Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, December 24, 2013 7:27 PM
Because I've already had:
- 6 Casts (only one shown above)
- 5 Cast Shoes
- 2 Surgery Shoes - much better than the flimsy cast shoes
- 5 Cam Boots (getting a 6th on Friday)
- 1 Pair of Custom Made Shoes
- 1 Pair of Custom Made Orthopedic Inserts
- 1 All Terrain Knee Scooter - my favorite item
- 1 Live-in Assistant - will be living with me for a total of 4 months
- Far too many months of disability with a drastically reduced income!
((( HUGS )))
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, December 22, 2013 8:28 PM
"They are generalists in their foraging behavior and habitat selections, seemingly showing little preference for feeding over water vs. land, or in forests vs. clearings. Like all insect-eating bats, big brown bats contribute mightily to a healthy environment and are vital players in the checks and balances of insect pests. Numerous feeding studies of big brown bats exist indicating that they consume significant crop and forest pests including ground beetles, scarab beetles, cucumber beetles, snout beetles and stink bugs, in addition to numerous species of moths and leaf hoppers. Like many bat species, reproductive females often can consume their body weight in insects each night. In fact, a colony of 150 big brown bats can consume enough adult cucumber beetles in one summer to prevent egg-laying that would produce 33 million of their root-worm larvae, a major pest of corn (Whitaker, 1995)."
I've been considering installing a bat house or two here at Havenscourt Homestead for several years. But for some reason I always get part way into my research and then some bright shiny distraction comes along and then... well you know how it goes.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to 15 different species of bats.
- Little Brown Myotis - Myotis lucifugus
- Long-Eared Myotis - Myotis evotis
- Big Brown Bat - Eptesicus fuscus
- Brazilian (Mexican) Free-Tailed Bat -Tadarida brasiliensis
- Yuma Myotis - Myotis yumanensis
- Fringed Myotis / Fringed Tailed Bat - Myotis thysanodes
- Long-Legged Myotis - Myotis volans
- California Myotis - Myotis californicus
- Silver-Haired Bat -Lasionycteris noctivagans
- Greater Bonneted Bat / Western Mastiff Bat -Eumops perotis
- Western Red Bat -Lasiurus blossevillii
- Hoary Bat - Lasiurus cinereus
- Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat / Townsend's Long-Eared Bat - Corynorhinus townsendii
- Pallid Bat - Antrozous pallidus
- Canyon Bat / Western Pipistrelle -Pipistrellus hesperus
With that many species, it would seem that getting bats to move into a new bat house would be easy. But not so fast my friends. Only the first four bats on the list above are known to take up residence in man made bat houses on a regular basis. So although some species like the Little Brown and the Big Brown tend to move in more readily, other species are secretive and rarely seen.
Why bats? Why not! I already have a drought tolerant native garden, constructed wetlands, a small pond, bee hives, native bee housing, bird housing and natural food sources. All of these things have contributed to having a successful garden and orchard as well as increasing the biodiversity of my neighborhood. Insectivorous bats are extremely beneficial. So why not roll out the welcome mat and try to attract them? I can't think of a single good reason not to. But I can think of thousands of little creepy, crawly, munchie, buzzing, and biting reasons to provide them with a home.
Oh yeah, let's not forget the added bonus - Bat Guano!!! Depending upon how and where the bat house is mounted, it can be quite easy to collect this wonderful soil amendment. Heck, I might just position my bat house directly over my compost bin. Talk about low / no maintenance solutions. This would be a great way to add phosphorus to my homemade compost. If there's one thing I've learned about successful gardening, it's amend amend amend. Animal manures are some of the best organic amendments. Adding one more type to the mix would help to insure a good nutrient ratio.
Okay then, bats it is! But what kind of housing would be best? And where should I locate it? What can I do to insure the best possibility of attracting a colony of these beautiful beneficial little buggers (er... bug eaters)?
