Thursday, December 24, 2009
I kept thinking that the deer might be out for a wander as the sun came out, but since I don't know what I am doing I didn't think much of it. After about a half hour I cracked the front door open and and standing next to a small pile of corn right in the center of the road is a deer. When I open the door her little ears pop up and she looks straight at me, but doesn't bolt. I slightly shut the door and grab the rifle out of the gun case. I tell both kids to hush since they are sitting on the couch about twelve feet from the door. When I open the door her head whips back around and looks straight at me, but she doesn't bolt.
Now the deer has turned side ways and I aim the rifle out the door and have a nice clean shot, but I know if I try to go outside through this door the deer's gone. I should have took my shot standing in the entry way, but I thought the kids would freak. I didn't know if would effect their hearing and since my oldest already wears hearing aids I didn't want to risk even a tiny bit of hearing loss for them. So I drop the rifle down and gently shut the front door. Looking out the window I can still see it so I try to go around back.
When I pull open the back door it lets out a big ol' SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK. Crap salad, now I know it's gone and when I get to edge of the car port the deer has bolted. I don't know how to guess how much they weigh or how old they, but this one looked Delicious.
Next time, I would make the kids go in the back bathroom and shut both doors. I would also listen to my father who said we needed to WD-40 the hinges on the door, just the day before.
I must admit I was excited. I have been hoping to get a shot since I started putting out corn, but this was the first time I even got a look. I never thought I would see the point of hunting, but now I get it.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
I think as long as this tree has been growing people having been dumping trash in and around this thing.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
This morning I got dressed and tried to quietly go out into the dark and wait at the edge of the front porch with the rifle. I have a clear view of the place I have been putting out my corn. I know that the deer have found it because it is being eaten and there are clear fresh tracks right around the pile every day. Right now the thing I don't know is when they are coming to get it. Although, two days ago it was still on the ground when my wife left for work and gone when I left to take the girls to school.
I watched the stars slowly fade and the light come up while I listened to the owls. I did not realise how cold it would be before sunrise by the time I came in my finger tips were aching and I didn't see anything. I did learn a couple things while I was waiting out in the darkness.
1) I gotta find some gloves I can wear that will be easy to shoot with.
2) I need to bring out some kind of towel or cloth because the lens of the scope gets fogged up in the cold.
3) I need to clear, clear, and clear more brush to open up my Field of view.
4) I have a hard time waiting and hour or two without coughing, sneezing, fidgeting, etc.
5) This hunting thing could take a while.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I put the mower on hold till my folks came to visit and worked on the garden. My dad thought it ridiculous that I hadn't bought a new belt yet so he drove me up to Sears and he bought one. Thanks, Pop. Back with the belt I stood it up and tied it to a post. Resting on the back wheels is the best way to access the blades, belts or front tires. I don't have a manual, but most riding mower's will have a diagram on the deck as to how the belt goes. Since there is no tension until the mower is engaged it is easy to install the belt. I quickly had the mower back down and was drove it out to start mowing. In the yard I engaged the mower blades and started to go when I smelled the familiar burnt rubber smell and watched tiny sparks coming from under the mower. Thankfully, I managed to get it shut off before the forty dollar belt was torn to shreds. Once again I considered going for the gas can. Standing it back up again I found the problem was a mishapen drive pulley. Then I waited in frustration for a much to long before I went back up Sears and ordered another pulley.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The two spots I have picked to put out corn on are only about thirty yards from the house. Basicly I will just have to get up and go sit in my front yard or on my back porch. Walking my shooting lane I see fresh tracks all the time and I don't think I would need to put corn out down there. I can use that spot on the weekends and use the ones near the yard during the week while Luci is getting ready for work and the kids are sleeping. Not quite sure how the kids will react to waking up to the sound of gunfire.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I am pretty nervous about a lighting fires out here because I grew up going to the woods once or twice a year where many a ranger station posters of Woodsy Owl assured me that only I could prevent forest fires. So I try to only burn when it has been or is pouring rain. I try to cover a pile so it will dry out. Then the pile dries out and I can burn it when everything else is soaked. This pile had been here a while but I uncovered it and piled on some new stuff I cut up with the chainsaw.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
There is still a few things from our spring planting still hanging in there. Finally some bell peppers, all during the summer I don't think I ever got more than one or two at a time and mostly those were thin, small and light. These aren't huge, but they are thick and heavy and smell great. As long as they are putting out I will try to show a little concern, so I pulled a couple weeds right around the base. I probably shouldn't have cause I don't think your supposed to weed when it is wet, but how should I know.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The ones for our place must have been taken around 2006 after it was logged, because has grown up quite a bit since this was taken. So far I few different sources for ariel photos the Microsoft TerraServer, Google Earth, and the Remington custom map feature. I am still on the fence about order a map or some photos. I could see how is you bought a really big piece of acreage that you didn't know much about you could you the photo's to locate things that my now be so overgrown you wouldn't know it was there.
