 450 for 20-25 minutes.
Like I said, there is a knack to it, but it also seems to have a mind of it's own. Sometimes my Mom's pizza is incredible, crispy and crunchy, and sometimes it's just good. You never quite know how it will turn out, but it's always good.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It's kind of sad to open the box and find it empty, except for one little blue egg. It will be nice not to have anything to worry about though. We've had so many nests this year in our 5 Bluebird boxes.
We still have a bunny to worry about, I guess. He's getting big though. I saw him again tonight. I wish I knew what he liked to eat (other than tender new sprouted broccoli plants).
I may plant some pumpkins. If I get them into the ground now, I may have some for Halloween. I don't know why, but I just always wanted to grow some of them. A lot of people around here, use them for yard decorations with a few bales of hay. I had some last year but we didn't get them planted early enough and they got frost before they got big, or turned orange. I mentioned it to Al and he said, "knock your self out." I guess that meant, he wasn't going to plant anything for me. :)
Monday, August 9, 2010
Al was pretty upset a few days ago. He saw the Red Shouldered Hawk sitting right on top of the nest box in the pasture. I had horrors of the hawk reaching in there and pulling the babies out. Al scared him off and checked the box. It was empty, so we think they may have fledged. I just hope the Hawk wasn't there when that occurred.
Al saw the baby fox one time only and hasn't seen it again. In fact until yesterday we hadn't seen any foxes at all. We're still feeding them every day, but it seems now the only one that is getting the food is the raccoons. We don't really want to feed them and encourage them to hang around but we want to keep the foxes fed so that they won't raid the chicken coops and end up getting shot. I hope that's not what happened to them.
We still see our baby bunny frequently. He's growing up. He hangs around close to the shed, so he's pretty well protected. We try to watch out for him when we're mowing.
The lawn mowing has been slowing down due to the heat and drought. We have had a little rain the past few days, so I suppose it'll start growing again. It's time to mow the pasture again. There is always grass to mow somewhere!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Here is a little program I found on someone else's blog. It's a good time waster...like I need another one.
I have been working on my old laptop (it's Al's new computer now). It's driving me crazy, constantly running....something! It always seems to be busy and I can't get it to run what I want it to. I'm trying to get it back in order because Al likes to look around on the computer sometimes. I tried to run Malwarebytes, but it kept quitting on me. I finally installed the updated version of Mozilla Firefox and then tried to scan it with Essentials, but that gave me a problem too. I finally did a shutdown and am going to try again. I think some of the problem is that I haven't used it much since I got my new one and some of the programs need updating. At least that's my guess.
Hopefully it will cool down a little and I can go out and mow for a while tonight. I'm getting tired of being inside.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The movie was about a guy in the United States that worked as a manager at a call center. The company decided to outsource the call center to India and he would be out of a job just as soon as he trained his Indian replacement. He had to live in India for a few months while he was training his replacment. Of course he went there with a very bad attitude.
I have to say that when I call an American company and end up talking to someone who is obviously not n this country, I get a bit of a bad attitude. I try not to do business with companies that use foreign companies for their service, and I think a lot of us feel that way. I don’t like the fact that they don’t speak English the same way I do and also that they are taking American jobs.
However, I had an epiphany after watching this movie. It really made me think. The people there are poor and struggling to survive in a country with too many people. Why shouldn’t they accept these jobs if offered? They are eager and willing to learn.
When he went to train these people, he tried to explain that they needed to sound more American, and to learn our customs and way of speaking so no one would know they were Indian. They asked him why American’s had such a problem with outsourcing and why we were rude to them. He explained that Americans were concerned that their jobs were being taken away. That was hard for the Indian people to understand, since most of the products they were selling were mostly made in China! It made me think. I have no problem going to Wal-Mart and looking for the best prices, which is frequently not something made in America.
This was an interesting and funny movie and I would recommend it. It was entertaining.
It’s available from Netflix streaming. We really enjoyed it and like I said….it made me think.