After much research, the site I found most beneficial was Bat Conservation International. They have a lot of information about bats including an awesome Intro to Bats section, an interactive map of bat viewing sites, instructions on how to install bat houses, etc. And the Species Profiles pages are a great starting point for researching individual species. The database is search-able by state which really helps narrow down the list of bats that you might see around your neck of the woods. I also found out that they have a certification program for bat house manufacturers. Bingo! Links in their list of certified vendors has had me surfing all afternoon.
Now I need to decide which way to proceed. Should I build a house using one of the plans supplied on their website? Or should I purchase one from a certified vendor? Decisions decisions decisions. Right now I'm leaning towards one they sell at their batgoods.com shop, although I would buy it directly from the manufacturer as it's a little cheaper that way. This Bat Can from Bat Conservation and Management appears to be a good long term low maintenance solution.
"Designed for applications where routine maintenance may be unwanted, infrequent, dangerous, or difficult. These bat houses are built from the ground up to never rust, separate, or de-laminate, and possibly never need to be repainted."
Although it's heavy duty plastic on the outside, the interior baffles are made of yellow pine plywood. Their placement inside is designed to allow the bats to move around the circumference of the house as well as within and above the baffles. This helps them find the perfect micro-climate inside for their ultimate comfort. After all, isn't that what it's all about?
Decisions... decisions... Since this is going to be my Christmas present to myself, I want to make sure I make the best decision.
Do you have a bat house? If so, what style do you have? Do you like it? More importantly, do the bats like it (have any moved in)? How easy is it to maintain? Do you collect Guano from beneath your bat house? Pros / Cons? I'm very interested to hear about the successes and failures of others in order to help make an informed decision about which direction I should go from here.
This video is several years old, but they no longer allow filming so it's the best I could find on YouTube. I could do without the cheesy music. But it does provide a pretty good feel for the experience. If you ever get a chance to visit Carlsbad Caverns, I strongly suggest you go! It's an amazing adventure both inside and outside.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, December 15, 2013 11:22 PM
Tonight, I surprised Kristin with a birthday party. It wasn't a huge affair. Just a few good friends, some finger food, a cake, and some presents. But it was a lot of fun. Her first surprise party ever!
Click here to see pictures.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, December 9, 2013 8:48 PM
"I'm inspired by the hope of living somewhere someday where I can grow my own food."
"Going back to the land, simple things.. that is what I want"
"I aspire to having a homestead... but I make do with what I have... but I still want to get further out in the country!"Although this type of statement often expresses hope and desire, the problem is it's almost always out there... someday. Someday I'll have land. Someday I'll learn to garden and grow my own food. Someday I'll (insert your dream here).
Well I'm here to tell you that you don't have to keep dreaming. You can start now. Today. You don't have to have it all instantly. And you don't have to have it all in a few years. But if you truly want to give this lifestyle a go and stop dreaming about it, then you need to look around and see the potential that you DO have access to. You may have a sunny porch or a shady side yard. You may have a deck or even a fire escape outside your window. Heck, maybe you have a spare room or an unused corner of your garage. Look around. Look down. And especially look up!
My absolute favorite saying in the whole world is this one:
"You don't have to move to change the place you live."Seriously. You don't have to move to the country or have any land. You don't have to wait until you finish school or retire from your 9 to 5. You can start now, today, with what you have. Start small. Get a feel for growing something. Build your base as you learn.
When you look at the picture at the top of this post do you see potential? It's a broken down garage, a driveway, a rotten fence, and an obviously overgrown yard. Doesn't look like much, eh? Well when I looked at it I saw potential. I didn't see a blank slate by any means. But I saw a slate that, if wiped clean, could become a beautiful place. And so it has. Not overnight mind you, but over years. I documented the transition of my side yard into a garden when I bought this house. It took 14 months to clean the slate and arrange all the elements. And I've been painting in the details ever since.
