Monday, October 31, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Friends - More Pics

Halloween , Among Friends

Halloween, that holiday that people think is for little kids. Ha! Secretly, us old foggies have more fun with this holiday than any other. Dinner parties. Dancing. Joke telling and good old conversation. Good potluck food. Good company. Better than a bag of treat & treat goodies. 

So here we are at Halloween on The Blog once again, where if you choose to continue, you'll endure my photos of our childlike participation in the holiday........

First of all, the table decorations. Presenting the "Odd Duck Mummy"...........

And her/his twin, the "Odd Duck Witch"....

And eye of an odd duck.....
A liquid filled ball with a floating eye. Yes, we're really, really odd. And easily amused. 

Plus the "Cast of thousands"....the Odd Ducks.........

Dog attack!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Screen House Almost Complete

Not a whole lot more needs to be done to finish up the new screen house, but I need to make a trip to get the finishing supplies. David gave me a shopping list:
1- 4 ridge cap pieces
2- 1 peak cap
3- door handle ........ Naw. I'll make my own out of bamboo. 

David completed the screen door and got it mounted today. 

Screen above, solid with a cat sized pet door below. Why the cat door? Face facts. The cats will get in if they are interested, and if necessary will create their own doorway through the screening. I'd rather them use this one. I plan to make a flap to keep the mosquitoes and flies out. The kitties already know how to use pet doors, so the flap will be no problem. But I will have to have David put a little cat sized platform on the bottom of the door so that they can jump up onto it for using the door easier. Yeah, I'm spoiling the little critters, ain't I. 

The roof is up and looks great, if I do say so myself.  😀   

The view from inside the screen house is quite nice. 

The ridge lines have been taped. Not so much for keeping rain out, but for preventing wind from getting under the edges and lifting the panel. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Free Online Summit

Something that may be of interest to some of you readers.......

Watching via online is free. But they also have thumb drives for sale with the complete summit for those with limited cellphone data packages but who want to see the entire summit series....for those of us using iPads, cellphones, and other tablet type devices. Of course thumb drives are designed for regular computers but there are ways to transfer that data to a tablet. Don't ask me how because I'm computer stupid, but my hubby probably knows. 

Yes, I plan to watch some of it myself. I'm always interested in seeing what others are doing. I've viewed other past summits and learned about people doing some pretty neat stuff. Plus I've learned a few good new tricks that I've incorporated into my own homestead. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New Lamb - Ramrod

Ewe-Lima has finally had her lamb, her first. She was so big that I really expected twins, but it turned out to be one big boy. 

Ewe-Lima is a shy girl and has been since birth. And she didn't act any different when it came to having her lamb. She disappeared from the flock 15 days ago and I didn't spy her anywhere in the pastures. But there are plenty of hiding places where it's almost impossible to spot a sheep, so it wasn't surprising. When she disappeared, I wished her the best. That may sound hard hearted, but spending entire days trying to find a ewe who doesn't want to found is simply not going to happen here. 

This morning Ewe-Lima showed up for the daily grain bucket, coming at a run when I called. So she's doing fine and I was happy to see that she had a large lamb in tow. One large lamb let me know that there wasn't a missing twin or triplets to look for. 

The lamb is most likely sired by an unnamed white ram. Well, he's not a ram anymore but he had been for awhile. I guess the timing was right for him to become a daddy. Why do I say that the white ram is most likely the sire? 
...1- Mystery Ram always produces color on his lambs, especially if he had bred this ewe. 
...2- E-Ram would have produced a colored ram out of Ewe-Lima. 
...3- the white ram is a St. Crois, an all white breed. 
...there were no other rams that could have bred at that time. 

I've dubbed the new boy Ramrod. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Screenhouse Update

I finally picked up some more supplies this past weekend. Roofing. Screws. Another gallon of brown stain. Hinges for the door. 

It took quite a bit of time, but half the roof is now up. 

I'm using grey tinted, translucent polycarb. It will keep the rain out but let enough light in. Well, that's the plan at least. 

Oh yes, David made a marvelous screen door. I'll show you a picture of it once we have it hung in place. I was going to use standard door hinges, but David asked me to pick up spring hinges. Gee, I didn't even know about them. I'm pretty uneducated when it comes to building options. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Current Taro Varieties

"W" asked what taro varieties am I growing. I'm constantly adding new varieties when I have the opportunity, but this is what I currently have: 

...Bun long. Also called, Chinese taro. This is one of my favorite table taros. 
...Mana ulu. A yellow Hawaiian taro, it's a nice eating taro.
...Piko ula'ula
...Araimo. Japanese taro
...Kumu ula'ula
...Lauloa ele'ele omoa
...Moi kea
...Manini kea
...Elepaio uli'uli. An interesting variegated taro.
...Ula'ula Moana
...Piko ula'ula 

Above looking down on the plant from above, the corms forming at the base of an Araimo plant. These corms can be used like a boiled potato for stews or a side dish. 