The blue x is where Luci's cousin is bow hunting. His spot is right across from the small branch next the property line. I don't know if he has taken anything this season yet, but last time we talked he said he was having a problem with the pigs eating all of his corn so he put out a timed feeder. He has a couple of game camera's set up so he can see what is coming to feed. I can't imagine it will be long before the tech will be cheap enough that remote web cams will be put out and hunter's will be able to get a look at there blinds in real time. If it wasn't for security concerns I would think you would be able to do the same with satelite imagery to locate game for hunting. The technology already exsists, but the only thing hunted with it are people.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Back at the house I got out our rifle and went out to make sure the scope is sighted in properly. I filled up four old milk jugs with water and set them on and old pile of logs. Only needed one because it was dead on and water went a spraying. This is of course no testament to any skill on my part as a marksman. Any credit would go the guy who designed this rifle and scope. Part of me would really like to take the scope off and take some target practice without it to see how much harder it is, but I know it would take me forever to get the scope sighted in again. One thing you learn quick when you start shooting is why wars cost so damn much. Bullets ain't cheap and you can burn through cash in no time. So of course I pop off the other three milk jugs, but each time all I could think was there goes a dollar.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I decided to start with a bottle containing a gallon or so of BuckJam, some kind of syrupy mix of sugar and salt. You clear a spot in the dirt and simply pour the thick goo on the ground. Apparently deer are not opposed to eating a salty dirt snack. Well see.
On my way back to house I stopped about half way down from the road to the house where the corner of a forty acre plot meets our a section of our place. The forty acres is land locked and has no access except through our place or one of our neighbors so it is on of the few that has not been logged. I think half the critters in twenty mile area are hiding out there. My wife's cousins is bow hunting alone one edge, the dillweeds who have a hunting camp down the road are hunting along the far edge and I am going to set up a shooting lane down another edge. I'm not really sure what a good range is for my 30-06, but I picked a spot about sixty yards from the corner figuring that I can move my blind a little bit either way. Raking off the leaves and sticks about six or seven feet from what I think is a path that the deer have been following through the brush I made I pour out my bottle of goo. Now have to wait and see I will go back in a day or two and look for tracks. Of course not being a good gnarly mountain man tracker I can't tell the difference between a hog track and a deer track, but I figure a track is track either way I will have something to shot at.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Normally it is pretty easy to find, but I can't seem to figure out where they laying this time. So now I have to head outside and dig through the bushes and the overgrown fence line to see if I can find anything. wish me luck.
Meanwhile I will keep the chickens cooped up for a few days till they get used to laying inside again.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
The house we live in was built before power lines came out here way before the time of central heat and air. Personally, I don't think I could hack it. It's just to damn hot in the summer and cutting enough fire wood with a buck saw and an ax would be a nightmare. What I need to do is use what is use at least what is around us. Our pear tree had a big limb fall off a couple years ago after the huricane. This should have been cut up and stacked, but I left it until it was half rotted and had to cut it and dump it into the woods to finish rotting.
