Well, I made it through the hot and humid Florida summer. This has been a typical subtropical winter with highs being in the hi 70's today. Water is NOT a problem here! There is so much of it coming down. We had one day where there was a rainfall of 4 inches in a little over 10 hours. With the right storage system a person could store a lot of water for the garden. Speaking of gardens, we have our winter crops in and new seeds are under the lights right this minute. I have been checking out the local fauna & flora. The variety of insects is incredible, especially the spiders. Of course there is the Florida state bird, the mosquito. I hate those things with a passion but I have seen a few of the local "insect repellent" plants such as dog fennel and beauty berry. I tried beauty berry leaves this summer and by darn, it works! As a plus the berries are edible and can be used for making jelly and have medicinal properties. We, my fiance Annie & I, are selling some local natural items in our eBay store as well as the usual stuff. Look on my eBay link at the top right column to see what we have if you're interested. This economy is getting very rough and we are barely making it but we work hard and by the Good Lords blessings we do OK. I am doing research and some things with yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria. The famous "black drink" was made by the local Native Americans from it, and I plan on seeing if selling the leaves for tea is feasible. The yaupon has a caffeine content that is less than coffee or tea, but enough to satisfy any craving for caffeine. "Dry, unprocessed yaupon leaves contain between .65 percent and .85 percent caffeine by weight. Coffee beans are about 1.1 percent caffeine by weight and tea leaves about 3.5 percent caffeine," according to a University of Florida article. As a plus they are rich in certain vitamins and antioxidants. I can reach out the bedroom window and grab a handful of yaupon leaves, its that abundant down here. Kind of like sage brush out in good ole' Idaho. Worth a web search if you are interested. It was used in the 1800's and during the Civil War as a coffee and tea substitute and unlike some other substitutes, it stayed around for a while until coffee became more plentiful and cheaper. I've read where birds will eat the berries but only as a last ditch effort in late winter. They must be considered as a "starvation food" among our feathered friends. Also, the wood is very nice and has been used for turnings, inlay and carvings. I removed the biggest yaupon I have ever seen from our goose pen. It was 20+ feet tall and about 6 or more inches in diameter. I am cutting it into 3 foot sections and sealing the ends. We have an aviary that's not in use so I'll stash it in there till its dry enough to use and sell. I don't know how well it does as a green wood for carving and I've read that the holly's have a nasty habit of cracking and checking if it drys too fast. Here are some shots of the local yaupon bush's. I'll be posting more interesting stuff in the near future as time permits. Thanks everyone and enjoy the holidays!
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