Let me know if it doesn’t change your attitude towards outsourcing and the people of India.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I had heard about a recipe for making laundry soap. A friend of mine tried it and thought it worked well. The problem was, I couldn't find the 3 ingredients, until recently. It's a LOT cheaper. I'll let you know how it works.
Here is the recipe
1 cup Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda) not A & H detergent
1/2 cup Borax
1 Soap bar (Fels Naptha Soap) It is found by the detergents. Can be used as a stain remover also.
- Grate the bar soap and add to a large saucepan with hot water. Stir over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
- Fill a 10 gallon pail half full of hot water. Add the melted soap, Borax and Washing soda, stir well until all powder is dissolved. Top the pail up with more hot water.
- Use 1 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).
It needs to be stirred before using.
You can pour it in an old detergent jug and use it from there.
There are some other recipes online, but this is the one I used. I'm washing a load right now.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I have been real worried about the baby Bluebirds that are trapped inside the wooden boxes. They seem to be okay so far, but this heat is unusual and I am worried about them.
I never remember seeing the temperature get up to 100 degrees during the 30 years we lived in Tampa, Florida, but I hear they have gotten over 100 as well. Today it didn't get up to 100 and we got rain again, for the 2nd day. We really need that rain.
Al is fighting another case of poison ivy. He was mowing the pasture last week and thinks that's where he got it. He is extremely sensitive to it and if he gets anywhere near it, he'll get it. He never knows exactly where he gets it. It seems to grow on the edge of the woods. I have told him not to mow up to the edge of the woods, that I'll do that part, but I don't think he listened! He noticed a few bumps on his legs and now he's complaining that he has the "heebie Jeebies." That's code for I have poison ivy and I feel like hell inside and outside! I've been giving him Benedryl but he hates to take it during the day because it makes him so drowsy. The first summer we were here in Georgia, Al got it at least 5-6 times. He was miserable most of the summer. He didn't realize that weed-eating, mowing, changing the mower blades, or changing the string on the weed eater was exposing him to it. He thought he could dress in long sleeves and not get it. He didn't realize that the oil sticks to everything and since he's so sensitive to it, it doesn't take much. I have often thought when he already has some of it, if he just walks near it, he'll get more.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
It's just too hot to do much outside, so I think we'll watch a movie and maybe I'll read my book a while. I am enjoying Pillars of the Earth. They started the mini-series on Netflix, but after only two episodes, I can't find any more.
I feel so sorry for the poor little Bluebird babies stuck in their nest boxes, which are right in the sun. You have to place the boxes far enough from a tree so that nothing can climb down from the tree and get the birds. One of the boxes get some shade from a tree that is far enough away. I think we will try to relocate the other two boxes after they are vacated this year.
We've put water out for the foxes and now we have a baby raccoon, so of course they have to get water as well. We haven't had any rain for weeks now, so everything is extremely dry. Our beautiful green grass is scorched and dry. We put a mister up for the birds and they really enjoy it. We feel sorry for all the animals. Our little pond is getting low also. If we don't get some rain soon, it will dry up.
We did manage to wash the motor home this morning though. It's a good day to get wet.
I made a new batch of soap last night. It has olive oil, coconut oil and lard. It's a creamy light yellow in color and seems to have a nice texture. I found some oil scents at Walmart for only $2 so I put some Apple Cinnamon fragrance in the soap. I was afraid it would mess up the "trace" of the soap, so I was a little leery, but it turned out okay and has a nice fragrance. I'm anxious for it to harden enough to cut (and yes I peeked again). I think I may try another batch later today and add some vanilla fragrance. I hate that I make this nice soap and have to wait 6 weeks to use it.
I read somewhere of some uses for homemade lye soap. One thing is it's supposed to be good to wash off the oils from poison ivy. Al is a magnet for poison ivy and is allergic to it, so I have encouraged him to bathe with it every time. One other use is supposed to help night time leg cramps. Al also has a problem with that. Very often he is awakened from a sound sleep with a bad leg cramp. Supposedly if you put a bag of soap under your bottom sheet, it will stop leg cramps. Well, I thought it couldn't hurt so we have a big lump of soap under the sheets! I don't know if it works, but Al hasn't had a night time leg cramp since we put the soap there! Coincidence? I don't know?