Not much I could do tonight as far as cutting, so I dug around in my tool boxes for a while until I found my chain saw file. I sat on the back porch and listened to rain while I sharped the teeth on my chain and cleaned off the pitch with acetone. The same day you get a chain saw you should get a file to keep the teeth sharp. It doesn't take long for them to dull and start bogging down. I would at least give teeth quick once over every morning I was going to be cutting.
On a sad side note the man who we have bought firewood from the last two years was murdered last spring during a robbery at his firewood operation. Even in a place that sometimes seems like Mayberry, the real world rears its ugly head.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The ground is still warm so if the sun comes out in a few days hopefully most of it will sprout.
The squash and zucchini are really just now starting to produce a significant amount and I am hoping they will keep going until we start to get some of our new planting.
Friday, September 4, 2009
A) I would someday have a hunting license (bought my very first one yesterday).
B) I would be excited about a trip to the feed store (they got fall gardening seeds in).
C) My brother would be a gold miner at the same time I was doing the above (yes, somewhere in California my brother has become a gold miner).
I can't imagine I ever thought I would be asked the question "sir, do you want a duck stamp with that license?" . And although the answer is no, I may try to hunt turkey this year. I do know alot about Wild Turkey.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Thats my bad news.
The good news is we had a visit from one of our few neighbors out here. After a quick visit they left with some squash, cucumbers and relish. All of which we have been eating a ton of this summer. The next day we found a bag of eggplant, bell peppers, and jalapeno's hanging from our mail box. Good stuff.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
We're seeing lots of deer on the roads and even a few in the yard--apparently, deer like their peaches and pears straight off the trees.
The neighbors who have a deer lease that borders our property have been out clearing brush and riding their four-wheelers. I had to ask them to move their stands because they had them right at the corners of the property line, about as close to our house as you could possibly get without actually being on our property. (They were very nice about and said they would move everything before the season opened and were clearing some new spots last time I talked to them.)
My wife's cousin called to ask if he could bow hunt out on our place down by the creek. We said of course, I may rifle hunt in the same spot when bow season is over. I think he has another place he goes for rifle season. This is the first year I will have been home during hunting season and I would like to get a deer or two so we could put up the meat. I don't have any interest in hunting for trophy antlers. I want trophy burgers.
Archery Season is from Sept. 27 through Oct. 31; General Season is Nov. 1 through Jan. 4.
So basically, unless I am gonna bow hunt (which I won't) I will have two months to get ready and could take up to four deer. That would be enough to keep us in meat for most of the year, but I will be lucky as a first-timer to get even one. I'm told that as of November 1, deer get pretty crafty.
I think most people don't learn how to hunt on their own. Usually, you learn from your dad or uncle...So I am on my own, as my dad lives in California and hasn't hunted since he was 11 and lived in Oklahoma.
Before we moved to the country, I had a very different image of hunting in general. I had an image of hunting from the movie The Deer Hunter with Robert Dinero, where you drive out into the woods and wander around trying to be sneaky and quiet until you see something to shoot at, or even possibly following the occasional track or two like Daniel Boone. This is not the case. No stealthy wandering here. Nossir. Apparently, folks around here are smarter than Robert Dinero.
Here are some basic steps for hunting in East Texas.
1) Buy a fifty pound bag of dry corn.
2) Pick a spot. Figure out where you think the deer are close by.
3) Pour out some corn so the deer can come get a snack on the spot you picked.
4) Set up somewhere to sit where you can see aformentioned spot. (Best if they can't see you.)
5) Get a weapon: Rifle, Bow or Musket, depending on the season. I also believe there should be a spear season.
6) Get a License. Very important.
7) Repeat steps 1 & 3 until the season begins.
8) Get up before dawn and wait in your seat.
9) When the deer, who are coming to get the snack you so kindly provided, come into view, take aim.
To make this experience even better, set up an automatically timed deer feeder that dumps out corn at a specific time. This is like sending out a deer invitation, telling when the party starts every day. You can even set up a night-vision motion-activated deer-cam, to see if deer are actually eating your corn and what time they show up. I'm not kidding. This is totally legal.