So I'm re-posting the video of that transition below. It seemed liked an appropriate follow up to the question of inspiration. And I hope it inspires you to take a closer look at the space you do have, how you might be able to use it, and how you can start today while still staying within your means.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, December 7, 2013 6:51 PM
Posted by Kitty Sharkey 5:54 PM
Yes indeed, 'tis the season. And not just for jolly old revelers either. Nope. The cold and flu season is upon us. I've been unfortunate enough to catch a terrible chest cold. How? I have no clue. But it's here none the less. Between the current cold snap in the SF Bay Area, my restricted mobility post surgery, and fear of catching pneumonia due to lack of activity it's time to bring out the big guns. Out of the pantry, that is.
- Garlic - This ancient remedy is an immune booster that helps fight off cold and flu. It reportedly is effective as a decongestant. It can inhibit coughs and provides relief to the respiratory tract.
- Ginger - Another old standby, Ginger boosts your bodies immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can sooth coughs, a sore throat, and sinus congestion.
- Green Tea - This ancient tonic is high in cold and flu fighting antioxidants. It may even block viruses from multiplying in your system.
- Lemon - Also high in antioxidants, lemon contains Vitamin C to boost your immune systems ability to fight off those nasty cold and flu bugs.
- Honey - Nothing beats local honey when it comes to boosting your immune system and helping you feel better because it is antimicrobial and antibacterial. A spoonful can really do wonders to relieve a sore throat. And it's the perfect sweetener for your home brewed flu remedy.
- 3 cups of water
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- A 3" or 4" chunk of ginger (I peel mine for tea)
- 3 heaping Tablespoons of loose green tea
- 1 lemon
- 2 or 3 heaping Tablespoons of local honey
Posted by Kitty Sharkey 11:59 AM
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Friday, December 6, 2013 10:36 AM
- "Like" the new Havenscourt Homestead page on Facebook
- Leave a comment about what inspires you (homesteading related or not)
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, November 30, 2013 2:19 PM
I started writing a Thanksgiving post the other day, but got distracted. A little late is better than never, right?
- A significant amount of tenosynovitis within the peroneus tendon sheath (love Google) - DEBRIDED
- Low lying peroneus brevis muscle belly with significant synovitis - DEBRIDED 2 cm
- A 2 cm longitudinal tear in the peroneus brevus tendon - REPAIRED
- A 3 cm longitudinal tear in the peroneus longus tendon - REPAIRED
- A hard mass within the peroneus longus tendon - REMOVED (pathology determined it was a segment of dense fibrocartilage adjacent to a small area of trabecular bone with focal calcification and adjacent ossification. Now isn't that a mouthful of terms for Google searches)
- A cyst in the proximal lateral aspect of the cuboid bone - CURETTAGED AND MICRODRILLED TO PROMOTE FIBROCARTILAGINOUS GROUTH
- A traverse tear through the ATFL ligament and mild laxity - REPAIRED VIA BROSTROM-GOLD LATERAL ANKLE STABILIZATION PROCEDURE AND FIVE ELASTIC FIBERWIRE SUTURES (permanent)
Post surgery, it would have been impossible to take care of myself, much less the farm (goats, chickens, rabbits, geese, garden). So I asked Kristin if she wanted to come stay with me for several months to help out. She had helped with the petting zoo at the Northern California Renaissance Faire so I knew she was good with the animals. But she's never gardened, canned, fermented, brewed, etc.
I can't afford to pay her as I'm out on disability and have a severely reduced income. But I offered her room and board along with a chance to learn about sustainable living first hand. Lucky for me, she jumped at the opportunity. She and her cat moved into the library (converted garage) so she has her own space and some privacy.