Friday, July 30, 2010
I have to make a correction. We have 3 nest boxes with baby Bluebirds. I thought we only had two boxes. It’s been such a busy season, it’s hard to keep track.
Here are some pictures of the babies that just hatched. You can see how much they grew from the pictures a few days ago. Notice they are starting to get feathers.
The next picture is of their house. The front door opens so that we can peek inside or clean out the box in case it gets buggy. It’s so hot, I feel sorry for the babies. I keep going over and opening the box to give them some air. Mama isn’t too happy with me though.
The little window on the side is supposed to be so that you can raise it and look inside, but the nest always blocks the window so the only thing it is good for is to give you some light when you peek inside.
This is the box that had 5 eggs that never hatched and them mama laid 4 more eggs. I was able to remove 2 of the old eggs today. I’m afraid the babies will break the eggs and have to live in that filthy mess. I’ll get the others out later if I can. It depends where the babies are.
Well, my 2 batches of home made lye soap are made and now I just have to wait for them to harden. I still have some soap from a friend and the more I use it, the better I like it. I really do think it is exfoliating my skin. Last night I shaved my legs and they actually felt smooth like they used to when I was 16 (a hundred years ago) Part of it was because the soap I was using had a slimy/silky texture to it and partly because my legs really are getting smoother. I can’t think of anything else it could be, so I’m going to continue to use the soap. I use one of those net thing they sell at Walmart for about a buck. It really helps to lather the soap up.
You can buy lye soap on line or at crafty shops. The kind I have been using (mostly) has olive oil in it. If you buy some, it should say what the main ingredients are. Of course, what I am using now has mostly lard, and some olive oil. I don’t know if its the oils or the lye, but something is helping my skin feel smoother. Al is using it also, but he hasn’t noticed, but of course a man wouldn’t!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
We have two boxes with babies in it. This next box appears to have only two hatched out of 4 eggs. Sometimes, all the eggs don't hatch for whatever reason. I don't know if it's because it's later in the season and mama, or daddy are just worn out. Last year the in the last batch of the season, only one egg hatched out of 4.
This box opens from the top, so it's a little harder to get the pictures. Again, I just had to aim the camera and snap. They appear to be quite a bit larger and older.
Well my hero Al, made a pretty unsuccessful frog hunt last night. His heart just wasn't in it and he only was able to get one tree frog! The problem is, they don't come out until dark and by that time, he was worn out. He got a lot of work done yesterday, so I'll give him a pass. :) Today's another day!
My two batches of soap are hardening in the guest room. You are supposed to pour it, cover it and then not peek for 24 hours. I am not a "don't peek" kind of girl, and I cheated....about 5 times. :) Supposedly, when you take the cover off it changes the temperature in the soap and can cause it to fail. It appears mine is going to be fine, despite my cheating ways!
The ingredients I used on the first batch are: lye crystals, distilled water, olive oil, and coconut oil. You mix the water and lye first. It heats up from a chemical reaction. When the temperature drops to about 100 degrees, you pour it into a pot with the oils, which you heat to about 100 degrees.
This is what it looked like at this point.
I used a stick mixer to stir it. Once it thickens to the proper consistency, it's ready to add fragrances and then pour. I used a glass pan lined with a plastic garbage bag. The plastic bag will make it easier to remove from the mold.
Here is the partially hardened soap. I have to wait a few more hours and then I can cut it. Once it's cut, it has to cure 6 weeks before you can use it. I'm not sure why. It is either because the lye needs to dissipate, or it just needs to harden further.