I also have.......
...An unknown "white" variety that prefers semi shade and is a robust grower. 
...A yellow cormed variety that is most likely a Polynesian type. 
...An aggressive purple stemmed one that may be a Filipino type. 
...Another purple stemmed that is a Caribbean type. 

I'm gradually phasing out my unknown varieties as I acquire known Hawaiian types. No particular reason for this other than I like the idea of growing Hawaiian varieties. But I do plan to keep the Caribbean variety because it's rather ornamental. 

Thinking of ornamental, I forgot to list Mojito, my black & green variegated taro. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Quick Cheap Seed Starting Boxes

Being an advocate of using what's on hand....and cheap.....I often use cardboard produce boxes for starting seeds. These boxes are readily available here. They're throwaway items that the store is glad to get rid of. Being cardboard, they need protection from water. Solution ... line them with a sheet of plastic. In this case, a recycled plastic trash bag. Yup, I'm a cheap. I use the trash bags that held donated linens for the pet shelters. Yup, I'm not one to throw useable things away, much to the distress of my friends. Oh well. 

I could use my garden soil to start the seeds in, and sometimes I do. But when I'm growing plants that need gentle transplanting, I prefer using something with peat moss in it. So I either use promix or a 50-50 promix/garden soil mixture, depending upon how delicate the seedlings are. The more delicate, the more promix. 

Step 1- pick out a box that's in good condition

Step 2- line it with a trash bag

Step 3- fill it with potting soil mix, then trim away the excess plastic bag

Step 4- sow seeds. Don't forget to label it. Gee, I really hate it when I forget the label. 
Step 5- transplant seedlings
Step 6- recycle potting soil
Step 7- reuse the bag
Step 8- recycle the cardboard. Cardboard usually goes into one of the hugelpits that's in the process of being built here on the farm.

This is not the only way I start seeds, but it's an easy way that saves me from having to buy pots. I usally use recycled nursery pots, the bottoms of gallon milk jugs, old plastic cups, and recycled plastic soda bottles. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Where Are My Limas?

Remember those robust Lima bean vines? Well, they're green and vigorous, filling out the trellis fence. For weeks they've been pushing one wave of blooms after the other. Flowers are followed by many immature twisting pods that grow to 2"-3" then fall off. What gives? 

I haven't fertilized the vines since the initial soil prep. Since the vines were growing well and looked a nice green, I choose not to add fertilizer. The only thing I've done is mulch them with rather stemy grass clippings. So I don't think that too much nitrogen is the problem. We've had enough rain that should have leeched out excess nitrogen. 

I've been looking for signs of disease and pests. No mildew yet. The leaves and stems seem to be fine. I'm not ready to dig up the plants just check the roots. I know that I have rootknot nematode here, but the plants look too vigorous for that to be the cause. 

Pollination problem? Perhaps. I was under the impression that limas are self pollinating, but is that true for this variety? Don't know. More basic, are the plants producing viable pollen? Don't know that either. But I can say that I haven't seen any bees visiting the flowers. The hive is less than 50' away and the girls are ignoring the lima vines.  

Is this normal for this variety? I discovered that fava beans produced lots of flowers for weeks before they started producing flowers that set pods. Could this be the same situation for this lima variety? Could there be a minimum age factor? 
(Pods are growing longer before they abort now.)

Or could there be an environmental trigger that's missing. It's been fairly wet this year with not much strong sun. We've had hot days (hot for me is over 83° F) but not consistently hot. What is it that limas need to trigger pod production? 

Perhaps a soil nutrient deficiency? If things don't happen soon, maybe I'll send off a soil sample. 

I don't know of any local gardeners growing this lima under conditions similar to what I have on this farm. So I'm sadly lacking advice from successful lima growers. I guess I'll just have to keep experimenting and see what comes. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Sheep Named

Lots of neat suggestions via email this time around. 
In addition to what was posted on the blog, it's a nice list to choose from. 

And the winner........Ewe-turn. As "S" remarked when she submitted it via an email, "How about EweTurn because obviously she zigged when she should have zagged...." Yup, the ewe ended up with a broken leg from zigging instead of zagging. Funny! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sheep & Goats Come & Go

"L" counted up the "new sheep" posts and figures that I have quite a large flock now. Not the case. In real life, sheep come & go for a variety of reasons. In actuality, the flock number is presently 10. Four of the females are pregnant, so the flock numbers will be increasing shortly, I hope. 

