Saturday, January 30, 2010

A big box a death

I packed up the last of the deer antlers we have today. Our house was built in the forties as a hunting camp and has been building up a collection of antlers ever since. Most of the were outside either hanging in the corners of the support posts of the eve over the deck or in the old garage with the mountain of other junk. Most just had the top plate of the skull probably three or four had the whole skull one of which was still covered in drying skin. Of the ones outside quite a few were rotted in a nasty kinda way and others had been chewed upon by rats or raccoons I guess. We kept the one pair that was just plate mounted and gave away the two mounted deer heads to my wife's cousins so they would stay in the family, but neither one of us really wanted to have something staring back. Part of my get rid of all the junk that isn't ours program was getting rid of these things.

Last year I was on Ebay when I looked up deer antlers and found that they are easy to sell if they are in good shape. I don't know why, but I was surprised at the thriving trade in animal products for decoration and crafts. For the kind of antlers we have you can get thirty to forty bucks for the largest ones and then down from there. Elk antlers, Bobcat skins (which we have one in a box head and all), turtle shells, wolf pelts, etc. I guess I just never thought of this being something that people still did for a living. I was equally surprised when I got my hunting license and found out that you could also get a trapping license to trap things like otter in state and national forests. I thought trapping went out the mountain man. Not that it bothers me on some moral level, I was just a little surprised.

After selling a portion of them and chucking the rotting ones and into a burn pile I had a good size box left of all the ones that had big points broken off, chew marks, or other defects. I gave those away last weekend through an ad on freecycle which I am trying to use to get rid of more stuff to people who want it rather than trashing it. The man who wanted to antlers is going to turn them on a lathe to make pens. I kept this box to use for possibly making knife handle, knobs for jewelery boxes, etc. Last year I brought a pair to the shop I worked at in Vegas and we cut it up on the bandsaw. The smell was gut wrenching.

Mr. Smith gave me this great wood pen and pencil set that he had turned when I gave him the box of antlers. I know the antlers will go to good use.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The value of water from rain barrels

last year I would estimate that I used around three thousand gallons of rain water just to water my blueberry bushes, two fig trees, peach tree, pear tree and the four raspberry plants that died. This year I am looking into buying a large rain barrel to increase the amount of water available to us. The lower the amount of rain you receive the larger tank you would need to hold the water for longer periods of time between rain falls. You have to have sun and water to grow anything and there isn't much we can do about the amount of sun, but using a large rain water tank for rain water harvesting we can be prepared to save some money and resources.

We live on a well so we don't pay for the water directly like we did living in Las Vegas, but we do pay for the electricity to pump the water. The garden also puts a strain on the amount of water coming out of the well and during the extra dry summer last year we were unable to water as much as we would have liked. Simply Rain Barrels has a huge selection of rain water barrels and tanks for watering a back porch full of plants to a few acres of garden. Since we have lots of space we would probably go for an above ground tank, but using an underground tank or the square tanks that could mount to a wall or under your deck you could save space in an urban yard.

This year I am going to try to figure out how much water it takes us to water the garden while increasing both our collection and efficiency . If the summers are drier and drier this will become more and more important. We get large amounts of rain at once so if I can create a system to collect it we won't have to drain the well water in order to keep the garden going. This year we hope to add around ten more trees so we will need another 3000 gallons if we have a dry year.
Right now has some free shipping offers and discounts so we are going to try to get our system set up before the summer hits.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Well this is what my garden looks like now. The only thing hanging in is the carrots that I would bet kids are pulling up in this picture. Finally we have had some nice weather and I have decided it is time to get ready for this years veggie garden. I pulled all the tomato stakes and cages, dragged the hoses out of the grass, rolled up the plastic that I had tried to use to save my peppers from the snow a few months ago. I ripped up the sunflowers stalks and pulled the last couple gourds out of the drying vines.

While the warm weather last I will take the fence down that we used to keep the rabbits out and till the garden area while the kids ride their bikes. A neighbor suggested I burn the dried weeds and then rake em out and till, but I am not sure if I gonna try that or not. Planting time isn't far away now and I need to get ready. I need to make a couple rain barrels, make a barrel for compost and find a cheap place to buy compost, clean the carburetor on the tiller, and come up with a planting plan.