I'm anxious to cut it. I have never done anything like this before and I just thought it would be fun to try. When I started using the soap our friend gave us, I noticed some benefits on my skin. I have sun damage to my skin, from being a Floridian most of my life. I have freckles on my legs that are kind of raised and since I started using the soap, the raised freckles have smoothed out. I don't know if it's the soap, or something Jaime put in her soaps, but I thought I'd continue to use it and see what happens. It would be nice if it will heal some of the sun damage.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Last night when we were coming inside, there were about 6 little green tree frogs by each door. I am terrified of any kind of frog and I definitely don't want them stuck to the door so that I can't even get in. Al wlll need to catch them and find them a new home....far, far away!
He's pretty good about removing them for me, but he normally doesn't have that many at a time.
Today, I made a batch (my first) of bar soap. It's cooling now and I will be able to cut it tomorrow, but you have to wait 6 weeks after that to use it. I enjoyed making the first batch, so I am now working on batch number 2. This one has soy oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Once you get it set up, you are supposed to cover it up and not peek for 24 hours! Yeah right!!
I took some more Bluebird pictures today, I'll post them later. They are sitting there with their mouths open waiting for mama. Cute!
Friday, July 23, 2010
We have two nests of newly hatched Bluebirds. This will likely be the last batches of the season. We are over 30 babies hatched in the nest boxes this year.
These bald little things probably started hatching yesterday. Al thinks there are 3 so far. This is the nest with 9 eggs. Mama Bluebird laid 5 eggs which never hatched for some reason. She then proceeded to lay 4 more. I’m afraid the old eggs will get crushed and cause disease or bugs, so I’d like to get the old eggs out. I didn’t want to remove them until the babies hatched because I didn’t know which were the old eggs and which were the new ones. Once all 4 hatch, we’re going to try to take the eggs out….if we can, without hurting the babies. The nest box opens up for cleaning, so we’ll give it a try. Here they are…bald and fragile looking. They are pretty active though, I saw one of them moving around quite a bit yesterday.
We also have at least one baby fox. Al went down to the pasture to the feeding area and saw a baby peeking out from behind a tree and looking at him. He said it was about 10-12 inches high, and very cute! Unfortunately, he didn’t have his camera. He’s walking down there now so see if he can see it again.
It’s been so unbearably hot here that we’ve had to stay inside most of the time. It’s been running 98 degrees and the humidity is stifling. It gets to 95 or so by noon!
We decided we should put some water out for our little bunny. He’s in a pretty safe area, but has no access to any water, so we put water out for him. Also the foxes are now getting water by their feeding station. We have a pond and there are some streams in the woods, (if they’re not dried up) but since there is a baby, we wanted to make it easier for mama fox.
This evening, Al was outside and I went out to go for a golf cart ride with him to feed the foxes. He was out front with both the truck and the golf cart and I knew immediately there was a problem. The golf cart was leaning at an odd angle right by a little culvert. I’ve almost run over that darn culvert myself and I immediately knew what happened. He didn’t want to tell me though and tried to get it out himself. He was really stuck!
It was sitting at an angle and I was afraid it would tip over. He finally got behind it and pushed and I pulled with the truck and we got it out. It appears to be okay, thank goodness! Part of the problem was that he had the tank in the back full of Round up to spray some weeds. It was heavier in the back than normal.
Today, I made some of Cindy's wonderful southern sweet pickles. They are very easy and very, very good. This is my second batch.
Tomorrow, I think I am going to try my hand at making bar soap. A friend in Tampa made some and sent us a few bars. I really like the soap so I want to have more for us, so I think I’ll try it. It seems pretty easy, as long as you don’t blow yourself up. :)
Not really, but you mix water, lye and an oil, stir, let it dry, then cut it and let it sit for 6 weeks. I plan to make my first batch with coconut and olive oil. We’ll see how it turns out.
We have a tropical storm heading towards the gulf, so hopefully it will bring us some clouds and maybe some cooler weather. This heat is getting to me!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
It's a pretty good picture of her, but it didn't scan well being on thin newsprint.
Right before this picture was taken she had a thermometer up her butt, so this was a big improvement! I told the photographer to make sure he got a flattering shot of her and he thought I was serious and really worked at getting a good one of both of them.