This is not the way I thought people went hunting. However, if you are trying to put up some meat to feed a family, this is more effective.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
What we did not know in the beginning was that the chickens would simple return to the coop every day when it got dark outside. If one straggler does not return you just don't put any food out the next day. The day after that they will all come running when you put the food out. So tonight as the sun was setting and we started to put the kids to sleep we heard the chickens clucking like crazy. Since they usually only make noise at night Luci figured something was trying to get at em before we closed them inside the coop. I grabbed the shotgun and headed outside. Standing in the middle of the yard,neck stretched as high as it could go one the big brown chickens is clucking like mad. As I stepped off the porch I see a big brown deer staring right at me. For a second I thought about taking a shot, but deer season doesn't start for another month or so. Then he took off running followed, by a second deer that I hadn't seen coming from the direction of our peach tree. They were out there looking for some fruit to eat. The peaches are just about ripe, but I am willing to bet they will be gone one morning when we wake up.
It's not really worth the money to buy fencing material to protect twenty dollars worth of peaches, but I am considering moving the chicken coop right next to the tree to keep a beek on it for me. I guess it's is only fair if they eat the peaches this year since I am hoping to eat one of them this year.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Walmart doesn't have any seeds; the feed store is not carrying seeds right now; and everyone tells me I should wait three weeks or a month and then start planting lettuce and broccoli for my fall garden. But I feel like I need to have something in the ground trying to grow or I am just wasting time.
I dug through the box of seed packets we have (some of which were packaged for the 2003 growing season) -we must have bought those when we lived in Las Vegas and still dreamed of having a lush garden in the desert.
Carefully reading the back of the packets, I saw the a few types of veggies that said they could be planted this time of year in our zone: corn, squash and green beans. The corn we had this year did not do well so I am going to skip that one.
BUT I am going to plant all the green beans. We have six or seven packets, so I have been clearing rows all morning in order to make room for them.
Seeing that our garden was a patch of grass when we started, the grass is trying to regain its position with vengeance. I sharpened the hoe with mill file and went to hacking. When everything was ripped up, I used a rake to pull grass roots from the soil. Hopefully, the green beans will take off before the grass comes back full force.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunflower seeds are probably not worth the effort to gather, sort and roast, but the girls will get a big kick out of eating them. It was hard to keep them from eating them now, but I need to let the seed heads dry more before I harvest them. I tied a couple of groups of flower stems together and covered the heads with bags that have holes in them. After a couple of weeks the sunflower seeds should be ready to remove and roast.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
In between thunderstorms, I spent some time pulling weeds and cleaning out the rows of beans that have died. I weeded all of the zucchini and squash and spread them out. They had grown much larger than the rows we had allowed for and were sort of hemmed in by the rows of beans. I picked a couple more burst open watermelons, as well as one that I think might actually be ripe and intact.
Our Straight Eight slicing cucumbers seem to be coming into stride as the picklers start to die off, but I realized that I should have paid more attention to them. The vines of the slicing cucumbers had not climbed the trellis the way the picklers had done on their own. I untangled all of the vines and wove them up through the wires. Only one had worked its way up the trellis, and on the end of that vine was a long straight cucumber...the rest had short round cucumbers lying on the ground. It was like we had green golf balls growing. Very odd, but they tasted good.
Anyway, when I looked around, I realized that the cukes were not the only thing in need of support. One of the gourd vines was creeping along the base of the fence and the bell peppers have outgrown the bent coathangers we used to support them before a storm. The cherry tomatoes have outgrown the stakes or grown out the side of a tomato cage instead of the top. I guess we should have been more vigilant, but with the drought, our main focus was watering everything.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I'm posting Luci's squash relish recipe. If you're in the same situation as we are, you have to try this. I hate squash, but I love to eat the relish. It tastes like a combination of sweet pickle relish and chutney. Great on grilled sausage or hot dogs, and great on beans and cornbread.