The chicken got their first look inside the fence today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Starting Avocado's

This is the forth time I have tried starting avocado's form seed. Each time I have tried two or three at a time. So far I have had four start growing and of those two turned into healthy plants. I put mine into jars with bamboo skewers holding them up. On the bottom I jab the bamboo into to make three little holes. Then I wait. Takes forever to start, but since it takes twenty years to grow a tree that produces avocados whats a few months.

Friday, January 15, 2010

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

I call him Lefty.

I hijacked Luci's cousins trail camera from the grove of trees off the road next to where he bow hunts. Make's me feel ridiculous that I didn't take a deer this year since apparently there are herds of them tromping around out there. Besides this buck that I am gonna call Lefty, there at least five different does on the camera. Next year at the beginning of the season I will pick up a cheap game camera to hang up in front of my corn.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coldest winter in twenty years

Bad weather follows me around. Everywhere I have lived has had some form of record breaking weather while I was there. When we moved to Vegas there was some bad flooding and when we first moved here we got hit by hurricane Rita after everyone assured me that hurricanes never come this far inland. This is the first winter I have been home for in three years, so of course it has to be freezing.
This is what is left of the half cord of wood we bought for sixty-five bucks about a month and a half ago. More than one person has laughed when mentioned that we bought when we live surrounded by woods. Around half the stack hasn't been seasoned long enough and is hard to keep burning unless you mix it with drier wood. This is probably about and 1/8 th of a cord and we could easily burn this in a week if we have a fire at night. If wood was our only source of heat we would probably go through it faster. Luckily most of the time the winters here are joke compared to back east or the Midwest. If we had had to cut and split all of own wood for winter I would be in much better shape and I think we would need about 10 cords of wood.

Firewood isn't something you can just go cut up and burn right away for the most part. Like alot of country life it requires planning. This spring I need to be out cutting and splitting in order to have wood for winter. I think if I cut all the downed trees around the property I would have around eight cords of wood. We have beech, oak and walnut down that need to be cut. Even though they are down they still need time to season. some fall and continue to grow, but even this beech that has been dead for three years still had enough moisture in it that it is hard to burn. This is one reason I want to clear out a couple acres of pasture pines and plant some hard woods. So that in twenty or thirty maybe me or my kids won't have to buy firewood.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Deer that can read.

I guess they have a fair grasp of written English to know that deer season ended three days ago. I haven't been able to sneak a peek of these ones that had been eating my corn out behind the house. I had been out all times of the day and glancing out the back window every time I walk by and hadn't seen nothing. Now of course they happily munched on the big pile of corn knowing they are safe till next year. Possibly the year after, that too.

Text4free online

I sent my first text message today. I would never flip open my phone and decide to text instead of calling, but sitting at the computer I would use Text4freeonline. It appeals to both my cheap side since it wouldn't cost me anything and my lazy side cause I never remember to find the phone before I sit down at the computer. The registration takes a few seconds and your ready to go.

Text4FreeOnline Free SMS Text Message 2Way

This is post for which the author has accepted compensation. Oh yeah.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

I finally got my shot this morning and I choked. Missed bambi completely.

Around eleven oclock I saw the head of deer through the batch of trees behind my feeder. I watched for a second to make sure that it was deer and then grabbed the rifle. I dropped a round in and cracked the front door trying to be as quiet as possible. I know they heard the door because I saw one head jerk up and an ear go shooting up. From the porch I could just barely see em through the trees so I had to move around to the front yard to get a shot.

I was actually amazed that I managed to walk the fifty or sixty feet quietly enough not to spook em. Two does had been munching on the corn I have been trying to get them to eat for a month. I was hoping to see the buck, but I don't maybe he was napping. Both deer had heads and ears up, but were starring down the road in the opposite direction. I raised up the rifle up and got the first one in my sights right behind the shoulder blades. Then I blew it. When I flicked off the safety it made a loud click and they both bolted. I pulled the trigger, but I guess it was too late because she didn't flinch. When I went down to look not one drop of blood was too be found. I waited a while and tried the follow the tracks on the leaves, but I couldn't find any blood or deer corpse so I guess I thats DEER: 3 ME: 0.

I may have to start hunting with handgrenades.