As a flock owner, I've had to come to terms with flock dynamics. While sometimes I've been the one to initiate an animal leaving the flock ( sold, given away, or harvested for food), often animals are lost against my wishes.....
...natural death. Just recently I lost my original, elderly ram. He had become feeble, thus his death was expected. A natural occurance. 
...death due to predation. Dog attack! Over the years I've had a number of sheep killed by stray dogs. Some were maimed so badly that I had to humanely dispatch them. 
...lost. The entire flock busted out through a vog damaged section of fencing. All were recaptured except one, which was never tracked down. 
...death due to health problems. Early on I lost a lamb due to internal parasites, that is, worms. And I've lost a couple to flystrike. These were before I learned how to successfully handle these problems. Also lost one to pneumonia which didn't respond to medications. 
...death due to pregnancy complications. Lost my favorite ewe to complications delivering her lambs. 
...theft. Happily I haven't experienced this yet. But some flock owners around have had the problem. 

The ebb and flow of flock numbers is a normal part of having a flock. No flock owner wants to lose an animal, but it happens. I've lost a few in the past, and I expect to lose a few in the future. Life on a homestead isn't all lollipops and sunshine. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New Flock Addition

Recently another ewe has been added to the flock. Full grown, friendly, a wool/hair combo mixbreed, and a broken leg. That's right, broken. But that's something I know how to fix. 

(Not the greatest photo, but the sun was at the wrong angle. I'm no polished photographer!)

First on the list of priorities when she arrived was to apply a splint in order to stabilize her leg so that she wouldn't damage it worse. Then a couple of days of R&R to let her settle in. She's one bright sheep because she sussed out the situation quickly and soon relaxed. Good. By the way, I don't believe that most sheep are sharpest knife in the drawer. Occasionally I get one that can think. 

Next, sedate her and fix that leg. While she was sedated, it was the perfect opportunity to shear off the excess wool. She will need to be sheared twice a year in order to prevent flystrike. 

It's been a few weeks now and she's using the leg to walk. So I've removed the protective support splint to see how she would fare. Just fine. As long as she doesn't panic over something stupid and race off across the pasture, her leg should do fine without a splint while it continues to heal. The reason for removing the support splint early is that it's been a major headache tending to it. Twice a day I've had to remove and reapply it because of the rain we've been having. Leaving a wet splint on invites flies and infection....a no-no. 

I haven't named this new girl yet, simply calling her Baaaaa, my generic sheep call. But now that I'm confident that her leg is healing and that she will be staying on the farm, it's time to dub her with a proper ewe name. 

Any suggestions? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Golden Hubbard Squash

Looks like I have a winner. Finding a squash that can survive the bugs here is difficult. At first I wasn't too sure about this one, but after a shaky start, the golden Hubbard is producing. 

Just because it's producing doesn't mean that it's a no-work veggie. At least on my farm, squash, pumpkins, and gourds need almost daily attention. The stems need to get buried or covered in mulch when squash borers make their appearance. This also helps save parts of a plant should powdery mildew start up, because the plants will root at each leaf node if given a chance. And spraying the flowers and young fruits with dipel after every rain helps control caterpillars, thus reducing fruiting failure.  

I've been awfully lax with the golden Hubbards. Because of the frequent rain, I haven't been successful keeping dipel on them. It's on and off again. But I have managed to keep the squash borers under control. And powdery mildew has only managed to kill parts of plants, while sparing other vine runners enough so that they are producing.

To date I've harvested over two dozen Hubbards. They go to feed the livestock. But then, that's the reason I'm growing them. I have yet to try eating one myself. Not that I'm not interested, but I have quite a bit of food available right now. 

Will I grow more hubbards? You betcha! I plan to try the other varieties of hubbard squashes to see if they tolerate my conditions. And who knows, perhaps this was just a good year for hubbards. Maybe next year they will fail. We shall see what's comes. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


"E" asked if I get trade winds. Yes and no. Trade winds come and go. They tend to be seasonal, but even so, they aren't here every day, day after day. Plus the homestead is located inland in a nicely treed area. So it gets lots of protection from the winds. Therefore, while the trades might be blowing, the homestead often doesn't see much effect from them. 

The trade winds on my homestead farm as usually pleasant and reasonably gentle. They're usually not brisk enough to blow most plants over. But occasionally there are days when everything flies off an outdoor table and potted plants go over. But generally, the wind is enjoyable and cooling. I always welcome such wind. I personally enjoy it. 

Down at the seed farm it's a different story. The trades are stronger, quite brisk. And I notice them more frequently than up at the homestead. They're not so strong as to make trees grow sideways. But they do shred the leaves of all the banana trees and cause problems with trellises. 

Trees growing sideways? You betcha.
 (Above, a typical tree growing in South Point region.)

 There are spots where the trade winds blow strongly and frequently. It results in what we call wind pruning. The strong I winds damage the young growing tip buds, making the tree quite lopsided. I makes for such interesting images. 