Today, it was 98 degrees, so we didn't do much outside today. It has cooled down now (to 95) so Al is out mowing the pasture. The rest of the yard is mowed so we're trying to get the pasture done, but it's a big chore! We don't mow it but about once a month and it had gotten pretty high since I last mowed early in June. I was mowing some grass that was at least 18 inches high and I saw some movement. I always worry about snakes but also about small animals, like rabbits. I had just scared a baby bunny in the front yard and so I was really going slow to give anything a chance to run away. Once I saw the movement, I stopped and kind of watched the movement through the grass until it emerged to a clear area. It was a tiny, tiny brown thing and I believe it was a baby rabbit. I was so scared that I may have run over it's little rabbit den. I slowly got out of there and made a note of where I was so that I wouldn't go back there for a while. The grass will just have to stay high until whatever it was grows up and moves. We have a few baby bunnies in the yard and one actually lives over by one of our sheds. He's pretty safe there, so we are careful not to scare him and we have been know to throw a few veggies out there. :)
The first year we were here we had a bunch of baby Armadillo's. They were really very cute, but they grow up to be big Armadillos and dig up your yard and gardens.
I just found two naked baby Bluebirds in one of the nest boxes. They are just as bald as can be, but are pretty active. I would have taken a picture, but it's thundering, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Al has been in the pest control business for many years and even though the newer topical flea control products cut down on his flea control business, he was very happy because it helped prevent a lot of suffering for the animals. He used to get a lot of business spraying houses and yards for fleas, but products like Frontline and Advantage changed all that.
These chemical products are rubbed on the pest neck once a month and it kept the fleas and ticks away. How could spreading pesticide on your pets skin be good for them? Al has a customer who's dog developed a golf ball sized tumor at the site the chemical went. Related? I don't know, but I think I would quit using it on my dog if it were mine.
The products seem to work very well for fleas but over many years are they causing health problems to our animals? I don't know, but I am concerned enough that I don't want to use them on my kitties. I wonder how basically feeding your pet pesticides could be good for the animal. I have to admit we have also used these products a few times many years ago, but the more I thought about it, the more hesitant I became.
Al recently read an article in one of his Pest Control Magazines, that said that a lot of pets are dying each year from these products and I'm sure there are a lot more that are never documented. If he can find that article I will scan it and post it. It's something to be aware of. I had a conversation about these products with our Vet last week. I related to her what Al told me and she said the problems were caused by the over the counter products (like Hartz) you buy at the grocery store. I think both are causing serious problems.
I realize how serious a flea infestation can be and how difficult it is to prevent, especially with dogs. With our cats, we keep them inside and normally don't have a problem.
I think there may be safer ways to prevent fleas. These topical treatments can cause problems especially in very young or older pets. Al says there is a spray product that he thinks you can get from the Vet that has a growth regulator in it. It's called Petcor He says it's safe because there is no pesticide in it. You can safely use it right on the pet. It is not a fast acting flea killing product. It sterilizes the flea so it can't reproduce. It disrupts the life cycle. It is supposed to be very safe, but like anything, be aware.
Pest Control operators are also now are using these kind of products with growth regulators for many types of pest control. Growth regulators are the wave of the future for pest control and most think it is a much safer alternative.
Okay...he found the article. I will scan and post it tomorrow, but in the meantime here is a little part of it....
"In 2008 the EPA received 44,000 complaints associated with topical treatment of pets for flea and tick management, a 50% increase from 2007. More than 600 pets died from topical flea treatment, which can cause skin irritation, neurological problems and in some cases death. Worse, an insecticide can be transferred from a pet to children when the animal is petted or held"
I think 600 pets dying is not a lot considering the many thousands of pets that get these products each year, however if one of those 600 was your dog or cat, you might think differently. Also, I am sure there are a lot of deaths unreported and a lot that no relationship between the death and the pesticide could be proven.
I realize that this article was posted in a magazine for Pest Control professionals and they could be considered to have an ulterior motive, but in my opinion it is worth considering this before you use these topical products on your beloved pets.
Just something to think about. I know we all love our pets!