10 cups finely chopped squash (we used a combination of pattypan, yellow straightneck, and zucchini, and we do it in the food processor)
4 finely chopped onions (we do this in the food processor, too)
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 jar chopped pimiento peppers
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Place all ingredients in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil, and keep it rolling for 30 minutes. If it's a little thin, let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal with sterilized rings and lids. Place in boiling water bath, and boil for 10 minutes. (If you've never processed jars before, bring a big pot of water to a boil, making sure water is deep enough to completely submerge upright jars.) Remove jars from boiling water bath and set aside to cool. Before storing, make sure jars are sealed. (The lid will not "click" up and down if you push it--it will be vacuum-sealed).
This recipe makes about 12 half-pints, or 6 pints, with enough left over to put some in the fridge for immediate eating.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
4 quart jars, rings, and lids
Sterilize and keep hot rings and lids.
In each quart jar, place:
1/4 tsp. alum
2 peeled garlic cloves
2 heads fresh dill, or 2 tsps. dried dillweed, or 2 teaspoons dried dill seed
1 or 2 dried hot peppers
2 peeled pearl onions
Pack cucumbers tightly on top of all this, and place in open stock pot; bring to a boil and remove.
Also, in a separate non-reactive pot, bring to a boil:
2 cups white or cider vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
4 cups water.
Ladle hot vinegar mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Place lid and ring on top to seal. Make sure jars are sealed tightly before storing. Pickles will be ready in 6 weeks.
NOTE: We left out the hot peppers since our little ones are the pickle-eaters in our house. That'd just be a dirty trick.
I mean, we have more cucumbers than we know what to do with. Over the last couple days we have been hatching our plans for next year's garden. We have realized that we have more than enough cucumbers to fill our kids' pickle cravings, eat plenty of light cucumber and tomato salads, make some spreads for crackers, give away a ton and feed a few to the chickens.
The plan was to pickle the okra too, but with four or five plants we haven't gotten enough to pickle. My youngest loves pickled okra, I mean LOVES pickled okra, but we get a couple ripe pods, and then we have to wait until the next ones are ready--so by then the first ones aren't good anymore. We have to plan on lots ripe at the same time in order to get a jarful.
Selecting plants for your garden based on what you plan to eat or preserve is as important as what will grow. I have eight banana pepper plants that have cranked out piles of great peppers, but next year I will plant more bell peppers and poblanos and less of the banana peppers.
The radishes are a good example of having too much of something you don't really need. On occasion, I like a radish, but I don't eat 'em enough, so most of them have waited too long to be picked and have gone bad.
We definitely need to get our balance right of what to plant and when. Next year we will plant more rows of green beans and stagger the planting times so they produce over a longer period of time. We need to do as much planning as digging.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Like many people I talked to my dad on fathers day. He told me he only had two little cucumbers this year which amazed me cause we have already make eight jars of pickles and we pick bucket full every day. He thinks it is because it is not hot enough in northern California and they are not getting enough water. He also thinks they are going to raise the water rates. Living in any densely populated area the cost of water will soon outweigh they cost of gardening. Any kind of micro agricultural enterprise just wont be feasible on a large city lot because no one will be able to afford the water. There is a blog I like about homesteading in downtown Houston and starting what they call the high density home orchard, but water costs are just going to get exponentially higher over the next couple decades.
Orchards are the kind of thing you have to think of in terms of decades. They just don't happen in a year or two. We are really lucky to have plenty of water here. We have lived in the desert so we know what it is like to have a water bill that can double in a year. Living in the country growing some of your own food does make you think about the resouces around you what can you do with them? how do you sustain them? what are they worth? what I am doing to protect them for my self and my kids?
Monday, June 22, 2009
Dig It gives tons of useful information about gardening and living in South East Texas as well as feeling like a glimpse into a private life. The blog is punctuated with beautiful photographs that inspire you to get into the garden and start growing.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Luci's Chinese Dumplings
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground turkey OR ground chicken
1/2 lb. thawed, peeled shrimp (can use cooked or raw)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 can sliced water chestnuts
3 or 4 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon garlic/ginger mixture, or 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic and 1 1/2 tsp. minced ginger
Whiz above ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
1 package refrigerated round dumpling wrappers (or square wonton wrappers with corners cut off)
1 small cup of water for moistening
Lay out six wrappers side by side. Drop a teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with water and fold together, pleating as you go. Place finished dumplings on a cookie sheet and cover with a moist paper towel. Repeat until you run out of wrappers. (Freeze the rest of the meat mixture for another day.)
