Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Toad on a Stick

As some of you might know my other hobby is fish. I have 4 aquariums, a little one gallon "tank" and a bowl, all with some form of fish or fry in it but I had this wish to have a paluradium which is a tank that has land and water and animals on land and fish in the water. I came across another tank at the flea market, a nice octagon shaped tank and I knew right then it was my paluradium. I got the seller down to $25 and took it (Phil was shaking his head but...whatever). I didn't have any idea what I wanted to put in it but as I went along the idea for a waterfall came in. I had a pump, sponge filter, heater, and a few other things that were needed. I bought some spray foam and a terrarium background piece and I was off and running. It was harder than I thought it would be. The tank only had a small square in the top and the background piece (which was actually my separator between land and water) wouldn't fit so I had to cut it in half down a seam and hoped it wouldn't show (it doesn't). I didn't actually get a waterfall like I wanted because the foam moved back my slab where the water ran down but the water does trickle down the front piece so it still works. I added some plants from wal-mart and some "dinosaur" plants (some type of resurrection fern, I think) that I got for $ .25 cents at Tractor Supply plus some Spanish moss and some rock. I just picked up things when there was a good deal or I had a little money. You get the idea, anyway, I stopped at the fish store and they had a half water/half land tank and they had a gecko in it and some frogs--Fire bellied toads actually...and I liked those frogs so when the tank was finished, I got two of them. (Technically it is not a paluradium as I did not get the fish but there are some drawbacks to having fire bellied toads as their skin exudes a toxin that may be bad for fish).

I have added a few more rocks and some more moss going down to the water since this picture so the frogs can get to the water easier. They are not real fascinating yet as they hide a lot and eat yucky crickets (which I have to buy and maintain in the greenhouse for them. I dislike being touched by crickets, yet I have to get them out of my container in the greenhouse and into the frog tank--so far I have managed not to touch one) but they are getting braver lately and coming out more.

I know you are wondering why I posted this one here...well, as you all know my 20 year old daughter Michelle is not all on board with our self sufficient ways. She is always worried about any animals I bring in and if they are going to end up in her food so tonight when she asked what we were having for supper I happened to be looking at this tank and answered, "Frog on a stick. What do you think I am raising these frogs for?"
I immediately heard, "What!?"
He he he...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Home Repairs.

We have talked with my friend who is our landlady and have agreed to fix the leaking roof and ceilings with the rent money until it is done. Last month Phil started on the worst leaking spot which was over the bathroom and the front door. The wood and shingles on the roof had to be replaced in that area of the roof. Four sheets of pressed board and several bundles of shingles were bought and used. It was cloudy all morning and even scared us by sprinkling once but it was worse later when the sun actually came out as the heat and humidity were terrible. Unfortunately, I was not much help as I could not lift the sheets of wood up to him though I did try. I became the "waterboy" for the day though I did finally get out the "loppers" and cut back those peach tree branches so he could get up and down that ladder better.

While he was up there hammering the moldy ceiling in the bathroom gave way and fell in.

It had to come down anyway but since we were out of rent money it had to wait until this month. We had a ceiling of trash bags for a month but today was the day to fix it.

First it had to all come down. Just a really nasty job involving old moldy insulation and bugs.

It is rather scary that these double-wides are built with 1"x 2" studs on the roof instead of 2"x 4"'s .

Phil was all tough for a while but finally asked me for a mask. I had to wear one myself and had to take Juliet right out of the bedroom because she got to coughing. (He was actually counting how many ceiling tiles he would need here,  not playing with the led light bulb.)

Six trash bags full of ceiling/insulation trash came out of here.

The first ceiling tile. Phil became a little frustrated at the uneven ceiling joists.

With a bit more work, things got better.
 This is the box for the light/fan that he put in. No he is not an electrician but it was a pretty simple process. We desperately needed a fan for this bathroom. Even before the roof started to leak we were fighting mildew in here.

Here is how it looked when all the way in.

Ok, here is the mostly finished ceiling. We still will probably put trim around the edge.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


The greenhouse and the pens beside it are part of what fences in the yard. Last night the hog broke through the chain link fence on the back of the pen that attaches to the greenhouse. She then broke through the plastic side of the greenhouse and broke through the door of the greenhouse which would have put her in the back yard again but for some reason she didn't go in the back yard. I don't know if something scared her or what. Phil did let the dogs out at 3:00 a.m. which may have scared her off. Anyway, this morning when Phil was looking over the damage he saw two kittens in the very back corner of the greenhouse. Unfortunately, there is a layer of chicken wire about 2 ft tall around the greenhouse under the plastic and then another layer over the plastic (except of course on the side with the pen as I never thought I would need it on that side) and the kittens were between the inside wire and the plastic. Somehow the mama had got them up and over the wire. I cannot go up and over the wire because there is a built in wooden table on those two sides of the greenhouse and there are pens built under the table (they aren't used anymore). I know, confusing, but suffice to say, we had to cut the plastic above the wire and reach down into the corner to get the babies out.
Mama was quite relieved and happy to come inside with them. Michelle's bed makes a much nicer place to have babies. We only found two and I hope that is all she had. I will get better pictures later. I don't know how long they were stuck behind the wire and didn't want to disturb them once they got to suckling on the mama (that one has always just been called Mama Kitty even though this is her first litter).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

And She Strikes Again!