After all the worry, money spent at the vet, an aggravation for Squeaky, I figured out the problem. We have FLEAS! We hadn't had any flea issues for so long that I never even gave it a thought. At the vet's office, they did mention that Squeaky had some fleas. I couldn't figure out where she would have gotten them, but then remembered the cats and dogs running around the campground at Keaton Beach. That has to be where we picked them up because no other animals have been around and the kitties do not go outside. Al figures one or two came in with us and quickly started to multiply.
We found an old flea comb (it's a good thing I never throw any thing away) and I started to comb and I started combing up fleas! We must have gotten 30 fleas off the poor thing. I have also been using the flea comb on the other cats and have been finding them there as well. They seem to prefer Squeaky though...all that pretty long thick fur! I then figured out the issue she had been having with her tail. Fleas like to hang around near the back end and on the underside of the tail. I think they were biting her and she was doing the tail flick thing because of that. She would also put her tail down between her legs...fleas again I think. I had seen her fall though, and had worried that she fractured her tail, or even her hip. She's doing better though, less tail flicking but she's a little mad at me because I've been giving her medicine twice a day. She did have an ear infection so she's getting ear drops. She's getting anti inflammatory meds for some arthritis and an antibiotic as well. I don't know how much she needed them, but I am going to finish them out.
In the meantime, I am washing all the bedding every day. We have no carpet except in the two extra bedrooms so there is no carpet to vacuum. Al is going to spray around the furniture with a growth regulator that has something to also kill them. It will stop the life cycle of the fleas..no reproducing. We just haven't quite gotten it done yet. I am continuing to use the flea comb on them and am getting a lot of fleas that way. I'm sure we'll have to be on the look out for tapeworms next.
Anyway, that's the story on Squeaky. I am glad she didn't have anything serious..I had started to get worried and my imagination was going wild.
Tomorrow Squeaky will have her debut in the newspaper and she will be famous.
Friday, July 16, 2010
My kitty Squeaky has been acting strange lately. I haven’t been able to determine what’s wrong, but she is flicking her tail around a lot when she’s laying down and acting like something is bothering her. When she walks, she flicks her tail back and forth then puts it down between her legs. It’s very strange. She took a little fall a few weeks ago, but seemed to be okay, but then this tail thing started. I wondered if she broke her tail. I finally took her to the vet this morning. They did x-rays and came back and told me she had evidently eaten staples! I was shocked and freaked out!! First of all, I don’t leave staples laying around and 2nd of all, she is not one to eat strange things. After they looked at the x-rays a little longer, they realized it was the staples from when she got spayed 12 years ago! What a relief! I guess she would have a problem going they an airport screener! They found arthritis, some anal gland issues, an ear infection, and fleas, but no fractures or anything like that. That was a relief. So she’s on some anti-inflammatory drugs and some new cat food with Glucosamine in it. I am a firm believer in glucosamine for arthritis. It has helped Al’s bone-on-bone arthritic knees, and it is documented to work for people and dogs, but I didn’t know about cats. I am also going to get her some Glucosamine pills, but they were out. The vet swore by the food, they said it really helped older dogs and cats. Miss Squeaky is a little plump, so that doesn't help either. So we have 3 medications to give her twice daily. That should be fun.
What a shock to hear…we have fleas!!! We haven’t had fleas in years, and the cats are indoor cats so I wondered where they got them. Then I remembered the camping trip we took to the beach. There were cats in the campground and I’m sure they managed to spread their fleas to us and we brought them into the motor home to the kitties. It’s a good thing I know an exterminator! I don’t know where they’re hiding though because we have no carpet. I think I’ll wash all the blankets that they lay on and Al can spritz the house and motor home tomorrow when he gets home.
And last but not least….Miss Squeaky is going to be famous! She got her picture taken by the local newspaper, while being examined. I made sure he didn’t get her while in a compromising position (like with her tail up looking at her anal glands) There is a new female vet there, and they are moving into a new building next week, so they are doing an article in the newspaper. Squeaky will be in the paper!! I’ll have to scan and post the picture of my little celebrity!