You can either cook these as steamed dumplings or as potstickers.
For steamed dumplings, place in a bamboo steamer over boiling water and cook for 20 minutes.
For potstickers, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Place dumplings in the skillet with 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Remove lid and cook until undersides of the dumplings are brown.
Serve with dipping sauce, recipe follows.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili sauce (we like Sriracha) OR a few drops of chili oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
MMMMMMMMMMM! Be jealous, we also had lettuce wraps and grilled chicken with peanut sauce.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Yep, trying to catch little beasts and smush 'em between finger and thumb.
You kinda gotta squish a couple and walk away 'cause after a minute, they notice and fly off, but when you come back they are at it again. This would be the old-fashioned way. Before I had kids I might have been too grossed out to do this, but you have to lots of gross stuff when you garden, live in the country and raise a couple of kids. I'd say squishing bugs in your fingers ranks somewhere between a diarrhea diaper and vomit down your shirt...not the worst by a long shot.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
This morning, Luci went out to check on the garden, and after a few minutes she started hollering for me to come outside. When I went out, she said she had just seen a coyote chasing down a baby deer just outside the opening where our back gate should be. I rushed back in the house to grab my boots and the shotgun. (We have a .410 Remington semi-automatic shotgun that we inherited from Luci's father. It is probably too small to kill the coyote from any distance, but the wound might do it in.) So I ran off into the woods where they were headed, assuming I would not find anything in our overgrown back pasture.
I walked to the edge of the first fence that separates what used to be two pastures and figured whatever was going on had moved on. BUT! As I turned to walk down the fenceline to get into the far back pasture, the coyote came around a corner through a little animal trail that snakes through the woods. I stopped, and he stopped, and as he started to growl or snarl or whatever I raised my shotgun and took a shot. He turned and darted in the bushes. It lasted about a second.
My wife says I should leave out the part of the story where I shoot at him (since I missed) but that doesn't bother me any. I know it is harder to hit a moving target than people often think, and I don't spend a lot of time shooting. I would have been happier to hit the little bastard, but I was just happy I had the gun.
See, that's a first for me. Never before today I have thought "Hey, probably a good thing I had a gun with me." The deer was about fifteen feet from me on the other side of the fence--I could see it bolt when I fired at the coyote. I realize coyote's gotta eat, but I won't feel bad killing 'em either.
I would imagine that the coyotes have been snacking on the rabbits in our yard, and now that they're all gone, the coyotes have had to start in on other food sources like the baby deer. On one hand, the coyotes keeping the deer away from my garden could be a plus, but I think these guys have to die. Either I am gonna have to man up and do it myself or get someone more experienced to do it for me. I just don't like the idea of my kids outside with them so close to the house.
Oddly enough, I know a genuine coyote killer. I met him a couple of months ago when I was working for the Census Bureau. We started talking after I entered his address into the computer and I mentioned that a few of our chickens had been eaten by coyotes while I was in Las Vegas last October. Luci called my one night after I had been out having a few drinks with the guys to tell me that there were wolves in the yard. To be honest it took me a while to wrap my head around that. This is not a call you get every day. Anyway, most likely they were coyotes. Department of Wildlife said wolves are extinct here so go ahead and shoot 'em. Anyway, Al-the-coyote-killer told me he only hunts coyotes and foxes anymore. He enjoys it because they are not easy and well, kinda dangerous.
