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.