Sunday, July 9, 2017

Blast From the Past

There are lots of blog topics I've neglected to post about, so since I strained my back yesterday moving boxes and cant do much of anything interesting today, I might as well dredge up some retroactive content.

Remember Trail Cam Tuesday?  well think of this as "I'm So Sorry Sunday." 
As I was sifting through my folder of trail cam footage, I found this magnificent 7 point buck from last December, and my breath caught again just as it was when i recovered the memory card from the camera last year.

This photo was not taken in some pristine bit of forest or a wildlife refuge.  This photo was taken in a small suburban woodlot next to the interstate.  I see deer often in this area, but seldom do I see a buck as large and healthy as him.
I live in an area with a healthy hunting population.  I forget the exact numbers but I remember reading once that something like 15 people per square mile hold hunting permits.  Now, I am far from anti-hunting and very much pro-hunting, as much as I am pro-wildlife and pro-conservation.  you may think it odd, but as well-intentioned as the anti-hunting crowd may be, sound wildlife management is necessary for conservation, especially in a state where large predators like wolves, lynx and cougars have largely been extirpated.  It's oft been said that deer are their own worst enemy, and in the absence of natural predators, they will overbreed and eat every last scrap of food in the landscape, starving themselves and many of the other animals. 

Venison is dang tasty, and as I type, my thought is drawn to the haunches of succulent meat that sit in my freezer, but my eating habits aside, it always warms my heart to see the ones that got away.  deer don't grow to this size by accident, only the clever ones can avoid the cars and the hunters for this long.  A whitetail buck has a home range of about 1 square mile which means by odds there are at least 15 people within his territory who would like to make a meal of him.  His antlers are a testament to his wariness and his wisdom.  If I'm lucky maybe I'll stumble upon his sheds in the woods.  and since old deer tend to be tougher and less tasty, I hope he avoids the cook pot and the car bumper for a long time to come. 

As always, thanks for reading :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Profitable Potatoes

Remember back in February when i found a bag of potatoes while dumpster diving?

No?  Allow me to refresh your memory

I've been having mixed results with the garden this year.  some things are doing really well, other things seem to have barely gotten off the ground.

you may also recall that i had big huge plans to grow a lot of food this year; way more than i've ever grown before.  unfortunately, that didn't happen. partly due to weather, partly due to not being able to source all of the supplies i needed to make it happen.

we had a record rainy spring and simply put, a lot of the seeds i planted got flooded!  oh well.  as much as Id like to grow  my own food, it is nice to live in a time and place where i can zip down to the store and pick up groceries at my convenience.

anyway, back to our topic.  the potatoes have been growing by leaps and bounds in some old laundry baskets i also happened to find in the trash.  unfortunately i didn't have enough soil to fill the potato baskets so they are growing in just compost.  if we abide by the law of "as above so below" it would be resonable to assume that the tuber growth is just as prolific, except i havent seen much root development (growing in baskets is handy for keeping an eye on that, or at least one would think)

i want to dig up one of the plants and see if its setting tubers at all or if its just leafing out and this is all for show, but im nervous about uprooting the plants prematurely.  also its possible the plant simply hasnt had time to develop new tubers, but this is my first time growing potatoes so i have absolutely no idea what im doing, and quite literally making things up as i go along.

anyway, potatoes are a very fast growing plant and its fun to watch them thrive

Oh!  and please follow me on Instagram if you are interested in this sort of thing! I'm @Lazarusratt

as always, thank you for reading :)

Hooty Booty Beach

My favorite beach is soon to be no more
Thumper Joe at the beach in 2012

last night on the news there was a report about the plans to rebuild the seawall and construct a huge splash apron that would prevent storm waves from washing up on the road and freezing during the winter.  the road that goes by this beach is a major thoroughfare, and so any dangerous road conditions are an understandable concern, but who is really at fault?  the wild and stormy Lake Erie? or the people who were foolish enough to build a major road next to the wild and stormy Lake Erie. 

The plans disclosed in the article detail how they will be dredging up the sand along the beach so that they can do the construction on the bedrock.  The plans also include a pedestrian walkway along the new construction.  Here is the latest article from the Buffalo News if you are so inclined to read it. 

I suppose I'm being selfish, but it was (and still is for the time being!) one of my favorite places to exist.  an excellent treasure beach, i often find rare colors of beach glass as well as interesting rocks, fossils, bones and shells.  it was a difficult beach to get to since parts of it were often washed out and only accessible by wading, or by climbing down the wall.  I could be completely alone, and have a whole beach to myself and i am less than thrilled about the idea that it could become a crowded meeting place.