And Kristin? She's thankful for the entire situation too. She didn't have to stress about finding short term housing. She loves the animals and is thoroughly enjoying caring for them. She's learning a lot about gardening, sustainable living, and homesteading skills. Oh, and the homemade lamb lasagna which included two types of cheese she had helped make along with home grown / canned tomatoes, basil and garlic was fantastic. She's getting to experience the joy and pride of homemade meals using home grown produce and home made products that she's had a hand in making.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, November 9, 2013 9:10 PM
Starting with the large jars on the right:
- 1/2 gallon regular Sauerkraut (cabbage and carrots)
- 1/2 gallon Garlicky Kraut
- 1 quart + 1/2 pint Combo Kraut (extra from above + green onion and red Fresno pepper
- 1 quart Kimchi with Serrano peppers
- 1 quart Kimchi with Fresno peppers
- 1 quart Kimchi with Habanero, Serrano, and Fresno peppers
OH YEAH BABY!!! That's right. This sporty little gizmo should be here in about a week, or just about the time that I'll start to go stir crazy from sitting on the couch unable to do jack. With this knee scooter I should be able to get around the yard so that I can enjoy the garden and sit with the critters.
Oh yeah. One more bit of good news.
My friend Kristin (aka Puddles) from ren faire has temporarily moved into my library. She'll be staying with me for a couple months to help out around the place until I'm back on my feet. So the critters will get fed on time and the garden will get watered. It's been rather interesting to lay in bed in the early morning and watch her go about the barnyard feeding everyone. Honestly, it's a HUGE relief knowing that she's here to help.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, October 9, 2013 1:50 PM
This year I didn't have as much luck with my straight run chicks. In the past I've always ended up with more pullets than cockerels. But not this time. Out of eighteen chicks, only six were pullets. So I broke down and bought five additional pullets once I was sure of the sex ratio. I have my suspicions that one of them will also start to crow in a few months.
Ducklings on the other hand were a great success. Mary hatched out eleven little ones. I lost two (not uncommon) and sold a couple more. So she ended up raising seven ducks. This week, they all went into my freezer. I just received my copy of Hank Shaw's new cookbook entitled "Duck, Duck, Goose", so the timing was perfect. I plan on slow roasting one this evening.
I actually had to take two sets of roosters for processing at Riella Farms this year because I had gotten my chicks in a couple of batches. The second group ended up over staying their welcome due to other life commitments. But I finally got them in the freezer as well about a month ago.
Before I could do so, Carmella my Jersey Giant hen decided to go broody on me. I had been pulling eggs out from under her for a week or so. But then, on a whim, I decided to let her sit on the nest and see if anything would hatch. After all, there were four or five roosters in the yard so the potential for fertile eggs was high. In hindsight, I should have stuffed even more eggs under her to increase the odds of hatching. But considering how many birds I ended up with in the freezer, I'm not regretting just letting her be as is.
This morning, when I went out to collect eggs, I heard very distinctive peeping noises from the nesting box area. Sure enough, Carmella was all puffed up and making that protective purring sound that Momma Hens always make. So I peeked under her and found that one chick had hatched. It wasn't there last night, and it definitely appears to be newly hatched. So it must have pipped sometime early this morning.
I immediately went to work setting up a separate area in the barn that was goat proof and moved Carmella in there. This method has worked great in the past. Mom can hop over the barrier to go out and the babies stay inside for the first week or so until they start exploring. At that point, they can squeeze in and out as desired, but the goats still can't get to their food and water.
The nursery is all set up now. I just have to wait out the day and see if any more hatch. No clue who the parents are as she had a variety of eggs under her. But that doesn't really matter to me. Although I've had a couple batches of duck eggs hatch out, this little one is my first home grown chick. It's also Carmella's second time being a mom. So I have no doubts she'll do a good job. Hopefully this little one won't be an only child. Only time will tell. But if it turns out to be a hen, I'll end up keeping her. Now I just need to think of some clever name.
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, September 16, 2013 10:54 PM
Mom was sleeping in the tent, so I tucked Tink in with her. After a couple minutes, Tinkerbell quit trembling. She then proceeded to fall into blissful sleep all comfy and warm under the blankets with Mom.
