Rons Primitive Skills

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Still among the living and way too many bugs!

I have been so busy with the farm these past several months. I have been putting in all kinds of crops, building and improving pens for the various critters, and have had nearly no time to play or make stuff. In February I did manage to go to the Primitive Festival at Ochlockonee State Park just a few miles south of me. I bought some really nice stone for knapping and carving and I got to see some fantastic stuff like bows, atl atl's, and tons of rock and knapped wares. So many fantastic artists out there......
The bugs are and have been out for a while. During the early spring it was sand gnats and no-see-ums. Now its those wonderful things plus mosquitos, horse flies and all kinds of bees and wasps. You just have to know how to dress and have a good bug net for your head. I'll be doing a review of a bug headnet I got from my friend Ben at Bens Backwoods. I also have one that my sweet Annie made for me. Both of them will be shown in a future article.
We have been fortunate in increasing the number of very rare American Buff geese this spring. We now have 9 altogether. 6 babies were born two weeks ago, but, sadly we lost one of our geese, Sneezy, to being egg bound and she died.
Now that I have things under control (!?!?!?) I'll be able to write once in a while. Stay tuned for further adventures........
Newly hatched American Buff

Squash plants in pallets

American Buff chick a few hours old
Dolly the goat and her new digs

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chinese water chestnuts propagation

I received a package from a very decent person here in Florida. It contained 10 corms of the Chinese water chestnut, Eleocharis dulcis. It will grow quite well here in Florida and I am zone 8a/8b depending on the weather. I am rather enjoying all the exotic (to me, anyway) plants, both native and cultivated, here in sunny Florida. My fiance, Annie, is an ardent Florida gardener and has taught me a lot about southern gardening which is completely different from anything I have ever experienced up north or out west. Here there is no "end" to the growing season as far as gardens go. The only problem we have had was a few nights of frost so far. We have radishes, carrots, and beets in the ground and a very healthy stock of tomatoes and peppers in trays getting ready for transplanting. We use only heirloom and non GMO, non hybrid organic seeds. These first photos show how I planted the water chestnuts in a temporary container that I bring in every night. I will transplant them to a kiddie wading pool after the last frost passes. If you are interested in these delicious plants do a search for Chinese water chestnuts and you'll see they are not hard at all to propagate. I would highly encourage anyone with an interest in exotic plants and southern gardening to go to http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/ This is a great site and has tons of interesting information. David is an expert on southern gardening.

The corms-some are sprouting already.

Another shot of the corms on our planting table.

The dirt-a mix of sandy loam and a bit of the local pipe clay.

Here's how much dirt I put in the bucket. Its a 2 1/2 gallon bucket.

Here are the corms before covering.

A closeup of the uncovered corms. I will leave the sprouts exposed above the surface of the dirt.

I use this specially modified bucket to water things that need the least disturbance to the soil. Its also very handy for draining wet potting soil.

Here's the bucket and contents before water is added.

We have several containers on the property to collect rain water. In the summer these can fast become mosquito heaven so we keep them covered.

Filling the watering bucket.

Adding the water to the soil with corms.


This shows the soil with about 6 inches of water over the soil.

The complete project-setting in the sun with our seedlings on the starter tray racks.

This and the next two photos are shots of our starter trays with very happy seedlings getting acclimated.

Peppers, cabbage and tomatoes.

The racks-recycled shelving units from a retailer long gone. The white ones are adjustable for shelf distance. This is a southern exposure and gets a good dose of sunshine all day.

Odd visitors

I caught a glimpse of these flying over a few weeks ago and had my Kodak handy. The American Buff geese were not very happy about it but I was quite thrilled. They are F22 Raptors. Pretty neat to watch several million dollars worth of airplane fly over. Awesome!!!








Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Green Carving Wood-Yaupon

Back in the middle of November I was clearing some of the brush and small trees from around the property. I took down the largest yaupon holly tree, Ilex vomitoria, I have yet seen. It was 20 feet tall and had a diameter at the base of 5 inches. I decided to cut it into 2 foot sections and seal the ends with latex paint for future carving material.  The reason for sealing it is the habit of all holly trees to check and crack like crazy if they dry too fast. Its such a dense and beautiful wood and I don't want to waste an inch.
Yaupon isn't scarce here. I can count 100 of his cousins in 10 minutes within 20 feet of the stump. I have a few other holly trees in line for harvesting and I believe they are American holly, Ilex opaca. None of them are as large as the yaupon tree I took down, most being at the most 3 inches in diameter. These, too, will get the same treatment as the yaupon. I let the yaupon log air out and dry a little in the shade for about a month before I cut it and sealed it. I then moved the wood to our aviary to keep it out of the weather and give it a cool, shady place to dry. This wood is used for turning, inlay and carving. I plan to make a lot of spoons and utensils with some of this wood. A search for green wood carving has show quite a few pages and a lot of info on the subject. Looks promising. Here's a link that mentions yaupon holly in a wood working forum. Its the last post at the bottom: http://lumberjocks.com/topics/8709

Here are some photo's.