My artsy modified photo of South Point trees on a stormy day. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Black Variegated Taro

I've been growing an interesting looking taro as an ornamental, something to use in flower beds. It's a black variegated one. A couple of years ago I found a single plant for sale in some store somewhere here, and snarffed it up. Mine! Ah-ha! Had no idea what it was, but I lovingly took it home and planted it by my front door. 

Since then it's propagated dozens of baby plants. This taro now resides in numerous flowerbeds. 

I just recently learned its name ....... Mojito. 

Now that I know it's name, I googled it. Boy, I found out I'm growing it all wrong! I've been growing it dry land style. The Internet seems to agree that it should be grown in wet soil or as a pond plant in 1"-3" of water. Um, how about that. And the Internet is calling for full sun or partial shade. I'm finding that my own plants prefer full sun. Those getting shade are smaller and less robust. Yes, they survive, but not as well as their full sun siblings. 

Now that I know it tolerates having its feet constantly wet, I plan to try some in one of the ponds. But I will continue to grow most of it dry land style since that method works for me. 

By the way, I've never tried tasting this taro. But I have cooked up the excess and added it to the chicken feed. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

White Lithium Grease

Corrosion is a common problem here, with the daily vog and acid rain. Most metal objects rust or otherwise corrode. And those that don't, still tend to develop a surface layer of something or other that interfere with their smooth operation. Even outdoor locks fail fairly quickly if not protected in some fashion. 

My "go to" protectant is often white lithium grease. It seems to do a good job while lasting the longest if the things I've tried so far. 
I use it in locks, clips, chains, cinch pins, utility cart axel and hitch, various spots on the ATV. If it's got metal, I most likely use this stuff on it. Well, not my fencing. That would be a daunting task to grease over a mile (or more) of fence. 

I tend to avoid the aerosol grease, preferring the type in a can or squeeze tube. Maybe it's just my own preferences, but I don't think that the aerosol works as well. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Potatoes in Containers

One of the blog readers has been growing a variety of veggies in containers. She sent me nice photos of her recent potato harvest. 

"S" wrote": 
One plant, small old dead cooler, one foot loose soil.  Mother spud by tip of fork.

Impressive harvest from just one plant! "S" uses homemade compost as her fertilizer source and refurbishes the growing medium at each harvest. Her results are great! By the way, she included a picture of the original seed piece, called the mother tuber. In this variety, the mother doesn't rot away. But it does change color so that it can be distinguished and discarded. The mother tends to be darker or browner. 

Another photo.......
"S" wrote:
Two plants, one half barrel, two foot deep loose soil.  Mother spuds by tip of fork

Truly amazing harvest! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Addition - Malabar Chestnuts

Regular chestnut trees won't grow here in Hawaii, at least not at my location. Perhaps they could grow high up the slopes of the tall volcanoes, but I really don't know if they would....or if anyone has tried. But there is a tree called Malabar chestnut that readily produces fruit here. I'm told that it tastes like the regular chestnuts I remember buying and eating from the sidewalk vendors in the UK. Yummy. 

This past week a friend gave me a bag of Malabar chestnut pods, plus a large pile of "chestnut seeds". Yup, I intend to eat most but I also plan to plant a number of those little chestnuts in anticipation of producing my own supply. 

The mature pod is on the left. Breaking one open exposes the "chestnuts". The nuts, at the bottom of the photo, vary a bit in size and shape. 

I'm told that the nuts need to be planted while still fresh, and that they germinate readily. So I'm planting a handful right now. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Corn - Thinning & Weed Control

My corn growing experiment is coming along quite nicely. The plants are 10"-12" high now and in need of thinning. I've learned from previous garden failures that crowded plants do not yield very well, if at all. Since I had sown the corn seed fairly closely due to the fact that I wasn't sure if it's germination ability (I didn't want to take the time to test it because of the delay it would cause in getting the crop going), many plants are too close to one another. In the photo below, there are spots where the plants are clumped together, and every row is too closely spaced......

This corn patch is small, so it wasn't a big deal to go in and thin with wild abandon. Well, not quite that wild, but I did remove anything that was closer than 6" to its neighbor. The thinnings went to feed a treat to the rabbits. I made a point to leave the most healthy and robust looking plants while removing the small or thin ones. 

Once thinned (above) I lightly dressed the area with with a thin layer of chicken pen litter, placing it right atop the old grass clipping mulch. After this photo was taken, I added an inch of fresh grass clippings atop it all. 

I don't expect these stalks to get taller than 5'. So I think they can deal with about an average 10" spacing. Plus the soil in this spot has only been "improved" twice (that is, the previous crop and now this corn), so I'm not anticipating a dynamite corn crop. But surprisingly, the corn looks pretty good so far.