Woke up this morning to this. That is my fountain that used to hold a nice plant Phil gave me. I have already picked up the plant and I think it will survive. That also is my rain barrel on its side. I had closed the gate to the back shed so she couldn't get in. She was not deterred.

She went through the chicken coop. It luckily has just one lonely meat bird in it (she lays better than the laying hens so she was spared). The meat bird is fine, I think.
She then went through the door of that coop.
Here is where she came through the fence again. Phil had put some real sturdy wire on the back of that but she just pushed it out of the way. He has fixed it this morning with more wood.
I wonder if she will go through the greenhouse to get in next time. It does have chicken wire all around the bottom of it but I can't see that stopping her.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Close Encounters

So this morning at 3:00 a.m. Julie(t) started her coughing and sitting at the bottom of the bed which generally means she needs to go out (or a drink). She is afraid to go down the steps we made for her at night so this is her way of alerting us of what she needs. So I got up and, as usual, Romeo followed us to the back door. I did look out before opening it and thought the hole in the fence looked...different (no it hasn't been fixed yet)..but I saw nothing in the yard so let them go.
I knew my mistake immediately as I could hear it in the back shed. I have not been closing the gate to the back shed lately as there (or so I thought) was nothing to keep out of there now that the ducks are gone. What I heard was something in the feed bag...something big. I hissed over and over for Romeo to come back and by some miracle he actually listened to me and turned around and ran back up the stairs. No such luck with Julie. She had to pee. She didn't go far though, maybe 10 feet from the steps under the fig tree. My biggest fear was that she would hear it, and, yes, we are talking about the hog here, and run barking at it and it would just trample her (remember these are dachshunds). I had apparently not alerted the hog when I called Romeo in as I could still hear it snuffling in the chicken feed. Julie finished peeing and I ran for her, snatched her up (and she still is a fat butterball but at that moment she felt like she didn't weigh a thing), turned around, heard the hog snort and start coming, and I ran with her up those steps and through the back door. I put  her down and looked out and the hog (and she is massive) was trompling through my raised bed which I just last weekend planted some hydrangeas and a miniature rose bush in. She got a bit tangled in the chicken wire fence around it (it is only about a foot and a half high) and then I ran to wake up Phil. Phil's rifle is not handy or loaded but he came with the pellet gun, but by then she had let herself back out the hole in the fence.
We crawled back into bed but Juliet could not seem to settle down (maybe because her mommy was so thankful to still have her that she could not stop petting and loving on her) and finally Phil and I both got up at 4:30. I look outside again, seeing nothing at first but then that big head pokes out of the shed again. Phil actually did get some shots at her with the pellet gun this time so hopefully it will scare her off and , of course, my chicken feed will have to go elsewhere. Phil did temporarily put stuff up against the hole in the fence to at least keep her away for today.
I have to wonder about this hog. She does not seem real feral. For one thing she is not afraid of people or houses. Knows what a feed bag is. And she is massive. Now I have not had a whole lot of experience with wild hogs but Phil and I have watched a lot of hunting videos and the feral hogs are never as large or fat as this one is. I'm thinking this may be a pig that got away this year sometime and was just never found. My neighbor swears the one that has been at his house is a boar, but Phil said this one was definitely a sow as he got a good look at her tonight. Since most people get at least two hogs when they get them, seems likely they both got loose together.
Anyway, not sure what we would do if she ever hung around long enough to get a good shot at her --especially at night, since she would have to be butchered right away. We'll, obviously, have to do something though...
I'll take picture after it gets light out.

Ok here they are:
What's left of a whole bag of chicken feed and a partial bag of bird seed.
Not sure you can see this but this is where it rooted up there over by the sink and chick pen.
When I went to pick up the soil, I actually found the flowers turned over but unharmed and was able to replant them.
I got brave and ventured out of the fence and into the front yard to take you this picture of where it made a wallow in the front yard.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Honey or Sugar?

One of my co-workers has gotten into eating more naturally and has cut a lot of foods out of her diet including sugar. We have been kind of sharing ideas back and forth and I mentioned the homemade yogurt but it, of course, has sugar in it so I told her I would try it with honey and see how we liked it. Normally I use a third of a cup of sugar per quart jar so I used a third of a cup of honey in one jar instead.
Instructions for how to make yogurt using your crock pot are here.  Now it does take dry milk as well as regular milk, although I am not sure how important it is. I was told it made the yogurt set up better and mine has always been nice and thick but I have never tried it without it so don't know how thin it might be without it.
So anyway, I taste tested this morning and, frankly, I really can't taste any difference between the two, which was rather surprising. I expected one would have that honey taste to it but if it does it is very faint.
Now I am off to the store to get some bananas and a few other things. I am told they are quite good frozen.

One side note: Yesterday I tried to eat really well. I stayed away from the sugar for the most part (except the plum sauce on the ribs we had last night), drank water, did not snack all day, took that walk with Phil and lost 2.2 lbs. :) Now there is some incentive to eat healthy!