The Alhambra Club in its Heyday

 not only was it a great place to gather freshwater flotsam, but the beach was littered with the ruins of former buildings.  The Alhambra, an old supper club sat there from the 1920's until it burned down in the 1940's.  The wave-chewed foundation can still be found as a testament to the power of water and to the Lake's temper.  Although the plans in the article say nothing of what will happen to   the ruins of the establishment, i imagine it will either be buried under the rock, or more likely completely demolished to facilitate the construction.

Thumper sitting among the ruins in 2013
I'm also concerned for some of the interesting graffiti along the wall, most notably, this

giant portrait of Bettie Page.  As much as i will miss this work of art, my photo of it also demonstrates exactly why these repairs are being done: a huge tumbled portion of the wall can be seen in the right of the photo.
Rock in peace, Beach Bettie

In other news, there was a small earthquake in Lake Erie this morning.  it was nothing special impressive, just a 2.1 but its always special when it happens.  we get weak earthquakes like this every so often in this region and its the result of crustal rebound in the wake of the last ice age.  if that doesn't make sense the weight of a continental ice sheet a mile thick can actually locally depress the earth's crust into the mantle and now that the glacier is gone, the crust has been slowly rising back up over the last 10,000 or so years and every once in a while it rebounds a little faster which causes our earthquakes, which never cause any serious damage.  one time when i was 9 years old I experienced such a tremor after school.  a 5.0 quake made the whole house shake for a few while.  at the time i thought it was fun.  but i don't live in a very geologically active area so there is little cause for concern or alarm when it happens (no real tectonic dangers such as the pacific rim endures). Here is a link with a list compiling earthquakes centered or felt locally, although it doesn't give the  scale for all of them which is unfortunate.

so in conclusion, I will be spending as much of my summer as i can documenting and collecting memories of my favorite beach while i still can.  please enjoy some photos taken in years past

frozen drainage holes and the wall is half buried in the ice dunes
Thumper following me along the wall in 2014
Interesting mildew growth on drainage holes

 and lastly, here is a video of me and my dogs splashing and playing among the ruins on the beach.  the crumbling wall, again, is very visible in the background

As always, Thank you for reading :)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hello All!

 I've been busy as a bee making all the plans for my garden this summer.

I am not a planner.  planning makes my head hurt, and in general I prefer to act and behave spontaneously, but effective gardening does require a bit more consistency than this scatter-brained human is usually willing to put forth.  This is why, even though I enjoy being out in the dirt and watching the plants grow, I cannot in truth say that i have a green thumb.

by trade, I am much more of a forager than a a gardener.  foraging is much more opportunistic, and jives better with my capricious nature; you go out into the woods, or fields, and see what you can find.  if you find something tasty, Hooray!  if not, keep looking.  The level of personal investment in foraging is low, but it is labor intensive, since everything grows without any input from you, but commuting to a fruitful patch of nature and then walking for hours to find a bellyful of leaves and roots is tiresome.

Gardening is tiresome up front, but hard work is rewarded justly with bountiful harvests and very cheap (but not technically free!) meals.

My intention is to plan things to the point that I don't have to do quite so much labor to keep everything green and growing in my little garden plot.

at first I was thinking of creating a "raised bed" from old 5 gallon buckets.  Each plant would have its own little patch of soil and the buckets would be stacked together grid-wise to create a facsimile of a raised bed without actually having to build anything.

Food-grade plastic 5 gallon buckets can be gotten from places like restaurants and bakeries who get certain ingredients delivered in them only to be tossed when the ingredient is used up (although this is not always the case and i will expand upon this in a later post).

Contrary to what the internet would have you believe getting 5 gallon buckets en masse is not as easy as it sounds.  Sure you get a few now and again if you catch the baker on the right time on the right day, but I simply wasn't finding the quantity that i needed.  So i began to look for alternate methods

while sniffing around on youtube, i found some people using reusable shopping bags from walmart as a grow bag.  the bags not only wick up water, but also help keep the soil aerated which prevents the plants from becoming rootbound and generally healthier.  check it out! 

the only problem is that while these bags are inexpensive, they still cost money, which is not good.  so i hung my head and continued to sulk about my lack of either grow bags or buckets until i came across this amazing video:

now granted, laundry baskets and landscaping cloth costs money too, but I used to work at a hotel and I used to sneak home discarded linens all the time because of all the project purposes they could be used for. 
of course while i was working at a hotel, i never had time to actually do any projects because all i did was work and sleep (and I barely got any sleep), which is not good for the human. 
so my stash of old discarded linens have been sitting around for years collecting dust and now I think i can do something similar but line the baskets in a double layer of old sheets to achieve the same effect!

and what's better, is that i also have dozens of discarded pillowcases  which i could use to make something very similar to the grow bags in larry hall's videos out of something that is completely free and theoretically just as easy to set up. my only concern, is that the bags might not be sturdy enough on their own and might need some kind of internal, or external support to keep them upright, so i will have to play around with the concept between now and planting season. 