Al explained the basics of coyote hunting. I guess you can either use a call or (and this sounds like more fun), a gut bucket. A gut bucket is exactly what it sounds like. Find a metal bucket or other container that you can close but has holes in it, and fill it with the nasty guts of something else you killed and leave it to rot and smell where you can wait a little ways off and get a clear shot. The calls come either electronic or blown. The problem with blown is that you are drawing a pack of hungry coyotes to yourself. Could be problematic. The electronic you set where you can get back and get off a clear shot.
I never pictured myself with much interest in hunting, but I must say it is kind of exciting. There is something about being out in the woods with a gun that makes you feel as if you need it. The same way a walk with a walking stick in hand has different feel to it.
I wouldn't really want to kill anything just to kill it, but to put food on the table or protect my kids, I wouldn't feel bad about it.
A few years ago I was working in Vegas and I told one of the guys that I was broke. He was an old timer and he asked if I was going home to go hunting for food. When I said no, he shook his head and said, "You ain't even close to broke yet."
As for protecting my kids, someone from the city might think that the coyotes are not really a threat, but I doubt they would want their neighbor's angry Rottweiler hanging around their front yard.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
One of the corn stalks has a little baby corn wrapped up in a husk. A few other stalks have that silky looking stuff that preceeds the corn. I can't wait to have fresh corn cooked on the grill or roasted in the husk. I know the girls will love it. They are so much more excited about eating veggies fresh from the ground than they are from the store.
Most of the stuff you get in the store doesn't even begin to hold up against what you grow, but if you're not around the good stuff, you forget. A couple of days ago I was walking through the garden and I was overwhelmed by the smell. I could instantly remember being in my grandparents' garden as kid, which is kinda odd cause my memory blows chunks and I didn't spend much time in there when we were kids. We usually went to Delano for a week at Easter and a week in the summer as I recall.
I am not sure how it is that tomatoes in the store don't smell. Why is that? Where did the smell go?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
So far, the weather has been great for us this season. The switching back and forth from rainy to sunny is perfect for the garden, the berry bushes and the fruit trees. We haven't had to water much, but the last few days it has been dark and cloudy, but a couple of drops is all we have been getting. Luckily for us, we live on a well, so water only costs us the electricity it takes to drive the pump.
Water is one of the most important elements to any piece of rural land, and water also determines what options are available to a landowner. Our water is clean and flows easily into the cistern when the compressor is on, coming out cold and fresh.
When we lived in Las Vegas the water from the city had so much chlorine in it that if you filled up the bathtub in the small bathroom, the fumes would hurt your eyes. The price was high. Our place was built in the 'fifties and was on a corner lot with a big lawn. Trying to water it could cost $150 a month. That doesn't include electricity, that was just for the water/sewer/garbage bill.
If you're looking into a place in the country, you should find out if putting in a well is permitted. Some places with water shortages keep raising water costs until people started putting in their own wells. Cities and counties in some places have placed restrictions on new wells, so you should find out if this applies to your place. Even if it has access to a water supply company, you should find out if a well is an option. If the property already has a well, you should have the water tested to make sure it does not contain harmful bacteria or pollutants. Our tests were done through the city offices, and either they or someone in county administration should be able to tell you where to get a test. You should also inspect the well to see how quickly the water is flowing into the cistern. Ours fills up in about an hour, but the pump determines the pressure in the house, the compressor and the volume of water available determines how fast it comes out of the ground. You don't want it to take all day to fill a cistern.
Having some form of flowing water on your property greatly increases the possible uses. Even the small branch that flows through parts of our property could be used to provide water to livestock or be diverted to water crops. Understanding your water rights might very important for future development. Because whatever you do to the water on your property affects the people downstream. Of course, large water supply companies have no problem damming up a flow, but doing it down in your back forty may have you in a feud with a neighbor. Feuds are fun and all, but its hard to develop your property when someone is shooting at you.
During the recent swine flu scare we talked a lot about what would happen if there was a serious pandemic. It would be possible, but not easy and certainly unpleasant, for us to hole up here and survive. Between hunting, gathering, trapping, and raising livestock and crops, we could keep the kids fed even if we couldn't keep the lights on. We don't intend to try this anytime soon, but if we had to we could.