2 foot sections fresh cut & ready to treat

3 1/4" should be plenty big enough to get some good carvings. This wood will yield a lot of spoons and kitchen utensils as well as other good things!
Nice clean wood with a lot of potential.
I weighed each one to see how much they will loose after a month or so. It will probably take a few years to completely season and dry. I intend to sell them green as well as seasoned.
Another nice log.




Even the small stuff has some potential.
Sealed and ready to be put up.

In the aviary drying and waiting for sales.



Monday, December 9, 2013

Critters continued

Here are some more photo's of the local fauna. Enjoy and please don't be afraid to ask questions. Thanks everyone!

eastern ringneck snake Diadophis punctatus
I found this handsome fellow under an old bucket yesterday. They are very docile and quite harmless to humans. They are the only species within their genus and have rear fangs and are poisonous. However the chance of being bitten is so darn remote due to the tiny size of the mouth. They bite their prey (worms, slugs, frogs, salamander and lizards as well as juvenile snakes of other species) and constrict. The venom eventually kills or incapacitates its meal. The venom is not produced in regular poison glands like a rattlesnake but in tiny organs called Duvernoy's gland which is located directly behind its eye. They rarely even attempt to bite a human and this would seem to prove that their poison is used for feeding rather than defensive purposes. They are fairly common, but being nocturnal, they are seldom seen. Special thanks to Annie for doing the photography and for sharing my love for all things natural.

American gree treefrog Hylidae cinerea

American gree treefrog Hylidae cinerea
 Another common resident here at the property. At night they like to climb the office window where Annie and I work and ambush the light loving insects. Cute little critters, aren't they? By the way, they are the state amphibian for Georgia and Louisiana.

Here's a full grown one-about 2 1/2 inches long perched on an elephant ear stem.
Copes Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis

Copes Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis
Copes Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis
 Anyone see the skull and crossbones on his back? That design would be more appropriate to a poison arrow frog from Central America.

Copes Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis

This handsome little guy is usually found hiding during the day under debris and comes out at night to eat. No two Copes have the same pattern. Each is individual and as you can see in the last photo it is very good camouflage.

Again, due to unauthorized use, I must repeat, all subject matter and photo's are my personal work and are in my copyright. Please don't republish them without my permission. Thanks! More to come so stay tuned!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some Florida critters I've met

I live in the area of Florida called the Big Bend which is where the pan handle coast curves northward on its west to east swing. Or east to west if you really care. Take a look at a map of Florida and you'll see. The area is sub tropical and unlike south Florida we do have a winter, though you wouldn't think so with yesterdays temperature being 80. This climate is highly conducive to a preponderance of animal species or in other words there are a lot of critters around! I remember seeing way too many snakes when I took survival class at Eglin AFB up near Crestview a long time ago. I've only seen two snake's here on the farm since I've been here-a juvenile black snake with a BIG attitude and a very docile corn snake. The only alligators I've seen were at the St. Marks River wildlife reserve. Of course the famous little anole or so called chameleon is everywhere. One day we caught around 25 just on the buildings here at the farm. They work on the local bugs so we let them all go after our little bit of fun.

Spiders are another story. I have seen dozens of different species here on the farm and it amazes me that I have seen NO black widows around since they are supposed to be so prevalent. I saw way too many up in Idaho but not a single one here. Yet. There are some huge orb weavers here such as the golden orb weaver or locally called the banana spider due to the shape of its abdomen. I read where they bite but not sure how poisonous. They build the most fantastic webs! Another one new to me is the orchard spider with its fluorescent looking orange and green markings. There is a big, beautiful lynx spider living in the banana trees. I see him buy the porch light some mornings taking care of any lingering insects. Another locally named spider is called the crab spider. I'm not too familiar with a lot of spider names but this name seems appropriate.

Every morning we see signs of armadillo digging during the night. They make a conical hole in the ground in their search for insects. From what I've read the eat earthworms and grubs as well as other critters. The local opossums are healthy and thriving. The neighbor has live trapped a few and we take them out in the way-back and release them. Ugly critters.

Here are some photos to give you an idea of whats going on here in sunny Florida. Please remember that these photo's are under my copyright. Feel free to download or "save image as" for your own personal use as long as you don't publish them. Enjoy!


                                                                           Alligators





                                                                         Anole's









                                                                          Spiders

spinybacked orbweaver Gasteracantha cancriformis

spinybacked orbweaver Gasteracantha cancriformis
              
daring jumping spider Phidippus audax

daring jumping spider Phidippus audax
orbweaver Araneidae

orbweaver Araneidae

green lynx spider Peucetia viridans

green lynx spider Peucetia viridans

green lynx spider Peucetia viridans

southern house spider Kukulcania hibernalis

orchard orbweaver Leucauge venusta ?

unknown orbweaver

to be continued.......