So now that I wasted my morning, I may try to get a little mowing done. Al will be home late this afternoon, so I like to make it look pretty for him. Plus he gets worried when I get behind on my mowing! He’s afraid I’m going to quit liking to ride that mower!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
It may have had something to do with the "incident" this morning.
Al has been after me for quite a while to sew a button back on his favorite pair of work shorts. I have good intentions, but kept forgetting.
This morning, he walked in the house and his shorts fell completely down to the floor! He said, "see I told you I needed the button sewn on." I have my suspicions that he may have staged this for my benefit, but whatever, it worked and I sewed the durn button back on!
You may be thinking, he could have sewn the button back on himself....but..on no, it was better this way!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I guess this is the reason they call it the “Butterfly Bush.” These two guys really seemed to like it.
A few of the flowers that are blooming right now.
The garden is done. The weeds grew better than the plants, and the high temperatures didn’t help any. We still have some Jalapenos and green peppers, but everything else is pretty much fizzled. We just didn’t have the desire to mess with it this year. We may try to plant a fall garden. I would like some more snow peas. The ones we planted in the spring got burned by the heat. We planted them too late. Al may come from a family of North Dakota farmers, but I don’t believe it rubbed off on him!
We do have a pear tree that we’re waiting to ripen. Yum..
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
For the first time in quite a while, I saw both foxes. We had only been seeing one of them lately and were concerned that something had happened. When I went out I could make out 2 sets of ears, pointing right in my direction. When they see you they really keep their eyes on you. I didn't have my camera so I couldn't zoom in to get a better look, but there were definitely 2 foxes. Yea! It really made my night and I couldn't wait to go in and tell Al.
One of our Bluebird nest boxes is due to hatch, possibly over due. There have been 5 eggs in it for a while now and we've been checking every day to see if anybody hatched. Well yesterday, Al found the 6th egg! We don't know what that means. We've never seen that many eggs and why would it be laid after so much time. Our theory is that for whatever reason, the other eggs aren't going to hatch and mama is starting a new nest. If we find 7 eggs today, we'll know for sure. I don't know what to do, but I guess I'll do nothing. Last year that box had 4 eggs and only one hatched. I guess birds have fertility problems too?
Friday, July 2, 2010
Our summer residents, Ike and Tina are parents again!
They are baby Brown Thrashers.
They’re in the Holly bush in the front yard. The nest is only about 5 feet off the ground, so I can easily see in. I just hope they survive.
This is Mama (or Daddy) having a bath.
They come every year, and have about 4 broods in the same nest. She used the exact same nest for several years until last year, something got the last batch of babies. I think it was the black snake Al captured a few months back in the snake wrangler episode! So this appears to be the new nesting spot. How smart of her to realize the last nest spot was no longer safe? I expect if all goes well she will use this nest every year. We’re pretty sure its the same pair because of the fact they use the same nest. I don’t know where they go after they leave here, but we only see them in the summer. It’s interesting how different birds are. The Carolina Wren’s only use a nest once. Their nests are amazing how neat and round the nest cavity is. The Bluebirds go from one nest box to the other and don’t seem to use the same box twice in a row, but will come back the next time. They make a very neat nest out of pinestraw. Mockingbirds throw together a bunch of twigs and the nest is kind of sloppy and doesn’t look very comfortable. All of these birds raise their babies together, with Dad working as hard as Mom. They are amazing parents and it’s fun to watch them raise their babies. The Bluebirds seem to be learning to fly. Quite often when we go outside we will see a bunch of Bluebirds flying around together from tree to tree following each other. It’s like they are practicing their take offs and landings. You can usually tell a youngster by the way they land. When birds fledge from their nests its very difficult to tell them from their parents. I read that it takes Bluebirds about 2 weeks to learn to fly well. They are at least as big as their parents and often even larger when they leave the nest. One thing I do notice is many times they don’t have many tail feathers at first.
We cleaned the back porch last night and had to take the Hummingbird feeder down. Someone was angry and very glad when it got put back.