As always, thanks for reading :)

Found Object Friday

I never did buy those pants
Do I dare make another day-of-the-week recurring topic?  Possibly. This shouldn't be too hard provided I manage to find something cool that week (which is very likely) and also manage to remember to write about that cool thing (which is less likely).  At any rate, it will help to keep this blog anchored and consistent, and  after all, finding cool stuff is the intended purpose of this blog isn't it?

I did not find this cool object this week.  I found it almost 2 weeks ago, but it has launched me into a new field of research that I've been contemplating, but neglecting getting into......Aquaponics!

while on a thrift store foray for a new pair of pants, i stumbled upon a complete aquarium set for only $20.  10 gallon Tank, hood, gravel, working lights, filter and aerator and even a cabinet!

unfortunately, fish husbandry is not my strong suit.  I have never had pet fish before, with the exception of Saskatoona
poor saskatoona :(

Saskatoona was a cute little goldfish that was given to me as a high-school graduation present.  I had never taken care of a fish before and as hard as i tried with my minimal knowledge, the poor little guy only lasted about 2 weeks and out of guilt I have never tried keeping a pet fish since.

Anyway, Ive been doing my research about fishkeeping and I'm a lot more confident.
Im not running down to the pet store yet, for now I'm just playing around with the pumps and filters and learning the equipment, while reviewing different aquaponic set ups, what plant species/fish species to stock the system with and all that good stuff. I'm also contemplating growing spirulina.

I really like this miniponics set up, so i think im going to build something like this (possibly several so i can separate fish if i need to) and then i can practice my aquaponics skills on this small scale before building a larger set-up, possible next year.   I'm currently weighing my options between Bettas, Paradisefish or African Dwarf Frogs, all of which are adorable easy keepers that tolerate small tanks.  the downside is none of those critters produce much manure, ie not enough fertilizer for the plant.  but at this point i'm more concerned about not killing fish/frogs than i am killing plants.   Once i feel confident in my aquaponics skills, im thinking about raising crayfish in the fish tanks and growing a year round supply of greens indoors.  I can't wait! 
As always, thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Potatoes are not a Recyclable

Hello all!

its been a long time since I last posted anything, and for that i apologize.  I have several forthcoming posts in my drafts, but in the meantime I figured I'd share this:

while out on trash night looking for useful things to re-purpose in my various garden projects, I discovered a bag of a recycling bin.  granted they have eyes, but they are perfectly firm and edible potatoes and really have no business being discarded, but since I am a living example of "one man's trash is another man's treasure"  I gladly accepted them.

I will probably use these as seed potatoes for my garden this year.  bag weighs a hair under 3.5 pounds and since they are russets I can expect to harvest around 70 pounds, provided this summer doesn't get too hot, and since we are having such a mild winter, I feel it will.

Thank you for reading :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Trail Cam Tuesday

For a change of pace, i set my trail camera to video, and it was a good decision!  the rational was that instead of capturing one angle of blurry, out of focus animals i could choose from multiple frames, take screen captures, make gifs, or even post whole videos of interesting interactions.

this week, my camera was graced by a porcupine, and two young bucks; a proud, but modestly antlered 5-point and a nervous young spiker.  screencaps have been provided below, though i shall include full-video links to all the encounters at the bottom of the post.

the nervous spiker
if you are concerned about the well-being of these deer, do know that in the state i live, bucks must have at least 6 points to be legally taken, so these youngsters are for now safe from the glances of hunters.  but also i feel it must be mentioned that by and large, hunting is far more humane than raising animals for meat on farms, and these animals will have lived full lives, filled with warm summer days, nectar flavored flowers and rich autumn acorns.  Should the day come that these noble beasts end up on a hunter's table, they will have had a life brimming with experiences most of their domesticated brethren have never known.  this blog is 100% pro subsistence hunting, though definitely not anti-agriculture, and not all farmed animals live their life penned up either. 
the proud 5-point

 so withut further ado, i will supply links to the videos, although the porcupine strayed very close to the camera and he is an over-exposed mess of spines.