Tinkerbell and I, along with the rest of the herd are going to miss Mom. She flies home tomorrow morning. So today we just sat and relaxed and watched the goats play. And the icing on the cake? Mom got to see a Condor as it soared gracefully over our heads. We both enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I'm looking forward to the next time she gets to come down and play.
Love you Mom!!!
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, September 12, 2013 2:25 PM
I just wish I was this cute. The little girl pictured above captures perfectly the mix of emotions I'm feeling - Pain, frustration, contemplation, resigned acceptance, pessimistic hope?
Today I saw a different Podiatrist for a second opinion on my foot. Fresh eyes, so to speak. Glad I did, although my foot is KILLING me due to all the poking and prodding he did. While reviewing the latest MRI at the areas of my foot that were hurting the most, he discovered something that was previously overlooked. He pulled up the MRI from one year prior and confirmed his suspicion.
The issue with my foot isn't the small cyst in my cuboid bone as noted by the radiologist that reviewed the MRI's. Nope. I definitely have a torn tendon. Ligaments reattach themselves and heal. Tendons don't. And the place where it is torn explains why driving is the activity that causes me the most pain. Guess what I use to push on the gas and step the break? Yuppers. That tendon.
The two doctors are going to review the findings together and then get back to me. But it looks like I'm headed for surgery soon. So the pouty face is two fold. On the one hand it's great that we finally may know what's causing this ongoing pain. On the other hand I have suffered for two years now because I did not receive an accurate diagnosis. If this had been found on the first MRI, I would most likely be feeling a heck of a lot better now. Grrrr.... Semi-happy relieved frustrated painful Grrrr...
Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, September 9, 2013 9:25 PMbarely 2 lbs. So I've spent the better part of this past week providing extra support to her. I've been bottle feeding 4 or 5 times a day and providing plenty of physical stimulation. Basically, she's gotten a LOT of extra attention. But I always put her back with her mom and sister to insure they bonded.
It was dicey for the first few days and I was worried that she might not make it. But once she started really drinking, things turned around. Saturday, at 5 days old she finally started to find her legs. She was walking around and even attempted a couple little bouncing hops which resulted in face plants. But at least she was showing a little bit of energy. I also saw her nursing from Gretel which was good news.
Sunday she crossed a huge hurdle. Not only was she nursing quite often, she was bouncing around the yard like a 2 day old. She has been slowly but surely gaining weight and strength. Last night, after watching her all day, I decided that she was going to be okay on her own and stopped bottle feeding her. Besides, she hadn't taken to the bottle so eagerly yesterday.
Today we mark one week old. She's up to 3 lbs, 5-1/4 oz. Basically she's now about normal birth weight. Tonight, after Nali delivered triplets I decided it would be fun to do a little visual comparison. In the picture below my Mom is holding Tinkerbell in one hand and one of Nali's bucklings at about 1 hour old in the other. He weighed in at 3 lbs 6-1/4 lbs. All Nali's kids were right around the same weight give or take a couple ounces.
Castle Rock Farms manage to bottle feed about 100+ babies a season. But I do know that I'm relieved that she's finally okay. And it felt so wonderful to see her bopping around the yard and jumping up on the stumps. Her name definitely fits her. Love my little Tink!
Posted by Kitty Sharkey 8:16 PM
About 5:15 this afternoon, Nali gave birth to a beautiful little buckling. She then proceeded to take her time (uh.. 30-40 minutes) to pop out the other two kids, one doeling and one more buckling. The one on the left and the one in the middle are a boy / girl pair that look damn near exactly alike. I'm sure once I get a better look at them tomorrow I'll be able to tell the difference.
All are healthy and have had their first meal. I've locked them up in one side of the barn for bonding. In about an hour or so I'm going to go out and steal some colostrum from Nali to put in the freezer.
Meanwhile, I've had a well deserved shower and I've ordered pizza for delivery.